Monday, October 14, 2013

nineteenth street

it's all about nineteenth street, i've taken to saying to myself. nineteenth street is ten lanes wide, but my whole walk is only about four blocks, so nineteenth street looms as the biggest moment. furthermore, you can daydream for part of the walk, but you can't daydream on nineteenth. you have to look both ways.

when i first start out, on the walk sign, cars have stopped across the way, to the west, hopefully, and it's all sun and shiny pavement to the east. halfway across i encounter stopped cars coming from the east, glaring or spacing out as the case may be, as it's a fairly long light. but here's the kicker. after it rains the water collects down in the right-turn lane which is actually my last one. on this one, generally, cars aren't going too fast, maybe 20 or 30, but folks aren't watching either and you sometimes have to step lively to get across that little lane. but when there's water around it's a totally different story. it doesn't take more than about an inch, before that lane has about eighteen inches of water, and trucks plowing through there throw it up in every direction for about twenty feet. i actually have no choice, since the light is twenty seconds long and it takes twenty seconds to cross ten lanes, i'm there, trucks or not, spray or not, there's no way out of it. going around is out of the question. there is no around.

now that it's halloween, there's a billboard in town, nightmare on nineteenth street. this apparently is not new. it is also not referring to my little piece of nineteenth street, rather, it's a house way down the other end of town, which they've fixed up and made into a halloween house. it's a seasonal thing, but the billboard is looming high. it's october. the colors are orange. it's show your colors month.

walked into the dairy queen the other night with my kids, one of whom turned twelve, and found myself eye-to-eye with K.H., chancellor of the university, powerful ex-pol who runs the joint, literally, and whom I should have known or at least met before. he was real nice to me, made me curious a little, so i went home and looked him up. turns out he's the only guy to ever beat george w. in an election. and he did it by basically claiming that george w. wasn't texan enough. george w. went to yale, but he went to tech. george w. lived in connecticut part of the time, but he lived in west texas all the time. that kind of stuff.

turns out k.h. is retiring, after running the place for many years. i pointed out that it was in the news, and he said, well, i'm almost 71, might as well. i felt like saying, i'm 59 myself, gonna have to figure out what to do with my life, any day now. but i didn't. he was there with grandsons, all of whom were wearing red and black all over. i wouldn't have it any other way, he said.

went over to the arena this morning to work the booth and make tech look good, say good stuff about tech. which i did. that arena though, its red seats, its indiana avenue and all, seems to me to have bobby knight all over it. it's like they said to him, we'll make it all red. we'll rename the street indiana. we'll make it the perfect arena, modern, nice stone walls, castle exterior. i was walking toward it, in a steady drizzle, a nice drizzle, you come to love these drizzles, along comes a tuba player the other way, carrying his tuba. playing veggie tales, or some such, just playing that tuba, 8 o'clock in the morning, playing and walking. other band members were walking too but across the street, their bright red uniforms even brighter because of the drizzle. when i got to the arena the band was finished, the cheers were finished, they were introducing k.h., he was about to give a speech. a fine arena, enclosed, red, beautiful lighting and acoustics. i worked the booths for a while.

on nineteenth, i fell into a daydream at an inopportune time. i was thinking of the pittsburgh pirates who i grew up with one could say. halfway across the street, coming to the cars stopped at the light, suddenly to my left, a car veered into a left turn across a lane of traffic and came right up to my knee before stopping. this was maybe 20 mph, not so bad. it woke me up with a start. suddenly i saw this red car right at my knee; to me left, a truck stopped at the light. in the truck, a guy with a pirates hat, of all things. it's an abstraction here. he doesn't know from pirates. doesn't matter though, it was odd way to snap out of a daydream.

later this lady says, tuba players, they can't walk without playing. they can't play without playing veggie tales. that's what they do. they walk around, and play veggie tales.

this morning, a quite beautiful woman was walking up flint right near me. she apparently didn't see me. but, she made my life easier, because everyone saw her. they didn't want to run her over, so they saw me too, and nobody got run over. there was quite a puddle there on the on ramp but we both got over it, not too much soaking. got to the lab, and who was my first customer, her. i asked her if that was her on flint street. i think she knew it was, but she denied seeing me. ok, that's ok, maybe it wasn't her, i told her about the sign, and about the paper where the guy had an anxiety attack, crossing the street. said i'd seen about eight accidents at that corner in about a year, this was actually a low number, but i hadn't actually seen more than a couple of them happen. i'd run across at least eight, one involving a bicycle, not counting the ones that almost involved me the pedestrian or bicyclist, but didn't, in the end, because they weren't technically accidents.

it's all about nineteenth street, i told her. she needed organizational help. her mind was elsewhere. she was young, not really concerned about nineteenth street. somewhere in the back of my mind, i heard a tuba playing veggie tales.


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