Archive for the 'General Musings' Category

What I’ll Do on my Summer Vacation

by Linus, June 7th, 2006

Swimming Backward

I took the last two weeks of May off, to figure some things out and plug some holes where the rain comes in and nurse the broken heart that bled over these blog pages lately. (Watch where you step, some of the corners are still tacky.) I thought maybe I’d take a few swings at an idea for the, um, (whispering:) book I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of months. I always want to write books and historically never actually do, but this time I appear to have some plot and story arc and characters hovering around clearing their throats. So.

But the main thing I learned in my two weeks off was essentially this: Two weeks is not enough time off.

My genes don’t run toward leaving well enough alone, so I booked too much photo work during my two short wonderful weeks: some portrait stuff, an event shoot at the loopy cool Red Bull Ascension ‘06 party, and a feature piece on summer sun and parks in New York. By the time my time ran — and two weeks run fast, even when you bookend them with weekends — I was just starting to relax, liking the happy feel of blue jeans every day, loving the new gym regimen (five days/week and six where six fit). And I was getting past the hysterical binge drinking, see broken heart, supra.

So two weeks. Like learning how to breathe all over, from scratch. I barely wrote a scrap of actual text, but I added a couple of characters, flipped over a theme, wrote a few bits to test-drive a voice or two. Added a road trip, which might come out later but feels native to the run. Spent a couple of days wearing no socks except in the gym, sat in the park with a book in my lap and listened to the air when I didn’t want to sit at home. Thought about cleaning up and didn’t. Thought that maybe one of the things we shouldn’t ever have given up is summer vacation. I remember as a kid being free until I got bored, and I wondered what that would feel like now. And then it was time to go back to the Job, and of course once I got in it was like I’d never left.

On Thursday, June 29th, I walk out of this office into a Leave of Absence until maybe September, maybe October. There might still be a place for me here at that point, but there might not. I should have the some body parts of a novel to show for it. For pretty much the first time since I graduated from college, I won’t have a job, and I already have no idea where I’m going. Can’t wait to get there.

There’s no real way I can afford this, but it’s one of those moments: if I don’t do this now, I won’t do it ever.

Safety nets are for wimps. Or is that angels? I always forget.

T and Sympathy

by Linus, June 6th, 2006

I Can See Clearly Now

This morning at the Boro Hall subway station, which is where my one-stop commute begins, the 4 train is sitting and seething at the platform. Passengers are bulging out the doors. It’s not moving, and things aren’t looking good.

Loudspeaker: Attention passengers. Due to a passenger requiring medical attention at station stop Brooklyn Bridge, number 4 line service is suspended at this time.
Large Woman in Flouncy Mood: Man, just because some bitch buys it at the next station, now I gotta walk.

Goodbye Girl

by Linus, May 19th, 2006

Self Portrait with Rental Car

So anyway, that one sure sucked ass. Still hurts a lot, and of course she’s prodding and prodding because — what was Autumn’s phrase a few posts back? Oh yes, insane fucking manipulative bitch, right. Unfortunately we’re stuck in a few internet places together, she and I, so it all stays fresh and bitter. Like really really mean coffee that knows it can ruin your life if you’ll only drink enough of it.

What bit of hilarity will the multiverse come up with for me next, I wonder? A request: if we’re going to stick with the vampire theme I’d prefer a real one this time. You know, with the teeth, the sleeping by day, the Kate Beckinsale pants. The emotional kind are tedious. For one thing, at the end of the day you’re not allowed to drive stakes into their chests, turning them into clouds of explosive fiery dust. Because, well, that would just be fun.

Yes, let’s start with Kate Beckinsale as our rough guide and work along those lines. I’m looking forward to the sex-in-the-coffin part, too.

Still working on it…

by Administrator, May 19th, 2006

[Pierre dons his admin cap. Hmmm. Looks like a beret. Note to self: will have to do something about that.]

It’s been a while in a rather minimalist landscape, but we will put colors and thingies in here. Eventually… In the meantime, however, we’ve had to resort again to an anti-spam, image-based security feature in the comments section. It’s out of the box and does not come with any provisions for the blind or visually impaired, so if you need help, email one of us and we’ll figure something out. So far it looks like it’s working, but as always let me know if there’s a technical glitch.


by Linus, May 18th, 2006

In Water

Yesterday afternoon I ran across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s not the easiest run, nor the shortest; those clever Roeblings somehow contrived to build the span so it goes uphill from the Brooklyn side for about 70% of its length, and then, remarkably, from the Manhattan side it does the same.

