revised catalog of ships, partial

First, Maine belched 9 buses full of Stephen King characters and hippie deodorant

New Hampshire drooled 8 Subarus led by the fictional president from The West Wing and the ghost of the schoolteacher astronaut from the Challenger

Vermont smelled 2 battered SUVs driven by the maple syrup golems, from deep in their semi transparent barrel chests came concerns about high sugar intake

Massachusetts underwrote 36 Volvos, full of donuts and mixed-bag history and the smell of the Alewife T station

Connecticut ladled 21 Escalades, each spattered with robin shit, full of men in moderately nice shirts

New York choked on 47 beef patties, each patty cautiously justifying its existence in a calm voice, the voices harmonizing into insanity

New Jersey fake-choked 39 tomatoes dragging behind them 20-acre parking lot

Pennsylvania exhaled 44 Wienermobiles contained steelworkers and football coaches full of problems and a family of frightened deer and the Wendy’s where the Greyhound always stops

Ohio squeak-farted 43 garbage trucks laden with more football coaches with better problems, seven mediocre presidents, and the unpunished murderers of gravity

Maryland stabbed 31 unmarked police vehicles, filled with crab delicacies, rowing under the splattered banner of that mellow-scented jurisdiction

Delaware spat 5 maroon 1992 Chevrolet Corsicas, their fuzzy upholsteries murmuring faintly of peace

Kentucky emitted 24 almond-hued hatchbacks, split evenly between 12 happy families, violently dissimilar, and 12 unhappy families, unrecognizable

South Carolina bled 26 Teslas, their paintjobs scratched by the amorous fingers of spurned part-time lovers on the homefront, the occupants of the cars using their toes to idly swipe through Tinder matches

North Carolina politely sneezed 40 Amtrak diner cars into the crook of her elbow, the germs in rusty armor running every direction

Georgia hiccuped 42 underfunded light-rail cars for the greater good, each one’s destination sign staring out A WAR in cute green diodes

Virginia frontstabbed 38 black Labs in tuxedos, each ridden by a monkey dressed like George Washington, doffing their powdered wigs like hats and chewing on roses

West Virginia suppurated 12 gleaming tour buses, each containing non-native Merle Haggard at a different life stage, including skeleton Merle Haggard who has the best songs of all Merles

Wisconsin smiled 30 roller skates yoked to guinea pigs like a chariot, steered by half-melted Barbie dolls

Illinois tripped over its 45 man-shaped boats and boat-shaped men, scaring everyone half-stupid

Michigan belched, but the kind where you swallow it and just dispel a jetstream of burp-colored breath through pursed lips, 41 grease-only dumpsters full of corporate spokespersons, deaf to mercy

Tennessee dry-heaved 33 orangutans in Bonobos brand internet luxury pants, 16 pairs waltzing elegantly and the one spare wheel sobbing on your shoulder

Florida air-kissed 46 monster trucks full of Al Pacinos

Alabama fake-hugged 27 short lengths of twine blown toward the war by an enormous set of lungs inside the moon

Last and being a baby about it, Mississippi finger-banged 19 cars shaped like the plastic bride and groom on top of a wedding cake, their eyes burning with wayward misery

all the vatos / never in a poem


with like >67% fidelity i think i’ve kept every baseball game/movie ticket stub i’ve acquired since high school. while i was pruning my crap garden before moving everything to alabama in two weeks (did we talk about that, quien sabe), i found this folded up post-it note in my second tupperfile file box of random paper-based souvenirs/proof that i live and will have eventually lived. the post-it note says NOSTALGIA IS A PRISON. i can’t remember why i wrote that on the post it note exactly, but i do remember that it used to be on the wall at my old office in NY.

whatever the reason i wrote the note originally was, it worked out that the real reason i did it was to encourage myself to throw a bunch of shit out here today in 2015 C.E. but because i am a maniac i am going to write down some pertinent info so if i ever desperately need to know what went down for me personally from like 2000-2014 i can consume this list as a memory vitamin. but yeah it is time to stop carrying around this cigar box crammed full of pieces of paper when i could just have this one piece of digital paper. also, if it helps us remember, the cigar box has a hubert davis 1990s panini NBA sticker on it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.18.44 AM

baseball games etc

  • 07/11/98 Twins at Indians (Brad Radke vs Dwight Gooden, Indians won)
  • 07/11/99 Reds at Indians (Brett Tomko vs Jaret Wright, Eddie Taubensee had a big revenge game against Indians a long time after they traded him for Kenny Lofton)
  • 08/15/99 Phillies at Reds (Robert Person vs Denny Neagle, Person and the Phils won, Terry Francona was managing them)
  • 11/12/99 Islanders at Blackhawks
  • 10/21/00 Miami Fusion (defunct) vs Chicago Fire, Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, Soldier Field
  • 04/11/01 Indians at White Sox (Dave Burba vs Cal Eldred, White Sox won)
  • 08/31/01 Indians at White Sox (Steve Woodard vs Dan Wright, White Sox won, Marty Cordova hit a home run, it seemed like September 11 happened right after this but it was really 10 days)
  • 09/23/01 Vikings at Bears NFL (tons of immediate-post-9/11 patriotic stuff)
  • 11/03/01 Knicks at Bulls
  • 05/21/02 Pirates at Cubs (double header; game 1 Jimmy Anderson vs Jason Bere, Pirates win; game 2 Josh Fogg vs Juan Cruz, Cubs win; Joe Beimel pitched)
  • 06/07/02 Expos at White Sox (Tony Armas vs Dan Wright, Expos won)
  • 07/06/02 Indians at White Sox (Jason Phillips vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
  • 08/12/02 Astros at Cubs (Roy Oswalt vs Kerry Wood, Astros won)
  • 04/15/03 Royals at White Sox (this was the game where umpire Laz Diaz got attacked by a fan and players from both teams definitely stomped the guy a bit; Miguel Asencio vs Mark Buehrle, Royals won)
  • 05/26/03 Pirates at Cubs (Josh Fogg vs Kerry Wood, Pirates won)
  • 06/10/03 Giants at White Sox (Jerome Williams vs Jon Garland, White Sox won, Barry Bonds hit a 999-ft home run)
  • 06/16/03 Red Sox at White Sox (Pedro Martinez vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
  • 06/19/03 Red Sox at White Sox (Derek Lowe vs Dan Wright, Red Sox won)
  • 07/08/03 Marlins at Cubs (Dontrelle Willis vs Carlos Zambrano, your future world champ Marlins and a NLCS preview; Luis Castillo hit a bomb off Mike Remlinger, Marlins won)
  • 07/25/03 Celtic FC vs Boca Juniors in Cleveland
  • 07/21/03 Indians at White Sox (Brian Tallet vs Mike Porzio, White Sox win)
  • 08/18/03 Angels at White Sox (Jarrod Washburn vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
  • 09/03/03 Red Sox at White Sox (Derek Lowe vs Mark Buehrle, Red Sox won)
  • 09/08/03 Anaheim Angels at Oakland Athletics (Aaron Sele vs Tim Hudson, Angels won)
  • 09/22/03 Yankees at White Sox (David Wells vs Bartolo Colon, White Sox won)
  • 04/15/04 Royals at White Sox (Brian Anderson vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
  • 04/25/04 Devil Rays at White Sox (starters: Geremi Gonzalez vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won, Geremi Gonzalez died after getting struck by lightning four years later)
  • 05/28/04 Anaheim Angels at White Sox (now they’re the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Kelvim Escobar vs Jon Garland, Shingo Takatsu got the win)
  • 06/04/04 Pirates at Cubs (Josh Fogg vs Mark Prior, Pirates win)
  • 07/24/04 Braves at White Sox (John Thomson vs Al Leiter, Braves win)
  • 04/06/05 Indians at White Sox (Kevin Millwood vs Freddy Garcia, White Sox won)
  • 04/18/05 Twins at White Sox (Kyle Lohse vs Jose Contreras, White Sox won)
  • 06/22/05 Cubs at Brewers (Carlos Zambrano vs Doug Davis, Brewers won)
  • 07/18/05 Tigers at White Sox (Sean Douglass vs Orlando Hernandez, White Sox won)
  • 10/21/05 DC United at Chicago Fire at Soldier Field
  • 04/15/06 Blue Jays at White Sox (defintely the first time I went to a baseball game by myself, AJ Burnett vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
  • 08/12/06 Chivas USA (now defunct) at Chicago Fire in Bridgeview (definitely got borderline alcohol poisoning while partying with Lithuanians after this)
  • 12/17/06 Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (terrible game, Bills won, very cold, drove straight back to Chicago for work on Monday)
  • ??/??/07 unknown University of Chicago football game, which is weird, because I graduated four years before this
  • 04/08/07 Twins at White Sox (Johan Santana vs John Danks, Twins won)
  • 04/10/07 Angels at Indians, but at Miller Park in Milwaukee (because of weather in Cleveland; CC Sabathia defeated Ervin Santana)
  • 06/16/07 Brewers at Twins (only visit ever to the Metrodome; Dave Bush vs Boof Bonser, Brewers won)
  • 06/19/07 Midwest League All-Star Game in Kane County
  • 07/10/08 Giants at Mets (Barry Zito vs John Maine, last year of Shea Stadium, day game, only game I went to this season?)
  • 06/19/09 Rays at Mets (Andy Sonnanstine vs Fernando Nieve, Mets won)
  • 07/18/09 Cubs at Nationals (Randy Wells vs Jordan Zimmermann, Nats won)
  • 05/09/10 Giants at Mets (Tim Lincecum vs Oliver Perez, the Giants went on to win the WS that year, it was really cold, we left early)
  • 05/31/10 Indians at Yankees (Mitch Talbot vs Andy Pettitte, Yankees win)
  • 07/15/10 Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Brooklyn Cyclones
  • 08/15/10 Phillies at Mets, (I think it rained, we had really good tickets gifted by my former boss, whose wife did business with the ownership group of Mets, I bought a Mets logo poncho which I might still own)
  • 05/11/11 Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees (notable incidences: E. Hosmer first career HR, Royals win in 11, ticket cost $50 somehow)
  • 06/11/11 Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees (Bartolo Colon defeats Mitch Talbot, A-Rod homers, I vaguely recall seat-neighbors making racist/ignorant comments about Shin-Soo Choo; I have an unused second ticket from this game. I think I got the tickets from the old CFO at my old job and was impressed by how shitty the seats were for someone at the executive pay grade)
  • 08/11/11 Yankees at Red Sox (Bartolo Colon vs Jon Lester, Yankees win)
  • 07/04/12 Williamsport Cross Cutters at Brooklyn Cyclones (I was at Coney Island on July 4 which was kind of a thing unto itself. I think this was a nasty hot spell and I either was on or shortly thereafter went on a couple dates with a girl who was kind of cool but I flaked out and never called her back because I think she said she was into reading Us Weekly and like other tissue-paper-thin weird excuse, but after we saw Battle of Algiers we took a medium-long walk through a psychotically warm NYC summer night, and that walk was a little magic moment that I still keep despite not remembering the girl’s name or really anything other that she was from the part of Pennsylvania between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg)
  • 01/28/13 Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets (the ticket has a giant picture of Joe Johnson’s face on it). all i remember about this game is that Jacque Vaughn coaches (coached?) the Magic and that startled me into noticing how old I am.
  • 05/04/13 Athletics at Yankees (Bartolo Colon vs Phil Hughes, A’s won; I went to this by myself to celebrate giving notice at Bloomsbury, moreso than having a new job)
  • 05/12/13 Pirates at Mets (Jeanmar Gomez vs Matt Harvey, Pirates won)
  • 07/06/13 Tigers at Indians (Anibal Sanchez vs Carlos Carrasco, Carrasco got shelled, my two young nieces didn’t like the game and we left early, first Indians home game for me in like ten years)
  • 07/03/14 Rays at Tigers (Erik Bedard vs Max Scherzer, Tigers won)
  • 07/30/14 Mariners at Indians (Corey Kluber threw a 85-pitch CG shutout against Felix Hernandez; Joe Beimel pitched 12 years later)
  • 08/04/14 Reds at Indians (Alfredo Simon vs Corey Kluber, Indians won; this is the point at which I decided Kluber was probably going to throw a no-hitter and I should go to all his home starts)
  • 08/05/14 Reds at Indians (Johnny Cueto vs Josh Tomlin, Reds won, last out of game came on a walk-off replay review, sat in bleachers)
  • 08/08/14 Rangers at Astros (Miles Mikolas vs Brett Oberholtzer, Astros won, roof closed)
  • 09/26/14 Rays at Indians (Corey Kluber vs Chris Archer, Indians won, this was probably the game that cinched the Cy Young for Kluber)
  • 04/15/15 White Sox at Indians (John Danks vs Trevor Bauer, Jackie Robinson Day, Indians won)
  • 04/27/15 Royals at Indians (Jason Vargas vs Corey Kluber, Indians lost, there were less than 10,000 people in attendance)
  • 05/13/15 Cardinals at Indians (John Lackey vs Corey Kluber, Indians won, Kluber struck out 18 in 8 innings, took a no-hitter into 7th, only STL hit was a Jhonny Peralta single)
  • 05/14/15 West Virginia Power at Hagerstown Suns (doubleheader, I left part of the way through first game out of wanderlust, Country Music Night, no idea who won)
  • 05/15/15 Angels at Orioles (Jered Weaver vs Wei-Yin Chen, Angels won)
  • 05/16/15 Diamondbacks at Phillies (Archie Bradley vs Jerome Williams, who I saw pitch 12 years earlier, Phillies won, first time I had ever been at a rain delay, I left before end to drive to Atlantic City)
  • 05/20/15 Altoona Curve at Portland Sea Dogs (Altoona won, they had an infielder from South Africa)
  • 05/25/15 Rangers at Indians (Phil Klein vs Shaun Marcum, Rangers won)
  • 05/27/15 Rangers at Indians (Colby Lewis vs Carlos Carrasco, Indians won)
  • 06/01/15 South Bend Cubs vs Lake County Captains (doubleheader, I left somewhere early in second game, it was unseasonbly cold, I ate Mexican food in Painesville beforehand)
  • 06/10/15 Mariners at Indians (Taijuan Walker vs Trevor Bauer, Mariners won, Joe Beimel pitched again, point being, raise a lefthander)
  • 06/17/15 Cubs at Indians (Tsuyoshi Wada vs Shaun Marcum, Indians lost 0-17, I left in 7th, missed two position players pitching)
  • 06/22/15 Tigers at Indians (Kyle Ryan vs Trevor Bauer, Tigers won, Bauer terrible again)
  • 07/06/15 Astros at Indians (Dallas Keuchel vs Carlos Carrasco, Astros won)


