Friday, March 31, 2006

Wedding Pictures

How does one put down something so powerful on a piece of paper? How does one bottle an eternal moment? How does one express that which he cannot understand?

All of these questions have been plaguing me for a week. I do not know where to begin and I do not know where to end. The things that are easy to write about – my flight, Hong Kong, Sydney, the beach, the people, the trip, the partying – seem so trivial in the light of why we all traveled thousands of miles to a city more focused on the prowess of the body than on the purity of the soul; and to write about Moshe’s and Chana’s wedding, the reason we’ve all crawled down under, is most difficult.

As something has to be written – lest this paper remain blank – I will attempt to write images, images of those moments that are most difficult to write about – after all, a picture is worth a thousand words. So here I go writing pictures.

We drink Glenlivit 18. It is three in the afternoon. Levi, Shloime, Shmuly, Natan, Zalman, Yossi and myself have chosen the end of the table and the whiskey stops here. Little finger-foods compliment all those years of the single malt’s maturation. Some like them young, that is, twelve years old; I myself am not too picky. Moishe sits at the head of the table, looking about as comfortable as the tie around Yossi’s neck. He keeps on glancing in our direction, as if he wishes he were sitting with us, or, maybe, us sitting with him. A song is being sung, and then Moishe gives-over the Mammer. He looks much more relieved.

The Daled Buves is being sung. Moishe stands with his head bowed and a raincoat draped over his shoulders. Chana, veiled, is being guided through the backyard towards the Chupah. They circle seven times. Tears are like the giggle-lube: once you see the first fall there is no stopping them. But then there is Shmuly: if anything gets too serious, he pops his head into the picture, and you cannot help but laugh. Yossi sings Boruch Haba. The blessings are blessed. Zalman, the ring-bearer, hands the ring to the Rabbi. Moishe places the ring on Chana’s finger. Smash!! A glass shatters. Mazzal Tov!!

Finally I get to Moishe. We hug and kiss. That’s it.

We take a bus downtown, to the hotel where the reception is being held. We are early. They set some bottles on a table for us where the pictures are being taken. We are quite inebriated at this point. And it is not yet six o’clock. Finally the waiters come around with trays boasting mini foodstuffs. We, the intoxicated musketeers, stand around a tray until nary a crumb can be found. There are a lot of people, socializing as we wait for the doors to open.

From here on the picture gets hazy, as if the positive negative has been exposed to too much light. Well, what would a wedding be if not for the “too much light”? Sometimes the picture must be sacrificed for the moment’s sake.

Ah, and what a moment it was. In the beginning, before one has lost all inhibition, the dancing can get a bit awkward – where do I put my legs, my arms? Do I just let loose? – But as the ice melts (in the scotch), things start becoming natural: you begin to move in sync with an inner rhythm. Swirling bodies, twisting hips, sweat shooting off faces glowing, hands flying in directions never known before, and my toe is stepped upon. Do I feel it? How can I when all I feel is joy? I dance with Moishe in hug, and, for a “second” time just stops; it’s as if G-d hit pause on the dance floor and only Moishe and I were moving, though like in a dream. It is an amazing thing to be happy, but it is even a more amazing thing to be happy for somebody else. And here we are, both happy for each other: I’m happy for him because he is now complete, no more a mere half-soul; he is happy for me because I am happy for him.

I walk over to Moishe’s and Chana’s table to make a L’chaim to them. He tells me to stop thinking so much. (What do you think he meant?) I tell him I’m not thinking. But the truth is I am thinking: I think about how lucky he is to have found Chana; I think about how lucky I am to have him as a friend; I think about great it is to be here with the guys, just wild; I think about many things. But now that Moishe tells me stop thinking, how can I refuse?

