April 2005 Archives
After a while, the page here turns empty. Not enough content was added in the last week or so. Actually no content, and so the page just went blank. Hmm... "If you would like to do something nice for your tree in the street, just give it some water," the radio said, in the international food store up on 7th ave, " just grab a plastic container, one of those 30 gallon ones should be enough, fill it with water and punch some holes into the bottom, so the water goes into the ground slowly..." "do you have your 30 gallon barrel on you? I left mine at home," said a woman selecting her nuts with a little tin shovel. 30 gallons... that's 160 liters? 160 kilograms... 320 pounds... yeah... so much happened... i think i will need a bit more time to translate it into some sort of post... Hmm... soon... : )
I had seen a tiny bit of the work at the National Gallery again, and I ran out of time, the place was closing, I had to step back out into the sun. There was a curious bird, trying to make contact with a newspaper reading woman on a bench. She ignored him and was perhaps a bit upset that I seemingly was taking pictures of her. But it was about the bird. Really. And the bird seemed to like being photographed. It even eventually sat on the edge of a podium and sang a song very much synchronized to the sound of the traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue. I was so busy making sure the recording works, I did not even notice when the bird left...
So I left the house. I took some trains to the city and visited some places for the first time. Dahesh museum was a good place to visit for the first time. The current show, first seen is actually quite good. I am quite glad I went. In the IBM building also Tim Hwawkinson's ÜberOrgan.... I did not wait for it to make a sound. I had experienced that in a much smaller space a few years ago... I think. My mission was to go to the Japan Society to see Takashi Murakami's Little Boy show. I did not find the elephant, but the show was so darn good, that I spontaneously became a member of the place... I will come back... it is such a wickedly good little show. Since the Japan Society is just steps away from the UN, I decided to also visit this historically charged compound for the first time... I waited online for quite a while to get in, then took some pictures of people taking pictures, some pictures of pictures, some of Sputnik... I also discovered that what looks like a stone wall from the outside is actually steel and glass painted to look like stone... and as I was taking pictures of the UN flag... this is when I discovered the UFO... And no I do not think that there were aliens watching. But for me what I saw was definitely an Unidentified Flying Object, a UFO... It looked like a tiny white arrow, really high in the very clear sky. It was just suspended there, pointing towards Long Island City, it seemed. I thought that it was most likely a kite... one on a really long line, a line maybe that reached all the way from across the east river. I thought that until the darn thing turned around... and I stopped thinking that completely when the thing began to move rather quickly, and deliberately towards South. It was pointing towards its own direction. It seemed to have a direction. It was not easy to spot. It was so incredibly tiny... because probably really high up. I tried to take a picture of it, but it was really difficult, as it was too tiny for the resolution of my camera monitor. I also tried to zoom in beyond the optical zoom of the camera, and this was when finding the little arrow in the sky became almost impossible. I somehow had to point into the approximate direction and then take a good guess and hope that something will come out. After taking the picture, I had to check if anything was there, recorded... and a few times there was. Somebody laughed at me today when seeing the pictures... surely I had photoshopped the whole thing. I really have not. It was a very strange experience... and I could not and did not really share with anybody around me... not with the Japanese tourists and not with the security guards... Okay, here are the pictures: also Here, on Flickr. also Here.
managed to keep myself up long enough and intensely enough to be bitter and crumpled up this morning. I could either feel really bad about myself now, or go through the hundreds of pictures I uploaded for no apparent reason into the private layer of my Flickr gallery... (Most of them actually shown here before.) Or I could just grab a thing or two and get out of the house and take some random train to some random place and take some random pictures and come back and tell myself all about it ...and then... I sometimes feel like a dog chasing its own tale (and tail.) Don’t listen to me now please. I am an angry old man right now. Angry at myself for everything and nothing I do and I do not. I guess the do nots are more painful. And so I need to leave right now. (And the picture below is a repost from probably two years ago... ghmpf...)
