returning to new york city from a wedding weekend in portland was rough: sunday evening in northern oregon was a charming windswept grab bag of sunshowers and summery northwestern gusts, and last monday morning in line for a taxi in queens was like stepping into an elevator full of trolls. 75% of portland is painted the color of our bedroom, so spending time there was like getting the best room service ever (though i'd never eat in bed, i'm not a monster). it felt good to find a place that made me want to want to leave manhattan, even though i'm years and years from really and truly having that kind of yen.


blue star donuts (shop). i'd probably have toddled down to the massive line wrapping around voodoo doughnut in the absence of expert guidance; it's part of just about every portland-adjacent food show i've ever seen, and it's smack in the middle of old town, so those of us with questionable senses of direction tend to circle the vortex like doomed sailors. those of us who also have a bespoke map from rachel, now—we get to start the day at blue star, where the front of the line is four people away, there are seats facing the street, and the old-fashioned donut chock full of locally-sourced goodness will make you cry just a little bit into your stumptown coffee (we also bought a meyer lemon donut filled with key lime curd, a blueberry-basil-bourbon donut, and a tres leches cake donut with hazelnuts; they were all excellent). i congratulated the guy at the counter on how pleasant it was downtown. "the streets are clean," he said, "but the people are dirty."

boxer ramen (restaurant). late-morning weekday downtown portland is informative and exhausting, for every shopkeeper will tell you about the last three west coast cities in which he or she lived and explain the intricacies of the local public transportation and give you gentle hints about where to eat without actually disparaging any of the places at which you probably shouldn't eat ("wait to have one of their burritos until you've had time to temper your expectations of what a burrito should be, maybe"). we heaped praise on blue star donuts to a kind and gregarious man selling selvedge denim and were directed to a ramen place owned by the blue star guy just a few doors away—perfect, as we were inexplicably hungry again. boxer ramen is goddamn adorable, its vegetarian curry is mild but delicious (and a mere $10), and if humming along with mid-'90s r&b in a mostly-empty air-conditioned room with a bowl of noodles, the missus, and a $4 beer isn't happiness, well.

floating world comics (shop). part of floating world's record-store vibe is the fact that it actually is a record store; it's also a gallery, a publisher, an art and design store, a cheerful zine-buyer (portland must be our nation's mightiest producer of zines), and an utterly magnificent repository of both mainstream and indie comics, and while i'm used to that kind of well-groomed enthusiasm from places like rough trade's new music store/venue in williamsburg, it, i don't expect it with my serial art. my (huge) mistake.

grassa (restaurant). by the time sunday night rolled around, we'd followed the 12hrs hipster guide across the river and back, powered down fancy corn nuts to soak up tiki drinks before tricia lockwood's reading, taken selfies over fancy wedding dinners, and eaten tater tot nachos on elephantine leather sofas underground while messi lost to germany in the world cup; our last group dinner didn't need to be great, it just had to be uncomplicated and pleasant. it was uncomplicated and pleasant, team! as the aforementioned denim guy said, the nice thing about portland is that you don't have to work yourself into a fomo-lather over must-sees and must-dos and hype or backlash; you can follow hunches when things look appealing and be reasonably confident that you'll enjoy yourself. at grassa, you order items from a chalkboard menu, pay up front, take a seat at one of the long communal tables, then tuck into fresh homemade pasta and a glass of local wine. mine was modest, comforting, and perfect for the end of a long weekend.

hand-eye supply (shop). THING I PURCHASED AT HAND-EYE SUPPLY, UNQUESTIONABLY THE FINEST ARTISANAL HARDWARE STORE I HAVE EVER SEEN: safety glasses which are now in rotation with my regular sunglasses, even though they were packaged in an airless plastic bag and are going to smell like feet for a while. THING I VERY NEARLY PURCHASED: a bar of otter wax for the brass otter i found at hippo hardware. THING I SHOULD HAVE PURCHASED: the clampersand. a clampersand, i said! i'm not sorry i got the smelly glasses, but with the smelly glasses and a clampersand i'd really be going places. a ferocious shower kicked up just as we were leaving hand-eye supply, and the friendly gal behind the counter rooted around in her storeroom until she found a plastic bag big enough to protect all of the posters and zines and david lynch art books i'd just purchased at floating world comics. gal, you were good to me.