I am on a high. Haven’t slept in thirty-five hours. I’ve drunk too much spirit. Yossi sings a song for Moishe and Chana. I ask him to tell the ten-piece band to play a hip-hop rhythm. This one goes out to Moishe, the hip-hop lover. I’m not sure what a rapped about (except for Ritchie’s Red Sox), and I’m not sure anybody else knew what I was rapping about, but, through the haze of airplane meals, sweat, booze and joy, I can see Moishe smile as I try to find a rhyme for “Witkes”. And that makes it all worth it.

The image is quickly fading into oblivion, and it seems the roll of film is reaching its end. So let me just leave you with this picture.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Faced By...

Elegance floats by like a cloud. Hair, like a clear waterfall, softly cascades over carefree shoulders and down a perfectly sloped back. Eyes, like emeralds set in the finest china, framed by lashes of peacock feather. She is perfection beyond reason, beauty beyond heartbreak, delicacy beyond subtlety – innocence too fragile to handle.

Dirt sits in a cardboard box, wrapped in a soiled wool coat many sizes too big, its pockets with room enough for a pint but not room enough for a penny. A face rougher than his wool coat frames eyes red from constipated tears. The only smoothness this face knows is a scar cutting through his left cheek. But that scar is nothing compared to the scars underneath; it is what we call, “the tip of the iceberg”.

I watch as Elegance crosses the street. She walks naturally, artlessness too artful to articulate. Dirt sits with a head bowed, surrendered in submission, oblivious to Elegance’s presence. She walks passed him. He sees her shoes, looks up and, though it is hard to tell for certain from this distance, their eyes meet. He lethargically looks away. She quickly rummages in her purse, and, without getting too close, flips him a coin, a silver one I think.

The next day the same thing happens. The day after, she walks up to him with a steaming cup of coffee and a sandwich. He knocks the coffee out of her hand, spilling it on her skirt. Elegance has not been elegantly treated. She turns away and I see her face. Her lips tremble, her eyes let a single tear. I watch as it softly rides down her cheek and hangs from her jaw. There is a sadness I see that makes you want to smack Dirt for causing it. Slowly she walks away while he turns his head to the side and the cap off his bottle.

Night passes away and dawn is born. Dirt’s alarm clock is shining its rays and the city awakes. I watch all day, but Elegance doesn’t show. Is that a fidgetiness I see under the oversized coat? I don’t know; but he has definitely smoked more cigarettes today than I have ever seen him smoke before.

Another day passes without Elegance’s showing and Dirt is definitely showing signs of impatience. I know this because for the first time his eyes seem to be seeing things.

As the moon spotlight’s the stage called Earth, shining almost directly unto Dirt, I see that familiar walk of Elegance, making its way towards the spotlight. Dirt, with the moonbeam blinding his eyes, cannot see Elegance approach. When she stops in front of him, and he sees her shoes, his head snaps up, the quickest and surest move I’ve seen him make yet. Elegance bends down, grabs Dirt by the shoulder of his coat, and pulls him to his feet. He wobbles and falls on her. She almost collapses under his weight, but ever so elegantly steadies herself until he is leaning on her in more ways than one.

They walk together, he dirtily, she elegantly. I follow at a safe distance. I don’t want them knowing they are being watched. They cross the bridge. They aren’t talking; just walking. They walk into the park. They walk down the main path, walked by thousands every day; but, if I’m not mistaken, it looks as if they are walking along their own path, as if no one has ever walked it before. Passed the pond they go (while I’m pondering), and when they stop to look into the still water, I can see their countenances reflected: what an unlikely couple they make, he with his hard face and perpetual snarl, she with here soft innocence and hopeful expectations.

As they continue on to no apparent destination, I realize that this journey is the destination.

After a period beyond time has passed, they sit under a tree. Dirt looks at Elegance and lifts a calloused hand to his prickly chin. In a fluid motion Dirt peels away chin, cheek, and face – roughness and scardom give way to purity and naturalness. There is a glow emanating from his being, as if someone lit a candle in a dark room, or, more accurately, blew the dust from a bright diamond.