  • 10/19/03 4:10 pm Intolerable Cruelty (Webster Place in Chicago, from so long ago there is an ad for defunct Cingular Wireless on ticket back, maybe the worst Coen brother movie)
  • 11/07/03 5 pm Mystic River (River East)
  • 02/29/04 3 pm The Passion of the Christ (River East, sitting really way close to the screen)
  • 03/25/04 2:30 pm Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (River East)
  • 03/29/04 4:40 pm City of God (River East)
  • 03/30/04 2 pm Spartan (City North 14, terrible movie)
  • 04/06/04 1:45 pm Jersey Girl (City North 14)
  • 04/27/04 12:45 pm Kill Bill 2 (City North 14, Chicago, hated it, although working at night is good for seeing matinees)
  • 04/28/04 3:45 pm Punisher (River East, Chicago, the one with Thomas Jane, definitely saw this while drinking by myself before work at the Trib, bad times, definitely made a mess changing a toner cartridge not long after)
  • 04/30/04 6:10 pm Mean Girls (Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, IL. weird to think this was two days after that shitty day seeing Punisher, this one is a good memory)
  • 05/10/04 2:10 pm My Architect (Cedar Lee in Cleveland, bargain matinee)
  • 05/13/04 1:40 pm Super Size Me (Esquire in Chicago)
  • 05/23/04 2:30 pm Shrek 2 (River East, ?)
  • 05/24/04 12:15 pm Troy (Webster Place, so bad)
  • 05/29/04 10:40 pm The Day After Tomorrow (600 N Michigan where you have to take eleventy hundred escalators in my memory)
  • 07/08/04 5pm Spiderman 2 (Union Square, NYC, Alfred Molina, I turned 23)
  • 07/22/04 5 pm Before Sunset (Lincoln Square NYC, I clearly did not have a lot to do this week)
  • 07/25/04 4:50 pm Napoleon Dynamite (Empire 25, seemed amazingly great at the time)
  • 07/29/04 10:45 pm Garden State (Union Square, not a great week of cinema here)
  • 09/07/04 8 pm Collateral (Empire 25, Tom Cruise’s silver hair)
  • 10/31/04 8:30 pm Ray (Union Square, not bad as I recall)
  • 12/25/04 9:45 pm The Life Aquatic (Middleburg Hts, the multiplex that has a graveyard in the parking lot, circumstantial evidence points to need to escape mom’s condo while home for holidays)
  • 04/24/05 5:15 pm Sin City (Empire 25, which is weird because I did not live in NY then, also this movie sucked)
  • 11/19/05 7:30 pm Good Night and Good Luck (Esquire on Oak Street, not even there anyone IIRC)
  • 12/18/05 6:15 pm Syriana (River East)
  • 01/16/06 2:30 pm Munich (River East, I still stan for Eric Bana as leading man)
  • 01/21/06 4:45 pm The New World (River East)
  • 02/19/06 4:30 pm Tristram Shandy (Pipers Alley, this movie is sadly not very good)
  • 04/02/06 3:45 pm Inside Man (River East)
  • 06/04/06 4:40 pm An Inconvenient Truth (River East, definitely snuck into something after this but I have no idea what)
  • 07/22/06 3 pm Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Siskel Center)
  • 07/28/06 7:15 pm Miami Vice (600 N Michigan)
  • 08/07/06 6:15 pm Talladega Nights (a theater in a mall in Memphis, TN)
  • 08/19/06 2:15 pm The Illusionist (River East, such a cheeseball/bad movie)
  • 09/03/06 4:50 pm Idiocracy (600 N Michigan; proud of seeing this in the theater because it was out for like two weeks)
  • 09/16/06 4:40 pm Black Dahlia (River East, so bad)
  • 10/11/06 6:15 pm The Departed (River East)
  • 11/17/06 7:15 pm Casino Royale (600 N Michigan)
  • 12/30/06 4 pm Pan’s Labyrinth (Empire 25, scared the living snot out of me)
  • 01/09/07 8 pm Children of Men (an AMC in Seattle somehow)
  • 01/13/07 7:10 pm Blood Diamond (River East, so mediocre)
  • 03/18/07 8 pm 300 (River East, cannot overstate how much I disliked this movie)
  • 04/07/07 5 pm The Lookout (600 N Michigan, pre-Cobra Commander Joseph Gordon Levitt)
  • 04/14/07 7 pm Grindhouse (Multiplex in Pittsburgh that has the smoke stacks from an old steel mill standing in the parking lot like the world’s biggest lawn ornaments)
  • 05/07/07 6:45 pm Spiderman 3 (River East, a truly terrible movie)
  • 06/06/07 6 pm Knocked Up (River East)
  • 07/17/07 8:15 pm Transformers (River East, I am not a proud man)
  • 07/28/07 3 pm The Passenger (Siskel Center, good, Nicholson and Antonioni, 1970s)
  • 08/16/07 7:30 pm The Bourne Ultimatum (River East, kind of fun, too fast for me)
  • 09/05/07 6 pm The Steel Helmet (Siskel Center, Sam Fuller, weird Korean War action)
  • 09/13/07 7:15 pm 3:10 to Yuma (the Christian Bale/Russell Crowe remake)
  • 11/02/07 2:20 pm The Darjeeling Limited (River East, this movie sucks)
  • 11/05/07 7:15 pm American Gangster (River East, not a good script but still had some swag)
  • 11/10/07 4 pm No Country for Old Men (River East)
  • 11/14/07 6 pm Murder by Contract (Siskel Center, no idea at all)
  • 12/01/07 1 pm No Country for Old Men (River East, apparently I saw this twice)
  • 12/17/07 7 pm I am Legend (River East)
  • 12/27/07 2:20 pm Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Middleburg Heights megaplex with the graveyard in the parking lot; I saw this with my mom)
  • 01/06/08 7 pm There Will Be Blood (River East)
  • 01/23/08 7:30 pm Cloverfield (River East; the big reveal is that the monster is a monster)
  • 02/10/08 7 pm In Bruges (River East)
  • 02/18/08 8 pm La Chinoise (Siskel Center, that one scene where the friendless Maoist eats yogurt with jam while explaining that his feelings aren’t really hurt, although they are)
  • 02/24/08 7:45 pm The Counterfeiters (Angelika, must have been visiting NYC that weekend because I didn’t move until June; I remember liking this movie a lot)
  • 05/04/08 5 pm Iron Man (River East, back before there were Marvel movies every other week)
  • 07/19/08 5 pm The Dark Knight Rises (Cobble Hill Cinemas, literally every seat taken, some dude barfed in the middle and ran out, movie was and remains great)
  • 08/12/08 7 pm The Thief of Paris (Film Forum, totally mediocre, this was probably like right before or after I started working at Bloomsbury)
  • 09/03/08 6:50 pm They Live (BAM, yes)
  • 10/01/08 7:40 pm Miracle at St. Anna (Cobble Hill Cinemas, good god this movie was bad)
  • 06/08/08 9:15 pm Drag Me to Hell (19th St East, which I worked like three blocks from for five years but only went to maybe three times)
  • 01/01/09 10 pm Gran Torino (Union Square)
  • 01/14/09 8:20 pm Made in USA (Film Forum)
  • 01/30/09 7 pm Slumdog Millionaire (Angelika)
  • 02/13/09 8 pm Two or Three Things I Know About Her (Film Forum)
  • 02/21/09 10:15 pm Gomorrah (IFC)
  • 05/10/09 11 am Diary of a Country Priest (IFC, kind of heavy shit for before noon)
  • 06/22/09 8 pm Brighton Rock (Film Forum, from back when it was only $11, young Richard Attenborough, this is the part of my life where I start going to Film Forum a lot)
  • 07/05/09 9 pm Public Enemies (Union Square, this movie is less than the sum of its parts)
  • 07/10/09 7:40 pm The Vanished Empire (Quad, Russian, this movie is really amazing, it hit me right in the toast at the time, would love to rewatch)
  • 07/24/09 6:35 pm In the Loop (IFC, good but flimsy)
  • 07/29/09 10 pm Johnny Guitar (Film Forum, this movie is amazing)
  • 08/10/09 7:15 pm They Drive By Night (Film Forum)
  • 08/16/09 9:10 pm Yasukuni (Film Forum, OK doc, but the scene where a guy makes a sword are transcendent)
  • 08/23/09 7:30 pm In a Lonely Place (Film Forum)
  • 09/05/09 7:45 pm Odd Man Out (Film Forum, fantastic movie, great ending scenes in the snow)
  • 09/07/09 6 pm The Reckless Moment (Film Forum, zero recollection)
  • 09/28/09 7:30 pm Fat City (Film Forum, great movie)
  • 10/12/09 6:40 pm Inglorious Basterds (Union Square)
  • 10/25/09 5:30 pm Wild River (Film Forum, man Lee Remick)
  • 11/23/09 7:30 pm 2012 (Union Square, most of the movies I saw at Union Square were bad)
  • 12/06/09 8:30 pm Waterloo Bridge (the 1931 version; “A prostitute’s self-loathing makes her reluctant to marry an idealistic soldier during World War One”; pretty sure this was a date)
  • 12/09/09 8 pm The Road (Landmark Sunshine; not that good of a movie)
  • 12/13/09 6 pm Invictus (Alpine)
  • 12/26/09 4:30 pm Sherlock (Middleburg Heights graveyard parking lot place, I think I saw this with mom)
  • 12/29/09 6:15 pm Sweet Charity (Film Forum)
  • 02/21/10 12:30 pm Shutter Island (Union Square, this movie still creeps me out)
  • 02/26/10 7:50 pm Five Easy Pieces (Film Forum)
  • 03/01/10 8:10 pm Un prophète (Angelika, the one where the B/D train goes by so close that it shakes the theater, I loved this movie)
  • 04/06/10 7:40 pm Sunrise (Film Forum, amazing movie, like first and a half date with someone)
  • 04/10/10 7:40 pm Ace in the Hole (Film Forum)
  • 04/15/10 9:30 pm The Life of the World to Come (IFC, second date with same someone, the thing fizzled on a long weird time lapse, probably my fault, I realized like a year after it was done that I had screwed up)
