[11 Sept 2021| Bologna > 20 years since 9/11... we'd post our journals from this time period, but we're still in April—June of 2000, when we moved from Tucson to NYC, so here's that—]
April 5, 2000 – (Menlo Park)
Tagged along with [our Bedder-½] up to the Bay Area for a 3-day weekend. Flew into San Jose and [B] picked us up. Plane was late and for some reason there was tons of people traveling. Phoenix was a madhouse of people on cell phones. We stayed the first night at B’s in Cupertino. Stayed up til like 2 a.m. talking to her and then had to wake up 6 a.m. to get Bedder-½ to her meetings. They dropped me off at Granini’s. I would’ve gone with them to the city but I felt sort of obligated to wait for [D] or whoever, but ends up no one was around except for Granini. I helped her make a turkey dinner just because if I didn’t it would’ve been disastrous. As it was, I had the turkey cooking a 250 and was watching the basketball game when I smelled something burning and went in there and she had cranked it up to Broil with the door shut. A waff of smoke came out and triggered the fire alarms . . . it was crazy. She is really getting to the point where she can’t take care of herself. Mom showed up late morning and we went out to lunch at the Fish Market. It wasn’t so bad, she was somewhat tolerable. Hung out all afternoon watching basketball and helping cook. Around 6 everyone showed up at the same time. . . [A], and then [L’s] parents, and then D, then uncle [D], and then Bedder-½ and her sister. I was spread thing between talking to people and trying to finish the dinner. Had dinner out by the pool. Same old story. Except the absence of Kevin was evident, everything a constant reminder. U was fresh back from Burma and fresh back from having all his teeth pulled. So he had A bring him some grass to quench the pain, or just because he could because he’s not really a pilot anymore because he divorced [D] (even though he is dating her) and he is on Prozac. What’s new. [K] called and met some wonderful guy and is already inviting him to [E’s] exclusive wedding (which were not even invited to) and it created an uproar. . . what’s new, who cares.
Next morning I got up early to drop Bedder-½ off at the train. I went back and was subjected to breakfast with L and her freaky parents. It was nerve-wracking. [...] Hung out with them back at the house, but then I couldn’t take it anymore so I took the train up to the city to meet Bedder-½ at the SFMOMA. We walked around the city and ended up in Chinatown, called [T] and she met us near Union Square and took us to eat at some Crepe place in the lower Haight. Then we just walked around more and got coffee in North Beach and walked back in time to catch the last train.
Monday Bedder-½ decided to skip her meetings so we hung out and had breakfast with D and walked around downtown Palo Alto. Haunted by my old haunts. D had to go to work. We went to show Bedder-½ the Stanford campus and went up in the Hoover tower. Hung out and ate jellybeans and got Burmese food, and then went to the airport to fly back. Now we’re in full bore go to NY mode. Got an ad for the car and a yard sale this weekend. Get rid of everything and get a job and an apartment. And continue to work and try to write at the same time?
April 10 – Tucson
I should get a hold of the eight-fold path and see if I can apply them to moving to NY. We’ve passed through phase 1 – we had a yard sale and got rid of all unwanted possessions. We had a yard sale now because we figured we’d have to have another one in May, but everything pretty much went in the first hour. It was insane. We woke up before 5 a.m. and we’re putting stuff out in the dark. People were showing up at 6 a.m. even though we put the ad for 8 a.m. Even with [M] helping us, we couldn’t keep up with all the people throwing money at us. For all we know people were walking off with stuff without paying. People were wandering in the house, taking paintings off our walls, pillaging our house, even though we said there was only a computer inside. People were fighting over shit. A dark side of humanity comes out at yard sales, but we also met some interesting characters. We met many of our neighbors, which it is too bad we never met before. We met Helen Bayly and Bruce Bayly and the whole interrelated commune of people that live scattered in various houses around the neighborhood. Helen is an old Australian Chemistry professor, pretty intense and pretty crazy. All her kids were artists or scientists or had climbed Mt. Everest . . . Bruce is her son that lives around the corner, eclectic math professor that drives the graffitied suburban, sings in the acapelo band with Harold, etc. We’ve kind of seen these characters around and tried to guess their relationships, but now it was all revealed. And yes, that is Bruce’s ex-wife that lives two doors down, his father lives in another house. We met some 19-year old married to some 50-yr old guy, massage therapists, used to live in Bruce’s house and said it was sort of a free-love type atmosphere, people coming and going. Met another neighbor D Ray who claimed to be a famous writer, and sure enough, he brought some books by and he was indeed, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t an asshole, he didn’t have his dog on a leash and it beat the shit out of Greg’s dog. D Ray bought a lot of stuff, but then he called me periodically throughout the sale when we were busy and complained about everything. People just love to go to yard sales and talk, mostly about themselves. Some people would preach in a monologue. And then of course we were having the same conversation over and over—“why the hell would you want to move to New York?” More horror stories about finding apartments in NY. Met this biker couple on a souped out three-wheeler with human skulls on it. Met the old Russian man that lives up the street and walks everywhere in his suit even if it is 110 degrees out.
My computer was the only hard sell, (besides of course, my bike and Jetta which haven’t sold yet). Finally sold the computer to two Tucson high kids that were really cool, so I’m glad they got it. After they took it, I realized I forgot to wipe out my mail settings, so if she had tried to use it she would have downloaded all my mail. I didn’t have her phone number, but they used our phone a bunch of times, so I pressed redial and got some lady that didn’t even speak English that had no kids that fit the description, but possibly a nephew, I left a message and Vanessa called me back. No need to worry about my mail because she had tried to reformat her computer and screwed it all up. So I had to help her with that.
This other couple came by and bought half our furniture but didn’t have a truck so they stored it in our living room. He was a big football player that when he found out I was a technical writer, he immediately took me aside and said he had to talk to me in private, so we went inside and he got all serious, started in on this spiel about how he was the top athlete in the country, he was a football player, could’ve gone pro, contracts with such and such, and from what I understood from his raving spiel, he somehow got a hold of this data about some NCAA cover up or huge scam and wanted to expose this all to Sports Illustrated and the press, millions and millions of dollars cheated from students, I don’t know what he was talking about really, but he wanted me to write a software program that would do this for him. Meanwhile people are wandering in and out of our house, grabbing everything. It was a mad house. At noon when we had a breather, when the dust settle, we emptied the wads of bills in our pockets and we had almost $2000 dollars. Ka-ching. We rid ourselves of all our possessions and got cash to rid us of debt . . . what’s the catch? Why doesn’t everybody do this? It was liberating to gut out or house. We are living in the empty shell. We have so much space that you can kind of just spread out in a corner. We threw our futon on the floor in the middle of the living room. The empty space is just so much nicer than furniture and clutter.
Sunday there wasn’t much left to sell, but we did pretty much sell everything ... except transportation devices, the bike and the car. The rest we hauled to the goodwill, so now everything is gone except the bare essential that we are bring to NYC. The only piece of furniture is the futon mattress on the floor and Bedder-½’s little nightstand and the African coffee table (just because it’s so cool). Not that we still don’t have our fair share of clutter, but we’ve accomplished phase one.
We also met this older Sri Lanka couple, Quintus and Wimala Fernando that live kitty-corner from us. They were totally cool. They had a cool house with all sorts of Buddhist statues and two basset hounds. Quintus is a chemistry professor at U of A, going on his 50th year! So who knows how old they were. They had quite a few stories to tell. They invited us over for a Sri Lankan dinner so that should be interesting. Now back to my doldrum job. I’m just glad there’s hope in sight.
