June 2, 2011

After all [comma]

Just moved again, still getting settled, sharing a bit of sketching from notes.

There's a canal through the city, a deep concrete channel. The water winds under the loops of graying highway, reflects the rusted supports, the blackened brick of row homes, Croatian halls, ancient Italian bistros. It's coal stains, mostly, the dust of heat, the remnant of sulfurous reek that steals warm breath from lungs on winter days.

It's a call for attention: the depression, the wandering unemployed. The factories tower, cast bulky shadows over the last restaurants downtown, the last barber shop, over St. Vincent DePaul and his boarded storefronts. The ring of mountains force your eye. It's trees on the ridge; nothing but trees.

There's a recent grad in the rectory, out of state Cum Laude, returnee to her hometown. She's teaching remedial math to poor kids in little orange and yellow plastic chairs. Between classes she stares at the line of abandoned row homes down the street, the empty, overgrown lots. One of the weedy lots is speared with a picket sign announcing its future as a community garden two years past.

It's a short walk to the old Coney Island hot dog shop for the artists gutting a local warehouse. It's a community effort, they swear, but it'll backfire when Eli's erotica is posted, shamelessly. Over lunch, their sponsors urge moderation. It's not selling out or giving in, it's giving the community a chance to participate, to find value in the work of their young, in any art at all. The artists return to the warehouse and argue about where the giant bouquet of rainbow penises should be displayed when the gallery opens.

Blondes in Pontiacs, man. The ones that drive those little Sunbirds are the ones you watch. Spot those little commuter bubbles and wait for those tan legs to slip out and cradle the giant purse. The thinner, the blonder, the better. Just sit outside the Bon Ton and watch them click the asphalt, push through the revolving glass. Breadstick lunch at the Italian Oven. Dinner at home, with mom: Ham, green beans and buttered noodles.

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