since i did not really want to go to korea town for lunch, and because the weather was just really quite nice, i walked down broadway, past stores filled with little beads and panties and other items somehow related to items nobody wants to admit to wearing. I think it was on 31st street that i realized that there was no turning back. I would need to find food here, I had venture too far from the service oriented city though still not far enough to be able to smell the flowers. And this was exactly the place where I saw the street vendor. Well, actually, I smelled the vendor first. Okay, maybe not the vendor... the deliciously fragrant food. It was one of the larger hot plate cars with two middle eastern operators. The smell was just this perfectly sour, spicy, fatty cloud, one that can just pull anyone by their nostrils and guide them straight to the simmering source. The meat preparation man was explaining the difference between lamb, beef and chicken to a bystander who might have been interested about all this stuff three minutes prior. I was not sure what my next steps would be but then I surprisingly saw my hungry self order some chicken and rice and a salad and... that was it. The money guy asked for five dollars and opened a hatch in the cart, the hatch to the wet and cold part of the food making machine. "Is it five dollars, or is it five dollars for me?" I was not sure if I was being charged a first timer european tourist look special price. "Here:" the man pointed to the waters and sodas. "It is free." Okay, that was fair. I got a free plastic fork (a $500 value at this location) as well, and some napkins (paper, light duty). No bag. Bags are for bridge and tunnel... (wait, I am bridge?... nah...) I took the tray all the way to Madison Square, where I devoured my super meal right across the street from the Pentagram office. The weather was perfect, my bench let me see some odd, yet not threatening people. And with each bite of the chicken and rice, I thought to myself how wonderful this meal tasted and how I would have to to do exactly this each and every day of the summer. The food was just so delicious... so perfectly spiced, so well cooked, so deliciously mouth watering... Maybe ten minutes later, and hours and hours after that... my opinion turned to the opposite... I felt like a chicken, plucked alive, hanging upside down, on a conveyor belt. Then sliced by a guy who has no access to a bathroom, and yet access to a very heavy bottle of fat and possibly monosodium glutamate. I wanted to do something to cleanse my system of the chemistry experiment. It had to be something that went far beyond the water I drank. It could have been some special ritual at this point. Something that would also shield me from that urge to fall asleep to just let go, to pass on into a different set of dimensions. Oh boy... I am not made for any kind of drugs. Apparently not even the ones that taste like chicken.
walking the other way felt like a really good idea. down the man made slope i went. past the joggers, past the man checking on his paper, past the drawing on the floor that looked like a caterpillar with all of the fields numbered from 1 to 151. three men were done with playing basketball around 7 and headed for work near fourth avenue. the sun joined all of us around that time too... i took the train back on carroll street. got out of it on smith and 9th... then again on 4th avenue then again here on 7th... and i will soon take the train again, then again, then again and again... on the corner here i ran into a group of fifth graders being arranged by two pale photographers in trainings overalls. "Look tough." one of the guys said... and then he showed the kids what he meant by that... as they did not seem to be sure. I would like to sleep, but the opposite will now need to happen. Quickly and continuously until long after sun down...
How are the trees going to get the idea that it is time to wake up to spring? One could maybe think that this year will have a different look and that there will be fewer leaves in the park. But looking out the window here, there are some very serious preparations underway. I do not want to give it all away, but a tree will soon turn into a pollen duster or the flamboyant, bright pink kind. And the ground also appears to be soaked, or at least saturated enough to help things grow their best... I can not hold myself back from running out around sunrise, observe the changing light, the moving and the immobile living and seemingly not living things. And everything will turn out just fine. Just as the light changes in the morning so will things have to change ahead. And just as the winter felt too long and not quite the right piece of season for me, so will things need to adjust as well. And I have been moving on and ahead many times before and it has always opened new angles and perspectives. And it is time again to shift gears, because there are certain things that are as certain and unavoidable as... and why should one waste any time before they all kick in? : ) All good, all good... for the better for the better. And the suspended rocks in the sky might be just an illusion for the fearful who tend to spend their time looking too much at reflections on the surface of shallow dirty waters... oh certainly.
