Archive for January, 2009

Do Not Hang Out on These Steps

Posted in Uncategorized on January 21, 2009 by Taylor

Woke up. Cat puked on bed again. Gross. Glared at cat. Threw sheets in hamper.

Showered. Put clothes on my body. Breakfasted. Bagel and yogurt. Ate yogurt on the way out of the apartment. Finished at the front steps and threw container down aimlessly. Jesus gutbusting Christ – bright as hell outside. Remembered I was hungover.

Walked by a vintage guitar shop on 47th. Guitar in window looked like it went through a war. Probably Vietnam. Don’t know what it was because I don’t know shit about guitars or music, but it was bad ass. Bought it. On credit. Forgot I was hungover.

Also forgot about oddjob someone off craigslist e-mailed me about. Re-arranging a living room or some shit. Didn’t anticipate bad ass guitar purchase – went home instead.

Got to front door. Homeless Mojo Sapien drinking a 40 oz. on the steps. Yeah, that’s his name. Minus the “homeless” part, that’s a description of him as a person, relax. Remembered I was hungover again. Drank some of his beer when he offered. Showed him the guitar. Agreed on how bad ass it was. Played the thing all misinformed and ignorant. Still sounded sweet. Building manager walked out as we were jamming/rocking/killing it. She glared (like my gross, annoying cat). Picked up the yogurt container still on the steps. Mojo and I shared a laugh. Went up to my apartment.

Drank PBRs. Played the guitar until it started to get all dark outside. Got kinda drunk. Saw some sirens out the window. Went downstairs to investigate. Ambulances and police cars. Mojo dead as fuck. Wait, no. Just passed out on a gurney. Chatter about a seizure and a drug overdose. Mojo could afford drugs? He was homeless as all hell. Whatever. Walked away, can’t be here.

Went to the bar.

Blacked out.

Woke up. Still in my clothes. Not sleeping on any sheets. Cat puked on bed. Again. Wait…I puked on bed. Guitar all smashed in the corner. Cat meowing incessantly. Have to get out of here.

Walked past building manager at steps. Shook her head at me. Had scotch tape in her hand. Got to front door. Realized I’m hung over. Contemplated need for drastic change in life (e.g. steady job, friends that aren’t homeless and dead, etc.).

Open door. Sidewalk completely clear. Not even a chalk line. Unless that’s just in movies/Law & Order. Remembered Mojo didn’t actually die, just partied too hard. New sign on door.

Sign Captured in Long Island City, Queens

Sign Captured in Long Island City, Queens

Hail to the Thief

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2009 by Taylor

###

When I first met him, he was vandalizing the apartment building.

He was kneeling down – haphazardly and mostly without regard. One hand held a black spray can, the other a large white stencil. The black misted out from under him as he brought the can to the surface of the stone support adjacent to the entrance of our building.

Whatever. He was blocking the door.

“Excuse me.” I tried to get to the door. He was blocking most of it.

“Pay attention,” was the response. His voice registered at an incredibly low frequency.

“Please, I need to get in. If you would be so kind.”

It was at this point where he looked back up at me. His salt and pepper beard was made partly darker than it should have otherwise been, as black spray paint spotted his face all over like static on a TV screen. His lips were badly chapped. While both his eyes were open, only one was near squinting. This was not an expression. This was just what his face naturally did.

Regarding his expression – I do not wish to describe it.

I will, however, impart the details of his black creation upon the façade of the building:

Sign captured on Ludlow Street, NYC

Sign captured on Ludlow Street, NYC

My hollow, dark corridor in the lower east side of New York City in 1974 isn’t exactly lacking when it comes to the wild, and our buildings are no stranger to graffiti. But there is just something so clearly more defined in this. It’s more calculated. The rigidity of it gave it certain gravitas – like the words were carefully picked and scrutinized over.

“Are you paying attention?” he growled. He turned back to examine his work.

I turned my key and squeezed myself past.

This was the man who lived in apartment 2B. I had never seen him before, despite the fact that he had been living in the apartment for over 3 years.

This was something I learned later.

*************************************************************************************

One week later, I smelled something that reminded me of that one particular stop on the subway. You know, one of the tracks on 59th street. I don’t recall which. The smell was coming from 2B.

I knocked once. It lacked that real solid give that doors using all their locks usually respond with.

