Monday, December 31, 2007

2008


Like candles flickering the last hour of a year that's past.
Soon no more.
So quick it went.
A new year's dawn after the last night.
We have wished everyone a happy new year.
Resolutions half-heartedly made.

We've lived another year.
We know our promises will not last longer than a candle.
We wish.
We will be strong.
Our children will grow.
The world will get on with its usual stuff.
War. Peace. Negotiations.
Victories and losses.
Big and little.
We are.
As we were.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

say hello to the tree


It's old and wise.
Over a hundred years old I believe.
It was here before our house was built.
If you look carefully you will see his eyes.
He's observed several generations of children grow up.
Felt their hands and feet climbing his branches.
That;s why he's smiling.
He likes to have kids around.
And squirrels and birds and all the trillions
of little creatures that live on him. In him. Off him.

Listen. Listen carefully and you can hear him breath.
I swear he can talk to.
But then you must know the language of nature.
In modern societies very few people speak it.
I regret I don't.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

so what


My life.
My kids.
This is Louie.
With his pet Tulip.
Louie loves so much.
Oh, I Iove him. My Louie.
Look at his eyes.
I wish, I wish, that
he has my eyes.
But sharper.
I wish he has eyes wiser than mine.
I wish.
I wish the child will never have to face
the crueler realities of a grown-up life.
He will. Have to.
Oh, how I wish he could grow up, live,
without ever having to be a real grown-up.
Why?
Life is not always easy.
Not even for a child.
What it is.
It is.
There's so little I can do.
I never got it quite right in life.
Still. He still adores me.
In a few years time he will give me another pair of eyes.
Rolling.
I guess I'll deserve it then.
I never learnt much that's worth to teach.
I love him.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The lighthouse



At first, it's tempting to be cynical.
Put it down.
Tacky. Naff. Bad taste.

Enough of that snobbism already.
It's lovely. Admit it.

Someone's offering neighbors and
by-passers something to smile about.
Rather generous.
Imaging the electricity bill.

If everyone took Christmas lights this seriously
the power grid would huff and puff and
explode into a display of fireworks worthy of a decade of
New York New Year's celebrations.
And this is New Jersey.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Life is full of gaps


When you've survived your first 7-8 or so years as a human,
you already don't remember most of it.
You've learnt how to walk, speak and avoid the neighbor's angry cat.
Who your parents are. And that candy tastes better than food,
but is nevertheless not what you're supposed to eat.

That first memory gap is there for ever.
Only some expensive talk therapy, when you're grown up, can help you remember.
You're certain the cause of all your happiness lies hidden in one of those gaps.
Not that your shrink are as sure, but she's got to live too.
And you've never going to remember what you did when you were 2 anyway.

8 years olds are proud of their gaps.
They can cash in on them.
Provided the family houses a generous tooth-fairy.

Later you're told to mind the gap.
If you don't, you might never wake up to remember anything again.
Which would be a loss for your shrink, but a gain for certain other practitioners.

Then there's GAP of course.
Which is hard to avoid no matter what.

Your life is going to be a string of gaps.
Eventually closer and closer in between.
Merging into total stretches of voids.

Gaps between your sexual encounters.
Between you and and the next gig.
Your teeth.
Gaps, as wide as oceans between your neurons.

And finally the grand finale.
The gap of all gaps.
The end gap.

Until then. Keep smiling.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dancing with shadows.


It was 1995. Italy.
A couple of hours from Rome.
Gran Sasso.
By car. Alpha Romeo, red.
Roads winding up the mountains.
Ending at a small hotel.
This is where Mussolini spent his last days.
This is where they hanged him.
His room and toilet are still there.
Left as a sort of miniature museum in
a hotel renting out rooms as if nothing really happened.
Sparse. Cold.
The dictators room was.
The whole place was cold and sparse.
No other guests.
Late fall.
Hans and Cat. Spring. Love.
Or so it seemed. Probably was.
Now it's over.
It ended on another trip.
They were in Italy not for romance. It was work.
Why else stay where Mussolini hid
and got caught
and brutally paid the price for his sins.
They stayed where it was closest to next day's work.

The picture shows two people embrace.
Happily, smiling at the camera. A frozen moment.
A memory to savor for ever.