I confine my running to the gym for the most part, for a couple of reasons. The main one is that I’m thinking about my knees while I’ve still got them, and the cross-trainer has no impact for the knees and ankles; also that little shelfy thing for the CD player? Handy. On the bridge my crappy plucky flimsy cheapo set crosses its arms, plants its feet and refuses to go any further, smack in the middle of Elvis Costello’s Starting to Come To Me, which admittedly is on its third or fourth replay. So maybe it’s just getting bored.

On the other hand, I’m being one of those terrible people singing along, loud, to music you can’t hear, but I figure since I’m running I’ll get away with it. Maybe it’s divine payback.

Angel: Lord, check out that guy on the Bridge.
God: Hmm? Hmm. He’s not very fast, is he?
Angel: That’s not what I mean. He’s doing that thing.
God: What thing?
Angel: Singing. With headphones. Elvis Costello.
God: That’s just wrong.
CD Player: Wait, wait. It’s not my fault. It’s so not my-

The bridge span runs 2.25 miles from end to end and back again. I’d like to tell you I run all of it, but the truth is I’ve never mastered the art of running slowly, and so I pelt along in good bursts and then have to walk for a bit. Somewhere between half and two-thirds goes past at speed, and the rest is cooldown.

Years ago I briefly dated a girl who ran, every morning, for miles. We ran together only one time, with “together” being a generous concept, since she hit the ground and left me in the dust (she was fast, she was).

As with most of our moments, it was a microcosm of the, well, I guess we have to call it a “relationship,” though it really wasn’t one. Some of these run on a tragic kind of metonymy, where each awful moment contains the greater flaws of the terrible whole. While the fire is lit, it’s fascinating. After, every memory is limned with an inward, twisting sadness.

Later that day we came up for air in some vestibule or behind some building — she was cheating on a boyfriend she had left without telling him, and we were a hot little secret, and the same was about to be done to me — and I asked her about the running. I wouldn’t mind going with her again, I said. She liked the idea, she had a thing about being alone. But it’s not any fun if we’re not running together. Could we try that?

She kissed me. “It’s not going to work,” she said. “Linus,” she said. “You’re just running. I’m running away.” And then she took off her shirt. And we ran.

Utata Goes to the Movies

An announcement: I’m a member of an online photo community called Utata, which is a pretty fascinating group photoblog with benefits. We do periodic non-juried projects, which tend to come out amazingly well. The current one is Utata Goes to the Movies, in which we created images in homage to films or genres, or plotting out yet-unmade flicks. It’s a beautiful place to browse, and I recommend it. If you’d like to start off with my three shots, this is where they live.


by Linus, May 17th, 2006

The Middle Path

I met Jamelah last summer on Flickr, when I followed her trail of pretty pictures and found her store of wonderful words. Her blog has been one of my eager daily stops ever since then. The other day I was responding to a post she did on pick-up lines, which I’m thinking are perhaps the SUV’s of casual conversation, when it occurrs to me that the comment really belongs here. And so, with minor alterations, here it is.

[Insert Jamelah’s pick-up line post at this point]

The best utterly unnerving line that ever hove at me came one night long ago at the old Ritz, which is now a tolerable and venerable night club called Webster Hall.

I was kicking around New York between high school and college, working at a newspaper, doing both reporter work and production shifts. We put the paper to bed on Tuesday nights, which in the pre-computer days took two+ days of nattering work.

On Monday and Tuesday nights I regularly went to the Ritz after we closed up. Monday and Tuesday nights were Rock Against Depression nights at the Ritz (buck to get in, and cheap drinks though I hardly drank at the time). I went to dance out my tensions. I was sort of dating a girl who was sort of separated from her husband and was rather older than I was, and I spent a lot of time pretty much alone, which has been a sort of motif with me.

So one night the DJ was doing really well, and we were getting the cheap fun schlock (Einstein A-Go-Go by Landscape, say) along with the necessary vitamins and minerals (Cars, Gen-X, Bow Wow Wow, Blondie, Ramones) and the edgier bits (Nervus Rex, The Feelies, The English Beat and whatnot). I was In The Zone, dead tired and very happy, and then he played my favorite dancing song of the time, Cold Colours (later known as Primary), and I was doing my thing, oblivious to the thinning crowd and thinking I’d go home after this.

When the song was over I started to leave, and this pretty blonde woman came lurching over (it was probably pretty close to 4, which is a rough hour if you don’t happen to not be drinking, which no one else was). She grabbed the lapels of my jacket, leaned in close, and bellowed, “You have all the moves.” Shortly after this she fell over, which didn’t improve her chances much. She was cute, though.

Best happy line, by contrast, was in my Junior year at college.

