Thursday, January 27, 2011

31 Ways To Say Rice

Something about snow makes me crave white rice. Hot, steamy...
Of course I’d prefer sushi rice or even pedestrian Chinese rice--- but mine is cheaper and maybe because measuring things seems absurd late at night--- it always comes out American and institutionally pasty anyway.

I looked out my window at 5 AM; even in the courtyard the airconditioners and sills were iced like Christmas wedding cakes. A silhouette backlit by a flat-screen was looking back at me--- unmoving, creepy. For those of us who are normally walled in by the night, it is a switch to be whitewashed, avalanched.

On the way home from my gig I couldn’t help noticing 3 wrapped and cardboarded bodies tucked in against the 3 huge doors of the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, like horizontal shrouded niobids in a tryptych. Sculptural and symmetrical, dusted by white like some kind of forgiveness for the tattered huddled corpses they are forced to inhabit, wrapped in every piece of material they could scavenge. These are the lucky ones— they got there first. Seniority. Was there a moment in time when these churches were unlocked? When it was not a sin to provide shelter and warmth for the Manhattan Untouchables? We bleeding hearts who cry for stray dogs and donate for mistreated pitbulls?

Downstairs in the 96th Street C station another human creature wrapped in newsprint, old comforters and black plastic at the end of the platform, by the dumpster. Three large rats romping around her things--- a paper cup, a few bags and salad containers. A woman-- must protect herself--- a youngish woman with braids.
"Do you need something?", I found myself hypocritically blurting out, feeling ashamed and stupid....
"No", she answered, in a quiet voice, refusing my pathetic $1-- "I don’t need nothin’...I’m fine."

Fine, she is. Doesn’t need. On the tail of the storm—- 5 AM, I consult the television God. Bloomberg has called off school. There’s no 4th term anyway, so who really cares that the weather has eroded his ratings? On the other channels--Celebrity Rehab— yet another histrionic but entertaining episode; I Used to be Fat— well, I'll pass---My Secret Addiction which documents a woman who eats chalk and another who can’t stop licking household bleach. A Medical Mystery show about people who can’t stop eating—one who has been forced by a gastric band into bulimia because her eyes are literally larger than her stomach. Another who just shovels it all in until she weeps with despair... then wakes up and starts again. Needs. The food budgets of such people. The woman in the subway can ill afford these problems. What makes them need this way, these television people?

I thought about my father when I was small-- French-door-shut into his den on a snow-day behind white chintz curtains, J&B-ing himself into blackness. Wondering which of the 30 some-odd Eskimo words for snow would be used to describe that scene. Which would be used for the Manhattan storm which came with thunder and lightning and gave us all an excuse to stay in, to drink, to sleep, to listen? The rice is quiet. Orphanage rice. Prison rice. Homeless Shelter rice.

In my email tonight a notice that a guitarist I know vaguely has suicided. He’d been depressed; I was snotty to him the last time he stuck his head in the door while I was playing. Jesus.
I can imagine it was the snow--- the relentless muting effect of this miraculous stuff which ought by rights to be gray or dirty like ash--- and instead it is un-urbanly pure, perfect, a-worldly. When you have smoked and drank everything in the house, you have no gig, your wife is across town with your kids who are learning to hate you not for what you did but for what you didn’t do... and here are the veils, the fake forgiveness, the trick blessing. Mother Nature with her finger to her lips...the painful bridal reminder for some of us who don’t ski but who sit on a cold windowseat in an old hoodie, smoking our last cigarette, making promises.... Eleanor Rigby in our head....rich enough for shelter, too poor for a view, our guitar leaning pathetically against the door like a patient lover... the rice in the pot on the stove... rice on the church steps, snow on the cemetery grass...silhouette in the window... the dark lightens, the relentless snow lets up, your last fucking thoughts are nothing but cliches--- snowblind, fade-in, whiteout...
the winter rice in the pot... spreading like white ash... all fall down...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Noir Morality Tale

Okay. Here is a Writerless-style New Year's morality tale. I’m not even sure what that means…but I think I mean the kind you don’t quite 'get' from those medieval mystery dramas:

So after years of longing-- of hourly, daily, drawn out minutes of obsessive vague craving for not just someone but the absolute possession of your self by this moment of completion, of everything you are-- where it becomes a kind of religion, an utter devotion to the pursuit of this moment...

