That’s right. With Tino. Dark-eyed third of the soon-to-move Baby Haus kids. Scabby kids, self-described by other third David Allen. And Trevor, of course. Good kids all. Filthy scabby Inspirations.
Tino’s been wearing his now-collectible LaiLai shirt of four or five days I notice, sitting there on the thin edge of a two-by-four set rigid into the soil, one edge in a rectangular frame meant to hold a garden box (neglected, unless you go post-modern zen about the cigarette buts and broken bike parts) ((bikeguts)). Noticed the LaiLai ’cause sometime last week was the last day for it, too. Found out while skimming the Book, searching for clues in the zombie-apocalypse of pre-summer session Tuscaloosa. Skimming and scanning for flashes of activity, so that I might shuffle through the wreckage and twisted scrap metal towards a nice peopled pocket and hang out. By which I mean, chomp some organmeat. Some things end; others never change. Like Tino’s teeshirt holding his caramel-colored torso along with days worth of sweat and hubris.
It was Thursday maybe, the last day of Lai Lai. It’s a local noodlehouse on The Strip, UA’s campus-closest public arena (assumedly. although it may be telling that the reason for LaiLai’s tragic untimely end is not to do with lack of student demand or weak lo mein, but rather because the expired lease was not again extended for reuse. The Strip and other real estate flanking campus seem to be being slowly usurped by the creeping colonial expansion of Empire Alabama). I had summer special spicy beef. Pointed to it with my index, piled in glorious heaps and mounds and glistening with capcaisin on the openfaced styrofoam box that serves as go-box as well as in-house finery. Being consumed by a contendedly glaze-eyed and face-sweating Asian man at one of the small tables inside. Gotta trust a local? Anyway, he looked happy. And it was delicious, naturlich.
That was Thursday the 12th, a week after returning to Tuscaloosa. Been sorting baby lotion and folding size fives pants for teeny girls. Doing my part in the retaliation against catastrophic Acts of Nature. Folding size fives, taking extras from the enormous pile of food for the volunteers at the behest of the Super, cause “it’s all just gonna go bad anyway, take what you like.” Odd, seems like a lesson and an Irony there somewhere. But nevermind. Today walked from near the breadfactory across Fifteenth Street into the residential grid leading to Forest Lake. Forest Lake is totaled. Walked along in the eerie emptiness, grasping at the scope of destruction. Gaping at eighty-foot oaks peeled open like bananas. What force of coiled wind.
The last Baby House show was all day and night on Friday the 13th. We walked up Tenth Avenue, past the fields of rubble that used to be Rosedale, picking our way through the tossed salad of metal and scrapwood until we made it to the tracks and East toward Hargrove. Walked along barefoot side by side on those twin polished rails. Concentrating and trying to break into a jog. Noticing severed bikechain lying about, robot intestines; metal medusa pasta. The surface of the metal underfoot gleaming clean and opaquely reflective like rocks on a shore where seals come. Polished dark and shiny by bellies of the beasts. Suspended in the concentration of that daydream, he forgets his imbalance and lopes effortlessly along the shiny, narrow footbridge.
Baby House loud all day. Was there for some of the earlier bands, during-daylight groups Hawn, David-Allison-Tino, Dale Petty the soft-spoken harmonica/banjo/acoustic guitar player better known in Europe and on his Voodoo-produced vinyl album. Copy of which I found on kitchen floor of BHouse the day afterwards, signed. Makes me wonder what’s around. Legit, legit acts punks and party that final Friday. Well received. Night was The Dead Balloons and Piss Shivers, eventually decomposing into a broken messy ruckus in the early morning, everyone playing something roughly and simultaneously. Beautiful Disaster.
Sit perched in the pocket at the peak of day. MIdday’s sun cast flat shadows like bullets and dimes. Lazy slowmotion maynas and mockers cart down on locked wings, running across the exposed red clay like tiny dinosaurs. This near a triple-lined barbed wire fence, across face of which half a post oak lies crumpling. Crushing weight. Tornado damage. Right here outside the shadespot. Whipped in gaping plowed alleyways through forest and residential alike in Eastern Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa latitude of Snow Hinton Park, the big urban roller.
Tells me I should write it down. The story this morning, the ramble really, that turned into explication of a dropped phrase, “lobster bobber.” She is becoming turned on, she laughs, reading the chapter on sexuality in D. Morris’ The Naked Ape. Not surprising, so did I. Encouraging, though. Naturlich.
Lobster bobbers are the old bobbing floaters attached by line to the trap itself resting testing on the seas bottom. THe bottom of the sea. Out there in the night, luring massive aquatic crustaceans, hydropaulically powered waterbugs, to be retrieved later by the local fishermen who set said traps in first stance. Individuals in small personal boats of wood. Hunting lobster bobbers of hand-painted personal colors. Variations on band and stripe, groups and sets in contrasting bold colors, better to spot so.
Grackles grace the sultry flat midday light and alight, raucous and vocal in shadetree cover. Iridescence is most mesmerizing in smoky midday blaze. squirrels troll the remaining two arms of the previous postoak cluster, standing just opposite the fence. Near a young white oak, a middle-aged sugar maple. Sucklehoney vine covering and hiding hidden bramble bearing fruit, yet pink. Patience, a virtue.
Are you self-directed /or floating on the wind?/Self bearing and minding planned sight within,/ or never caring/ buddhist cultured /desires called as sins,/ the penitence, Remember when/ She turns and gives a glance/ from underfoot she’s lying happenchance cradled text in hand,/ reading bout the naked man and smiling at her chance/ to find the nature hard and actual relevance.
