Aug 19, 2005

King's coming

King’s coming. New white lines on the road. No trash in the median strip. Everybody look sharp. The Christmas crown is lit up ruby red in mid August. The highway sign on the Azrou road says, don’t use your mobile phone. Everything ship shape. Everywhere the police are going somewhere in convoys. Troop transports on the move. king’s coming. Get pretty, get clean. Look like you mean it.

Out Dark Spot

The move is made. Infinitely better to be out of Le Residence. The guards; J,, the lucretia Borgia of housing; the blathering of early family cocooning; the eerie sense of collective madness and the laughable security. They have one of those Mission Impossible drop gates, but only on one side of the two line entrance. I told the guards to call Paramount Studios and see if they don’t have another one in the back lot. They smile; I smile. Nobody knows what the other is saying, much less thinking.

What I was thinking was that any terrorist planning a Belson siege in Ifrane is now going to think long and hard about how to get past that bar. Which is wood, to top it all. I’m thinking they might have send in a suicide bomber just to blow up the gate if it doesn’t open automatically; I think the weight is too much. Meanwhile, those who wish to be viewed and noted by Dr. K. as to when they came in and who with and what about, has to wait for the guard to give up his conversation about his neighbor’s cousin’s mother’s dalliances with the mukodoom and push down on the weight and let in the light.

But here’s the point. We moved out because of Lucy. The people were terrified. Poop everywhere. People were drowning in it. Then a boy lost his cap; a little girl watched in horror as her sandwich disappeared into the blackskape of Lucy’s great white Nazi mouth. But let’s be Berkeley. She needed her freedom. And she was not going to be held back by unlocked windows and guards with nothing gunlike in their white holsters... But now she’s here, the door’s open 24/7. No questions about where she goes, who she sees, what watering holes she wishes to frequent. And so now we’re here and you’d think now, finally, happy. HAAAAAAPPPPPPPY.

But it ain’t so. The bitch is on a streak. For the last four days, something destroyed. A scatter rug, the gear shift nob, two poinsettias. Every day she finds something to stab me with. Why? Well, it’s a new house. And incidentally, at least once she’s gone back to Le Residence, to wait for Catherine, of Tarragon, who left her out to dry every day I was gone. Chained up like the hunchback of Neutered Dames. Which she is not and needs to be. But you wonder why she would go back there. Why would Nelson Mandela want to see that prison again? Well in the bitch’s case one reason she went back is I beat her silly when she tore up the plants. For no good reason. That was personal. She knows what she’s doing. It’s all planned. She’s wired. She has a list.

And by the way, It’ll be a couple hundred dollars in repair costs before we’re finished with the sofas she tore up in our apartment and then Catherine’s. But it’s the pathology of it that I mind. Hers and now mine. Folie a deux, what happened to us? Old white men, left to their own devices come apart.

So I try to fathom it. New house, I understand. You feel a little estranged. But you wanted your freedom, right? From wherever she’d gone. But she’s saying, “So get up off your fat ass and let’s get on a mission you old fart. Here you are, adjusting every last marigold, every rug angle and light shadow, not doing a shred of work, because you can’t sit still for more than 6 minutes and you’re talking to me about having too much energy. Physician, heal thyself. And while you’re at it, take a shower.”

Meknes wall

Originally uploaded by macnamband.

Deep Stuff

I returned to the villa coming up on 8. I didn’t park out in the street, that white gravel bone of roadway that connects half finished projects with other half finished projects, and all of them tied with the bow of infrastructural despair. Did you ever notice that there are windows only on one side of a building here? Keep the light at bay. Keep it dark where I can see you.

I got out of the car and there was devilina in the moon light. Slinking like shylock toward BethleMAN. What destruction now, I asked. Her tail wagged like a snake in no hurry. That's the sign. She was tight to the ground. Still, I chatted on our way along the narrow walk back to VillaOcilla, as I call it. Pathovillalogical. And sure enough we get to the garden and, on the eve of a full moon, I could see clearly what she’d done, taken the poinsettia out, for the second time in two days. The same plant out of the same pot. And one other as well. The same one as before. The same two as the day before. The red Poinsettia, as in blood and love and sentimental journey.

It was message alright, from outer dog space. But what does it mean? I said to her and meanwhile she’d turned into an ocelot creeping along. You wanted democracy, you got it. You got us thrown out of the other place ‘cause you didn’t like that. Now, what’s wrong with this. I can’t spend every minute of every day minding your mental store.

I went to her, she rolled over, and bit me as I tried to get her Raskolnikov ass back to the spot. Show her the damage for zillionth time. You bitch-critter, I said and tried to kick her as she ran off into the dark. This is the SIXTH day in a row. It’s a little cold war going on here. And after each day I try some new psychology. True love, tough shit, basketcase enabler, just walk and talk, I’d give her a martini if I had one, but it’s never enough. You understand, I'm doing everything by the canine juvi book.

This was especially weird because I’d taken her on a mammoth walk at 7 a.m. We got back at 10 and both of us passed out like two drunks on the bed. I couldn’t feel my legs; she was twitching like an epileptic. Now, at the other end of the day, this. And by the way, should I count up all ‘a’tta boys’ I gave her. And at the other end of the day, at 7 p.m., I’d been willing to take her downtown to the cyber cafe, let her wait in the car, while I did my business. Ten minutes tops. But she wasn’t around so she missed out on a mission.