April 12 – Tucson
Did I mention that I got a new computer? A Toshiba laptop that I am writing on right now. Transferred all my files over to here. Got a Zip drive too. As if it will ever make me a better writer. I don’t know why I even have a computer. It’s just a crutch. I just threw out all my rejection letters. I counted 90. That was of the preformatted standard variety. You think I would get the hint. [haha, 20+ years later + we still haven't gotten the hint] No one has ever said anything positive about my writing. What the fuck am I thinking? Why am I wasting my time? What the fuck am I doing with my life? Even Bedder-½ said, what does 90 rejection letters tell you? Maybe you should take a writing class, she says. A writing class. As if that will help. That’s like taking a class to learn to walk. I am trying to go through all my crap. Why bother. I should just throw everything out and start from scratch. Everything in my life up to this point has been worthless. And now I am sapped and there is nothing left. I am just a lifeless blob with no creativity left. I am a fucking zombie who goes to this fucking boring job, a glorified secretary. A word processor. Vesterdahl says write this boring manual and I write it. It’s like polishing a piece of shit. I just try to do the right thing and when I die I’m going to look back on it and say what a fucking waste of time. There is so many better things that I could be doing. But I suppose I am just feeling sorry for myself right now.
April 15 – Tucson
I have this whole weekend to myself. Just me and the new laptop. I supposed I should give her a name. Toshiba. That’s kind of feminine. It feels soft. Toshiba Satellite. “Orb”. That works. I hereby dub thee Orb.
Haven’t been working out to consistently. I hurt my right shoulder back when Scott was here. And I kept re-injuring by lifting. So I’ve laid off of it pretty much for a month or so. Yesterday I did some chest and it hurts a little, and I think it also resulted in a pinch nerve because my arm has been number (isn’t that weird more numb = number?) and tingly off and on for the past couple of weeks. It went away but now it’s back. I’m sure typing doesn’t help. The new stationary bikes have heart monitor grips. So I did some experiments with myself. I did the hill course, one-minute intervals. My heart rate would fluctuate from 125-165 in the intervals. That’s a swing of 40 beats per/minute in one minute. I did the “fit test” on the bike on level 20 (highest level), five minutes all out. My heart rate pegged out at 176 and pretty much stayed there. The result was “78—Elite”. Kind of vague, but obviously I’m not in bad shape. When I got home from running back, my heart rate was 120 when I stepped in the door. After five minutes it was 100. After 10 minutes it was 86. before I took the first sip of coffee this morning it was 64. It was lower than that when I was running more. I think it’s time to switch to running.
It’s getting hot and it’s been windy a lot. Yesterday was really windy and my allergies were worse than ever. Now it’s a quiet Saturday and I am going to write all day and wait for people to call about the Jetta. I got Otto all spiffed up because the college girls are starting to call because we put an ad in the Wildcat. Some girl came by yesterday and she’s coming back today to take him to a mechanic so I guess that’s a good sign.
The woodpeckers is jackhammering on the stovepipe.
April 23 – Tucson
Easter Sunday, sitting out here in the patio in the sun. Far cry from last year on this day when it was snowing in Tucson. Working on Valparaiso [not sure what this is or became], just going through it, having doubts but still plugging through and getting the content down. I guess I am questioning the actual writing more than anything. That’s the problem with sketching something out, just writing down the content thinking you’ll go back and polish it up. You go back to read it and make minor adjustments, but it usually ends up how you put it down in the first place. Which could be good or bad. The first instinct is usually the right one, and it’s probably the most readable. I don’t know, I think I will just get a fairly good draft down and then let it age and take it back up again in New York with a different perspective as a backdrop.
Getting more and more ready for NY. We’re going next week to look for apartments and I have at least 6 interviews lined up. I don’t feel too stressed out about it because I always have Acentre to fall back on, working remotely. I don’t just want to settle for any job. I would like something interesting that I would want to stick with for at least 2 years. I’m sick of having to find work and go through this whole process.
Looks like there’s a good chance that [L] will want us to drive her Suzuki Vitara to DC for her, via NY of course. That would take the worry off finding a way to get there anyway. Shit this battery is getting too hot, maybe I shouldn’t be using this computer in the sun like this. Okay, back inside. In the empty house. Sitting on the floor. I’m totally into it, except it is not good for the back. And the lack of TV is nice. We’ve walked to the movies a few times, walked to go eat. Doing a lot of walking, prepping for NY. My shoulder still hurts so I am definitely switching to a 100% running/biking regiment and no weights, except maybe legs. I’ve been biking to work on the old dog I used to have, did I mention I sold the Bianchi? Did I mention I sold the Jetta? Sold everything. No more worrying about that. Greg found a buyer for my bike after I gave it to him to take to a bike swap in Phoenix. Only got $225 for it, which is half of what I paid. Oh well. The car . . . . I had college girls starting to call about it, one girl actually came back and brought her boyfriend, and took the car to a mechanic. She was being very scrutinizing and pretty much took up a day of my time, then said she was going to look around more even though I came down to $10,500. So then this woman named Lisa came over from the east side. . . she had a six-month old baby and just got divorced. She drove the car around the block, said she loved it and asked when do you want to meet at the bank tomorrow. So that was easy and done, even though I only got $10,500 for it which I guess is okay. It made me feel a little better that it was going to someone who needed it and not some bimbo sorority girl. And it was a good thing as the ad is now running in the AutoTrader with a picture and everything, and I haven’t got any phone calls.
So we got a sizeable chunk of money, and that combined with the 2K from the yard sale has beefed our balance to something like 3K after paying off all credit cards and paying our last months rent. Not great, but it beats going to Savannah or Portsmouth with 10 or 15K of debt!
I’m reading The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara right now. They’re okay, and if wasn’t for the fact that he took the same route as I did when I went to South America, then I probably wouldn’t be reading it. What else have I been reading . . . read some D Ray, the guy that bought my powerbook and our TV and whose dog attacked Greg’s dog. What an asshole, and then I found out that he is such an accomplished poet, has translated works from Sanskrit and spent years in India, and is the founder of New Letters journal [tho googling now we find nothing on him] which I have recently submitted work to. Too bad I told him to piss off after the third or fourth nagging phone call, when he called about shit not working that I gave to him for basically free. Oh well, I know I should suck up to people like that if I want to get anywhere in life, but I don’t know. It’s like the headhunter that was asking me all these questions like what do you most want to be doing in three years and I said I wanted to be a fiction writer and living off my books or screenplays (admitting that this was far-fetched) and he made some wise-crack like “well some words of advice, don’t be saying that to prospective clients”. I wanted to tell him to fuck off then and there but I didn’t. But I haven’t returned his calls either. If that’s the way it has to be then I don’t want it.
May 10, 2000 – New York, NY
This is a re-write as my Toshiba crashed. What a journal entry to miss. I don't know if I will be able to write it off memory. I know I backed up my hard drive right before we went to NY, so I will start there. Went to NY to find a place and a job. We flew out the first week in May, flew into Newark and stayed at the Habitat hotel. I think that first Sunday we just walked around talking to doormen and trying to figure out the apartment scene. We also looked at the Sunday times, but almost all of the ads referred to a broker. Even if they said "No Fee" there was always a fee. We honed in on Murray Hill and Gramercy Park initially. We saw some crappy place in Alphabet city that was a basis for as low as you can go ($900). It was small and sketchy. It's hard to write this in retrospect as I am now sitting in our comfortable apartment. But we were desperate. We did the broker thing a few times. We found one place right off of Gramercy park that was really cool (although very small) and was $1800. It was an open house and a broker was there to take our application. The broker thing is quite the racket. All they do is sit there at an open house, you show up and fill out the application and they get 15 percent of your rent for a year. Or if they do actually do their job and show you something, they will show you the crappiest places, so by the time you see something not-as-crappy you are so desperate that you take it. We wanted to avoid this broker fee, but it didn't appear that we had a choice, so we were willing to get this place on Gramercy Park for a pretty price. We had everything in order -- letters of reference, letters verifying employment, credit report, tax returns, etc. And they still wanted more. We were getting harassed by this woman for all sorts of fees, application fees, and then they wanted all these other fees on top of everything. Then she said we needed to leave three months deposit, like $5400. We may have even agreed to this, I don't know, then she wanted us to go in front of a board to get approved and we weren't going to find out for weeks, and finally I just told her to piss off. Meanwhile I'm having job interviews. Suiting up and walking or taking the subway to Mid-town, downtown, all over the place. I had six interviews in three days (I think), in between apartment hunting. First was with a company called iXL, a very hip facility with hip people. What they did was more interesting than the other interviews. I don't know, looking back, they were all boring financial/business tech writing positions. Once again, not to give up the punch line, but it is hard to write about any of these as I didn't accept any of them. I suppose I must have been somewhat excited about the interviews otherwise I wouldn't have gone. Or maybe I thought I had no choice? More likely the latter. iXL . . . met with a young guy, he told me all about what they did, but didn't ask me any questions which was bothersome. It was almost like they had already filled the position or had no intention of filling it but were just going through the motions.
