Sunday, August 28, 2011

calm after the storm

Well, well, what have we here:


Another "don't let the door hit you on the way out" printer. Looks like someone else was also a girl with a hurricane dream. This printer, however, was truly put out to pasture. Mine is still inside. I felt too guilty to full on ditch it outside in the gale-force winds. It would probably start meowing or be all teary and "Take me back. I promise I will be faster and scan when you ask me. You won't have to reinstall my drivers every single time you need to to do anything. I'll be your forever printer..." or something heart-wrenchingly awful like that and then I would cave and have to rescue it. Because printers, like every other object in my home, have feelings.

Aside from that technological side plot, the main update is that the hurricane came and went. The anticipation was much more horror-movie suspenseful than the storm was awful. I was ok during my dinner outing at a neighborhood restaurant where everyone was celebrating and getting smash-faced like it was Irene's 30th birthday, not the end of the world. The rain en route was umbrella-and-boots manageable and the winds were still demure. On the way home, some lightening showed off and I thought, "Time to go inside, forever."

I'm not gonna lie, after the weather service issued an "AND NOW...A TORNADO" watch late last night, and my landlord went to the basement with his teenage son to reinforce the basement grate barricades but started banging around like they were actually building an ark, I started feeling a little sick with dread. I slept in regular clothes. This included jeans. You heard me. I felt like committing to pajamas pretty much guaranteed I would end up on the street, freezing and running for my life in a goofy nightgown and boots. Not cool. I wanna be Hoth Princess Leia, not Jabba's Concubine Leia. So I slept in jeans. And when I say "slept" I mean "Stayed up watching Aziz Ansari comedy routines on youtube."

This morning things were much more quiet, so I ventured outside. There were a few messes like this one:


But overall, the damage was considerably less substantial in this area than the havoc wreaked by the 2010 tornado. The striking scene this morning was 7th avenue where scores of zombie-faced residents wandered around looking for ANY open coffee place. Honestly, it looked like the storm had surged inside store fronts instead of outside on the streets. Every business along the commercial avenues was closed, boarded up, taped up with Xs like cartoon dead eyes, chairs-on-tables, all ransacked looking, and apology noted.

I found an open bakery, shared the requisite jokey moment with fellow customers in the snake-long line to the tune of, "This sure is a long line for COFFEE in NEW YORK, amirite?!", and headed to the park for a walk. The path was littered with innocuous, small-scale leafy Adam and Eve clothing branch debris, and the scene felt all "Ah. We killed Michael Meyers." sound tracky. But then the wind would blow like crazy, the trees would start bucking like those car wash air dancers...


 ...and the soundtrack would suddenly get all stabby, with everyone in the park looking totally panicked a la "OMG THE STORM ISN'T DEAD!!!!! IT JUST PRETENDED!!!!!!!!! Back to the snack bunker!!!!!"

But then everything would anchor again.

I am looking forward to a calmer night for all, and actual, jeans-free sleep.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

stormy weather

This morning I woke up and headed to the store for some last minute non-perishable food shopping before this Hulk storm arrives. So hard to know what will really unfold. Nobody here wants to look like a panicked jerk, but no one wants to look like an ignorant jerk, either. So people are splitting the difference and buying giant jugs of beer with every gallon of water. I bought so many delicious snack items, my refrigerator now looks like I am a soccer mom of five children. Even if the storm merely strolls through like a Sunday driver, who would ever regret that kind of lasting snack situation?

This was the scene from a friend's local market:


Girlfriend's not sweatin' it.

On my way home, I passed neighbors wrapping their houses in plastic and dragging carts of provisions. Then I noticed a whole other pre-storm initiative taking place in front of a local school:


I stared at this van in admiration for several minutes. The phone number, the illustrated gum guys, the business plan, "who you gonna call!!!"—what a dream boat. Meanwhile, I imagine the principal pounding his desk saying, "Buy water, seal up the grates to the basement, tape the windows, buy bread—SO much bread— and for the love of safety, remove every last piece of rock hard, smushed in, possibly now gray or black chewing gum from every desk and from any remaining carpeting BEFORE IRENE HITS!"

I tried to get one of the Busters to pose with the van and he dove out of the frame. Fame must take its toll on these guys.

After that photo op I headed to the park for my last taste of freedom before house arrest. Then came home to deal with some last details. Like the garbage. Took that out, then, staring at the cans which are right outside my apartment as I am on the ground floor, I realized I will likely see said garbage hurled at my windows in a few hours. That will be exciting.

I also filled my bathtub with water because people keep telling me to do that. "You will be thankful when there's no running water." Maybe. More likely I will forget I filled it up until I try and take my next shower. I will probably be more thankful that sewage from soon-to-be blocked storm drains will now have a harder time gurgling up into my home. At heart, I am just a Hurricane No-Regrets Robot. If I don't do these things, the storm will be worse. I know this. For now, the tub just sits there looking sad and chilly. The cats are tight-roping along the edge looking like drivers doing the drunk-walk test.

My mom keeps talking about how my apartment will probably flood because it's on the ground floor. "Mom, you seem almost excited for it to flood." She laughed. I told her I was going to put my terrible, ancient, buggy, HP f-you computer printer right next to the window and pray for storm damage so I can get a new one guilt-free. As her daughter I inherited her "But it still works just fine!" spirit/complex. Which really means, "It takes 30 minutes to print out one page, but that just gives me a chance to cook dinner/call my mom/watch an entire television program!" etc.

