Minutes: Overheard

September 15, 2009

posted & written by Caroline Picard


As I walked down Honore last night there was a woman eating ice cream. She walked with two others, a woman and a man. They also ate ice cream. The first woman, while scooping some of the ice cream from the disposable cup and into her mouth remarked: “Human milk is just much sweeter than cowmilk.”

Minutes (Reno)

August 7, 2009

posted by caroline picard


  • There are tools from the fifth dimension. These tools, glass rods of various lengths, colors and sizes resemble small donuts, little larger than a Sakgewea. The more expensive tools resemble phalic prisms. These tools can be placed in various combinations on the chakras of the body. They are said to regulate the vibrations of the body into a fifth dimension frequency, thereby infusing the body with healing and consciousness. WHERE THE TOOLS CAME FROM: an alien who looked like a man from the fifth dimension entered a church outside of Reno. He was very tall and bald and he had very large hands. He wore a business suit. He had a five o’clock shadow. He carried a briefcase inside of which he carried his tools. The minister, a stout woman in a pastel pants’ suit (she was prone to seeing color fields), begged him to the side and at the end of the sermon. And after further inquiry it was decided that they would go into business together. They opened a factory. They hired illegal immigrants from the casino parking lot and showed the workers how to make the tools. They conducted sermons before and after work and at the end of church on Sundays, the alien/giant/joe shmoe offers demonstrations about the tools and how they work. MOST COMMON QUESTION: What happened to the fourth dimension?
  • There is another church outside of Reno. Here another stout woman in another pastel pants suit conducts her sermons. The church is carpeted inside with drop ceilings and the windows are covered in yellow, see-through sheets of plastic. Inside, people sit on plastic folding chairs. At the end of the service, after the final hymn, the pastor disappears with three young children (the palbearers) into a back room. If you sit in the back, you will notice that one by one, people disappear into that room where they stay for up to half an hour. If you were to go inside, they would have you lie on a massage table covered in terri cloth towel. You would see the moon-faced children, sollemn, gazing down at you. You would remark upon the underside of their chins. The one above your head would hold your shoulders. The pastor would run a nail along side different parts of your body while chanting in a language you do not recognize. You would catch sight of blood out of the corner of your eye, though you would feel no pain. This would go on for several minutes and sometimes the pastor would break her chanting and pull the second child aside, to show you the bowl the child carried. “Look, this is your kidney,” she would say, lifting up an organ. “It was diseased do I took it out.” Afterwards the children would wash your body in warm water with more terricloth towels. They would leave you alone to dress yourself, you would re-enter the church, leave a donation and drive home.

Minutes (San Francisco)

July 31, 2009


  • On the bus, a man gave a woman his business card. With a completely straight face, he told her that he is a professional: “I can be very professional. My hair has turned grey, and I keep the top button of my shirts buttoned. I sit upright and blame the world’s ills on Trotskyites and mules. I have one tooth that is solid gold. I keep a thumbtack in my shoe in case I need to show emotion on a moment’s notice. I keep a handkerchief in my pocket in case I have to cavort with rabble/rousers. I have disposed of all my pairs of dungarees, and only wear linen.”

Minutes (San Francisco)

July 24, 2009

• Two 9th Grade girls sat on the bus, reading St. Exupery, each with a large box of cereal in their open backpacks. One was distracted, looked outside, and called to the other, who was sitting a few seats away. “Look, there’s Jade Café! Have you ever been to Jade Café?” “I’ve been the one in New York.” “Oh this makes me so happy. We should take a picture. We should take a picture of me in front of the café.” “We’re on the bus.” “But we should take a picture in front of my café.” “Your café?” “Yes, I’m Jade and this is my café.” Pantomiming. A long pause. “Can I offer you a baked potato!”

Minutes (San Francisco)

July 23, 2009



  • A couple was sitting on a bench at Golden Gate Park, possibly on a date, most likely on their first, when a broad winged hawk took notice. It jumped off its branch flew down in front of the couple and grabbed a small squirrel. The man turned to the lady and remarked that he thinks that that was the first time he saw nature happen.

(More minutes to come.)

Minutes (San Francisco)

July 21, 2009


• On the bus, towards the back, a young man with a beard exploded with sudden excitement. He pulled out his notebook—college-lined—and searched for a pen. Not finding one, he turned to the people next to him and pleaded for a pen. With pen in hand, the bearded boy started to write, quickly filling up 3 pages of his notebook. Upon completion, he went back through the piece slowly, ready to make editorial changes. The piece was a story—fiction likely—written in rage, or at least an annoyed tone. The main character was a man on a powder blue Vespa with a matching hat, and he was summarily described as “the gayest guy ever.” He “whizzed about town” on a “scooter that would have gotten him pummeled years ago” all the while thinking that “I am going to get so laid tonight.” All the plot turns were not apparent from the seat behind the writer, but it was apparent that Vespa guy thinks he’s better than the rest of us. As the boy went through the story looking for things to change, he only made one change. He changed the sentence “I am going to get so laid tonight” to “I am going to so get laid tonight.”

