Tuesday, August 25, 2009

post 635. on my way to ben's (first draft).

Wait a minute.

The girl at the coffee shop always says that. But I’ve never seen her before, must be new. She’s squat and angry with a nose ring. I always stop here on my way to Ben’s place for coffee, and I’ve never seen her.

I mean, I should say, I think she always says that. Maybe it’s the way she said it, I think, as I pour cream in my coffee. Like I’ve heard someone say it like that. I look back at her. No…I don’t know her. I shrug.

“Back again?” She had asked, not exactly friendly-like, but more like I had interrupted her day.

“I’m sorry?” I had answered.

Her face pinched, like she didn’t trust me. “There was a guy in here that looked a lot like you a while ago.”

“I get that all the time,” I said, “Tall, handsome, you know.”

I laughed. She didn’t.

“How are you?” I had asked her.

“Living the dream,” she had said.

Maybe I just heard it before, I think, as I add sugar. “Living the dream.” One of those memories you have that fall down a hole somewhere in your brain, like a lost note card that falls underneath the couch. Then, some random day, the coffee shop girl says something…

I hate thirty-five, I think, as I walk outside. It’s like every experience gets thrown on top of a pile, and even by thirty you have this enormous, unsteady pile. Something new gets thrown on, and memories just slide down the pile. The name of an old, favorite restaurant you’d never think you’d forget tumbles down to the bottom of the pile. The name of the first girlfriend you made out with that had a tongue ring. The feeling you had, riding in the back of the car on your way to Grandma’s, Christmas 88. New experience, and the whole thing sloshes, memories sliding, rolling down.

I walked. Bit of a pain, having to go to Ben’s lab when it’s so far away, but it’s a nice day, so I don’t mind the walk. One of those days that seems like it must have come off a calendar. The clouds, like a map of places you want to visit.

It was bugging me. You know, you wake up – as I did, from a freaky dream where Ben had finally achieved a breakthrough in his research…ihhhh – you’re in a bit of a daze, then you find out the missus took the car without letting you know (no doubt full aware that it’s Tuesday), you’re late for an appointment, in a haze, and you get shocked out of your brain and your thoughts and your problems and get brought into the real world by a fat kid at a coffee shop. Where did I hear that before?

It all passes by, doesn’t it? How do you stamp every day in your head? Here it was…I didn’t even know what day it was, well…a Tuesday, but what’s the date? It’s the middle of the month…but you pull out your cell phone, like I did, and

Whoop – that can’t be right.

My phone is an hour…

“Excuse me,” I ask, “what time is it?”

“It’s three-fifteen.”

“Thank you.”

Funny. My cell phone is off, by an hour.

But it’s the twenty-third! Already at the end of the month! See? It all whizzes past, and there’s no stopping it.

All this God-damned research. You get thinking, you get thinking, you get thinking. Work, work, work, Audrey and the escalating problems with learning to live with someone else who is no longer charming (or maybe it’s you who is no longer charming), stuff, stuff, and look – a beautiful day. How long will I remember how beautiful August 23 2009 was? Should I write it down? It’s already been thrown on the top of the pile, and tomorrow will be thrown on the pile, and tomorrow…

Pizza. Soho Pizza. And it felt like a little jab at Audrey. And if Ben’s really achieved a breakthrough, then it’s going to be a while until I eat. AND it’s August 23rd 2009. I should start writing this stuff down, as I walk in. I can’t even remember the last time I got pizza.


It feels…


“Ah!” The man behind the counter exclaims. He smiles. He’s short and fat, the same shape as the coffee shop girl. He waves me in.

“You came back!” he says. He’s Middle Eastern. There’s a very, very fast dance music playing.

“I’m sorry?”

He lifts the money tray and there are several credit cards. He pulls one out and hands it to me.

“No, sorry. I think you have the wrong guy,” I said. Someone must be wearing the same shirt today, I think, as I look at the board. $2.75 for a slice! Of cheese!

“Leland Palmer?” He said.

There are moments in your life where you just can’t really function. I think it’s because our brains, for all the cars and computers and string theories it thinks up, just can’t process some things fast enough. Like a phone call telling us our father died. And you’re exposed for being the dumb, multi-celled caveman we all are. Stupid.

I grabbed the card.

It was my credit card.

I was no longer interested in trying to remember the details of the day, or sorting through the pile of memories in my head: I walked very, very fast to Ben’s. Had I been there? Have I been so entrenched in my thoughts that I forgot that I stopped at a coffee shop and got pizza? What’s going on? is such a clich├ęd question, and I’m now a dumb caveman trying to figure it out. I could see the pile, now falling apart.

I turned into Ben’s

That’s my car

What the hell is this all about?

“Hello, Leland!” Ben said, opening the door and stepping outside. He gave me a great hug, and began to cry.

“Ben, Something weird is going on.”

“I know, I know, I know!!! It’s extraordinary! Come in, come in, but…is this for me? Cheese? Sit down, Leland. You’ll never believe what happened: you’ve…sit down. Did you get anything for me to drink? No? No matter. It’s all right. Here. Sit.” Then he called out, “Leland!”


“No, not you. Well…Leland. This might be hard for you to understand, but I think I finally figured out time travel.”

And as he said it, I got quite the jolting sight: there I was, coming trepidously out of another room. Did I look that bad in that shirt?

Is that really me?

