Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Living in New York City: Fun on the Sun's Anvil

Foto by tgw, New York City, 2010
[The following interesting people left us:
Harvey Fuqua, 80, American rhythm and blues singer (The Moonglows) and record producer (Marvin Gaye), heart attack Harvey Fuqua was an important figure in American R&B (the true R&B), especially during the early Motown years.
Cesare Siepi, 87, Italian opera singer, respiratory failure
Cesare was one of the great basso-profundos of the 20th-Century opera world.
Simion Stanciu, 60, Romanian pan flautist Remember this guy from his teevee infomercials--the Romanian panpiper?

Rummaging About About Breakfast, the Heat, and the Crashing Economy

Beautiful word "rummaging." Has rum and "mm" and aging and gin in it.

I stretch. It's early morn. The anvil outside is sizzling up to egg-frying temperatures already. 85 at 7 am. "I'll have two over easy and a side of bacon." I was once known to get up early and beat it down the street to the Moonstruck Diner over on Third Avenue. I love their hashbrowns. My fav breaking of the nightly fast at the Moon was scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, a short stack, sausage, a large tomato juice, and a cup of joe. But that's no longer my routine. It hasn't been my routine in a fistful of years. Now my breakfast consists of a large cup of street coffee (from my Afghan-American coffeeman), a French cruller, and a Tropicana apple juice. Except on the weekends when I splurge and go around on Fifth Avenue to my Chinese friend's joint and get a chocolate croissant, a Nantucket Nectar pressed apple drink, and a cup of French roast coffee..."For you, Wolfie," my Chinese friend says all cheery, "special, six dollar." He's a nice guy really. It's always $6 when he waits on me and it's always special. When his pretty cousin waits on me she charges me $5.50 for the same "special." Oh well, that's my Chinese friend's understanding of Capitalism.

Heat. Heat never bothered me. Some of the best writing I ever did was in Haiti sitting by the swimming pool of my hotel under a straight-up-above-me high-noon Caribbean sun, temperature by the pool in the high 90s, writing with a pencil in a notebook, wearing shades and my Planters straw hat, writing fervidly though pausing occasionally to gaze at a gorgeous French woman wearing a black bikini swimming back and forth in front of me--at my feet, I was thinking while I imaginarily seduced her with my spotty, Parisian-derided-once French--all the hottest of heats while writing my ass off, too.

Writers I like write well in heat--or write well about hot environments...like Hemingway writing about Spain; like Paul Bowles writing about Northern Africa (Morocco and Tangiers especially) (Bowles telling about going out into the Sahara and writing in that vast inspiring stillness where the desert forces you to be within yourself alone with your thoughts since there's nothing but endless silence, sand, and glistening sky engulfing you); like Graham Greene writing about Sierra Leone; like Lawrence Durrell writing about Egypt in the Alexandrian Quartet; and on and on I could go. T.E. Lawrence (Shaw) in The Seven Pilars of Wisdom or Charles Doughty (a poet and writer) in Arabia Deserta.

"It ain't the heat, it's the humility," said Yogi Berra. And that's the true truth about heat; heat humiliates humans. So if you can stand humiliation, then the heat ain't gonna bother you.

Heat reduces humans to pathetic little whiny beasts. "I couldn't live without an air-conditioner," a young girl tenant in my building told me on the elevator a day or so ago. She was a new tenant; a White girl. And I sarcastically thought, when in your life, deary, did you ever not have an air-conditioner? When you played field hockey at Bryn Mawr? I know kids in this building who have grown up without air-conditioners. Looking out the side windows at the old building airshaft apartments, I see quite a few without air-conditioners in them.

I've had air-conditioning a limited number of years in my life. I grew up in an age when air-conditioned air meant huge fans on the roofs of buildings (like theaters) or what were called squirrel-cage fans in the windows or in the attics or on the roofs of homes with water filtering through huge straw pads on their sides and with a large water pan full of cool water for their fans to blow over and create conditioned air. Then along came what was first known as "refrigerated" air--the same juice that kept an electric refrigerator freezing cold was used in an old water-cooled fan body and soon we had what today we know generally as air-conditioners.

The first air-conditioner I had wasn't until I moved to New York City from Santa Fe, New Mexico. My young wife and I moved into a studio apartment on the 18th floor of a building on East 56th and First Avenue. There we had a small window unit in the living room area that we kept on twenty-four-seven. Then we moved back to Texas, then on again to New Mexico--no air-conditioning--then back to New York City, my wife rolling in dough by then, so we moved into a large studio apartment on East 56th and Sutton Place and there, yes, we had an air-conditioner; and then we moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the same building and we had two air-conditioners, one in the living room and one in the bedroom. It was in that apartment that I became frustrated with refrigerated air. Our air-conditioner in the living room on the hottest of NYC days was worthless--it panted a semi-cool air on the humiliating days. It blew cold air, yes, but out only a few feet directly in front of its round opening. What cold air escaped it limped into the majority of the room leaving it muggy and stale. The bedroom air-conditioner on the other hand blew so hard in hot weather it blew ice out into the room. That was because that air-conditioner was on the shady side of the building and the living room unit was in a direct sunlight.

