Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Living in a pedestrian city it's easy to see how people use technology to insulate themselves. I'm talking about cellphones and ipods. The latter is a simple form of isolation-- the apple commercials play it out perfectly, silhouettes on a single color. There is no context, only a generalized idea of one. Cellphones are slightly more complicated. I passed by a woman crying on a park bench last night. Had she been pretty enough I probably would have asked her what was wrong. This shallow presupposition was pre-empted, however, by the fact that she was crying on the phone. This is obviously a different way to shut out your surroundings and neighbors, by keeping in close emotional contact with someone else far away. It's a displacement, not a shield. That being said, it's hard to meet people in a city where everyone has a four-inch talkative friend on their shoulder.

When I went out last night I forgot my keys. By the time I got back John had fallen asleep. I had to pee. Bad. So I went to a bar around the corner, just lame enough that only two compulsively lonely people and a bored bartender were there. I struck up a conversation with two of them (the transvestite poet left when I sat down). After getting two life stories that started off maudlin and got progressively more so, I emerged with very contradictory emotions. First and foremost I felt alone. I felt more alone talking to those two than I do camping in the middle of the desert; I felt divorced from myself, from my future. That being said, I also felt very powerfully the fact that a person lives behind every window on every upper floor, and that they have selves and futures as well. Ghostlike, if I want to be dramatic about it. Anyway, I leaned on the buzzer and John let me in. I felt sick all day today.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

ray charles is dead (and so is regan)

In addition to stealing wireless internet from my neighbors, my new apartment comes fully equipped with mystically free basic cable. The caveat is that we only get fox, upn, pax, and every strange public-access channel known to man. The horse-racing channel. Korean TV. My favorite of the low-rent networks, however, is C-Span. For the past 48 hours, they have been showing Regan's funeral. This is simply footage of people walking in front of a casket, continuously, with a break every two hours for the changing of the guard (which itself moves at a comic 2001-esque pace.) Watching this 15-minute, 3-salute ceremony was humorous, because C-Span chose to leave the sound on. There is no spoken command, music or even audible footstep in the entire ordeal. The ceremony takes place in a gigantic cavern of a room, in which every cough and cellphone ring is hystericaly amplified and echoed. A small child made the same high-pitched noise every 15 seconds for two minutes, with a wonderful counterpoint of aborted cellphone rings as the harmony. This is news in real-time, people. It's restful. It's dry comedy. It's also reassuring that, despite the faster and faster editing in film and television, there is still the boredom of real life somewhere on the tube.

There. I tied that one up. I actually found Regan's death and the subsequent hubbub to be thrilling, mostly because I was born on the day of his attempted assassination. This links me cosmically to a person I hate abjectly, which adds a theatrical quality to my life. I only wish it could have been someone else.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

56 hours a week

I've got more free time than working time (or maybe it's the same on average.) I have no children and my girlfriend lives a few hundred miles away. I'm not involved in a charitable cause and my work is also my hobby. I'm going to turn into one of those professional appreciators, aren't I? I'll read and listen and watch and I'll develop taste. How can I avoid this?

-Play video games or do other such mind-numbing things.

-Walk. A lot. Or perhaps exercise.

-Make friends and talk to them (this is highly unlikely).

-Sleep more.

-Write more.

-Learn to knit or build model trains.

Once school has finished, it's rather daunting to realize that one is now completely responsible for how interesting one is. I can't rely on classes and lectures to bring conversation to the fore. I was prepared to commit to work. Now I have to commit to play.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

long time no see

I am now in New York City. I dislike typing the same words in the "City" and "State" blanks in online forms.

Short List: Things at Work that Make Architecture Depressing

1. The phrase "p-lam."

2. The phrase "furr-out"

3. Carpet swatches.

4. Flashing details.

5. Vinyl wall base.

6. Interior elevations.

7. Chair rails.

8. Aluminum mullions on sidelights.

9. Spandrel glass.