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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

fireballs

The sun can’t get through today. The sky is cloud-paper. A few white scribbles here and there; a black doodle in the distance like a long-legged bird or a heli with a stuntman on a rope. There’s plenty going on though: the air is thick with electromagnetics from mobiles, from radios and from the Poles, North and South. They come from far these waves just to be here above my head: Zagreb, Sebastopol, Luxemburg, you name it. Meanwhile, down low at ground level, woodlice gnaw, Bigman sleeps, and way down in the darkness, at the bottom of the sea, eyeless fish scavenge for carcasses.

Hello?... Lui, are you there?

Further still, thousands of miles below the crust, a big sweltering, raging goulash of energy -

Lui, you're breaking up.

I'm here.

This line is bad. I’m going to call you back.

Click.

...big sweltering, raging goulash of energy -

Ring.

Hello.

It's me again.

Hi.

This is better. Lui, I'm calling about that job.

What job?

The one I told you about, at the plasma-physics lab in Delft.

Tell me.

The head-guy is a Croat. Dr. Antun Dragoslav. He needs an assistant.

I'm not qualified.

You're not going to do any physics. You just run the office. You file stuff, you photocopy, etc. You speak Serbo-whatsit, right?

Croatian. Yes.

Then you're qualified.

What's plasma?

It's like a gas - super hot - but it's not a gas, and they suspend it magnetically in a vacuum -

What!?

It's a fireball, Lui.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"scrotum" in Turkish

The party was last night. Pavlov Pop banged through their repertoire, people danced, hop-scotched over Meteor, and sat snug and kissy on the collapsed wall of my kitchen. I haven't had the stomach to clean up yet. Jk's butts, Brendan's crushed liter-cans and all the confetti from birthday-girl Bijou. It was a party!

When the cops showed at four, five Turks gathered on my stoop to back me up in case of beef. It was good of them, a kind gesture, but I managed despite Brendan's mooning from my backyard. Butt cheeks and I SMELL PIG doesn't help with law enforcement, he should know that. Anyway, we were told what we knew already: too much brass, too loud, too late at night, and after that, people started leaving. The Doobie Brothers could not revive the spirit the Pavlovs had conjured up.

The Turks were still there when everyone had left, so I invited them in, all five of them, Izimir (from Izmir, on the Aegean), his cousin from Istanbul and three other guys. We sat with the Pavlovs under a crescent moon - ten of us - doing word-swaps, Turkish to Russian to Serbo-Croatian. This is how I discovered the fastest way to get your testicles cut off in Istanbul. Call a guy ibne, pronounced eeb-Né (pansy, push-over, gaylord but worse, ten times), and by syllable two your pants will be down to your ankles and the scimitar at your scrotum. The Pavlovs chimed in with the Russian equivalent and we all laughed – fun stuff – my balls safe on my cooling meteorite. After that we did scrotum, head-butt and Zinedine Zidane (they call him something else in Turkey).

This is when I remembered Switchblade from the 'Ol Switcheroo, with his ten thousand head of cattle, the swirling cognac in his fingers, and the nymphs on either side to rest his Ottoman paws. And I thought, what is it with these Turks, they're all tough-guys.

You know this dude called Switchblade? I asked, I was curious.

No response.

I tried again: şviçblüd. You know şviçblüd? He's from Amsterdam. Big guy, drinks cognac?

Wow, Bang! Full Pavlov-reaction from the Turks – jerky-heads, jaw-muscle contractions, the works – What did I say!?Fuck. Suddenly I feared for my teeth and my soft Balkan features. Quickly I moved on,

Gentlemen, mint-tea? Yes? and vanished into the kitchen.

