Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hieronymus Bosch and the Facebook Cop

I printed two addresses for two books I took to the post office to mail several days ago, which left me with a nearly full sheet of paper that I had folded to put into the breast pocket of my shirt. I didn’t want to just toss it so I decided to write everything I did within the course of one day, limiting myself to that one sheet of paper. I jotted down an event or detail in as few words as possible, then embellished a little when I recomposed it on the computer.

6:05 a.m. Get up. Make coffee. Eat four Fig Newtons. Feed the cat.

6:15 a.m.. I pour some coffee into my favorite Beatles mug and sit down at the computer. Toby gets on my lap and purrs and slobbers. I start downloading La Pensée et le Mouvant: Introduction à la Métaphysique by Henri Bergson from the Littérature Audio site. Meanwhile, I read two sections from Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes, which is in actual book form, but using the online Larousse dictionnaire because it has an audio feature whereby I can hear not just the pronunciation of the individual word but a number of sample sentences in which it is used. It is things like this that make me less of a Luddite.

A video to the right of the screen catches my eye. A woman is lying in bed and some prank is about to be played on her. My curiosity gets the better of me and I turn it on. A young man has rigged a small bag of water to some plastic tubing which he pulls through the zipper of his pants. He stands by the bed and squirts water onto the face of his girlfriend who is sleeping in the bed. She awakes and sees what is happening and is furious. She goes into a rage. He removes the tubing from his pants to show her it was just a prank. She calms down and tells him she was going to cut his dick off. I don’t think this relationship has much of a future.

7:30 a.m. I make breakfast, which consists of a slice of bread with a neat hole in it which I place in a frying pan with some melted butter. I break an egg and pour the contents into the hole in the bread. It’s something I learned from the movie V for Vendetta. There is a scene in which V (Hugo Weaving) cooks Evey (Natalie Portman) this breakfast in his underground lair, flipping the egg with his burned, gloveless hand, and another in which Dietrich (Stephen Fry) makes Evey the same breakfast in his luxury apartment. I discovered how to make this breakfast, which is embarrassingly easy, on the Internet. It’s amazingly good.

I watch Le Journal de TV5 Monde while eating my breakfast. There is a story about the announcement by Switzerland’s Institute of Radiation Physics of elevated traces of a radioactive agent, polonium-210, on the clothing and personal items belonging to Yassir Arafat before his death in November, 2004, at a French military hospital, Lance Armstrong’s doping charges, the hactivist group Anonymous going after pedophiles, and a stage act by some guy who crawls around on the walls of a small box-like room, whose one side is open to view, creating the impression of antigravity.

9:30 a.m. I walk down the hill to Café Vita to meet James, a friend I've known for about twenty years who writes poetry. I have invited him to read poetry with me at the Seattle Center on July 30th at 3:00 p.m. as part of the Jackstraw Pocket Concerts/Unexpected Arts series, where poets and musicians appear at different places on the fairgounds to present their work. I went to meet him last Monday, but I confused the name of Café Vita with another local coffeehouse called Café Ladro, which is where I misled James. I notice one of the customers from that Monday, a squat, full-bodied man with a completely bald head. He is a dead ringer for La Boule, the man on the French game show Fort Boyard who bangs the gong to indicate the start and end of time and locks the contestants in cages when they fail to get out of the rooms in which they attempt some feat, such as slide handcuffs over and around a maze of pipes and valves in order to get a key which will be used to open the door to the Treasure Room later in the program. The challenge is timed by a blue fluid in an hourglass, or clepsydra, as they refer to it on the show.

James and I have a nice visit. I get back home at about 11:30 and decide to go for a run a little earlier than usual. It’s really nice outside and I figure that if I do my run early, I can take the lamp in for repair while Robert goes for a run when she gets home from work. I pour a tablespoon of chia seeds into a glass and pour some orange juice over them and wait for the mixture to turn gelatinous. The chia sees help give strength and stamina for a run. The concoction , called Iskiate, was discovered by the long distance runners of the Tarahumara people of northern Mexico, who are capable of running phenomenal distances in the rugged canyons of the Sierra Madre Occidental, wearing sandals of woven leather called huaraches, and white wizard capes. I learned about all this in Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run.

