Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Good waga, where even to begin? This promises to be a long entry, so strap yourself in and get some comfortable screen-reading glasses or summat...
I must admit one thing for the end of Daylight Savings Time-- I'm waking up earlier lately. I'm beating my alarm clock up... which sounds like I'm doing the Katchoo thing, but really it's just that I get up before it goes... ahh, never mind.
So I had plenty of time to prepare for work today. Picked out some different CDs for a change of musical pace, checked the weather report, saw only a 10% chance of rain, decided to bike to work.
One thing I've learned about shortcuts over the years-- the first time you try one, give yourself plenty of extra time in case it doesn't work out. Shortcuts are not to be tested in actual times of hurry! So I got a good head start and tried S Street. S Street has too many traffic signals, but may be the best route to work. I will have to experiment further.
Only my second time riding in traffic, so I arrived at work exhilirated and adrenalized as well as half-an-hour early, only to find The Girl sitting in a booth by the counter. So I made myself a soy iced mocha and invited myself to a seat across from her. We ended up talking about... well, it was one of those random small-talk conversations wherein one discovers previously unplumbed depths in entirely quotidian subjects. This time it was about clothing, and the gap between northern transplants and southern transplants (she's from South Carolina) in sartorial preparedness for District winters.
This thing, it seems ready to be happening, but I just don't quite know how to push it over... standing friction, power spike, something like that...
But then I had to start work, which initially meant working around the manager while she stocked and rotated the beer. Monday was fun, because we got to sample various seasonal beer types. Tuesday the new beer we decided on arrives and we have to put it away. I also spent 10-15 minutes redrawing the drink specials on the chalkboard/sign we put outside during the hours we serve alcohol. I had to do this because it had been forgotten outside during the previous rainfall...
Overall a steady night. Not insanely busy, but enough business to keep us from getting bored (Monday night, on the other hand, I'd been able to finish three chapters of "White Noise" during the lulls). Much wine was sold, many tips amassed. Ridiculous tips amassed. To skip ahead a bit, I tied my all time record for tips in one night!
Anyway, later on -- after The Girl had left -- Red showed up. Red is the other really cute customer I try to flirt with, though she comes in less frequently and really seems less my type. Very pretty, though, with red (shock!) hair and a fleeting hint of a Nordic accent.
At this point I noticed that it was raining outside. So I ran out and grabbed the chalkboard/sign. Too late-- one side had been entirely erased.
But things were pretty good up to about an hour before closing time. One owner's girlfriend showed up with an old friend in town from SF and spent some time catching up. Another of the owners showed up with a bottle of "Two Buck Chuck" for us to taste...
Then the annoying guy arrived. Or rather he'd gotten tired of harrassing my coworker and moved on to me. I'm cleaning one of the display cases, sliding the door open. He comes over and says hi, and, distracted, I close my finger in the door. I yelp in pain, he is very apologetic. I accept his apology, thinking he is an actual customer actually interested in buying something.
He just wants change.
I tell him we don't make change without a purchase, so he buys two bananas. Then he starts talking about how he plans to give them to some people who look like they need them... says he needs to thank our manager ("That Spanish woman who works here" he calls her-- not even Hispanic, which would have been bad enough! I correct him that she's Brazilian) because some food she donated went to his mission.
Then he asks me if I've ever been involved in politics. I mention some of my previous antiwar/antisanctions organizing, so far in the past now that I've gotten jaded and lazy...
He asks if I've ever been involved in any Pro-Life activism. This is such a cognitive dissonance that my brain actually substitutes Pro-Choice for his absurdity. I tell him no, but that a friend of mine is organizing a local delegation to the upcoming Reproductive Rights march.
Then things start to get kind of creepy, him asking if I've ever been involved with Operation Rescue, giving me a web address for his group-- Gay Pro-Life or somesuch. It sinks in ever-so-slowly that this guy is the fucking enemy... that he seems to think abortion is a gay issue: "Gay couples can't have children, so the only thing we can do is adopt, and abortion means there are fewer children to adopt..."
So women should give up control of their bodies so that petit-bourgeois gay couples can have a bigger pool of children from which to select!?