hippo hardware & trading co. (shop). if i knew more about rebuilding vintage doors or was responsible for a full-body house rehab like jen's, i could have burned a few hours admiring the fancy knobs and swapping this old house quotes with the kind woman downstairs at hippo hardware. as i would surely be the worst contractor ever and had only five minutes to shop before heading back across the willamette for a big pre-wedding brunch with our friends, i merely bought a brass otter from the brusque woman upstairs. where did it come from? "from a supplier," she growled. "they supply us with brass otters."

portland saturday market (sprawl). i sing of east-to-west jet lag that pries me from bed at weird hours and flings me at coffeehouses and street fairs! on saturdays in new york i'm rarely wearing pants at noon, but on saturday in portland i'd scorned questionable ceramics, bought vegan black licorice lip balm (hey!), and tasted local hard cider (meh?) before ten. the saturday market felt like a cross between one of the summer street fairs that pop up on avenues in manhattan in a burst of mozzarepas and tube socks and the corner of the union square greenmarket where the farmstands start mixing with guys selling novelty tees; i wish it had been a bit farmstandier, as the buckets of wildflowers were, as rachel predicted, gorgeous and nearly free, but i will apply my lip balm and keep my gripes to myself.

powell's books (shop). while i can't know for sure that i'd happily swap new york's strand with powell's even if my first visit to the latter hadn't been for tricia lockwood's friday-night reading and it seems kind of mean-spirited to pit independent bookstores against one another—i treasure all of them except for san francisco's city lights, which can suck it—i sure would like to swap for powell's. it's more comfortable and navigable than i'd have thought a store of that size was capable of being, its displays are intuitive and dynamic, it managed to trick joe "all digital all the time" s. into falling in love with a big-ass book about soviet architecture, and it programmed a hot poetry event for the one weekend i'd be in town. i went back half a dozen times before we left portland on sunday night. please shop at powell's instead of on amazon.

rum club (bar). knowing of my and joe's love for laid-back bars and tiki, rachel sent us to meet the giant wooden bear with a shriner's fez at rum club in the industrial district; "the wallpaper is also amazing," she noted. she's right, and as always, she steered us true; daiquiris here are rarely that good, and they're never that cheap. our evening plans on the other side of the river kept me from establishing a scandalous all-night cocktail fiefdom at our little collection of tables, but i dream about it still (rachel's full portland and eugene write-up is here). that gossipy late afternoon with our friends was one of this summer's best.


John H., Queens: We have had glitter parties that were something to behold. Our loft has uneven floorboards, and at night the lines between the boards are a vista of glitter highlights. In our loft it blows into glitter drifts and glitter dunes.


Amy L., San Francisco: We made a batch of fifty-two glitter valentines for my daughter to send on Valentine's Day, and later I felt so guilty thinking of all that glitter all over everybody's house in San Francisco. My husband Mike is a really, really orderly guy, and as he was Dustbusting it from between the cracks in the floor he looked up at me and said, "Never, ever do this again."


There's a piece of glitter on the carpet between my feet. From here, as I move my head, it flashes like a mirror signal from a distant ridge. Now I lie on the floor and look at it close up, through a photographer's loupe. The carpet strands are a glossy thicket, with the piece of glitter among the branches in the understory. Magnified, it is a coppery gold of uneven sheen.


Just now, my sister-in-law brought over her new baby daughter. I had never seen the baby before, and the baby had never seen New York. Her wide, dark eyes did not seem to blink as she moved them with a series of short adjustments from one new apparition to the next. She is a first child, cared for with the precision parents often give to their first. I looked her over carefully but could find no glitter at all. Before long, a piece will adhere to her, marking her as our own.

(ian frazier, from "all that glitter," 1995)

in other news, instagram frames on embedded photos are really terrible. get it together, instagram.


