20MAY09 – Just off the train in downtown Ventimiglia, Italy. Something smells decidedly of toilet, yet everything is perfect; gently sun-bleached, picturesque and worn by untold decades of human interaction. Blue tiles, tiny cars, indecipherable graffiti, palm trees, jutting balconies conquered by colorful flowerboxes, wild ferns and drying laundry. Charm has a decay ratio.
28MAY09 – Now moored in Cassis, France, the ship bobbing gently on the waves. Clean from a shower, feeling properly invisible and somehow in tune with the vibrations of the moment, part and parcel of this sinking second slipping silently into twilight, as the sky becomes roses and the water turns to steel. Nothing lasts forever except nothing and forever so please, make sense of the now. Looking around the harbor; jutting rock formations, ancient limestone hips buck and thrust against the sky; the town is dotted with intermingling spits of neon, like expatriated flowers barred forever from the garden of the heavens. What sort of person makes their home in Cassis? And how many of them are fucking right now? (This last thought makes me grin.)
The next day, sitting in a café watching parades of people, souls and animals walk past. The town is tiny, hot and bright; time moves only as fast as the breeze crawling down the street. Later, drunk on wine and wandering the streets with my camera, unable to decide upon a single frame-filling photo. Reminded of a scene in “Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams” – the protagonist moves frantically from vista to vista, unable to find anything worth painting that isn’t already a masterpiece.
Underway for Bermuda. The yards dance a cautious figure eight as we advance westward one surging wave at a time. It seems awfully damned surreal to me; are we traveling over the foaming surface of the water, or are we sitting perfectly still in the heaving sea as the Earth turns toward us, the water rushing beneath our keel?
Another day, another loss for words; stretched out on the deck like a lizard on a hot rock in the evening sun, absorbed in the microscopic details of the planks, currents and eddy’s forever frozen in a river of wood like the permanently-preserved thought patterns of a long-dead tree. I squint hard against the sun-punched page of my notebook, racing to blacken it fast enough to save my eyes before yielding to the cool shadows beneath the anchor winches, unconsciously erasing all thoughts of that long lost Midwest city from my mind and vowing, once again, to never return. It poisons those who choose to remain there. The air grows golden and more luminous still. I am 1,800 miles from anywhere, and everything is moving.
I feel as if I’ve been shown the secrets of the universe, my tiny monkey brain filled to the point of meniscus. But without pen and paper, I’m doomed to forget more and more of the finer facts, repeating the larger laws like a mantra until at last I find pen and paper, only to discover I’ve forgotten the whole damn thing.
14JUN09 – Sitting in a sidewalk café in Hamilton, Bermuda, awaiting coffee and an omelet and drinking up the angry alpha chords of ‘Caped Crusader’ by Jello Biafra and The Melvin’s. The fact that I’m even writing the word ‘Bermuda’ feels strange, hypnotic, as though the word was a lost letter of our language learned in a trance, and somehow I won it back. But in order to preserve the vibrating sanctity of the thing, I must isolate it from the rest of the moment, speaking it without speaking, naming without naming, holding it fast beneath my tongue for fear it may from flee my mind like darkness to the dawn. Should I fail in this task, I’ll be left asking increasingly difficult questions until the questions stop making sense altogether. “What is a Bermuda? What does it mean? Is it a person? Just remember sunlight, just remember blue, just remember… wait, what?”
10AUG09 – An Arizona coffee house, twirling a Sharpie across my fingertips, the nails of which are cut close to the quick. Begging for a little more ink, just a few more lines of nonsense and common sense to finish this page. (Note to self: Sharpie ultra-fine markers must go on each and every one of my shopping lists until the day I die!) I’m here for work. I’m also casing out the tattoo parlor across the street…
What have I learned this year? That people are an illusion. They aren’t who they say they are, and sometimes that’s a good thing. But also; finding someone who loves you just as much as you love them is probably the single most important discovery you can ever make. It is also the most arduous.
Cruising at 35, 000 feet, thinking back on my white trash childhood; memories of staring out the rear window of a Ford Taurus (or was it a Renault Alliance?) being piloted through the dusty turns and hollers of backwoods Kentucky in a city-spoiled car, groaning, bouncing and squeaking along, my work-shirt and pocket-protector equipped father with his Ray Ban shades and perfect hair, one bronzed arm hanging idly from the window, navigating hairpin turns and lost Bluegrass hills in search of relative strangers – his strange relatives, who dwelled in fantastic little piles of sagging lumber and paper shingles, who stored defunct riding mowers in gutted school buses parked forever on their front lawns, who stored silent armies of canned goods in cool mountain caves, who appeared to subsist on bottles of ice-cold Coca Cola and garden fresh green beans, who apologized profusely to their city-slicker relatives for the sweet taste of well-water bubbling up from the cast iron kitchen pump, who decorated their walls with portraits of sepia-toned specters now forgotten, who bore names like Luther and Tallmadge and Rose and Jesse and Liza and Marie, who trapped monolithic June bugs in workman’s hands and taught a goggle-eyed nerdling to fly them on threads, teased with infinite country patience from disintegrating apron strings, who spoke heatstroke-slow when they spoke at all, and usually discussed Jesus or the weather… Where are those people of yesteryear? Rejoicing in the ground, I expect.
Cacti, cacti, cacti… every time I travel, I try to see my surroundings as though I’d been living there for about six months. “This is where I go for a drink, that’s where I get my groceries, I was there last week taking photographs …” Commercial jet roars overhead, and I wonder what page, what paragraph in the FAA handbook does it state that jets of a certain model, a certain capacity, moving at a certain speed must be wheels up by a certain altitude, or a certain time after departing terra firma.
Stupid things fascinate me: We pass a parking lot full of new Corvettes parked in a haphazard manner, the walls ringed with bitter concertina wire. Not in such a way as to physically deter anyone but more as an afterthought, like part of a checklist. “Hey, this place has concertina wire, I’d better not try to steal one of their cars. Clearly, crime does not pay.”
Later, sitting in a concrete room in close proximity to the hotel swimming pool, waiting for my clothes to dry. I hate flying with dirty laundry. Finally made time for that tattoo parlor; my left forearm is cloaked in plastic wrap and it makes me look like a burn victim, the skin still red and angry. The sky overhead is a perfectly Photoshopped shade of CAD7F7, and a layer of naked trees cast cautious shadows on the brick of the building.
Again, stupid things fascinate the hell out of me; I’m sitting on an aluminum chair in a little room next to the pool located outside my hotel which is within the city limits of Scottsdale, in the state of Arizona, located in the southwest corner of the continental United States, which occupies the Northern Hemisphere of a planet called Earth, which is just one part of a tiny solar system in an unmarked galaxy placed without care or concern along one arm of a massive spiral galaxy thrown haphazardly in the middle of a universe that may have neither a beginning or an end.
Reverse that; starting with me, seated on this chair made of a specific metal, composed of molecules, composed of protons, neutrons and electrons, further composed of quarks, and all of which is located at an X, Y somewhere in the aforementioned galaxy and doesn’t really mean a goddamn thing in the long run. What happens when my laundry is dry? I’ll move and fuck up the whole thing. Am I a fool for wasting nearly half a page (and thirty seconds of your valuable time) by stating the obvious? Does anyone else think this way?
Am I stuck on stupid, or merely obsessed with the affairs of a simpleton?
Early morning flight,
raindrops flee from gravity.
I am coming home.
Stating the obvious since 1971,