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09/01 Direct Link
They walked across the desert, their destination vague and distant, their scarves wound loosely about their heads and shoulders, their eyes squinting against the blazing sun. The sands were blood red, blasted from the towering sandstone cliffs that were a mere slash across the eastern horizon, swept by the wind into mammoth dunes that wavered dully in the heat, still dim somehow even in the glare of noon. Each step was a struggle, the blood-sand streaming like water from their pant-legs as they fought their way to the top of yet another dune and peered wearily across at the next.
09/02 Direct Link
It's another Labor Day weekend, another milepost or perhaps headstone to mark the passing of yet another insubstantial summer. A few weeks of non-being, like a brief sleep that refreshes but leaves you with a mere scattering of dream-images and a vague sense of half-remembered pleasures. Another morning on the couch with the New York Times and rapidly cooling coffee, a late morning walk with the dog, Leonard Lopate and a Don DeLillo novel dog-eared for quotes, a disquieting sense that something is missing, something left undone. Then a sun-drenched weekend of grilling and beer and the year begins again.
09/03 Direct Link
Silence that descends upon a room in the wake of electronic noise is somehow as solidly present as the noise it replaces. Perhaps because it is purposeless, silence always fully fulfills its purpose. We switch on speakers for countless reasons – entertainment, information, distraction - and because there is a goal there is also lack; the goal being imperfectly met, we experience some degree of disappointment. But silence! When we switch off the television or radio, our goal is perfectly accomplished: the t.v. or radio is silent, and that silence, having no need to fulfill save merely to exist, is perfect and complete.
09/04 Direct Link
"What sort of odds are you offering?"

"That depends."

"On what?"

"On the specificity. Who, what, where, when. A general wager: Tokyo is the target of an attack within five years. High probability, low payout. More specific: within six months, Islamic Jihad, a car-bombing. Lower probability, higher payout. Even more specific: headquarters of Yamaha International, death-toll of at least five-hundred. These are the wagers we like to see. Thought out. Calculated. The odds balanced against world events and underworld chatter, shifting paradigms, doctrines, military occupations. These are things worth placing a wager upon. Life and death. The exchange of gold."
09/05 Direct Link
The engineering behind Aeropolis is breathtaking, a stunning symphony of carefully balanced ballast and balloons and balsawood. Miles of wax-coated silk make up a tightly swollen skyline of brightly bulging and billowing mounds, the sheer immensity of the largeness causing scale itself to loose all rationality; the thousands of ropes descending from the gas-bags like petrified rain, the humming taught bars of thickly woven hemp and the spiderwebbing of guy-wires and backup likes fastened with sheets-bends and half-hitches. A city of thousands sways in this fragile yet firm web, and their shadow falls across the awestruck faces of those below.
09/06 Direct Link
There was always the inevitable sense of squalor, the mounds of organic refuse and small black flies crawling about the edges of the orphans who slept sprawled at the mouths of alleyways. Then there was the heat, a constant pulsing presence somehow required, just as the mothers shouting from opened windows and the shriek of childrens' street games were inevitable, the monosyllabic cries of venders hawking their wares, roast meat on wooden skewers, mango ices, cheap trinkets and loose items of clothing spread upon tattered blankets. These are people who pray incessantly, ceaselessly muttering the many names of their gods.
09/07 Direct Link
Set here, the whirring of hours, of days, the lives and societies of men set upon their edge to crumble at the slightest nudge. Everything arranged just so – the babble of language, the fiery wrath of orthodoxies, the subtle mechanizations of internal and international politics. A principality here, an emirate there, the death of the grand vizier upon the eve of some martyrs death feast, a beggar woman glimpses The Morning Star hung beneath a pale gibbous moon at dawn . . . These are the pawns that are pushed back and forth across our gaming board, while cities and continents crumble.
09/08 Direct Link
The rain is cold. That is the first death knell of summer - cold rain. It is not the frigid driving rain of late fall, the ceaseless sheets of water swirling brown leaves and garbage in swollen gutters, but it is no longer refreshing summer thunder; there is no tension to wash away, nothing to dissolve with relief in the face of the sky opening. It is oppressive rain, rain to peer at apprehensively, fingering cheap black umbrellas, the leap from crosswalk to slick curb. The moment of leaping, suspended in water, water above, beneath, waiting, with expectation, to land.
09/09 Direct Link
The child's footsteps echoed down the corridor, the high ceilings and regularly spaced pillars catching the slight, hollow sound and tossing it back and forth amongst themselves, teasing a subtle patter into a low but insistent murmuring as the same sound tripped over itself in constant repetition. The girl's petite figure was subsumed whole by the towering hallway, her progress toward the far end scarcely outpacing that of the narrow reeds of sunlight that sliced across the floor. Pale gold motes rose in swirling billows as each step disturbed the thick carpet of dust that had lay slumbering for years.
09/10 Direct Link
Golden light upon the fire-escape, dull rust somehow warmed into liveliness under soft caresses of the late afternoon sun, shadow ladders latticing across brick edifice, shadows creeping slowly like a dim tide up from the street, climbing steadily towards coppered eves as the light bleeds towards reddening, warm yellows washing into smoldering fire, the sky blue paled to near whiteness above. A shirt hung to dry from iron rung, whispered by breeze into motion, turns, slightly – it is tired, like the light, like the shadow, like the summer afternoon which looks towards its rest in the shortening days of fall.
09/11 Direct Link
Those old buildings are crumbling – they were the first buildings here, history cast in iron and brick and concrete, the turning of an era, of a community, a people. Their walls hold in history, but do not hold out water, and rain drips steadily through gaping holes that show the stars on clear nights, the rise of the sun, the passing torrent of thin clouds racing in the upper airs. How thin, now, how fragile, the crumbling lintel, the unhinged door, the shattered sharding of class across moss carpeted floorboards light with rot, home now to insects rather than humans.
09/12 Direct Link
Don't you go buy another car before you come on down and let us make you a deal you won't be able to believe, a one in a lifetime your ears must be playin' tricks on you cheaper than cheaper bargain basement prices of a lower than low, we'll match any offer you can find anywhere, anytime, no, not match, we'll beat any, and I mean any price out there, no matter how low, we'll slash our bottom line, we'll loose money if we have to, we'll sacrifice our mewling first born upon the blood-stained alters of your wrathful gods.
09/13 Direct Link
These are the mountains – these are the streams we once knew. These are the memories that bleed out of me and you and the cities around us, the cities under our feet. We walk and we breathe them, we breathe and we walk the streets. There is water and darkness. There is the sound of dripping rain. My eyelids are closing, closing and settling into pain but I wouldn't be here if you asked me. I wouldn't be here at all. I never asked you for anything, and you happily obliged. To this is my triumph – this my opening line.
09/14 Direct Link
We do not carry egg-salad on the menu. We do not serve chicken salad. We do not serve it on rye, wheat, or roll. We do not serve it with tomatoes, onions, or lettuce. We do not serve pastrami, hot or otherwise, neither do we serve roast-beef, turkey, or ham – not even ham with Swiss. We do not serve a cheese sandwich. We certainly do not serve a grilled-cheese sandwich; should you ask for anything as varied as grilled American on white or grilled brie on organic pumpernickel we will respond that we do not carry either item upon our menu.
09/15 Direct Link
A soft explosion of feathers – the pigeon flashes upward, a fluttering mass of grey against the red brick, settling onto the uneven lines of a fire escape, a small rain of down swirling behind.