He keeps talking homosexual this and homosexual that and I start to think that maybe he has me tagged as gay... nothing insulting in that, nothing that hasn't happened to me before... but finally he comes out and asks: "So, are you gay yourself? Or are you straight?"
Through this whole conversation I've been trying to clean up, giving one word answers, just the barest necessary responses to his endless yammering not to be rude.
"I'm a lesbian," I deadpan, and go back to wiping down another display case.
"Ahh, so you're straight." I don't argue the point, despite the consensus of many people I know that I actually am a lesbian... as amusing a sidetrack as it would have been, I was too busy to put any effort into it.
Then he starts talking how he used to be, before his "dramatic turnaround," a member of Fred Phelps' merry troupe. If I had needed any more confirmation that the man was a straight-up fucking moron I just received it.
"I don't know if you've heard of him..."
"Oh yeah, he's that evil human pile of shit who's been trying to put up that monument... I heard he even beat his wife and children."
"You'd be surprised just how many homosexuals there actually are in that group," he tells me.
"Actually it makes sense... when people try so hard to deny a part of themselves they'll be extra venomous in denouncing it--"
At this point, as if it were some kind of natural progression, he put his elbows together and showed me the inside of his wrists. I assumed he was showing me scars from a suicide attempt -- evidence of his previous self-loathing -- but I didn't actually see anything there. I reacted as if I had, just for show, then went back to cleaning.
Then he starts trying to tell me about drug abuse among the gay community... I duck out in mid-harangue to grab some needed foodstuffs from the backroom, telling a dishwashing coworker on the trek "This asshole up front really needs to shut the fuck up with his pro-life bullshit and let me clean, because he's getting on my fucking nerves!"
But no... how he almost went into the priesthood, how he wanted to meet my friend who was organizing the group "because I think I can really help them, by telling about this time I did volunteer work at a clinic where they did the D and E's... these women would come in, and almost all of them had been abandoned by their boyfriends, that's why they decided to get this done..." How he used to be with Operation Rescue and put some kind of noxious chemical in a clinic: "I feel like I have to rebuild bridges because of that, to make some kind of atonement to the Pro-Choice community..." "...but with pharmeceuticals, proper birth control, abortions shouldn't be necessary..." (as if I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between "they shouldn't be necessary" and "they should be illegal"), trying to get some kind of response from me by telling me he was beaten during a pro-life march (I could barely prevent myself from feeling some kind of satisfaction from this) or by saying he "was gay-bashed last week," to which I could barely muster, "Oh, that's too bad."
(What about the lesbian girl who was beaten and gangraped a block from here? What if she's pregnant? Should she be forced to have the baby so that you can have the option of adopting it?)
And finally he asked where our payphone was. I told him we didn't have one, so he left to find one. But he left behind his bananas and his keys and a promise that struck me as a threat that he'd be back.
Luckily we closed before then.
So I just handed him his stuff through a half-open door when he finally reappeared. I hope never to see him again.
See, told you it would be long!
Then I got to ride home through the rain, which by that time had slowed to a drizzle. I'd never biked in the rain before.
And despite the unpleasantness at the end, I still consider it a good night. Pretty girls and hand-over-fist tips will make up for a multitude of sins...
Sunday, October 26, 2003
I'm a bit dronkie at the moment, so please to be excusing any and all typos...
After work, my coworker and I went over to the Red Room and ran into a few friends there. One of these friends is someone on whom coworker has a bit of a crush.
The regular bar was very crowded, so we went to the bar in the backstage area, which happened to be manned by a Cafe regular, who only charged me $2 for my gin and tonic. And I believe I actually pulled a genuine double take, because The Girl was there as well. First time I've ever seen her when I wasn't at work. So I said hi, found out it was her birthday. She was just leaving because she'd been out all day and all night celebrating. If I'd had a bit more to drink I would've given her a birthday hug... But as I was just getting started, I only wished her a very happy birthday and thought to kick myself later.
Then I ran into my friend who kept buying shots-- the reason I'm more than just a bit dronkie right now.
