Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jet (lag) Set

I’ve just come from Switzerland where ordering and categorizing are sources of national pride, still it's taken a week to get the chronology of the trip aligned. my brain has been this spinning globe, shedding the grid the marks it as it turns - longitude, latitude, time zones, borders all a muddle. NYC - hot, fire escape Brooklyn days; nights in 50's, hysterical America with Nick Ray... In Philly we talked with a former prisoner about the experiments done to him, horror stories from the maze of the prison, but he’s full of generous talk and love… In the Mutter museum, the pathological specimens float quietly, strangely calm, like sea horses or horse crabs, in their thick fluid… Outside NYC, photographing the beach and an abandoned military base, we think we’ve gotten poison Ivy and wait for the rash, we plunge into the curling waves in our underwear…Across the same ocean, in Locarno, a thunderstorm drenches the narrow streets, cobble stones flash, sitting in the light of the largest movie screen in Europe, people under umbrellas watch a couple fucking out their last days on earth… The boys on scooters crowd the rotunda, preening and pouting. The girls do the same till 1 am, then they scream and cry in Italian.

By daylight the clipped lines of the buildings – old and new – sit in contrast to the rugged curves of the Alps. To my mind there is a tension between line and curve everywhere here. The older Swiss don’t seem to mind but the younger ones do. On the shore of the lake, I talk boyfriends, lust, loyalty with a lovely boy. He trembles when he responds. I ask if it’s hard to talk about being gay. “No,” he says, “It’s hard to talk about feelings here.” He stands by the edge of the path. A sprinkler spins toward him, spraying water within a half inch of his shoulder but leaving him dry. “So fucking Swiss.” He laughs. The dark lake behind him is so quiet I think it has, Swiss and sensible, gone to sleep. I get in at 5 AM and lay staring at the metal dinning room table thinking that a ghost here would not be a flowing, ephemeral thing but the line of the table’s edge, a hand rail, a street sign, that suddenly take on ominous intelligence.

Back in NYC the lines of the city are age worn and chewed. The buildings seem warped with humidity. Damp skin. Damp hair, lots of it. A fan cools our naked bodies on a damp bed. It's a good thing in the end, all this humidity - It keeps the trip something physical. There's no forgetting the body to the flow of images. Sleepy at the end of a midnight party. Last night. My travel is almost over. There’s a see – saw in my mind. There’s a globe. There’s a hula hoop spinning round a tight waist on on the dance floor...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


between the passive, sterile environment of planes and airports, there is one large city of concrete, greasy steel, and elegant line; of static images and the mobile living and all shades in between (films -so many films); rain on battered brick;warm nights of skin and sweat and sheet and hair; dancing till 5 am, crying with a friend coping with cancer; Irma Thomas wailing through the night streets where the girls' dresses are brighter than the neon signs above them. Above it all, the moon, growing full and fat to remind me how little it all is....

Car Wash

The excitement begins with the soap smell and the sudden wet, grinding, surround sound. Water rushes over the glass. In the back seat you are in a spaceship hitting warp-drive, a submarine caught in the Bermuda Triangle or in the belly of a deep sea beast... then it winds down and it's just Sunday, on the way to church. The last hope of adventure fades as you stand on the hot asphalt watching your dad drying the windshield and your mom vacuum the seats in their fancy clothes.