Monday, January 22, 2007

making use of every part of the animal

I moved to a new sublet not too far from my last one. Its different. One of those not better or worse situations. Just different. I'm listening to Tom Waits softly as I type in the little kitchen between the two bedrooms. The furnace is hissing while Tom sings through a throat of gravel and mud about Brooklyn girls on downtown trains. That was in 1985 I think. Brooklyn girls probably didn't sport choppy bangs and pho-vintage clothes on the L train back then. Well, most of them still don't I guess, just the ones I interact with. I live in the thick of gentrification, all artists, musicians, yuppies, hipsters here. You hear old Decemberists songs in restaurants, and everyone knows someone in a famous band, the fucking bodegas have vegan sandwiches. Its all these decrepit looking buildings with stylish gourmet restaurants inside, mom and pop coffee shops, dirty bars with drink deals on PBR, record stores that only sell vinyl... You get off the train and its all like that, but it didn't take me long to realize that its just the meat on the skeleton of the subway line. The projects were maybe five blocks from my last sublet. You forget about that sort of stuff when the rent is high and all the establishments are tailored to your taste. I remember reading something in one of the conceptual art classes I took in college, that most artists are at least upper middle class before they call themselves an artist. That is so clear here.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking shit. I'm stating the obvious and I fucking love it here. It fits me, and I can afford it by doing what I love - thats still not real to me. I love that every inch of this city is cluttered with manmade structures - its the perfect opposite of natural - I love how unique little areas like this spring up within the crumbling infrastructure of past-prime neighborhoods. You know how they teach us in school that Indians would use every part of the animal after they killed it. Thats how it is here. Every bone, every tooth of this city has been carved up again and again. Its constantly letting one area decay while fixing up another. You end up dropping hundreds on dinner in the Meat Packing District or renting a nice new apartment where a mental institution once stood...

The last sublet I had felt like a house I lived in a couple years ago in Santa Cruz. Whole bunch of people in and out, marble countertops, dishwasher, every room but the kitchen converted into a bedroom full of dorm room funiture. The woman who lives in my new apartment is an artist, not an actor or student. This is a place you can create in, it has atmosphere, it has clutter. Take a detail slide of any section of the apartment and its an art piece. The drapes have holes in them, but they are tactful holes. Its decorated according to careful emotional decisions - nothing is Ikea here. Every chair, every light fixture, every pot and pan is completely unique and loved for it. Its feels like a home, all organic and sentimental. I can just sit and play scales on my guitar. In the last place I had to get out, get some coffee or a drink or something. I want to paint here. This is how my house will be someday.

Friday night I saw Coney Island again, sunk my shoes into frozen sand, slid along the icy boardwalk. We looked up at the closed amusement park, the looming ferris wheel - undoubtedly haunted. Waves crashed beyond the darkness and lonely pieces of metal clanked against lonely flagpoles. I saw the dark eyes of sudden death in the hypothermic waters churning below the pier and we caught the subway back to Manhattan. Warm and safe inside at 3am I could see the wind taking violent hold of a snowfall. In the morning I walked to brunch with ice and snow crunching below the soles of my shoes. Winter has arrived at last.