Sun of a Beach

In Flight

What with the good fireworks on the Fourth and the bad news from London, last week thumped my blogging schedule around. This entry was nearly ready to post the day bombs disrupted London’s workaday commute; it was not appropriate for that morning. This past weekend will henceforth be known as The Time of Catastrophic Fun, and I didn’t have a composed moment to get going on it. Thus: here it is today.

Last year on July 2nd, we Peppers remembered Marlon Brando, who had just broken on through to the other side. This year I found out that July 2nd is also the day Amelia Earhart disappeared, and the day that Ernest Hemingway shot himself before breakfast.

There’s something wrong with July 2nd. I’d stay away from it, if I were you.

In keeping, July 2nd was my designated beach day but despite the best efforts of forecasters all through New York the clouds refused to budge. So I took my problem to the United Nations (by which we mean I went down to Lobo for a long brunch and settled in to read Master and Commander over a back garden margarita) and then came home to stare at some writing in the computer, trying to make it do what I wanted it to do.

Writing in the computer = 1, Linus = 0 in overtime. And the United Nations suggested that I try going on July 3rd, which doesn’t seem to be such a daffy date.

In the two years since I last made it to the beach the price went up (now $17.00 for round-trip accommodations on the packed packed Long Island Rail Road, including Beach Pass) and the schedule changed, so my speedy arrival at Flatbush just in time for the old 11:04 left me rather late for the new 10:48 instead. A change in Jamaica and I’m in a train with no seats left and a smoochy can’t-keep-their-hands-off couple to my right, which I wouldn’t mention but it’s been a while since my hands had someone they couldn’t keep off and, you know, get a room. But they’re blinded with happiness and I’m kinda sorta in love myself lately, at least on the inside of my head, so I do my best not to kick them.

Long Beach is crowded but not packed, and the day is simply glorious. I finish the Sunday Times crossword and launch into the twisty reachy choreography where I try to put sunscreen on the part of my back that I can’t reach without dislocating my arms. This doesn’t really work — this never really works — so I’ll spend the rest of the week with a red Bachelor Stripe tingling away under my clothes. Because I’m a guy, see, and when you’re a guy skin cancer is preferable to asking for help. Actually I put some on at home before I left, so I’m only lightly radioactive this time.

After the Sunscreen Dance I make blanket-watch friends with the girls next door; we take turns Keeping An Eye On The Stuff and going into the water, which is warmish and brisk with waves and absolutely green with choppy bits of seaweed. It’s like swimming in salad, and it feels great. I take a picture of a seagull flying against the sun, and because I’m kinda sorta in love myself lately at least on the inside of my head I think about soaring into white heat and setting fire to the wings that hold you in the air. Each stroke as much an end as a beginning. Does empty paper love the pen? Does it love the match?

I call the photo Icarus. And I do my best not to kick myself.

Dealbreaker Typo Dep’t, or Links I Never Followed: “Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin Navel Series: Master and Commander…” Captain Jack’s got an outie, pass it on.

Posted in About Last Night |

The Streets of London

Morning with Bad News

My heart and sorrows to the people of London today. I lived there for nearly a year in the late 80′s and knew the city as a glorious peaked thread drawn endlessly from our distant past, woven into a fabric of history and modern life. Dawn lights up into sad news this morning.

I email a friend about how I am not going to hold up my end of an e-conversation today. “I don’t mean to make excuses,” I write, “but urban terrorism is kind of a sore point with me, and it doesn’t, well, leave me open in places I like to be open in. So today I’m going to sit on my hands. Fists, really. And try to keep my mouth shut until I calm down a little.”

It probably won’t work, but it’s worth a try.

Posted in General Musings |

Lung Time Passing

Ghost of a Man

I don’t remember much detail about July 5, 2002, three scant spins back. I wasn’t very happy — this will come up here now and then, as I aim my future in some new directions these next months — and I was spending a lot of hellaciously late time at the East Village’s finer drinking establishments (I haven’t actually stopped doing that, but sometimes less is more).

There was more likely to be tequila in front of me then than there is now, which is probably for the best but frankly it was kinda fun.

