Friday, March 23, 2012

A Foggy Day in New York Town

Foto by tgw, "Fog Over Manhattan," New York City, March 2012


by: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

      HE fog comes
      on little cat feet.

      It sits looking
      over harbor and city
      on silent haunches
      and then moves on.
A Foggy Day
New York City looks so funny when it's fogged in. We've had thick fog for two mornings this week. Seems we've had more fog of late than I remember ever seeing in the immediate or forgotten past. For one thing, it's so funny and strange to walk up Broadway and look up on both sides of you and see no skyscrapers. Yet you know they're up there. Like the Empire State Building totally disappears. You look up where it once was and it's not there. Just that grey specter on silent haunches, which in looking out my window now across southern Manhattan, I see has already moved on.

I once owned a Jaguar that had Lucas fog lamps (we call 'em lights, they call them lamps) on it. Yellowish, orangy lights that rather than reflecting off the fog back onto themselves like standard sealed-beam car lights glow through the fog like eerie cat's eyes. Certainly you needed fog lamps in England where my Jag came from in those days (Jaguar is today owned by Tata of India). I recall in my past when London fogs were so thick and smoggy and hanging around for days that Londoners were dropping dead by the hundreds during them. Fogs loaded with smog. Los Angeles, too, had those kind of human-killer smog-laced fogs.

When I lived briefly high on a hill in San Francisco, I remember the first morning I woke up and looked out across San Francisco Bay and saw the fog coming in on little cat feet and curling up on its haunches snugly around the Golden Gate Bridge how weirdly ethereal it was seeing that great bridge sort of floating like a bouy between Fort Point Historic Site and Point Bonita way over on the Marin Headlands as I lay in my bed still foggy from the rather chilly night's sleep looking down at the bay out my floor-to-ceiling window. Ethereal to the point of being a dream view--the bridge still buoyed in my dream space--until the lovely sight of my naked wife drinking her morning coffee interrupted that view by imposing her Venus-rising-from-the-foggy-sea presence between my eyes and my filmy dream. Her own presence entering that view on her little cat feet to pose cocked on one of her exquisite haunches while the sun came sweeping up over the city from the south and began to vacuum clean that fog away and put that bridge back into its utilitarian reality. The ethereal replaced by the real of the traffic on the bridge and the gasoline fumes and the bridge's swaying softly to and fro and the thousands of human beings shuttling to and fro from San Francisco to Marin County and from Marin County into San Francisco. Then my wife would light up one of her Salems and another kind of fog creeped in on smelly human hands and filled our bedroom's air with nicotine fog, the fog that would later take the life of that oh-so beautiful creature.

The Fog in My Heart
One of the stupidest teevee shows I've ever tried to watch, and believe me, there are hundreds of such shows to pick among, is the long-running and very popular CBS "Survivor" series. I mean, you call these bartender-work-out-looking dudes and always bikini-clad casting couch babes survivors? It's such a stupid show I can't watch very much of it. But when I watch it, and I see all these phony stretchings of a survival imagination, I am reminded of coming from Bellevue Hospital's outpatient clinics where I sit for hours and hours among true survivors. I mean I watch these trendy young people on teevee getting so serious over a scripted three-camera-shooting and directed and brightly lit staged stupid teevee show--no matter if they are set in Borneo or Papua New Guinea--while these actor-types play these phony kids's games making us feel like they are so suffering and having to eat worms and grubs and bats and shit for survival. I'm screaming at these Hollywood fools, bring your three cameras into one of these Bellevue clinics and show us some real survivors. Like these little dried up old ladies in wheelchairs who look like death warmed over coming to these outpatient clinics, blowing thousands of dollars, maybe they are covered by some kind of insurance or not, totally dependent on this hospital and its staff for their continuance in life. Hundreds of people on walkers; hundreds of people sitting in depressed slumps waiting to see a doctor or a nurse, waiting for a blood work up or waiting to get the scripts they need to survive, the drugs, all of them staying faithful to these young mostly White or Indian doctors and these Caribbean and Philippine nurses. And I sit listening to a cancer patient talking about what her therapy is costing her, admitting finally that maybe it's better that she go ahead and die and get it all over with. Show me those survivors and not these cheesy young bartenders and physical fitness trainers and bikini-wearing casting couch whores who when they survive this stupid show will go on to a fame and fortune based on their being on show number 25 or this episode or that one or getting kicked off show number 40 or because they were so cute, so precious. It disgusts me.

I sat in the coumadin clinic the other day right across from a Black man who was being accompanied by his daughter (I assumed). This Black man who was all pretzeled up in a wheelchair, his legs twisted up under his shriveling body, and when he tried to talk all he could do was grunt and moan and loll words out around his frozen tongue.

Or you talk about a survivor, my good friend of thirty years, a Black woman insurance executive who has a sister who was diagnosed with MS ten or fifteen years ago--a once gorgeous woman who had a successful business out in California--and now she lays like a vegetable back in the family home in Illinois cared for by one of her sisters--she lays on this hospital bed, like I said, a vegetable, now blind, unable to eat except via a glucose drip, unable to shit so her sister has to dig it out of her ass, and yet she survives--she's still alive--living on. Now that's a true survivor to me.

And now I'm a survivor myself with a corrupted heart, a heart only half working, a heart being kept working by my taking seven different drugs daily and constantly going back and forth to the hospital to check my blood and to prescribe me new drugs and to see cardiologists who listen to my heart, who sit and hem-and-awe and look concerned and when you asked them, hey, doc, why you lookin' that way, they say, oh, nothing, I'm just concerned about this or that.

for The Daily Growler

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