Yesterday on the train I finished reading Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita and started re-reading Kafka's Amerika. It has been a very long time since I read Kafka's book. I look forward to learn what the years have done to my understanding. When I first read the book I was not much older than the protagonist.
I am fascinated by the European conceptions of America, and the reverse in American conceptions of Europe. Also I like model trains, transportation and railroad simulations. Likewise fascinated with the connection of these narrative/action dioramas with the construction of story. As well, that this simulacra is a tourist attraction, as is any historic theme village a knock-off of an amazement park.
Outside of Madison Square Garden yesterday, standing on the corner waiting for the light to change so that we could cross the street, I noticed a tourist with a vid camera recording the traffic in the intersection. My first thought... boy, will that be fun to edit when he gets home. Then it occurred to me that it would be an interesting project to do a NY'ers tour of Manhattan. Ride around on top the red double-decker faux English bus thing. Put together a video so that bedridden people could get a 1st hand sense of 'being there' without having to leave Wisconsin, or wherever these lost people show up from.
In another on-the-street incident we were walking down the sidewalk and there was a fellow pointing his camera at his own face, holding it out at arm's length, not a cheap camera, mind you, a pretty classy one with lenses. I am sure he included his face with the tall building in the background. In retrospect I think it was the Empire State. Just as we passed him I said loudly, "It looks good!" Just as the flash went off. We kept on the move. I wonder if he smiled.
Off the train into the parking lot of thousands of cars at Ronkonkoma, and I mean thousands, I was walking along and heard one car running. I looked around, nobody there, nobody in sight. A Civic was sitting there running, locked, keys in the ignition and nobody around to be seen in the parking lot anywhere.
I stood there for like three minutes looking at the car running and thinking WTF should I do about this? My conclusion, please please please remember this long enough to tell someone about it. I walked away. Went home.
It is the only time I have ever felt actually tempted to steal a car w/ the idea that the owner who I imagine was stressed out had to walk out of the parking lot, across the station tracks into the station, so far away they would not be able to see their car, to get to a phone. Why no cell phone who knows, call a locksmith. Either that or it was a very absent minded commuter that had arrived there in the morning, run out of their car, left it running and never thought twice about it. So I had this idea to like move the car to the other end of the parking lot, about 4 acres away. So, if they had returned and found me sleeping in their car, warm and belligerent with an opened copy of Kafka’s Amerika saddled over my nose it certainly would have made for a fun scene.
Yesterday in a business conversation with my son/partner I told him that I had read about a 300 acre organic bean farm in my home village in Upstate NY that the owners come down to NYC every Wednesday to sell dry beans at the Union Square Farmers Market. Several years ago I did the exterior restoration of the Barnes & Noble across the street from the market. I am quite familiar with the street scene there. So my son wanted to know why I talked about dried beans. It is not his home turf so he does not relate to the place in any semblance to how I do -- which for me is a mix of desire, fabulation and repulsion. I told him that I thought it interesting to contemplate if I had taken a different road in my life and been a bean farmer and never left home. He thought it was funny that I would want to go into the bean business, rather than play with stones as I have done. I took it as a really interesting story with zero economic value other than that to play with stories keeps my mind off our meager position in the current economic situation. We also had a longer conversation about Iceland. Some fishermen should keep fishing.
When all else fails, make up a good story.
I thank my friend Carrie Berry in Scotland for directing us to this very kool vid.