Working tomorrow, should pass out now.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Second Bike Ride
Today I stand before you less sweaty and less exhausted than I was last time, but more adrenalized. Today, rather than risking death by riding off a pitch-black bike path, I risked death by being hit by several tons of mechanized steel. It started pretty much the same sure-- only without the wandering around Bethesda for an hour bit. I did the Metro to Bethesda, Crescent Trail to Georgetown thing, did a bit of shopping (including the bell and mirror, which I shall install before my next ride... future purchases will probably include a luggage rack and a headlight, eventually a better seat).
Saw a matinee of "Lost in Translation" in Georgetown this time. Are you supposed to be rooting for them to get together? The whole time I was kinda rooting for nothing to happen, maybe because I utterly lack a romantic soul, maybe because I'm not very approving of infidelity, no matter how bad a light in which they portrayed both marriages, maybe because there aren't enough filmic portrayals of just how deep and rewarding platonic love can be... who knows. I think because of that I missed out on most of the enjoyment to be had from this film (except, of course, the great soundtrack). I also thought Bill Murray was just playing a sadder version of himself. His role here didn't impress me as much as in "Rushmore."
Once again 'twas dark when the movie let out. So I walked my bike up the hill, got an eggplant sub at Cappucino's Pizza (Italian name and food, Asian manager, Russian news playing in the background, tableful of people speaking I have no idea what language next to me... quite the cosmopolitan experience for a little greasy spoon), and hopped on my bike down P Street.
This is the route the guy at the bike shop recommended when I first bought my wheels (I bought the mirror and bell from him today, but he didn't recognize me... *sob*), which I didn't take at the time because I had left my helmet at home and was not yet confident in my riding abilities. Now I am much more confident, aside from waving cars on ahead when the light turns green. This time I rode all the way over to DuPont, then dismounted at the bridge and walked it through the heavier traffic area.
So I was walking toward the Soho Tea House, and I saw a man in a grey business suit coming toward me. As he got closer I heard a sound from him, like he was talking to himself. Closer still, it seemed more like a steady hum. As he passed me I heard the changing timbre and whistling harmonics-- he was throat singing! In the middle of square-ass Washington, DC (though, yes, in DuPont-- possibly the single least square part of the District) there was some guy randomly walking down the sidewalk engaged in Tuvan Throat-singing.
I rode the bike lane up New Hampshire. I hate walking NH Ave because of the associated memories of a walk to a bad job, but the same overfamiliarity meant that I knew about the bike lanes. It was nice. I didn't feel a single moment of mortal terror. They need more bike lanes in the District!
Stopped by the Cafe to grab a soy mocha. Coworker said, "Hey Bob, your wiiiiife was here yesterday."
"Wife? When did she go from girlfriend to wife? I don't even remember a ceremony!"
The amount of shit I take at that job is astounding. On occasion I give some back...
The new co-owner was in, I showed him what his salary was going toward (but didn't mention it had actually been my tax refund that paid for it). He chided me for riding at night without a light. I countered that since I don't smoke every free moment, I have to do something to bring my life expectancy closer to that of my fellow employees.
Got home, didn't get hit by any cars or anything. Blatantly ran a yellow light, quickly realized just how much less wise doing that is on a bike than it is in a car...
I'd never ridden a bike in traffic before. Period. Full stop. Never. I'm still getting the hang of handling stop signs and traffic lights, of remembering to downshift before stopping (had that same problem when learning to drive, actually)
And carrying the dang bike up the stairs was more tiring than riding it all day. RIMSHOT!
Hope I'm not becoming (becoming? ha! TOO LATE!) a bore with all the bike talk...
Monday, October 20, 2003
First Bike Ride
Whoo fuggin' sweaty and exhausted! I'd forgotten that biking used different muscles from walking everywhere on God's grey sidewalk. It's a good thing I'm in relatively good shape from the aforementioned walking, but my quads feel like lead.
I also have to remind myself that I can never find anything in Bethesda. Every time I see that something is close to the Bethesda Metro stop, I figure I can hop the Metro and wander around until I find it. This is never the case. Actually, it is seldom the case with places I think I can find anywhere, but wandering around Bethesda for an entire afternoon looking for the Big Planet Comics stuck in my head. Lucky thing I eventually found the entrance to the Capital Crescent Trail, because hauling a bike all that way on the Metro and not being able to find something is even worse than just going all that way et cetera.
