I walked down the long, grayish purple hallway to my apartment, pulled out my keys, and as I was turning the key clockwise, it occurred to me that there were hundreds of people living in this building, each with their own purple doors and living their own lives. We're really packed in- eight inches through that wall is my neighbor in 815, eight inches the other way, and you get 819, and I've never met anyone in either apartment, and only about three people in this building as a whole.
None of this is particularly alarming, but I think it would be a fun idea to have a hall party (a la a block party) where everyone kept their doors open and walked around and met everyone else, and made food, and played music and shared their living spaces.
I would imagine that would cut down the number of silent elevator rides I have with people. 7:11:37 PM
Her name is Issa, his (not pictured) Basho. During the initial days in their new tank, Issa was terribly afraid of the water. I would gently pick her up, feeling her soft moist belly, and place her in the water. She would panic, and scramble out to the nearest log or rock.
One day she began exploring the water herself. It involved dipping her little, three-fingered feet in, then retreating, all performed with what seemed to be fierce concentration. After about an hour of this, she submerged her head for the first time, and peered into the eight inches of water. She withdrew, ventured out onto the floating island, and again gently peered into the water. She looked in for a minute or so, then gave a little push, and drifted down to the bottom, finally accepting her new home. 1:38:34 PM
Earlier today, brisk crackly lightning shook the streets, setting off a symphony of car alarms in every direction. 9:10:32 PM
The highlight of today, August 26th, 2000, was watching my formally hydrophobic newt (Issa) dip his little foot into the water, then his nose, and finally with a push, his whole body as he glided to the bottom and began sniffing around, as his partner (Basho) had been doing all along. It's a happy day in DC.
And thanks for the cookies, mom. 5:02:36 PM
Hello from Washington, DC. Sweaty and tired after carrying in computer, aquariums, and newts. Leaving now for the sanctity of free samples, air conditioning and stocking up on food staples (Fresh Fields). 5:57:54 PM
Crazy. My girlfriend got a letter in the mail today from the producers of The Sopranoes, asking if she would be interested in having her house appear on the show. If I didn't live in New Jersey, I'm not sure the show would have much appeal, but it has such a familiar NJ feel to it, and I'm able to watch the show and say, "Hey, I skateboarded there yesterday!" and other nonsense. 4:12:17 PM
I went to my local hardware store today to buy some plexiglass, and was told to go in the back and ask for Marvin.
Marvin leapt up when I said his name, and I told him I needed some plexiglass, a piece 11" x 7.5" for my aquarium. He walked to the back, and as he began cutting, asked me what it was for. I told him I was going to use it in my aquarium and his eyes lit up. His english was not very good, but his spirit was. He asked me if I had been to Long Beach, CA to see their aquarium. I hadn't, and he went into a story about a large plant in one of the tanks that he thought was a seahorse. But, on further observation (which he demonstrated by hunching over, holding up my piece of plexiglass to his face, and looking through with fierce examination), he realized it was just a plant, but with hundreds of little seahorses swimming around the plant.
He held up his finger an inch apart, and told me, with wide eyes, that the seahorses were that size, and that they looked like little leaves (a word he struggled to remember) on the huge green plant. At this point he conceded that his english wasn't superb, and I admired how eager he was to speak despite that. He was willing to struggle through sentences just to talk with me. When he was done cutting my plexiglass, he had a piece left over, which he gave to me saying, "I like you, take this extra piece, you may need it for something." I thanked him, he clapped me on the back, and went back to sitting down in back.
I paid at the register, and drove home with a $0.75 cent piece of plexiglass and the memory of a spirited man named Marvin. 1:42:50 PM
I walked around the pet store for about half an hour, making no decisions about anything. I love pet stores, and I love watching all the different animals they have. The pet store we were in had an especially large selection, including a small fruit bat and little red crabs.
The crabs were my first choice. Deep red, and tiny enough that you could cup them in your hand, they seemed like a fun, weird pet. But, I didn't get the impression that I could have much interaction with them. I'd maybe drop some food in, or hold it in front of them and hope not to get pinched by a little crab claw. So, I walked over to the terrariums, and saw a beautiful Emperor Newt. After handling one with the help of an employee I was pretty hooked. They were beautiful, rather docile, but seemingly curious, and also way too expensive for me. Near the tank was a book on amphibians, and when I looked up this particular fellow, I read that he was most likely caught wild, and that the pet store demand of these newts was driving them to extinction in their native habitat of India.
