Friday, June 29, 2007

"1 person thinks this post adds to the discussion"

Yes, I know, if you're going to comment on someone's Amazon review you're supposed to say something that elicits a certain degree of enlightenment on the product, or asks an incisive question of the reviewer, or points out incorrect information. But then again, some opportunities are just too good to pass up.

And while I'm being snarky -- OK, I know it's a very lucrative series. But still... I think this is a very, very unfortunate choice of title:
OK, I'm done now.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fuck you, Maxfield Parrish

I’ve had this book since, like, forever. I bought it at the Strand early in the 80s for a couple of bucks, and don’t ask me why. Because it was there, because it was a cheap hardcover, because I secretly, in the deep dark ashamed depths of my heart, love Maxfield Parrish.

Or rather, I hate Maxfield Parrish. It’s oddly easy to confuse the two.

This evening after work I am driving on the Henry Hudson. I would usually say either driving up the Henry Hudson or down it, for the sake of precision and bearings, but this happens to be a stretch of road that, although all signs tell me I’m going south, actually takes me north for the part I need to be on. It’s been hot for two days, that particular heavy punishing humidity tinged with green dampness that you get on the fringes of New York City. It’s merciless except for the excessive coldness of work eight hours a day, which doesn’t even count as real life as far as I’m concerned. Merciless except for this moment when I’m swinging in long loopy arcs on the leafy shaded highway, bare arm out the window, radio loud, and a decidedly low-rent but decidedly excellent breeze fills the car. It’s been a close and hazy couple of days – air quality alert days – and this bends and squeezes the early evening light into something both gold and green at the same time – Maxfield Parrish light, I think automatically. I’ve called it that since, like, forever.

And because it’s the kind of evening where I’m so pathetically grateful for the brief draft of cool air, and for the end of my workday and the fact that I’m halfway through the week, which are such sad and tiny things to be grateful for, I have to be pissed at something. So I say, out loud, over the radio, “FUCK YOU, MAXFIELD PARRISH.”

Really. Fuck you for wasting all that beautiful color and quivery misty East Coast atmosphere on fairies and nymphs. Fuck you for making me think of this woozy thing, or this, or – oh god help me there goes any credibility for taste I’ve ever had – this on certain kinds of vaporous summer evenings. It makes me feel cheap. It makes me feel like I kissed someone I didn’t really like just because he bought me drinks all night. It makes me feel kind of voluntarily used, but there’s nothing much I can do now about a book I bought so long ago.

I think about an old hippie I knew on Block Island who had little Maxfield Parrish stickers all over his house. Lee. The winged nymphets, the nubile girls on swings, stuck haphazardly on the woodwork as only a big bearded pothead pushing 40 would do. My friend Nina and I got stuck on the Island one summer with no money, the two of us 19 or 20, just joyriding around and visiting friends and not thinking too many steps ahead. We slept on the beach; we slept in someone’s car under parking lot sodium lights, we slept at Lee’s house. He liked Nina – she appealed to the kind of guy who would like nymphs on swings, whereas I was kind of spikey and sarcastic and ended up sleeping on his couch, which suited me just fine. But I coveted those stupid stickers. I asked him where he got them and he didn’t remember. So I stole a few, peeled them off the newel posts of his stairs while he was up in the bedroom with Nina, put them in my pants pocket, and at some point was so thankful to get to a laundromat that I forgot all about them. I still wonder where he got those damn stickers. Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed them.

But I didn’t dream this book. I’ve owned it over half my life, and it’s forever altered the shorthand with which I look at a certain set of atmospheric conditions. And not in a way I’m particularly impressed with. I can pretend to chalk it up to sentimentality but it’s not even that. Just a connection wired into my brain without my permission, stuck there until the day I die, daring me to be critical of it or just shut up already and enjoy the green/gold evening, tooling up/down the Henry Hudson with my arm out the window, on an evening that’s no particular evening at all.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Raccoon Redux

So as it turns out, the mama raccoon had three babies in there. At first we thought only two, but within a week of our seeing the first brave one poke his head out there were three little raccoons clambering every which way in that tree, and poor mama raccoon chasing after one and then another. She’d give one each a good rough cursory grooming, often flipping it unceremoniously upside down, stuff it back in the hole, and go after the next.

Fun to watch, but you knew that there were just too many busy little guys for one poor mama, and that heartache was just around the corner. All I can say is I’m relieved that it wasn’t Dorrie who encountered the fallen baby, but our neighbor Nate's big lonely, underloved, eternally chained-up mastiff, Zeus.

Nate told us the next morning how he’d heard a commotion outside at five in the morning – a commotion obviously somewhat different from the one that we usually notice, which is Zeus waking up and realizing he’s lonely and underloved, or else hopelessly tangled in his chain, or whatever it is that has him up fairly often at five wailing and crying in his mournful banshee voice. Because that one doesn’t seem to bother Nate at all, the coldhearted sociopath fuck.

But I digress.

Nate came downstairs at five in the morning and Zeus was busy working over the wayward baby. I can’t blame the dog – it’s the natural order of things and all that. But it’s sad anyway. The mama was so vigilant, so patient, sleeping out in the hot sun so she could keep an eye on her kits in their hole. I’m sorry she lost one. But she didn’t let go without a fight – when Nate opened his screen door to see what was going on, she was hanging over the fence and she BIT him. Not too hard, he said, but she broke the skin and he ended up going to the emergency room and getting the full round of rabies and tetanus shots.

A day or two after that, the raccoon family disappeared. Either the babies were old enough to fend for themselves and split from the nest or else she moved them somewhere safer. We haven’t seen any of them since.

I miss watching them, although it’s a relief not to have Dorrie working herself up to that overwrought state every time she saw one of them. The tree is like some a ghost town now. Squirrels run through the branches – they never would when the raccoons were there – and Dorrie looks up sharply, then looks away, bored.

I only wish she’d bitten Nate harder.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I love... burritos at four a.m.

... Parties that never end
Dogs that love cats
And twins!

Ladies and gentlemen, my fine twin sons.

Oh wait… I don’t have twins. That’s just Gideon, singular, who was down over the weekend for my birthday, playing with the Photobooth feature on my fine new iMac. Or, to be more specific, my fine new iMac with the 20” screen, which was a present from my dear, dear, lovely Jeff. I see now, in retrospect, how much it pained him to see me pounding away at my cumbersome old PC, staring at a monitor that’s nearly ten years old – oh, 17” was so BIG in those days -- covered with odd stickers and the customer support number for my old modem written in Sharpie marker and that generalized grimy look that putty-colored plastic acquires. Now that I have this beautiful gleaming white sleek machine sitting on my desk, I realize just what a blot on the general landscape my old computer was. (Now it’s my desk and attendant clutter that are blots on the landscape, but that will be addressed soon. Honest.)

Blot or no, it was a ridiculously wonderful, extravagant gift. It’s fast, it’s streamlined, it does cool tricks. And mostly it’s from someone I love. This birthday was just amazing, and I don’t mean the loot – the crazy amounts of love and good will that came pouring in my direction will stick with me for a while. Or at least I hope so. I may be highly unworthy, no matter what all these people are thinking, but I can at least aspire. I may be, in fact, fairly selfish and lazy and incapable of remembering other people’s birthdays and anniversaries and such, but everybody else seems to think I’m good, and that gives me a little bit of a head start. Just a tiny one. But that’ll do.

Labels: ,