After a while they simmered down again and we carried on as before, down the tri-lingual lexicon: neck brace, goulash, side-arm, hemorrhage and so on and so forth until dawn.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

listening in

I'm stretched in trunks across the back of my cooling meteorite. The sun drags across the Northern Hemisphere like the tongue of a dog, drippy with clouds and humidity. I ignore what I can now, the chiseling at JK's above and my own whistly nostrils – hay fevered and cold. Instead, I try to imagine this rock as a cliff-hung outcrop above the Adriatic, somewhere off Split or Dubrovnik, this beautiful rock that only some days ago was zipping past lunarscapes through showers of cosmic rays... to land here in my backyard, into this perfect crater. Perfect and parabolic, like a dish, a huge receptor –

What's that! Shshshshshshshsththth – the beginning of that Beatles song? – no, no the unsheathing blade of a cut-throat in Baluchistan, yes; And that there, – plick pluck plick pluck – Chinese fingers, a thousand or more netting rackets in Guangzhou. And there – allez, allez, on y va mon vieux, allez – the Port of Marseille, an old man and his dog. And when I shift my ear a little like this, I can hear Thriller in LA; And like this, sixteen Sunni rebels in a trailer, insurgents and their English speaking overlord – What? What's that? SAY IT AGAIN! – but I can't hear it now over the cling-clanging of Brendan's dumbbells 40 miles north in Amsterdam. Interference. I turn my head to focus, but now I hear fires rage, voices cry, guns crackle, and from afar, the keystrokes of a bureaucrat and the dim bleeps of his algorithms. But now a ringing rips through everything, an incessant intrusive ringing, I can't hear –

Wait, that's me, my front door!

Quick I thrown pants on over my Y-front trunks.

The man at the door is bearded and massive like a bear. The sun is eclipsed. He does not greet, does not introduce himself, but clenches his fists and then utters his message of information:

Are you Mr. Labas?

Yes.

Mr. Labas, you are not to listen.

I'm just sitting on my rock, sir.

Again, Mr. Labas, do not listen. You can sit, lie, talk, do as you please, but don't listen. If I have to come here again...

His jaw opens and closes. The sun appears briefly behind his ear, and then he leaves.

I go back to my rock, and try in vain to blot out what I can. But now I wonder about this man who looks so much like Chuck Norris (was it Chuck Norris?). And I think, should I be scared of this guy? I mean – fuck – after all, if I can hear all of you, then surely, well, you can hear me too, right?... No?

Monday, July 6, 2009

fête terrestre

I thought about giving a party at my house, so I made some phone calls, how are you, what’s going on, this and that, and soon I had a handful of people good to go. I spoke to bigman on the stoop last night too, but he just nodded and said neither yes nor no. He shook some sand off his arm and went for a walk downtown Rotterdam. Brendan raved, of course, and immediately made a list of people: Joyce, Julie, Emerald, Bijou (see a pattern?) until I reminded him that this was a quiet kind of thing. A quiet party? What's the matter with you. That’s oxymoronic, Lui? I didn't know Bren knew that word (a burst of intelligence under pressure). JK agreed to come too, and promised to bring one of his BOXES, but I told him no, no BOXES, JK, and no animals, please. It’s a party. Bring food or something, and he looked at me kind of funny. Food, JK, real stuff, yes? He was startled, but he agreed.

Finally, when I had everything set up – who, what, when, where – it struck me across the face like an swoopy albatross: MUSIC! No furniture, is one thing, but no music! A body without spirit; a ground-hugging, invertebrate thing. What've I got? So I went through my records: Doobie Brothers, yes, lots of Doobie Brother’s. What else?... fuck! I made a desperate call to friends: guys! please, I need your help. Can you play next week? ... um, Can you come for free? I beg you. And thus was arranged live entertainment for my little soirée, a quartet of brass: tuba, trombone, and French horns, all pop repertoire, classics from Beat it to Labamba, whatever you like, Balkan stuff too. Pavlov Pop they're called – they're Russian friends. I got excited just thinking about it and made some more calls to Fer, Switch, and my sister Bee. None of them will make it, I know that, but I wanted to tell them, come, please come! My yard is all busted brick and interstellar rubble, my kitchen, a gaping wound, but no matter, no matter!! there'll be lots of space, foreign food for finger and fork, there'll be tubas, trombones, french horns and classy people..