I was about to vent about a soundbyte that pricked up my ears last week: Mayor Bloomberg at a podium responding to the theory that the economic worries have spiked our NYC crime rate recently: People who commit crimes don’t read the Wall Street Journal.
But this was before Hurricane Irene. I’m not going to dis the category-5 media hailstorm that ate up 90% of prime time television before a literally captive audience, nor criticize the challenged reporters who were compelled to announce play by plays on-camera during a virtual no-hitter endless-inning game, thanks to the Weather Gods....
I suppose I could have made it a romantic weekend, but fearing my own emotional cabin fever, I isolated in my apartment, spoke little, binged on TV, cleaned up and organized, wasted endless hours I normally crave.... refused an invite to a wild neighborhood storm party-- read little, emailed tons, slept odd hours—kind of like a snow day, but without kids. It didn’t help that Friday I’d had an ugly gig on Houston STreet--- not a disaster, but kind of a category-1 mediocre night which I’d fled in a dark minute after pulling out my cord. Third luke-warm underpaying gig in a week of tepid disasters, of sending off my cool son to his final college year on a Port Authority Bus, like a loser...at the exact moment of an earthquake, no less. I deserved a little maternal prison time.
With the blinds drawn, I decided to use the TV as my only window to the outside. No fear, candles and transistor radio on the table... I actually listened to music. Odd things--- Keith Jarrett, friends’ cds I’d stockpiled... The Church, Traffic, then I had a brief aural affair with The National... it evokes that perfect time of my midlife when I was still passionate, when the soundtrack of my life had reverb—atmosphere, a ruby-black cloud like Tindersticks, like Nick Cave...a kind of punishing regret and nostalgia.
Washing floors on my knees, erasing the summer marks of Nikes and topsiders, I thought of the real casualties of the storm-- -the ones that might not be found for a while—the alcoholics who had to drink alone--- the guy with the brutal amputations who scowls in the Citicorp underground, the men that sleep in the church doorways on 96th and Broadway, the Mexican busboys with two jobs just to put food on their table who will be docked 4 shifts—maybe 5.
I missed my Mom calling me to check on us.... she’s too confused to organize concern for others... and the rest of them figure one less slice of the family pie would be fine. My son facebooked me from a safe distance away that the library lions were floating down Fifth Ave and I quipped that the origin of the storm was definitely his recent ex-girlfriend who’s been calling my house drunk at 4 AM and hanging up.
I’ve yet to venture outside. I’ve had these visions of some kind of lush jungle foliage lining my street instead of the saturated garbage. It’s like the eye of Irene got stuck in my head and I’m not sure what’s coming. The city seemed to unravel the storm, like it does so many people. You think you’re going to just smash right through some kind of finish-line tape...you’re going to make the award shows and the goddam history books and then you get here and there are so many paths, so many roadblocks and buildings--- bridges and tunnels and dangerous corners.. bloated rats on the tracks and sewage in the rivers, old food on your subway seat at night--- gorgeous women with grit under their nails, tall willowy men with soft words and guitars-- old blood on their hands, cigarettes that kill-- ghosts on your windowsill, angels with dirty knees, rain pissing down for endless hours on hurricane dreams.