Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hypothetical Cities: A Drawn-Out Interlude

I have a back log of things to talk about it so I might as well have at it.

Hypothetical Cities. Like Calvino's Invisible Cities, like Delany's Bellona, like Mieville's Orciny. Others I haven't entered yet: Le Guin's Left Hand Of Darkness and The Dispossessed, DUNE, Lillith's Brood.

Some Cities happen in a room, under a bed where some things forgotten once rolled and grew sticky and mysterious. Some happen in Shanghai, a City big enough to house hordes of others, where I've never been but which I might pretend is actually Fremont if I'm feeling nostalgic for an OLD JOB. I'll be in Chicago, broad-shouldered, icy-cold, Bellovian, in October for a wedding which, according to my friend is the most racist city in America. That's his Hypothesis of that City. (He lives in Phoenix.) Which isn't unlike my perceptions of San Francisco, New Orleans, Baltimore, San Diego: stratified, blockaded, and yes, perhaps, racist. My original theory of Chicago, a memory of innocence, is going to the greatest art exhibit I've ever seen: Odilon Redon.

But, not talking now, but listening to the Cure and Bauhaus after eating a fresh mango with the tang of mustard still on my tongue, I'm thinking about day-long amorousness when the day out the rickety, shit-splattered window is drab cotton and blustery and not worth doing business with unless the business is turning in.
For a bout inside a musty, humid room.
Turning your back on unseasonal wind. Turning your face to frenzy.

Today I handled a book that could cost between 400-500 dollars. Maybe. It is called THE COMMAND TO LOOK and it's spiral-bound and published in the year 1937 and although ostensibly a manual for Pictorialist photography it's more a grimoire scattered throughout with Picaresque, Grotesque and Lecherous photos. More on that later. Maybe Thursday.

I'm thinking about the woman
who came in to the store today in a felt coat, a loud red blouse, mousy hair, lazily tanned and asked to pick up the book she had put on hold, The Pot Growers Bible. It had been there, on hold, for over a month after she had ordered it. I found it necessary to comment on this fact to which she replied, mock-lethargically or real I couldn't tell: "Ah yeah, I just couldn't summon the energy to go pick it up." And then she enlightened me about the origin of the word "pound", as in a "dog pound": apparently, back in the day, runaway dogs were billed in total pounds they weighed by collectors. Or something. And then she paid for the pot grower's bible with a check but didn't have her ID on her.

Last night, sleeping was hard-going.
Three different beds in three days. Three kinds of dreams, three breeds of hypnagogia. Some astronomical shit going on which, although not a big believer in, I'm convinced affects me physiologically like some kind of alcoholic energy drink with added, narcotic botanicals thrown in merely to assuage the dying crust-punk scene. All I know is, these days, Saturn is always involved.

Nervy. Mind-busted. Thrumming. Last night. Tonight there is an Eclipse and I have friends in China who are there just to see it. My other friend was in China too and she just got back. I have a friend in Costa Rica right now. Another friend I know going to Brazil. My friend from the bachelor party weekend is going to World Cup in South Africa next year, and to World Cup in Brazil in 2014. After that, he said, he'll cash in his chips, die happily. Soccer, I think, is the sport of writers, or should be.

I own this fantasy for next year of going to Morocco, taking a boat to Tunisia, cutting through Egypt and then up through the Balkans until I wind up in the Carpathian mountains where, perhaps, I might breath wonderfully wooded air and feel haunted and do that body-killing work on the Transylvania farm I was invited to do but it fell through by virtue of something
! What, "writer"? !
This fantasy is, when thrown out there, patently absurd but I want to justify it by calling it "looking for a Character", a Character who in "fiction-time" is chasing after the Assassinista who is supposed to kill him, and thus must traverse a long route, across seas and languages and diasporic confluences for the "female mobster" novel in progress. . .HOW do we justify our creative excesses? Do we need to? Female mobsters? Isn't that more a fetish than a reality??

Spent the weekend in San Diego with the glaring sun, the ultra-tanned hedonists, the bracing cold of the ocean cut with the scalding sand killing hangovers and shame all at once, a bachelor party involving fifteen men in a beach house drinking and eating meat and play-brawling and play-insulting, among them two friends known and loved since kindergarten, a Stegnor Fellow, a Libertarian and an Indian nurse staffer and the potential happy threat of Pornographers coming from another Beach to aggravate and usurp the Bachelor Party. But no, that didn't pan out, just men, loving and laughing and feeling stricken in the morning on the rug, in the sweaty sheets, whiskey-wrecked and meat-glutted, scatological specimens. . . which me think of a STORY of the male ritual, how it ends in slack-jawed, visceral, fecal-focused pain but not without HUGE laughs along the way.

I came home with clippings of old poems, with poems that belonged to a friend, with postcards I started and never sent, with pages ripped out of notebooks about cough syrup and cartoons and trespassing to a Dam, a beautiful letter from my Grandfather which sowed the seeds of a further life-bringing essay about a disquieting yet love-heavy year in my life and the lives of my loved ones. I have brought back a forgotten notebook about all the things I saw in Boston and Virginia and Philadelphia and Washington D.C. when I was a tween obsessed with Paul Revere's brand of revolution and all my scrawls were meticulous cursive, the pride of the nuns.

I started this with an intent, to write about what I've not been writing about.


  1. It's been decided: We're carving "Indian nurse staffer" on V's tombstone.

    In case anyone reading wonders: The bachelor party was as scatalogical as Mr. Berger suggests.

  2. Did you delete my last comment, you c-word?

    hatestick hatestick hatestick!

  3. What last comment?! I didn't see any comment from you to delete! I've heard blogspot sometimes won't show comments for whatever reason? Where is it?!

  4. Hold on, I thought it was "Haightstick"?