Thursday, February 18, 2010

Desperately Seeking Art

Does it ever annoy anyone how some goddamn stranger in a uniform has the key to your mailbox and can slip in just about anything someone wants to send you? Bills, hate-mail, chain-letters, collection notices, the goddamn New Yorker which is really getting on my nerves: the fact that they even review the Jersey Shore reality show; and the poetry… except for a few decent ones— is 'garden-y' and Ladies-Home-Journalesque. But it seems to be a self-renewing subscription or maybe an anonymous trust-fund legacy someone left me. It shows up like an uninvited Gorey-esque guest, along with sneaker catalogues and Fresh Direct postcards. Doesn’t anyone bother to market-research that people like me don’t do mail-order, or takeout— don’t even have doorbells? I swear I remember hearing some old bluesman once telling an amplifier company rep 'If I done without it this long, ain’t gonna be much use to me now.’

But I was thinking today… no matter how many locksmiths there are in New York City, no matter how many security systems and firewalls, there are things you can’t keep out. Old age, for one— hunger, loneliness-- death, eventually. Pigeons—the goddamn pigeons that nest and roost and have sex on your windowsill unless you put out those spiky things which remind you that you’ve become a prisoner of your own paranoia. Rodents and bugs. Whether you admit it or not, they’re in your building, having a piss in your water supply, or rolling around in the produce while the market lights are out and the doors are locked.

The Purell/cleanliness obsession is annoying me, too. Like the numbers of people who let the swine flu propaganda run their life put plenty of money in the pockets of the Pfizer people. Who have now sold to Johnson and Johnson whose little heiress couldn’t keep germs and death out, with all the locks money could buy.

In New York City, Valentine’s Day is the holiday of broken hearts. Thank God it fell on a Sunday which seems a less painful day for people who are alone. Which includes at least half of those who are in a relationship. Of course I am a cynic. In my box of guitar picks are not one but two inscribed in red and pink from two different musicians who romantically chose February 14 for their wedding day. Killing 2 birds with one diamond. Both couples are long separated, both left fucked up kids, suicide attempts and neighbors who were sick to death of through-the-wall drama they didn’t pay for. Another thing you can’t lock out.

Lost gloves on the sidewalk always remind me of broken hearts. The inevitability of separation, and then having to discard the one that stayed with you, that stuck it out when the other one wandered. Some ex-boyfriend sends me a dozen roses every year. I’m sure there’s a whole list of us, because he’s just too damn efficient. Maybe he figures one of these days he’ll be too old and unattractive and will have to return to one of the scenes of his former crimes. Like a goddamn pigeon. I can’t even remember the end of our little affair, and not even too much about the beginning. But this year I went out on the eve of Valentine’s Day to some trendy rooftop lounge which felt Miami-esque except they gave you these red fleece robes so you could hang out on the roof and smoke. I drank some champagne and listened to inane alcohol-laced chatter from the nervous couples who had seen many fewer holidays than I, and thought about Valentine’s Nights of my youth spent at Max’s or Fanelli’s where the conversation shone like a honed knife-edge.

Turns out I left my gloves at the lounge— both of them. Maybe they ran off with another pair. At least they were together. Which makes me a little sad but reminded me that ex-lovers are like things sometimes--- you can’t hold onto them, and you can’t really help them when they’ve worn thin and don’t fit anymore. And maybe you can lock them out but you can’t lock them in. Memories, though… they seep in like smoke in the cracks. Like bad smells. Like the sound of sirens thankfully passing you by… or that old Art Pepper record you swear you can hear some nights, even when you don’t even live in that place anymore.