So I rode all the way from Bethesda to Georgetown. It felt great-- working the legs, the heart, the lungs, feeling the speed and the wind past my ears... I could hardly keep from grinning the whole way. Before I knew it I was right in front of the Georgetown Loews Theaters, so I figured I'd take in a movie.
There are so many movies playing right now that I want to see that I just went in and bought a ticket for the next one that started... which happened to be "Intolerable Cruelty." Manoman the Coens still got it! An incredibly silly, yet simultaneously dark and cynical film. I was giggling like an idiot through most of the parts when I wasn't laughing out loud. (Though that could have been theresidual endorphin rush) And leave it to the Coens to have the biggest laugh (skip to beginning of next paragraph if you wish to avoid a possible spoiler) be when a guy accidentally blows his own brains out.
Poor planning moment of the day: By the time I got out of the theater (the movie had started at 5) it was already getting dark out, and most of the stores in Georgetown that actually interest me had already closed. Including the bike shop, so I couldn't drop in and buy a light for the way home.
So, eyes wide open to the point of watering, staring through the dark to avoid running over pedestrians or off the path, periodically being blinded by oncoming cyclists with more tricked out bikes, I set back for Bethesda. Which is kinda silly, seeing as it's no closer to home than Georgetown... but something in me demanded the completion of the circuit even at the risk of my own physical well-being. Between the stress and the fact that the return trip is uphill (though at a steady, gradual rate), I had to pull over once or four times to catch my breath.
But "just like riding a bicycle" is an apt cliche (as so many cliches surprisingly are, when you actually experience them). After ten minutes I was as comfortable as I'd ever been on a bike... which, sad to say, isn't really all that comfortable. But if I spend all my days off like this (getting earlier starts in future, and doing any desired shopping before the matinee) I'll soon feel ready to battle automobile traffic and commute to work! And I'll reclaim my dangerously close to outdated reputation as a cinephile in the process. (Ooh! Bike to the video store!)
Sunday, October 19, 2003
I don't like talking too much about work in any journals I keep, because it tends toward a cavalcade of odd customers, rude customers, employee in-jokes and the like. But last night deserves mention as one of the craziest I've had since I started at the Cafe.
First off, we got pretty steady business all night. There were a few lulls during which I had a chance to sit down with a cuppa and "White Noise" and catch a breather, but maybe two all night. Certainly busier than I've come to expect from a Saturday night. On top of this, I discovered pretty early on that the day shift had been pretty lax in setting us up. Coffee pots were empty, trashcans were full, grinders hadn't been refilled with beans, the milk fridge hadn't been cleaned or stocked... not things one wants to deal with in the midst of a steady flow of customers seeking coffee and sandwiches.
But this was only the beginning.
To take this away from my lowgrade whining and into the realm of actual serious atrocity, there was an incredibly unpleasant incident down the street from the Cafe a few weeks back. Saturday there was a rally in response to it, against rape and hate crimes. About 40 people used our place as a staging point for it, arriving with posterboard and markers and stencils and making signs. I had never seen the place so crowded in all my months working there, and they all wanted coffee, chai, sandwiches... lucky thing for us the manager had known this would be happening beforehand and showed up to give us a hand, or else we'd've been completely swamped.
Later that evening, some out-of-town friends of mine showed up semi-unexpected. I got a chance to talk briefly, but then a flurry of drink orders came in and next thing I knew they'd left. They showed up again about a half-hour before closing, by which time business had slowed considerably, but I was still running around trying to get things cleaned up. Such are the perils of working all weekend...
Tomorrow I have off, so I'm planning to take my new bike for a ride.
Saturday, October 18, 2003
After work tonight I stopped by the Red Room. The Red Room is a very strange experience, in a postmodernly surreal way, because I see all these people and I think to myself "I know her from Friendster... and I recognize her from friendster... and I make that guy's coffee... and I serve that guy coffee, plus his band plays at Ft. Reno..." All these people I've never really had a conversation with, but I recognize them and they possibly recognize me. It's just unsettlin'.
I got waved through the ID check at the door 'cause the guy who always gets the frozen mocha with an extra shot of espresso (don't even know dude's name) was hanging out there. Gotta love a job that gives you shoo-ins...
