“Danger’s over, Banana Breakfast is saved.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“Danger’s over, Banana Breakfast is saved.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“In this world of ours, the sparrow must live like a hawk if he is to fly at all.”
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
― Albert Einstein, The World as I See It
As we were transporting one son to the other’s apartment we were forced by cruel geography to drive down US 75 – Central Expressway. I have lived in Dallas a long time and have many memories of traffic jams on this long strip of concrete. Today was no different.
We saw a column of white smoke drifting up miles ahead and I knew it was going to be bad. So we settled in for the wait – about an hour, which is really not as bad as it could be. We chatted, listened to music, and stared at the back of the cargo trailer in front of us. I know it’s not a big deal, but I was forced to look at it for over an hour.
What the hell is that?
It’s obviously the remmnants of a sign or a painted ad of some sort – heavily weathered or purposely mostly removed. You can see the white circles where the rivets are. There are two URLs on the design, I looked them up. One is a manufacturer of trailers, another is a local dealer that sells used trailers. No clue there. But the URLs overlay the design. Does that mean that it is supposed to look like that? Did they sell it that way?
As I stared at it – I wondered… What is that in the upper right? A dancer? Is that a skull in the upper left quarter? A lot of random shit ends up looking like a skull. One the bottom, those look like artistic shapes of some sort – but what?
I stuck my phone out of the window and snapped a photo right as we passed the charred carcass of a big burned out SUV (hope nobody was hurt) and the traffic began to speed up.
What the hell is that?
“It is a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.”
― Andrew Jackson
Tremendous thunderstorms rattled the Metroplex with pelting rain and shattering lighting late last night. Unfortunately, all flights going east were canceled from Love Field and our son Lee couldn’t get home to New Orleans. I drove through the weather to the airport to pick him up and bring him home late last night.
So we had another day with him for the holidays. We decided to go eat at Noodle Wave, one of our favorite places to eat – fantastic Thai food, along with great service in a surprisingly artistic and comfortable decor. It is located in an unfortunate strip of lower end shops and restaurants inspired by the cuisine from five different countries (including Thailand).
I have gone to Noodle Wave often and parked in that lot many times and I’m sure I’ve stared at the sign of the LOW PRIZE FOOD MART more than once without realizing that they meant PRICE. I did a quick internet search and all the text referring to the place is LOW PRICE. The only pages that LOW PRIZE FOOD MART is mentioned in in their applications and renewal for their liquor license.
I can’t believe that someone would make a mistake like this in a sign so big and in a busy location – I prefer to think of it as a clever, ironic, and hipster statement about the inevitable failure of consumer culture.
But I know I’m wrong.
I was talking to someone at work about the viral video that is going around, the one about the NASA scientist that made the elaborate, over-engineered, hilarious booby trap to revenge upon thieves that steal Amazon packages. My point is that he made the package look too tempting – he was creating thieves. The other guy disagreed – he felt that people either were thieves or not. I think that it is more a matter of degree, and everyone, sometimes, steals something.
I’ve stolen something. There is a bar that I visited this year, one that had an old fashioned photo booth back in the back, next to the filthy bathrooms. On the wall by the booth was a torn up cork board. A lot of people thumbtacked their strips of four photos into the cork, leaving them for posterity. I picked up a handful that looked interesting and stole them.
I’ve scanned the strips and I think I’ll take them, one at time, four photos at a time, and write a thousand or so words about the people in the photographs. Or, more accurately, what I imagine about the two people.
One day, due to a mix-up at a department store wedding registry two weeks before the scheduled weddings, Moss Williams and Isabel Green discovered they were both engaged to the same man, Augustus Piper.
Moss William’s condominium was on the twenty third floor and she had always been disappointed that the windows didn’t open. She lifted up an expensive, exquisite abstract marble sculpture that Augustus Piper had bought her on one of his business trips to Venice and fixed the window. The marble made an appropriate expensive explosive boom when it hit the concrete over two hundred feet below – followed by an exquisite tinkle as the shards of broken glass caught up. Augustus had bought her the condo and had planned on moving in too after the wedding.
She enjoyed the sting of the cold wind whipping through the open wound in the glass wall of the building as she collected everything that either belonged to Augustus or had been bought by him and would fit through the hole in the window left by the marble. This was everything in the place other than the furniture. With amazing energy and rapidity she threw it all out.
The only thing she saved was the cocaine. Moss lined it all up in a group that looked like a tiny neatly plowed field of snowy ground on the glass coffee table – then hurled the expensive sterling necklace with its hidden compartment out too. He had bought her the jewelry in San Francisco. He had bought the cocaine too, but it was too good to waste… even in fury. She visited the little field on the coffee table whenever her energy began to fade.
“Here, dear,” Isabel’s mother called, “I’m back from the store with the ice cream.” She began unloading the pints from the shrink-wrapped cardboard flat and loaded them into her daughter’s freezer. “It’s a little soft from the trip back from the store, but I think it’s still edible… do you want a pint now?”
The loud sobbing from the bedroom paused for a few seconds. “Yes,” Isabel said, “Bring me a pint and a spoon.”
“What flavor? They sold these variety flats and that’s what I bought.”