  • 05/13/10 7:30 pm Metropolis (Film Forum, this movie is amazing, big surprise)
  • 06/16/10 6:30 pm Nightfall (Film Forum, … mostly a blank)
  • 06/20/10 7:45 pm The Killer Inside Me (IFC, this movie is gnarly/unsettling but fits into my larger brief in favor of Casey Affleck. very good texas swing song plays over credits)
  • 06/26/10 6:15 pm Winchester 73 (Film Forum, Jimmy Stewart)
  • 07/11/10 7:40 pm He Walked by Night (Film Forum, all I remember is Richard Basehart, pretty sure I fell asleep for part)
  • 07/14/10 7:55 pm Reign of Terror (Film Forum, weird melodrama about French Revolution)
  • 07/18/10 3:20 pm The Circus (Film Forum Charlie Chaplin series, pretty sure I saw this with my dad and stepmom because it was crazy uncomfortable hot, like too hot to walk around or really not be in a dark air-conditioned disposable tomb)
  • 07/19/10 6 pm Toy Story 3 3D (Chelsea Clearview, also seen with family because it was still too hot to do anything)
  • 07/25/10 3 pm Inception (Union Square, enjoyable, never once thought about it again beyond the snow part and the noise)
  • 07/28/10 5:30 pm Monsieur Verdoux (Film Forum, pretty sure I fell asleep for a bit in the middle, good movie though)
  • 08/10/10 7:50 pm The Emperor Jones (Film Forum, definitely took a nap)
  • 08/27/10 7:45 pm Le Amiche (Film Forum, good movie)
  • 09/18/10 9:50 pm On the Bowery (Film Forum, resented this movie at the time for the way it treated alcoholism as a moral failing, have since realized it’s a pretty great movie)
  • 09/27/10 7:30 pm Devil (Union Square, “A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them.”)
  • 10/01/10 7:40 pm Charley Varrick (Film Forum, Walter Matthau implausible sex scene)
  • 11/01/10 8:10 pm Marwencol (IFC, great movie)
  • 11/18/10 6:30 pm Every Man for Himself (Film Forum, weird bad Godard, creepy sex scene, Isabelle Huppert though)
  • 11/30/10 7 pm Grapes of Wrath (Film Forum, obviously good)
  • 12/12/10 9:55 pm Vengeance (IFC 100% a Johnnie To gangster movie starring Johnny Hallyday, as good as that sounds)
  • 03/03/11 8:10 pm Oscar Shorts (IFC, the only one I remember is the one about the Scottish kid who maybe murders his friend?)
  • 03/05/11 7:50 pm Uncle Boonmee Who Can Remember His Past Lives (Film Forum, definitely fell asleep for a sec, but still liked this a lot despite not being sure what was going on for a lot of it)
  • 04/30/11 5 pm Fire in Babylon (Tribeca Film Festival, ticket too expensive, fun doc about West Indies cricket, seminal Bunny Wailer interview)
  • 05/09/11 7 pm Cave of Forgotten Dreams (BAM, good movie)
  • 05/30/11 1:45 pm The Tree of Life (Landmark Sunshine, has moments but is overall indulgent/bad, seen on memorial day)
  • 07/29/11 4:30 pm Captain America The First Avenger Whatever (the seedy Alpine in Bay Ridge, all I remember is how beautiful the female lead is/was)
  • 07/30/11 8 pm The Public Enemy (James Cagney, kind of great, Film Forum)
  • 08/12/11 3:45 pm Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Alpine, actually kind of an enjoyable movie)
  • 08/15/11 8:40 pm Tabloid (IFC, amazing movie, Booger-Ra the cloned pit bull)
  • 08/23/11 5:40 pm Billy Budd (good lord was young Terence Stamp handsome; this is a good movie)
  • 08/26/11 7:45 pm Attack the Block (Quad, delightful, I think I saw it with the groom from the wedding mention in the ephemera section)
  • 09/02/11 6:20 pm Laura (Film Forum again. Gene Tierney!)
  • 09/10/11 1 pm Contagion (Alpine, so forgettable)
  • 09/17/11 12 pm Drive (Alpine, good time)
  • 09/19/11 6:50 pm The Human Factor (BAM, a little slow)
  • 11/17/11 6:20 pm Sons of Shiva (documentary about Varanasi, good)
  • 02/04/12 6:50 pm The Artist (BAM, I have a distinct recollection of this being like 1 of 2 dates I went on with someone I thought was really cool but the time of year seems wrong; definitely maybe ate at that diner on the corner of Lafayette and whatever beforehand)
  • 02/16/12 9:30 pm Night Nurse (Film Forum, not able to talk about my historical crush on Barbara Stanwyck)
  • 02/26/12 4:30 pm El Field (MOMA, good non-narrative/wordless doc about migrant workers and industrial farming)
  • 02/28/12 6:45 pm Undefeated (Quad, pleasant doc about Memphis high school football and weird race dynamics)
  • 06/17/12 1 pm The Price of Power (Film Forum, weird spaghetti western)
  • 07/06/12 7 pm Battle of Algiers (Film Forum, see 07/04/12 baseball game for bonus footage, probably the last movie i saw at age 30)
  • 07/10/12 7:25 pm China Heavyweight (IFC, good boxing doc about fighters in China)
  • 07/14/12 6:30 pm Easy Money (Film Forum, Scandinavian noir)
  • 07/30/12 6:40 pm The Dark Knight Returns (Union Square, read this one in Bane voice)
  • 08/02/12 8 pm Christmas Holiday (Film Forum, “A young femme fatale-type woman realizes that the wealthy man she married is an incorrigible wastrel”)
  • 08/25/12 5 pm  Blue Velvet (Musuem of the Moving Image in Queens)
  • 09/12/12 7 pm Vertigo (Film Forum, yes)
  • 10/07/12 12 pm Looper (Alpine)
  • 10/21/12 7:30 pm The Master 70 mm (Village East)
  • 11/15/12 7:30 pm Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (IFC, part of a doc festival, great doc, the best part was hearing Big Star in Dolby sound)
  • 11/18/12 8 pm The Man in the White Suit (Film Forum, people used to have more modest thresholds about what constituted successful comedy)
  • 12/13/12 7 pm Killing Them Softly (Union Square, good movie, kind of grim, Ray Liotta gets extensively murdered in like 10x slow motion, amazing last dialogue)
  • 12/23/12 2:45 pm Silver Linings Playbook (Village East?)
  • 01/01/13 8:15 pm Django Unchained (Cobble Hill Theatre, problematic but fun, like America)
  • 01/16/13 8:45 pm Amour (Film Forum, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson sat two rows in front of me and my date)
  • 02/09/13 4:30 pm Caesar Must Die (Film Forum, great movie)
  • 02/23/13 8:15 pm Lincoln (Kips Bay, meh movie but DDL amazing)
  • 05/02/13 5:30 pm Voyage to Italy (Film Forum, definitely fell asleep for like 20 minutes because it was poky)
  • 05/05/13 7:50 pm Upstream Color (IFC)
  • 07/12/13 8 pm Pacific Rim (Battery Park multiplex, rare chandeliers; the screenwriting in this was so bad it kind of upset me)
  • 07/14/13 2:30 pm Doctor Zhivago (at the BAM Harvey Theater in 70 mm; seen with the other half of a deeply abortive relationship, felt magical but in the way that like falling out of a tree is magic)
  • 08/09/13 6 pm Drug War (IFC, Johnnie To, most basic Hong Kong gangster film)
  • 08/10/13 6:40 pm Elysium (Union Square, not as good as District 9)
  • 08/31/13 7 pm The Grandmaster (BAM, what a great, odd, dreamy movie)
  • 10/19/13 6 pm Gravity (Alpine, seen during a pretty intense panic attack/depressive episode, not the best idea I’ve ever had, kind of a good movie, they totally got me with the Clooney thing)
  • 12/15/13 7:40 pm Inside Llewyn Davis (Union Square, a wonderful, sad film)
  • 01/03/14 9:45 pm Her (BAM, the pants)
  • 01/15/14 6:20 pm Generation War (Film Forum, sat through the entire miniseries after work one day)
  • 01/18/14 9:15 pm The Past/Le Passé (Film Forum, the actress from The Artist kills me)
  • 04/11/14 2:40 pm Noah (Union Square, what a lousy movie; this was a weird period of time where I had quit Open Road but wasn’t moving to Cleveland for six weeks and I kind of wilted as a personal entity, this movie did not help anything)
  • 04/25/14 5 pm Captain America: Winter Soldier (Alpine; I was kind of hoping the brunette from the first one would be in it, maybe I have a weird attachment to Captain America as an idea also)
  • 07/21/14 9:30 pm Snowpiercer (Capitol Theatre in Cleveland, half-price Monday)
  • 10/10/14 4:10 pm Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Capitol Theatre in Cleveland, pretty much the same movie as last time I saw it)
  • 11/09/14 7:45 pm Interstellar (Navy Pier Imax, Chicago; I lived in Chicago for 8 years and never went to this theater until I lived in Cleveland)
  • 01/09/15 8:00 pm Inherent Vice (Cinemark in Valley View, OH; involved driving through pitch-black Cuyahoga Valley National Park after teaching at Kent)
  • 05/26/15 7:10 pm Mad Max: Fury Road (Capitol Theatre)
  • 06/15/15 4:10 pm Jurassic World 3D (Capitol Theatre, also half-price Monday MOTIF ALERT, deeply meh)
  • 07/13/15 11:50 am Inside Out (Great Northern Mall, where they put a movie theater in what used to be the food court and a food court where there used to be that place where you could play Magic: The Gathering, and the food court is somehow like 85% those weird pseudo-Asian places that only serve chicken in goopy brown sauce)
  • [undated] George Kuchar program at Anthology
  • [undated] Two Years at Sea at Anthology
  • [undated] Shohei Imamura program at Anthology

