The Unswung Bat

Sunday, September 17, 2006
 
Like, Ghosts or Somethin'


Just sorted through the harddrive on my family's computer at home. This is the digital closet, and I've cleared it out. That doesn't mean I threw anything away, other than a few bits of meaningless information about universities, some old games, a pdf about how to disassemble a specific Casio keyboard, and so on. The rest I shuffled into a few different folders and packed into a box, where I can actually find stuff. I never let go of anything. Try and keep that in mind if you lend me something.

It was hard work. One challenge lay deciphering the incredible titles I came up with for important stuff back in "the day." I can see I was a real secretive type. "uf.wpd?" What the hell kind of filename is that? Oh, I see. Pretty much the entire point of this blog (this is obviously not true, but disregard the fact that I'm inventing it for argument's sake) was to crack open this closed-book way of writing and put stuff up inside the interwebs, presentable and with my name onn'em. Of course, some of this stuff I never, ever would have put up -- not because it's personal, but because it's embarrassingly rough.

My music is another thing. I haven't spent much time on finding new stuff these past 2 years or so, between the constraints of time and my laptop's munchkinesque HD. But even so, I'm shocked at how much good music I'm missing. I left a ton of great stuff behind on this PC that I'm gonna have to figure out how to take home. I will drop names, in a form you can easily skip over, 'cause I'm still trying to work out what I want to say about this.

Kamaal the Abstract -- a name after my own heart. Melanie Safka. A buncha stuff by The Odds. All these songs by the Five Blind Boys of Alabama -- "I have never reached redemption, but God knows I tried" is as fine a song as you can hope you hear. Long-Legged Woman Dressed in Black, by Mungo Jerry. Planes Mistaken for Stars. I miss all this stuff, when the hell did I drift away from it and not notice?

We have two dogs -- doglets, the froofiest of undersized canines. My dad has a theory that they have no sense of time, supported by how they are just as maniacally happy when we return from a trip to the grocery store as when we come back from 4 months overseas. I thought it was a weird idea to move forward through time without noticing any lapse, only a baffling change in the present state. But it turns out I do the same thing, and I can do it backwards too. I open an old document or a song from Back Then, and the ends of then and now are stapled together, everything between a closed loop. Removed from the sequence.

It isn't what I believe those in "the business" would call a smooth cut. This exact moment becomes a jarringly life-like glimpse of the future, seen from years ago. I never call the number I wrote down there? I don't go to UBC because of what? That IM session was the last time we really talked? God damn it to hell!

And then the time warp wears off -- and of course this is how things are -- almost. I wonder how well things would carry over that time-stapling suture, into now. That's really what I try to do with this housekeeping.

=====
There's a Hole In Broadway

Day after day, the hole kept getting bigger. Bits of asphault crumbled into it and it grew like is was opening its mouth. People called it a city works problem, but they sent a few workers down there and they never came out, and then they sent rescue workers who took a careful look and shrugged and went in and never came out. And then some scientists went and took a real careful look, and stepped inside and they got eaten, too, which means their results were inconclusive. I mean, New York is still New York, and life ain't about to stop over some monster pothole, even if it does eat people. Still, no matter who you were, the idea of it kind of gnawed at the edge of your mind. You know, like when was it gonna stop? They slapped some kind of emergency pavement on it but it swallowed that down, too.

The ads about it have settled on saying there's nothing to worry about right now, but stay away from Broadway and East 43rd St if you know what's good for you. It was like a gremlin mob was shaking down the theater district. Personally, I was sick of hearing about it, and I know I wasn't the only one. On TV, the radio, at work, everybody was saying the same things about the hole. The same shit, over and over like every time they repeated it they got closer to knowing what they were talking about. It's like the thing was sucking away their brains while it chewed on Broadway. And there were theories.

One thing you can count on crackpots for is a bit of variety. Every lunatic gave it his own personal touch. I got in a cab and noticed too late I was sharing it with a raggedy gray bum, hadda be eighty years old, all tatters and bones. The cab'd already pulled inna traffic an' I thought, what the hell, I'm stayin', an' opened my window and leaned my head as far out as I could without looking like a dog.

The driver laughed. "Say, what you think about that hole inna street shit?" he asked me over his shoulder.

"What hole?" I answered crankily, and he laughed again.

"What hole? Man, I gotta go all the way up 34th St. and back down 57th to go up broadway and he says what. Betcha you know what it's about," he said to the bum.

"Tell you what it's about," the bum bum coughed out, and I rolled my head out the window while he mumbled his theory. Sonofabitch cabbie fucking encouraged him. The bum swung from side to side and puffed as he talked like he was blowing invisible smoke rings and reading them.

His idea was that every forty years the devil visits his old high school, which is in New York, and then the city is pretty well fucked. Last time around they blew up the twin towers. I asked what happened in '61, and he said "Vietnam, asshole," like they fought the whole thing in Times Square. I gotta look at getting a bike or something. The devil's name, in case you wondered, is Adal Goel, and he went to the ?Bread and Roses High School.

Anyway, every-goddamn-one and his brother had something to say about the hole -- the same thing, in fact. I got a feeling like I'd knock the mouth off the next asshole to ask me what I thought about that shit. Lucky for me, I got an inner circle of very self-centered people.

The thing about each of them, if you asked them what they thought about the hole, they’d give you a ticked-off face for interrupting whatever train of thought they'd been following, and say "huh?" No dignified responses or stupid questions, just 'I don't give a damn about some stupid hole, I was trying to talk about me.' They're a breath of fresh exhaust. So after another day of talking about the hole, when I'd had it up to here with the god damned thing and I thought if I pretended to be interested in one more guy’s crap opinion I’d flip out, these were the people I called.

We set up a night out, chose a spot called the Arkadiuz. It’s one of those places everyone goes ‘cause no one knows about it. A hole in the wall with neon lights and a bouncer, plus a bartender who’s long on drinks and short on conversation, which was exactly the cure for a long day of cheap talk.

The drive there took a while, ‘cause the cabbie detoured halfway around Manhattan downtown to stay away from the hole. He had a one-track mind, that guy.

“So, you goin’a the Arkadiuz, right?” he asked me.

“You got it, pal, it’s just off Br-“

”Yeah, yeah, I know where it is. I’ma take a detour, though ‘cuz of . . . you know.”

“Fine, whaddevah.”

“So, uh, d’a fuck ya think ‘bout ‘at shit, huh?”

“I think it’s a hole. I think it eats people. D’a shit else do I care, so long as I stay outta da fuckin’ thing?”

“Yeah, right, I hear ya,” said the cabbie, and that set me off for some reason.

“Everybody, I mean everybody’s got some theory a’ what they think it is. Alligators or a faultline or terrorists. I mean cut the crap already.”

“I ‘ad a guy in here today thought it was haunted, you know, like ghosts or something.”

“Ah, s’all bullshit, fr chrissake. Let’s face it, pal, we don’ know what da fuck it is, and every time someone tries’a find out, they get eaten, so we ain’t gonna find out what it is. And complaining ‘bout it an’ throwin’ around theories ain’t helping nothing, so you can either accept it’s there and deal with it, or get outta town.”

The cabbie didn’t have anything to say to that, so he just shut up. After a minute or two he switched on the radio. It was talk about the hole. For the rest of the ride I listened to a guy sayin’ how the hole was the true grave of Jesus Christ, and we’d better all get our shit together ‘cause He’s coming back, I don’t know, for a night out on Broadway I guess.

=====

I can stay awake all night, but I would make mistakes, alright.



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