Can a picture tell more than the camera knew at the time?
A cross on the building.
Angular. Unfriendly.
Impenetrable walls of stone.
Opposing.

The nature, stark and naked.
Wispy clouds? Light spirited, dancing across their heads?
Or ominous, ghostly, foreboding, the calm before the storm?

Smiles for the camera?
The pose restrained?
An embrace not as close as it seemed?

Dancing. But not forever.
Is that what the picture tried to tell us?
More than ten years ago.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I wonder where she is now?


I don't even remember her name.
Even though she worked in my office in Amsterdam for a couple of years.
About 7-8 years ago I shot a series of portraits of some of my coworkers.
Using an old camera and polaroid film.
I washed the negatives of the polaroid sheets and printed from those.

My archives, if you could call my boxes of unsorted prints
and slides and negatives that,
are filled with pictures of people
I have met briefly or worked with periodically.

Being dreadfully sloppy I have no notes of who most of these people are.
Dreadfully senile as I must be I can't recall most their names.

Sometimes I wonder where life has taken them.
What became of them.
Where they live or work now.
How many kids they have.
What car they drive.
No, not really, I wouldn't ask what car they drive.
For some reason that's never interested me.

Maybe I haven't been interested enough in any of these people.
They've served as objects interesting for the lens.
I've mostly given them a print or two, so it's not as I didn't give anything at all back.

I nowadays shoot almost exclusively digitally.
It suits my restless character well.
So I get people's e-mail addresses.
They'll get a couple of jpegs.
Some of those names I remember to save in my online address book.
That doesn't necessarily translate into a better memory of who they are.

Just as my photo archives, my e-mail address book is full of names I can't recall I know.
They are names I can't connect with a face, or anything else for that matter.

Oh, how I admire people who archive properly,
and keep their address books complete with notes and phone numbers and all.
Sending on Holiday Greetings promptly to a million people every year.
Never missing any body's birthday.
Never missing anything it seems.
How do they find the time?
How do they remember to check who everyone is, and when.

One day I won't probably even remember my own name.
Nor recognize my own face in the mirror.
But that's another story.
Meanwhile I suffer only from photo archival self-induced Alzheimer.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lazy?


Heck, I wouldn't have posted this if it wasn't for the fact
that I'd feel real shitty if I hadn't.
Like not going to the gym. Or running a mile.
Or tidying up the kitchen.
Which I didn't.
Habits are good for you.
At least I entered this picture.
Which I'm not terribly proud of.
Neither am I proud of the gibberish text that accompany the image.
But at least I wrote it.
A small insignificant achievement.
Discipline is a good thing.
As is breaking the rules now and then.
Feet on an office desk may actually be a sign of
courageous rebellion in times like these.
We're supposed to sit straight looking busy at all times.
Take our lunch at our desks. If we have a desk.
Mindless rather than thoughtful.
Tireless rather than fearless.
Sheep never put their feet on desks.
I guess they don't have feet a such.
You do need feet to stand up. And put on your desk.
Or even better, on other peoples desks.
Feet on desks may be as well connected to
the brain – generally located a few feet up the body – than feet on the ground.
Think about it.
Some of the best thoughts mankind may have had, might
have happened when feet weren't firmly planted on the ground.
Some people think well on their feet.
Others think better with their feet in the air.
Not their heads.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Who enjoys it?


Cars being smashed up en masse.
Helicopters crashing into mountain walls.
Going up in flames.
Buildings blowing up.
Stuff crashing into them.
It hurts me.
It pains me to see the mast of
the Empire State Building being knocked askew.
I know it's just film. Make believe. Not real.
But it's this thing about destruction of stuff that's always bugged me.
It seems like such a waste to me.
I could never be a great general.
Could never order the bombing of a beautiful city.
Not even on film.
Special effects of that sort is not what I find entertaining.
And yet, I know most people just love to see things being blown apart,
torn up, destroyed, massacred and demolished.
The bigger and costlier the better.
I just don't enjoy it.
Even if it is just models filmed to look big like in real life.
Hey, why destroy such painstakingly put together models?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sing till you own your song.


