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July 02, 2004
About a few moments in River Side Park, at a chess table, between a playground and the highway, with watersprinklers on and shade and light...

My neck is burning. It will probably turn red as soon as I arrive home, I will be an Upper Westside Redneck. I could be there in 20 minutes. I will probably stay here a little longer,
It feels pleasant to keep myself in the shade of this Linden tree. Not only does its bark look like camouflage. The shade from its leaves turns everything around it into camouflage colors as well. It is such a pleasant thought to find myself in the visual microclimate of a living thing. Trees are wild and living, determined, ambitious, focused, brilliant, brainless, but only because they are strong enough and alive enough to not have to escape from predators. I guess if we were all trees, none of us needed a brain really… and we would just create microenvironments and be kind enough to offer those lower, brain driven creatures shelter and food and… well, camouflage.

The West Side highway is just a few feet from here. I can hear it almost too well. A police car just drove by. I just imagined two policemen in a speeding limousine, one of them playing with the siren settings. Two intelligent, guided players on their shortest path to preventing somebody from not playing by the rules.

A boy is throwing water bombs high in the air, to make them burst on the concrete of the playground. The little water filled balloons look like those old pineapple hand grenades. They are green and have areas of slightly thicker rubber, they are a cute and soft version of those metal studs made to fly through the air propelled by the explosive charge, designed to inflict injuries.
Were the boy throwing real grenades, we would all be hit by pieces of steel.
The entire family is laughing. Were these real, they would all be bleeding.

His two small brothers are incredibly impressed by his amazing skill to throw the balloons high enough in the air so they actually come down with enough speed to burst.
The smallest of the boys tries to somehow achieve a similar level of coolness by throwing his bubble gun into the air. The plastic toy hits the ground again and again and I am expecting it to lose some parts. It does not.
The little boy finds one of the balloons that failed to burst and he throws it in the air around me… even this toy fails to break when thrown by him.
Maybe there is some sort of secret knowledge involved here? Could this boy have the super power of not being able to destroy anything he touches?

I imagine him as an older, very unsuccessful superhero. Trying to escape all the things he fails to break.

Not far from here, to my right, between the highway, and me two teenagers on swings move back and forth like the pendulums of a biological clock. They move in a synchronized rhythm, seeing each other for seconds at a time, I can only see the girl’s face. I can see how serious she becomes when looking at the boy. I can see how her face is embraced by a smile when she moves beyond the moment of visibility…
She is wearing a black top, one that she must have bought some time ago and a long, flowing, light, green dress.
The guy is wearing a slacker hat. His t-shirt bulges at his belly, his pants seem several sizes too big.
A white shirt is wrapped around his waist and it makes me think he might be one of the more proper Jewish boys of the neighborhood. His face comes with its own camouflage. He might be older than I think.
The girl has had enough of the swinging. She slowly gets off the seat and walks towards the water rushing out of the four corners of the center of this concrete covered playground.
Her friend follows her quietly…
They both stare at a little girl riding her tricycle around the water-sprinklers in nothing but her diaper.
It looks as if her older siblings had brought her here. One of her older brothers is using her for his water-gun target practice. She seems to love it more than he does. It looks like shooting at her is just part of this boring afternoon for him.

The swings, from which the couple just walked away are now completely refilled with kids.
I remember that first time when I found out how to make the swing work. I then also remember the stitched together chin of my cousin, at my grandfather’s funeral. I was told that she had found a way to swing all around the top pole… I imagined her moments of weightlessness. It took me a while to file this story into the drawer of untruths invented by my mother to keep me from making some dangerous mistakes.
Some of the scenarios sounded scarier than others.
I am sure she would have told me to never speak to a strange looking stranger sitting all by himself by the chess tables of the playground in riverside park. Yes, he would probably be typing on some intriguing looking device, but this whole setup would be just there to lure me in, his car, left with the engine on would be parked just behind the trees.
Some security ladies, two of them, in a electric car, are looking at me suspiciously. I am actually glad they at least pretend to care. (The time they spent alone in that “for park employees only” bathroom makes me think they might care more about other things. Make up?
I’ll keep walking. The chess-table is made out of really cheap concrete, now weathered and old; the little sharp edged stones are cutting into my arms, leaving strange patterns. Yes, they do look oddly familiar in the context of a playground.

The teenage couple is still there, though they are done observing the play of the kids in the water. The girl just fixed her glasses. She then fixed her bra in a very awkward way. She moves so much slower than he does. She reached out into the water of the sprinklers and with her wet hand strokes the lower layers of her hair, her neck.
He walks ahead…

The sun just moved behind a cloud for a few moments. We are all in a patch of a much larger camouflage.
I will keep going now…
I will be home in probably twenty minutes.
My “typewriter” is turned back into a pocket-storyteller and I walk on, more trees, more paths, more patches of shade and direct sunlight…
Like very, very, very brief days and nights…
Oh, and my neck is not burning anymore. I will probably be just fine. Just had to stop for a moment and look around. Maybe not even that.
Should I have just played chess? And lost against myself?..


thank you for the words about a tree.. truly.

and the buddha statues at the met. i have always thought these living breathing budhas. they are just waiting, maybe camoflauged themselves in a world that at time seems made, mad, and full of nihilist thoughts. but they are alive and waiting, for the moment to slowly loosen their stiffness.. and to fly up into the sky, be a moving part of the world, and enjoy all.

Posted by: on July 3, 2004 10:37 PM

"Could this boy have the super power of not being able to destroy anything he touches?"

i love this line

Posted by: marlo on July 3, 2004 11:43 PM
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