I also interviewed with Opus 360 (I'm not even sure of the order of these anymore). It was in the big black building overlooking battery park in the financial district. The environment was somewhat sterile and the application was boring. It sounded like sitting in a lot of bureaucratic meetings and working long hours and weekends. Blah. Interviewed with Double-click. Once again, a very hip facility, almost too hip, basketball court on the roof, game rooms, in-house coffee shops . . . I even walked by one office where somebody was getting a massage! It was trippy. But the more I was learning about what they did, the more I was realizing I would have ethical concerns about working there. They make banner ads that target users based on demographic and usage profiles. Kind of cool in the sense that people will only have to see ads that they are interested in seeing, but kind of scary in the sense that they know all sorts of information about you, kind of big-brotherish. I guess it goes on all around us anyway, but would you feel good about yourself at the end of the day doing this?
Where else? Information Builders, a "family-run" software business, not public, very traditional and bureaucratic, seemed like a bunch of old ladies working there. They were very interested in me, and it would've been easy work in terms of hours and demands. But very boring (kind of reminded me of my stint with IBM). Then I had an interview with this company called Professo. I wasn't looking forward to the interview as it seemed like another boring business ap. I wasn't even wearing a tie. The address was One Wall Street Court, ends up it was in the old Cocoa Exchange building . . . a building that was so cool that the last time we were in NY we took pictures of it. And the people in the interview were really cool. They were more varied then the other companies, people from all over Europe and the world, Italians, French, Indian, South American, very multi-cultural as opposed to the other dot.coms that were predominantly white male hipster yuppies in their thirties. I was most psyched about that interview.
Back to the housing thing. This is all going on simultaneously. Meanwhile we are in our cramped quarters of the Habitat Hotel (aptly named, like a habitrail for hamsters) getting a good dose of New York, and my allergies getting a good dose of the New York pollution and heat. We weren't sleeping well. Finally Bedder-½ got a lead from the NYU housing (after NYU medical was of no help) and she found a sublet I think that was in the twenties no too far from NYU. She was getting so flustered and our perspective had been warped that we were willing to do this illegal sublet thing. No deposit and it was partially furnished. And it was only $1350, never mind that it was a complete pit, disgusting dump above a comedy club. We thought this was how it would have to be. [G] was with us and saw it and told us that we should take it, that we were lucky, that we shouldn't pass it up. Everyone was telling us to jump on it. So we told this fat woman Jill that we would take it. Bedder-½ got along with her, but I was a little leery. It seemed to me that Bedder-½ had found a warm fuzzy place in this illegal sublet that was a relief from the prospects of continuing to look (she was doing most of the hunting as I was busy interviewing). We needed something and it was getting towards the end of the week. I think it was Wednesday that we went by to sign the lease and all that. G was with us. We got to talking more and I wasn't having a good feeling about the whole thing but kind of felt like we had no choice. Luckily, Jill had forgotten to bring the lease by. Bedder-½ was about to pay her anyway and I kind of looked at her like what the fuck are you doing? and said-- "let's just hold off on signing those travelers cheques" until we have the lease in hand. Oh god, looking back it makes me almost sick to think how close we were to signing over $1350. But Jill did give us the keys, and we were sure enough that we went out and bought a bunch of paint and stuff to fix the apartment. I guess we were being optimistic, like it was a shithole but we could make do and fix it up . . . guess I should mention that early in the week, Bedder-½ met an Argentinean broker named Andrea that was really cool. She took Bedder-½ to quite a few places in the Gramercy area. But she was a broker, and it did involve paying the fee and deposit and being approved and all that.
The next day we went back to the shithole to paint it. Jill wasn't there yet. We kind of had a reality check. We were looking in the drawers and there was all sorts of crap in them. We called Jill to ask her about it and she said she was moving and would have the stuff out, but we would have to "bear with her". She also said she might come by sometimes because thought she was moving, she still needed to come back on occassion and that she needed a NY address for her work and we'd need to check her mail. And when we said "you didn't mention this before," she back-pedaled and was like no, no I wouldn't need to stay there, but might need to come by to get some things and the mail would only be occassionally. Guess she expected us to be like "oh, no problem, you can stay with us when you're in town, go ahead and use the place to store your shit and we'll gladly be your mail delivery people" but we weren't into this one bit.
The more we looked around, the more crap we found. Plastic alligators glued to the ceiling in the bathroom, personal letters stuffed in all the drawers, piles of tile, where did we draw the line between what we could dispose of and what was furniture? Where would we put our stuff, mixed in with hers? I guess we sort of panicked and high-tailed it out of there thinking that we should take advantage of the fact that we were supposed to meet Jill until later, to make one last ditch effort at finding a place. So we called up Andrea our trusty broker. All the places we looked at in Gramercy were taken. Then she called us back and she did have this one place a few blocks from Jill's place. So we went and looked at it. It was infinitely better and it was $1800. It was getting to be 4:00 and we were supposed to meet Jill to sign the lease. We had to make a decision. So we said we would take it. I went back to break the news to Jill and giver the keys back. If I had any idea she would react this way, I would've thrown the keys in the trash. I went up the crappy littered mustardy yellow stairs to the apartment with cutesy stickers all over the door. Jill was there. She was on the phone. I started to collect up the tarp that I had laid out to paint. When she got off the phone I told her that we were backing out. That started this spasm that she had that went on for I don't know how long, maybe fifteen minutes. It built up to this crescendo, starting slowly, she was not initially surprised like she was expecting it. Then she got madder and madder and redder and redder in the face, and gobules of foam started collecting at the corners of her mouth. I have never seen a human in such a rage. I can't even repeat what she was saying, stuff like-- "this is unethical! I can't believe this! So what you're saying is that is that bitch G hadn't of said anything you would've taken the place?! (I blamed it on G, that she had warned us against illegal sublets). I gave you my keys!! Do you know what it means for someone to give someone their keys in Manhattan!!?? I should be compensated for this!!!' and on and on. I tried to reason with her, how she said the place would be ours, that we didn't expect she would be coming back and forth and leaving her shit here, but I couldn't get a word in edgewise. I just went into this zone and just stared at her objectively, like watching a wild animal in a zoo. I was a little concerned that she was so hysterical if she had a weapon she might have used it. I kept telling her that this was pointless to yell about it because I was walking out the door and this was a illegal sublet in the first place and that she still had all her crap there, not what we agreed upon, her still using the apartment on occassion. And then it came out that her lease was up in August (she only brought this up now thinking about her situation), so then I was like "so now you're telling us we would've been kicked out in 3 months anyway?" and again she back-petaled, saying she was sure the landlord would be willing to renew the lease, but would he once he found out she was subletting illegally? She was completely freaking out. I just waited for the rage to subside. She demanded compensation, and I offered to leave the paints, but she wanted more than that. In the process of preparing the bathroom to paint, I had gotten as far as taking the stupid plastic alligator off the ball and scraping off the glittery stars and heart stickers. And Bedder-½ had cleaned some stuff in the kitchen. She wanted this stuff back. So I took the alligator and threw it in the bathtub. She got on the phone to her boyfriend and that's when I wadded up the plastic, put the keys on the table (they were in my hands the whole time she was screaming) and hightailed it out of there. I literally ran. I was experiencing flight or fight. I was really thirsty, but I wasn't about to stop. I was carrying three cans of paint and the wadded up tarp. I ran down the stairs and up to third avenue looking over my shoulder. When I got a few blocks away, I stopped to throw the tarp out. I made it Metropolis, and walked into the meeting room where Bedder-½ was freaking out — "something has come up..." Ends up we would have to pay three month deposit. After my encounter with the fat psychotic slumlord this sounded totally reasonable. The people at Metropolis are like — "what's the paint for?"