when the sky looked golden in patches over the roofs around here i ran out to make more pictures before the sun rose to change everything. by the time i made it to the street the color was gone and only a cold wind turned my head into a hurting objects on my shoulders. and i walked through the park to grand army plaza and then returned through the historic district streets without forgetting to pick up some groceries and coffee and the paper in not very historic locations. or maybe they all are. maybe everything is. and i thought how silly it was of me to spill myself into descriptions of mystic child like religion. and maybe it is okay. maybe it does not really matter. the main thing that drives me is an insatiable feeling of wonder. and it almost does not seem to matter what rooms i enter. i am at all times aware of me standing at just the outside of the surface of something somehow, sometimes lucky enough to glimpse some sort of distorted reflection, sometimes able to make out some rough shapes of large living things inside. no matter how deep i would manage to go in this lifetime, it would be just a tiny scratch on the surface of things. and that's really very fine. and i am glad that i am where i am right now, this second actually... this is the happiest i remember to be. and it probably does not really matter... hey, the colors are back... i will stay here now. Well, for the next half hour or so... why am i even writing this all down here?... so silly... but maybe okay... : )
The same morning right here on the corner. The bookstore was packed at an early hour. The coffee shop seemed sleepy. It took a while for the hardware store to get started... In the bagel place a block away from here, an old man called joe placed an incredibly lengthy order which resulted in a rather elaborate looking sandwich. I had some doe with some fat and some sugar and water. At the barber shop the brothers were talking about their mother being an even better singer than Billie Holiday... back in the day... when they used to be boys playing in the street, right around the corner from here. What is not to like about this neighborhood?
My uncle in Poland did not have much to say. Polish television did not show anything but images of the pope. The rest of the family had traveled to Kraków. The entire nation is devastated... I tried to point out to my uncle that the pope had died at a very meaningful time. 21:37 being all really incredible numbers. Almost magical actually. My uncle was more impressed by the day on which the pope died. It was as if he had timed it all exactly to pass away on the verge of a holiday he himself had declared five years ago. Today is The Sunday of Divine Mercy a very Polish Catholic holiday... since it is connected to Sister Faustina, a Polish nun canonized by John Paul II... "He once said that today was the day on which the doors of the heavens open, for those who ask to be let in... so it really feels as if he had timed this perfectly..." Hmm... I was not surprised to later read an article in the German Spiegel which declared that Poland is negotiating to receive the Pope's heart. His body will obviously have to stay in Rome... but his heart belongs to Poland. (Article in German.) The sky was magnificent this morning. In Polish: "niebo" is the word for sky and for heaven...
the wind is pulling and pushing the apartment door like a mad person. i am not going to let him in anyway, so he better stop. in the living room, a light grey spider clang to the ceiling right above my head as i was removing most books out of the bookcase, so i could connect my wireless hub to an outlet behind this black iron piece of furniture. i then noticed that my hub comes with a fat brick, which would let the bookcase stand half a foot away from the wall. since i have no idea where i put a simple extension cord, I will need to wait for the hardware store to open, so i can exchange an extension cord for a bunch of pieces of paper with george washington on them. the apartment looks as if somebody with a serious case of adult add lived here. maybe, wait a second... the first time i heard about the pope being polish was in the back seat of our car, in poland. i remember that we were going to visit that little cabin we had rented in the mountains. i was again about to throw up, the dog was stepping all over me, there were curves and bumps and chickens on the road, and my father had yet to learn how to properly use the clutch. it was an incredible surprise that there would be or even could be a polish pope. i mean, the pope was supposed to be that italian guy in vatican and he was supposed to just sit there and wait and... what did the pope do really? so the pope was polish. and everybody concurred that it was a miracle. and i think we almost cried because of that. we knew that this was a sign from somewhere that things were about to change in a major, major, major way. it was as if it finally were time to do something good to poland. i know this all sounds very strange to anybody who has never lived in that country maybe even to some who did... or maybe i was just a little boy. and the italians went