It was not something I wanted any part of.
So, it was on to the next pet store, with less selection and less interest to me. Still, I was hopeful as I walked in the door and between towering shelves of dog food. The firebelly newts didn't catch my eye at first, but I looked again after my first glance, and noticed their delicate, soft skin and brilliant yellow undersides. Without too much deliberation, I decided on the two in front, one sitting on the other, underwater, which I assumed was a positive thing.
Earlier today, after they had seemed settled in, I'd gone outside and dug up some tiny worms to feed them (as I'd been told they liked). Dangling the worm in front of the first (more amibitious one), he craned his neck around, looking at the worm from different angles, then looking at me. In my impatience, I sort of hit the newt with the worm, and the newt rather slowly opened its mouth and ate the worm, and I was exhuberant.
The second newt seems less excited. He looked at me, then at the worm, and as I tried to hold the worm near him, the worm tried a daring, life-saving maneuver, twisting out of my fingers, and onto the newt. For a second, the newt had a worm moustache before it shook its head, and the worm fell to the ground. After searching around for awhile, for the worm at its feet, the newt discovered it and gobbled it up.
The only question now is names. My first thoughts were literary characters from Richard Brautigan stories, but naming them Trout Fishing and In America didn't quite flow. Suggestions are welcome. 9:32:07 PM
When I was growing up, I had lots of aquarium pets. First, there were tropical fish. I remember when the first died (a tetra neon), it was a sunday, my grandparents were here, and I cried for a couple hours, even missing Sunday School. Eventually I gave up on tropical fish, they were high-maintenance (for a fish at least) and wouldn't live very long.
Somehow I got a few goldfish after that, and they were great, I fed them twice a day, and they would swim around, make blub-blub sounds, and appear relatively happy. One of them lasted about four years, growing huge, and finally dying after jumping out of the tank (which I didn't notice for a couple of hours).
During this same time, my brother and I had hermit crabs. One was named Hermy, and the other, Blue Dot. Why? In order to tell them apart, my brother had drawn a large blue dot on his. It was an act of animal care at its finest. My mom pretty much took care of them, well, completely took care of them. She'd cut an apple slice and put it in their little tank. They wouldn't move around much, though I always remember hearing them at night when I'd walk downstairs to get food or watch TV. I think they died pretty close to each other.
After that, I was petless for quite awhile, until a trip to New York City. As I was walking down Canal Street on Chinatown, I saw a tiny bucket with an even tinier turtle in it. After a little negotiation, I bought him for five bucks, and carried him home in a plastic bag with water on the bottom. I remember taking the train home to New Jersey with the bag open on my knee, and the little green turtle walking on my leg with his head peering up at me. He was a good, though neglected pet. He would sit in a tank next to me as I entered my computer geek phase. As I would call BBSes and trade software, he would sit in his tank, occasionally swimming around, and even taking food from my finger. He lived for about two years I think until one day I saw him on a rock, noticably shrunken, and not breathing. I wrapped him in a piece of fabric, placed him in a small cardboard box, and buried him in my yard.
Since then, I've been petless. Because I'm coming home each summer from college, a pet would be difficult to take care of, but after recently helping a friend with a goldfish purchase, I think it's time to jump back into pet ownership. My new interest are crustaceans. In a pet store today, I watched a tiny red crab delicately pick algae off of the side of a tank and feed itself, then crawl over to the other side of the tank, and hang out with another crab. Thrilling yes, but also an entertaining pet in a silly sort of way, and one that I could hand feed, but don't have to take for walk around the block at midnight.
Boy, I feel like I'm falling into a really-lame-homepage trap, in talking about pets. Hm. 6:54:27 PM
Corporate property destruction can be a deliberate and well thought out tactic in protest. Democracy now (scroll down a little on the page) has a very interesting show on it. 9:06:09 PM
People skateboarding things that aren't usually skateboarded rocks my world. 12:13:20 PM
The mass media is excellent at printing stories given to them by the police regarding the dangerous activities of protesters. That these stories consistently prove to be false seems to be of little interest to the retraction-shy media. 11:16:19 PM
I'm feeling a little out of touch with what's happening in Los Angeles. I did find one great shot in a quick scan on indymedia. 10:39:01 PM
Karen sent me her zine in the mail today. It is 8 pages long and I read through it in about five minutes. It is also one of the most beautiful zines I've ever had in my hands. She printed them herself, that means you can feel the indentation into the paper that the type makes. That also means that each copy is unique, with its own printing splotches and dimpled colors. To further that uniqueness, she hand numbered them, mine is 127 of 250.
