String Cheese Incident

This article:

Lowville Had Lots of Water…

My comment:

“We are not so naive as to think that a large corporation such as Kraft-Heinz can cease production of one of its core products overnight, but it’s fair to assume that a world in which we are forced to ask ourselves whether we want string cheese for all or water for all is approaching. Israel recycles almost 90 percent of its water to be reused for agricultural purposes. Perhaps Kraft can find room in next year’s budget for an R&D project that would explore whether a water recycling system would be possible at its Lowville facility. This in turn might inspire local and state governments to consider whether such a system would work for communities at large.

“Perhaps the state of New York could explore subsidizing such research and development at Kraft. It is often asserted in the pages of this newspaper that industry will spur green technology innovation, not government. Let’s get the ball rolling!”

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To Phaelon and back

In the movie Flight of the Navigator, when Max tries to drop David off at his family’s home in South Florida, David decides at the last minute not to go and instead tells Max to “take me with you.” Take me with you actually means take me eight years into the past where you found me. As David tells Max, “That’s my family but that’s not my home.

Max initially abducted David in order to study his “inferior brain” on a faraway planet called Phaelon. Because they traveled to Phaelon at the speed of light, what felt like two hours to David felt like eight years to his family back on Earth.

At first glance, Flight of the Navigator just seems like a fun eighties movie. And it is. Alan Silvestri composed the music and a very young Sarah Jessica Parker co-stars. But the film also manages to be a sophisticated depiction of one of the more timeless and oft-used story types: the hero’s journey.

David is having trouble at home, and he must travel to a strange and fantastical underworld, or in this case overworld, so he can set things right. David is summoned on this quest by Max, an alien from another world. The heroes in these tales rarely have a choice in the matter. Frodo is destined to carry the ring to Mordor; Luke has to leave the farm and take on the dark side. This recalls what Malvolio says in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night about people that have “greatness thrust upon them.” The true heroes are the reluctant ones.

Conflict of some kind, be it familial or otherwise, always seems to be a prerequisite in these stories. There’s something in the real world that can only be fixed with a visit to an alternative reality. What David must fix is his relationship with his little brother. Extraordinarily, his brother is one of the people that helps him negotiate his new reality, and in turn, David learns that Jeffrey isn’t such a weasel. Back to the Future does a similar thing, but Marty McFly travels back (and forward) in time to make his life better, whereas David visits the future only to learn that maybe his life isn’t so bad after all. Perhaps all Marty needed to do was change his perspective. “Hello, McFly. Anybody in there?”

David is returned to the correct time and place by the end of the film. He is a much wiser person and has a new friend in the form of a tiny alien creature. The hero must always bring something back from the underworld as proof of his experience. Sometimes this is a gift but often it’s some kind of physical wound (see Luke’s severed hand).

Nothing so dramatic as losing a hand in a light saber fight happens to David. That’s why I like Flight of the Navigator. It pulls off the hero’s journey with subtlety. In fact, the film is so undramatic that it likely wouldn’t be made today. But I loved it when I was a kid and I still do. David’s story proves that you actually can go home again.

This poem was about a fish head

I was writing a poem

about a fish head

I saw on the way to work.

Then I saw a dead bird.

Suddenly, I was writing a poem

about the severed head of a fish

and the sad death of a baby finch.

As I was piecing the new poem together,

I passed the body of a dead squirrel

and later I saw the mutilated remains of a pigeon.

My poem was beginning to fill up with animals

and none of them were alive.

It reminded of something funny my friend said once.

We were passing by a cemetery and he said,

“You know how many of those people are dead?”

I shook my head.

“All of them.”

 

Reminder

I saw a girl on the train

with my name on her hand.

There it was,

written in black cursive

on that fleshy patch between

the thumb and index finger

of her right hand.

I’d never seen that woman

before in my life.

Could it be that

her husband or boyfriend

is also named T–?

Perhaps she wrote our name

as a reminder to break things off with us,

first thing after work

and before yoga class,

where she will stretch and lengthen

and exhale all her memories of us.