Thursday, October 16, 2003
An Actual Procuctive Day
I never realized what a difference having two days off in a row made until just now. I had Yesterday off and I spent it sitting around the apartment, watching DVDs and surfing the 'net and frying up a veggie burger and drinking some beer and watching some baseball (Yay Sox! Bleh, Cubs)
Today I got up and showered and did a sinkful of dishes, then headed down the street to catch the G3 bus to Georgetown. On the way I read some more of DeLillo's "White Noise," which I've been working my way through in fits and spurts of late (my reading of late has been sadly piecemeal). At one point I noticed a rather large woman who'd gotten on a few stops earlier talking to herself. It wasn't the kind of idle muttering to oneself, the vocalization of an internal monologue, which some people can't help (not that I'd know anything about it). It was one half of a fully realized conversation, the kind of thing you hear from unwashed homeless people. This woman was having a conversation with the voices inside her head. But when I looked over at her I realized that the voices were being transmitted to her head by a little cord running from the celphone in her hand.
What happens when the cord vanishes? Modern technology has made sane people all but indistinguishable from schizophrenics.
In Georgetown I walked over to the Bicycle Pro Shop. At long last I was to complete my delayed testridings. At first I wasn't sure I would at all, since the shop was out of aluminum Crossroads in my size. But I decided to give the cromo model they had a ride to check for comfort and position. I got to embarrass myself in front of a line of cars stopped at a red light, still being far from 100% on going from a full stop-- especially going uphill. But as soon as I got going it felt just right.
As much as the Larkspur struck me as better constructed, with better components, I had felt that it left me with too much of my weight on my hands. This felt perfect.
(It's interesting to note at this point that the Specialized Crossroads was the bike I had settled on after merely researching prices and features several months ago. Of course the test rides were wise, but they didn't change the results at all... with the exception of adding about two months to the process.)
I was all set to leave and call back to see if they got any aluminum models in when the salesman asked why I was so set against a steel frame. Was it rust, or was it weight? When I answered weight, he told me that in the lower-end models like the Crossroads the weight difference was at most 2 pounds. And since the bike in question was last year's model, I could get a very good deal on it (about as much as I'd probably pay for a similar bike used)
I realized, while walking my bike back to the bus stop, that I only have two modes: overly cautious and fuckit. It's like the sticky faucet that you want to turn on just a little bit, but the torque required to get it to move at all sends it all the way open as soon as it overcomes the friction. But I wasn't gung ho enough to ride the bike home, as the salesman had suggested. I didn't feel up to the necessary and inevitable level of frustration (and, in all honesty, humiliation... as much as I hate the thought that the opinion of passing strangers means so much to me) such would involve.
Besides, I made enough of an idiot of myself trying to figure out how the bike racks on the DC buses work. For some reason I thought you lowered them, laid the bike down on them, and put them back up. The bus driver had to come out and show me. It didn't look too stable. "That's an unusual bike, right? Because it isn't fitting." "Unusual? I don't think so..." "Well, I'll let you ride with it like that, but I don't make any guarantees it'll stay in."
I'm beginning to wonder if he was just giving me a hard time, because it stayed in fine. But I rode in the front, my stomach tightening at every bump and curve, picturing it in my head-- my brand new bike goes flying off, gets crushed under the wheels of the bus or goes right through a car's window. Once it became clear that no such thing would happen, I was still paranoid about someone just taking it off the bus and walking off with it. But it made it home safely. I finally own a bike.
After I dropped it off at home, I went to the store and bought groceries for the first time in about a month. Then I cooked myself (and D.) dinner for the first time in forever. Marinated and fried Thai tempeh with a cilantro peanut sauce and bell peppers. Sadly, I could not find any tamarind paste at my local supermarket, so I had to substitute Green Curry Paste. It worked very well, and I already have ideas to make it better next time. Cooking has been on my mind rather a bit of late, as has been writing. I know the root reason for both these things, but you're just gonna have to guess.
If you have an immediate guess for any random thing being especially on anybody's mind... yeah that's probably it.
Then I drank more (D. had requested I buy some mint at the store so that we could make mojitos) and watched the hopes and dreams of Red Sox Nation once again crushed by the hated Yankees. Blast and dangnation!