"Oh, it's a long story." So we signed our lives away, agreed to the deposit, agreed to pay for credit checks, agreed to pay the broker fee, signed our name fifteen times, and even then, Andrea wasn't confident that we would get the place. It was Thursday evening. We had to have something by Friday. Needless to say, we didn't sleep much on Thursday night. Bedder-½ was crying, ready to give up New York altogether. My allergies were terrible. We were in this small noisy hotel room, thinking — "what the hell were we thinking?" We were ready to throw in the towel. But I convinced Bedder-½ to just give it one more day, and if we didn't get the place and nothing else came up, then it wasn't meant to be. Meanwhile I had been made two or three job offers, right away, information builders offered me $70K, and Opus 360 offered me $75K. But I was stalling until I heard from Professo. Friday morning I got a call from them saying that they wanted to talk to me some more. We agreed to meet at 2:00. Then we got a call from Andrea saying that things for the apartment didn't look promising, but that she had another place on the upper east side. We had not planned on living that far north, but what the hell. Bedder-½ and I went early to check out the neighborhood. It's weird how things work out. We realized that this was more of what we wanted. Sure it was further away from everything, but it was also quieter and near Central Park and also near the running trails along the river and Carl Shurz park and Gracie Mansion where the mayor lived [we cringe now to think Giuliani was the mayor!]. A lot more livable then living mid-town, more stores and delis and restaurants. So when we saw that the apartment was much better than anything we had seen, a large one bedroom with wood floors, a large (NY standards) kitchen and bathroom, very clean and functional, top floor, and it was rent-controlled so it was only $1546 we took it on the spot. Now we just had to make sure we got it. We filled out the aps and Bedder-½ and Andrea rushed it down to the management company so it would be the first one. Meanwhile I went to my second interview with Professo and talked to the CEO Patrice. He made me a verbal offer of $65K with stock options, with the written offer in the mail. This was good enough for me. I called Bedder-½ (luckily we had Margo's cell phone this whole time which made life easier), and met her and Andrea and a Mexican Restaurant near Wall Street called the Serape Magico or something like that. We had beer and burritos and celebrated. It was Cinco de Mayo and the waiter brought us Tequila shots on the house. It was a good closure to a hectic week.
The next day we actually relaxed and took the circle-line tour around the island. My allergies were worse than they had ever been in my life. Kind of scary. My eyes were watery and swollen and so full of sleep that I could barely open my eyes. I was sneezing like crazy, my nose was running like a faucet. It was bleeding. It was terrible. By Saturday it was getting hotter. But the circle line cruise was a nice relief. Went down the Hudson, saw Ellis Island and the statue of liberty, around battery park and the financial district, all from the perspective of the water. Up the East River, under dozens of bridges, past midtown, past Carl Schurz park, past Harlem on the left, the Bronx and Yankee stadium on the right. All the way around the north end, under Geo Washington bridge, the palisades of New Jersey on the right, Grant's tomb on the left. We were standing in the bow thinking this would all be ours. It was cool circumnavigatorial introduction to NY.
The next morning was sweltering hot and humid. We walked and groped through Central Park. Got the plane back from La Guardia. Tucson felt boring after that. A nice relief that quickly lost its charm.
our 1st NYC apt bldg on 438 E 89th st
May 15, 2000 – Tucson
Last weekend in Tucson. Saturday we worked out and then walked down to 4th avenue. Had lunch at Delectables and then went to O’malleys. Bedder-½ went and got pampered at the saloon – pedicure, manicure, facial wax . . . the works. Even got her toenails painted. Walked back home and M picked us up and we went to Gavi’s, which wasn’t half bad for Italian food in Tucson. Met Estella and Morgan there.
Sunday we woke up and packed a few boxes to send in the mail just in case everything doesn’t fit in the car. Cleaned up the yard. We’re good to go. System countdown, five days and counting. Worked out, went to [J K]'s. Yep, J is back in town from Hawaii. Bedder-½ was walking by a week or so ago and noticed his truck. We went over there, he’s living in the back section where we used to live. Kind of weird. Last time I was in there was before and after Kevin died, before we moved to Georgia, so it brought back some weird memories. Compounded with J’s weirdness to begin with. All over the walls are his cheesy hard-body guy posters, his screen saver on his computer is a guy sucking a big black dick . . . everywhere you look is penises. J is obsessed with them. We got to talking about how he wants to make a porn site demonstrating how you can use basic supplies obtained from any hardware store to convert your vacuum cleaner into a dick-sucking masturbation device. He calls this his “research”. He has also “researched” foreskin restoration, touting the benefits of having foreskin... he hasn’t surgically replaced his but he “plays” with and attaches weights to it, so that the skin has folded over so it is almost like foreskin. Whatever, people have weird habits, but he was also telling us how he has unprotected sex without telling guys he’s HIV positive. That’s not cool. That’s attempted murder. As amusing as he is, he is a hard person to like. He’s also into this testosterone thing, he looks like he is in great shape, he is totally cut and muscular, and he says he doesn’t workout or exercise (besides his construction and yard work), he credits it to testosterone and passive flexing of his muscles. But he looks so fake. And there's all drugs for his HIV, he smokes a shitload of pot (and who knows what else), eats shitty food, is medicated like hell for his depression, and is almost fifty. Pisses me off that I try hard to stay in shape and with someone like him it comes so naturally (albeit artifically). Not that I would want to be like that, especially as mentally screwed up as he is. He has this little dog Kahuna that is cute as shit, like half-chihuahua, half-Jack Russel Terrier. We lounged around the pool playing with Kahuna (which was nice) and listened to J talk about himself.
Then we went home to meet up with Wilama and Quintas—our neighbors across the way. Talk about a contrast from J K. People come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. But when it comes down to it, most people love to talk about themselves. Wilama and Quintas are nice and interesting and have many stories to tell, but it was like watching a tennis match back and forth between them. Wilama went overboard and cooked us a traditional Sri Lankan meal, like eight courses with desert. Amazing food. Better than any restaurant in Tucson. And it’s pretty amazing all that they have been through, and the experiences they have had all around the world, Quintas even taught at the Autonoma in Guadalara for a summer and got an honorary PhD for it. And he’s a world-class philatelist, photographer, is well-read and seems like he has been to almost every country in the world. But once again, it’s like listening to a lecture, or watching a movie in that it’s not a “relationship” in that there is only one-way interaction, them talking and not asking us anything about us. Now I am in the office, all the Steve’s are gone to Puerto Rico, I have to build yet another desk (this will be the fourth), but I don’t care, it’s a nice break from tech writing.
our Bedder-½ ,½-way across America after getting their PhD
May 30 – NYC via San Antonio, New Orleans, Pensacola, South Carolina & Pennsylvania
We've settled into our apartment in NYC and I'm sitting on the floor writing on the old Mac. Don't know where to start. I may have lost my last month or so of journal entries as my new Toshiba laptop crashed and I don't know yet whether they were able to recover the contents of the hard drive. So I will assume they did, and leave off from our scouting trip to NYC when we got the apartment and everything. If they didn't recover it, then either those entries will be lost forever (as well as whatever stories I was working on) or I will be left with the task of recreating those tasks from memory.
The last week in Tucson I was riding my bike into the new warehouse and bringing my new computer so I could get it configured to take to NY. After putting everything on my computer, I brought it home and plugged it in and the hard drive was making this awful grinding noise like a skipping record. So I had to send it in to Toshiba. What a nightmare it was dealing with them. At first they said they would sent an onsite tech who would fix it, but after waiting for three days he never showed up and after hours of frustrating phone calls where I was transferred back and forth to different departments and managers, I was told my warranty didn't cover onsite repairs, so I had to send it in. I was pissed at Acentre that I had to use my computer for work and have this happen, so they agreed to get me a separate laptop, but the Steves were in Puerto Rico so I couldn't get the ball rolling on that. At least I didn't have to bring my computer with me in the car. But I did bring my zipped up copy of all my writings, and you can bet that I carried that on my person, as if I lost that . . . I wouldn't even want to think about the consequences.