Leaving the city

We do the strangest things sometimes. I was supposed to fly home today for a short visit but decided not to go at the last minute. Not the last minute; I was at the airport though. I called my wife and said, “I’m not getting on a plane today. Is that stupid?” She said simply, “Not at all. I’ll see you at home.”

In The Sun Also Rises, Lady Brett Ashley says, “One’s an ass to leave Paris.”

SunAlsoRises

She says this after referring to Paris as “this pestilential city.” Another character in Hemingway’s first book says she doesn’t like Paris. “It’s expensive and dirty.”

I guess that’s how I feel about New York. But I also feel like a fool when I leave. Now that I’m married, I don’t want to do it alone if I can help it. I want a buddy. My buddy.

I know it’s important to leave the city. My friend calls it resetting. But I just couldn’t imagine leaving today. New York looked so beautiful from the car window on the way to the airport. The city itself is resetting in the form of Spring. And it’s halfway over! A weeping kind of willow tree in our neighborhood has already cycled through it’s pretty white flowers to green.

Perhaps New York at this time, like Paris in the twenties, is “pestilential” and “expensive,” but I think what Ashley is saying is that one is an ass for giving up, for letting it get to you. I came across a commentary about Hemingway’s book when I was searching for the book jacket image. The section of the analysis that I read claims that Ashley’s comments and those of others “provide a measure of one’s ability to live fully and intelligently, getting one’s money’s worth” in gay Paree (Imagining Paris…, J. Gerald Kennedy).

Call it the beautiful struggle (tongue firmly in cheek). The struggle is very real for a lot of people in New York. Still young and vulnerable at 38, I try to remind myself of this. It’s forced on me once and awhile, too. I once struck up a conversation with a security guard at The Frick Collection museum who wanted to know if I liked living in New York. I replied yes. Did he? Not really, he said. It’s a very hard place to live for many people.

I feel grateful that I am eligible to make a choice: stay or go. A person is indeed an ass for leaving New York. Or Paris. Or anywhere for that matter. Maybe what we’re trying to do when we travel is leave ourselves.

 

 

Clarinet concerto in A major

Moments like these we will not remember,

will not be photographed

or documented in anyway.

The radio in there tuned to WNYC,

intermingling with the music in this room.

“Has so far agreed only to release the redacted version…”

“Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, dum, dum, dum…”

In dish gloves and with a fork in your hand,

you say to the big cat:

“There is no more. You ate all of it.”

I read somewhere that Mozart

was humming the timpani from the Requiem

when he took his last breath.

I wonder what he was doing

when he composed other melodies.

Perhaps the singsong of a peddler

through his open window,

mixing with the sound of his wife

telling their youngest son:

“There is no more, You ate all of it.”

And M. without his camera.

 

Infinite Timeline

I’ve been thinking about infinite timelines. Not because I’ve been reading Albert Einstein but more likely because I’ve been watching Rick and Morty. And because on another timeline in an alternative universe, my one-year old cat Fish is dead and I killed her.

IMG_0235

Recently, without me realizing it, Fish got stuck in the second drawer of my shitty dresser. The drawers are always getting stuck. I tried to close the top drawer once, twice and then paused, preparing to slam it shut as hard as I could. Something stayed my hand though.

I’ve had trouble controlling my anger in the past. The release brought on by a slammed door or a smashed electronic device always made me feel better. Or so I thought. In this instance, the relief I may have felt would’ve immediately given way to unimaginable horror. In another world (a version of hell), my little cat is dead and my partner isn’t talking to me, perhaps ever again.

Why did I keep my anger in check on this particular occasion? I don’t remember what I was thinking at the moment. Maybe a confluence of factors, or lack thereof, had something to do with it. If I had been having a bad day or even if I was hungry, I might’ve given into my frustration with the crappy furniture. But I had just had dinner and instead I calmly pulled the top drawer out to find the cutest cat ever blinking from on top of a cashmere sweater that I never wear.

I suppose you could say that God intervened in this moment. Buddhism might recognize it as a triumph of wisdom over emotion. A quote which seems to be following me around lately might be worth considering at this point. It comes from a man known colloquially as Rashi. The internet says he was a medieval French rabbi and prolific interpreter of the Talmud: “Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.” Indeed. That especially goes for stuck dresser drawers.