101 in 1001 {III}: 070 make beer [ongoing]

my night of triumph was at hand: after saving up and sanitizing eight empty swing-top grolsch bottles (arduous; grolsch is not very good), acquiring a brooklyn brew shop kit with ingredients for a gallon of their warrior double ipa, mashing in, collecting and boiling wort, adding hops, pitching yeast, watching the beer-beast freak out on our counter for three days, installing an airlock, some other steps i'm probably forgetting, and letting the growler of whatever it was at that point become self-aware in a dark corner of our bedroom closet for two weeks, it was time to siphon and carbonate and bottle and promote my homemade beer, which would be the finest beer in all the land. i would call it grand street brown-brown, perhaps, in honor of matty, who supervised and inspired my efforts à la brooklyn brewery's beloved monster. i sanitized and prepared my racking cane and tubing, realized i hadn't yet prepared the honey and water mixture in the bottom of my sanitized pot, spilled a bunch of honey on the cat (who had started drinking the sanitizer when my back was turned, then panicked and scattered my bottles when i caught him at it), fled to retrieve the growler from the bedroom closet, and found that a pile of laundry had snapped the airlock clean off at the growler's open mouth, which explains why our clothes have smelled so spooky this week. a hop-addled moth traced a crooked spiral out of the closet.


culture blotter {kara walker's "a subtlety" at the domino sugar plant}

kara walker's "a subtlety"

kara walker, 1 of 3

kara walker, 2 of 3

kara walker, 3 of 3

i've always appreciated the derelict domino sugar plant's silhouette across the river, and have followed developers' plans to erect fifty-story residences in its place with a bit of sadness; the city needs more affordable housing, and nasty old buildings shouldn't live on the river because i find them interesting, and i'll be sorry to see them go all the same. kara walker's "a subtlety" ("or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant"), a massive installation in the plant's largest storage room, is the farewell i didn't know i wanted, and i jumped at the opportunity to have a look inside. i've seen and appreciated walker's stuff at the whitney and the brooklyn museum—she's fantastic at repulsing her viewers, her silhouettes will drive you right out of the room—but i've never really known what i'm supposed to do at that point.

"a subtlety" (here meaning, among other things, an extra-fancy illusion dish prepared for a medieval feast; this sphinx is a 75-foot-long, 35-foot-tall foam sculpture covered with sugar) is her first large-scale public work, her first literally huge piece, and like all nyc-area installation art, it's attracted all sorts of attention. artnet noted a week or two ago that it's spawned an ongoing series of lewd instagrams, an outcome she surely anticipated (visitors are encouraged to use a site-specific hashtag and told that they are part of the exhibition). hyperallergic wondered how the exhibitors were keeping vermin away from those forty tons of sugar (answer: rat traps, but most pests seem to be leaving the site alone*). little clumps of hipsters and art-world types trooped in and out of the building like ants. what i didn't expect, even in brooklyn, were the strollers: mothers were wheeling their children right up to the sticky little sugar babies, whispering in their ears. a sunshower pattered on the roof, the sickly-sweet crystals on the walls smelled of molasses, and we processed around walker's queen like the mourners we were.

[full set here.]

*"According to Ed McLaughlin, service manager for Regal Pests Management, which [the exhibitors] called in to deliver estimates for preventative services last winter, ants are a cause for greater worry than rats. 'Rats as a rule probably would not be attracted to a big amount of sugar, especially in an urban area,” McLaughlin said. “A rat can’t live on sugar alone. They’re going to need more palatable foods … basically anything they’ll find in the garbage. Things that are attracted to sugar are obviously ants, depending on the specific colony, roaches … bees.'"


the dirty dozen {notes from my hometown police blotter, as reported by the oc register*}

Defrauding an innkeeper. 4:56 p.m. The caller reported a customer who ran out on a $160 tattoo bill. The caller said he still has the man’s ID.
Keep the peace. 6:56 p.m. The caller said a neighbor is squirting water over the fence.
Suspicious person/circumstances. 12:53 p.m. The caller reported a young man singing and asking for money.
Disturbance – music or party. 6:44 a.m. The caller reported neighbors stomping and banging cupboards very loudly.
Citizen assist. 6:42 p.m. The caller said he lent his black Mini Cooper to a friend two days ago and the friend refuses to return it.
Citizen assist. 3:57 p.m. The caller said he thinks his neighbor was driving toward him in her black minivan and turned at the last second. The caller was also upset about her four kids using chalk on the sidewalk.
Missing child. 5:59 p.m. The caller reported her daughter missing, but later found her on the other side of the soccer field.
Disturbance. 6:27 p.m. A woman caller said her upstairs neighbor is using a device on her thermostat that quacks like a duck.
Suspicious person/circumstances. 5:20 p.m. The caller reported a man sitting on the corner and talking on a phone. The caller didn’t like him in the neighborhood.
Suspicious circumstance. 8:01 a.m. A man with short, spiky hair, wearing a white T-shirt and brown pants, was reportedly watching a woman and her friend. When the woman noticed the man on the bike, he "flipped" her off and rode away in an unknown direction.
Disturbance. 8:14 a.m. A caller said a man in the laundry room threw a sock at his wife after the caller asked him to stop removing his wife’s laundry from the machine. The sock hit his wife in the eye.
Assist outside agency. 11:03 a.m. A caller said a lawn mower was fully engulfed in flames.

