Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Want the Angel

A gap here.

Complaining about the economy has become lucrative for some. Personally I couldn’t accept money for whining. Maybe that’s what happened to Jim Carroll at the end…when all he had were bitter words inside, his advance had run out, and he was ashamed to admit he was too worn and fuddled by the clouds hovering by his desk, by ghosts of himself, by phantom pain of an amputated past that he could no longer translate onto paper.

Some of us wake with what we think is poetry on our tongues and no ink. I heard a not-yet-failed poet last week swearing by longhand. Personally I can scarcely read my own handwriting, especially when it comes with that other voice— the one that frightens me. I have a computer and am glad for any help I get, especially the silent kind. I am glad to use my fingers to ask questions and for that matter, any opportunity not to humiliate myself with a telephone call.

Other things I am thankful for these days:
The absence of excruciating pain, food for the week, sparse but consistent gigs, my bass fingers, books.
Ditto the safe distance of tropical storms, massive brushfires and earthquakes from Manhattan, the depleted coffer of my building preventing crippling renovations; coats draped over rails, the living monotony of day after day.

Things that terrify me:
The ever-hovering possibility of excruciating pain, my postponed terminal diagnosis, the inevitability of losing my words, the shrinking muscle of my former brain, the possibility that a tall man with a slaughterhouse mind will thwack a meat cleaver into my head from behind and I will recall the unbearable brutality of murder. We all fear death-- I mean the killing.

Last week on the C train a man with 2 voices was singing. He couldn’t quite get them to harmonize, but there were two distinct singers inside of him, dragging him through the cars, compelling him to humiliate himself by holding a Mets hat out to riders. I wanted to engage one of them, to see which one had his eyes, but he was not going to look. We gave our dollar, each of us, to the man with two voices. More would have been too much.

For the Morgan Stanley guy, though… with the $1.5 million salary and the $2.3 million bonus— that wasn’t enough. He was hungry. Lewis is getting $98 million and that’s just a bonus. Maybe he is rationalizing to himself, saying ‘the man with two voices still gets a dollar even though the people on the subway have no job.’

I don’t know about all of you, but I was rooting for the balloon boy. When I was young there was Pascal and The Red Balloon. It was terrifying and it was real— in the movies— not a cartoon. I had the book of still photographs and it was proof to me of my inherent stubborn belief in the humanity of objects. Things spoke and felt, things rescued you from the pathetic box of childhood. Things had wings.

That father and his squirmy children, the camera-readiness of their portrait arrangement on the sofa. It was sickening. And yet the police fell for it… they ran and flew for what? The reward money? The fame? Rescuing a child? People flock to the spectacle of child-saving. The metaphoric weight is immense— the personal resonance. What about the typhoon boys and girls in Southeast Asia, the African cleaved and raped? This boy— Falcon— was canonized. As though they’d planned this when they named him. Sickening.

Maybe it's easier to project our own worries onto the ones we invest in our children. Like a mother, I still can’t get the image of Jim Carroll out of my head-- sick and alone with the humiliation of having slightly outlived his own restlessness. The idea that the black balloon comes for us when we are not at our best, and the youtube voyeurs and glommers will stand outside with their cellphone cameras and then watch over and over this sort of killing. For all you control freaks and ultra-theatrics out there… those few Wall Street guys who were firm enough to jump— suicide is maybe the only safe option.

Either way, as JC said...Gravity— just sick for revenge.

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