yesterday – monday – was windy as can be.
i’ve been wrestling with news that wasn’t what i wanted to hear for a few days now.
like a low-level headache, i was having trouble connecting the operating system behind my eyes. unwelcome news can be blinding in so many ways and so illuminating in others. i’m the type who, after getting the “word,” will look back to see if there was ever a “word of warning.”
a signpost to the “oh, fuck,” that has since become my own, personal mushroom cloud.
last monday, (not yesterday, but the previous one), as i sat on the J-train heading to “the city,” i discovered a “franny and zooey” paperback (by j.d. salinger) in a rarely-used record-bag.
the moment my hand revealed the book to my eyes, i calculated;
this + this = that
last year when he died, me and my dear friend, also a “salingerist,” spoke about him and how much his writing impacted us.
after our chat, i remembered taking the book from the shelf and putting it in the bag. i had to go to bellevue the next day.
it was better than a newspaper.
i thought, “the fat lady…,” and let it drop like a hot coal.
i revisited the book for 39 brown-tipped pages before i dog-eared it.
since then, it’s been in the bag waiting to be rediscovered.
i began reading it again that day, though i would put it down a day later.
circumstances and information would see to that.
oddly enough, something else came to mind…….
…..once upon a time, this was my dog.
i was working for the department of city planning as a printer, something that was mentioned in a note a week or so ago.
there was a couple who lived in a shoebox of an apartment in brooklyn heights who had come into the adjoining office to ask if there was anyone who would want to adopt a four-year-old black afghan hound.
i had just moved into my first apartment on eleventh street, between seventh and eighth avenue in park slope.
this is when there wasn’t a double-wide stroller to be had in that neighborhood. i’ll leave it at that.
i had a floor-through apartment next door to a firehouse that was located in the middle of a narrow one-way street. the floor pitched severely to one side because the foundation sagged.
at far left, where those blue trashcans are – that’s where i lived in 1972. that’s where i brought that black afghan hound to live with me. they told me that he needed to be housebroken and was “stupid. actually, he needed ROOM to be walked and loved, nothing more and had a personality more catlike than “good-old-rover like.”
this animal would travel with me all over the east coast of the united states and even live in florida for a while. i had to shave him down there. too hot. i learned firsthand that afghan hounds were badasses. these guys hunt leopards and lions and have “extraordinarily powerful front paws.”
here’s a quote –
“There are some eyewitness accounts of Afghans running down leopards solo, seizing the cat by the neck above the shoulders and biting through the spine for a kill. ” yeowch.
when i got this dog to trust me, i let him off the leash in the meadow at prospect park before it was overrun with people. he ran like the wind.
one day, he was attacked by a really big german shepherd. he sidestepped the attacking dog – its teeth catching hair but no dog – while i was yelling at the dog’s owner to call his dog off.
he laughed and told me to fuck off.
in the next moment, the afghan was running down the meadow with the shepherd, side by side and i watched as he leaned into the larger dog causing it to fall. then, in a manner of seconds, the afghan had the shepherd on its back with its paws spread-eagled as he proceeded to tear into its throat. i ran to my dog and pulled him away. the shepherd didn’t follow us. that douchebag guy was no longer laughing. he was hollering all sorts of stuff at me because his priorities had changed.
he had to save his dog’s life.
that’s when i went to the library and found out all i needed to know about afghans aside from that fact that they had hair like rod stewart.
my dog’s papers stated his name was “afshin, the ila-khan of wersh.”
it called him a “blue-brindle.” his skin was actually bluish in tone.
one day i looked at him and called him “the mook.” it stuck.
i’m not sure if his name predated the famous pool-hall scene from scorcese’s “mean streets,” not that it matters.
in 1978, when he was ten, i was managing a discotheque in tribeca.
with the hours and days i was keeping (aside from the blackouts), i was being as unfair to him as the previous owners were.
one day, my brother’s friend approached me, saying he had a wonderful plot of land, a farm, upstate with rolling hills. he asked me if i’d consider letting the mook live out his time in a wonderland for a dog who lives to run and hunt.
i’m not big on right decisions, especially back then, but i did this.
i let him go.
consequently, i still refer to “the mook” in the present tense.
he’s still upstate on that farm….
i didn’t think about any of this stuff till i was sitting here recalling it,
but why i thought about this to begin with, is clear to me now.
it was time to visit the glossary of mind and memory, hoping to weave information together to support the notion that all is as it should be,
because it was.
i was having “a time” understanding that.
i tried to not think of this as a desperate measure.
sometimes, waking up is a desperate measure.