*previous installment here.


the manhattan challenge concludes, 05.14

What's the allure of linguistic relativism? There may be solace in imagining ourselves prisoners of circumstances beyond our control—of language or horoscopes, of God or Capital—and so relieved of responsibility for what we do next. It may also be that linguistic relativism gives a kind of cheap knowingness that we all enjoy: you're a prisoner of your tongue, but I'm the one who can show you that you're imprisoned. In truth, language seems less like a series of cells in which we are imprisoned than like a set of tools that help us escape: some of the files are rusty; some will open any door; and most you have to jiggle around in the lock. But, sooner or later, most words work.

(adam gopnik, from "word magic," new yorker 05.26.14)


wite-out homage to angela deane

To Time, [John Updike] owned up to a "sneaking fondness for elegance, for people whose apartments are full of money and the martini comes all dewy and chilled." And then he launched into this remarkable riff:

There's a certain moment of jubilant mortality that you get on a Manhattan street—you know, all these people in the sunshine, all these nifty girls with their knees showing, these cops, these dope addicts, everybody swinging along, and they're never going to be in the same pattern again and tomorrow a few of them will be dead and eventually we'll all be dead. But there's a wonderful gay defiance that you feel in New York in the daytime.

(adam begley, from updike)
i think my lunch-hour wite-out project (above, an homage to angela deane's ghost photographs) is the most exciting thing that's ever happened to my office supplies.



the few (play). joe and i saw samuel d. hunter's the whale at playwrights horizons two winters ago; we both loved it, joe to such a degree that i've been able to convince him to see all sorts of things in the intervening years (thanks, playwrights horizons!). he was all for making a night of hunter's the few, also directed by davis mccallum and now at rattlestick, an even smaller theater down in the village (a note on our tickets instructed us to use the restroom before arriving, as their only one was onstage*). the two plays are clearly blood relations: the whale centers on an online writing teacher who annihilates intimacy with his morbid obesity, and the few is a once-lyrical newspaper established to assure long-haul truckers they are seen and heard (now kept alive by an IV drip of their personal ads). writing can connect us, sure, but it's also just another way for us to lie to each other. the whale is more successful because it concentrates its anguish so effectively in one character, i think, but the few hits some of the same eerie notes—and, if we're being honest, i could look at dane laffrey's ultranaturalistic set design all day. i wish my dear jen had been in the house to geek out over grimy walls and idaho refrigerator magnets with me.

gracias madre (restaurant). my sister was kind enough to allow us to admire her newborn daughter for the better part of a week last month and to make a big old family reservation for organic/local/vegan mexican food when we were in san francisco. as when i worked at the spca hospital a few blocks away c. 2002, gracias madre's corner of the mission isn't...especially...not...sketchy, but the restaurant itself is so wholesome (our long table had a drawerful of earnest doodled notes from patrons to other patrons**) that i stopped reminiscing about crack pipe sightings almost immediately. i was also distracted by gracias madre's respectable guacamole and craft beer list, though to be fair, if you're in california and can't do those things right you should probably go to canada. other dishes ranged from marvelous (a well-spiced quesadilla with sweet potato and caramelized onion) to stand-up (pozole) to mystifying (a "queso fundido" of bread crumbs, cashews, and cauliflower). i'd love to be able to say gracias madre's kitchen is holding its own in the neighborhood, but that neighborhood makes most of the best mexican food i've ever eaten; let's say that i respect what they're doing and hope their game gets tighter. team veg has an awfully shallow bench.