assorted ephemera


  • 10/15/99 concert: Pavement, the Vic, Chicago (i was 18.5 years old; maybe the first concert i went to as a human semi-adult loose in the world, Pavement played a half-ass cover of “1979” by the Smashing Pumpkins)
  • 08/30/00 Weezer at the Odeon in Cleveland (roll your eyes if you want, this was a great concert. people were stoked.)
  • 10/31/01 Spiritualized at the Metro in Chicago
  • 05/11/02 Belle & Sebastian at Congress Theatre
  • 11/09/02 Elvis Costello at Mandel Hall, Chicago (just an awesome experience; EC sang one quiet number without a mic)
  • 06/19/03 Dismemberment Plan at the Metro (this would have been less than a week after I graduated from college, I do not remember it at all)
  • 06/09/04 ATA Denver–>MDW (this was when i helped a friend drive home to telluride and then got semi-stranded there owing to weird circumstances and being broke, although I remember spending most of my last $20 on booze at the airport smoking bar, also the denver airport is haunted)
  • 09/26/05 Chicago PD incident report from the time i got mugged
  • 09/??/05 business card of the Chicago PD detective who investigated my getting mugged
  • 11/26/05 Greyhound from Cleveland–>Chicago
  • 03/24/06 MDW–>EWR–>MDW
  • 08/11/06 Memphis–>ORD (coming home from ecology conference; pro tip: don’t fly with an expired driver’s license the day after a terrorist plot gets uncovered)
  • 11/06/06 Vancouver–>ORD (coming home from history of science conf)
  • 04/16/07 Southwest Airlines itinerary showing a ticket from PGH to MDW to Reno layover to OAK and then back to MDW (I lost $10 in a slot machine at the Reno airport, may have been drunk on the plane)
  • 04/18/07 BART ticket, $6.90
  • 06/14/07 Hiawatha Line light rail ticket, good for 2.5 hours
  • 06/17/07 MSP–>MDW (coming home from AAUP conference)
  • 09/29/07 ORD–>LGA (dunno why)
  • 10/01/07 LGA–>ORD (see above)
  • 11/26/07 NJ Transit ticket from Penn Station to Newark
  • 01/13/08 DC Metro ticket (no idea)
  • 04/18/08 AirTran MDW–BOS for geography conference
  • 08/14/08 Greyhound NY–>Chicago I think I was meeting my dad in Chicago to get the rest of my crap in his Honda Fit and carry it to NY. involved the esteemed Wiry Cat of this blog’s topic categories
  • 09/23/11 Amtrak NY–>Boston (wedding, i am subsequently the godfather of the offspring of this wedding, good job everyone)
  • 09/23/11 Amtrak Boston (the other train station)–>Exeter, NH (see previous)
  • 11/23/12 Amtrak CLE–>NYC
  • 01/01/13 AirTran CAK–>LGA
  • 04/11/13 production of Julius Caesar at BAM by Royal Shakespeare Company (it was really good, everyone in the cast was of African descent, we are all honorable men)
  • 05/09/13 Frick Collection, I think I went with my mom
  • 08/01/13 Alasdair Roberts at Joe’s Pub (there were about nine people at this show, it was wonderful)
  • 08/03/13 James Turrell exhibit at Guggenheim (so so so good)
  • 09/14/13 Delta JFK–>MEX
  • 09/21/13 Delta MEX–>JFK
  • 02/24/14 Seattle–>Bainbridge Island ferry ticket for two humans and one Subaru
  • 08/09/14 one ticket to the Orange Show, Houston TX
  • 08/09/14 seat assignment to table 20 at LG+DS wedding, Houston TX
  • 05/18/?? US Airways Chicago –> Philadelphia (no idea)
  • 05/26/?? United Airlines PGH–>ORD
  • 06/25/?? San Francisco Muni Railway pay stub
  • 07/08/?? AirTran CAK–>LGA (flying on my birthday)
  • 09/08/?? American Airlines LGA–>CLE (no idea)
  • 09/12/?? American Airlines CLE–>LGA (same no idea)
  • [undated] Indian 2-rupee coin with elephant  on it
  • [undated] different DC Metro ticket on it with cute panda bear motif
  • [undated] the insert from the CD Five Upstart Americans by the Monks
  • [undated] pass to take pictures at Museo Casa de León Trotsky, 15 pesos
  • [undated] adult ticket for Bay State Cruise Company ferry from Boston to Provincetown
  • [undated] bingo card, definitely from visiting grandparents, has clearly gotten wet because ink has run, notes on back reading:

“shower curtain covered in blood”
Grandpa drunk
people buzz off it
I said… you left it there
flippancy toward sad old dude. homophobia
rage in car re [redacted family member]

where souls were being branded with the shapes of their hope


i inherited some garbled strain of depression-era conservation of materials from my grandparentses. right now this impulse to not-waste mostly expresses itself through paper products. i am incapable of throwing away notebooks before every page has been used somehow. i squirrel them away in the dining room hutch, planning to use up the nice white pages for journals or to-do lists or other attempts at communication with self. for a very long time my metabolism in this regard was fucked, in the sense of buying way more notebooks than i was filling. but i’m getting caught up. there are several notebooks of different types that look like this: notes from a german class i started but didn’t finish in 2007, then fretting about a botched romance from 2011, then scrambled notes about a movie i saw in 2014. almost always there is a little marginal note saying “whoops i did not write in this notebook for x years.”

so i started up with another of my mostly-blanked notebooks. there are maybe three of those mead wireless 80 page notebooks, the kind that always fall apart, all of which have dark blue covers. the one i grabbed is actually the notebook they gave me in rehab in october 2007, after i graduated from the super grim psych-ward part of rehab where they just leave you alone to digest food and metabolize meds, into the part where the rehab counselors described recovery to people concussed by the absence of intoxication. the notebooks were for writing down stuff about recovery, and that’s mostly what i did with mine, until i trailed off after 20 or so pages. but there was one page that just had a journalistic vignette on it.

most of the time in the rehab place we just did group therapy or focus groups or straight up AA meetings. but one day we went up to an otherwise unknown floor of the hospital (we had to be shepherded through the elevator like a field trip flock of children) to a light-filled room with windows high on the walls. it was the art room (the whole place now reminds me of an elementary school, although at the time it felt like … a rehab hospital).

the counselor gave us boxes of parched markers and blunt crayons and big sheets of paper the color of mopwater. the assignment was to draw something that symbolized your recovery. i drew a map, i remind, sort of a modified Pilgrim’s Progress type thing but heaven replaced by some kind of area where I felt comfortable in my own skin. my drawing was not the focus on the vignette in the notebook.

