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You might remember (or not) the book(s) I read a while ago by Patrick Leigh Fermor, which inspired the post where I bitched about all the words I had to look up. Well, because I am not only a masochist but forgetful as well, I picked up another Leigh Fermor book: A Time to Keep Silence. This slender little book (which nonetheless contained many words that, once again, required much canoodling with the dictionary) is about the author's sojourns to several different monasteries. His quest, however, is not so much a religious one--he is searching for someplace peaceful and quiet in which to write.

It seemed nearly impossible to read this book on the subway. In fact, I found myself contemplating this question--picture me, your very own Carrie Bradshaw (just as self-absorbed but with considerably less shoes and the sense to avoid anything designed by Pat Fields) sitting in front of her laptop and positing the obvious question, flitting across her faux screen: Can you really read a book about meditation, silence, and solitude on the piss-stinky, loud New York subway?

No, Carrie, you can't. My very first day reading the book on the subway brought to mind the Odd Couple episode where Oscar and Felix go on retreat to a monastery. (Oscar wears his Mets cap along with his brown monk's robe; Felix is, as usual, a general pain in the ass.) Obviously, our erudite friend Mr. Leigh Fermor did not write this book with the intent of stimulating a slacker's memory of much-beloved sitcom.

Leigh Fermor wrote this book in the 1950s; he vividly contrasts the noise and bustle of his Parisian life with his stay in several French monasteries. He is a culture junkie going through the pain of withdrawal: He is depressed, cannot sleep, is profoundly lonely and feels a sense of "impending death." But this is merely a part of the transition to the life of solitude and contemplation; soon "the troubled waters of the mind grow still and clear, and much that is hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the surface and can be skimmed away....This is so different from any normal experience, that it makes the stranger suspect that he has been the beneficiary (in spite, or in the teeth, of recalcitrance or scepticism or plain incapacity for belief) of a supernatural windfall or an unconsciously appropriated share in the spiritual activity that is always at work in monasteries."

Fifty odd years later, the noise of civilization is even more prevalent (and ugly). Civilization ain't very civilized anymore. Can I even remember the last time I heard perfect quiet? Or anything close to it?(Night time in Venice, the only sound the gondolas beating against their docks...) Is it any wonder it's so difficult to write--not just for me, I believe, but for others as well? And really, couldn't everyone just benefit from a little peace, quiet and contemplation--with the occasional Gregorian chant--on a regular basis?:

The antiphonal singing from the stalls continued to build its invisible architecture of music: a scaffolding that sent columns of plain-song soaring upwards, to be completed by an anthem from the choir that roofed it like a canopy. The anthem was followed by a long stillness which seemed to be scooped out of the very heart of sound. After long minutes, a small bell rang and then the great bell from the tower which told of the rites that were being celebrated and the mysterious events taking place; and the heads of the monks fell as if one blow had scythed them away....The Mass sang itself out, the kiss of peace passed like a whispered message down the stalls, the officiating court dispersed, and the vestments were removed. A monk extinguished the candles, the hoods went up, the Abbot intoned the opening verse of Sext and, still on the same note, the response came booming back....

qotd, votd

Jun. 28th, 2006 09:55 am
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"If you strangle a Smurf, what color would it be?"

~ Man's t-shirt, A train this morning

Homicidal minds want to know.

But in the meanwhile: Use the farm, Luke!

And just a reminder: Bad Girls Go To Hell! (Okay, I was getting nostalgic and looking for BG clips of Helen & Nikki, and stumbled upon this.)
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I am always surprised at the number of people on the subway ask me what time it is, even when my watch is not visible. I guess an old friend of mine was right when she said to me, so many years ago: "There are two types of people in the world--those who wear watches, and those who don't." I must look like a watch-wearer.

Secondly (not really a word, but I like its self-important lard-assness): I have been tagged to indulge in this meme: Ground Rules: The first player of this "game" starts with the topic "5 Guilty Pleasures" and people who get tagged need to write an LJ entry about their 5 Guilty Pleasures as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged and list their names.

These are a few of my embarassing things... )

Thirrrrrdly: craigslist is useful, and craigslist is scary. For once on these things--in print versions, you used to see them all the time on the back of The Village Voice--I'd like to read one like this: "Cranky dyke on C train this morning...wearing gas station jacket...u smiled at me when I asked u what time. did u feel it liek i did?"

go yeti

Jan. 27th, 2005 10:37 am
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I have become frighteningly, disturbingly obsessed with playing this. Over. And. Over. Again. The furthest that I've hit the penguin is 320 feet (or meters, whatever the measurement is). I'm not entirely sure where the appeal lies: the mindless repetition, the baseball angle, the "I like to hit things; do I need anger management?" issue, or the fact that the yeti is a big lefty (sing it to the tune of "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" by the Ramones).

I may need anger management therapy if the subway system continues to be screwed up. Now the MTA is backing away from its original story that a homeless man caused the fire that caused all the damage to the A/C transit hub over the weekend. Instead of blaming the homeless they should be blaming the assholes with the multimillion dollar salaries who run the system. (Where, exactly, does all the MTA's money go? Not into revamping, protecting, or even maintaining its antiquated systems, that's for sure.)
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U2 gives a free concert near my home turf...and where am I? At fucking work. Later in the day one of my coworkers reported seeing the flatbed carrying Bono et al. cruising down Broadway. She didn't know who they were, and had to ask the hipster dude standing next to her at the stoplight who the hell were the weirdos in the truck.

The Columbus Circle subway station has always been quite the hub of activity with regard to literal spamming: There is always someone there passing out flyers about something. For a long time, the underground area that I walk through was dominated by Jews for Jesus. Now the Falun Gong appear to have taken their spot. I keep imagining brilliantly choreographed turf wars a la West Side Story. Could a love story be far behind? "Falun Gong...I just met a chick from Falun Gong...and suddenly that name...will never be the same..."
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Why is it I feel a lump of dread in my stomach at the thought of Spike Lee making a movie with lesbian characters? (As much as I love the title he's chosen. But is he trying to say with that title that all lesbians hate men?) Perhaps it's the premise of the film as much as anything? Perhaps I'm afraid that, like most straight male directors when the subject is lesbianism, he won't be able to think outside the box? That it'll turn into another trite male fantasy--i.e., one of the film's dykes will fall in love with the virile main character?

Unlike the Republicans with Fahrenheit 9/11, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. I haven't seen any of Spike's recent films...The Summer of Sam was so godawful I haven't been able to bring myself to see anything he's done since then.

On the subway this morning there was a crazy person. Not unusual, but she was one of those crazy persons who kind of looks like a normal person until they start muttering aloud on the train--which is what this chick did. I couldn't hear exactly what she was saying because I was hooked up to the ipod; I just saw her lips moving silently as Radiohead bleated ambiently in my ears, all as if in a dream.

When she got a seat on the subway she took out a brush and started obsessively combing her hair; instead of lustrous smoothness it brought about static chaos. As she shuffled off the train at her stop and walked along the nearly empty and desolately white platform, I noticed one pantleg was higher than the other and I wondered if she had a job, I wondered where she was going.

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