Apparently I can only be productive after a full day of Slack. I need more two day weekends!
As I've been promising myself for months... well ok, it's been more like a year or three now... I finally bought myself a nice city-riding hybrid bike today. Brand new, but last year's model so it was priced like used. Once I get comfortable riding it around (haven't ridden in years, haven't commuted ever) I'll use it to get groceries and go to shows and everything. Eventually I'll get a flexcar or zipcar account and sell my beloved but oftimes infuriating Ghetto Audi... rent cars for roadtrips, free myself of car ownership. A beautiful dream, one step closer to realization.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Last night a friend stopped by toward the end of work and told me that a friend of hers from out of town was visiting, that it was his last night in town, and so we had to show him a good time. Therefore, after work I headed over to the Red Room and we all drank some. Halfway through the said drinking, my abovementioned friend mentioned that she and her friend both needed rides to the airport the next morning. I agreed without thinking, being the (warning: passive aggressive shitstorm ahead!) NICE GUY that I am.
So I got up all early the next day and drove over. Halfway to the airport, my friend realized that she had read her ticket wrong, seeing the arrival time as the departure, and had in fact already missed her flight. She called the airline on her celphone to get info on next flight out.
She gets a later flight still half an hour earlier than she expected to leave. I accelerate through the parkway traffic.
Get home, laze around for a bit, go to work. Cute customer is there when I arrive, but I'm too frazzled to even try (split infinitive! call the grammar cops!) talking to her. Besides, she's there with a guy and I find the body language... offputting? troubling? I hug a cup of coffee and watch the Sox/Yankees game.
My Sox lose.
Cute customer leaves without saying goodbye (though she does wave to me at one point)
Our manager was on a sizeabke renovation project, so we had to run around cleaning up dust on top of our regular duties.
Tired and grumpy.
I spill a 3/4 full container of strawberries in syrup (for smoothies, yo) all over the floor. Mop, clean... have sudden realization that even though the Cubs are up by 3 points in the seventh inning, they are doomed. It must be so, with the day I'm having.
And it is so. 8 unanswered points.
Shortly thereafterm, our N\new co-owner showed up, and I had to plaster a happy face over my incredibly pissy mood while he rattled off all the things we had to stop doing (no more throwing out stale pastries at the end of the day! Too wasteful! Where will I get breakfast now?). Until he finally, mercifully, left.
As soon as I finish cleaning the espresso machine (3 minutes before closing), a customer comes in and orders an Americano.
Coworker and her girlfriend bicker throughout closing.
Have tomorrow off. Must put this wretched day behind me. Single-malt scotch helps greatly in this quest.
Monday, October 06, 2003
Like Kevin Smith's Character in All His Movies...
Well, I haven't been posting much at all. For this I should be tied up and berated or something equally silly and inconvenient. What have I been up to?
I'm ever so glad you asked!
I've been sick on and off for the last three weeks or so. Got a cold in my head, thought I had gotten rid of it, then it came back in my throat. It's low level but annoying. I'm coughing too much and hate it.
I can't stop listening to the Retisonic EP. It's Jason Farrell of DC's late great Bluetip along with one of said band's former drummers. The whole thing is six songs, and some are merely good or OK, but "Filthy Way to Lose Yourself" is honestly nothing short of three minutes and fifty-nine seconds of post-hardcore perfection. It's followed immediately by "Take Your Gun and Hide," which features possibly the most transcendently melodic vocals Farrell has ever set down to wax, tape or aluminum. I keep listening to the EP, then going back to track three. Still not sick of them.
(Side note: Wow, this guy really needed to do a bit more research)
Still haven't bought myself a bike, due to my abovementioned cold. I'll probably go to Georgetown today for my monthly comics run, and if I'm feeling up to it (and get there in time) I might do a testride or two. I did buy myself a Harmonic Percolator clone for my birthday, and it made me realize nothing more than that I really need to upgrade to a tube amp. After an impossibly geeky conversation at the Red Room, shouted over the general din and a couple of drinks, I'm thinking of testing out Marshall (makers of my current amp) vs Mesa Boogie. This will probably wait a few months, or at least until I've gotten the work done on my car (sideview mirror held on with electrical tape and all) and assessed the state of my bank account. Tax refunds and birthday checks go only so far...
