crossposted at the Burning Blog.
Late one night, the furniture on the side of the building on Howard Street started to move. It had been suspended up there on the wall for 17 years; but one night, one of the chairs wiggled, pulled, then popped a leg free. It tore another rusted steel foot off the wall, shaking loose a few rusty bolts that tumbled down onto the sidewalk below.
The others looked over, lamps craning their necks and throwing oblongs of light, the grandfather clock swiveling its head to see. The chairs plunged down the wall, scampered onto the sidewalk, and out into the dark.
Before long, the tables and televisions made their way down, one fat couch inching down like a caterpillar, thumping away in all directions. After 17 years, Defenestration was no more.
(written for my friend’s class on getting published, May 2014)
I got my first writing gig when I was 16. As soon as I got my driver’s license, I called every number in the White Pages listed under the category of “Newspapers and Magazines” and asked them if they needed writers or interns. At the time I assumed that they would be eager for my participation and would welcome me to the profession.
I wish I could capture that assumption and bottle it, and dole it out to other writers, and new writers, like an essential oil. Later I was to learn that writing was “competitive” and “professional” – words that wrap around art like boa constrictors and strangle it. As soon as there was the idea of scarcity, there was fear, and the fear made me conform.
There’s a chair in my room that I normally would be sitting in to write. It has a cool, blue, funky geometric pattern, and I bought it the San Pablo Flea Market, a sprawling wonderland of dust, worn old wood, sun-tinted plastic, and old copies of Ebony from the 1980s with Billy Dee Williams on the cover. I go there looking for whatever thing you expect to find in your own garage: the dusty stuff in cardboard boxes that you forgot you owned. Except we don’t have a garage, so we have the San Pablo Flea Market.
When we built a mini golf course inside the house for Mike’s going-away party I drove four blocks to the flea market in my fat old Buick and found a selection of rusty old mini-golf putters. Where else would they go? There is a plywood fence around the edge of the place, more for show than protection. All of Oakland, where I live, is like this: a vast flatland with abundant land, where you can sprawl all your dusty belongings, outdated technology, scrap you are hoarding for future projects. That’s what my house is like. We also have a hammock and three cats and dogs.
To make the golf course, I bought the putters, some Santa figurines, one of those brown ceramic droopy dogs that say “Gone Fishin,” and some old 45 records for the tees. The guy had the gall to charge me $14 for this crap, but I paid it anyway. Kind of an insurance policy that the San Pablo Flea Market will stay there. It seems that everything easy and cheap and funky always disappears, vaporized by real estate developers who fundamentally do not understand what is valuable in this world.
crossposted at the Burning Blog
Photo by Kate Shay
Alberta is a vast cold pine forest in central Canada. The largest city, Calgary, is so perfectly snow-covered that it once hosted the Winter Olympics, and the regional Burn there is held on an elk farm in the summer. The elk wander around, gazing at the otherworldly lights from the darkness of the forest and probably wondering what’s going on. The regional is called Freezerburn, and it is so far north that the sun comes up at 4 a.m.
I met a sound engineer from Alberta at the Global Leadership Conference this year. He belongs to a camp called Space Gnomes, and is asked by fellow campers to “fix the sound,” meaning to redirect sound waves.
Most of the time, flat speakers broadcast, sending sound waves in all 180 degrees; he focused the waves on certain areas, on a dancefloor, in one direction. That works for high frequencies, but “bass is more omnidirectional,” he said.
“So bass waves spill more,” I said.
“Basically,” he said. Continue reading
Union of the weakest develops strength
Not wisdom. Can all men, together, avenge
One of the leaves that have fallen in autumn?
But the wise man avenges
By building his city in snow.
- Wallace Stevens