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11.21.2003

my day:

1am - drive home from yale warehouse in astoria
1:30am - look for parking
1:45am - still looking for parking (this is unusual)
1:50am - finally find a spot. yay!
2am - make exciting phone call
4am - off the phone
4:15am - reading
7am - cant read anymore. go out to grab breakfast for super cheap from the puerto rican bakery down the street.
7:30am - home, get to work in the studio
9:30am - exit studio, after making five new paintings
10:00am - pack stuff for going to boston, leave house, walk three blocks to car
10:30am - car not there. wtf?
in rapid succession:
eight phone calls to various numbers that tell me to call other numbers. is my car stolen or what? no, it's towed. why??? i have one ticket and they cant tow you for that. sorry, dont know , come to city hall, Sucker
11:40am - call car service to take me downtown, as the trains would take forever and i know that getting my car back will take forEver. tell driver that i'm going to 210 joralemon st. he says, where? i say, brooklyn civic center. he says, don't know where that is. expressions of disbelief on my part. driver starts half heartedly towards the highway... in the wrong direction. i try to advise him of this, no avail. english not so good. driver a sweet guy, but i'm ridiculously tired and irate. try to control temper.
12:05pm - completely frustrated by drivers choice of small, very slow streets surging with people, i exit car. walking is better than fuming.
12:15pm - arrive at brooklyn city hall, after walking through vibrant streets of downtown brooklyn in gorgeous sunshine and 60 degree weather. enter the building of doom where i will take various numbes in succession so that i can explain myself to various people.
12:20pm - after going through security and getting my very own Number, i sit down to chill for a while with De Tocqueville, who talks about how efficient america is. snigger of bitterness.
2pm - after three windows and many mind numbing announcements, have spoken to the judge! he is nice. he takes off the extra fine. but i will still have to pay for the tow because...... i was parked in front of a hydrant. stupid stupid stupid. note to self: dont park when tired.
2:05pm - am informed by lady at window that the piece of paper california gave me to replace my lost licence (stolen wallet) is not sufficient. i will need to have someone come to the station with a more official looking licence to sign off for the car.
2:10pm - call my friend jordan and promise him everlasting favors if he will haul his ass down to city hall, rather than going to the library to study for law school exams, which was the precondition for him getting to see his lady friend tonight. jordan agrees and achieves arch angel status.
3pm - jordan arrives, papers signed
3:10pm - damn we're hungry. lunch break.
3:20pm - hop on bus with saintly companion, heading for brookly navy yard
3:30pm - arrive at tow pick up office to find that i need proof of insurance, which was in my wallet.
3:35pm - call car insurance person to find that insurance has been cancelled due to non payment. ??! i paid over the internet! didn't work, apparently.
3:36pm - heave sign of relief when nice lady says that she will fax over my insurance to the tow people and we can sort out payment later
3:50pm - still waiting for fax to come through. sigh.
4:00pm - success! five hours and $300 later, i have my precious auto item back.
4:05pm - drop off tired jordan at train station
4:20pm - return home to find a post office package reclaim thinger in my box. 'lost wallet'. ?!?
4:45pm - retrieve wallet from afroementioned post office. it has been rifled through, all cards and whatever are in the cash place and no cash, but i do have my wallet yay. slightly hassling: the corner of the check i had in there is torn off and taped to the front of the package to mail. where is the rest of the check? why would anyone keep that? worries about integrity of bank account ensue
5pm - all offical stuff is closed anyway, so i'll worry about it later. proceed to cafe for much needed comfort sustinence, and then to computer for chat sustinence. mmm. soothing box.
7:09pm - current time. am about to get in the car and drive to boston. sanity questionable. universe definitely strange. karma? i dont know which way it's going but hey.

conclusions-
the universe did not want me to drive when i wanted to drive. also now i have my licence back which is way better than a piece of paper in nyc cop eyes. additionally, i have my harvad id, my health insurance card and my AAA card, which would have sucked not to have had i gotten on the road today and thus not gotten the message about my wallet. said simply, i'm going to make this out to be a Postitive thing, because otherwise it is just too weird.

postscript: in my family, when you lose something you pledge money to st. anthony (patron saint of lost things) and he will find it for you. you then give what ever amount you thought acceptable to some worthy charitable organization. i alrady gave the salvation army $25 for thanksgiving, but perhaps the pocket runs deeper.