We got the car from Lai Thursday night, a little Suzuki Gran Vitara. Everyone including Bedder-½ looked at the pile in our living room and said there was no way it would all fit. Even after we packaged up six or seven boxes to have Margo ship UPS. But I had confidence. I started doing this Thursday night. Filling every little airspace with just the right object. I was doing away with the crates and suitcases and just stuffing things directly. Took all my clothes and stuffed them into all the nooks and crannies. Murphy's law of packing says that no matter how much stuff you have, it will always fill the available car or container to the brim. And sure enough. I got it all in. It wasn't easy and it was tight. We even had suitcases wedged between us and between the doors and the seats so every time we opened the doors, we had to unpack ourselves. It was like being in a space capsule. Bedder-½ called it a space capsule. With the car packed, we got to enjoy our last night in Tucson. The last week in Tucson was full of goodbye dinners and the such. Friday, [M and G] were having a dinner party for M's brother who had just graduated from Pima. So we got to see them for the last time, and when we left G started bawling and it was sad. M seemed more embarrassed about G then anything. I think G was just freaking that all her friends were leaving and she was stuck in Tucson in a relationship that was not healthy for her and we were one of the few people that understood this. It's definitely always easier to be the ones doing the leaving. I never have any regrets and I don't really miss anyone. It sounds heartless, but it is true.
So early Saturday morning, we set off into the rising sun. Packed to the gills in our space capsule. We stopped in El Paso for Huevo Rancheros. We pressed on. This was all too familiar landscape. It wasn't until we started getting into the Hill country west of San Antonio that things got interesting. It's beautiful, lush country that reminds me a lot of a clean Mexico. We made it to San Antonio by nine o'clock or so and managed to get a room right downtown (for a price). Dropped our bags and took the Bonsai's up for a soak (these little guys were wedged between us on the safety brake). We went down the river walk that was pretty cool, although touristy. They've dammed up the river and put paths and restaurants and gardens all along it. We had a crappy dinner in a nice setting on the river near some big trees and then strolled along the river.
The next morning we got up and strolled more downtown and along the river and went to the Alamo which I don't really get the draw. What's the big deal, the Mexicans kicked the Texan's ass there. Isn't that a good thing? And even still is it something to be proud of, losing? I guess you're supposed to be honored that these guys stood up for our country and died in a land that wasn't there's to begin with. And it was so touristy. We pressed on, stopped in Houston for a lunch of raw oysters, cat fish and seafood gumbo at this awesome restaurant in a boat (Captain Tom's?) and made it all the way to New Orleans before nightfall. Got a place right in the French Quarter and then went out on the town. Ate Crawfish etoufee, red beans and rice. Had more fun just walking along Bourbon street and didn't go into too many bars. We briefly stepped foot into one and it was a gay bar with guys in speedos flashing their butts at us as if that was supposed to get us to come inside.
Had breakfast by the pool, walked along the Mississippi, then got bignettes at Cafe du Monde and just people and mime watched. Walked around the quarter some more and then took off. Drove along the Bixoli coast of Mississippi and even went into a casino to see what they were like, but it was crap so we moved on. Got to Pensacola in time for an afternoon swim in the ocean. Beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise water. Got a room overlooking the ocean. More raw oysters, calamari for dinner at Peg Leg Pete's, capped off by Key Lime Pie. Relaxed in the room. Went for a moonlight stroll on the beach and made love on the side of a sand dune.
Nex morning we laid in the sun and swam more in the ocean until it was checkout time. Drove through the Florida panhandle and up through Georgia. Didn't stop in Savannah, but passed some of my old surveying haunts. Pulled off the freeway and went onto a small road in South Carolina and it was cool. Got a room near Columbus, South Carolina that was huge (two TVs'). Got KFC and watched the Knicks game.
The next morning we drove through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and up to Pennsylvania. We started to stop at this one place in a small Quaker town. It was totally backward-ass and everyone in the bar stared at us. The guy was like— " we have a room upstairs that we rent, if you have to stay." He wasn't exactly encouraging and the room was a shithole, so we continued on to somewhere near Allentown. It's weird how you can be so close to NYC and still be in the sticks around people that speak of NYC like it's an evil place they never go to. Woke up the next morning and drove through Jersey. Actually a lot prettier than I imagined. Got to the Holland Tunnel by ten a.m. Backed up. We weren't in a hurry. Made it through to Canal street. I was trying to cross Manhattan to get to the FDR freeway, there was sign that said "Upper Manhattan" so I took it and ended up on the Brooklyn Bridge... isn't this a scene from a movie or book? Where the guy gets off on the wrong exit and gets killed? So we ended up driving through these sketchy areas of Brooklyn and Queens trying to get back to Manhattan, in this little Suzuki crammed to the hilt so we couldn't see anything and we had to move the plants every time I had to shift. It was fun. And then once we were back in Manhattan (paid a $4 toll twice) driving through Manhattan to get to the Upper East Side. Fun, fun. Finally made it and had to double-park to find a phone to call our Super, Joseph Torres, so we could get the key. He met us at the building. Bedder-½ watched the car (double-parked) while I hoofed it up five stories of steep stairs with all our possessions. I was sweating buckets and felt like I had just run a marathon. Managed to get a parking spot out front. And we were done! Oh what a feeling when everything was upstairs and in the apartment. The third time across the country with all our possessions in tow and no incidents. No accidents, highway robberies, tickets, or anything.
All our stuff was in the apartment, now the next chore was to get a lock (there was a big hole in the door where the lock was
supposed to be— you have to provide your own lock here.) And call the telephone company to hook up the phone— no easy chore. We were basically running around everywhere all weekend, buying furniture and homey stuff. Bought a Futon couch for a few hundred (all this and the gas on credit cards). Bought closet organizers, pots, garbage cans, dishracks, shower curtain, etc. Even found some stuff on the street. Every week people put bulk items, furniture and stuff, for the garbage men. A lot of it is still in decent shape. We got a bookshelf and a great little Bonsai rack this way. I'm still waiting for my desk (a stand-up bar with bar stools) and a file cabinet to be delivered, otherwise we are pretty much done and moved in.
Got a membership to NYSC, which is a great sports club. Five stories, room after room of equipment. More expensive, but worth it. Already used it once and took a steam bath and everything. We've gotten quite familiar with our little neighborhood. Walked all over getting stuff and sampling the restaurants. One night Gwynn met us down here and then we went down to the Village to meet Andrea and two other guys. Andrea was already drunk and being goofy and funny. We went to some bar (Arthur's) where some guy was playing piano surrounded by customers. He looked like Ray Charles and was very good. Andrea was dancing even though it said "No Dancing". We went next door where it was a sing-along — one guy was playing piano, and everyone in the bar was singing along at the top of their lungs to Broadway musical numbers that we were clueless about [this must of been Marie's Crisis]. They all most have been unemployed Broadway singers as they all new all of the pieces. They wanted us to drink anyway so we left. The streets were hectic. We went into bars and were immediately harassed to buy drinks and we didn't feel like drinking, at least Bedder-½, Gwynn and I didn't. We left Andrea and Thomas who stayed out dancing, and we cabbed it home.
Another night Bedder-½ and I went to a bar called Rathbones and watched the Knicks game. Yesterday we walked all the way to the West side through Central Park, watched the guys play basketball, went into some "singles" cafe where you post men seeking woman or vice-versa, ads for others to peruse. They were showing the game. Watched the second half at Cronies. Knicks won! This morning I had to deal with the parking situation. At certain times every few days, you have to move your car for street cleaning. There is absolutely no place to park. So what you have to do is stake out a spot after the street cleaner goes by, say at ten o'clock in a no parking area between 8-11 and wait with the car until the parking restriction is over. A whole block of cars with people waiting inside. It was crazy. I don't know what you would do if you had to work (besides pay $10 an hour). Only have to move it once more before next weekend when we will return the car to DC.
