Saturday 8 December 2007

Nothing more than this,


The last time I looked at the telly

was sometime this summer, and there were ads on it for a kind of birth control pill that reduces a woman's periods to four times a year.

There were ads for viagra on mainstream tv, not just in your spam folder.

I was at a screening of old propaganda ads from the forties and beyond, at Barbes recently, a lot of fun-to-look-at images of bugs bunny and tap dancing starlets strongly selling war bonds during ww2, and there was one particularly memorable set of ads telling people what to do in the event of an atomic bomb blast. They should hide under the sofa, apparently, and put one hand over their eyes and the other over the back of the neck. So there were lots of images of people running into doorways in this recovery position, and leaping under beds, as the white heat of mushroom clouds ascended throughout the land. And the daddy of the family was always on hand to say, ok family, it's safe to go outside now. That radiation will have passed within ten minutes of the blast.


Well, this summer I saw an ad that seemed to be directed toward children, asking them what they would do in the event of a terrorist attack. And to the parents, have you educated your kids well enough? Does everybody know what to do? And it seemed to be left open ended, with overtones of guilt, that if you haven't instructed your children in the proper procedures for coping with a terrorist attack, that you were negligent as a parent, without actually giving any sense of the implications of what such an attack might entail. And truthfully, anything that any bureau of intelligence can come up with in this regard seems to be undermined with disturbing regularity, by somebody who's put a couple of cornflake boxes together and watched an episode of McGyver.

But the news is still the same: it's every man, every man for himself (and for his own family). Like the salt sprinkles out on the street. There are no city-sponsored common area trucks that go around sprinkling salt on the street, like they do in snowy weather in Denmark. This place is operating as a city of sole traders, functioning on its OWN. And it's ALIVE.

Friday 7 December 2007

One from the afternoon

I was dreaming of a high sitting
blond haired make up man
who asked me how I coped with being so beautiful
when you came
and vibrated
on my coffee table
looking for a place that kills things cheap and happily.
It ain't me, babe. No, no no
it ain't me babe.
It ain't me you're looking for

Thursday 6 December 2007

A holiday medley, off key

There's an ad campaign for something or other, on several subway trains at the moment. It runs the entire carriage with ideas like "You didn't wait 12 months for a set of dishcloths", and "Visions of socks and underwear never danced in your head". Well if you're waiting for anything for 12 months the most you're likely to feel at the end of it is the kind of relief you get when you finally hit that porcelain after a long pee-holding-in stint... and actually I have had that vision of socks and dancing underwear. I testify.

I had a brief conversational interlude yesterday over breakfast with a pair of chess players and the topic of sentimentality arose. One of the chess players mentioned a Mariah Carey song (oh she who is so bountiful in this emotion) and how it was steaming with what he called "fake sentimentality". And I wondered aloud, "well, what is REAL sentimentality? Is sentimentality ever real? Isn't that an oxymoron?" I suppose an answer to that could be that actually, it's real sentimentality if the person feeling it is buying into it at the time, perhaps. But any definition of real that means authentic and actual (yeah, concepts galore, but maybe you know what I mean) to me, doesn't include sentimentality. But it's an interesting question.

And so, in this spirit, with this little question mark of sentimentality over my head as I step down into the spaghetti junction at Pacific street, I remember my iPod. And as the q train chugs out over the Manhattan bridge with a vibrant peach and rose sunset backlighting the Brooklyn Bridge, and the statue of liberty somewhere in between (can you believe I never noticed it in that picture before?) my fingers reach quite naturally for Rhapsody in Blue (the Previn version). Gosh, though. It really does mine that seam. If you're looking for exquisitely elegant sentimentality, Rhapsody in Blue is probably what you're looking for. 'Specially with that view. Woman can only take so much of this vibe, however elegantly drawn, and so I switch to New York Counterpoint as I emerge from the 6 at Lafayette street.

And go walking through Soho.

And this is some of what I see...

The skyline on a red label on a courier bag
A middle aged man sending an email on his Treo
A Grace's Market NY bag
A massive vinyl image of clueless beauty at East Houston and Lafayette
Tits in a car window on Lafayette
Some famous actor looking angry and withdrawn and cold
Very well made beautiful shoes
Exquisite long johns
An art deco parking garage
Midnight blue
Avoca wool
A woman surrendering to the image of one she believes to be more beautiful than her
A woman luring another in from the streetside of the window of her shop

As I skirt along Spring...