I kill time on Facebook while waiting for the chia seeds to gelatinize. I listen to a video posted by Noah Eli Gordon. Jacque Derrida explains what he calls the American attitude behind questions goading him to embellish a point or answer a difficult question on the spot. He identifies this tendency as utilitarian and manipulative, as if people, experts especially, were some form of vending machine. I watch another disturbing video posted by Vernon Frazer of a Rhode Island police officer, Edward Krawetz, who was caught on video kicking Donna Levesque in the head after she had been handcuffed and was sitting on the curb barefoot. He claimed it was done in self-defense because she kicked him. I saw her leg fling out at him, but I didn’t see her foot make contact. And if it did, so what? The woman was barefoot. Krawetz received a ten-year suspension. I signed a petition requesting he never work as a cop again. And, as always, I feel foolish. These online petitions never seem to make any difference.

I go for my run. I wonder about the decorative arches of aluminum tubing some construction crew is putting over the parking lot of the old Queen Anne High School gymnasium. I vividly remember climbing a rope at age 14 in that building. I also see a woman spray painting a birdbath. I hear that klunkety klunkety metallic sound those cans make and look across the street to see a squat, elderly woman with gray hair spraying the birdbath, which appears to be stone. My legs are really sore after the five mile run I did the day before with Roberta through Myrtle Edwards Park by Puget Sound. I only do three miles.

I get home and take a shower, during which Roberta comes home. I tell her about my plans to take the lamp in for repair. She decides to come with me. The lamp is a Tiffany lamp we bought from Harold’s Lamps and Shades for a couple hundred bucks. There are two pull-chains for turning one of two bulbs on or off. Last night, just before I bed, as I pulled the chain to turn out the lamp, the chain stuck. I remove the Tiffany shade, unplug the lamp, wrap the cord around the base and put it in the backseat of the car. We encounter a brief gridlock on Mercer (surprising for this early in the day), and park across the street from Harold’s Lamps and Shades. I carry the lamp in and hand it to a young man who takes it in the back. We ponder a lamp that consists of little glass bubbles. The man returns. The lamp is fixed. He cautions us about screwing the light bulb in too firmly, as it abuts the pull mechanism or something. We bring it back to the car and head home. We get stuck in traffic again. It’s hot. A wasp flies into the car through my window, then out through the window on Roberta’s side. The city is doing some minor roadwork near the entrance to Aurora on 45th Street, channeling two lanes into one, at an exceptionally busy intersection. It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes for a Seattle traffic light to change. You can raise a family and earn a Ph.D before it turns green. Then it takes another full five minutes for the color green to penetrate the brain cells of the driver in front of you, and another five minutes for that driver to remember what the color green indicates: go.

On the Aurora bridge, we get stuck behind a Brinks armored car putting out a thick black stinking stream of smoke from its exhaust. I’m surprised people aren’t passing out from the fumes they’re so strong. As soon as there’s an opening, I pass the armored car to the right.

Home again, Roberta goes for a run and I watch Le Journal de France 2, followed by a French “magazine d’investigation” called Cash Investigation about disease-mongering, how pharmaceutical companies collude with doctors to fabricate fictitious diseases in order to make more money, increase the number of patients and sell drugs the companies have developed. One poor woman suffers horribly from a medication called Fosamax, prescribed for osteoporosis, which causes a severe case of jaw necrosis, from which the woman eventually dies.

We watch Volcano, with Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche and Don Cheadle. This is, I think, the third time we’ve seen this movie. It’s not a great movie, but it’s fun to watch, and there are some good lines. There’s a scene that has eluded me before I found quite interesting this time around: some men are removing some paintings by Hieronymus Bosch from a nearby art museum while water boils at the Le Brea tar pits and lava bombs explode everywhere. God, this Hieronymus Bosch is heavy, says one of the men. Another man answers: that’s cause he deals with man’s inclination to do bad things, in defiance of God’s will.

After the movie, I finish reading Leslie Scalapino’s collection of essays How Phenomena Appear To Unfold while Roberta reads It Is Almost That: A Collection of Image + Text Work by Women Artists & Writers at her table in front of the living room window, where, a little later, she sees a blue balloon drift by.


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