Where’s Waldo? – 1

Where’s Waldo?

The red and white stripes…what do they signify?

Some people say he looks like Hugh Grant, horn rimmed glasses and striped apparel. A solemn yet wise gaze. Who is this man?

He walks through crowds of men. Some of these men have extremely feeble torsos and jacked legs. The other half of the men have toothpick legs and phenomenally jacked torsos. This is the world he lives in. The world he explores.

Someone is looking for him. He knows it. He is somewhat aware that a book has been published using his likeness. Someone is always looking for him.

He is also looking for someone. Someone important. Someone who he has always believed in.

Waldo is his name. He does not know his last name, since he has never had one. He was born with a single name: the name Waldo.

There was a strange recurring pattern throughout Waldo’s journeys. From time to time, he observed many red and white striped objects that bore a remarkable resemblance to himself. He had a time discerning the precise meaning or nature of this anomaly. His journey never seemed to cease.

He was on the beach at Puna Mana and he looked in the water and saw a fish that looked like him, all striped, white and red

Side-gimmick – Candy Cane Condoms



She’s the lady who lives at the bus stop. She has a stack of trash bags packed with pillows beside her, and a radio plays on the bench as she sits there rolling cigarettes or knitting gloves. She’s always there, no matter what, and a conversation is hers to claim from anyone who waits at her stop. Minutes roll by as she goes on tangents.

“My letter of recognition came back from the statehouse today.”
“Oh yeah, what for?”
“My undercover work for the police.”

And she wraps you up in a fanciful tale of national importance, full of conspiracy theories and such. A car stops in front of the bus stop to drop a friend off, and she breaks her train of thought to take a picture of the car’s license plate. She snitches on cars that stop in the bus stop lane long enough for her to waddle behind them, heckle them, and remind them it’s against the law.

She’ll make calls on a burner to unlisted numbers if the buses are not on time, and heckle the drivers when they arrive, or give them traffic updates. Everyone anxiously tries to board and get out of her conversational satellite of control.

“I received a commendation from the governor for helping in a drug bust.” In other words, she snitched on a bad dealer who sold her bad drugs. She was missing one of her incisors, but the rest of her teeth were surprisingly well kept.

“The White House knows about me.”
“Well, I keep their secret services in the loop out here.”

I look around and four people roll their eyes. The bus arrives, and Carolin retires to her knitting and cigarettes for another few minutes before the next group of commuters arrive to wait.

A Weekend in DC – 1

It begins like a story, seat 19C and I’m too close to the stewardess’ ass which is uncomfortably moving thru the aisle, half-offering beverages to thirsty patrons at a premium. Nothing has happened yet, except the dull din of engines and circulated air. My headphones are still out of earshot at level eight. I close my eyes between the students, businessmen and hard bodies watching me as they pass on the way to the bathroom.

DC is where the American Nursing Society’s 37th Annual Members Induction Ceremony would happen. My mother was being inducted, and I had the opportunity to fly down. I will remember her accomplishment for all my life. I came for the ceremony, but I stayed for the reunions with college friends over a brief, two-day/two-night visit.

Night one, Friday, 7PM. My flight lands at Reagan, and there’s an exhibition by Slideluck Potshow in Georgetown. If we can make it there by 11PM closing, I hope to have a moment with the proprietor. My eyes should be closed; preserve the energy, slow down the blood, and deny these demons inside the privilege of idle boredom.

If I had one sentence to sum up the whole of my experiences in DC, it would be this: “I don’t know why I never considered living there before.” My social experience was a mash-up of events, and I was caught off guard. It was good: the Metro system with its well-funded substations, the automatic revolving doors, the blue glass art sculptures and jade garden walkways, the smell of clean city.

I hit the ground running that first night, like a quiet frenzy of positive energy. I met Hammer at Cure, the lounge bar at the Grand Hyatt where I was staying, and we talked for an hour over brews about life, since we last met, before meeting Levy and friend. We talked about jobs and job searches, music, women, money, and relationships. We talked about how badly we wanted to relive our Killington Weekend, and then Levy showed up with his friend Robbie who made me laugh.

We drank enough at Cure, the four of us, and decided it was best to move on before the older folks gave us any dirtier looks. Down 11th street we walked towards Chinatown, an urban golf shot from the opening gates.

Mambo sauce. I heard about it more than once during my trip, but never got around to have it. Hammer told me he’d take me to the best spot for Mambo sauce in all of DC the next time I visited.

We didn’t quite cross the threshold into Chinatown. We ended up at RFD’s, and sat in the center table, pulling back more drinks. They had a great beer selection. Levy toasted our reunion with shots of Jack, and that’s when the night began to tip. Levy told me about his return home from California, where he had spent the last couple years living with his now ex-girlfriend, making music and making a name for himself in LA. She was hot, but things went sour, and he left LA and came back home to save money and work on his music.

We got nostalgic about Boston as the booze took its course. They told me stories from their life in DC, stories that entertained me to no end. Listening and learning about their subculture happenings felt anthropological. I wanted to see more of this.

It wouldn’t happen that night, however. I drank up all the culture I could handle and ended up staying at Hammer’s place in Columbia Heights, sick with rot-gut and blacked-out memories. I had to put the pieces together quickly the next day: my folks called, concerned about where I was, and wanted me to come back to the hotel. Hammer reminded me about the two frumpy girls who met up with us as we left the bar, right around the time our friend Robbie was getting kicked out of RFD’s. He fell back in his chair and knocked our table over, all the drinks going down, and a laughing fit ensues that got the whole bar laughing and clapping and drinking. It was the Jack that did it.

Brooklyn Sound


22nd Street, between 4th and 5th
Brooklyn, NY
Anchor Steam

The last time I visited Brooklyn was in April, my brother lived on Classon Avenue, and we got together with the folks for a nice weekend, but that’s a different story. A shady trend was growing in his area (sky-boxes and stained brownstone buildings), and he took the move as a blessing.