I am stunned. Elegance, however, seems not to be. And, as I watch, I see why:

In the light of “Dirt’s” face, I see Elegance: she lifts a delicate hand to her fragile chin. In a shaky motion, Elegance peels away chin, cheek, and face – beauty and delicacy give way to reality and truth. It is not about the face of Elegance anymore – how could it be when Dirt himself is faceless – now it is about two people, formerly known as Dirt and Elegance, who sit under a tree somewhere in a park passed the bridge, looking at each other for the first time. Now they don’t “face” each other; all they do is be.

And as I, the Spectator, walk away from the whole fiasco, I reach up, peel, and toss my face into the pile of retro-faces. I feel the rush of fresh air on my “cheeks”, and though the story goes on and on for all eternity, the Spectator gets buried under retro-face after retro-face, and must therefore cease telling that which he can no longer see.

Just face it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Part Of The Story

This is part of a story I'm writing. I'm not really sure why i'm posting it; I always liked doing things i'm not sure of. Or, maybe not... I'm not really sure.

This is why Man is closer to Essence than Human is to Surface: he has not these faltering falsehoods to believe in, only truth and its consequences; he hasn’t any superbly superficial – by superficial I mean, mortal – objects to worship. However, the Human has all this f------ bullshit to take into the equation. So, doesn’t it just suck royal p---- to be a wealthy sycophant? What would you rather be: a prick that knows it all, or a know it all that’s a prick? No answer, well… I don’t blame you. But I do envy your indecision: if you had decided, one way or another, you would be wrong; but now that you are indecisive, we do not know either way – you could be right or you could be right. It’s like asking the Man: “Are you apathetic or ignorant?" and he replies, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Yes, there is – no matter what you, as a Human, believe – a certain common thread, which connects the Unattainable with the Unfathomable. There is that needle endlessly perpetuating a thread so profound that it can never penetrate the unknown; it can only know the impenetrable. The question is: what makes us Human?

What makes us Human? Is it our intelligence? Dolphins are intelligent. Is it our stupidity? Mice are stupid. Is it that we breathe? Flowers breathe. Is it that we cry? Alligators cry. Is it that we laugh? Hyenas laugh. Is it our compassion, or maybe our lust; is it our love, or maybe our hate; is it our brevity, or maybe our fear; is it our possessions, or maybe our impoverishes; is it our losses, or maybe our victories; is it our children, or maybe our parents; is it our students, or maybe our teachers; is it our achievements, or maybe our demolitions; is it our ambition, or maybe our complacency; is it our charity, or maybe our thievery; is it our pain, or maybe our bliss; is it our knowledge, or maybe our ignorance; is it our possibilities, or maybe our restraints? Then, would we become inhuman once we were to lose any of the above? Or maybe the right to choose between any of the above is what makes us what we are, Human? But are then slaves not Human? And are we all not slaves, to each his master? Maybe it is the ability to ask these questions that makes us Human – I highly doubt that those intelligent dolphins ask “what makes us dolphins?” – but then again, if we weren’t to ask, would that warrant us inhuman? No: if we weren’t to ask, we would be exercising our inalienable right to choose – to the extent of choosing between asking and not asking. If the powers that be – who ever they are – would force us to ask questions, firstly, it would be 1984 all over again, and secondly, it would be like the checkout clerk asking, “Cash or credit?” a question, which, in regards to the cashier, is as relevant as birth-control in a monetary, holds as much substance as Quixote’s windmills, and is only put forth out of necessity. On the other hand, questions of curiosity, of sincerity, of exploration, of discovery, of study, are not posed by rote; they are a means to understand a something otherwise unattainable, they force you to leave that four-cornered box of yours for the unknown, they require you to see not the “What” of the object, but rather the “Why” of it – “Why is this”, or, for that matter, “Why is this not” – that is the question.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Doing What You Are Told

Comical comics ignore
The philosophers of yore
And philosophers of old
Didn’t do what they were told
By the warning on the door

Old men that were once young
Tell the youth bite thine tongue
And some youth will even heed
‘Til it begins to bleed
Onto the chord that was strung