I wrote a song tonight.
Haven't composed music,
or written lyrics
since I was young
and not so self critical.

I was young 20 years ago.
Or so.
I still think I'm young.
I'm young, for heaven's sake.
Younger than I've been in a long time.

Haven't changed that much.
Really.
Or so I think.

May have a few more gray hairs.
Actually all my hairs are gray.
At least those on my head.
My brain-cells are gray too.
Supposed to be.
Gray.
Matter.
Brain cells matters.
Programming them takes time.
Makes you younger.

Oh, the song.
Coming soon.
Stay tuned.

You've got to sing until you own your song.
If you know what I mean.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cold


it's cold outside.
Could inside.
Hearts like footsteps frozen in time.
Ice.
Before there was.
Snow.

Warmth.
There's warmth.

Rooms.
With young hearts not yet cold.
In rooms yet warm.
In beds with dreams.
Hearts filled with hope and love and trust.
Hearts with wishes and innocence.
Hearts that wants.
Needs.
Warmth.

Hearts that belong to me.
A heart I want to conquer.
Be inside. Yet again.
I love.

Heart that has stopped.
Like a footstep frozen.
Thaw.
A sign of spring.
Happened tonight.
My heart jumped.
With hope.
Warming.
Could it be?

I hope.
I wish. I love. My heart.
Yours.
Forever.
Always was.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Extra, Extra



www.rollingstone.com/photos/gallery/17538811/dickheads_of_the_year/photo/1/large
Thanks Lally for featuring the link on your blog
www.lallysalley.blogspot.com

Thanks Maher for putting it together.

If it wasn't so tragic it would be funny.

But nothing bites like humor.
That's probably why Maher was fired not long after 9/11.
good that he came back.

oh, so I'm not getting fired from my blog or sued or something i'll give credit to whomever took the nice photograph of Bill.
I didn't take it. I just took it off his site.

Fun in advertising


Okay, so I'm in advertising.
It used to be the most fun one could have with the pants on, as some clever celebrity creative famously said.
Could have been Jerry Della Femina, or George Louis, or Bill Bernbach, no, maybe not Bernbach.
Definitely not David Ogilvy. He wouldn't say such a thing.
It's now said by me, as by countless other admen before me. Probably not adwomen.
It's a lad's language.
Actually, I haven't had that much fun in advertising for years.
Mostly it seems like a string of endless meetings. And most of what I come up with gets shot down nowadays.
For any and a million reasons, none of them fun.
Which is an experience I seem to share with just about everyone I know in advertising.
Just look at most ads.
It couldn't have been that much fun to produce them.
I can't for my life believe that someone who calls being in advertising fun would by free will create such dross.
Therefore I smiled when I saw these posters for UniQlo.
No beautiful people to identify with.
No product shots as such.
No stupid headline.
No big buy now get one free.
No splashes.
Just fun and simple and tongue-in-cheek.
I wish I had been fortunate enough to have had the fun to do it.
Kudos to an obviously cool client, and a great team overall.
Nice the photos don't try too hard to overshadow the simplicity of the idea.
I'm truly tempted to buy one of the sweaters.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Destroy and build anew?


View from the NJ Transit Dover train to New York.
Looking at one of America's worst managed cities, as it seems.
One of one America's most dangerous cities for sure.
Billboards ask for help from the entire community to rid the place of guns.
With all the shootings taking place to the left and right of the train tracks I'm surprised
the train hasn't be targeted.
The view that reminds those of us in better suburbs 15 or so minutes west that life could be real tough.
It's what makes many work a little bit harder to make sure they'll never have to risk their kids lives in schools
that are dangerous to enter. Or worse, dangerous to leave.
Newark. So close to New York.
A New York busting at her seems.
Making former suburbs in Brooklyn and Queens and now even Bronx too expensive
for people with normal humble salaries. People with families.
Newark being even closer to central New York than most New York boroughs
could be a fantastic place to live.
Hoboken, a few miles north along the Hudson
river on the Jersey side is already gentrified to the point that none of its original working class
inhabitants can afford to stay.
But for this to happen in Newark, the streets need to be safer.
Meantime, the rest of us pass through by train.
No sane man's land between the extremes of New York and the well off towns of Maplewood,
South Orange, Summit, and even more so Millburn with filthy rich Short Hills.
15 minutes between the American dream and an American nightmare.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Crystal Tree


It was so darn beautiful it almost broke my heart.
Like a fragile piece of glass.
Every tree, every branch, glistening and glittering and
sparkling in the setting sun.
Like jewels and diamonds and crystal chandeliers.
And yet, this beauty was the prelude to nature showing off
its merciless ability to destroy and wreck.
So strong. So weak at once.