what i wrote down was about rudy’s drawing. rudy (not his real name) was this beefy, black-haired classical chicago irish meathead guy, about 40, very much just a swollen, mushy teenager stuck in a man’s body. he was thick and coarse and not at all bought-in on that rehab or even the general idea of not being fucked up. not long after the art therapy rudy sorted of flopped out of the boat, signing himself out AMA and hollering even as he walked out to fucked-up freedom what a bunch of bullshit it all was.

rudy’s drawing was an energetic but crude pencil rendering of a topless lady on a bed. she was on all fours, crawing toward the camera eye, sort of, and i think she was supposed to be leering sexily but the quality of rudy’s line was such that you could not really say what he meant by her expression. she was on a bed, and her nipples were upside-down pilgrim hats rendered in fairly precise right angles. behind the bed was a window, looking out onto a cartoony cityscape (water tower, etc) with a smiling moon overhead. the cityscape also featured a billboard labeled MEGAMILLIONS which stated that the current jackpot was $69,696,969.69. the only thing on the bed besides the crawling woman was a lottery ticket. Nothing in the drawing suggested whether this was the winning ticket. The drawing was titled (reduntantly) “Title: Prepare to Mount” and signed with rudy’s full name, including middle initial.

i only wrote all this down because the teacher made us go around the room and show our drawings, and say a little bit about what we had put on the paper. i can’t remember what rudy said by way of docent’s talk, but i remember the pure silence that followed his share as both historically awkward and almost beautiful. no one knew what to do with what he wanted.

watching the detectives


I used to watch a lot of tv, as a bored, frequently lonely/alone kid. I have seen most of the episodes of M*A*S*H*, for instance, without meaning to, because channel 43 showed an hour of M*A*S*H* reruns twice a day, at times when I wasn’t structurally required to be doing something else (school, sleep, eating with family), and also times when no one else was watching TV (early or late local news, primetime shows). I want to stress that the amount of time that qualified as “not structurally required to be doing something else” was basically ALL the time. like if I was awake 16 hours a day, and I usually was, I was at school for eight hours, transitioning to/from school for another hour, and then pretty much watching TV a lot of the rest of the time.

this included: Watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. Watching regional pro wrestling on ESPN after school. Watching the same taped episode of SportsCenter over and over. Watching infomercials. Watching pan-and-scanned, cleaned-up versions of not-that-great movies on TBS. Watching USA Up All Night hoping despite myself that this would be the time they showed boobs (the 1990s were a distant and backwards land, as far as how hard it was to see boobs)

there was a reason for this: I had nothing else to do, not that anyone was stopping me from discovering other things to do. Sometimes I would dick around in less passive ways, or read, or play Nintendo. But yeah I didn’t do a whole lot. I like TV because it would take me out of a self that very often wasn’t super happy. So I could prop myself up on TV and just let stories and images and worlds pour in, which was good, because suburban Cleveland was not the richest place in terms of stimulation. But the propping up wasn’t just a rest — it was a compulsion, an addiction, operating under the cover of an innocuous defaulting-to (other addictions operate this way too).

quick aside/image: I used to watch infomercials so much. I would have told you it was ironic somehow, back in the day. Now I see it for what it was. In novels, specifically Wise Blood, I’ve read about soapbox preachers and traveling salesmen, standing in small cities, perched on the bumper of a car, hollering about Jesus or a potato peeler, with a few bored yokels. (Think of Enoch Emery). Those people didn’t watch because the Jesus patter or the potato peeler were hynotizing; they watched because they had nothing else to look at. Anyway that’s how I sometimes see the TV-drowned chapters of my young life: my chubby face reflecting the blue TV light like the walls of a swimming pool, watching the hucksters because they were there.

as i grew up and away from both suburbs and those preliminary versions of myself, I stopped watching so much TV. this was in part because I didn’t have a TV all to myself with cable, in a house where I didn’t have to pay rent. but it was also in part because I didn’t need TV in the same ways anymore, and because, the stuff on TV wasn’t as good as the sensory inputs available in meatspace (other people, specifically girls, college) and improvements on the TV value proposition (movies not shown on TBS, books). at no point do we ever stop propping our cracked or wobbly selves up against stories, other voices, in other to give them a rest, to prevent them from collapsing under the stress of being alone in your own skull.

anyway i grew up/out/away and before too much road was behind me, i looked back at the amount of TV that I watched with a little shiver of regret, like whoops, that was a pretty large chunk of my finite lifespan I farted away there. for a while, if you talked to me after a few beers, i would tell you that TV sucks, people who watch too much TV suck (the same way that ex-smokers are the biggest grinches about smoking), TV, yadda yadda. I wasn’t quite one of those weenies who brags about not having a TV, but I was a fellow traveler for sure. I definitely saw people who flicked through channels idly, watching whatever because it was easier than doing anything else, as zombified. And to be honest, I still make little bitchy judgments about people who watch indiscriminate amounts of TV. (Content zombification is a real thing; TV doens’t have a monopoly on it — say hello, narrowminded readers of literary fiction).

But with age I learned the mature pleasures of TV. you can relax after a day of slowly losing to fate by watching a TV program. you can share the joy of narrative or comedy by watching a TV program with friends and loved ones. you can fill a rainy day with a few binged episodes of a quality hourlong drama. TV is a medium it is OK to prop your battered self up against for a while, just not always. TV is fine, TV is not the enemy of anything, TV is just stories coming from a glowing box. You have to be mindful about what you let into your eyes and ears with TV, but this is also true of all other things.

The internet used to not be like TV, which is to say, I formely did not use the Internet the way that my adolescent self used TV — as a hiding place for someone who didn’t even understand what they were hiding from, or that they were hiding at all. I have been in the very slow motion process of understanding that I idly flick through the internet, keeping my e-mail and chat and twitter open in tabs pretty much whenever I’m working, in the hope that someone will ping me, some dopamine firecracker will light itself. I am on the internet to get relevant messages that are important to my ongoing human existence. The internet is more of a public place, owing to its interactivity, than TV ever could hope to be. But I also am leaning on the internet to prop up my self-understanding. But also I don’t want to go all the way in the other direction, like I did with TV, and become a roving ranter about how the Internet sucks (some aspects of networked human existence *do* suck, though).

The moral instruction here is bonecrunchingly insipid: moderation in all things, etc. I never said I was a prophet of mental hygiene. This is just how I feel about the Internet right now. I wonder if I haven’t gotten into the same dependency — using an always-on, always-there cultural thing to fill silences instead of living life.

side note: M*A*S*H* is pretty good

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 6.08.39 PM

you can have my garlic bread if you want it

evaluation of social media as a presence in my life, june 2015

:: jokes
:: awareness of events not immediately within my sensory envelope
:: contact with other human beings
:: dopamine hits
:: learning things

:: jokes
:: awareness of events not immediately within my sensory envelope
:: contact with other human beings
:: dopamine hits
:: learning things


try to get shut of those gorgeous moments



I left Atlantic City by the back way, stopping at a Wawa where a polite young man with a tall fade pumped my gas. I had gotten out of the car thinking I would handle that but remembered midway through the car-exiting that in NJ you can’t pump your own gas. Pretty gracefully by my standards I switched up like I meant to clean off my windshield, not pump gas. And anyway I did need to deal with the uneven smear of ex-bugs on my automobile glass. I gave the tall faded gas teen $3 on top of the credit card charge. I don’t know how gas tipping works but 20 percent on a $40 fill-up seemed excessive. He seemed pretty OK with $3.

The Garden State Parkway is mostly your basic road. Like the whole of New Jersey it is slightly smaller than the big-boned Midwestern infrastructure of my childhood, the asphalt spiderwebbed with age cracks and everyone acting 5 percent more like an asshole than necessary. This includes the state turnpike authority, which has erected toll booths every few miles to harvest quarters from you. Maybe five times that Sunday morning I threw change into the battered plastic mouths that took them away to the state coffers.

I thought about ditching the Parkway to drive the Jersey Shore. I mostly wanted to run my eyes over Asbury Park for Bruce Springsteen-related emotional valences. I decided against this, feeling for the first time on this trip the presence of Fuckitiwanttofinish, which is a kind of corrosive, surly desire to complete the present action as fast as possible, to file the conversation, to fill the bucket, which strips away most all possibility of enjoying the process. I blamed creeping cellular-level awareness of being in the greater Northeastern United States Babylon. Looking back I can probably blame myself more than Babylon.




At the actual entry point into New York City, in my case the Outerbridge Crossing, I had to pay $14 to enter the city and immediately felt a nostalgia for the $1.50 tolls of the Garden State Parkway. My immediate surroundings did not change much for the loss of $14; Staten Island looks a lot like New Jersey. I had a lot of time to make this comparison because of traffic. Eventually I was on and over the Verrazano and into Bay Ridge, a neighborhood I still have a crush on despite some fairly profound flaws. I drove past diners I have eaten at and Arab pastry shops and the movie theater that has $5 matinees (I saw Gravity there in the middle of a pretty heinous depressive episode in 2013). I crawled in traffic related to some kind of Scandinavian-American public demonstration of pride, and Brooklyn squirmed in the sunlight around me.

I lived in Sunset Park from September 2009 to May 2014. I stayed there for two days and change on this return trip. I stayed in the same apartment I used to live in, and I had keys and only saw my hosts when they were home from work. So I felt like nothing had changed. Not that much had changed outside of the location of my personal array of clothing and books and brain activity. The Chinese fruit cart ladies were still there. The graffiti on the side of Payless Shoes was still there.  My old bodega reorganized where the drinks are (closer to the door).

