oo wuh woo wuh woo wuh woo woo woo

Last night, a man talking on walkie talkie, rushing across Broadway: “I’m going to the dollar store. . . Yeah, we’re the only underground radio station on Broadway. We’ll be back up in an hour.”

The picture that immediately developed in my head was this buy in the middle of a broadcast, reading some secret manifesto while hunkered over his pirate radio equipment. Suddenly the signal goes dead. He digs around in the hodge podge of loose wires, dismantled stereos, and car batteries, to find what is wrong. Confused listeners start calling, via every means possible. He finds the problem. Luckily the replacement part is available at the dollar store, racked between the phony Star Wars figures and the light switch covers. He grabs his little two-way and runs out to the store.

But enough about you . . .

I was walking up Pine and I stopped at Seventh, waiting for the light to change. A weathered old Indian man with a backpack stopped at the same spot and asked me for change and I turned him down.

He studied me for a few more seconds and said, “Did they make you get that haircut?”

“No,” I answered, not sure who “they” referred to.

“It looks like you got really drunk and cut your own hair.”

I looked at him, laughing. “Wow, thanks!”

This encouraged him and he made a couple of more comments – not aggressive or taunting, just careless and matter of fact.

When I got home, I looked in the mirror. There’s a spot where my hair doesn’t blend exactly right, as if I had gotten up just before the barber had finished. The right third of my bangs stand straight up in an inherited cowlick and I’m starting to thin out in back. He probably has a point.

Back at the corner, I laughed a little more, and thanked him for being honest. He stood there passively. I should’ve given him my change, that was definitely worth fifty cents.

Strangers

Within a span of three minutes, I just mistook two strangers for other people. I also gave someone the time. I said it was 9:15 when it was actually 9:12, but I think that one worked out.

One of These Days

This morning, drowsing in bed, not ready to get up after a late night. I hear a crashing sound, something like the recycling truck tossing recycling bins around or one of the giant yellow trucks that has been hauling loads of gravel up and down the street for a couple of months. Wait, why’d I think of recycling, that’s too specific. I bolt out of bed, dress, and drag my building’s bins out to the curb in record time.

The construction guys are out there. One truck has a shovel on the front – it picks up the balance of the gravel pile from across the street and drives away with it. There’s a woman standing in the road with one of those signs that says “Stop” on one side and “Slow” on the other. She spins it around restlessly. There’s no traffic and if there were they’d be more likely to respond to the yellow menace than the sleepy flagger. The truck with the shovel returns, it dumps a load of gravel across the street.

I take a shower, sure that I missed the recycling pickup for the second time this month, meaning we’ll have another $12 fine. I fix myself a cup of tea and contemplate the next problem.

I crippled my computer yesterday. I was zealously collecting banner advertisers’ domain names to block using the hack I just learned about. But I forget one rule – the list must be fewer than 2000 characters long. Now, when I log in, I have access to my tool bar for about ten seconds, time enough to launch one application, then my desktop disappears. I knew that the problem was in my registry files, so last night I hunted around using Ultra-Edit, but I didn’t know what I was doing.

I finish my tea and have a bowl of cereal. I sit, feeling useless and stupid, and listen to the Jim White CD.

On the way to the internet cafe, I have a peak at neighbors’ recycling bins – they haven’t been emptied. The truck hasn’t come yet. I will have no problem there.

And, from the cafe’s computer, I will find the Microsoft Knowledge Base article to help me fix my Windows problem.

It’s looking like a good day.

I just had a look at my site from here and it looks totally different. I have the browser use its default font, and I kind of like how that works. Maybe I could trick the page out to use a handful of fonts semi-randomly.

Never

I overheard part of a conversation where a girl suddenly listed off things that she has never done, while her companion read the “Musician Wanted” ads in the Stranger out loud (“Bass player, bass player, bass player, Christian bass player.”):

She has never been to a wedding.
She has never taken acid.
She never graduated from high school.