So here I am in the apartment, Bedder-½ has gone off to NYU to take care of paperwork. I can't really work because I don't have a computer. I can't work on writing, unless I write something new on this Mac. I think I will go work out now.
driving in2 NYC (not many pics from this time period otherwise)
June 10 – NY
Been slacking about journal writing, not that there isn’t a lack of things to write about, to the contrary . . . too much to do since we’ve moved here I guess. And yes, I did finally get my computer so I am back and running with a new ISP and I got my desk, which is really a bar. I wanted a stand-up desk and the closest thing I could find was a bar with a bookshelf on one side and slatted on the other. Even got the barstools to go with it It’s made of unfinished pine, got it at Gothic furniture. We got all our stuff and we’re all connected, except the cable guy who comes on Monday. We held out until a few days ago until we got a TV, but Bedder-½ was starting to get on my nerves, pacing around and getting bored, never comfortable unless she's busy or being entertained. She can’t just relax but always has to find a chore to do, and then you feel guilty that you’re not helping her. So the other night when she was pacing around and then told me she was going to go work out (it was 9 o’clock at night and she had already worked out once that day) I figured we had to have a TV. So I went out to circuit city and got one and had to carry it home. It makes our living room look ugly but at least we can watch movies.
We got the last boxes from Margo yesterday . . . good thing our apartment is any smaller than it is otherwise I’d be feeling claustrophobic. Thank god we didn’t take that evil Jill woman’s place, not just because she was a freak and the place was a tiny dump, but we just found out yesterday that Gwynn is getting kicked out of her apartment because they found out she was subletting illegally. What a royal pain that would be to have to find a place again. So we’re mostly settled in, we returned Lai’s car weekend which was a relief. That was a pain in the ass, the last time I had to move it I couldn’t find a parking spot after driving around for a few hours, so I just put it in a garage for the night and it cost me $26.
The next morning (last Saturday) we headed out early through the Lincoln Tunnel to DC. Too bad we couldn’t wait a while to do this trip as we aren’t nearly at the stage where we’re itching to get out of town. To the contrary we were looking forward to finally relaxing and enjoying the city. But can’t complain, the drive to DC was nice. Despite the traffic. We stopped and at some Haitian car wash, but there was still scratches on the dash between the seats where the Bonzai’s were sitting. We went to Yiran’s to drop the car off. That area of Maryland (Bethesda, Rockville, College Park, etc.) is a trip. Probably the most suburban place I’ve ever seen. Just like I imagined it to be. Lots of trees and “Pretty,” but no centralization, no people walking, just lots of nice cars driving to their nice houses tucked in the trees. Yiran’s house was straight out of Blue Velvet, but with a Colonial touch. Fake shutters on the windows, etc. His parents were there, and then John Wu came by and he had his parents in tow as well. None of the older generation spoke any English so they were engaged in their own conversations while we talked to Yiran and John. Yiran took us out to Chinese food and then John drove us to DC. Drove along the mall and by the White House. It was pretty cool. The nation’s capital. Everything was so spread out, lawns everywhere, not a very liveable city. Buy very majestic, white marble, huge structures. We got our train tickets at Union Station and then walked over the capitol building and walked around it. Pretty amazing view. And amazing to sit there and think that’s this is where all the important decisions are made. Rode the train back from DC which was really cool. Passed through Delaware, Baltimore and Philadelphia, looking down on all the neighborhoods, the way all these people live, lots of rivers and bays, lots of trees. Definitely a world apart from the West coast. Into Penn station.
I’ve settled into my working routine, and at first I was little unsure how it was going to work out as the communication between Vesterdal and Mark Gray was iffy, I was having problems dialing in to their server and wasn’t getting much help. It was almost like they didn’t really care what I did. So half of me was like shit, as long as the paychecks keep rolling in. And I would start working on Valparaiso 241 or another personal writing project. But you could quickly slip into degeneration of a work ethic, getting that way. Luckily this Tracker Office website project came up and I pretty much volunteered to do the whole thing from the ground up. Not to mention defining their whole ad campaign. Max flaked out on the whole cartoon thing, but Donna found a few clip art characters we could use in the interim and I’ve been playing around with them, and also delving into a lot of Lichenstein stuff and Dick Tracy to get ideas. The theme is leaning towards being kind of campy, sleuthy, dramatic, fun. I found a way to appease Steve’s unwillingness to let go of the damn horse logo by simply sticking a red fedora on him. So now’s he’s Tricksy Tracker, the sleuthy and strategizing superhero, but dark and stoic under his hat. It will be fun and I’m learning a lot about Website development which will be good experience to have. I’ve applied for a few jobs and have received quite a few phone calls just having my resume on the web, but I am having to turn people down just because it doesn’t sound like an interesting position and most recruiters don’t understand this. I even had an interview down in midtown with a company called Donovan Data Systems. So I got to experience what it’s like to put on a suit when it’s balmy out and ride the packed subway at rush hour. I was sweating buckets and was on the verge of a panic attack, like is this me? I wasn’t thrilled about the interview but figured I should just go to maybe one a week to make sure I’m not missing anything. Donovan Data houses all the data for ad agencies and the reps, and they write database software that manages all their needs. I thought it might be interesting in that it was in and around advertising (and they worked a 35-hour work week), but when it comes down to it, it was really just accounting software. But it was still interesting to learn about that whole industry, how ad agencies interact with TV and Radio stations to book their slots, or magazines, newspapers, billboards, etc. How they know ads are effective, who they are reaching, etc. But again, you’re on the back end of things, not around the “creative types” that are on the front end of advertising. There is some interesting stuff out there, I just have to be patient, which I can afford to be. I heard from Laura Harkcom and she still hadn’t read my screenplays. I got an e-mail from Roger (after sending him one) saying he would be interested in reading them, so I sent him Piñata Crossing, for what it’s worth.
What else... so much to say, so many new things we’ve seen just walking the streets, walking along the river, going out to eat, finding out where everything is, learning the ropes. Bedder-½ saw her first rat “in the wild”. Experienced the lesson that outside of Arizona water will condense into clouds and fall on your head in large amounts for long periods of time. The weather is up and down, one day cold and rainy, the next day like today, hot and humid. Even had a monsoon-like storm and almost got struck by lightning. Bedder-½ got her rain jacket swiped from the women’s locker room at NYSC, she saw a guy get his eye poked out with umbrella. Every day I see something amusing or new. Lots of dogs in NY. Lots of little shops that you didn’t notice the first time walking by. NY is like a Beatles song, how every time you listen to it, you hear a new instrument or sound that you’d never noticed before even though you’d heard the song plenty of times. It’s complex and deeply rooted. There’s really too much to do that it is overwhelming. That’s probably why I haven’t been writing in my journal because I feel like I should be out exploring. I will just have to make a conscience effort to document these things one by one right when I come home. Today I would like to go to the Met.
June 13 – NY
Saturday morning Andrea called us and said let’s go to the beach. She’s cool like that, spontaneous and fun. She rented a car even and invited two of her other Argentine friends, Hernan and Florencia. They didn’t show up until 1 p.m. and the traffic over there was horrendous, so we probably didn’t get to the beach until 3 in the afternoon, but it was worth it. It was windy and cold compared to the sultry heat of the city. We went to Jones beach which was actually pretty nice. Weird feeling to just be able to pick up in the afternoon and decide you want to go to the beach and be there. We ate gross food and then lounged on the beach, took a nap. At first I was too chicken to go in the water because it was so cold and windy. But then I went in and it was great. Even had some great body-surfing waves. Hernan and I body-surfed and played frisbee and the girls lounged on the beach. Then we played some Argentine card game. Hernan has been in NY for like four years and is an operations manager for some telecommunications dot com down on Wall street. Florencia is fairly new to NY city and works for IBM. It was a fun time even though we sat in traffic for most of the time. On the way home we stopped in Queens for authentic Argentine BBQ. It was meaty but it rocked. Felt like being in Argentina. Had a huge feast of all sorts of stuff including blood sausage and intestines soaked in milk. Hmmm. Capped off with flan and dulce de leche.
Sunday we woke up and saw the Puerto Rican day parade. It was chaos. Even hours before people were lining up, hording the streets with their flags, placards and boomboxes. Cars driving by with people hanging out the windows and on the roof. The parade went down fifth avenue and the only way we could see it was to climb up some scaffolding. People were going nuts. Screaming and cheering, dancing in the streets. They really showed their pride. We took a break from it and had some pizza and then went back, but it was too much. Complete bedlam. Couldn’t get anywhere near 5th avenue. [this was the year of the "wolf pack attack," where a group of guys sexually assaulted a bunch of women right in the open in Central Park...]