crazy when the polish pope started to just speak to them in italian. and then we also found out that he spoke so many other languages. he was a bit of a superman that pope. we all knew all about him and we had serious speculations. he might have been the first pope who had been in love with a girl before he became a priest and he also was really good on skis and he was overall a really good looking guy. and my grandmother looked a bit like him. and that was special too. (he would close his eyes almost and just leave one open... and my grandmother would do the same, and so would i... and i still do.) and i think i was just a little boy, but it probably was a bit more than that. and then the pope came to visit poland. and he stepped out of that plane and he went down to his knees and he kissed the ground. and we went crazy. i do not think it it possible to explain how we felt when he did that... he came to poland, who loved him, and he kissed her... now that was a pope, the holy father, our very own pope. the very first stamps i ever bought in a special philatelic store in cieszyn (tsiesheen) for all the money i had for that day (i think it was 70 zloty) the very first stamps i bought were the ones to commemorate the first visit of the pope to poland. i remember bringing the stamps home to discover that there was a little black spec on the largest one. i could not remove it properly, so i used steam and then water, removing the black spec and also the glue... basically removing the 70 zloty value of the stamps as well... crazy? indeed, it was crazy. it was crazy because suddenly there were stamps of the pope, the ambassador of the catholic church in my stamp album right next to lenin and the first may celebration stamps that were somehow much more common around that time in poland. so it was a big deal. the pope was polish and he was the emperor of poland and he was ruling with a very soft spoken army, placed very well in buildings all over the nation, giant buildings with crosses on their roofs and with paintings of mary under their roofs. and he really was so incredibly polish and humble and good. and he even put this giant M into his crest. M for mary and for magdalene and we all knew what that meant. it was as if we were a bit invincible now... and so when the strikes began... the crosses worked as protective shields for all the workers... those who lived and even those who were killed. and when things got really bad and when there was no food in the stores, just empty shelves and maybe boxes with tea, my mother told me that we would go to visit the pope. seriously. we would go and see the pope. in italy, in rome, in the vatican. the pope. he was a polish pope. so we were not technically going to the west. we were somehow about to travel to the west to the vatican, which was currently a polish city... and everybody understood... it was really somehow impossible to get passports to travel to the west... but we were going to see the pope. everybody got that. and so we all got passports. and even the dog came with us. to see the pope, to see the pope. we never made it to italy. we never made it to rome. the vatican. but because of the pope we made it past the polish border and then past the czech border and into austria, where the rules were very different and where we danced in a field outside of vienna because we were now free. the pope had managed to open a door for us. and we walked through that very barely open door. and so did thousands of other polish people in the summer of 1981 and then by december 13th all the doors were closed, all of them, marshal law was introduced in poland, but poland would be fine... it had the polish pope. and people in germany did not really understand. but that was okay. fifty percent of them were protestant anyway. those were the people who did not even have saints. the pope was a saint... and maybe i was still a little boy. and i never managed to go to rome. and the pope kissed about one hundred other places. but i would not be here and i would certainly not write this in english if it were not for that polish pope... and i knew that i would remember where we were when the pope died... and my mother called me and left a message. she said he died at 21:21... which then apparently was 21:37 or 9:37 and they were all magical numbers and we were in the apple store... and it all really made sense... completely. full clarity... yes it might not make sense to anybody else... and the church was closed when i tried to just go in there this morning. but that does not really matter... i think i am going to call my uncle in poland now... oh and that article in the new york times this morning put me back to kraków quicker than i could have ever imagined: There were not very many tears, though some people did weep. It was more a kind of awed and pensive stillness under the dark sky. Candles lined the windows of the residence; in the distance was the sound of a siren. And then, around 10 p.m. on Saturday, the people who had been standing through a chilly evening for hours praying for the pope learned he was dead. They sank collectively to their knees. (more*)