What the fuck do you want? I shouted at the dark. “Money? You want money?”

I told her I’d take her out to Moroccan Route 66 and let her off and seek her destiny among sheep herders. 'That’s your blood. Go back to your Berber amazon queen and smear the blood of your enemies on your breasts and eat their children. Your neurotic fuckette. And then tell me your excuse. Tell me you’re a victim. Tell me you live in emotional Falluja. I’ll still kill you. Because now it’s archetypal. You’re fiddling with deep stuff.

Aug 18, 2005

Trash to the left o'me, trash to the right o'me

On the way back, along the narrow old road that winds through the forest between Ifrane and Azrou, a man on a motorbike passed us. A few minutes later we rounded a bend and there he was picking up trash dumped along the side of the road. There was a lot of it, plastic water bottles, yogurt cartons, child’s drawings, and two empty wooden fruit trays buzzing with yellow jackets.

Je vous aide, I said and started picking up debris. He’d gotten most of it into a big black plastic bag. “Fais attention,” he said when I tried to pick up the fruit trays. He had no fear of the yellow jackets and slipped the trays in his bag.

When the bag was full he walked across the road and up into the forest. About 20 yards in he threw the bag behind a bush, brushed his hands, and came back.

I guess we couldn’t leave it by the side of the road, I said, and maybe a truck would pick it up.... That’s what we need, a truck, he said.

We looked down at the few bits of trash we’d missed. He bent down and picked up a child’s drawing. I know who these people are, he said, and pointed down into the valley where torrents of kids come to a nearby camp in the summer.

He shook his head in disgust and we walked up the road, he walking his bike. He wore a red baseball cap and a bemused expression. In his late forties, short and stocky. For about a quarter mile he stopped from time to time, picked up trash and threw it off the steep drop on one side of the road. He explained he was the head forest ranger in this part of the Middle Atlas.

I don’t know why people do this, he said, throwing some plastic bottles as far as he could. It’s a mystery to me. It’s these French people. They come here and throw all their stuff in the forest.

We collected some more. I had a small plastic bag filled with stuff. Finally, he jumped on his scooter and slowly disappeared in a noisy, black cloud of smoke.

The dog and I walked on.

Eventually, we came to where the forest has been cleared and the land flattens out. There was the ranger again. We reached him and this time he was putting a collection of garbage behind a bolder, pushing some other rocks into place so you couldn’t see anything from the sides. He was still shaking his head. But finally he stopped and came up close to me and said, “they just want to eat these people, they don’t want to work.”

I nodded. Goodbye, he said, threw his leg over his scooter and coasted a few yards to another trash side.

Aug 17, 2005

Mosque outside the gates to the medina in Meknes

Originally uploaded by macnamband.

Footprints along the baseline

Behind the restaurant overlooking the town’s artificial lake, there are two clay tennis courts. These belong to the Ifrane Tennis Club. The club is open from May until October. It costs 300 D to join and you need two photographs of yourself and a birth certificate.

All this week there’s been a tournament. The first player to win 9 games wins the match. There were perhaps 20 players. A friend drew me into it. My first round opponent defaulted. In the second round I was matched with a boy in his late teens or early 20s who had only been playing for six months and should have won, and even went ahead 7 games to 4 at one point, I nearly double faulted the match away, but eventually I prevailed. In the third round I didn’t win a game and again double faulted the match away.

They have a strange practice at the club. They brush the courts and carefully sweep the lines and then they water the court. There are several ways to care for clay courts, but the customary way is to soak them in the morning and at night and then you brush the courts before every match. Or, as they do on baseball diamonds, you might lightly sprinkle the base paths after they’ve been swept, although I always thought you wet the ground first, then sweep it. In any case, here they do the brushing and then they heavily water the courts so that every match begins in mud and the court scared with hose marks and mounds. And of course all the lines are hidden.

My last opponent, Driss, has been attending college in America, in Virginia. He described himself as Moroccan American and when we talked about this odd practice of wetting the courts, he said, well this is the Moroccan way. It’s always been done this way. The logic is unimportant. The important thing is to do things the way they’ve always been done. So this is one reason things don’t change much here. But for them, there’s great security in doing it the old way, great security in how it’s always been.

Aug 2, 2005

Don't Ask

At 1:30 a.m. she was still gone. Way past curfew. Way past caring. I said, fine you want to get laid this time of night then that's your business but I'm not worrying if you're half dead on the side of the road. Good night.

The next morning, around 5 a.m. I heard that poof of a bark. A mindless involuntary response. And then again and this was more than a poof. I'd left the door open to the apartment in case, as well as the two doors to the building, and all the windows. Of course, that's the whole problem. Leave them open the width of a pencil and she's gone. I also put out some food.

I get up, go outside and there she is, latched to her leash, under a tree. I approach and she slithers toward me like Shylock looking for a bob. I was glad to see the bitch; I let her go.

"It wasn't my fault," she began. "I met this boy and he...."

"Skip it," I said. "I don't want to know."

She wagged her tail, not having to tell me a long cock 'n bull story about her 'boyfriend.'

"It's weird out there at night," she said, wanting to tell me and not tell me, but hoping I would have at least some questions.

I don't want to know, I told her, and we left it at that.