The sun had started melting the snow that was covering
everything like sugar powder.
The afternoon turned colder.

Trees were groaning under the weight of ice
on their every branch
and twig and yellowed leaf left.
Pines with needles five times their normal weight.
To ease the burden they dropped some of their limbs.
Others simply couldn't carry their own weight and fell to an early death.
Knocking over others in their way.
Dragging with them cables.
Cutting out electricity.

In every window soon the flicker of candle-lights.
Followed by the sirens of emergency.
Roads needed to be closed and cleared. Cables fixed. Roofs repaired.

The morning light arrived to announce a beautiful last act of brilliance.
The ground was covered in splintered wood of fallen branches.
Twigs in bits and pieces.
Yellow tape stretched across roads not yet cleared.

And yet, look up, and the crystals glittered like they'd never seen the mayhem.
The young and healthy had survived.
Dressed in its most beautiful winter shroud.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I hope he won't be pissed off now


This guy is one of the coolest guys I know.
He's got brains.
Which he uses.
To think with.
And frequently steering his fingers onto a computer keyboard where words form.
Words worth reading and reflect on.
Some of which can be found on www.adaged.blogspot.com
He's got a heart.
A big heart.
Which he uses to feel with.
Although I've heard one doesn't really feel with ones heart,
but rather the stomach.
It's the stomach that hurts when you get overly stressed.
It's your stomach that turns when you witness horrible things.
Butterflies don't appear appear in your heart, but in your stomach.
I'd like the idea of a good heart though.
It's more unique. It's a rare thing.
George is unique.
He might also be the only visitor to this blog.
Which is one reason I keep publishing it.
Just to show I'm not a quitter.
Thank you, George.
You, and my kids, keep me up.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

what media vehicle can beat this?


It contains about 316 pages.
28 pages are what may be referred to as editorial content.
Full page bleed, artistically pleasing photographs of beautiful women in beautiful clothes.
A handful of these pages had the actress René Zellweger, beautifully clad and made-up,
posing in fashion like photographs, shot in, i think, Paris.
Complemented by a truly deep interview.
Just kidding. It wasn't deep.

This being Original content exclusively produced for this vehicle.
But quite likely sponsored by the brands displayed on the models.
Mentioned by names in elegantly designed captions.

As I counted further I discovered 11 pages containing small notices,
gossip and party pictures of the beautiful and famous.
Tips on what bag to buy and such. What lipstick to use with the Christmas ham.
Best scents for I don't know what. Most of this material I suspect
is stuff they buy from the outside and package in their own style and lay-out.

A couple of pages contained the masthead.
Another page a few words from the editor in chief.
Editor in chief of what?, one may ask, considering the meager content.

This might have been one of the thinnest magazines out there,
if it hadn't been for the ads in it. About 250 or so pages out of the 316 being ads.
I probably missed a few as it was too tedious a job to count them.
Most of them curiously identical. Fashion brands, skin creams and perfumes mostly.

I've got nothing as such against pretty ads
with nice photographs in them.
I just wonder how this is possible?

People are actually paying money for a magazine
about fashion that basically only contains ads?
I don't get it.
Or are people who like clothes and nice shoes that shallow?

And what do the advertisers think they get out of it?
I mean, if you're ad number 68 on page 276, who would remember?
Yes I know, these brands are everywhere in every fashion book,
it's about staying on the map.

Even I recognized most of the names.

But hey, if some new brand tried to break through someone's skull bone,
would this vehicle be the one to do the job?

The name of the magazine is Harper's Bazaar.
The idea is ingenious, quite obviously.

