Minutes (New York)

July 16, 2009

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  • 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

ghetto

  • 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.”

Minutes (Chicago)

July 15, 2009

posted & written by Caroline Picard

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  • At The Beach: I saw a woman, a rather bougie character with Nancy Kennedy sunglasses and hat, she was very pretty and everything she wore, including her hair, seemed to sit (unaffected by wind) in its right place. She was perhaps about 28 or 30 years old. She had a son, presumably. She was with a young boy, about six years old. He had short brown hair and board shorts on–the kind that look expensive if only because an adult might wear them. The child kept running laps around his mother, where she sat on a plain white beach towel in the sand. Slowly the circumference of his laps expanded. In order to negotiate other bathers, he started weaving in and out of their towels. In his enthusiasm he sprayed sand on these strangers. The mother began to scold him, “Travis. Travis honey slow down,” and each time she did, he seemed to accelerate. Her voice became louder, “Travis careful not to kick sand on people. That’s not nice,” and louder “Travis Come Here Right Now,” until the boy made his way to the water and then in the water, where he hopped up and down in the shallow shore. Splashin. His mother got up and made her way to the water’s edge. As she was fully clothed, she did not want to get wet. She paced the water’s edge. “Travis. You are being a very bad little boy.” Her hair came loose a little and its wisps, suddenly wild, seemed to agitate her further. The little boy laughed. Out of nowhere he got in his head to take his shorts off, which he did promptly, adept as a frat boy, he undid the draw string, still giggling and pushed the waistline down, wriggling out of the shorts and flinging them farther out into the lake. (He did not yet have a good arm and the shorts flopped on the water’s surface a mere foot (if that) away. The woman was by now near hysterics and continually looked around at the strangers flanking her, watching her; their ambivelence seemed to hit her like judgement and she frowned hard and brittle. When suddenly the little boy dashed towards her back to the beach, naked, he ran directly at her and then, when her arms were most wild (her hat fell off) he scrambled through the reach of her arms, circled around her and dashed back into the water. There, suddenly he paused, squatted and still giggling, began to poop.

Minutes (Chicago)

July 14, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

chickenstorew

  • Man who sells live chickens down the street. Every morning he arrives alongside the bakers before the sun risen. He fits a key into the metal gate and shuffles the steely exterior above his head. He fits another key into the front door and, once open, the street is flooded with the sound of scuttling and squawking and clucks; the street is flooded with the smell of guano. To the chicken man it is the smell of morning. He steps inside the room, sips his hot cup of coffee, flips on the fluorescent overhead lights and begins to sweep the night’s seed up off the floor.
  • At the veterinarian office a man with kind eyes, meaty hands and a metal beard sits behind the desk in scrubs studying a thick book. Another customer with a Pomeranian asks him if he is a student. The Pomeranian yaps and prances about in a constant state of masturbatory pleasure. The man behind the desk shakes his head, “No,” he says. “But I will be in the fall. I’m going to school to study Mind Philosophy.”
  • Each morning on Milwaukee avenue, round about ten-thirty or eleven, the shop girls go to their respective shops in their respective shop girl clothes: fancy hats and uni-suit shorts and fanny packs and feathers in their hair, sparkly my-little-pony eyes, elegant painted fingers, high heel shoes recycled from the eighties, side pony tails and scowls. They open their respective front doors and enter dark storefronts, reappearing in a matter of minutes to sweep the street in front of their wares. This they do weakly, using one hand to bat a too-soft and too-small broom across the dusty crevices of their respective stoops. They seem to tire easily, taking regular breaks to sigh and bring the palm to their respective forheads. I watched one girl in the distance, moody as ever and dressed like cinderella, she had a towel and a bottle of windex and she spent a good hour vaguley rubbing the window. She never cleaned the area above her head, but occasionally stood on tip toe, and with the effort one makes for an audience, stretched and failed to reach those parts of the window above her head. These remained smeared. By twelve these girls go back inside and open up shop officially, where once again they langour behind glass counters, heavy with sighs and  nostalgia.

Minutes (San Francisco)

July 14, 2009

• On the bus, two women sat across from each other and discussed cats. One asked the other if she had ever encountered a cat named “Pumpkin, over on 10th Street.” The other replied that she hadn’t. The first continued, “Yeah, sometimes he just jumps out of the window onto the street, just to say ‘hello.’ He doesn’t jump on me in a bad way; he does it in a good way. Like peaches fall off the tree at the end of the summer. You know. He’s a big fat orange cat, so I call him ‘Pumpkin.’ I don’t know what his real name is. He’s Pumpkin!”

• A man on the bus made the other man try his pen, claiming that it’s the smoothest write he’ll ever have. The second man tried to blame the bumpiness of the bus for the lack of enthusiasm.

• Three guys at the café sat around and spoke of obesity. It was all quite solemn, even the story of the one, who is a resident in a local hospital, of an obese woman who came in, and as he lifted a fold of her fat to help her disrobe found her remote control.

 

  • At the bus stop two kids—probably brothers—wait on their way to summercamp. One is pointing out all the buildings within sight that have turrets or are otherwise over 2 stories with odd protrusions, saying, “that one too; and that one; and this one over here; and yeah that one too…” The other kid responds incredulously, “all of those houses are haunted?” “Yes, and we’re very fortunate to live in a neighborhood where we know which houses are haunted. That’s why I think I’m going to stay here when I get married.”
  • At the wrought-iron table of the outdoor seating of a French café two men sit with coffee. One tells the other, exasperated, that he saw in the morning a slight young Asian girl waiting for the bus pull out a Steel Reserve, “big can,” from her coat, take a long drink, and put it back. He then asks, hopefully, “can we blame that on the economy?”