New York City Observations

10/16/01 9th Ave. & 48th Street

Four young men walking slowly in front of me. One of them appears too thin. He stumbles slightly with each step. His companions hold him up under the arms.

"Let me walk," says the thin young man. "Let me walk."

They release him and he falls.

10/19/01 Collins Bar, 8th Ave.

Overheard comment from a literary discussion: "I'll knock the ass off any man who says a word against that book."

11/2/01 The New York Times

The word "meme" appears twice in today's paper, once in the magazine and once in the book review. Why?

11/14/01 9th Ave. & 39th Street

The trash is always being ransacked. It's becoming a serious problem. Bill stubs and other personal information are whipping around in the street each morning after collection. How to stop this from happening? He phones the sanitation department but can't get a human on the phone. He talks to the beat cops. They say they'll try to keep vagrants away but point out they can't post a "trash guard" on 24 hour duty. It's your landlord's problem, they say. So he waits outside at 4 a.m. each Thursday morning and personally hands over the bags to the trash men, who ride up in an unaccountably happy mood each time. They swing from the rear of the truck and sing opera songs. When he goes back inside, they tear open his bags and look for anything interesting.

11/23/01 Across the city

Seen today:

A blind man in an expensive suit.

Bulgarian punk rockers, dressed in black and well-mohawked.

A sexy bartender sipping milk from an espresso cup.

Individual straws wrapped in colored paper.

A silver limosine with New York tags that plays "Oh Susanna" when put in reverse.

1/7/02 Interior considerations

The bass is enjoyed by young children, especially boys, because it is the instrument that most resembles the sound of a fart. Low sounds are funny, as a rule. It also reminds them of twanging a rubber band while holding one end between the teeth so that it vibrates in a pleasing manner through the teeth and right into the skull. Most every boy has played the rubber band in this way once in his life, and enjoyed it greatly.

1/9/02 John and Tony’s Pizza, 9th Ave.

Closed caption subtitles other than dialouge in Purgatory, a western on TV in the dining area:

(dogs barking)

(indiscreet chatter)

(screaming, yelling)

(horse nickers)

(birds chirping)

(gun clicking)

(bell tolling)

(men whooping, hollering)

(shot glass shattering)

(grunting)

(blows landing)

(men laughing hysterically)

Approximate viewing time: 15 minutes. Two slices, one bottle Peroni beer consumed.

1/25/02 Central Park

Russian children playing in Central Park. They speak English but their parents shout out to them in the mother tongue. The boys are elaborately playing at war. The game seems to consist wholly in searching for fallen comrades ("Here's one, sir!") and counting the dead. In fact, hardly any actual fighting takes place at all, except for the whistle of an approaching bomb, seemingly directed at one's own soldiers.

- Emile LeBrun