Jul 18, 2006


Not a hair out of place and yet the city is edgy. There's something going on. The shoe man ordered me out of his store when I asked, and not with anger, why he would charge $8 to glue a sole back together. I had to apologize, I had to cajole to get him to do it. A clerk at Walgreen's yelled at a customer mercilously. I've heard stories about people distressed by the war and by the price of gas and by bad news coming from everywhere. From home and abroad... People don't seem to want to think about anthing too deeply, just get mine and be done with it. And yet everything is still easy, the old hip hop thrill is still there, cars are still full of music.

The bumper sticker said, 'my daughter is the slut of the month at George Washington High School.

I paid the mechanic a lot of money to check the car we were going to buy. He said the car was fine, so I bought it and then a few days later the clutch went out. Now it will cost a couple of thousand dollars to fix the clutch and the transmission, more than we paid for the car. "Hey," I said, "what about giving me a break on the cost to repair this." "Nope," he said. "No chance, no discount." I said, "C'mon, this is ridiculous. Let's talk about this." He hung up the phone. It was like to talking to myself in the old days. Everyone's become like the person I was. People are furtive, unclear, distracted. And when they smile it makes me think of the way people treat each other after a natural disaster.

Then we went to a Giants game. They won, but they seemed lackluster. We were down the third base line. Barry Bonds stood in front of us, one of the greatest hitters in history and in the middle of the game, when a pitching coach came to the mound to confer, Barry went down on one knee. Like he was tired, like he didn't care anymore. And when he came out in the fourth inning and played catch with a reserve player he threw without looking and when he'd had enough he threw the ball down so that it rolled to his teammate, the way a child would do when he doesn't want to play anymore, when he suddenly wants to go home. Often Baaaaary, Baaaary would look into the stands, but like looking into a crystal ball or for someone to say, a whole wave to start and tell him, 'it's okay we still luv ya. Barry. Even though you disappointed us and you took those drugs and maybe everything you did was fake.' In some other inning he hit a deep ball, just like the old days, high, and almost bye-bye baby but at the last second the ball slid down the inside of the center field wall like a sword in a sheath and you wondered, maybe without steroids Barry can't go those last few feet anymore. Maybe he never could.

All that and then the economy is not as good as I'd heard. There are jobs but not for the people that most need them. The city needs electricians and plumbers, and teachers, I suppose. But the jobs go unfilled. As TH said the other day, "the city is so exciting, I hate driving out to the country every night to go home. But somethings going on." I drove some boys to a baseball game last night in San Anselmo. People, and these are BMW people, were subdued. Even the suburbs have changed, I thought. The kids seemed a little nervous. They were looking into the faces of adults in a way I don't remember. As though, "I see you for what you really are, you're my parent all right, but you're someone else too, someone I don't know." It was like science fiction.

It reminds me of the way I'd been feeling in the Atlas sometimes. With all the news about people blowing up I became intruiged with the idea that if you blew up you might not realize it, you might go on, in some parallel sort of way, in a bardo soundstage, where everything is the way it was, except for some subtle changes. As times go by, seconds or eons, you realize that something is wrong but you're still eating and making love, all the sensations are familiar. And yet there's a problem and you don't want to think about it too deeply...

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