★★★★ The sun had gone over to being hot again. Wiffle ball in the driveway by the dumpsters made it to the bottom of the second inning before the catcher resigned and wandered off. A laughing gull was whooping it up on the neighboring roofline. A little bike-riding was essayed; the three-year-old tipped his over and got up unhurt but complaining about the scorching pavement. Down at the beach, in the last hours of lifeguard coverage, the waves were mild and the seabirds exultant. Sun suffused the pale green water, while new swells rose from darker cloudshadow farther out. An osprey flew straight shoreward with heavy wingbeats, clutching a fish so whole and huge and still it might have been picked up from the seafood counter. A pair of pelicans flapped by. Gulls dropped toward the waves in the middle distance and were lost from view. The air was slightly cooler than the water as one back-floated and tried to direct the mind from the unseen depths to the cheery clouds above. A dangling foot found soft sand, the waves having carried the body back to the populated shadows—and a few dozen yards south, to judge by the beachside houses. After dinner, the lowering sun shone straight through the open sides of the trolley, casting shadows of the passengers’ heads out beside the roadway. The grass median looked like astroturf. The trolley floated semi-quietly and some small but distancing height above the usual point of view, rendering the quiet back streets an absorbing spectacle. It was nearly impossible to attend to the mobile phone: The three-year-old called out fireplugs and mailboxes as he spotted them, and the smell of pines came in. The matching faded whiteness of the clouds and the moon diverged, the clouds going pink and the moon acquiring its glow.
SEATTLE, WA: I’ve lived in Seattle since college. When I moved here, I believed I could become someone out here, among the fishmongers and the culture and the coffee. I found love; I started a zine. But after learning about the Cascadia subduction zone, I realized that I didn’t want to live through an earthquake that will destroy the entire Pacific Northwest, including my favorite coffee shops. So I wave goodbye to all that, and pack my bags to California.
LOS ANGELES, CA: The city feels different, but it’s growing more familiar. I find myself an alright sublet situation in Mid-City, lease a car for the first time, and zoom across the wide expanse of roads. But I learn about California’s uncontrollable wildfires and how they are only becoming more dangerous in the growing drought. I tuck my copy of The Road in my suitcase and head north.
2005: My best friend and I decided to get dinosaur tattoos. Me: raptor, inside of right wrist, in white. Her: brontosaurus (RIP) [or not?], somewhere inconspicuous, in black outline. We decided to think about it for a year and then get them if we still wanted them. I still do.
2007: I told my electronic musician boyfriend of two years half-jokingly that I wanted to get his stage name tattooed on my back and tried to get him to draw it on for me. He hated it. Three years later, he cheated on me, with a fan.
Around the same time, I decided it would be cool to have an anti-tattoo. I would get a tattoo of a date. When people asked me what the date signified, I would say, “It’s the date I got the tattoo.”
That same year, one of my friends had a bad breakup and tried to kill himself in the dorms. He took all his pills (and he had a lot of pills). He stumbled into another person’s room and they called 911, then he went to the hospital and they fed him a bunch of coal. I was thinking about him the next day at work and that’s when I started drawing this outline of a little black heart on my left hand between the thumb and forefinger. I still draw it sometimes and I feel like I wouldn’t mind if it were permanent.
2010: I move to New York City. I would write reminders on the inside of my wrist in pen or Sharpie. “Mail.” “Laundry.” Some tattooed friends noticed it and told me I should tattoo the words “to do” in cursive above the place where I usually wrote the reminders. We drew it and it looked really cute. Not long after I was actually physically in a tattoo parlor on St. Mark’s Place (called “WHATEVER TATTOO”) and I still couldn’t pull the trigger.
2015: A friend had temporary tattoos (nothing special, but they were 8-bit, left over from an event that had to do with video games) and I stuck a pair of cherries on my foot and the words “GAME OVER” on my forearm. The foot tattoo was hideous but the arm text looked neat. Someone told me I should get it as a real tattoo. I enjoyed looking at it.
20??: Two-year semi-permanent tattoos are invented. I get so many.
Photo via Instagram
Some readers have registered displeasure at earlier remarks I made in which they feel I characterized the American Midwest as boring, devoid of culture, unpleasant to spend time in, charmless, lacking in intellectual stimulation and generally existing as a nightmarish wasteland of stultifying vapidity where the only inspiration comes from hopes for escape, plus everything there has at least two sticks of butter in it, including one stick of butter. I’m deeply regretful if that is the impression I conveyed—no one likes to see the place they’re from insulted, no matter how hellish—and I’m sorry if I was a bit glib in an item that was meant to be lighthearted and fun. By way of apology let me share this song from the forthcoming Deradoorian album with you; it’s a terrific-sounding track that you are sure to enjoy, and if you listen to it today and learn all the words you will absolutely impress your friends with how hip you are when it finally makes it out your way in a couple of years.
The San Francisco bagel famine broke for a short time in 2011, when four former Dartmouth students started an outfit called Schmendricks. (The name means ‘‘stupid person’’ in Yiddish.) They decided to follow tech start-up protocol — ‘‘to A/B test our way to a perfect bagel,’’ says Dan Scholnick, one of the schmendricks who not at all stupidly kept his day job as a venture capitalist. By November 2011 they had a product ready to take to beta. So Schmendricks posted an announcement on Facebook and Twitter and placed a sign in front of Faye’s Video and Espresso Bar, across the street from Bi-Rite Market, a sort of Dean & DeLuca of San Francisco. Then, on the appointed morning, they showed up with four dozen bagels — and found a line stretching down the block. The bagel columnist for J., a Northern California Jewish weekly, described the product as “everything you could ever want.” But the glory didn’t last. Before Schmendricks opened a storefront, its bagel disappeared. “We were never going to grow the way a top-tier tech company is going to grow,” Scholnick told me, stating the obvious.
The fact that the perfect New York bagel is a mythical object notwithstanding, this is a great point: Why do anything at all that will never “grow the way a top-tier tech company is going to grow”? If your company is not growing, and its growth is not accelerating, then you are dying, and the hockey stick of death favors no man, which is all to say that you are already dead because you have choked to death on terrible bagels.
Photo by blinq
“A doom-laden US study in 1972 predicted that the earth would run out of food and resources, becoming uninhabitable by around 2050. Now scientists at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute have claimed we have a little more grace – until the end of this century, or the year 2100.”#
If I started to list all the terrible things about the Midwest we would be here all day and God knows this week has been long enough already, but for sure one of the more annoying parts of being stranded in the boring part of America (besides the accent and the food and constant politeness) would have to be waiting two years for anything that happened on either coast to filter over to you. That said, the best part of this local news masterpiece about a rainbow-wigged jester’s tour of a Chicago boneyard comes at around the minute-and-a-half mark, when the graphics wizards at Chicago’s CBS2 superimpose the image of the clown on footage of the cemetery. Someone promote those guys to the big leagues!
Some day we’ll reach Friday with a sense of accomplishment rather than relief, but it will not be today. I’m afraid that just staggering up to the line and then throwing ourselves over it will have to count as achievement enough this time around. Anyway, here’s music, enjoy. We’ll try again next week.