A Ghost Story

**

I wait. For whom, I don’t remember. I’m in the woods; the woods where I’ve always been.

Tawny, muscled men and women live among the trees. They tap sustenance from each animal, every leaf. They fear me when the dark shrinks their fires.

Young men worship the sun. They chew the trees with steel teeth and commute the flesh into timber and frame. Their fires multiply and grow, but they fear me in the vastness of night.

The river rises, the people drown. Others return, subdue the water with concrete and glass. They conceal their fires but yield light so bright it blinds, renders all seeing. And yet they fear me when they close their eyes.

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New York Part 2

D-man went to New York to see old homies and unhinge to the riffs of reverb-soaked guitar; I went to get laid. Too crass? I went to make some love that lasts. Better? Maybe.

h/t flowebro

It was a Thursday and it was snowing. Blizzarding, actually. I think we got two to three feet in as many days. Our bus driver plowed fearlessly through the storm, past rest stop scrums of eighteen wheelers and snow blasted billboards. My mom always says that some people were put on Earth for a reason. Well, I swear our bus driver was put on Earth to pilot Greyhound buses through blinding snow storms. After seven hours of certified rotten movies on mute and the intestinal cramps that accompany brake lock-ups, we were unceremoniously dropped off in the middle of Manhattan. That’s not true, the unceremonious bit, we – us riders – clapped when the bus slid to a final stop. Good job, boss, I got a lot riding on this.

I’d taken the weekend off. Sort of. I told my boss my grandfather was having a procedure done in New York City and needed me to accompany him. ‘Bad juju, man,’ D-man once told me when I pulled the same stunt to beatjuice around San Francisco with him. It’s one thing to drag your brother’s health into the karmic doghouse, but now your grandfather’s as well? Shit. Whatever. I’d had New York and its… colorful potential circled on my mental calendar for months. Girls from college, one in particular. I must have choreographed the reunion thousands of times in my head, during the purgatory of early-morning commutes and late-night, stare-at-the-ceiling boredom. Time to act, BopPop would understand.

 

I am acutely aware that my daydreams often play out less shapely and conclusive than the versions I conjure on the movie screen of my imagination. Especially the sexual ones. Oh, but it played so well in test screenings, my make-believe critics remark after each flop. I suppose that one scene was a little ambitious. The ice cube? That was never going to happen.

I pull my duffel bag from the snowbank where our bus driver had enthusiastically deposited it and begin down the street, blissfully ignorant of my location within the city, unabashed to be lost in the romance of no return ticket. Pulling out my phone, I announce my arrival in the city like a Cessna pilot carving a vapor trail message in the sky. Except by taciturnly worded text, not prop plane.

 

Wait, but that message wasn’t supposed to go out until later tonight, or even tomorrow, when forwardness is blunted by several scotch & sodas. Look at that, I’m already aberrating from the script. This screenwriter sucks anyway, I tell myself, hasn’t written a hit in years. Cars, plows, people, music, shouts, murmurs and light of all colors throb through the streets I tread like blood flow in our veins. Eight million heartbeats or just one? I can’t tell. I’m drunk on New York without taking a single sip. Time to be lucky.

The capacity to make such dubious gifts is a mysterious quality of New York. It can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.                                                        – E.B. White

Leaf Blower Epidemic

Sometimes I imagine sound as a spectrum with music as one limit and silence the other. Everything else – conversation, rural and urban ambiance, leaf blowers – exist somewhere in between.

To exist – to hear – exclusively at both limits might be bliss. Or suffocatingly lonely. But we ingest the full spectrum, which I suppose makes every sound an amalgamation of music and silence.


Theoretically, there is no such thing as silence, right? Every sound, even perceived silence, roars as compared to a smaller resonance or heightened listener. Should I have been a physicist? Should I smoke less weed?

Best for last:

Oxymorrons // Fantastic Negrito

I was in the bookstore today and it seemed each author on my list defined classification. Would Sebastian Junger (nods to D-man) be shelved in Philosophy or Journalism? Are the stories of Norman Maclean considered Autobiographical or that smoky Non-fictional style that turns my pages?

My grandfather was frustrated by the ambiguity, I was charmed.

Good music can sometimes share the same categorical equivocation and increasingly I value artists that headbang and headbutt cataloguing. Here, I think, are two:

Oxymorrons are genre-bending brothers from Brooklyn, whose most popular song, Hello Me, plays like a reincarnation of DeVotchKa and Kid Cudi.


Fantastic Negrito (makes for an an interesting, if not self-aggrandizing, read) “is black roots music for everyone, Blues with a punk attitude from Oakland.” His sound in soulful and spiced with heavy doses of rasp and rad.

I found some Junger in Northeast Maritime. Who knew?

———-

Sweet Alchemy

I bought a girl a rose this weekend. It was on impulse, a last-minute apology, a chance to stick out from the other glassy eyed guys offering her shots. It was also her birthday.

I gave her the rose, any edge of embarrassment blunted by the requisite surge of shots I slugged before the Uber. She inhaled, smiled, thanked. We talked, she laughed, I drank.

The night sped and the bar surged around us. Around her. But she remained motionless, rose gripped in one hand, clutch in the other. Friends and strangers extended dancing hands and clouded drinks, but she reproached all comers.

Behind pretty eyes, hesitation scintillated. The ugly trio of self-pessimism: doubt, fear and loathing guarded her every movement. Those bastards seep through even the heaviest masks of makeup.

Thirty minutes later she was gone. What she’s looking for I do not know, but it won’t be wrought from the sweet alchemy of another night, another bar, another round. This, at least, we have in common.

As my roommate and I made to leave, I saw the rose, slightly battered and entirely forgotten on the sticky bar top. I took it with me and gave it to the Mexican girl working the midnight shift at the burger joint down the road. She tucked it behind her ear.

———-