I have to remind myself that I like New York, and that I liked living here for the better part of six years, although both things are true. It is a wonderful city with a depth of culture that does not exist anywhere else in America. It has totally functional mass transit and museums and movies and loved people and food. When I got sober in the fall of 2007, in Chicago, a counselor-type guy at the rehab place told me not to make any major life decisions for six months or preferably nine months or a year, to let my brain just kind of get used to its sober self, like how the acoustics in a room change when you move around the furniture, or stop drinking in the room all the time. I took that advice very literally. As soon as my six months were up, I got a tattoo and made plans to move to New York, mostly because it was the only place in the world other than Chicago where I had enough friends to not be lonely. Over time I developed a second version of the narrative that elided over the sobriety thing, because that tended to be too heavy for casual conversations. So I just said I moved to New York for a job, even though that made me sound like my early 2008 shit was way more together than it actually was. That is part of life. You lie about how together your shit is. Sometimes your shit is pretty together, which is both its own reward and its own punishment. Anyway by the end, New York — not so much what it was but what it stood for, office jobs and growing loneliness and high rents — stressed me out, even though I never stopped liking the overall experience. I used the silhouette of what NY stood for as a target in the shooting gallery of my mind, and shot them up pretty good. I am very excited about going to school for writing in August, but I guess the smell of my time in NYC, good and bad and unclear, still kind of wafts down my brain corridors, drowning out Cleveland and other things/places.

I rode around on the N train and reacquainted myself with vistas and actual non-figurative smells. I saw friends and ate meals and got impatient to leave. Halfway through my stay in New York I decided I would drive to Maine before turning back home, because I had never been to Maine before. At express stops people looked into the train, trying to figure out whether it was the one they wanted. I watched the disposable grace of a person giving their seat to a pregnant woman, which felt like a tiny blessing on everyone’s day even when the pregnant person in question politely declined. On platforms I watched for the secondhand glow of the train’s lights on the rails.

In Manhattan, some of the men held their dates by the arm like cops hold prisoners in transit. People also held luggage, or held children like luggage. Almost everyone held small internet devices. Birds held crumbs. Cars held people. I wasn’t holding anything so I just kind of wiggled my fingers to stay ready for my object, whatever it was.

I went to Book Culture and bought Preparations for the Next Life by Atticus Lish, which I read and enjoyed a lot. It was an appropriate read for days mostly spent scuttling cautiously around the margins of New York. I reflected that I spend a lot of time looking out for the messages in the margins of life which has the unintended consequence of maybe overlooking or mishandling a fair number of the messages written in the middle of the page of life

I took a walk up the edge of Central Park to the Met. I thought that a hot dog/pretzel knish guy was yelling at me to buy one of his hot dogs but he was just yelling into his bluetooth phone thing, in a language I did not understand.

I made weirdly specific plans about doing laundry at a Motel 6 somewhere in New Hampshire, going so far as to use the internet on my phone to see which Motel 6es in New Hampshire had laundry for guests to use. I even bought a small jug of laundry soap at the Pioneer on 5th Ave, next door to what used to be a pizza place called Grandma’s and is now a Puerto Rican chicken and fried things place that has a blank spot in its sign where the word GRANDMA’S used to be. The former Grandma’s also has a endearingly amateur painting of a New York Mets pitcher on the back wall that appears to be a combination of Mets-era Pedro Martinez and current Bartolo Colon, in terms of physiognomy and skin color.

I drove up 3rd Avenue, past the porn shops and halal butchers, under the shadow of the rust-and-green BQE. I took the Battery Tunnel and drove under the harbor to the southern tip of Manhattan. I missed my lane change for the FDR and wandered through the 17th century lanes of the financial district before finding the on-ramp hidden next to the Brooklyn Bridge. I inched around Corlear’s Hook in traffic. I made it to the Bronx and said some kind of lay vehicular prayer for no last-second eruptions of NYC traffic. I felt like the tiny men inside my molecules lowered the PTB personal defcon as we crossed into Yonkers.


I drove on a road named after a river named after Anne Hutchison. Not far into Connecticut I had to pee, so I got off at a sign that said GREENWICH NEXT RIGHT. What this really should have said was “five miles of windy roads lined with the entrance gates to mansions NEXT RIGHT.” Everything was fine eventually. I got to downtown Greenwich, moving opposite a steady line of luxury vehicles headed out toward the highway. I peed in a Cosi without even pretending like I was going to become a customer. No one there cared what I did. I went to a Stop N Shop and bought a box of granola bars and a gallon jug of water. I wound up eating granola bars for dinner that night.


I didn’t stop again until I peed in Marlborough, Massachusetts, at a Dunkin’ Donuts on the rim of a small lake hugged tight by roads. I am always surprised by how mountainous and nice Massachusetts can be when it feels like it.


I resumed driving until I saw signs for Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I wandered on the edge of the downtown, trying to see Maine across the small harbor. I saw something purplish-black that seemed to be Maine, and went to a Motel 6. I did laundry and read a book.

In the morning a weird guy at the motel asked me if I smoked cigarettes. He had pink skin and bad tattoos, but was handsome and seemed to be in pretty good health. He chased me into the parking lot and knocked on my car window to ask about cigarettes. Normally this would have freaked me out a little but it was a sunny, breezy morning and he seemed harmless. I said no sorry I don’t smoke and without missing a beat he said “Good, good, it’s a bad habit.” He immediately ran off to find another person. As I drove away he was in the middle of receiving a cigarette from a middle-aged woman in sunglasses. She dangled the cigarette toward him like giving a friend’s dog a treat. The pink guy looked back at me as I drove away and I waved in recognition of his happiness. He seemed proud but not vengeful.

I drove across a tiny steel bridge dedicated to World War I veterans, past frantic flags and skinny white ladies power-walking, into Maine.



I drove for a while on the Maine Turnpike, and didn’t stop until Portland. The first thing that happened in my experience of Portland, Maine, after parking my car, was seeing a large, thoughtful Malamute peeing on a bush. The next thing that happened was checking out the bookstores freckling the central area of Portland. At Yes Books, I bought a used copy of Trilogy by H.D., mostly because it was the same price as the other H.D. book they had but longer and I figured I was getting a better deal: more 20th century modernist poetry for the same amount of contemporary dollars. I also bought Pilgrims in Their Own Land by Martin Marty, which I have subsequently read most of. I keep falling asleep during the portions where Protestant argue about the shape of heaven but overall it is good hsitory. I also agonized over purchasing a copy of Terrible Honesty by Ann Douglas but I resented variously spending $12, carrying around a ginormous hardcover book, and tacitly endorsing a book that celebrates New York City’s status as the cultural center of American life. All of this was pretty dumb and I’m probably going to get the book from the library anyway. Mildly stressed out by these bargainings with myself, I made a note that there was a chill-looking diner on a side street and made plans to return there for food and mise en scene.

I went to two more bookstores. I bought a Delmore Schwartz book because I remembered he was the inspiration for a memorable character in Humboldt’s Gift (not Humboldt though) and because I wanted to spend $5 at the Green Hand. I have been wondering whether Saul Bellow sucks recently. I stand by The Adventures of Augie March and Seize the Day but some of it might be terrible. I stuck my head and part of my upper body into a cryptozoology museum but it looked like a tourist trap.

I went back to the diner I had spotted earlier but foolishly I had forgotten to check what time the diner closed. It closed at 2 pm and it was 1:29. Eating at a restaurant when the people who work there want to initiate the closing sequence makes me feel bad, and generally devalues the money you spend to get to chill in a place while they feed you. Against my better judgment I ate there anyway. The people were nice but you could tell they resented my timing a little. I sat at the counter next to a guy nervously reading a book. The waitress was a 40ish pretty woman with dyed-red hair and a huge, slightly tacky chest piece tattoo, like a cool tough mom who has lived some rock n roll moments in her earlier times. I definitely projected some of my desire for companionship onto her but not in a public way. I didn’t hit on her or really even say anything other than “yes” to her question about coffee.

I ordered the chicken parm omelet directly from the grill dude, who was like two feet away from me. I chose that because they were out of the coconut French toast. The chicken parm omelet was not very good, although the ingredients were fine. Just not a good combination of foods. I ate quickly and they asked if I wanted a coffee to go even though I didn’t really want it. I took the coffee and left it in my car for six hours and then disposed of it in a drain in the motel parking lot, where the nice people from the diner couldn’t see me throwing away the coffee I should not have accepted in the first place.

Not longer after the diner that I noticed a noise that I now can identify as valve clatter and a related, intermittent flashing of the low oil pressure light on the Accord and I got stressed about that and forgot my regrets re diner experience and the waitress and Saul Bellow and whatever else. I drove to a motel like I was trying not to wake someone up. I checked in and read the car manual and googled the symptoms on my phone. I didn’t like the potential consequences/seriousness of my car’s complaint, but I decided to assume that an oil change and a new filter would fix everything. My hope-assumptions worked out although I no longer totally trust the car, like a dog that bit you once.

I went to a Portland Sea Dogs game for $9. It was pretty fun although I felt a little weird being there by myself. The mascot joked around with me, in that pantomime mascot way, stealing my cellphone for a minute. I didn’t mind but I wasn’t sure how to act. I think I just sort of said “Haha Slugger took my phone” to the woman across the aisle. Then I made a comment about how it didn’t make sense that the mascot had two legs if it was supposed to be a sea lion. The woman across the aisle nodded, but not in a way that meant she agreed.

The next morning I felt like it was time to go home, even though I didn’t really want to go home. I got coffee at a convenience mart and sat in the Jiffy Lube for two hours while they eventually got around to my car. From there, starting at like 10:30 am on Thursday, I drove 750 miles back home.

I did not take a direct route. I went back down to Portsmouth on 95. Two things that I remember happened in those 40 miles. First I saw a huge dog in the far back of a Toyota 4Runner in the middle lane. It was a huge dog, possibly another Malamute. The dog was doing that dog thing where you get stuck turning in circles just before plopping down, except he was zooming through existence at 70 mph and all his fur was whipping around. I drove three car lengths behind the Toyota for what must have been ten miles just to watch this dog. He (or maybe she) turned and turned. Sometimes he would stop and stick his head out the back and stare down at the asphalt ripping past under the tires. I wonder what the dog thought about highways and velocity and his/her temporary condition. Then the dog would resume turning in a circle in the back seat, a little epicycle within the Toyota’s orbit of the earth. I was a little sad when the dog and his vehicle peeled off onto an exit ramp.

The second thing I remember about the southbound Maine turnpike was pulling up behind a seafoam Ford Taurus (the old kind, from the 1990s) that had handicapped plates with the vanity designation I R I E. It seemed like a good omen, enough of one to guarantee good vibes for the rest of the day.


At the suggestion of a friend I drove the entire coast of New Hampshire, all fifteen miles of it, from Portsmouth to Hampton Beach. It was beautiful. The tourist season hadn’t started for real, and it was cold, so there was no one around but a few contractors repairing things on motels and cottages, plus a few tough senior citizens walking in a stiff ocean breeze. I felt like I was walking in a school building on a weekend, like the sun was hanging in the sky differently and I was lucky to see it.