So it looks like Blogger now lets you backdate entries! Maybe this will get me finally to finish all those half-written entries that seem too untimely to bother putting up. It also means you, the faithful reader not long since disgusted by my lax updating habits, will have to search through stale old entries for the shiny new ones!
You must hate me already.
Friday, October 03, 2003
"Duchamp's urinal blazed the trail. If the Dada movement insisted on slapping the public's face in order to demand alternatives to the affable, to impolitely wake society up to the limits of its current progression, it still continued to operate in that society's forum. Though it wished to transform society, its operators were too bound with that system to give up the privileges that society afforded them. What are its artists doing, in photo after photo, wearing the clothes of the bourgeois they deride so aggressively? Why do they adapt the affectations and symbols—in their tuxedos, stiff collars, and fine dresses—of that system they would seem to detest? Many of the Dada artists come right out of the privileged class, and that's the point: you don't come out. You remain, no matter how fervently you deny it. You're connected and a degree of outrageousness will be accepted as the euphoria of an art parlor game. Which is not to deny the power of the art itself by regarding it as product for patrons who had the taste and foresight to collect it.
"Beuys certainly inherits Dada's rage at the powers that be and he responds with Dada's audacity at not remaining subservient to the restrictions that system would oppress expression with. Dada was an awakening in the form of a movement—artistic, activist/social, but most forcefully, psychological: Its artists refused to adhere to the limits of the expected, or the patronized obligation to entertain and please. Their break was radical in its insistence on offending. It was a people voicing resistance to a social system that would prefer decoration to intellectual fervor. Dada sought to undermine, to question, to reject."
Sometimes I like to pretend I'm still something vaguely resembling an intellectual...
Tonight I walked to DuPont Circle to meet some friends for drinks and dessert. It was the first time I'd made the trek there from my place since I quit the horrid soul-crushing bookstore job, and it was amazing the memories dredged up by the familiar walk. Y'know how certain songs or albums can make you remember exactly, even relive for a moment, what it felt like to be at a certain time in your life? That's what the walk did to me. And it amazed me to come face to face with how dark that period of my life was... The main thing was to realize just how disrespected I felt the whole time I was working there.
To end this unpleasant trip down memory lane, I took a detour down R Street, walking on the northern side. A few blocks later I noticed someone walking toward me, but on the southern side of the street. He had spiky hair with frosted tips. I didn't get the best look at him, but he may have been Asian.
As he approached I noticed he was sobbing. And not softly. They were the bitter, gut-torn sobs of somebody recently, cruelly, and drunkenly spurned. He reached the corner and hugged the stalk of a streetlight and continued his crying.
I looked and felt a twinge of empathy, thinking of the many nights I had been in the same situation. It would have been possibly amusing if his pain had not been so naked. Part of me wanted to say something to comfort him, to ask if he was OK at least, but I kept walking.
A guy went by on a bike in my direction, but on the southern side of the street, right past the bereaved fellow. He went past me as well, but a block later he was locking up his bike. We exchanged a look of pained helplessness and went our separate ways.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Yeah, so there's that cute regular at my cafe I'm sure I've mentioned more than once... the one who causes strange physiological reactions in me when she walks in, like racing heartbeat and forgetting how to operate the cash register, the espresso machine, or both. Well, I'm not so cartoonish and one-dimensional a putz that I didn't eventually force myself past this and manage a brief conversation or two...
Anyway, today I wasn't sure if I started at 3 or 4, so I got there at 3 just to be sure. I was almost certain I started at 3, actually, but as it turned out I had an hour to kill. And about a half hour into it she walked right in to get a cup of tea.
So, seeing as I was doing nothing but sitting at the counter drinking my tea (threatened relapse from previous cold, or possibly a new cold) and she was doing nothing but sitting at her table drinking her tea, I took a few deep breaths and walked over... only tripping over one chair on the way, which I think was a pretty good showing.
I asked her how the job search was going-- she'd mentioned having quit a record store gig and looking for work cooking. As it turned out, she'd just recently found something. We chatted for about twenty minutes until I had to start my shift. Small talk, sure, but the more I learn the more intriguing she becomes. And those eyes don't hurt matters either...