It was hot as hell on Sunday but then the weather turned cool. Yesterday morning I went running north along the river and then out to Randall Island. Pretty cool run. Randall Island has a lot of potential, some grassy areas and forests, and great views of the city. But garbage everywhere and nothing but homeless people living in the trees. Pretty scary.
Bedder-½ and I got in a little spat yesterday. The move has been hard on us, lots of stress and we still haven’t seen the bill for it. I just need to get into my rhythm and find the time to pursue writing. She’s started her job and is happy there and has a lot of spare time. I broke down a few days ago and bought a TV because she was driving me crazy. Had to carry the TV home through the streets and it was heavy as hell. I know I blame her sometimes for my failure at being a writer, and it is true that I would probably have more time to write in the evenings without her. But my life would be so lonely and unenriching and unfulfilling without her, and I have to realize that. I am so lucky that I have her to share my life with. I am torn between going out and seeing the sights with her, and writing. But if I don’t go out, I would have nothing to write about. I just need to achieve the balance and be very productive when I am writing. But it hard to manage working, looking for a job, writing and trying to sell my writings all at the same time.
June 17 – NY
Granini died. [DW] left me an “emergency e-mail” on Tuesday (June 13) telling me to call him. And I called him and he told me. K found her in her bed. Died in her sleep. That’s the way she would’ve wanted to be. It’s no real shock to anyone, or it shouldn’t be. Then I called D and left a message with Mom and she called me back. Everyone was on their way out there, and DW offered to pay for my ticket and so did Mom (I used not being able to afford going out there as an excuse). So then I said I couldn't take the time off from work and said I was starting a new job that week. When they pressed the issue i just said that I just didn’t feel comfortable going out there. I guess I don’t, or didn’t know why at the time. Besides that I just moved to NY and am embroiled in work for Acentre (I finished the Tracker Office Website this week, took me about one week to put together) and can’t afford the time or the hassle of going all the way out there. I just don’t feel connected like they all do. My philosophy on death and most everything else is very different and it probably would have made me sick to witness such a spectacle, and cynical if I opened my mouth. I guess I also told DW, and K, A, Mom etc. that I didn’t feel I would be of any help to anybody. It’s kind of like that time when I had first met Miles and his friends, and then that girl died in the Santa Cruz roasting company in the earthquake, and they were all grieving because they were a close-knit group of friends and I felt like a third leg. Not knowing what to do. Not that I wasn’t close to Granini, I wouldn’t say connected, but I think I knew her well enough to know that she wouldn’t want people to make a big deal about her death. She always used to say she didn’t want a funeral or memorial and of course they planned one anyway. They are all “gathering” and A is burning sage and candle, and it is all very new age and bonding . . . but is that what she would have wanted? Are they “respecting her wishes”? I suppose it’s not about Granini, but about those she left behind. I’d call it a legacy but it only serves to qualify her matriarchal status, which she was too many, but which I never understood. This pretense of having this close-knit family— her son lived with her next door, her son’s sons and daughters also never really fled the coop. Sure they travelled the world on their dad’s (and inevitably Granini’s pocketbook) but did they really strike out and establish themselves? [R] excluded. I guess I just don’t have respect for their lifestyles and don’t know why I feel this need to stay even remotely attached except they knew me growing up and have been the only "family" I’ve known, really. And now that Granini is gone I'll probably grow even further apart.
That was Tuesday and today is Saturday, and for the first time her “will” crossed my mind, and the whole thing about parsing out her possessions and I’m really glad I didn’t go now. Yah, of course R will go to get that lamp valued at 6 figures. Who will get the rugs? Who will get that basket that’s worth $300,000? Who will get the house? If I’d wanted to see it one last time before they tear it down and build condos then I suppose I should have gone, but I don’t feel inclined to, and never felt like it was the center of the universe like they do. Their morals are probably eating them alive right now. I’m sure they all honestly feel like it is their spiritual mother of all homes, but when the accountant shows them how much it is worth, even when it is divided amongst them, and everyone struggling financially, they’ll find excuses to justify them tearing it down and selling the lot. And selling all the furniture. It can’t be a pretty sight right now. Everyone saying— “let’s all hold hands and burn some sage. This is what she would’ve wanted. Let’s go through the attic and have a yard sale, and divide up the money. This is what she would’ve wanted.” I guess it’s a dirty job and someone’s got to do it. But I do not want to be a part of that. Nancy Collins, rest in peace.
I called [ZZ] out of the blue yesterday. Called his Philly number and [J] answered the phone. Weird. Last time I saw or heard him he was probably two years old. He gave me Z’s number in Woodstock. Called and left a message. Z called me back later in the evening. He got married to a model ([T]?) and had a kid named [Y]. The kid's three years old and Z found out a few months ago the kid has Leukemia. Z seems to be taking it in stride. Obviously deeply affected at first, now he is better, the kid’s growing through treatment and has a high probability of living. Thank god for modern medicine. But I guess Z’s life was going great up until then. He made a ton of money doing “business” which I presume, and he assumes I presume, is selling drugs. Bought a house on a waterfall with 30-foot ceilings and 24-track recording studio, keeps an apartment in Greenwhich for when he has to “take care of things”, drives a BMW, married a model, until he was in Jamaica and Mexico last spring and found out his kid had ALL. He asked about Kevin, he didn’t know. So I told him. A lot of water under the bridge. I’ll have to hook up with him next time he is in the city. Should be interesting.
I built my first Website this week, www.trackeroffice.com [surprisingly, 20+ years later it's still up and looks almost exactly the same!]. It was fun and a good learning experience. Good experience to have under my belt as there are a lot of interesting jobs in Web content development. Bedder-½ had to go into work this sultry morning to take care of her cells, but then she will return and we are gonna hit up some museums.
June 19 – NY
Went to the Newseum yesterday. The Newseum is what it sounds like. They had an exhibit of all the Pulitzer prize winning photographs. Pretty incredible stuff. It’s unbelievable some of the things that have been documented. It’s a science really. Journalism turns events into historic fact, proof of its existence. Captures a moment of time for others to see. After that we went down to Soho and walked around, ate in Little Italy. Walked up through Greenwich and I got a hat. Not a Fedora, but a stiff-brim, like what Tom Waits wears. We walked all the way up 9th and 10th avenue up to 34th st where Sonic Youth was playing at the Hammerstein Ballroom. It was trippy seeing Sonic Youth. I never did get a chance to see them when they were one of my favorite bands and I never would’ve imagined seeing them in NYC. And the weird thing is they haven’t changed. After waiting through the first band which was very experimental and dissonant Jazz, Sonic Youth came on. The first song they played was the Burning Spear. I couldn’t believe it. Off their first EP (and probably my favorite). They also played Tom Violence. In the background they were showing video cam footage of regular street corners in NY. We sat up in the balcony. The floor was packed. The crowd was mixed. Some weirdos, but just lots of ordinary looking people you wouldn’t expect to see at Sonic Youth. The smoking was out of control. We could barely breathe. That’s what sucks about going to shows. And the sound is so loud that it damages your ears. But I couldn’t believe that we were seeing Sonic Youth. It was a trip back in time. A timelessness.
Today we didn’t do much. I got a little writing done, but not much. Working on Valparaiso 241. I called the old house from Washington Square just to see what was going on. Talked to R and he was enthusiastic about reading my screenplay. Sounds like he never received Origin of Virga. Hmm. Oh well. Worth another shot. Hopefully he’ll read it and have suggestions for me.
