Sunday, January 23, 2011

sometimes, out of pure exhaustion after i teach, i take the elevator, and then i feel a little guilty, because of course i've promised myself to live the pure life, always take the stairs, take every opportunity to burn a pound off. no, in decadence and exhaustion, i step in there, and a few other people take it too, and of course they generally have no such guilt. but the elevator is slow; it jiggles around a little, has to decide whether it really wants to take us up or not, and finally sets off lumbering, slowly upward. in the awkward time there people sometimes talk, about the weather maybe, or about some high-level administrator who just had a huge fight with another and took his leave friday see you later. most often, because i'm exhausted, we say nothing; i deal with my own claustrophobia, and perfume allergy, consider them a punishment for not living the pure life, shift the weight from one foot to the other.

the roads these days are white as ghosts, the salt from the salt-trucks thoroughly discoloring them so you can't tell what color they were originally. lots of restaurants were closed tonight and when we found one every waitress was wearing a bears shirt, and we couldn't figure out whether they had to or if they just all happened to be bears fans on playoff night; as the night went on, and the bears had lost by the way, the place kind of filled up but every waitress who appeared just had this bears getup on; the playoffs themselves showed up on a screen above us but it was the steelers; my wife maintained that she just purely didn't care about football, but i thought that was a kind of code for actually detesting it, since i've never known her to truly not care about stuff. and besides, the studies keep coming out showing that people are killed by endless concussions; that at the same time football is totally central to our culture, it's also a deadly sport much like war or, say, boxing. it kills people. maybe they like their moments of fame; maybe it helps them to be millionaires or have status in their city. the peak of their life is what, maybe 20 to about 30. after that they have to talk about the good old days; that is, if they can talk, or if they can remember.

speaking of ghosts, we're still looking for ours, but no sign; there was a rack of ghost books at barnes & noble again but i didn't really get a chance to read them; we got there just as it was closing, at seven. what is this, canada?, some woman was saying on her cell phone. in canada everything closes at seven. tiny snowflakes drifted; snow has been constant but very light & inconsequential, for days. the parking lot like the roads was white as a sheet. the bears, it seems, lost their game, but the steelers are still in; i grew up around the steelers, and now notice that their insignia, their whole getup, is borrowed from a huge u.s. steel company logo even though u.s. steel itself, that mammoth steel-mill operation that dominated pittsburgh's skies and culture, is long gone. you don't have many football teams that are just out-and-out company logos, although sometimes their stadiums are, and actually i don't know whether to still like the steelers or not, given that pittsburgh itself is kind of down-and-out and needs a powerhouse team to ram everyone around, crush them & prove their dominance. as i was watching, and the steelers were actually winning, i could see out the corner of my eye, but some poor guy got injured and hobbled off the field unable to walk.

the playoffs used to be the best football, actually, much better than the super bowl; by the time you got to the super bowl you mostly just watch the commercials, because the outcome is decided pretty quickly. the problem is that the super bowl is now in february; football like baseball made the mistake of making its season way too long and having its championship decided a full two seasons after its rightful time. football is a fall sport, so here it is the end of winter and it's all over the place, but it won't actually be decided until spring. baseball similarly is still playing in the blizzards of early november & you go, why exactly am i watching baseball now? i tell all this to my wife and she yawns. but some pretty good football is happening, just outside of my vision, but it's the steelers, as i was saying, not the bears. the waitress, in her bears shirt, says "think you" as most young people do these days...the most obvious sign of a vowel shift that has been happening steadily, relentlessly, through these parts. i know the bears have lost, by the mood of the place, not so much by the waitresses, who might have had the same demeanor no matter what happened.

nothing to do in this small town; one the bookstore closed, there was nothing for it but to go to the grocery store and get some mint chip for the boys, who were at home playing with their older brother. what's left of the snow, frozen into chippy little ice outside the house, with the constant tiny snowflakes almost floating sideways. at home, i've been cleaning out my pop collection, almost doing a pop retrospective, looking back at the pop i've made and deciding what to do with it, getting rid of thousands of dead links as i would pick up dirty clothes off the floor, or clean out an old room full of empty beer cans. i've become obsessed by cleaning up the wreckage of web massacre so that things are simple, clean, as good as i can make it, and everything's backed up. needless to say things look different a few years later too. one i really liked & renamed it be here mao, but funny thing, the url doesn't change and you still get its old name in the url. what this means, i figure, is that if you start out with the right titles on your posts, and you simply change the titles, into something more polite, you could conceivably have subliminal messages in all your urls that might not be slander, since the fact that they are urls is different from, say, if you actually said something in your blog. something sue-able, i mean.

a former student writes to say, someone found her name on our blog, and her school, and looked her up and harassed her, and would i please remove the post, which i did. it's a shame though; it doesn't seem right, but, on the other hand, the proliferation and widespread use of google images especially is a profound overuse of all the pictures that find their way on the web, and although andy warhol would love it, the total overexposure, i'm trying to figure out a way to temper it, keep my own loved ones out of that whirl, maybe spare them of what this poor woman went through.

more pop - coming here. no people; i'm into obscuring images of the real people. no full names either, that turns out to be a problem. maybe i'll stick with statues, salukis, that kind of stuff. sidewalks, roads, parking lots, white as a sheet. the traffic lets up, just a little, but that's because of the football. tomorrow it will be busy again, worse than ever. it's january: king day, state of the union, playoffs, frozen snow and salt, and sometimes it feels like just about everything is political, or maybe it's just living in a town like this that has just one game, which is the university, and it has lots of head-crushing victims, for every stupid field goal.

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