I had met this girl and fallen in love on the spot, and we spent a number of months dancing the just-friends dance (argh) and I was getting pretty pushy about not being just-friends any more because I had a vision, see. (This has also been a sort of motif with me, generally with wonderful results, recent days excluded.) We were at this party and we’d had a bit of a spat on the predictable topic so we were steering a little clear of each other. We were now on the “I like you too much to date you” part of the program, and I was pointing out how silly that was and she wasn’t buying. So it was a rough evening, and neither of us was being very graceful about it.

There was a bowl of hard candy on the table, and she was sitting in the window talking to someone and watching me, and I was talking to someone and pretending not to watch her. After a while of this she picked up a piece of the candy, unwrapped it, held it in her teeth, and came over and tapped me on the shoulder. She pointed to the candy in her lips.

“Want some?” she said.

Foibles of the Reconstruction

by Administrator, May 4th, 2006

The Pepper has been upgraded to the latest version of WordPress, and we’ve decided to take that opportunity to start a complete spring cleaning. All those cobwebs, you know…

Right now, we’re back in the default layout, and we’re going to customize things bit by bit, drawing upon the accumulated wisdom of these past two years, so that we don’t paint ourselves into the same logical programming corners as we did before. Instead, we’ll find new corners, fear not!

We do intend to bring back all the old functionality, fix all that broke over the past upgrades, and redo the layout, but in the meantime, things may look funny. If something seems broken, please let us know! Until the contact links are fixed, please send your observations via my feedback page, and try to be as precise as possible!


Passing Notes

by Linus, May 4th, 2006

She is the One

I know the occasional Jedi Master, and when it comes to Jedi Masters I am one royal pain in the ass. I’m a promising Paraquat, I mean Padawan, see. I am full of insight and clarity and energy and devil-may-crazy ways to put this together with that and make five. And sometimes I leap to wisdom without going through the due diligence of restraint. The Force is a pretty forgiving place, but it can make peace hard for those who need it. So, Master Yoda: I am sorry. I’ll replace the teacups. I’ll have the robes repaired. The chafe on your heart is beyond my powers to undo so far, but I’ll try to calm it from here on out. Be honest, though. You never used that little chair, and you won’t miss it. And it didn’t suit the room. It didn’t. You’re better off without it.

On Wednesday nights, Danielle tends bar at Rockwood Music Hall down on Allen Street. Because Rockwood is a classy joint, and Danielle is a musician and I am a sometime producer and label guy, we try not to chit-chat too much during the band sets. This gets away from us sometimes, and so over the past months we’ve picked up the high school habit of passing notes. For this reason and that I’ve missed the last few Wednesdays, but tonight I make it in after the burlesque.

Danielle has the napkins and pens ready at the bar when I squeeze up onto a free stool. “I love it when I see you come in,” she says. “I think to myself, I get to pass notes!”

I was emailing at some length with another friend today — we’ve had some serious blue e-air going back and forth that doesn’t communicate all that well in text, but that’s the channel we’ve got so we use it. We banged our heads against each other for a bit, her head mostly open and mine hard as hardoleum. After a while we knocked it off and got some wary work done.

Last month she sent me a song she loved, Clem Snide’s tune Nick Drake Tape. I listened to it when she first sent it, but I guess my ears were colorless that afternoon. Today the song comes up on random shuffle and stops me solid. I listen to it again and again, and then a few more times. Where our words were turning stringy and shrill, the song was rooted in her joy sharing it with me. The tiff of the day turned pale, shallow, mean. The song tasted of her. I was a little ashamed, both for the fighting and for not hearing her heart in the song when she first sent it to me, when perhaps I took it, and her, for granted. As a promising young Paraquat once said, sometimes music is better than words, right?

I’m listening now.

Last Call

by Linus, May 3rd, 2006


She Already Felt Like a Memory.

I am a prisoner of my dreams.

By now the jig is up. The game is over, les jeux sont faits, the die is cast, the Jews are feet. The bouncers are mopping up, house lights are on after the show. Midnight is history and the Governor’s letter never came. It’s time to move along, there’s nothing to see here.

And yet I still dream that the phone will ring, and you will be on it. “Dude,” you say. “Dude. What the fuck? What the fuck was I thinking? How could I say no to you?”

Poem: 1988

by Linus, May 2nd, 2006

Fisherman’s Philosophy

The small boats that
ride the early grey light
to the sea

teach this lesson: what
you are given defines the reach
of what can be taken away;

the day’s catch
is only partial
to the water of dreams;

and this:
we are small buckets of wood
pushing hard over cold waves.

- Linus Gelber
4 May 1988
Dallas, Texas