Now, on the corner of 22nd street, between 4th and 5th, my brother adjusts to a life with his girlfriend. She’s a great girl, and they go well together. They love all the same things, and they even apply to the same jobs. There was nothing out-of-place in this scene, nothing except for maybe the scene itself.

“The house used to be all red, like these stairs,” my brother pointed out as we walked towards it. I was surprised not to walk up the stairs, but instead beside them to the garden-level entrance left of the house. A cozy barbecue patio looked at us as we stepped down into the apartment. It was a unique world underneath a gay couple’s paradise. The bathroom looked to be carved out of a cave, and the radiator (after an interesting story of breaking down and leaking) had a burly towel covering it.

There should be no expectations of greatness, I thought, other than the greatness you make for yourself.

My bed was the floor where the coffee table rests. There was no rug, but they prepared for me a sleeping bag and several warm blankets. I slept like a baby that first night, but not before checking out an art gallery (Under Minerva) we passed by earlier on a walk around the block. There was a painting in the front of a DJ in layers of orange and blue, playing records and mixing it up at a club of diverse colors in the background. The basic colors of the DJ washed over the pretty lights, and it truly stood out from afar.

Over ATM slips and Grizzly Bear, I was enjoying the taste of sugar on my tongue, making a list of songs I had recommended to my brother. It was appreciated over drinks and jazz in south Brooklyn on Saturday, with him and his girlfriend and two of her friends from Pratt. For moments during the show, I saw a notebook passed between the two of them, collaborating in silence while the rest of us watched and listened.

I sat behind the piano player, and on occasion he would look back at me with an odd smile. I didn’t know what to think, and continued drinking my double of Scotch, next to the Cosmopolitan and Brooklyn Lager, Mai Tai and Gin & Tonic.

The show was good. The quartet of drums, piano, bass and trumpet were like four young wolves on the street. For an amateur show, the buzz of the evening revolved around the trumpet player, an awkward sixteen year old with short black curls and bifocals.

There was a saxophonist; his instrument rested casually to my right for a long time. His wine glass was on the table we took when we first arrived, before he came over and took it away himself. He did not play with the group until much later in the set, and his cameo appearance upped the quality dramatically. The trumpet and saxophone ran together, picking up on each other’s vibe as if they knew what the score was.

And then there was that pianist. I don’t know what I did to provoke him, but he was enthusiastic, keeping the melody and giving it his all. There were times when he stood up to bang down on the piano, as if he really needed to let it out that way. Perhaps he just didn’t give a damn.

When the show was over we walked up 5th Avenue and landed at a bar called Commonwealth. It had a nice outdoor patio, with bench-tables and umbrellas. I remember red tables; a tall boy of Anchor Steam beer; the bottle so cold it had icy condensation on it. We were talking about the music and the people at the show. Art-speak and journeys and briefs on photography and music and television were shared over nightcaps, and quip upon quip upon quip… I told them about Boston, and they told me about New York.

My brother mentioned taking shots in the subway tunnels. The empty tunnels of Brooklyn are vast and incredibly dangerous to explore on your own. There is something alluring about the darkness within, and it has my brother’s lens fixed. He tried to explain it to me, but I was too concerned about his safety to go on with it.

It’s just like a butterfly and its fleeting moment in the sky.

We walked up 5th Avenue, passing the famous pizza shop Adam Sandler ate at in “Big Daddy”. I stopped at the all-night bakery ran by some lovely Hispanic ladies who enjoyed my company at 3am, in such a state, ordering cannolis and donuts and cookies and such. We laughed and smiled together for those five minutes before taking it all back home.

I slept on the floor that night, on top of a sleeping bag underneath four warm blankets.

Sunday felt like waking up without a care in the world. In a good way, I felt free to do anything. I had but the clothes on my back. One of them was my Plaid Weekender jacket, and it kept me warm during the walk down to Bagel World, a bagel shop my brother swears by. I went by myself this time to enjoy south Brooklyn’s sights and smells. I bought one of my all-famous egg and pastrami bagel sandwiches in addition to garlic bagels and cream cheese. There was a produce stand across the street, so I waited in line to buy two Macoun apples and a pint of fresh apple cider.

We spoke about music when I got back. The third roommate, PK, was making egg-shaped plaster molds on the kitchen table that looked surprisingly like mini-cities. “Don’t burn me out of your picture,” he said as I got ready for my train home. I think he made his point.

The Last Toenail

Once a way back, a forgetful man cut his toenails and left the remains in a cup for cleanliness. The toenails stayed in that cup for a whole day, overnight, and in through the morning. The cup itself was a plastic summer juice cup with blue stripes. There were 21 shards of toenail in the cup.

On the first night, the toenails became aware. They discussed and they laughed with the bacteria that grew on them. They lived there overnight in a thousand little years, and life grew on them like moss on a tree. A forest of undiscovered life was growing – a neighborhood of life and progress in the making.

On the second day, the man came back for them, for the cup – to wash it (and them) out. It was a horrible scene. When the man tried get the toenails out, they were stuck in place. The life on the toenails had bonded to the cup. And yet, the man’s fury created a torrent as powerful as a thousand tsunamis. All the toenails were washed down the sick disgusting drainpipe… all except one.

One toenail stayed so fixed, the water could not move it. The man, in spite, tried to pick it out and it cut him deeply in the process. He was surprised, but remained persistent until it too fell from the cup. It eventually was flushed down with the rest of its kind, and the man suffered a terrible infection on the tip of his finger for about three months. The last toenail was satisfied in the final moments before darkness; satisfied it shed the blood of its maker, and of its destroyer.