Jun 30, 2008

Time machines on the loose

You could start this way, for example.... Just before the boss got stabbed, he stood on a soap box on 6th Street, running for his life, surrounded by lieutenants. "My office has not only prosecuted the violent offenders who have made this corridor infamous," he said, in that compressed sometimes whiney voice, and holding his right arm high sbove his head, which was very painful for him to do, "but we have also reached out to those who are the victims of crime." ...

Now, four years later, the corridor is quieter. The old DA's office has long been closed and succeeding businesses have come and gone. Instead of six cops up and down the street, there were two, having a smoke in a doorway, two young women, caps up, foreheads revealed, like Brodrick Crawfords on a break. "The baby shower on Tuesday," one was saying. Up the street, distinguished crackheads, in braids and bangles, with army pants and saddling up, an urban air cavalry bound for someplace or other. "We got wings, let's fly," they said.

The corridor seemed thinned out, and tuckered out. A couple of palm trees lended a glancing respectability. And the furniture still hangs on the sides of an abandonned hotel there on Mission. The arty side of downtown's noiriest enclave. The old bar where boss used to visit, in deference to some IRA types that gave to the fund is no more. The pawn shop was closed, maybe closed up, I couldn't tell.

I rounded the corner, to Market Street, turned south, southwest, whatever that is, walking along the west side of hte street, past the old strip-joint, house of dildo and cock rings. On the outside speakers, the most beautiful violin concerto you ever heard. My first thought was Chopin then Brahms. Went inside to find out what it was. The place was in that light of all adult places, neonic, pale, bad air, and that forever quality, as though all adult sex, men-on-the lam places are connected, every single one through place and time, from San Francisco to Times Square 40 years ago, one continuum, you can come up in a strip mall in North Dakota or a pleasure hut in Austin, one vast underground Dungeon-11 of tapes and magazines, paraphenalia, weapons, hurt-mes / hurt-yous, cum and comed and done and you'll be back, we're 24/7.

"What is that?" I asked. "That music outside." Bald man was reaching down behind the glass counter trying to get some feng shui going with the cock rings. A mutty little blonde man was closest. He was in the register. "What'd you say?" he said with a snarl. "The music outside, what is that?" He never looked at me. "Jazz," he said. Not in here, I said. Outside. "Outside? How the fuck should I know?" He's counting gold in the drawer. "The corporation," he said. "What corporation," I said.

"I don't what-the-fuck corporation, you wanna buy somehtin'?"

Channeling George Carlin, I thought. Well that makes sense. He's in the air still. On a Terry Gross retrospective that played the day after he died he said he was never afraid of anything once he decided that everything had come from a single atom, a single element. Therefore, everything is related, therefore everything is yourself. Therefore, why would you be afraid of yourself?

Something like that.

"No, I don't want to buy anything," I said. But that was what I was trying to remember: When the corridor had some attitude.

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