There was no more coast and I turned the wrong direction, northwest toward Vermont. Somewhere between Manchester and Concord I pulled off into a rest stop that was also a some kind of discount wine retailer. The rest stop was a mock village inside a larger generic building. I paid $12 for a coffee and a small container of chicken salad and a peanut butter square. The world outside the car steadily got more and more beautiful/empty. This trend continued and steepened through all of Vermont.



I didn’t do much in Vermont other than look and breathe and operate a car but I still profoundly enjoyed the state. I stopped to look into Quechee Gorge. I bought an energy drink even though I had had two coffees. I thought idly about the consequences of just abandoning everything in my life and creating a new existence in some tiny mountain town in Vermont. The last time my brain flashed this kind of rare error message I was in Telluride, Colorado in June 2004 in sunlight and air so pure they seemed to reverse time.

In Rutland, Vermont, the graves seemed to wander around town instead of confining themselves to cemeteries. Clouds were smeared across the sky like ruined messages. There was a sign on a small bridge that said SCARIFIED PAVEMENT.


The chicken salad wasn’t cutting it, and it was already like 5 pm, so I stopped at the first fast food place I saw after the state line. It was a McDonald’s in Whitehall, NY, the alleged birthplace of the U.S. Navy, according to a sign/the internet/general lore. In the McDonald’s at the birthplace of the U.S. Navy, one of the employees jokingly told another one “You can suck a toe on that one” but it was pretty clear that by toe she meant something worse than a toe. I scribbled down directions in my notebook to some motels, entertaining an idea that I might head for Pittsburgh instead of home.

I refused to get back on anything resembling a highway and this definitely cost me like an hour. I saw what Saratoga Springs is like. At Amsterdam I finally got on the New York Thruway. There are a bunch of little cities along the Mohawk that stagger down handsomely into the river valley. They seem shitty but earnest and chill about it. I drove for an hour and a half and stopped for coffee again somewhere in the infinity of central New York state. I got a little discouraged when I saw how far away Buffalo was but somewhere inside I said fuck it I am getting where I am going today, wherever that is.

I stopped two hours later for more coffee, and I feel like maybe there was a third stop ninety minutes after that.

The last thing that happened in New York, on account of all the coffee and energy drinks and gulps of water from my gallon jug from Greenwich CT, was that I pulled over just after paying the final toll on the Thruway before hitting the chimney of Pennsylvania. I passed some dozing semis and got out. It was really windy, but clear. In the distance there was a store that sold porn to truckers, and underneath a big sign saying ADULT STORE, spotlights embraced the sky. I was right under the Big Dipper/The Plough and I felt like the stars were looking back, restless like the dog in the Toyota from Maine.


I don’t think I’ve ever stopped in the chimney of Pennsylvania in the 10 times I’ve driven/been driven across it. The road was so dark and I was locked in. I barely noticed that Pennsylvania was there.


You sort of forget, living in Cleveland where the north is fenced off by the lake, that there’s this pretty large swath of Ohio curling up toward Canada for 60 miles before the eastern edge of the state. Last summer I actually attended a reenactment of the D-Day invasion in Conneaut, the last town before the PA border. But this night I just drove. The encounter with the Big Dipper was the last thing my brain felt compelled to record. I kept waiting to get too tired to drive, but I never did, even after I stopped.


golden tusks, part 1

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So I drove around in my car for a week and took notes with my eyes and fingers. This is writing as practice for being human, so please pardon the lack of a point.


The semester ended the first week of May, which leaves me without much to do for the better part of the month. Eventually I will have and have had to resume working to pay my rent and my Obamacare and keep myself in rice and beans. But from a responsibility standpoint, like a meatspace obligation for my body and brain to be in a certain place at agreed-upon times, I am at present radically liberated, in all directions from 0 on the axes of freedom. I am expected but not required to show up at something like eight more Cleveland Indians games before August 1, and I am supposed to talk to my shrink on Wednesday mornings, but I do that via Skype. I did sign up for a Spanish class. A year and change of Spanish class 13 years ago earned me “Beginner II” status which is both a conceptual contradiction and also exactly where I belong, in a spectrum of activities.

I have access to a 2008 Honda Accord and some spare (not that spare, really) cash both of which stoked visions of escaping my usual orbit. Of course when you escape orbit it’s not really clear what you are escaping to. You’re just free from whatever version of gravity was hassling you. You are not guaranteed a new or better gravity.

Part of what pushed me out of the door was what happened to me the last time I had nothing to do for more than a few days, I fell into a pretty harsh depression. I slept all day, and when awake i ritually abused myself with junk food and unhappy thoughts. This kind of episode felt and feels like dropping something fragile; your humanity falls from your hands just fast enough that there is nothing you can do, just slow enough that you can regret all the way down, even before some version of yourself hits the floor and smashes up.

So given my liberty and a desire to box out gross depression, I drove away from home.


I drove to Hagerstown, Maryland via the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Hagerstown was a stopping point because it was most of the way to Baltimore while still likely possessing a <$50 a night motel, and there was a minor league doubleheader there, I learned from the Internet before leaving. At Breezewood, Pennsylvania I turned south off the turnpike. I briefly stopped to pee and have an energy drink. In the bathroom/energy drink place, I saw a man with a flaming cross tattooed on his upper arm. The cross had the Confederate flag inlaid. I thought about whether he meant the flames as a condemnation of the late rebellion or more like an emphasis of his confederitude.

After leaving the interstate, I drove through towns where you could see the passage of time piled up like junk mail in a rude visual archeaology. In places like Clear Springs I saw 19th century farmhomes leaning on 20th century shops patrolled by 21st century lives. Bad tattoos and little econo cars draped with aftermarket gear, plastic bits rattling in the music of woofers. Acres and acres and acres of riding-mowered grass sweated in the sun. Every other house seemed to have coughed up its guts in a yard sale. Clothing and side tables and plates and bikes.

A local Red Lobster sponsored a stretch of highway. I wondered whether that adoption included spiritual and material responsiiblity for everythign that happened there. Like if you died on that road whether Red Lobster would sponsor your transit to the afterlife.

I drove on the Red Lobster road until I hit a town that was bigger than the others, with more roads and more train tracks knotted together on a set of ridges. This was Hagerstown.

I found a motel in a town called Halfway MD, at a junction of roads where chain stores sprouted like mushrooms. There was a horse tied up in the back; either his/her name was The Wonder Horse or he/she was described to me as a wonder horse. His/her owner was a long-necked elderly man with a snow-white goatee. The horse was appearing in a show of some kind at the county fair. He/she was chestnut with a bolt of white on his/her forehead, unaware or unconcerned by the long purple leash that secured him/her to a chain link fence between the hotel and an overpass bending away back toward Hagerstown. A billboard overhead told me and the wonder horse about the current lottery jackpots. There were two large people, mother and son, crouching in the shade of trees in front of the motel, all their possessions stacked neatly next to them, including a forlorn chihuahua in a kennel crate big enough for a small bear. I wondered what they were doing until I realized they had been kicked out or otherwise left their lodgings at the motel.

A different mother with drained eyes clutched a toddler and a microwave dinner, its cardboard already limp with defrost. The Motel 6 clerk told me her favorite rapper is from Cleveland.

I drove along the edge of an old cemetery, inching through the rush-hour traffic of a small city. I listened to Neil Young right up until I turned my car off in the parking lot of the ballpark. As I entered the stadium, “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynrd Skynyrd played, and I noticed the line where Ronnie Van Zant addresses Neil Young in the third person.

It was Country Music Night at Hagerstown Municipal Stadium, parts of which date to 1930. If you wore a cowboy hat or boots, you got in for $5. I paid $9, having neither article of clothing. I didn’t see anyone in cowboy gear except for the game’s genial, perfunctory MC. He wore cheap Halloween costume pleather chaps, a cowboy hat, and a neckerchief. He didn’t have a six gun or a lasso, just a wireless microphone through which he narrated a game of musical chairs between children pulled from the crowd. A young boy named Caleb won. I forgot what Caleb’s prize was.

I got bored midway through the first game of the doubleheader and decided to wander around Hagerstown before the sun went away.

Time to Pray

I went back to my hotel and the horse was still there, chewing grass in the dark.

I woke up and ate oranges and wrote for a couple hours, after getting lost in a mall parking lot looking for the coffee drive-thru at 6 am. I packed up my stuff and drove south to the Antietam battlefield. The sky was bright and generous, and restless wavy hills swam in the sun. Every few hundred feet a stone marker elaborated on the details of how many of which kind of soldier died nearby. I looked into a white church that had been shot up. I looked into a ditch that had filled with dead guys. I had to pee badly but felt it would be impolite to pee on a national historic site, so I held it until I got a few miles away.

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I drove south on a road that nearly disappeared into the hills and brambles before breaking onto the valley of the Potomac. I snaked around onto a bridge into Virginia, briefly, and then West Virginia. Harpers Ferry was beautiful. I looked at the small outbuilding where John Brown holed up during his raid. I stood on a rock Thomas Jefferson stood on. I bought postcards but not a stuffed doll of John Brown, clutching a small stuffed Bible with gilt edging. I watched the human traffic drip past on the Appalachian Trail and left for Baltimore.

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I think I was in Baltimore once before, but most of my understanding of Baltimore comes through stories. Homicide and The Wire and The Corner. I expected rows of battered, hopeless brick houses and I saw that but I also saw everything not on screens: people, pigeons, sunlight, small trash dancing in breeze, weeds, living of lives.

I walked through Lexington Market and, wandered around downtown. The crowds by the market were African American; by the ballpark they were white. I bought a ticket to the game and watched the Angels practice. A buxom woman haggled with a coach in the bullpen for a signed ball. He wanted her phone number.

I drove north to a combination record and book store and bought Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West, in a paperback edition the size of a half-loaf of bread, and Dynamite by Louis Adamic, and a random tape cassette of noise music after soliciting the clerk’s recommendation. I don’t even have a tape player at the moment. I talked about Harvey Pekar with the shop guys and left. I parked on the edge of the Johns Hopkins campus and scurried through the Baltimore Museum of Art in the last hour before closing. I saw a chair with built-in bookshelves and a motorcycle wheel. I saw a good Rockwell Kent and learned that Horace Pippin exists. I tried to make it to the Walters Museum before closing but failed. I left my car in what seemed to be a legal parking spot and walked to the ball park.