I wonder, could a website ever,
ever get this much advertising with so little content to offer between the ads?

ww.harpersbazaar.com has its fair share of ads,
mixed in with shopping advice and the typical tips on beauty secrets.
As a site is somewhat more time consuming to navigate I didn't bother
to check whether all the advertisers from
the magazine was also advertising on the site.
Don't think so after a quick click.

I've come across Vogue, and other fashion magazines as well,
and they all seem equally packed with ads,
equally lacking in original content.

Is fashion the only special interest area in which people are content with ads only?
I mean, nobody would ever buy a music magazine with only ads,
even though I know Sam Ash's catalogue is a bit of a turn on for people who like musicians gear.
Car freaks, however freaky, would never buy a car magazine without any other content than ads.
Not even porn gets away with it this easily.

Beat that! A thin shell filled with money.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Service, please wait.


We read that services are what the new economy
to a great degree is supposed to consist of.
As people in the developed world apparently have more and more
free time to spend.

I don't know.

Trying to get serviced is a full time job.
Maybe that's what they mean?

It's now almost 3.30 in the afternoon, and I'm
not yet finished with getting today's services
materialize.

I'm in the middle of trying to get hold of American Express
and Bank of America to try and figure out why they charge me twice
for two identical services.

My taking care of getting service day started just after the kids went to school 8 A.M this morning.
I first went online to check where I could find a hinge to a kitchen cabinet.
I needed to replace it as it had collapsed and was irreparable.
Worn out, simply.

After a not too gruesome wait I did indeed get hold of a human being
who informed me the product in question was discontinued.
After further inquiry I was confident they did indeed have a new part, almost identical,
but improved part, that would fit perfectly.
I was after further prodding told both Lowe's and Home Depot would carry it.

Armed with a fresh product number I first went to Lowe's.
Nope. They didn't have it. Neither did they have anything else that would fit.
No pirate parts in other words.
They did indeed carry the brand, but not really.
They use some parts in their own products, which meant they couldn't really help.
Or at least it seemed extremely difficult.

So I decided to try Home Depot, which is actually closer to where I live.
I had decided to try Lowe's first as I always go to Home Depot and they never seem
to have what I need and have no people to help.

Not at all like the commercials.
The only thing the commercials have in common with the real Home Depot
close to where I live is the orange apron.

The same apron that could have been worn by the woman in the trunk in yesterday's entry.

Well, the hardware department didn't have what I was looking for,
but advised me that the kitchen cabinet department might have it. Which makes sense.

At the kitchen cabinet department one lady was serving a person who was there with her contractor
ordering a complete and complex kitchen.
Despite several empty computer screens on several empty desks with decidedly empty chairs in front of them,
no other client service person appeared.

While waiting I checked a display where they indeed had the brand I was looking for.
But no luck as far as this particular part went, so i had to wait.

50 minutes later, it was finally my turn. The service person, if it indeed was a person,
halfheartedly poked at the keyboard of her computer and then informed me i had to go to the hardware department.

Where I'd already been, I told her. Well, she said, you have to talk to their information desk, not one of the people in the ails.
So i wandered through the vast hangar that is Home Depot and found what looked like a service counter.
The person, or what it might be, behind the counter informs me she doesn't work for Home Depot.

- So whom do you work for?

- I'm representing a brand of keys!

- Okay, so where's the hardware service person? As you're behind the desk that says hardware service desk.

- Oh, there's none, that's why I am here.

- But you can't help me with hardware inquiries?

- No, that's not my job!

To which I turn around trying to find somebody else in an orange apron.
Across the hall is a counter that says professional contractors services.
At least the people there are nice and friendly, but apparently they
can't access the system that i need access to in order to order the spare part that I need,
so they tell me hardware or kitchen cabinets should be able to help.
I explain that i've been there. Sigh.
I'm then told there's another special services counter at the other end of the hangar.
So I try that.

There they inform me that it's at hardware. I say no, it's not hardware.
Okay, so it's kitchen cabinet. Nope, it's not kitchen cabinets I say.

I ask for manager. I do indeed get to talk to a manager.
Surprise, surprise, i was starting to think the place didn't have any management at all
judging by how it operates.

This manager person actually tries to find the product on one of the computers,
but has to inform me that only kitchen cabinets can get to it as they need
a SKU number or something which he doesn't have.