Minutes (San Francisco)

July 16, 2009



For quite a few years there has been a scholastic debate in Chicago concerning why the homeless don’t eat pigeons. On the one hand, many argue that it is a good source of free food that is relatively healthy. On the other hand, the naysayers argue that there is a delicate balance in society concerning the homeless, and that that balance would be disrupted irreparably by the sight of a homeless man snapping a birds neck or the constant sight of homeless with blood on their hands. In San Francisco, it seems that the question has become moot, because the homeless have begun (or continue) to eat pigeons:

  • On a relatively busy portion of Hayes Avenue, two wings with the meaty body surgically removed lay on the sidewalk (see image above). There were splashes of blood leading up to a sleeping bag hotel where a homeless man slept. It seems that he had had a wild night.

Minutes (New York)

July 16, 2009


  • 2:36 pm: I was walking to the subway to go to a meeting with my professor this afternoon when I saw something scurrying along the edge of the sidewalk. IT WAS A FOUR INCH LONG COCKROACH! It almost walked right up my leg, but I dodged it. The suit headed toward me on the sidewalk gave me a funny look after the dodge.
  • 2:40 pm: When I got to the subway, I saw a guy trying to get a baby carriage through the subway turnstile and having obvious difficulty, so I stopped to offer my assistance. He looked at the stroller, and at me, and then handed me his baby. I was in shock, but the baby took it well, and so I just googled at him like you’re supposed to do with babies. By the time the dude had folded up the stroller, his swipe had expired, and other people were showing up and trying to be helpful by telling him which door he was supposed to go through, because you obviously can’t push a stroller through a subway turnstile. I just handed him back his baby and wished him luck, and I think that threw people off. I wanted to tell him not to tell his partner that he had handed their infant son off to a complete stranger in the subway. Still, it was nice to see that kind of trust in New York City.
  • 7:32 pm: I had to work late because of my meeting, so I was late leaving the building. There’d been movie crews around our building and the buzz was that the dude who plays Edward in the Twilight movies was shooting something in the neighborhood, something with Pierce Brosnan. There was a crowd across the street from the Pearl Diner, where they were filming, and people were snapping pictures. New Yorkers like to pretend that they’re all hip and jaded about celebrity, but it’s not true all the time. The crowd was right in the way of my usual route to the subway home, so I walked all the way around the block to avoid joining them. How would they like it if people crowded around and took pictures while they were trying to work?

(submitted by Jessica Speer of recent Shamblers fame)

Minutes (Chicago)

July 16, 2009

posted & written by Caroline Picard


  • I passed a man on the street this morning, an older Polish fellow he wore dirty clothes: a frayed visor, a faded blue t-shirt with paint spots on it, muddy white pants that stopped at his ankles (he was rather squat) revealing a pair of very dirty socks that fed into a beat up pair of running shoes. He stood at the edge of Milwaukee Avenue just before the six corners, in front of the Flat Iron Building and kissed at the cars that passed. The kissing sounds only stopped when he took a breath, they were flat and never changing in inflection. I watched him kiss at the cars for over fifteen minutes  before I continued walking on my way.
  • When I got on the bus at Damen and Montrose I got on the bus with another gentleman. He had sleek black hair that fell in a shimmering sheet to his waist. He carried a stack of metal CD’s, having evidently just exited “METAL HAVEN” a store on Montrose. He got on the bus. He sat down on the bus. In the back. He put his CD’s next to him very neatly. He pulled a tube of cream out of his pocket and rolled up the sleeve of his shirt. On his arm, about five inches in diameter, there was a fresh satanic star tattoo. Carefully the man-Godiva applied the cream, tracing the lines of the tattoo and smoothing in the lotion. Another man on the bus nodded from another seat, “That’s a nice tattoo,” the man said, “Real nice.” The metal head blushed with pride and stared at the ground whispering thanks.
  • A woman moved from New York to Baltimore. Without learning about the neighborhoods in Baltimore she bought a corner store. Because it was fully stocked. Which is to say there was Stauffer’s Stove Top Stuffing and Ramen noodles and macaroni & cheese, liquor in small plastic airplane bottles, candy, potato chips, pork rinds, cooking oil, white bread, ice cream, ice etc. She bought this place because it was cheap and because she would never have to pay for groceries, at least for the next year. As it happened, the corner store was situated in the worst neighborhood in Baltimore. Which is to say it boasted the highest murder rate. She nevertheless persevered and ate the store’s wares and didn’t go out at night.


  • On 6th Street and Market, the google sedan with the mounted camera passed by. A shirtless man—probably homeless—gave the car the finger and yelled “fuck you car!” Another homeless man down the street heard the commotion and joined in yelling at the car “Fuck you CIA.”
  • At the coffee stall two guys stood around when one announced his theory: “So you know why there are so many libertines in San Francisco…” The other, mockingly responded, “libertines?” “Yeah, it’s what we’re famous for. It’s why conservatives hate us.” “I think you’re using the wrong word, man.”
  • The first man corrected himself, perhaps unecessarilly. “Okay, liberals. I think we have so many because of the earthquakes. It’s hard to be only for yourself when all the houses are connected and the hills are there and the ground may shake at any moment. I care what you do because it affects me.” The listener responded, “What about Florida? They have hurricanes and they’re not liberal.” “No, it has to be from the ground. Not from the sky. It’s hard to get worked up about they sky. The ground is terrifying.”