If I’ve got the years right I was frantically, liquidly, murderously in love with a girl who was so shredded herself that our every touch left splinters (not that touching was any part of her agenda). We had another few months left before we shook ourselves to pieces over a plate of midtown french fries and polite conversation in the company of a stunt man; that splendid summer we saw each other constantly, swam apart vividly, built distance as industriously as a developer might build condos, drank need from each other’s hearts. We shared poems, songs, confidences and hate in equal parts, and waged across our bitter borders with the deepest love. If we were bridges we would have joined continents of pain. Think of the money we’d have made in tolls, ye mighty, and despair.

Ever give someone the best of you and they didn’t even notice? It was one of those. I still miss her sometimes.

What I do remember is that a few days earlier the cost of cigarettes in New York, already stupidly high, went up to over $7.00 a pack. Priced out of a 19-year vice — and even if Bloomberg were not a lameass mayor in so many other ways, this would be sufficient reason for me to never, ever, vote for him for any office anywhere so long as I live and help me God — on Friday the 5th of July, 2002, at about 10:00 a.m., I put my last cigarette in my mouth, lit it, and smoked it down to the end of nearly two decades of tobacco.

I still miss it sometimes. But not as much as I miss her.

Posted in General Musings |

Go Fourth and Multiply

New York Fireworks

The annual Macy’s fireworks display tonight was spectacular, as always. These past few years I’ve hoofed the crowds along one shore or another; this time neighborhood blogger Curly McDimple — I can practically yell from my house to hers, who knew — had a convocation of blogerati over to her rooftop, and I joined along with Jess and Katie to raise a glass to this here America, which pisses me off a lot and doesn’t always treat me right, but you know, they don’t get a whole lot better than this, really. Which seems to be a theme in my life lately, but that’s another story for another time.

The camera was ready and the view was splendid. Jess had smuggled a bag of sparklers up from Virginia, and when the lights faded from the sky we fired them up and made our own. There’s a photo gallery of my firework and rooftop shots posted on Flickr; click through and enjoy. More than 35,000 shells were fired into the sky in the 30 minutes we watched. I didn’t get all of them, but there are some pretty frames nevertheless.

Posted in About Last Night |

A Plea

As some of you may have noticed, our comments were not working for a few days. This was probably the result of a mass spam attack by the casino- and- poker morons that left one of our database tables in an unstable state. All should be well now, but please, please tell us when something like that happens! Feedback email in the right column =>

Posted in General Musings |

See Food

You are Mr. Pink
Into the Bay
Silver Mermaids

A little mention Monday on Boing Boing launched tens of thousands of eager viewers — did someone say “nudity?” — over to Flickr in search of pictures of mermaids mermaids more more mermaids. A lot of them landed at Chez Peppr over there. I’m chained to the desk in a paperstorm today, so let’s let pictures do the talking: my Flickr stream is full of mermaids and their attendant mermen, in (and out of) full regalia, for your browsing pleasure. Wacky and busty and lots of incidental skin, but for the most part safe for work.

This was our second Boing Boing tag in June, after their link to my pictures of the underwear-only video game party in Williamsburg. Works for me. I’ll have what I’m having.

Posted in General Musings |

The Unanswered Questions

Two Cities, Red Buoy

I’m late putting up questions for Lady Crumpet in the Little Interview game — which should be no surprise, since I was late asking the em-tacular Emdot to write me my five questions, and then — yep, you’re way ahead of me — I was also late answering them. Sometimes I am very consistent. That’s all right, I still contain multitudes.

So without further ado, here we go. Here are five questions for the estimable Ms. Crumpet, who will answer them on her blog and then invite others to play.

1.) The omnipresent superhero question, passed down from generations on high. You are a superhero. What are your three powers? What is your costume? What is your theme song?

2.) Where were you last year as June slipped into July? This can be either a geographic place or an emotional place. If it’s the same as this year, go back another year or two until you find something different. Where will you be next year, this season?

3.) You live a lively life with books. Pick any two characters from two different films, of any era or style, and have them meet in a novel, either a novel already written or one in your head. Who are they? Where are they? What do they do? Is it love, hate, indifference? What’s the style?

4.) Walt Whitman said many things. One of them is “Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” Give us a dark and a light, or one moment that is both.

5.) Vacation time, and a good long one. You’ve got time to kick back and do that project you’ve always wanted to get to. Expenses are covered reasonably but not to excess. What is it you want to do, and where do you want to do it? Mountains, tundra, desert, beach?

Have at ‘em. I look forward to reading your answers.