You don’t have to join us, you are us.

Today, after getting a haircut at Rudy’s, I headed down to Bauhaus where I sat and read the new issue of the Stranger.

When I was finished, I looked up at the people lounging around. At least two-thirds of them had a copy of the Stranger open in front of them. I looked over at the newspapers piled up next to the cash register. There were three neat stacks of Strangers – each at least four feet tall.

I was bemused to have validated what I’ve suspected all along: I’m a cliché.

Exposed

I thinned out a few books and CDs today and hauled them away to sell.

Aside from clinically examining the CDs and putting them into little stacks, the guy at the CD store made no motions to indicate that I was present. He rejected a few (I’ve misplaced them at some point) and paid out slightly less than they should’ve gone for.

I have a nodding acquaintance with the bookstore employee. She’s a cartoonist. I went off and skimmed Graham Greene’s autobiography while she went through my books.

When she was done, she came up and said, “Did you know you’ve got some really good books?”

“Do you mean they have some value?”

“No, you have some interesting books. The book of Paul Auster’s poems looks interesting. Poetry’s not my thing, but I’m going to have to check that out.” Then she asked, “Are you a cartoonist?”

We’ve had this conversation before. There were a few comics among my sendoffs and because comics are so marginalized, cartoonists assume that anyone who reads comics must also make them. “No.”

She looked at me like I was withholding some information. “I mean I used to draw and I’ve done a few pages.” But the answer is really no.

Go

Shut off the PC, go outside, and soak in the sun. The most direct rays are at noon. It’s nice and comfortable about now, and the sun will resist the horizon until after 9. We’re in extra innings until almost 10.

This is the perfect spot.

Backwater

Most of my reading has been pretty uninspiring recently. Mostly I think that’s because I haven’t been keeping as focused on what I’m reading since I’ve taken so much time off. I have plenty of time to read – so why don’t I just read later, I think. If I were doing much else, I’d be more focused while reading since it’s time away from working.

I don’t like where this is going, I guess this means that I read for escape rather than for some mind-nourishment reasons. Or maybe having free time brings out lazy tendencies in me.

I just dropped the book that I’d spent at least two weeks with (which was pretty good) and picked up Calvino’s The Watcher. I’ve zipped through it in two days.

Now I think I’m going to change my story. I blame habit. I was really digging Calvino when I was reading his books last year, I think that a couple of more books will charge me up and get me going again. I’m not equating speed-reading with satisfied reading, I’m saying that I go through books more quickly when I’m especially engrossed in them. Pacing feeds attention, attention feeds pacing.

Okay, I’m going to change the direction of this thing one more time. I’m looking over my bookshelf and noticing a few books that I’ve read recently, zipped through, and really enjoyed. I’m probably not doing as badly as I thought, it’s just a temporary lull.

There’s something to what I said about habit though. I just put on Meat Puppets/Too High To Die and it’s putting me in a certain frame of mind – not exactly the frame of mind I’d have while listening to it in 1994, kind of neo-1994 though.

Traces

There’s a little door in the wall of my bathroom that accesses some plumbing and some space in the wall. Since I painted, the door hasn’t been able to latch securely. Recently my neighbor (who I guess has a similar door) started storing boxes in there. They’ve bumped against my door a couple of times & popped it open. So I was fiddling around with it today, trying to make it fit better so I could use the latch. I noticed that on the inside of the door, in red pen, someone has written “i [heart symbol] u sena” & the names “Sena”, “Jeff”, and “Baker” as the three corners of a triangle.

Now I remember that, when I moved in, there was a little “Sena Marie” in a circle painted in red on one living room wall. The “i” was dotted with a little heart.

I didn’t meet the man who had my apartment before me. I know that he lifted weights and I know he was on the mailing list for a baseball equipment catalog. His name wasn’t Jeff or Baker. I’m afraid this leaves more questions asked than answered. Is there a Jeff Baker? Who is Sena? What’s with the cutesy shorthand?