“Who cares mother? Just bring me something.”
“Chunky Monkey OK?” asked Isabel’s mother. The sobbing didn’t stop this time, so she assumed that Chunkey Monkey wasn’t good, so she exchanged it with a pint of chocolate mint. The spoon she chose from her daughter’s drawer didn’t look quite right, so she bent over the sink and gave it a quick scrubbing before heading back to the bedroom.
It took two hours and three pints of ice cream to get Isabel to quit crying enough for her mother to feel like she could leave and head home. Alone, Isabel felt that one more pint might hit the spot. After all, she had been starving herself for almost a year in order to fit into the wedding dress that Augustus had picked out.
Before all this her mother had been wondering how she was going to spend the insurance settlement from her third husband’s death and when, at last, her only daughter was engaged she had her outlet. She paid for the elaborate and expensive wedding dress without hesitation. She bought that hideous marble sculpture at the gallery and insisted Isabel give it to Augustus for his birthday. Her mother gave Isabel the money for the little silver cocaine vault that Augustus had his eye on. Augustus always liked his coke and Isabel always was willing beg cash from her mom and to drive down to the South Side of town to pick some up for him – though, of course, she always lied to her mother about what the money was for.
Now all that was over. Isabel sat up on the edge of the bed and forced herself to try and imagine what life was going to be like now… how it was going to go on without Augustus. She picked up the little drop knife she kept on her bed stand. Even that reminded her of Augustus. One evening she was standing in a dingy alley in the South Side of town waiting for her connection to show up. She was kicking at the dirt and felt something with the toe of her show. It was the knife, buried in the oily dust of the alley. She fished it out, took it home, and cleaned it up. She liked to think of what horrors that little lifeless piece of stainless steel had seen.
Isabel flicked the knife open and closed a couple of times, thinking about one more horror.
Moss looked at the piece of paper for the thousandth time. There was the name of the store, and Augustus’ name and then, under that, instead of, “Moss Williams” it said, “Isabel Green.” She stared at it and wondered what kind of evil worthless harpy that name represented, a name that stole her fiancé. Then she stared at the next line, a phone number. She had seen that number on Augustus’ cell… seen it many times. She had assumed it was his work.
“Why are you mad at me?’ Isabel cried, “I didn’t do anything!”
“Yes you did, you stole my fiancé,” Moss said.
“No I didn’t! I didn’t know anything about you. You stole my fiancé too. He’s the bastard that screwed both of us. Literally.”
Moss hadn’t thought of that.
A long silence on the line. “What?” asked Isabel, “Are you still there?”
“Yes… I’m here. Give me a minute. I hadn’t thought of that.”
Finally Moss decided.
“Isabel?” she said, “I think we need to meet. We need to hash this out.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“No, not at all. But I don’t see any choice.”
“You know the pub down on Carol Street, the Golden Horse?”
“Yeah I know the place.”
The two sat at a dark table in the back corner. At first they did more staring than talking. But after a few rounds – Moss drank Jameson, Isabel light beer – they began to open up. Each was surprised at how easy it was to get along with the other. They did, after all, have a lot in common.
“I have a confession to make,” said Isabel.
“What?” asked Moss.
“I didn’t know how this was going to go, so I brought this.” She reached in her purse and brought out the drop knife. “I hope you’re not pissed.”
“Oh,” replied Moss, “That’s nothing.”
“Really, look at this.” She reached into her purse for something also. “You know I’m a seamstress? Have been since I was a little girl.”
“No idea, really.”
“So, like you brought your knife, I brought this.” She brandished a heavy, wicked looking pair of pinking shears. She moved it so the light sparked across the wavy saw teeth.
“Yeah, I know there’s only one thing we’d both like to use these on now,” said Isabel with an evil chuckle. “I’d love to see what those shears would do to it.”
“Ughh, as much fun as that would be… that’s one thing I don’t ever want to see ever again.”
The two women started laughing and seeing each other laugh, couldn’t stop until the both doubled over with pain in their diaphragms.”
“You know?” said Moss, “I’ve had another idea, one a lot less violent. Something simple. Something to do first, put the fear of God into the rat bastard.”
“Back there, by the bathroom, there’s a photo booth. One of those old fashioned ones. The ones that take a strip of four pictures.”
“Let’s take some shots. Together. And send them to that son of a bitch. That will scare the shit out of him – the thought that we are together, plotting”
“Yeah lets. Let’s flip him off.”
“Sometimes a writer, like an acrobat, must try a trick that is too much for him.”
― E.B. White
To get my holiday time off work to an exciting start – I spent a day arranging and organizing my room. I’ve built a new desk and am working on setting it up neatly and efficiently. Part of the work was getting my backup external hard drives out and making sure they work properly. Looking through my old photographs I found this one, part of a set I took years ago at Klyde Warren. I have used other version on the blog before, but felt like playing around with it a bit.
The weather is nice now…. I need to get out.
“Yet, as only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.”
The light leaking between the curtains was gray twilight. He didn’t know where he was and the only clock read six seventeen with no AM/PM indicator. He didn’t know if it was six in the morning or in the evening.
All he could do was to stay motionless, staring at the gap between the curtains, waiting to see if it grew lighter or darker.