The irony is that the zine is about two things, her attending a zine conference in Bowling Green, Ohio, and secondly, her traveling from that conference (via bicycle) to a Luddite conference. This seems to explain the way the zine was put together, completely free of computer interference, delivered to me in a hand-addressed, thick white greeting card envelope with a nice note written on the back of a show flyer inside.
What I'm saying is, if you have a spare printing press just sitting around, let me know. Secondly, you can get the zine by sending her a couple bucks, to:
artnoose - PMB553
5337 College Ave.
Oakland, CA 94618
She also wrote that an expanded version of what's in the zine will be in the new travel issue of Heckler, a zine I'm grateful to for giving me one of the first positive reviews of my own zine. 10:27:51 PM
Did you ever have sleepovers when you were a kid where, when the parents were determined to be sleeping, you snuck out the back door and spent a couple of hours walking around through quiet neighborhoods and empty streets? I did, and remember an incredible feeling of doing something I wasn't supposed to do, and because of that, loving it.
Tonight, I pulled into the hotel/office building parking lot just after midnight. Across the grass terrace, people were still coming in and out of the hotel as limousines and other large black cars dropped people off.
I parked on the other side, nearer to the office building which was dimly lit and deserted. The air was heavy, and I was sweating almost as soon as I began skating. Two hard pushes went a long way on the smooth black pavement. I remember when I first found out about this place, I would come almost every night and savor the pavement that was free of bumps and cracks and pebbles, unlike any skate spot I'd ever known. Tonight I was just here for a quick fix before heading home to sleep.
Street lamps lit little circles casting yellow on the pavement, but didn't give much light beyond that. One of the far-off lamps shone on the ankle-high waxed curb, the curb that I had waxed the night I first found this place. Since then, it had been power-washed clean several times, but always returned to a shiny black soon afterwards with the help of other skaters.
The two pushes carried me to the curb, a quick knee bend and spring and I was grinding 50-50 on the curb, albeit messily. With an impatient lean, I pivoted off the curb back to the pavement, but in my carelessness I leaned back too far and was quickly on the ground as my board rolled to the other curb, hit it, and sat still.
I jumped back up, it was too early to fall, I hadn't even stretched out my perpetually stiff ankles yet. As I rose, I looked across to the hotel again, its bright lights deeply contrasting the relative darkness I stood in. I watched a couple step out of a car, a porter quickly unloaded their luggage from their trunk and put it on a cart. In past times skating here, I'd seen lines of limousines filled with teenagers dressed to the hilt in their prom outfits. With their rented tuxedoes, or the girl's poofy dresses, I'd feel a sort of cheap superiority over them. They would have their night here, but I'd be here the next night, and the night after that, learning new tricks, falling, bleeding, and pursuing this ridiculous sport as far as I could take it.
Tonight, I just watched, no judgements made, it was remarkable that the hotel was still so busy at this time and just across the way where I stood it was so quiet. A moth fluttering around the street lamp cast large, frantic shadows on the pavement, and I became aware of a quiet buzzing that the lamps made. In the daytime, I wouldn't last ten minutes here, the security guard would come running out just as soon as I set foot on my board, but tonight, and every night, I had this place for myself, and as I checked my elbows for scratches, I again had that feeling from those sleepovers long ago. 11:37:01 PM
I spent my day working on my zine, trying to stay away from computer layout, and use a more organic approach. With a little luck it'll be done in 2 weeks. 1:41:21 PM
As I made popcorn today, an unpopped kernel flew out of the popper, bounced into the bowl, and onto the kitchen counter. As I bent over to pick it up, it popped, and hit me in the face.