Practiced drums. Banged some drums real loud and fast and better and better in a room with Trevor. And David the French. Organ synth man. We’re getting time tense.
Gray has a photo-file archive of all the pieces in her shop. I’ve become the chief manager of these archives, which involves processing and labeling new pieces and adding them to the live inventory files. It also involves periodically cross-checking our sales books (Quick Books in this case) in order to relabel and transfer images of pieces sold to the sold books.
I enjoy the process. It’s one that can be quickly mastered, honed to a zipping mechanical perfection, like cooking or banjo. Like the Halal guys in the carts on the corners in midtown do, whipping lamb meat in pita up in a handful of perfectly-efficient seconds of prep, men simultaneously flurries of action and centers of zen peace. Look at their hands and you see a storm and a dance: blink and you’ll miss it. But look at their faces and you see perfect calm, comfortable confidence. Disinterest, even. Masters of their repetition.
Narration. A critical point of learning occurs this morning. This morning I am labeling a dozen new mounts and incomplete rings to be sorted into our production systems. The first several steps of our process are mine. Well, Gray makes the initial decision and purchase, makes the interaction with the vendor or hawker, agents both private and commercial. In the case where decision depends more on stones then on antiquity, she will confer with Ali. After that, I take over. It’s a somewhat tedious and mundane process to explain, but this epiphany came as a result of a new understanding of ring form and function. A realization on the dynamic of design and purpose.
Our rings get separated into wedding bands and engagement rings or mounts. This distinction is most apparent by examining a sampling of either group. As probably all women already know, and some more custom-savvy men, most engagement rings are designed to be a spectacle, to create a wow-factor. In terms of design this can mean an odd number of stones to create symmetry, or a single ‘solitare’ stone of great size or quality, or any other ring that demonstrates real impression or emphasis. Obviously, this is because of the role of the engagement ring, to provoke a strong positive emotional response, both in the immediate sense and in the longer-sighted logical decision sense: holy shit! look at that stone!’ and then ‘wow, he really loves me and wants to commit to US this much”. Shock, and awe. Kinda brings Milton Friedman or Niomi Klein to mind, but that may just be cynical residual from learning recently about De Beers coup of the ritual. Another story.
Alternatively, a wedding band is typically uniform, symmetrical while creating a subtler message: Commitment. Intent. Conscious long-sightedness (or so we hope). In structure, this is demonstrated by either a plain or simple hoop of gold or platinum (some heavy and precious metal, which carries it’s own obvious messages), a half hoop of uniform stones mounted on the upper side of a simple base, or what’s called an ‘infinity band’ which is a full circle of stones.
It’s this newfound, multidisciplinary distinction involving philosophy, design, and psychology. Craftsmen, lovers and culture.
Back on the train. Across the frozen expanse of Champlain, on the far shore (in Vermont, i suppose) there stand pairs of unpainted, worn brick buildings like warehouses from old. But built on the lake’s shore. And four stories skinny. Open gaping doors down towards the bottom, making faces over the layers of frozen precipitation. The ice lasagna. Thin crust.
Thick enough for trucks and snowmobiles and recently erected fishing shacks. Little squares way out in the sea of white. Tracks to and froma ll out across and away, some sort of geometry to it all, i imagine, up at bird’s eye.
Pump, pump, pump of a blackredwhite craft;; Piliated, dipping same-speed and eye-level with me alongside the train’s car.
Something recently, been actually talking to folks. Wroking on my New Resolution. And guess, i’m learning a lot. Yesterday i went and had a huge conversation with the head baker at Potsdam’s CoOp. Guy started as a theatre major a decade ago, when they first ventured. Told me the Bakery’s whole story. Told me that holding major clients was the turning point in the business, that it give them reliable, consistent income.Like accounts with the local university’s food systems. Institutional scale. Seasonal, yet exactly so. Said they came to him. That the baking itself was the easier part, more and more that his job was becoming one of management, specifically the emotions of his staff. Laughed when i suggested the word, emotions.
The five of them, they built the oven, not much capital invested. Told me, the business broke even in five years, that now at ten it is more profitable than the CoOp that started it. Says that his experience with theater allowed him to adapt to the logistics of a bakery naturally. The production;; prepping a set and moving scenes on and offstage. Bit the smile and word ‘interdisciplinary’ off in my mouth.
Cursed while we were talking. And i took note, silently, of course, liking the fact. Means the guy, name was Chris, was comfortable with me, honest and open. Also telling about his personality. Noted th frames of his glasses while he was talking. They were color like a kaleidoscope.
The polarized light bathing the far ridge transfixes. Rocks reaching out through the snow to get painted in an ochre dusk. Keeps my head jerking up and down from page to glass, gazing out. You see things, if you look. Like Scandinavian shores, small wooden houses, hidden in the trees coming down to water’s edge. Isolated. Must be such a strong mindset to retreat to a place like that, to live out and alone.
Lake Champlain. There’s French people in Wisconsin. New York State too. The kind lady trainofficer, ticket puncher and slick glossy cap, name of Christine. Spoke with her in the bobbing jostling railcar, then again in that hallway inbetween, where the walls are rubber accordions and our breathe rises in clouds.
Christine walked past my seat later, gave me a map. Said that ridership is going up nationwide. People are starting to recognize the value of the train, the beauty of it. The convenience. Making it viable. A contender. Good. Told me the Federal government subsidizes parts of Amtrak’s operation, certain legs of the track. For example, it’ll cost you the same sixty-two dollars to travel from New York to