little failure (book). in a world of my making gary shteyngart would have a catlike nine lives and a memoir for each. in the experimental short story i lack the attention span to write, young gary shteyngart happens upon the young fictional characters of donna tartt's the goldfinch and just beats the snot out of them. we are all of us in this world, though, and i can but say that little failure (failurchka, as shteyngart's mother calls him) is a dense and self-aware and heartbreaking memoir, and that i now feel even weirder about peeking into shteyngart's closets when joe and i were thinking about buying his apartment (i am still grateful for the faux-molding trick we borrowed for our bedroom a few months later). little asthmatic igor (gary was an anagram-ish attempt to avoid ridicule) moved with his parents from leningrad to new york in 1979; little failure offers (literal and figurative) snapshots of his early years in russia (when his grandmother bribed him with cheese to write lenin and his magical goose, a first 'novel'), scenes of extended agony at hebrew school in queens (he spoke no english and relied on sympathetic local jews for secondhand clothes), and a recipe for the funny-guy persona he cooks up to survive adolescence and adulthood. i tend to pass over memoirs in favor of biographies, but shteyngart has me reconsidering that reflex: little failure is fucking great.

mother (restaurant). our week of niece-admiration in northern california concluded with another thoughtfully-planned vegetable-based meal, this time at a buzztastic place in downtown sacramento. given how reverentially our hosts spoke about its chef, michael thiemann (formerly of ella), i figured we'd wait for a table for hours,*** but we were seated and convinced to order the ten-course chef's-choice menu in no time (in sacramento a ten-course chef's-choice menu rings in at $25 per person; WELL DONE, SACRAMENTO). our table promptly became a kaleidoscope of sexy meatlessness: chicken-fried trumpet mushrooms with buffalo sauce, deconstructed portobello poutine with a luxurious kimchi-based gravy and wildflowers, smoked baby carrots, fresh pasta with ramps and crisp fiddleheads...i should have been taking notes. thiemann isn't a vegetarian; he just gives his main ingredients the same respect he'd give an animal protein, and he has the advantage of a palate that's accustomed to animal proteins' depth of flavor. i couldn't tell you what an authentic poutine gravy tastes like, but he can, and my non-vegetarian folks loved his food as hard as i did. look this place up on your next joan-didion-themed road trip.

pliny the elder (beer). i hunt for things for a living, and in my spare time i hunts the things even more enthusiastically. pliny's sole east coast distributor is down in philadelphia, and it's scarce enough in southern california that an announcement that pliny the younger (its seasonal cousin) is on tap somewhere in los angeles generates an instant three-hour hipster queue.**** i wandered into a specialty grocer's at the san francisco ferry building when i was out west in february and found a 1 PLINY PER PERSON! SOLD OUT sign on an empty refrigerator case. we revisited said case on this trip an hour before the next shipment was due—i am smooth like that—and stocked up after a leisurely lunch. it probably goes without saying that pliny wasn't nearly as exciting to drink as it was to hunt (i actually preferred blind pig, another russian river IPA with a more complex finish), but in a craft landscape where most celebrated microbrews are either octuple imperial stouts with ABVs that could send you straight into a coma or so hoppy they present like asparagus pee, it's awfully nice when a brewmaster exercises some restraint. this is a well-balanced imperial IPA: evergreen but not aggressively resinous, citrusy in a sophisticated rather than a cheapie-witbier way. while i will always love fraoch (a weird scottish ale brewed with heather and bog myrtle) more than i love other beers, i salute this one.

the realistic joneses (play). tip of the hat to esb for turning our biannual bicoastal cocktail night into an evening at the theater; we met up in hell's kitchen for a drink and a show the night after joe and i saw the few, so i was basically the fanciest girl in new york last weekend. those are weird shows to see back to back, though: will eno's writing is as stylized as hunter's is naturalistic, and it took me a few scenes to get used to his big-name cast's quippity-quipping. it's weirdly affecting absurdism, though, and michael c. hall in particular did an unexpectedly fine job of layering little gut-twists into his non sequiturs (i have yet to watch six feet under and know him primarily from dexter, a show i watched mainly because DVDs of the first three seasons materialized like pop-culture dust bunnies in our credenza). the simple plot provides comfortable digs for the non sequiturs: hall's character and his wife (marisa tomei) move to a small town and befriend their neighbors (tracy letts and toni collette). both husbands suffer from a rare, mysterious disorder that seems to complicate relationships and make conversations more exotic; both wives struggle as partners and as wearers of awkward summer-casual clothing. these pairings reminded my companions of edward albee's marriages; i'm still new to this non-shakespeare stuff and know albee primarily from a cross-stitched quote ("You have lovely breasts.") in the first new york apartment joe and i sublet, so i will simply trust them.