So. I ask him to escort me back to Kitchen cabinets and explains the situation.
They say they don't have the SKU number.

But for heaven's sake get it ten, I demand.
Oh, you'd have to call customer service for that, is the reply.

ME, calling customer service for that. I am in the store, trying to get a part,
by a brand they do indeed carry.

So i wonder how the heck they communicate with the company in question when ordering stuff.
The person in kitchen cabinets, who is still the only person there, doesn't know.
Of course. What a silly question.

So I ask her to call customer service for the company that makes the hinges
and get the SKU or whatever the number is called she needs.
She claim she doesn't know the number to them.

so I give up, go home and calls the hinge making company again.
I get the same reply. I need to go to Home Depot and order it from there.
And no, I can't get the SKU number,
that's a Home Depot special order number which they should have.

So I go back to Home Depot, go to the queen of kitchen Cabinets,
and tell her to call the 800 number I have written on a big piece of paper.

- Call and ask for the frigging SKU or whatever it is called number.

Which she reluctantly does. I guess she fears I will shoot her something otherwise.
At such a vast store so lacking in service personnel, and customers,
there are no witnesses available.

- Is there anybody in here? As Pink Floyd might have asked.

After a relatively short wait she gets through and gets her number,
and the product number is indeed correct and the bloody part costs $6.15.
It will arrive in 2 weeks approximately, but i will have to call and check
because they don't call. As if.

The name of all these desks i went through, including the 800 number,
are called headlined customer service.

Customer waste-of-time desks would be better. Or Customer piss-off desks.
Customer heart-attack provocation desk, or simply No Service Desk.

I also suspect the person at the kitchen cabinets was actually illiterate,
which could be the reason for her inability to help me.
She keyed in the price $ 6,015.00 instead of $6.15.

Or is that company policy, a way to increase the dwindling share price?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Classic NY, sorry for being late


No excuses.
It wasn't the traffic.
Or the train from Jersey.
Not delayed this time.
Or slow escalators up to the street level from Penn Station's arrival hall.
It wasn't the weather.
Or strong head winds.
I didn't get abducted by aliens.
It was just me not getting around to it.
Getting out of habit.
Got lazy.
it's like jogging or going to the gym.
Miss one day and it's easy to miss the next and the next again.
And sooner than you know it you'll have to pull
yourself up by the roots of your hair to get going again.
It's easier if you have hair. On the scalp.

I'm talking about this blog.
Or the lack of it the last couple of days.
Major advertisers and sponsors are threatening to withdraw.
But hey, I don't blog for money.
Or glory, even. those days are long gone.
Everybody's got a blog.
If you don't you simple are not.
You're nothing. You don't actually exist.

That part of not existing started to bother me a bit.
I like food. If one doesn't exist one does not getting any.
You're not getting anything if you know what I mean.

One, unfortunately, or preferably, needs to have something to say to write a blog.
Or at least one needs to be able to say it in an interesting way,
whatever one's saying.

I read for the joy of reading. I readily admit what I read needs NOT be important.
I can get drawn into silly pieces on how to knot a tie in five different, and with which shirt collar it goes, or what the stripes on a striped tie really means i the hunt for a perfect wife.
And i haven't even worn a tie once the last five years or so.
It's just the act of reading that I enjoy.
I find this sort of reading material and magazine's for men and others.
What's nice about these little articles is the obvious joy the writer feels when writing.
Even if the topic is not earth shattering.
A nice little joke here,
some wit there,
a skillful turn of phrase to impress the editor,
ensuring the next gig coming up.
Whether on the topic of be the perfect omelette for a morning after,
or how to light a Cohiba no. 5
and mix a g & t in a gentlemen's club in Mumbai.

Today, perhaps, I simply tried to enjoy the act of writing, and associating.
So I picked up on my typical NY excuse,
as my randomly chosen picture seemed to suggest it.
Or at least let me associate in that direction.
A lazy choice for a lazy writer.

I guess I could have, should have, spun a story around
the guy looking into the trunk,
finding his wife tied up and gagged.
Naked, apart from an orange apron from The Home Depot.
and a pair of Martha Stewart rubber gloves.

