Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"our perspectives are really odd sometimes..."
-nice bus driver, bus #10 9:39am 15th & e.galer

Last week (did I write about this already?-) there was a yappy middle aged woman who sat right next to the bus driver, who, in this case was a handsome man in his early thirties with intriguingly severe and defined facial features, a serious face, but not mean-looking... Not like a villain.
The strange little dikey straight woman was going on and on: "I just moved here form (some such surrounding suburban wasteland) and downtown is so different, I just - I don't know it's a busy place down here so different that where I was before- but I'm adjusting- (on and on, etc. for 10 minutes whilst the Busdriver is nodding, *uhm-hm*-ing until the woman asks him:
"You from aroud here?"
"AHm, not quite- No."
"Oh, wll- where- where are you from?"
"Ohhhhhh,,,.... that's cool........"
trap shut.
end of conversation.

This morning I ran through the rain with the painting I need to frame and once again just barely made the bus. The driver is my favorite, she's really nice but doesn't take shit from anybody, and isn't afraid to tell off the rude or unruly passengers. This morning there was a dazed older richie couple who just had NO idea about bus etiquette, they were visiting friend in my neighborhood and were taking the bus into downtown. I witness this type of situation at least once a month: rich older folks from out of town get on the bus with a bewildered and somewhat terrified look in their eyes, clutching their handbags and searching in vain for the perfect seats. In this case the couple chose the handicapped seats even though there was a man in a wheelchair getting on right behind them.
"Alright, folks, you gotta move-" said the bus driver.
"Yes, you're in the seats reserved for disabled passengers"
"Oh..", they get up, do a funny little dance then sit right by the front door where their boney old kneecaps are in the poor old hunchback wheelchair guy's way. They make very little effort to move and make room for him to pass. Once the bus gets going they start asking the bus driver naieve questions like:
"oh, so do you like to see the city and get out and about- is that why you drive a bus?"
(meanwhile I'm searching for that imaginary brick I thought I had at the bottom of my bag to chuck at their veined, brittle round little skulls)
"Uh, nooo- I started driving the bus a lon time ago because it allowed me to take care of my baby at the same time, it just worked out well, I was able to spend time with him... he's in Iraq now... But he says: 'mom, you don't worry about me- if they printed all the bad things that happened in every American city every day the way they print every little bad thing that happens here- then the morning newspaper would be the size of the phone book every single day! But they DO print every little bad thing that goes on here- so, the perspective is pretty skewed by the media...'"
(pause as the rain falls and she stares into traffic)
"our perspectives are really odd sometimes..."

A BOOK READING, follwed by a Q&A:

I went to the library the other night to calm down, try to collect my thoughts and dodge any actual responsibilities when I noticed that there would be a reading in an hour or so. Ok, I can kill an hour... reading was Edward P. Jones. Never heard of him, but i figured seeing a Pulitzer-Prize winning author read/speak was a better use of my time than having a beer and blogging back at home while some silliness played on the tv in the background, so I did what I always do when i go to the Seattle Public Library: take the escalators to the top and get lost in the spiral on the way down, letting yhe wanderings lead me to whatever they will.
I happened upon the section full of firsthand accounts of British Colonials in India, great fotos and little blurbs... got a few books and retreated to a table with a view of downtown and the water, flipping through the books as I wrote in my journal:
(foto here)

Is it illegal to put your own books on library bookshelves? You know- like leaving a baby in a basket on someone's doorstep? I have to get rid of so many books before I move it is almost terrifying...

One of my favorite things about the library is the Red Floor (the 4th "meeting" floor?) which induces (what I think is called) "retinal fatigue" (a great phrase, in which your retinas basically o.d. on a color). Your brain reels when you go from the red of the halls on the red floor into the restrooms there- which are a pale hospital-toothpase green/white color, a great trick someone decided to play on our eyes/minds.

Anyhow- the reading: I could barely follow the author's words, I get nervous in crowds where you know you'll be captive for the next 1.5 hours and it is socially unacceptable to leave because it would cause such a disruption. The only reading selection I liked was the third, but I can't even recall what it was about, I was to busy being distracted by the blonde in white knee-high go-go boots and a ass-length raincoat down on stage right, the older woman who looked JUST LIKE GOLLUM, the woman's balding head in front of me and the girl next to her who kept biting her nails and applying lip gloss (at a book reading?), and the fidgety guy with a Ershot Jass Fest jacket next to the young black intellectual.
The stadium seating provided a too-good view of all this odd-bookworm sampling of Seattlites.

What WAS interesing was te Q&A (paraphrased as accurately as possible from my memory):

Young black intellectual: "Uhm, Pablo Neruda says the Novel is a dying artform- what do you have to say about that?- the state of the novel?"

Edward P. Jones: "I have nothing to say about the state of the novel, the state of American literature or literature worldwide. I only really feel comfortable talking about with lies between the covers of my three books."

Old bald wierdo white guy: "How, - I mean, HOW can you imagine these situations in your stories and in your novel, likethe girl on the porch looking out for wolves, and the baby hangin in a bundle from a tree... "

Jones: (briefly explains that the human imagination exists, and it can be used to create all manner of things from nothing)

Super-Old white woman with crazy pink-red hair: "What kind of music do you listen to while you're writing?"

Jones: "I don't so much listen to music hardly... but when I do, I select pieces and record them over and over on a tape and then listen to the tape over and over. For example, while writing these stories I was listening to Judy Garland's "That's no way to say goodbye" and the score from the opening credits of Paul Newman's film "the Life and times of Judge Roy Bean""
(my dad used does this- an unusual habit I could never uderstand. I've kind-of thought that the measure of a musician/band's greatness is how much consistently good music they can make. Example: the Beatles are one of the most popular bands ever, and almost all of their songs are quality pop. The only one I can even think of that I don't particularly care for is "the long and winding road" -dunno why. But my point it, who in their right mind can listen to one song a thousand times in a row- isn't that in direct violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?)

Overall I was impressed- in an unexpected way, that is, maybe not by his writing but by the blunt answers coming from the honest and sure mouth of this thouroughly calm and unpretentious middle-aged slightly overweight balding black man from Washingon D.C.

Side note: There aren't any fireflies here like there are in D.C.- why is that? The Summer nights full of thousands of little glowing bug butts in the air. Good stuff.
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