der samurai (film). this year's tribeca film festival revels were squashed into a single weekend, thanks to our trip to california; i try to get to at least a couple of foreign horror movies, but this year's small-town-east-german-cop-and-dress-wearing-samurai story was an only child. the screening was free for crew members, so half a dozen of the guys i'd worked with over the past few days turned up for (and hated) the movie; joe said he quite liked it and strove mightily not to fall asleep halfway through (he failed). too bad for him! till kleinert spoke in the subsequent Q&A of wanting to plant his feet in germany and make the sort of film most directors would decamp to america for; i loved that he decided to go weird and dreamy and grand-guignol in a market that doesn't yet know what to do with him. appropriately, der samurai is all about repression and release: a straightforward treatment of a young officer protecting his village from a wolf mutates into a violently romantic dreamscape in which conventional locals are "corks;" sometimes self-actualization means sabering people like champagne bottles, i guess, and you have to just submit to a tender interpretive dance with a terrifying man in a gore-spattered white gown. the movie ends up feeling like david lynch's entry in the eurovision song contest (the joyful final scene fades out to the ark's "it takes a fool to remain sane"). since joe missed so much of it we should probably see it again.

something must break (film). seating tribeca audiences is surprisingly intense: filmmakers underestimate their entourages, all-access-badgeholders descend en masse without warning, random squirrelly people lie and steal each other's seats. in my second shift this year a documentary's subject, a softspoken old art forger who donates his creations to unsuspecting museum curators, went AWOL an hour before showtime and was discovered at the last minute in a restaurant around the corner. writer/directors never show up on time with their collaborators and take the worst seats in the house, but ester martin bergsmark did; loading the house for something must break was such a breeze that i got to stay and watch the film, which was the highlight of my festival. saga becker plays sebastian, a young punk in stockholm who's fallen for andreas (performance artist iggy malmborg), who is not gay (sebastian: "neither am i.") but tells sebastian, "you're so beautiful i want to vomit." that's an understatement, really: becker's almost frighteningly lovely, like kristen stewart if she gave up and decided to be charismatic. their love scenes are somehow both graphic and chaste, and their love story's set to impeccable don't-speak-to-me-stay-with-me swedish electroclash (appropriate for a film named for a joy division song; a detractor called it a "moody soundtrack-album in search of a movie"). for this one i wish i'd had my costume-designer sister with me; she'd love how ellie, the identity sebastian initially suggests with strands of pearls, begins to become herself in pieces like a shoplifted dress. duck into this if it comes your way. it's unforgettable.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 how do you feel about vegan "cheese"?
02 what's the best memoir you've ever read?
03 do you think merpeople have to wash with special soap before they perform in aquariums with live fish?
04 where would one go on a joan-didion-themed road trip?
05 have you had either of the plinys? do they live up to the hype for you?
06 where in our sublet would you guess the edward albee quote was hanging?
07 how do you feel about swedish music?

*everyone else ignored this note and formed a twenty-idiot line for the head anyway, so the play started fifteen minutes late. i'd have been cooler about that if i hadn't just housed my dinner like a fugitive in order to get to my seat on time.

**and a graphic designer's business card.

***happily, there was a weird merpeople bar across the street.

****i would love to mock those hipsters, but i waited several pre-dawn hours on an east side sidewalk for the comme des garçons x h&m collection a few years ago.



jon snow's eventual fate in a song of ice and fire / googling jon snow of channel 4 news
my office might have a comparatively reasonable severance policy* / lindsey palmer's pretty in ink
of mice and men's ultra-grisly denouement / hilton als's scathing review of the james franco production

*no worries, i remain employed.