34. – Stimulus, pl. “stimuli” – A specific object or event that influences an individual’s learning or behavior.
After two years of constant talk regarding “economic” stimulus, which in its own cause-and-effect way parallels what i’m trying to explain here, the information about how my hard-drive interprets the stimuli of the past weeks would put me in this same spot to do what i’m doing this very minute and all of this might not even make any sense if i were to organize and graph and clarify everything associated with every cause and effect regarding learning or behavior stated herein.
there, i used it – singular and plural – in a sentence.
monday – that windy monday that happened at the top of this note, not the one where i found “franny and zooey” and rode the J-train – i took maxx and drove out to floyd bennett field.
i wanted to get into the old airplane hangar but it was not in the cards this day.
i decided to wander aimlessly.
yes. aimless is a direction.
as we walked – even maxx was subdued in his happy-dog anxiousness –
i raised the camera to my eye, standing for a second, then turned it off.
i thought about describing photos of things i couldn’t shoot like when my camera died while cycling around dumbo the day i saw the ghost of my long-dead irish grandfather huddled at the cobblestone curb.
i walked in-line with “runway number one” receding behind me….
….i did not walk forward….not to where i’ve been, but back….to a place i hadn’t been before.
it was overgrown and neglected.
you’d never think it was a runway at all, ever.
i didn’t photograph that either. you’ll have to take my word for it.
maxx roamed and searched and sniffed.
the wind rustled through everything around me causing a constant, quiet, “whooosh,” that mingled with the humm of engine and tire on the blacktop passing in the near-distance along flatbush avenue and the everpresent hiss and whistle that i believe is my antennae to the infinite.
…..and as i looked at the cars pass on their way, i said the word, “passing,” out-loud, in an over-tone of conversational voice.
the wind caused my eyes to tear and as they did, i tried to separate the drops that were meant for other things.
they silently streamed down my face from different corners.
as i thought of them, i filed them;
a tear for loss,
a tear for grief,
a tear for memory,
a tear for joy,
a tear for release,
a tear for anger,
a tear for rage,
a tear for resignation,
a tear for acceptance,
and so on…..
and as i walked, the tears and the words went away, just like everything else and i found myself on the floyd bennett field entrance-road where i drove some time before. from here you would turn left onto the road that has the big “33” on it, the first runway i befriended years ago when i would cycle here, back when everything was different…but the same…..
and as i walked that road, i thought about the empty spaces that were appearing in my life and it all played in my head like piano music and i turned onto the part of the entrance road that i never walked before – the one that led straight ahead and not onto runway 33 – and i looked to where i saw low-lying buildings in the distance that looked like a 1950’s housing development.
as i walked, i heard the sound of a clanging that reminded me of a buoy floating out in the water, but i knew it wasn’t that. it was too close and the clanging-sound too errant and flat, but it held the same remoteness and distance of lonesome seas.
i would walk through what may have been a small go-kart track, still not photographing anything, until came upon the source of the dirge and began filming it, annoyingly. i apologize in advance.
fifty seconds in, there’s tolerable sound and image for about twenty seconds, then again at the two-minute mark till the end.
i gotta learn to edit these things.
this is/was a u.s. marine reserve center, ghostlike without a flag flying.
i moved on, walking toward the housing development –
i could sense lifelessness by the lack of motor vehicles but the kneejerk hope for normalcy made me dismiss this notion until i drew closer and saw the grey drape flapping lazily out a broken window.
the building facade said it all.
if i had my druthers, i’d open this for nature lovers, explorers and the clinically depressed.
i would name it “tragedyland” and bill it as a place where, “absolutely anything can happen.”
and i wouldn’t change a thing.
how many low-budget horror films can i make here?
why did i find this place lifting my spirits? or rather, why did i find a sense of spiritual leveling that i no doubt needed at this moment?
was it “happy to be..?” or “lucky i’m not..”
the thought of crying or laughing escaped me.
“its so everpresent….” i marvelled.
…,”and filled with both.”
i chose not to climb into any of these buildings. i wanted to, but like when i wanted to venture into the missile chambers under fort tilden, i waited until i had an expeditionary force, as in another human being.
i will return. i have to come back here.
i clicked-away and when i got home, spent some hours loading up the “earth reclamation project” folder on my photobucket account.
me and maxx walked back to where we started as the sun was setting, documenting this hike, this search, this visit.
no grifting lizards this day, but a message from “the eighth-electro-plasma-ocean of the ninth dimension“?
“life loves you and so do i.”
i can’t get better than that from anyone, anywhere.
the mook runs, leaping over fences and posts…..such joy…..