Posted in General Musings |

E se io volessi la Luna

Atlantic Solstice Moonlight

The title line of this post is either a quote or a paraphrase from the Camus play Caligula, which I read long back in Italian and didn’t entirely understand. It’s a difficult and interesting piece, less an act of drama than a venue for thought to speak for a time.

The emperor Caligula is famous, depending on your taste in history and arts, either as the leading man in one of the grossest movies ever to have a cast of stars, or for being a bloody and insane head of state in a time when that sort of thing was all right with the citizenry (ahem), or for being about as perfect a symbolic patsy as anyone could wish for the corrupting warp of greed and power. And that horse thing as well.

In the Camus, Caligula imagines that the moon is his lover (well, yes, fine, I’ve done that too and what of it, though mine was with a stronger sense of metaphor I suspect), and sends his man Helicon to bring her to his quarters. It’s the point at which his greed and his delusions outstrip his power, and as he plummets toward his ultimate encounter with the last page of Act IV, it is a moment he recalls. By demanding the impossible, rather than the simply awful or twisted or cruel, he crosses into failure. When he fails, his certainty collapses, and he falls along with it.

“If I’d had the moon, if love were enough, all would be changed,” he says. “But where can I quench this thirst? What heart, what god would be as deep and pure for me as a great lake? Neither this world nor the other world has a place for me. Yet I know, and you know, that all I needed was for the impossible to be.”

The picture above is from the night of June 21st, the night of the summer solstice. It’s a 1.6-second exposure from a tripod on Atlantic Avenue, just next to the Key Food, looking out over Clinton Hill below. It’s the first nightscape I’ve ever taken.

“I won’t have the moon. Never, never, never! But how painful it is to know that and to have to go through to the bitter end!”

Posted in General Musings |

Something Fishy

The Mermaid ThrongPeaches N Cream

This summer thing sure is taking up a lot of time — which I take to mean that I’m doing it right.

Beating the 95° heat yesterday was a priority, and the Good Ship Ventura obligingly sailed on, and on, and on, for a long afternoon surrounded by water. Saturday the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade was all the sound and fury a body might need down on Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk. Above is a glowing Peaches N Cream, one of New York’s burlesque regulars, and a shot of the passing madded crowd. And at the Mermaid Parade, the crowd is half the fun.

More mermaid pictures swim along my Flickr photo stream. My mind has been a whirl lately, what with the future brewing up ahead. I’ve been thinking about the difference between jumping and leaping. I do a lot of one, not enough of the other. It’s a little tricky to explain, but we’ll get there sooner or later.

Posted in About Last Night |

Present Under Glass

DILO: Jennifer Glass

I forget whether it was Black Flag or Aristotle who said that anything that doesn’t change is evil — or perhaps it was both, or neither. However it turns out, Henry Rollins gets my vote.

For the most part people are steady beasts; I guess that’s why we value change. We may revel in our set ways, but we know at heart that too much rut leaves no choice of roads and locks us in to the foolish consistency of the Bureaucrat, the Dirty Tool, the Venal Moron President. Just by way of example, of course. Outside of fashionable hips, when has “narrow” ever been fielded as a compliment?

At the 2004 SXSW music conference a guitar-pickin’ friend pointed us to Jennifer Glass and her showcase at the Pecan Street Ale House, which doesn’t get a link because despite the name it caters to mass-market bad beer — better to call it the Pecan Street Sucky Suds Bar, then we’d know what to expect. Jennifer was a startling beauty who was making her early steps into legit music. She did a pretty enough set; she had a nice sturdy voice and an easy manner on stage.

When her name came up on The Gigometer I was curious to see where intervening time had led her. The music industry on most levels is both kind and violent to beautiful women; there is always someone there to offer the gentle mentoring helping hand, and every dog expects his day, if you know what I mean. Sometimes this works out, and usually it does not.

Last night at Rockwood Music Hall, by now hands-down New York’s best small venue (it even has a nice bathroom), Jennifer was simply spectacular. Her music is the knowing adult pop that lurks behind radio, and in duo format — I didn’t catch the name of her guitar player, who licks and squawks and noises off in a kind of airbrushed Dave Tronzo way — she was completely formed and ridiculously able. All that, and she can manhandle a harmonica like a pro.

There are no weapons of mass destruction at Rockwood Music Hall. You’ll have to find some other excuse to mobilize for an evening out. Jennifer Glass would be a good one.

Posted in About Last Night, Music Theory |