I watched kids and not-kids grub for foul balls. I ate a problematic amount of barbecue that somehow cost $22. I felt like I had swallowed a sandbag. I finished the giant serving of pork out of duty and completism as much as desire. No one but me cared whether I finished the pork.

The umpires were all introduced as “Mister.” The game was orderly and short. The home team lost. I saw Albert Pujols hit a home run. Mike Trout didn’t do much. Under some guilt, I scavenged a novelty mini-helmet that had the last bits of someone’s melted soft serve in it. In the bathrooms after the game ended, I washed a stranger’s ice cream out of the miniature hat and paper-toweled it dry as a crowd of people tiredly peed out 9 innings of beer.

My parking spot near the Walters Museum turned out to have been legal, or at least legal enough. I drove to a motel in a scruffy suburb using my phone as a GPS.

I woke up and drove toward Annapolis, a place I have definitely been before. I veered off onto a bridge across the Chesapeake and rose up over wind-ridged water. I was thinly disappointed because I could see land ahead of me the whole time. I had been hoping I would get a few minutes in the presence of nothing but asphalt water and sky.

I saw an electronic sign on the edge of the road that asked:

T I  P  S  ?

I drove up some kind of official scenic byway through small towns on the eastern shore of the bay. I saw signs reading FOR LEASE GOOSE PITS. I remained curious enough later to find out what a GOOSE PIT is; it’s a duck blind, but for shooting geese instead. I don’t think the birds care what you call the thing you shoot them from.

The day smelled like manure and sunshine and exhaust. I drove on a bridge high over the town of Chesapeake City and was very pleased with the world and my freedom in it.


Immediately after this I hit the traffic shadow of I-95 and crawled the rest of the way to Philadelphia. I did pee in Delaware, at a very well-lit rest stop.

Everything in Philadelphia feels like you’re facing the back of it. The city is always turning away, not out of shyness or coldness, just a half turn undone. I ate fancy pizza in a bohemian area. A wall-eyed cocker spaniel vibrated in the heat and watched me, unconcerned by my consumer politics re pizza. I wandered through a street fair and acquired a tote bag for free.

I walked down streets that felt puckered by the passage of time, the houses loosened in their settings like the teeth of an old person. A cramped graveyard stared up at the sun. I intentionally got lost on side streets on my way down to the baseball stadium.

The Philadelphia ballpark is new and bland. It sits on the south side, in a strange asphalt plain broken only by enormous sports arenas. The complex feels like a Mesoamerican necropolis, but the names of the gods have been replaced by banks and telecom firms.

I haggled with a scalper. I was close to buying a $60 ticket from him for $30, but he called me “big guy,” which always turns me sour and mean. I walked away from him even though it was a good deal. Instead I spent the same $30 on a seat in the upper deck. The Philadelphia team was very good in the recent past, but not anymore. Prices had yet to reflect the falling arrow of their fortune.

Grady Sizemore plays for Philadelphia. He was once a rising star for the team that I like. His legs turned out to be no good, although I’d probably trade mine for his, even with the maintenance history. Sizemore happens to be one year younger than I am, so I used him as a kind of sounding on the passage of time. If ballplayers are around my age, I can’t be too close to dead. This habit started with the information on the back of baseball cards. I looked at the dates of birth for Nolan Ryan (10 months older than my father) or Dennis Eckersley (closer to my mother). Very few ballplayers born in the 1940s lingered into the cards of my childhood, cards I don’t even remember acquiring (1986 Topps). Before long everyone was born in the 1960s; I remember being excited that Ken Griffey Jr was less than 12 years older than me. I stopped collecting baseball cards and didn’t really notice when the first players born in my decade showed up, but Grady Sizemore was shy of 22 years when he arrived in the majors on July 21, 2004. I was 23 years and a few weeks and somewhere in New York City on that day.

The act of measuring my temporal place in the universe by the relative age of ballplayers always seemed logical and correct to me. In hindsight it seems slightly weird. Like why would I not be able to take this same reckoning from any adult? In time I started doing it with anyone whose birthdate you might come across—the kind of people you look up on Wikipedia.

Sizemore was born at roughly the same time as me. That was a signal to me that I was in the flower of my early adulthood. I was as good as I was ever going to be. Now Grady Sizemore by general consensus is used up, as a ballplayer. He still has 50 good years of life on earth left by normal actuarial thinking. I should have about that many too, with preventive care and good luck.

Grady Sizemore is not old. But on a milewide jumbotron, he looks drawn, with a little iridescent gray stubble in his chops, I see these details maybe only because I see the same things in my own face. Felt like driving through a place I used to live, or walking past the pencil scratches on a doorframe recording the growth of little kids now out in the world with doorframes and pencils of their own.

Threats of rain evolved into an actual storm. The sky emptied itself. The 20,000 or so Saturday night fans were chased by loudspeaker scolding into the concourses, for fear of lightning. I tucked myself in between steel girders and ate two $1 hot dogs. The cavernous stadium concourse felt like an ark full of drunks. The grounds crew spread a tarp over the infield like they were putting some giant creature to bed.

The game was delayed for maybe an hour. I waited out the delay, just for the sense of outlasting something. It was a sloppy game between bad teams. and I got bored a few innings after the resumption of play. I squished out to my car through the mealy humid air and rummaged in my trunk for a Bruce Springsteen record. I took my shoes and socks off and drove barefoot over the Walt Whitman Bridge. My shoes were still off when my car filled with sea air on the road into Atlantic City.


At midnight on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, there are just a few drunks hooting like songbirds. I paid too much for a grody hotel room and rode a sleepy elevator with tipsy middle aged women. They all spoke at once and leaned into each other as they disappeared into the third floor.

In the morning I walked the boardwalk again. The only aim I had was to dip my fingers into the Atlantic like holy water and then to see if I could find this one stretch of railing I remembered from a a shot in an episode of The Sopranos, not because that episode held special meaning, but because I wanted to compare two things. I found the railing (it turns out I had driven more or less exactly there from Philadelphia) and I left.

The rest of New Jersey was just roads and tolls.


In Manhattan, some of the men held their dates by the arm like cops hold prisoners in transit. (to be continued)

APPENDIX A: Haircutting Establishments Witnessed

  • Hair We Are
  • Hair Update
  • Just Hair

APPENDIX B: Partial list of salient anxieties

  • Why did I buy a $20 cooler at Target just to keep these six oranges and unnumbered baby carrots cold
  • Did I pass the road I want (multiple)
  • Why is this city so rusty (Philadelphia)
  • What if New York shoots a prehensile vine out and keeps me here forever until i am a skeleton made of calcified, omnidirectional regrets

descriptions of skies, running catalog

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Under midwestern clouds like great gray brains
—Denis Johnson

Clouds like headless sheep
—Margaret Atwood

Then a blood red cloud line appeared along the horizon, and grey clouds resembling cement castles with turrets, rested upon it. Yellow clouds rolled above the castles, like immense butterflies unable to find a bush upon which to light.

In a short time all turned scarlet, then purple black, then mauve. At last dark shadows crept over the earth, and all colours merged into blue, through which the stars shone.
—Jim Tully

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
—T.S. Eliot

The sun has the attenuated autumn quality of seeming to be behind several panes of glass.
—David Foster Wallace (h/t to M.M.)

(…) pilot-light blue
—also DFW

The clouds that Monday morning were piled up like laundry.
—Raymond DeCapite

Almost indigo, shot with iridescence as if veins of a newly discovered precious mineral have been exposed
—Stuart Dybek

the sky looked like something flat and heavy shoved up against the kitchen window
—Denis Johnson

From where Irene sat, she could see the open sky above the East River. There were hundreds of clouds in the sky, as though the south wind had broken the winter into pieces and were blowing it north …
—John Cheever

The day had been bright but never warm with those flat-bottomed, fast-moving clouds that seem to make the land flatter and the wind colder.
—Michael Martone, “The Greek Letter in the Bed”

The sky looked temporary in its exaggerated blueness.
—Kellie Wells, “Star-dogged Moon”



Deserter 29’s cubicle was freezing. He could never get feeling to stay in his hands. That numbness was part of why he left. Also the hunger. The army had only allowed crackers and half-rotten bananas into the war for several weeks. 29’s banana that morning had been all rotten. He spurned his crackers in protest. He gave them to 30 and sucked bitterly on thoughts of desertion instead.

All morning, he starved and shivered. 29 deserved better than this. Even if he didn’t, he would rather steal better and see if he was caught. Just before the noontime banana and crackers break, 29 set down his gun and raised his hand. The lieutenant came by, and 29 asked if he could use the bathroom. The lieutenant gave him the key. 29’s teeth chattered angrily as he walked out of the war forever.

He did actually need to use the restroom. It would not do to begin a new life with a bladder so full. Fuck the lieutenant, 29 thought. That drip would have to put in a request to the army for a new key and oversized fob.

29 conducted his business and washed up. He turned for a paper towel. There were no paper towels. He found instead a new-fangled hand dryer. The bathroom had been updated since the last time 29 peed. The dryer stared at 29 from the wall, mounted above the empty wastebin. The brand name SCIMITAR was scrawled across the upper lip of the dryer’s mouth-like vent.

As he jabbed his hands toward the Scimitar, 29 stared at himself in the bathroom mirror. He watched his own face as the dryer roared to life. Pulses of air made the skin of his hands dance. The Scimitar bellowed pleasure in its work. 29’s frozen hands were returning to him. He smiled. He was having a handsome day.

29 stood before the Scimitar for hours. His hands went from cold to warm to uncomfortably hot. From wet to dry to desiccated. His skin began to harden and crack. The meat underneath began to roast. Feeling sharpened into pain, pain into desire.

Hands, particularly the hands of a petite man like 29, don’t hold much meat. What flesh there was was stringy and sour-tasting. There is some justice in my tasting this way, he thought while chewing.

The roar of the Scimitar deafened 29. When the guards found the deserter, his skeleton hands rattling in the synthetic wind, he couldn’t hear their commands to surrender. The guards took photos of his rare self-mutilation. Then they shot 29 and put him in the wastebasket, which was happy to have a job again.