Nanowrimo Day Two

Ultimate goal – 50,000 words.
Daily goal – 1,667 words
Goal total so far – 3,334 words

Words written today – 1,885 words
Words written so far – 3,570 words
Words to goal – +236

“Living with a whore–even the best whore in the world–isn’t a bed of roses.”
― Henry Miller

Running of the bulls, New Orleans, Louisiana

As I committed the other day, I am doing Nanowrimo – the National Novel Writing Month this November – writing a 50,000 word (small) novel in a month. Not necessary a good novel, or even a readable novel, but one of 50K words.

The second day of Nano, November 2, I was supposed to have a flex day off of work and I figured I’d get some serious writing done. But, as often happens, I had to go into work, teach a couple of classes, and get a reclaim shipment out – so I worked a little more than a full day – though I was able to slip out over lunch and hit the early voting.

I didn’t get my writing in until late in the day, but I did get it in. My inspiration for today was a bumper sticker I saw while I was stuck in traffic on my home from work a couple weeks ago. The sticker said, “I Love Crack Whores” – with a big red heart where the word “Love” is. It struck me as so strange that someone would put something like that on their truck, so I wrote it down in my little book of writing inspiration.

In keeping with the idea of Nanowrimo (putting words on the paper without worry – maybe trying some experimentation) I decided to make today’s work a long dialog between two characters, Odette and Bernard, stuck behind a truck like the one I saw. An extended riff in dialog form on the phrase, “I Love Crack Whores.” I was able to hit today’s word count without much trouble… it was sort of fun.

Here’s a snip of what I wrote.

“I knew a crack whore once. A very good friend of mine.”

“What? I didn’t know you lived in that sort of neighborhood. “

“I didn’t. Bad things happen everywhere. This was a long time ago.”

“Who? How?”

“A girl I knew since I was a little kid. She only lived a block away from me. But her family life was awful. Her dad was knifed in prison once. I never saw her mother sober and she had this creepy big brother that scared the shit out of everyone and his friends were worse. So she spent a lot of time at my house. To get away. “

“So how did she end up a crack whore?”

“Well, it was easier than you’d think. She wasn’t very good looking, this moon shaped face, and with eyes so far apart they almost looked like they were on stalks. Straight on, she looked like she didn’t have a nose but from the side it was like stair steps.”

“Jeez, poor girl.”

“Yeah, she never thought any boys would like her. So when she was old enough – or almost old enough, she started sleeping around. In high school. She would go with anybody that showed any interest at all and would do anything they wanted. The stories were wild.”

“So she was loose, that doesn’t make her a whore.”

“Well, no. But what she told me was that one night, she was really broke, needed to buy some new shoes or something really bad, and asked some boy, some rich boy, for a loan. No big deal for the kid, ‘chump change’ she said he told her, he gave her the cash. She thought it was a good thing, it made her happy, she bought the shoes. But then the next one, some other boy, gave her money up front. It seems the rich kid let it slip he had given her money, and everyone thought that was the business.”

“God, and she went along.”

“Yeah, I guess she did. I told her to stop it and she said she needed the cash, the boys seemed to think it was cool, nobody cared about her anyway. “

“What about the crack?”

“Well, she had the cash, she didn’t give a shit about anything. It was a spiral. The usual. Weed, then hash, pills, speed, and finally hitting the crack pipe. “

“How old was she then?”

“Junior year. Really sad.”

“Christ that sucks. Do you know what happened to her? Is she dead?”

“Oh no. Not at all. She ran away from home and that helped. Must have been really fucked up over there when becoming a homeless crack whore was an improvement. But I guess she hit rock bottom and came back up. Turns out she was a lesbian. Never knew it. Went to Law School, passed the bar. Now she’s a hotshot in Kansas City real estate. We’re friends on Facebook. She’s really into fitness. Got married a year ago, now that she can. Still awful ugly though.”

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What I learned this week, February 28, 2014

I have written below about a presentation I attended concerning a small piece of freeway near Dallas’ Downtown. It was an important and interesting meeting, but what I wrote about it goes on a little long, and I wanted to write a little about what I think is the real crux of the matter.

I’ll write more at length about it later, I need to do some thinking and some research and some more thinking first.

This is the speaker, traffic planner Ian Lockwood’s presentation. Watch the whole thing. His talk should be available on youtube soon.