Since then the only air-conditioning I've endured was the air-conditioning in the several office buildings in which I worked. When I moved into my current Midtown apartment, the lady I took it over from left her air-conditioner with me. Trouble with it was, it either froze you out or left you panting like a dog having a heat stroke--freezing you out after the sun went down but at the hottest part of the day sputtering out the faintest of cool air into the dog-day-hot room. It didn't matter then. During the hot parts of the days I was in my air-conditioned office working. Breathing in that putrid recycled human-breath-filled air-conditioned air--and also, always a problem with controlling the cold or the hot--somebody always complaining about their office being too cold or their office not getting any cold air at all.

For the past couple of decades now I've lived without air-conditioning. Fans. I have big fans I buy at the local Duane Reade (a drugstore)--I've got two brand new ones that blow with an almost wind-tunnel force--I swear--and then I have a big little fan that sits at my feet while I'm working. Cool, eh? Of course, a civilized human being would "die" without an air-conditioner in this room. Especially one of the spoilt-brat Boomer kids who have grown up so pampered and air-conditioned--sealed into their central air condos their parents sold their souls for and went into credit-card debt for...and who may now be bordering on bankruptcy...and here comes the same old same old story...we're going to Capitalist hell in an air-conditioned handbasket.

Henry Miller wrote a book about his travels across the USA with the painter Abe Rattner just after WWII (1945). Henry who'd been living in Paris from the early 30s up until the Nazis successfully took over France was back in the US and wanted to see what this country he'd been away from for over a decade was really (in reality) like. He ended up calling the book The Air-Conditioned Nightmare. It's a cold look at this country and not a very favorable one.

A new world is not made simply by trying to forget the old. A new world is made with a new spirit, with new values. Our world may have begun that way, but today it is caricatural. Our world is a world of things.... What we dread most, in the face of the impending débâcle, is that we shall be obliged to give up our gewgaws, our gadgets, all the little comforts that have made us so uncomfortable.... We are not peaceful souls; we are smug, timid, queasy and quakey.

(Henry Miller (1891-1980), U.S. author. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, preface (1945)
I live within the heat. Yes, I naturally rebel against it, but I do it with fans not refrigeration. You know how stale a refrigerator can get; that armpit-odor smell it develops when it's not spotlessly scrubbed down daily with a powerful Clorox-based cleaner? My mother used to keep an opened box of Arm & Hammer baking soda in her fridge. She thought due to advertising that baking soda cleaned odors out of refrigerators. I've read recently where scientists studying the matter say baking soda doesn't really absorb odors after all. Again, advertising over science. Yes, advertising is antiscience. Science represents searching for the truth; advertising represents searching for the right lie to tell in order to sell a concept or a product.

The Gulf Coast oil spill for instance. How disgusting to learn that British Petroleum makes a billion a year off the US armed forces, supplying our military with 60% of its fuel, a contract President Obama has just recently renewed. This oil SPILL (spill, Hell, it's a gusher) is by far the worst oil spill in the history of oil drilling and the culprit, British Petroleum is still making billion-dollar deals with our government. [By the bye, Good Ole Billy Jeff Clinton is bragging, as he tours the world on some not-talked-about mission (notice how all these Elites are always on a mission--usually a secret mission), that if he were President (and in terms of Obama appointments and advisers and such, he is still president)--he would bomb that out-of-control OIL well back to the Stone Age. Yeah, Old Wildcatter Bill. What the hell does he know about OIL drilling except the petroleum companies he's got in his stock portfolio (managed for him by the biggest sleight-of-hand stock-trading insiders in the business) are bringing him in big dividends and buying-short-and-selling-high bucks on this Wall Street-controlled roller-coaster stock market--shooting up to 11,000 one week and bombing back down into the 9,000s the next week--up and down, while the 1 percent who rule us are playing stock market poker among themselves--like old Warren "Bluffing" Buffett, that crooked old rich fool. Turns out this old crooked gnarly bastard (who didn't make his first millions on his own but inherited them from his old politician pappy) owns Moody's, the stock-rating and grading company. Now it turns out an investigative reporter has revealed this week that Moody's has been crookedly rigging its ratings and grades to the advantage of several companies in terms of their worth and investment value--and now here's old Wall-Street-wizened Warren caught holding the bag for Moody's indescretions. Eventually, Warren will hah-hah-hah the whole thing, boys-will-be-boys bullshit, and weasel out of it in his best weaselly way. All these crooked bastards get away with it. White Collar Crimes committed by White-Collar White Rich Men are never prosecuted--oh no, that would be a Capitalism immorality. Just a few days before Moody's was exposed as a crooked bunch of fraudulent stock raters and graders, Buffett's PR goons were proudly announcing that Good Ole Kindhearted Warren was overgenerously and overgood-naturedly giving a little over a billion bucks to charity! Oh, Warren, how graciously generous of you, you weasel bastard. You bastards now get to take 100% of your charitable donations off your fucking taxes, you creeps.