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11.20.2003

i usually think twice before walking out of my building late at night. i've never seen anything sketchy around here, but it is the city - radar required. this in addition to the human inclination to stay inside where it's warm and light rather than venturing to the unknown. however, when the urge for cookies struck at 3AM last night and the brain absolutely refused to digest any more information until it has received its sugar shot, i had no recourse but to obey. (slaves to chemistry, all...)

[threw on a huge sweatshirt and puffy vest, kept the keys in hand and ducked out into the dark. put on the city walk, kept an eye on the alleys and stoop shadows. saw a car pull up next to the corner store, braced myself for encounter.]

the store door is closed at night; instead of perusing the aisles for your desires, you have to stand behind a two inch thick plexiglass window with a rotating plexiglass box in it. you say what you want, and the little man disappears to rummage around for it. then you place cash, receive item. it would be cute if it weren't so bizarre.

so when a guy gets out of the sedan with tinted windows and stands too close to me, i'm on high alert. and then he says, "so this is the shopping of the future, huh?" and i say, "yeah. totally weird." normal conversation, on the street at 3am. i felt like an idiot for being so apprehensive to interact with my neighborhood at night. i grew up in the city. i belong here. so what's my problem?

i think the new fear comes, paradoxically, from an argument i had recently with my friend jasper in hippyland, who argued that people in the city live in a constant state of fear. i said, no we don't. we are Aware; that's different from being afraid. but that whole discourse got me thinking along the lines of fear, so that when i came back to new york, i was suddenly afraid all the time. which, incidentally, is the best way to get jacked. people who are interested in preying on others can smell fear. stride out with blase confidence, and you're much more likely to be ok. it's an interesting game we play here, for the most part unconsciously.

so now i start the adaption process all over again. living between california and new york makes for some confusion of mental states, but at least it keeps things interesting.


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11.17.2003

Today's post comes courtesy of De Tocqueville, whose "Democracy in America", published in various editions throughout the 1840's, makes for riveting reading even a sesquicentennial later. I think that the America our observent French friend saw and loved still exists, but it seems to be mired in the mistakes that plagued Europe in his time. I don't think any current commentary does better in elucidating the problems inherent in GW's strongman stance in the face of American apathy.

I have, for your reading enjoyment and edification, typed out a page of DT's luminary work. I highly suggest you pick up a copy for yourself; you can join the ranks of dozens of fellow Americans who have read the book and applied it to their political understanding.

------
The partisans of centralization in Europe maintain that the government administers localities better than they can themselves; that may be true when the central government is enlightened and the local authorities are not, when it is active and they lethargic, when it is accustomed to command and they to obey. One can, moreover, appreciate that as centralization increases, that tendency is intensified, the capacity of the one and the incapacity of the other becoming striking.
But I deny that that is so when, as in America, the people are enlightened, awake to their own interests, and accustomed to take thought for them.
On the contrary, I am persuaded that in that case the collective force of the citizens will always be better able to achieve social prosperity than the authority of the government.
I admit that it is difficult to suggest a sure method of awakening a slumbering people so as to supply the passions and enlightenment they lack; to persuade people to take an interest in their own affairs is, I know well, an arduous enterprise. It would often be easier to get them interested in the details of court etiquette than in the repair of their common dwelling.
But I also think that when the central administration claims completely to replace the free concurrence of those primarily concerned, it is deceiving itself, or trying to deceive you.
A central power, however enlightened and wise one imagines it to be, can never alone see to all the details of the life of a great nation. It cannot do so because such a task exceeds human strength. When it attempts unaided to create and operate so much complicated machinery, it must be satisfied with very imperfect results or exhaust itself in futile efforts.
It is true that centralization can easily succeed in imposing an external uniformity on men's behavior and that that uniformity comes to be loved for itself without reference to its objectives, just as the pious may adore a statue, forgetting the divinity it represents. Centralization easily imposes an aspect of regularity on day-to-day business; it can regulate the details of social control skillfully; check slight disorders and petty offenses; maintain the status quo of society, which cannot properly be called either decadence or progress; and keep society in that state of administrative somnolence which administrators are in the habit of calling good order and public tranquility. In a word, it succeeds at preventing, not doing. When it is a question of deeply stirring society or of setting it a rapid pace, its strength deserts it. Once its measures require any aid from individuals, this vast machine turns out to be astonishingly feeble; suddenly it is reduced to impotence.
Sometimes a centralized government does try, in despair, to summon the citizens to its aid; but it addresses them thus: "You must do what I want, as much as I want, and in precisely the way I require. You must look after the details without aspiring to direct the whole; you will work in the dark and later you will be able to judge my work by its results."It is not on such terms that one wins the concurrence of human wills...
...There are some countries in Europe where the inhabitant feels like some sort of farm laborer indifferent to the fate of the place where he dwells. The greatest changes may take place in his country without his concurrence; he does not even know precisely what has happened; he is in doubt; he has heard tell by chance of what goes on... For his part, he enjoys what he has as tenant, without feeling of ownership or any thought of improvement... Furthermore, this man who has so completely sacrificed his freedom of will does not like obedience more than the next man. He submits, it is true, to the caprice of a clerk, but as soon as force is withdrawn, he will vaunt his triumph over the law as over a conquered foe. Thus he oscillates the whole time between servility and license.
When nations reach that point, either they must modify both laws and mores or they will perish, for the font of public virtues has run dry; there are subjects but no citizens.
...It would be a mistake to find reassurance by remembering that certain peoples have made prodigious efforts to defend a country in which they lived almost as strangers. If one looks carefully, one will find that religion was almost always the main motive force in such cases...
-----
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11.15.2003