The two birds circle, cautious, darting in animatronic motions as they peer at the some mote, some spot unseen by any but avian eyes, suspicious of the other for coveting the same imagined meal.

The sudden fall of a swallow, a slash of black against the graying apartment cliffs, a small shape plummeting from the heavens to nearly collide with the trash-strewn concrete before rising again.
09/16 Direct Link
There is an old-fashioned sense of luxury found in barbershops, something genteel and infused with a subtle sort of masculinity that one seldom finds these days. There is a slowness, a sense of care. The short exchanges of terse questions and replies – this short here, a bit longer there, did you see the game last night – then long periods of silence, the buzz of clippers, the swift, darting movements of comb and scissors. Firm, confident fingers holding your chin, eyes peering intently for stray hairs until their intensity makes you close your own, to retreat from the sudden unexpected intimacy.
09/17 Direct Link
Around him the chaos of the Union Square farmer's market, a maze of tables, booths and battered old vans, a constant babble of small bills, hothouse tomatoes and fresh pressed cider, of Vidalia onions. Around him a thousand bodies weave amongst one another in an intricately planned dance, a thousand voices ask prices, ingredients, feet on brick and all around the ring of traffic, the rumble of the great city around him. Amidst it all he lies prostrate on the sidewalk, forehead pressed to a battered square of cardboard, his body facing Mecca as he murmurs his prayers to Allah.
09/18 Direct Link
After the storm – the sense of cleanliness, the newness that pools glistening on every surface: sidewalk, curbside, side street storefront. Even the faded blue awning of the corner bodega somehow fresh, somehow brightly faded, like the blue grey sea of sky, the waves of air still damp with storm, the lingering after-sex kiss of orgasmic exhaustion, everything damp, scrubbed clean with the primal elements wind and water, the streets near empty, the spray from a passing gypsy cab, the hiss of time on wet pavement, the cool breeze gusting with a sense of purposefulness. Breath in – important things are coming.
09/19 Direct Link
Like the surface world counterpart, the Emergency room was filled to capacity with tired and irritable persons, filled with the nearly hysterical chatter of the ill and their relations. But if our triage center is a picture of chaos and disorder, it is but the visage of calm rationality compared to the scene that faced Mr. Swearing!