What jumped at me in particular were two slides (13 and 14 in the presentation). The first, printed from a book, was this statement:

In his 1911 book The Prinicples of Scientific Management, Frederick Winslow Taylor, a pioneer in the efficiency movement, wrote: “The goal of human labor and thought is efficiency. Technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgement, in fact human judgement cannot be trusted because it is pagued by laxity, ambiguity and unnecessary complexity. Subjectivity is an obstacle to clear thinking…. That which cannot be measured either does not exist or is of no value….The affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts.”

The bolded part of the quote was underlined, with a handwritten note and arrow that said, “THE BEGINNING OF THE END.”

The bullet at the bottom of the slide emphasized the point, “That which cannot be measured either does not exist or is of no value….The affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts.

This is contrasted to the next slide, which is a quote by Thomas Jefferson:

“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.”

Thomas Jefferson September 28, 1820

The contrast, the frisson between the two ways of looking at the world illuminated by these quotes is an amazing concept. If I learned nothing else, this was worth taking the train downtown after work.


I-345 near downtown Dallas

I-345 near downtown Dallas

Dallas has this nasty, falling down 1.4 miles of freeway on the east side of downtown. It’s name is I-345, though nobody knows that. It is an elevated monstrosity that is an ugly barrier between the city center and Deep Ellum.

It also needs replacing. A movement is growing to remove the freeway instead of rebuilding it.

How Dallas is Throwing Away $4 Billion

The more I thought about that idea – the more sense it made.

Of course, the government has no imagination and soon, this headline came out.

TxDOT to Repair, Not Tear Down I-345: Lipstick on a Traffic-Fed Pig?
TxDOT tells Dallas it will repair and not remove the highway separating Deep Ellum and downtown
TxDOT has decided to keep the highway separating Deep Ellum and downtown, but Mayor Rawlings hasn’t

This pissed a lot of people in Dallas off, including me.

So I found out about a meeting at D Magazine (Great write-up about it here) with a presentation on how the modern American Urban High Speed traffic system is killing the city. I sent off for a ticket and rode the train downtown after work. I was more than a little ragged after a tough day at work and felt out of place – but the talk by Ian Lockwood was more than interesting.

They were taping the talk and I think I heard someone say it would be going onto Youtube. I’ll put it on here if I find it, but in the meantime, this one covers most of what he said. I know it’s long, but take the time to watch it if you can, it’s a revelation.

Here’s another photo I took of a typical day on I-345

Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.

Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.


Hall & Oates “Rich Girl” wasn’t about a girl after all.

I feel as if I have been living a lie all my life.

“Daryl wrote it,” John confessed, talking about his other musical half. “It was about a guy who was the heir to a fast food fortune.” We can’t help but feel like everything we know in life is a lie now. “He realized ‘Rich Girl’ sounded a lot better than ‘Rich Guy.’”


11 Books That Will Definitely Disturb You


This is an interesting list – there are some amazingly strange films on this. And they all can be piped directly into your living room.

The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Instant (My Version)


10 Awesome Bottle Openers

Red and White

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

The aliens of Altair Six developed an interstellar drive – but it required such immense amounts of energy that the probe sent through the time/space vortex could be no larger than a mote of dust and the temporal rift so unstable that only one blurry image could be sent back.

They had established Earth as a good candidate for life and the high priests had blessed the probe (they had long ago abandoned the difference between science and religion – both relied on faith) and were confident that if life existed on the distant rock, it would show up in the image.

They were right. The single image returned showed an ordered collection of what were undoubtedly life forms. But exactly what were they looking at? Why were the individuals on one side all bedecked in bright white, while the others shone blazing red?

The debate raged on Altair Six. The accepted theory is one of racism – the photo showed a border with the white-lighted denizens restricted on one side, the red on the other. There is obviously no mixing of the two races – the apartheid is complete.

Others believed the dichotomy was age-based. Noting that the white creatures shone brighter than the red, the theory was advanced that the red were larval forms, while the white were full-grown. It was thought that they were separated to keep the developed individuals from eating the fry.

One controversial idea, put forth by Professor Yo’rin Cake of the University of Vultur Volans that the objects in the image aren’t actually life forms, but some sort of dwelling. The color of the lighting, red or white, is merely a marker to help delineate different neighborhoods.

This was dismissed by the learned councils out of hand. It was considered impossible to have that many dwellings in the image without capturing any of the life forms themselves.

Still, the debate between these and many other factions, some completely ridiculous, others more studied and mainstream, continued and only grew in intensity and cacophony. In an attempt to find an answer to this question an enormous portion of Altair Six’s economy was dedicated to building a huge power facility and a corresponding time/space vortex generator. The plans were laid to send a larger probe with a better camera and more sensors to finally answer the mysteries of the rock called Earth.