June 24 – NY
Saturday evening, Bedder-½ is cooking eggplant parmigiana. I was reading Hemingway falling in and out of a nap. After an afternoon downtown, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. Pretty incredible feat of engineering. Especially for its time. The symmetry is wild. A sight familiar to everyone through movies and pictures, but it’s still wild to actually walk across it. Of course there are all sorts of tourists doing the same and impatient NYers on bikes and rollerblades acting all pissy because they don’t have the bridge to themselves. We also went to the South Seaport thing but that was a big load of crap. Total tourist trap. Ended up at the World Trade Center. Wanted to go to the top but there was too long of a line. We’ll go back on a weekday during the winter or something. Went over to the World Finance center, cooler than the South Seaport. Kind of reminded me of Sydney Australia. Stopped off on Broadway to get tickets to Cats. Riding the subway all over. The NY subway is too cool for words. I don’t know if NY would be what it is without the access provided by the subway. We took the bus quite a bit too, and it is also cool in another respect because you can see what’s going on above ground. But the world underground is a completely different world.
So Z called me back sometime in the middle of last week. Was in town “working”. Strange. Drug dealers have a schedule too I guess. Said he was working until 6:30 then we could meet. So I went down to retrieve Bedder-½ at NYU. We met him down in the East Village which is his little universe. Basically nothing exists outside of there, besides going to Central Park on the weekends. I called him on the cell to meet him and I was at St. Marks and 2nd Avenue. I said where you at, and he says— “St. Marks and 2nd Avenue” and I say no way. I’m looking around everywhere and can’t see him. Then he walks around the corner with cell phone to his ear. ZZ, what a crazy kid. He’s got dreads down to his butt, but keeps them coiled up in his rasta hat. Long unkept beard just like his dad, same old Z. We walked around the East Village because he wasn’t hungry. Ran into [G and J]. J told us some story about how he shared a flask of whiskey with Tom Waits behind a Burger King. Yah, right. He wasted his whiskey on some homeless guy. We finally settled in on Pisces, a great sea food place. Sat outside, a beautiful night. His friend Martin met us there. He was quite a character. Kind of fratboy looking with detailed Hindu tattoos, and fingernail polish. New Yorker to a T, but relocated to San Fran. He kind of spelled out everything I hated about California, living there was bringing out a sarcastic, almost belligerent side. People in California are just so fake. His theory is that the West coast is populated with people who were striking out voluntary, to hit it rich, the gold rush, Hollywood, whatever. Whereas NY is populated with people whose ancestors were forced into coming, who were escaping persecution. Middle America? Those were all the people that didn’t make the trip out West. Whose parents got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, and now they’re kids are waking up going— “where the fuck am I”. I’m not doing a very good job of expressing what this guy had to say but it was like an hour long monologue that was hilarious. Half the stuff you wondered if he wasn’t full of shit, hanging out with some guy that was worth 22 billion dollars that was investing 4 billion dollars in the MIR Space Station and who Martin was proposing the idea of “fuck business. Let’s start a cult. That’s the way to make money, look at Scientology.” Their angle would be like the Church of Gravity. Gravity is the oppressive force that effects everybody, every day, at all times. People needed to be liberated from it. Supposedly the billionaire was eating it up. As they traveled in leer jets and had porters that made sure they never saw their baggage. The guy was like the complete opposite of Z, which was even funnier. Z still has the stoner humanitarian philosophy that the world be a better place if we just embraced peace and love, ya da ya da ya. And this guy is talking about how he is a bouncer in a restaurant in SF and beats up guys in wheel chairs and likes NY because you can tell people to fuck off and they just brush it off rather than file a lawsuit. “And then we get these bull-dyke feminists from some place called UCSC” He was a button pusher for sure. Interesting and entertaining guy though. Didn’t get to talk to Z much because of it.
Still suffering the financial fallout from the move. Altogether in the month of May we had something like $800 just in phone bills. $280 for the use of Margo’s cell phone, a $230 bill for the US West, and then $290 for MCI calling card calls – mostly from the week we were in New York looking for jobs and apartments. Oh well, what can you say. Time to eat Eggplant and watch Being John Malkovich again.
June 29 – NY
My rhythm was disrupted a little by a call from Charlie Brown on Monday afternoon wanted me to demo Purchase Tracker for CUNY on Tuesday. So I actually had to get dressed up and fight my way to midtown in subways with broken air conditioning. CUNY is a conglomeration of city universities spread around Manhattan and the boroughs. They expressed an interest in Purchase Tracker and of course being that I was right here in NY, Charlie volunteered me to do it. What can I say to that? I’ll say no next time for sure, but I figured I’d do it once to say I tried it. After getting some quick Chinese slop somewhere near 57th and 9th ave, I met some guy named Benjamin Rand. He showed me the conference room where I set up my laptop to show on the overhead projector. He gathered a few more people, four in all, who were just acting like, okay, what’s so important that I’m getting disrupted from my day, go ahead and sell it to me. It was a nightmare. Try as I might, I am not a salesperson. Before I even open my mouth, this annoying woman walks in, and says—“before we get started, I’ve got one question for you—Scalability.” Silence. I’m expecting her to elaborate. Is this a question or a word? That was how things went in general. I ran them through the demo, and of course nothing was working as planned. I would submit a purchase request and say something like—“okay, now that we’ve submitted it, it will appear in the in box of the approver, which we can see in this case is Mark Manager.” (like I know what I’m talking about). And I would go to his inbox and it wouldn’t be there. “Hmmm. Well, in theory it would be there.” This happened a few times. It was quite embarrassing. I got them to call Steve Vesterdal because they were asking me all these technical questions that I had no idea about. They were speaking a different language. Requisitions, approval cycles, scalability? Another guy sitting right across from me seemed important like he was the VP or something. He had a white shirt and tie on and looked bored. At one point he just go out his palm pilot and started doodling. They were ruthless. I would be too. They were expecting a salesman and they get a bohemian writer, more used to observing than presenting.
Finally it was over, and I gather up my stuff. On the way back to the subway I was melancholy thinking how pathetic I was when I saw a crowd of people gathered around a dead guy lying on the pavement with a sheet over him. There were a few ambulances and cops were just starting to show up and barricade off the area. I overheard people saying things like— “you should’ve heard the way it sounded.” I didn’t want to gawk so I kept walking. I noticed footsteps right behind me that had walked away from the scene.
“What happened to that guy?” –I asked.
“He jumped out of the window” –said this typical fat blue collar New Yorker.
I looked back and sure enough there was a tall building with a smooth symmetric face of close windows except for one window jarred open 20-stories directly over the guy. That sight was more disturbing than seeing the dead body. It was like a glitch in the space-time continuum that somebody had escaped or got thrown out of. All these banks of windows and buildings, and one person that just couldn’t take it anymore.
“You should have seen at first. His arms were all broken and bent backwards like he jumped headfirst. The bones were sticking out of the sockets. His legs were also twisted back.” I didn’t ask for this kind of detail, but I was impressed by this guys attention to detail.
“Geez” –I said. “And I thought I was having a bad day.”
“Tell me about it. Guys like that should be grateful to just wake up in the morning. It was a hospital, the guy probably just found out he had cancer or AIDS or something.”
“That’s a good excuse as any I guess.”
“Only in New York” –he said, shaking his head. Then he ducked into a cellphone shop. I got on the train back home.
So I get out during the weekdays. Enough. Yesterday I went to some sort of dot com career expo at Madison Square Garden. Hundreds of “opportunity seekers” (they made us wear badges that said this and entrance fee was a resume at the door) walking around to booths, chit-chatting. Most of them were e-commerce, B2B (business-to-business) internet providers, I glossed over them and only really talked to 5 groups – a couple of media companies, Barnes and Nobles, About.com, and some cable company CableVision that provide all sorts of entertainment related services and programming, they own radio city music hall and Madison Square Garden. After my demoing fiasco, you can bet that job search was somewhat injected with new vigor.
We’re going to see the Mets play the Braves tomorrow, and we’re gonna ride the train with John Rocker. They’re making a huge deal about it. They’re spending 100s of thousands to beef up security on the trains and at Shea stadium so he doesn’t get lynched. They’re limiting beer consumption to two beers per person and none after the sixth inning when Rocker is expected to make his characteristic turrets-riddled frantic sprint from the bullpen. Everybody will be wearing purple wigs and throwing batteries at him. It will be great. Until he gets killed and then everybody will feel bad.
[... continued in post #930 (July–Sept 2000 in NYC)]