A well dressed woman pulling trash out of a clean, freshly painted dumpster
The waft of shish kebabs
Tall thin blonde women who might be German metal head boys
Five inch patent heels striding indifferently across the cobblestones
A chef smoking a fag watching me walk down the street
The man transfixed at the "Gifts for Reading" table at the MoMA design store
An image of Kate Moss airbrushed (for she looketh like this no longer, if she ever ever did) into an alluring vision of expensive sundrenched fuckability (with impeccable hygiene and no past)
The man on the phone
Woman in mink
Some photos that look like mine on the wall by the escalator in Bloomingdales
The cold street
The evenly scattered salt on the pavement
The expensive looking graffiti that makes expensive mouths water
Healthy dogs in jackets
Look up! Look up!
The sight of an imposing Soho loft at Broadway and Broome
He eyes my stripey tights with glee
A boy sitting crosslegged in the freezing street, tap tap tapping on his 17 inch laptop
The Housing Works bookstore on Crosby, as I enter
"Archipenko adheres to the limitations of the block, finding within its confines solutions at once simple and complex" on the first page of the first book I glance at: "Alexander Archipenko: Vision and Continuity", p. 120.
and I think of Dean street and 5th avenue
And I find a seat
and I sit
and type this from the notes in my small notebook.

Wednesday 5 December 2007

They've discovered a void in the universe

and it's not just taking place in my Brooklyn afternoons. No, it's one billion light years in diameter. The mixing of space and time concepts alone is probably enough to make your brain synapses go gaga and span out for the remainder of the evening, but this is really very beautiful if you linger over it a little.

Void (not pigs) in SPACE!


Caught in the act

I don't know about you, but these two look to me like they've been having just a little too much fun...

Oh sweet

Three cheers for the nose!
Hip hip hurrah!
Hip hip hurrah!
Hip hip..
Elephants on the bbc

Some days are just cold and you wish you were drunk the whole way through them. Today has been such a day. Hence the bliss of elephants. And good red wine.

Tuesday 4 December 2007

All we are saying... is Give Rats a Chance...

There's a new generation of rats in New York City.

They are not ashamed of their forebears, they are in fact proud of the fact that the rats of New York City did so much to contribute to the lasting legacy of the image of The Big Apple. The rats of New York city are legendary. But they have had a bad rap. And they have never been pretty.

However, there is now a new generation with new concerns, and this generation is, in keeping with much of the city they hold so beloved, that has sustained and multiplied them, feeling comfortable enough with their new status that they are keen to launch a pr campaign, in order to revamp their public image. It's a branding thing. And I am one lucky lady today, because I have gotten the gig. It's the highest profile job of my career as a rat finker.

It's also, I'm happy to say, an easy job. Because the rats of New York City have become a species for the city to be proud of. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been having meetings with some high profile leaders of the rat community here in the Park Slope/ Prospect Heights neighbourhoods and I have seen how they live. They have respect in their communities, they provide for their families, they live off the pickings of very sanitary rubbish bins and the very fine restaurant kitchens of the area.

Their offspring - ratlets I've decided to call them for the ground we can cover with the cute factor - are educated, well integrated into the community, and have ambition that their grandparents simply couldn't have hoped to have. They know how far it is possible to travel in this town; some of them have indeed ascended Manhattan's dizzying heights: you may know many of their faces, they have become leaders of business and industry and are visible, speaking their truth nightly on CNN and Bloomberg TV.

There are a few key concerns emerging from my conversations with the various rat communities of the city (and just like the human communities, the rat communities are diverse, in economic realities, education and prospects) that the rats on the ground would like to have addressed in the wider community, and through their media representations. They are fully aware of the centrality of their role in the New York story, which is comparable with, though inherently different from, the centrality of the cockroach community in the life of the city. And it's time for payback, now. It's time for recognition. Language is an important issue.

They have been inspired by the efforts of many minority communities in reclaiming the slang epithets that have been for generations used abusively against them. Street rats in Washington Heights and Inwood, the as yet ungentrified parts of Manhattan, aswell as many areas of The Bronx, have, for a number of years now, been fondly, informally calling each other 'vermin' and this defiant act of empowerment has been read as threatening by the human communities there. They wonder what the rats are planning and what is possible from here.

Well, most rats in New York City are really just very pleased to be earning a good living and having a warm home in a safe neighbourhood, and that's what we're really keen to emphasise in our public relations efforts. This is all about understanding between the two principle species in the city. Again, I am aware that our cockroach friends share the city equally as the third dominant species here, but they haven't hired me. Yet.

We all just want what's good for the children. Rat and baby, standing shoulder to shoulder, eating from the same bowl. And maybe this vision seems mad to you, seems so visionary as to be such a long way off, that it could never happen, that we humans could never see rats as an equal species, but here's where the fight begins. The fight of the triumph of human and, yes, vermin, understanding.

Sunday 2 December 2007

Made in China

I'm thinking of getting a t-shirt printed up that says 'Made in China' and go around being a piece of shit technology for the day. Maybe Christmas.