I turned the doorknob to test my theory that the door was unlocked. Indeed, I opened it to give hardly an inch of space between the spots where the door ends and the frame begins. No light came out, but that 59th street smell did come at me a bit more strongly. I closed the door. It smelled like dog spit.

I won’t deny that my suspicions led me to believe that the present in 2B would not be alive. I’m also telling you what I saw not because I wish to surprise you. These are merely the facts. This is not an exercise in suspense.

But my hand was still on the handle. So, what the fuck, time to look.

I opened up and flipped the lights on. He was hanging by the neck by a thick black leather belt in the front of the room from a pipe running along the length of the ceiling of the studio apartment. This was the truth of the matter. This was his way of putting the reality of the discovery to the forefront. His way of saying, “hey, there’s a dead body in this room. You’ll find some other things, too. But seriously, look at me. I’m dead as shit.” His face had those same specks of black spray paint.

The apartment was a mess. Books everywhere…the only names I recognized were Orwell and Dostoevsky. I’m not that well read, so I can’t recall the other authors. The walls were covered with messages written with black spray paint. But all of them were written in that clear, sharp, definitive stencil style. The stencils themselves all lay neatly in the far corner of the studio – by the bed. Well, by the cot.

The messages themselves mostly seemed like lyrical phrases begging for a litany of explication.

“2+2=5”

“It is too late now”

“January has April’s showers”

Around the man’s neck was one unused stencil. It hung by a thin string in a somewhat antithetical fashion to the leather rope curving in the opposite direction.

“You have not been paying attention,” it read.

There was no more I wished to know of the matter, so I quietly exited. I threw up into a trashcan in the adjoining hallway. The police came to remove the body, but the 59th street smell lingered for a few days more. A new tenant moved in at the beginning of the next month. With freshly painted walls, of course.

Who knows if the new tenant of 2B knew the truth of what was behind his new white walls. I doubt the landlord told him of the 3 year long suicide note of a man driven by some terribly painful reality. He’s probably the only one that knows the core of whatever truth drove him to his self-ceasing conclusion.

For me, the truth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

###Writer’s Note: As the title may suggest, the short story draws much of its inspiration not only from the captured sign/graffiti itself, but also from some of the themes, lyrics, and allusions from Radiohead’s first song off the Hail to the Theif album, “2+2=5.”

Please Pardon Our Dust

Posted in Uncategorized on January 14, 2009 by Taylor

The following exchange took place in an airport between an annoying lady with bad posture and a ticket agent with good – albeit quite trained – posture.

Hi. How can I help you?
I’d like to file a complaint.
Oh.
Let me speak with your supervisor.
Excuse me?
God. Your su-per-vis-or. Speak English?
Ma’am. I’m a ticket agent. Are you looking to upgrade on-
No! I have a complaint. Bring me your supervisor.
This isn’t a store.
No shit.
Ma’am.
What?
What’s your complaint?
Well, now I have two complaints.
What’s your original complaint, ma’am?
The dust.
The what?
Are you not hearing me?
I heard you.
Then what did I say.
“The dust.”
Yes. The dust. This terminal is dusty.
Is this a joke?
I’m allergic.
You’re allergic to…dust.
Are you making fun of me?
It’s an airport terminal. There’s no dust.
Prove it.
You prove it!
Get me your supervisor.
No. Next in line please!
Excuse me, but I have a right to be heard.
Why?
Because I’m a paying customer, that’s why.
What flight are you on?
I just landed here five minutes ago.
So you just landed.
That’s what I said.
And you were suddenly overwhelmed by the dust.
More or less.
In an airport terminal void of dirt.
Well it must be coming from somewhere.
Excuse me, ma’am, but I need to take the next person in line.
What are you going to do?
About what?!
The dust.
Nothing.
Nothing?
Are you not hearing me?
Don’t try and turn this around on me. If someone is smoking in the terminal, do you do nothing?
There are no smoking signs, ma’am. Even on the airplanes.
How about that.
Can you even be allergic to dust?
Probably not.

She left the desk, much to the ticket agent’s befuddlement.

Two weeks later, a man with similar posture and Benjamin Franklin bifocals approached the desk. He also had a complaint. The ticket agent didn’t say much. She merely called for the next person in line and mechanically pointed to this minimalist sign hanging abruptly to her right:

Sign captured @ Miami Airport

Sign captured @ Miami Airport