Showing posts from 2006


If I remember correctly, the term from screenwriting class was ethical mode of action . To get it, you take a character and push him, and then push him a little more until he is quite uncomfortable, and then you sit back and watch what he does. His behavior in this extreme moment of his life defines his future existence for you. And hopefully it will prove you've concocted a person with the strength of will to stand up to the empire, or whatever it is you want him to do. Discovering elements of one's own ethical mode of action is a lot less fun. My discovery began this way: Enter a windswept,autumn night. A few sprinklings of drops, the hint of a rainstorm. Make it late for a work night- 9 or so o'clock. Add a good amount of crappy-job fatigue, accelerated by the knee-snapping speedwalk of a greenpointer with a half a mile still to go. Make sure it's just late enough that moving the car is going to take some time, and then throw in, just for fun, the discovery of a pile


One summer spent in New York with my car (my LA sweetheart) has yielded this conclusion: Having a car unjustly towed by the NYPD, and having its window smashed and stereo stolen by a garden variety Brooklyn thug feels exactly the same. It costs about the same too. Conversely, the resulting misery is inversely proportional to the sweeping lights of joy experienced when the last concrete building outside the city fades away and all the adventures of the countryside spill out onto the road. So it was worth it I think as I send my car back to its winter hideaway in my parents' driveway in Massachusetts. Despite the price.


Ode sleepy dawns in greenpoint the sun slips past the dreamsighs of my pillow and waits listening the orange man assembles he bows to the foreman raises his instrument and begins O dear jackhammer what would summer be without your per- p-p-pERp-p-p-perPET-ual PUSH

night sounds

My apartment windows don't have any screens. My roommates like it this way. And so do I. It's prettier. We get unfiltered Brooklyn sunlight in every room. When tall, skinny neighbors come to visit, they can holler up at me and I can stick my head out my bedroom window and holler back. I have total freedom to lean out from the living room and glare my disgust at the latin music beating from the parked car on the corner. And one day, I really will have the courage to lean way out and yell, "Yo! Cheese Sandwich!" to the slow bodega clerk across the street so that my food will be ready for me when I get downstairs. We live only barely separated from the outside world. No screens, no air conditioners. When the neighborhood cats go into heat, we know it. When I was little, my parents used to joke that I had sweet blood. I imagined my veins running rich with fruit juice, and felt special for all my bites. So my first summer in this apartment, snapping awake every night and s

how to pack

At nine o'clock in the morning, before she left for work, my roommate sat down at the kitchen table and wrote down on a piece of paper, "I, Julianne B- ask Katerina to take my teddy bear, my cds, my photo albums, and some clothes including my good shoes." I read the list outloud over her shoulder. "So that's what you're going to take with you today?" "No, it's what Katerina shold grab for me if the apartment catches fire." I glanced out of the window to where twelve storeys of apocalyptic smoke blackened the sky two blocks away. Down below, a line of men in uniforms stood ready in front of our building, waiting for the slightest wind shift to tempt the fire with the prospects of fresh fodder. Because who would be satisfied with an empty warehouse, when there's plenty of prime real-estate right next door? "Umm, if our house catches fire," I said, "I don't think Katerina's going to want to spend time going through y
Chock a Block. So everyone knows that our existence lies on a dimension that is coiled around an infinity of others similar to our own but different in as many ways. All of these planes of existence lie tightly wrapped and slightly translucent, like that vibrant vegetable, so that it's hard not feel that with the right kind of light and the right way of looking, you can see into the next one. There are some places where these dimensions lie so close together that to see the next one, you hardly need any light at all. Like, of course, in New York City. For example, in my neighborhood in Greenpoint, you can find the land of the children. Twenty or so kids without the suburban luxury of furnished basements, their dramas play out on the streets. Clustered on sidewalks, playing cards, wrestling with a basketball, eying each other. For some reason, I can see them as clear as day, but they can't see me. Sometimes I stare at them, just because I can, because they can't tell. You k