Things can't get much more lively around here. 6:10:33 PM
The trip already feels distant. My car remains half unpacked, my bedroom floor littered with trip paraphanalia, but it seems like weeks ago that we were traveling through the country looking at the salt flats in Utah, or the foggy coast in California. 8:26:44 AM
Clean clothes, good food, lots of mail to go through, and when I talked to Char this morning, she said that the trip already seems far away, and it does. 8:53:24 AM
I may be a little biased, but I think Steve is amazing. He's been driving about 250 miles each day despite his developing chronic cough. And even with his tiredness, he makes it to the laptop to give an update on our journey. Send him some love... he'd really appreciate it.
Charlene 8:38:21 PM
We've becoming increasingly frustrated with our food choices at night. Veggie Subway sandwiches for 3 of the last 4 nights, in depressing towns that resemble outdoor strip malls. Fresh vegetarian food is nearly impossible to find, and when a piece of bread with limp vegetables on it is the only meal of the day, things seem pretty hopeless. We walked into the Subway place, which had these horrible fluorescent lights ('cancer lights') that cast a puke green pallor on everything. The guy who made our sandwich seemed so unhappy to be there, and now on television is this show about little girls doing beauty pageants (a la Jon Benet Ramsey), dressing up in disgusting outfits, with lots of makeup and overbearing mothers. I think we might be better just driving tonight instead of sleeping. 8:29:00 PM
We drove through green plains, farmlands, and under the sky that stayed hazy all day. Route 80 is quick through Nebraska, and we pulled into the Motel 6 around 8 PM, after driving about 650 miles. They were all full, so was Sleep Inn, so we went to Holiday Inn Express, where we shelled out the big money and got (among other things): a huge, reclining chair, large tv with 50 channels (as opposed to the 5 channels of Motel 6), large open spaces in the room (good for spreading my smelly clothes all over) and a tiled bathroom floor.
We watched the sun go down as we neared Lincoln, and the plains, which seemed mundane and dull during the day, turned a golden/orange color and swayed in the lazy dusk wind. 9:53:11 PM
In New Jersey, roads are blocked by curves or trees, so you never really see that far ahead. In Utah, they just fade off in the distance. The roads were bordered by hazy lakes and ice-white salt flats. It never really stopped being hazy during our 530 miles today, even when the sky turned a stormy ocean blue and rain fell violently, only to stop minutes later as quickly as it started.
We had our first run-in with the police today. I had said to Char early in the trip that I knew we'd get a speeding ticket somewhere along the way, and I watched with a sickening feeling as a police car pulled out behind us, followed for about two minutes, then turned on its lights. We pulled over, and the cop walked briskly up, and began talking, asking for registration, etc. I observed that his normal speaking voice was a loud yell, and I initially expected to be taken out of the car and frisked, but instead, he went back to the car with my license and all that, then came back five minutes later with a official warning from the State of Wyoming. I was incredibly relieved that it was only a warning, not wanting to pay a $120 ticket, and I hated the feeling of having done something wrong that comes from interaction with cops.
We've been getting up for the last two days, driving the entire day, and staying in Motel 6's. The land has changed dramatically, from the winding green mountains we descended from, to deserts with tumbleweeds and white sands that extended to the blurry horizon. The changes come subtlely, you don't notice where the green stops and the desert begins, but it happens, and the view outside the window from one hour to the next is strikingly different. 8:59:06 PM
Today was the first day of us heading eastward, home. The first part of our trip was on Route 299, a windy mountain road that was some of the worst driving I've encountered. We thought we were saving time by heading directly (more or less) east to hit Route 80 rather than all the way down to San Francisco before heading east. We may in fact have saved time, but not without driving three hours through roads where we rarely hit 40 mph.
There was a brief period of smooth, though rainy driving as we hit Reno, then the winds came, and didn't stop. Winds came that nearly pushed our car off of the highway. Since we were going through the desert, with the rain came the dust and sand. At times visibility was less than one hundred feet, on a highway with a speed limit of 75.
The entire sky was a grayish blue, and I witnessed my first tumbleweeds. At times there were whole herds of them blowing across the road, skipping up and bouncing off of the windshield, it was sometimes funny, sometimes scary. At one point, through the blowing sand, we witnessed some strange roadside art piece that included figures hanging from trees and a makeshift (made from trash?) house sculpture. When you see that for a second then it's gray and empty again, you begin to question what you really see, and how much this ridiculous weather makes you question what's real. 8:21:30 PM