However. I stick to the apology for being late. For now.
The wife in the boot would take a book to get out of.
Although I'm sure it got you wondering.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Being eight


Having friends around. Sharing a pizza.
Between killing and slaughter.
When I was eight we also warred.
Killing each other. No mercy.
Indian and Cowboys.
I was a proud Apache, my gun was an rifle shaped stick
I'd found in the woods near our house.
If there were girls around we took them hostage
and tied them up to trees and left them there until they managed to wriggle free.
We didn't really hate the girls as much as we said we did.
But who could admit that 8 years old?
I'd fantasize about marrying a pretty squaw and live in a teepee,
next to the little brook,
not too far into the forest.

When my youngest kid, the guy at the far end to the right in the picture,
in a red tee, turned 8 the other week he threw a little bash at home.
There where both boys and girls to my surprise.
But killed each other they did.
Even the girls.
They've got video games so brutal that I wonder how I,
or their mother, could ever allow the kids to play them.
But what can we do? What my kids don't have, others bring with them.
That's life.
And frankly, at the end of the day,
I don't think they are more attached emotionally to the graphic brutally
of those games than we were running around trying to imitate
the sound of guns and shouting "You're dead".

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The other side of a moment of joy


When I was a kid there was a certain
anticipation in the air when the circus or the ambulating
amusement-park rolled in.
Some even had animals.
The came in the evenings.
Snuck into the town.
Parked their caravan of trucks and mobile homes in a park near the main street.

Sometimes we were awake when they came.
Those where nights we couldn't sleep.
Nights when we tried to sneak out.
To catch a glimpse of these mysterious people.
Hoping to hear a lion roar.
Spy on the circus princess.
Dreaming about joining them. Leave home, and go out in the world.
Walking on a tight-rope high above the heads of a mesmerized audience.
Quiet now. Absolutely quiet. Concentration. Adrenaline.

Is it us that have changed?
Grown up.
Or has time changed so much that the mystery
and the joy of a traveling amusement group is no longer?

Does it really tickle our children?
The children of today.
Kids with computer games so advanced that flying to the moon no longer seems that fantastic.
What can a 30 second not so amusing ride do for them?
The only animals being someone's guard-dogs locked into the back-seat of a truck.
And the squirrels, that are there anyway. Circus or not.

Has it just become a sad and desperate grab for quick money and a joyless experience
where nobody really cares if anyone has any fun.
A quick sugar fix without satisfaction.

I remember the melancholy of the last ride when I was a kid.
It was a sweet kind of melancholy.
Everything closing down. People rushing around to pack and take down tents
and then spend one last night before leaving.

They always stayed in their mobile homes.
But we heard laughs from inside.
When they counted their money.
Played cards. Got drunk.
Then someone would come out and piss in the open, against some nearby tree.
And quickly disappear back in again.

The next morning when we woke up they would be gone.
Like they'd never been there.

For a week or two we dreamed about becoming traveling circus artists.
We practiced acts in our back-yards. We tried to juggle bottles and walk on ropes we tied between
the rain gutter and the nearest tree.
Soon we gave up. We forgot.

But sometimes at night we lay in the dark fantasizing about the caravan
of mysterious people, somewhere on the road.
Promising ourselves that next year,
next summer,
then, then we would be ready, and we would become one of them.
Following them out in the world.

Migrating birds


The kids have been up for an hour or two already.
Despite going to sleep later than usual late night.
That's the way it is when having a sleep-over.
There are lots to talk about.
And not only about what the Pokemons are up to.
10 year olds have quite sophisticated relationships.

Kaleb, Louie's best friend, is in town.
He and his family moved to California a year ago.
But his soul didn't move.

Kaleb is still and East coast boy. A Jersey boy.
A guy who refuses to accept the move.
He hasn't bothered to make any new best friends in his school.
He is convinced they'll move back here again in the spring.
But it's the climate that will decide that.
The job climate.

His parents are both from here.
They grew up here and lived here until work took them west.
They didn't want to go, not really,
and resisted settling in,
telling themselves it's just temporary.

"This was my best sleep-over ever",
declared Kaleb when waking up.

It's time for him to pack his bag and head for the airport.

You've got to go where the cheese is.
That's how we survive.
Those of us who know how to fly.