This was quite the day to remember.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

post 633. trouble sleeping.

post 632. 93-cent lipstick.

ashleigh came up to albany for a few days, and while eating dinner one night, she had the idea to go buy some cheap-ass make-up, try and look as cracked-out as possible, and take some pictures. plus it gave her an excuse (as if she needs one) to drink copious amounts of jamesons while listening to pj harvey. did the pictures work for my photo class? you bet. did i try a few shots that worked their hardest to be replicas of the stuff you find on lastnightsparty.com? most assuredly.

it's funny how much you learn when you're taking pictures of other people and you're trying to make them look good. "ooops" was said more than once as i fanagled white balances, light, and learned to communicate with whomever is standing in front of you. oblique terms like "no, turn the other way...the other way" became "tilt your right arm out at the elbow, and pick the glass up about an inch."

but it wasn't until a few days later, as i took headshots of patrick, that i actually used one of those cliche-sounding lines you hear in the televisions; i didn't even realize what i said until i said it. as i clicked, i murmured "there he is, that smiling bastard."

post 631. guns.

maaan, i love guns. that is, i love guns when bruce willis or chow yun-fat is blasting away at the bad guys, or the faceman pops out of the a-team van and sprays the bad guys (conveniently missing all of them but still able to produce them from overturned and blown-up jeeps and buildings with browbeaten looks of surrender).

guns in real life make me very nervous. i remember, when living with my uncle in new orleans, finding out my cousin had a shotgun, and it just made me a little squirrely.

last summer i went skeet shooting with my friends for a bachelor party. no problem: here's a shotgun, we're in an extremely enclosed area, the short mailman-looking guy seems like he knows what he's doing, and safety is the main concern. i was the second best shot of the day, and it was nice.

this summer the cast of shear madness met ed haddad, a lawyer who likes performing on stage, flying his plane, guns. after one of our shows ed bought us drinks, made fun of obama and his supporters, displayed a cacophany of bar tricks and jokes, and then invited us to come to the shooting range. he showed us pictures of him and friends strapped with everything from assault rifles to cowboy-endorsed six-shooters.

i figured, "why not? " let's see how the other half lives. maybe i'll understand the gun thing a little more while i'm out there, and learn to appreciate it. for an hour, patrick, ashleigh and i picked out guns from ed's cabinet, mainly to take pictures of us trying to look cool with all that steel. ak-47s? .22s? pistols? bayonets? when we chose our guns to shoot (a .22 pistol, a .22 rifle, an ak and a glock), we put everything else away, and i had seen so much that i accidentally reached for a nearby umbrella, my brain seeing it's riflesque shape.

the .22 was polite, felt comfortable, and was quite fun. but that ak47? the choice of terrorists the world over? i carry no shame when i say that the ak47 is an awful piece of machinery, and after firing the first round, i wanted to melt it down and turn it into a toaster. who the hell needs this much power? the .22 felt like you could hit something; the ak47 felt as if you were to simply throw a bunch of bullets out there and hope you hit something. whatever the appeal is of such an indiscriminate muscle gun, i didn't see it; ohhhh, television. i can't imagine how the great dirk benedict could preserve such a worries-to-the-wind smirk while chomping on a cigar and knocking off drug lords as he fired this thing. ick. ban them all. there's no place for something like this, or the canons that the other gentlemen at the rifle range were shooting.

and not to get too stereotypical, but yes: i did hear someone at the end of the rifle range, making a much bigger rattle with his ar10, say, "you haven't heard a government talk like this since hitler and the nazis."

oh, christ. we're all fucked, i'm thinking.

but here's the weird thing. the glock? the ants ran for the hills and the target breathed a sigh of relief; i couldn't hit the broad side of the proverbial barn with this little smooth customer, but i thought it quite preferable. perhaps, instead of being an anti-gun, burn-all-the-nra-cards new york intellectual dummy, i'm secretly a gun snob: could it be that i simply thought that the brutish, ugly utilitarian construction of the ak47 (it's popular because it works under almost any circumstance; hence it's prevalence in the middle east, since it still kills things while mired in all that sand) was far inferior to the balanced, well-fed diet of the glock's figure. there was even a little tinge of thought: maybe...i could just keep one under my bed...

nope. still don't trust them. you know what? let people keep their pistols. and rifles? sure. but automatic weapons? that's just ludicrous that anyone outside of the law enforcement (another bag of trouble, i know, but for the sake of this argument i'll pretend "law enforcement" means reasonable, respectful, and intelligent agents), it's far too late for the current united states to do anything about guns. the argument that we'd all be safer if we all carried guns? the argument that guns don't kill people, people kill people? the argument that the constitution allows us to have guns? all hogwash.

i'd hate to be in the middle of a robbery in a convenience store where every granny, little kid, and stupid teenager was trying to help the situation, perforating everything in sight with their firearms. people kill people with guns because guns are there. and the constitution? jesus, they wrote that when it took ten minutes to load a fucking musket.

the glock made my left ear ring more than any metallica concert i ever attended. ed took us back to his place and fed us hot dogs. we were friends who went out shooting; and i guess, at the end of the day, that's cool, if you just ignore all politics. but that's tough.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

post 629. looking for meteorites.

summer is for being outside; i was telling someone that i want my summers scorching, my winters freezing, fall to have a nice breeze, and spring to have the smell of baseball. so far, summer in albany has been a bust: a questionable june, record rainfall in july. but august is turning out nice, so last week the cast of shear madness went to the roof of the garage that cap rep is parked under to look for the leonid meteor shower. turned out we weren't as interested in the meteors as we were simply to hang out, together, on a roof. in summer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

post 628. a late night in albany.

i've been waiting all summer for an opportunity to try and take this picture. and it's my favorite. maaan, i love my camera.