The room was a low ceilinged catacomb forested with pillars, drooping gothic eves and the occasional stalagmite. Flickering bulbs hung in strands from the ceiling, blinding in their naked glare yet not casting enough light to chase the darkest shadows from their corners.
09/20 Direct Link
And the people! They were of every shape and deformity – disfigured dwarves hunched beneath giants whose bent necks and shoulders pressed against the ribbed arches of the ceiling; individuals with skin as pale and smooth as marble sat besides others with skin dark as onyx and rough as the paving stones beneath their bare feet, and still others were deep red but burnished to a metallic sheen. There were men with curving horns of rams set in their foreheads, women whose flickering tails wound and unwound about their ankles with a spasmodic anxiousness, and children with rams heads and cloven hooves.
09/21 Direct Link
Their clothing was as chaotically varied: wraps which left not an inch of skin revealed brushed against the filthy rags of a leprous beggar and the nearly absent strip of golden cloth that wrapped one woman's waist, leaving the rest of her voluptuous green flesh uncovered and the object of every man's startled gaze.

The heterogeneous mob filled the room to the point that some squatted on the floor or leaned against any empty space in the wall. Each muttered, moaned or cried aloud in agony in their own native tongue until the air hung thick with the senseless cacophony.
09/22 Direct Link
Occasionally one must wonder at the immediately irreversible nature of being, that one can never undo what was done - that despite any attempts at reversal or restoration the nature of reality is such that a thing done has been done and will have been so.

The other day I broke my foot – it was the result of a simple misstep, the slipping of a sandal and a fracturing metatarsal. There were a thousand other ways my foot could have landed, a thousand paths leading to a result where I would have a broken foot, but there is one and one reality – the way it is.
09/23 Direct Link
Its instructive to experience to what an extent ability and/or disability create the reality around us. With one misstep the scale of my entire life has been altered, events and distances shrunken or expanded to a new level of physical exertion. Distances once though short are nearly insurmountably distant; a flight of stairs climbed two steps at a time reduces me to crawling step after step on my hands and knees. My mind and body feel unchanged - awake, vigorous, aware - but I'm frustrated each time I force my way across the room as I cannot do what I know I can.
09/24 Direct Link
Having a broken foot has force me to re-evaluate what it is I actually want, at least in the immediate sense – before I go through the effort of hauling myself to my feet and hobbling painfully across the room, I ask if what I want is important enough to justify the effort and the pain. Am I that thirsty? Do I really need a snack? How badly do I want to read right now? Objects are now broadly classed into two categories – either "worth it" or "not worth it," with an increasing amount of things being labeled "not worth it."
09/25 Direct Link
Today some of my students were teasing Victoria by calling her "white-girl." Victoria isn't white at all; she's black, but what makes her white is that she is an excellent student. She gets good grades, reads constantly, listens to music other than R&B and Rap, and doesn't swear often or use slang. I find it depressing that my students set up their cultural identity by focusing on its most negative aspects – poor scholastic achievement, a lack of interest in reading. There is so much of value in black and Hispanic culture, but that isn't what my students are attracted to.
09/26 Direct Link
The cars and people below look so small, as if I were peering out of the window of a low flying airplane. The ambulances gather near the curb in front of my building – first one, then two, then five – their lights searing red and white across the shadowed apartment faces, reflected in a thousand windows. There is no sound: through the glass the scene plays out silently, the bodies lifted onto stretchers, the EMTs crumbling slowly, then another pedestrian, next a bicycle delivery boy, their bodies stretched out in pools of blood while the unseen gunmen fires again and again.
09/27 Direct Link
Orchids appear somewhat alien, more reptilian than plant-like in their curving, lithely creeping stems. The flower lurks in the window of my living room, its shadow falling menacingly towards me, some bizarre creature poised and waiting for a reason to strike. It is altogether disconcerting, its thick, waxen petals and its cruel, delicately curving gape of its maw appearing ready to salivate and bite. Perhaps it is partially its asymmetry, its flowers arranged with a definite top and bottom, an alignment like that of a creature's head. And the mouth, open, waiting, hungry in the midst of a blind face.
09/28 Direct Link
A season in Hell – would that be unchanging or always changing? Stasis and flux, consistency and excitement. I suppose both are divide, both diabolical, depending upon the degrees. Is it that then? That hell is extremes and heaven moderation? That never changing and ever-changing are the same with the opposition being sometimes changing, sometimes staying the same? It certainly is both Buddhist and Aristotelian. Hell is inevitability, and thus the lack of choice that is implied with a constant. One MUST change, one MUST stay the same. Being able to say "I do this by choice" – that is divine.
09/29 Direct Link
A season in Hell – would that be unchanging or always changing? Stasis and flux, consistency and excitement. I suppose both are divide, both diabolical, depending upon the degrees. Is it that then? That hell is extremes and heaven moderation? That never changing and ever-changing are the same with the opposition being sometimes changing, sometimes staying the same? It certainly is both Buddhist and Aristotelian. Hell is inevitability, and thus the lack of choice that is implied with a constant. One MUST change, one MUST stay the same. Being able to say "I do this by choice" – that is divine.
09/30 Direct Link
The woman with the frighteningly white teeth never stops talking. Even when her lips part in a tight smile that lets the stage lighting glare off her blinding incisors, the endless stream of somehow comforting words continue to pour out of her mouth. She exudes friendliness and warmth the way a stripper exudes sex: in nearly overpowering waves which flatter those so desperate for affection that they cannot even see the cool artifice which underlies her smile. She is not merely selling jewelry; she is selling friendship and sisterhood, and lonely Midwestern wives call her up to place their orders.