Okay. Time to batten down the hatches. Or, rather, walk to dinner because this storm sure is taking its sweet time arriving.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

lite brite

Last week I went gallery hopping with a friend on a really nice Thursday evening and saw an installation by Leo Villreal that knocked my socks off. (Yes, I am wearing an ascot and a top hat.) A photo doesn't begin to do this piece justice. The structure itself is a giant scaffolded cylinder containing tons of tiny lights, controlled by some kind of midi computer that orchestrates thousands and thousands of variable patterns. While the column itself apparently weighs a bazillion tons, the lights infuse it with an airy, kinetic quality. It is at once invigorating and pacific, urgent and elusively methodical, hypnotic, unpredictable, a great escape, a giant road block, and, indisputably, the center of attention.


At any given moment the totemic patterns look like watching an interstate from above, Times Square, Blade Runner, a Bob Fosse musical, jumping to light speed in Star Wars, Xanadu, a meteor shower, a twinkling skyline, Atari, a fancy-dancing flapper dress, Tootsie's sequined dress, Studio 54, etc.. It has its own playful tempo, and yet is so much a function of calculated, computer-programmed timing. Ah! I just found an example of the sculpture in action:



It also reminds me of a lamp my parents have from the seventies just like this one (imagined without the digital clock and that Eye of Sauron thing in the top right corner):



I am very anxious to investigate Villreal's other work.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

dr. feel good and halo kitty

Today I walked past an MD license-plated vehicle littered with Grateful Dead dancing bear stickers This just features the one above the license plate. Eight thousand questions and jokes immediately sprang to mind.



Further along on my walk I ran into this poster for a missing kitty. Eight thousand more questions immediately sprang to mind. I think I feel too bad for all parties involved to actually tell any jokes. But man does red-nosed Halo kitty look bummed in this rendering.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the sun always shines on tv

I recently watched Friday Night Lights in its entirety. The verdict is in: I want to be Tami Taylor.


Admittedly, I was deeply reluctant to watch this show. Frankly, anything that is recommended with gusto (i.e. crammed down my throat on the daily) often ends up in the "Definitely Postpone" file. Not because I fancy myself some kind of counter-culture trend bucker, but because it's TOO MUCH PRESSURE. Suddenly I am not just watching a show or listening to a record, I am having THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE, (OMGITOLDYOURIGHT?!).

Also, who are we kidding? My tempo for these matters is on the slow-mo. I just want to lead a calm life of cool, you feel me? I am also the person who takes five separate trips to a store to court any given purchase (shoes, coat, food, jacket) that I know I already want. I just have to make *sure*. You know?

Hence, I am often five years behind schedule on shows to watch, albums to hear, movies to see, convenient stuff to own. I had my first iphone two months ago. For one day. If I am straight with you, it felt like an all-day anxiety dream. My texts looked like ransom notes, my phone spontaneously dialed a million people which is my worst nightmare, and, because I felt like a t-rex operating the touch screen I had to call everyone I needed to contact, resulting in conversations like, "Hi. How R U? I just called to say U R gr8."

I sound like Andy Rooney.

Where was I? Oh, yes, complainbragging. I worked on the first season of The Sopranos and didn't watch that first season until five years later when the pressure for me to love it died down. (As an aside, one of the California Girl expressions my Swedish pals appreciate and say with Scando-Valley affectation is "Do you love it?")

At any rate, I finally got around to watching The Wire this year and really enjoyed it as everyone demanded I would. This despite wanting to give up immediately, mostly because I cannot bear watching people shoot up. It makes me instantly sick and upset. But I soldiered on and really enjoyed the whole shebang. Saying goodbye to the final episode was actually heartbreaking.

After that I wondered, "What next? Will I ever love-said-with-a-Valley-Girl-accent a television show again?" I decided to test drive one episode of Friday Night Lights and, if I am honest with you, going from the inner-city, deeply diverse, "there is no God" chaos of Wire Baltimore to lily-white Christian small-town Texas felt like a huge snooze. Then I got pneumonia the next day and the appeal greatly improved to this bedroom jailbird. I watched, well, the entire five seasons over the next couple of weeks. (I was really sick and useless.) Oh man, I cried so much. What a moving program. I am actually stamping my face with the word "SUCKER" right now. On purpose. I am not ashamed. All the love, the anguish, the triumph against all odds, the agony of defeat, the ache of true love—it all got me right where it counts. Along with a leading lady who officially stole my heart.


Level with me: Can you get any cooler than her aviator glasses, hoop earrings, and social worker sense of patient compassion? Not in my book. And Coach Taylor? Ahem. He deserves a whole other essay. When I was in seventh grade I went to school in New York and they, unlike my Chicago school, had a football team. I informed my mom that if we stayed for two years, the following fall I would bag soccer and take up football. Her face went blank, likely undelighted that her teeny-tiny, three-foot-tall daughter was considering suiting up. We only stayed for one year. But I just KNOW had we remained, Eric Taylor would have been my coach and changed my life FOREVER. [Roll credits set to Emo outro music]

But, yes, I watched the entire five seasons. And let me tell you, the real pay off came in later seasons when suddenly former cast members of The Wire started showing up! I could, in fact, love again! And win football games, again!

I'm not joining the spiral-eyed masses, my friends. Instead, I humbly submit that if you need something great to do while pajama-ed and bedridden for two weeks, this shoved-in-your-face acclaimed program might also be your jam.

What I will say like a spiral-eyed zombie disciple is Coach Taylor's motto: "Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't Lose!"

That is indisputably true.

I am ready for some football.