There you are, in the perfect bed of the perfect moment--- you have touched his perfect body with your mind, as Leonard Cohen says—and the reward of it, the ecstasy of knowing everything you are has entered this person as he enters you--- every word you have ever spoken is on the tongue of this night, and as his breath begins to even and deepen, and you are drifting into this after-sleep of the perfect night, you miraculously (the mystery-play thing) watch yourself sit up… and pause on the edge of his bed--- the sheets draped around you… and you feel your bare feet touch the floor, you calmly and deliberately put on the clothes he took from you--- like a palindrome—and you walk down his dark hallway to the door… knowing you can go back--- you are still in the moment--- you can go back to his blessed warmth, to that bed and the night and the body you have created, the two of you—this body which is you and he, which understands and is everything you have waited for… and you open the door to the cold hallway with the glaring sconcelight which is so harsh and hellish… and you pause again, knowing full well what you do-- knowing his pain will be nothing compared to your own, and you are driven/compelled-- -there is no choice… it unfurls in front of you--- the sound of the door latching, and the walk down the hallway to the elevator, and your hideous baptism into the dawnlight of the rest of your life… and there you are, on the train, your clothes slightly misbuttoned, your hair uncombed, the scent of him on you like a drug, and you ride away from this night.
In an oarless small rowboat you float on from the shipwreck of the moment into the endless sea of the rest of your life, into the reverse of the longing.

And he will awaken, and cry out for you, and then he will wonder and begin his journey. He will take your necklace and your barrettes he finds in the sheets, and hold them to his face; you will pray that he makes a small shrine, that he lights candles and worships the possibility of your return. But of course he begins to hate you. After five unanswered voicemails he flushes these things into the Manhattan sewers along with pieces of your heart, and he steels himself for his life so that even if he passes you on the street and your pulse is hammering in your mouth and your head is shaking on spineless memory-twigs, he will not look.

You toss and turn in your bed of shipwreck; every night is a worse storm, like some mystery hell-planet of bad dream-weather, and every day is a walking disaster where you are an emotional amputee and he is the aching broken limb that you cannot repair, and to hate yourself is nothing—to speak is a revulsion, to think is to step with all your weight on that broken limb…

You are the open-wound version of yourself you have created. You are the director of your own deliberate fate-- the camera, the actor, the writer, the sole audience, the film itself. The blackness. The simultaneous birth and death of love, the perverted Promethean punishment of your life you have devised, only it is your heart not your liver and it is the god-author of yourself who lets it be eaten and there is no anesthesia of time because every day the pain is equal, the blood is fresh.

You go through the motions—you are living, you drink coffee, learn to speak with someone else’s voice… you can hear, you can see a bit, you pass as human on the street and occasionally lock eyes with another wrecked being—another heinous criminal who will go unpunished because you are your own victims and what is the moral here? Are you better, are you worse, those who crucify themselves, who cut themselves and pierce themselves, who pay others to carve pictures on our skin, who employ specialists to abuse us, to hurt us… those who hurt others to hurt ourselves… are we better? Do we stare horrified and mute as our doctors ask us where it hurts and to describe the pain on a scale of 1 to 10 and around us are the injured and ill and medically torn, the victims of earthquakes and deformity and falling buildings, of firestorms and deluges, who have had children and limbs ripped from them and live with this indelible noise?

Shall I compare thee with a summer’s horror? A winter mass-killing?

I am this morning sleeplessly wondering whether there is anything behind one of the billion darkened windows or in the stacks of some e-library or a warped profile on match.com or okcupid which admits to stalking an endless corridor of its own palindromic fate, editing the un-editable neverending of a morality tale, tasting the addictive immortality of that moment out of which I am doomed to watch myself walk.


Fade to black.