Why aren't We the People upset over these seemingly every-day-reported shenanigans? These pompous assholes are openly crooked right before our eyes and We the People can do nothing about it. Our Supremely Rightwing Dumbass Court rules against We the People in favor of these pirates, these robber barons, these private-hedge-fund crooks, these wealth-stealing private-equity bastards buying up Third World debt every time.... Why does this shit so upset me but not many other people--certainly not the majority of my friends? One of my contented friends is always reminding me of my old spiels about how everything goes in circles--the effort is in surviving through the bad cycles and arriving fresh with the dawning of a new cycle.

And, by the bye, about Oil Executive Bill Clinton's bombing that well: yes, ordinarily stuffing a gusher with sticks of dynamite does shut it down, but our modern-day OIL field experts have no experience in dynamiting a well that's as deep as this one British Petroleum has given us. In a worst-case scenario (a very possible scenario, too) exploding (bombing) that well could set off under-the-sea-floor cracks that would perhaps evolve into say a 1,000 smaller but just-as-deadly oil leaks that could eventually lead to the flooding of the whole Gulf of Mexico in OIL. Oil, by the further bye, has just come ashore for the first time on the beaches at Galveston, Texas, site of the US's worst natural disaster, the 1901 Galveston Flood, until Katrina came along and changed the face and course of New Orleans. And for a further by the bye, an oil sheen is now being seen on the surface of Lake Pontchartrain.]
[I just noted a headline on Yahoo News from an AP US-economic-condition retrospect article:

Economic stress is easing more slowly

I read that several times and still, no matter how I read it, I go, "What the fuck does that mean?" Turns out from the article what it really means is that the Economic Recovery Obama says we're currently enduring is going more slowly than Obama's idiot advisors had thought and therefore signs of economic stress are returning in the form of bankruptcies suddenly on the increase and also foreclosures up again after going down in May. What the headline should have said was "Economic Stress Is Getting Worse Than Predicted."

And we know how bad our politicians are at keeping promises and making predictions and saying they did not have sex with all those men and women....
Economic stress has certainly rained on my little paradise. That Moonstruck Diner breakfast I used to eat with regularity--a large tomato juice, scrambled eggs, a short stack, sausage, hashbrowns, and a cup of joe once cost me around $7. Now, that same breakfast, last time I ate at the Moonstruck, is $18.00.
At 2:17 PM on this gorgeous sunny day in New York City, the temperature according to my computer is 98 degrees. It's going up to 100 'fore the day's over most probably [it went to 103 in Central Park today]; tonight's low will only be in the mid-80s. Tomorrow, same thing. Yet, the air in my apartment though hot is pleasantly so, refreshingly so; I'm not even sweating; my fans are blowing cooled hot air briskly across my shirtless body. It's hot up in the loft bed above me, though the fan up there is still blowing mighty and if you sit still, is still very cooling. "Bring it on," as one of our previous great presidents once said. He said it so confidently we all believed his bullshit even though we all knew for sure all that he said was pure-dee bullshit. As President Obama said, G.W. Bush (who had a birthday today) was a really easy-to-get-along-with dude; a great drinkin' buddy, you know. Obama found G.W. so easy-to-get-along-with he's continued on with nearly every one of Junior's policies, especially his policies of raping his citizens's privacy and machinegun-ing the Bill of Rights, and double-especially his rightwinging of the Supremely Dumb Court (Kagan is a right-centrist lawyer, much more rightwing than the liberal judge she's replacing) and triple-especially of his continuing Cowboy Georgie W's unwinable and economy-crashing WARS, and his policies of torture and assassination, Obama carrying this idea even further by now enabling our assassination agencies to assassinate American citizens should they be acting like terrorists.

In the hot thick of things,

for The "Hot Off the Presses" Boiling-in-Hell's-Oil Afternoon The Daily Growler

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

(spied this on the net - Brad)

Obama's Re-Election Promise

The promise of "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage" can be traced to Hoover's 1928 Presidential campaign.
Well, Obama has twisted these words and is promising that if he is re-elected there will be "a chick in every car and some pot in every garage!"