Unfortunately, their reach exceeded their grasp and the interstellar probe complex broke down and exploded. It was a terrible planet-wide disaster and set the society back by millennia. They were reduced to a level of advancement only slightly higher than ours.

Arrow to Nasher

“Sure, everything is ending,” Jules said, “but not yet.”
― Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Olive

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Olive

“No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

A familiar bit of street, smeared out in time, like a fuzzy memory. All the remembrances of that place are layered upon each other. Some are stronger than others – surprisingly, the strongest are often the oldest.

Because the oldest are the first. When everything is new and fresh.

I remember the first time I walked along – crossed at a light – Ross avenue. The big city was fresh in my young mind. I remember when I first turned off Ross to get to the Nasher Sculpture Center – it was many years later and I wasn’t that young any more (though I was a lot younger than I am now – but I didn’t know that then) but the Nasher was fresh and new. I’ve been back.

My Curves are Not Mad - Richard Serra, 2004

Lee inside My Curves are Not Mad – Richard Serra, 2004

Richard Serra - My Curves are Not Mad

Lee inside the same sculpture by Richard Serra – My Curves are Not Mad in 2011. Lee is not the only thing that has grown – look how much larger the trees are.

“Time it was
And what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you”
― Paul Simon

Lee sitting by Night, 2004

Lee sitting by Night, 2004

Night (La Nuit)

Night (La Nuit) – 2011 (they had moved the sculpture)

“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”
― Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Eve, by Rodin, 2004

Eve, by Rodin, 2004

Eve, by Rodin

Eve, by Rodin

“Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the theory of relativity and principals of uncertainty. Phenomena that determine the course of our lives. Yesterday, my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Yesterday, I believe I would never have done what I did today. These forces that often remake time and space, that can shape and alter who we
imagine ourselves to be, begin long before we are born and continue after we perish. Our lives and our choices, like quantum trajectories, are understood moment to moment. That each point of intersection, each encounter, suggest a new potential direction. Proposition, I have fallen in love with Luisa Rey. Is this possible? I just met her and yet, I feel like something important has happened to me.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Street Sign

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Olive

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Olive

Phoenix pushed back on his chair and leaned up against the rough brick wall. He grinned and watched the woman work her way through the bar, staring at every customer, one by one. She was obviously looking for someone. He was the only person in the place by himself – and he wanted to see what happened when she reached his spot. She glanced his way a few times, and it didn’t take long for her to clear the nearest table and look down at him. He willed his face into its most relaxed, nonchalant expression – something he took pride in and had worked on for years.

“Excuse me, but I’ve arranged a meeting here with someone I’ve never seen in person… are you Brett?”

“Why, yes… yes I am. Glad to meet you.” Phoenix had not even had time to think about the lie… it simply came out. And now… nothing to do except go with it. He put on his biggest, broadest smile and reached out his hand toward the woman.

Instead of taking it, she scooted back about half a step and reached into that cavernous bag she carried.

Phoenix had enough time to think, “Oh, that’s why she has such a large purse,” but not much more as the woman’s hand flashed out with a gigantic chrome plated revolver. She raised it and Phoenix’s brain noticed how it gleamed in the uneven light of the bar. He couldn’t do anything else, though. Propped in the chair like that, he was trapped, it would take at least two or three seconds to tip forward and leap one way or the other… but he had less than one.

The gun roared as the woman kept pulling the trigger and slug after slug pumped out and into Phoenix’s chest at point-blank range.

—- from The Smeebage Affair, by Armando Vitalis

Blood Red Streaks

’twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form.
Come in, she said,
I’ll give you shelter from the storm.
—–Bob Dylan, Shelter From the Storm

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Olive

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Olive (click to enlarge)

Crankcase oil drippings leave grease spots on the tarmac. The Texas summer profligate heat splits the pavement like an overripe tomato. But it’s night now and the humidity hums and settles over the earth. The browning grass still has a little green to give up.

Time smears the taillights into blood read streaks – claret smears – ephemeral neon tubes projected onto the light detector. Effects you can’t see with your eyes appear in the little screen.

And in the other lane, headlights leave a blazing aurora. Brilliant luminous lines.

These are always there – but you don’t ever notice them – hidden by time, too busy keeping things from running into each other.

“Space and time are the framework within which the mind is constrained to construct its experience of reality.”
― Immanuel Kant