last night was dancing downstairs at a bar with a fake grass canopy and hawaiian bric a brac plastered about the place. the music was fifties and the twist was waaay in style. there was a girl sitting on the floor somewhat under the bar who looked like a gnome. i consumed a healthy amount of whiskey, giving me extra powers to ward off the advances of rhythmically challenged bar hoppers. outside, smoking alone for a second, i was approached by a tall, good looking mid-town type, which i thought was interesting, considering how that never happened before i had the dreads. i would assume that my little prehensile items would deflect such yuppie incursions, but apparently not. maybe i looked exotic or something. dangerously compelling? compellingly dangerous? one ventures with some trepidation into assessments of mainstream mental arabesques.

i queried my new snappy dressing friend as to his employment, and he turned out to be the worst of the worst. works for an advertizing agency, specializes in new pharmaceutical campaigns. he sheepishly admitted that his current anti migrane medicine campaign was targeted at people who don't actually have migranes. seemed to be a reasonably intellignet fellow, so i put it to him; since you seem to recognize that what you're doing is wrong, why are you doing it? his response- evasion and deflection of personal responsibility. a shrug of the shoulders, something mumbled about the work being interesting, and how it wasn't what he really wanted to be doing in the end. this is the mindset that i fear the most; not the one that maliciously propagates doom, but one that plays the game even though it's wrong. because hey, doesn't everyone?
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11.06.2003

so there seem to be periods of time which incite our brains to heightened sensibility, particularly memory. burningman is one example - unlike other weeks which tend to blend together, desert memories remain extremely clear, and also seem to fade less over time.
this past week is another. what i'm wondering is whether there is a chemical in the brain that is more prevalent during these experiences that then aids in the creation of strong memories. i wonder if this is a different chemical from the one that helps us to remember a single event.

it's interestinng to me also that, becuase these events are better remembered, they play a larger role in defining the 'self' of the person remembering, assuming that we construct our self images based on a mythological construction of our own history. we are not what we have done, but what we remember we have done. so at the time of one of these important events or periods, we are at some level deciding to drape our selves around the stucture of these events. we say, This thing will be a large part of me.

and then, what about events which strongly mark us, but in a negative way? same chemical? different one?

maybe these are obvious questions but i haven't read any sciency stuff on memory in a while so i dwell in ignorance.
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a furtive post from the wildes of santa cruz --

Dean is trying to opt out of public financing for the election, directly contravening previous statements that he would take public financing and abide by its rules in support of campaign finance reform. the hassle is, there is a 45 million dollar spending cap on those to accept the govt's mullah - he's arguing (and i tend to agree) that there is no way for a challenger with this cap to beat bush, who will have at least four times that amount in his cavernous coffers, having himself already opted out of the financing (go rangers!). for your edification:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6428-2003Nov5.html
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