RIP, la femina

It was possible, in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, to die of Bleach and of Blasted, of Cramp and of Itch, of Sciatica and of Lethargy. You could be carried off by Cut of the Stone, or King's Evil, or Planet-struck, or Rising of the Lights. You could succumb to Overjoy, which sounds like a decent way to go, or be Devoured by Lice, which does not. You could die of Stopping of the Stomach, or Head-Ach, or Chin-cough, or Teeth. You could die of HorseshoeHead, though don't ask me how. You could die of being a Lunatick. You could die of, basically, death: "Suddenly"; "Killed by several Accidents"; "Found dead in the Streets," You could die of Frighted, and of Grief.

(kathryn schulz, from "final forms," new yorker 04.07.14)


the wildlife center's founder poked her head in the treatment room. "we have an eighty-nine-year-old volunteer. all she can do is chop vegetables. do you have something for her?" "sure," one of the rehabbers replied. "she can quarter fresh blueberries for the songbirds." we wiped down and disinfected the table on which we'd been feeding seeds and puppy chow to fledgling pigeons and assembled a station for the volunteer, who planted her feet and prepped enough blueberries for every little bird in our flyway and the tri-state area.


the dirty dozen {mystery train,* round VI}

how times change! i worried in the fifth installment of this guess-who's-reading-what series that the male reader was going extinct; in 2014 he is all up in my trains, and he is spending a lot of time on personal care (male reader all up in my trains, i salute you). he's still wildly outnumbered by the commuters playing candy crush on their smartphones, of course, but he's there, he's earnest, and at some point he'll make it to the second page of the pale king (sweet, bearded thirteenth reader who just missed my count this time, i salute you as well).

as in previous posts, i've linked the title of each book to descriptions and cover images, mostly from powell's.** when a book and its reader are paired correctly, i'll update the lists; if you need hints, i'll compose haiku on request. who's the urban farmer? what do the people in headphones play as they read? where were the schoolchildren headed? is all of this facial hair here to stay? if amazon were a buffy-the-vampire-slayer-universe monster of the week, what sort of monster would it be? i await your responses!

{the readers}

01 F, late 20s, long, straight brown hair under bumpy knitted cream beanie, black knee-length puffer with fur-edged hood, double gold ring on left middle finger, thick solid gold ring on right middle finger, short black nails, black tights, high-heeled buckled brown booties, black prada bucket bag in lap, B train [sharp objects, gillian flynn - anon comes to life like a filmic killer]

02 M, late 30s, smooth tan knit skullcap pulled low on forehead, heavy olive green hooded puffer over popped black denim collar and paisley silk scarf, slim black trousers, black socks, cap-toe black oxfords, B train

03 M, late 20s, floppy dark hair, trimmed beard, black pea coat with copious pockets over green hoodie, thick brown scarf, blue topo designs backpack bristling with pens worn on both shoulders, cuffed raw denim jeans, brown moccasins, D train

04 F, 20s, wavy black pixie cut with purple ombre bangs, high silver ear cuffs, blue puffer with white-fur-trimmed hood and antarctica patch, rust scarf, black slacks, two-tone brown leather oxfords, raw leather messenger bag, pen in hand, F train

05 F, late teens, two-tone rectangular glasses, pink-streaked light brown hair in folded bun, flowered scarf, brown coat with white polka dots fading into pink roses, dark jeans, high-heeled brown leather boots, B train [the double helix, james d. watson - anon, TCB w/r/t DNA]

06 M, early 30s, teal rectangular glasses, black mustache and goatee, back-of-the-head black neoprene earmuffs, green army jacket, dark jeans, white pumas, F train

07 M, 20s, shiny black oversized headphones, floppy brown bangs, short beard, blue and rust plaid shirt buttoned over black tee, open khaki jacket, slim grey jeans, orange and blue lace-up vans, padded black backpack between legs, B train

08 M, late 60s, short, wild white hair, rectangular rimless glasses worn low on nose, open black puffer coat, sunglasses tucked into neck of black tee, black messenger bag around neck, legs splayed, black basketball shoes, D train [july 1914: countdown to war, sean mcmeekin - jacob spies the urban soldier]

09 M, about 8, short ash brown hair with magnificent cowlick, yellow P.S. 10 tee, cargo pants, blue-, orange-, and yellow-shark-patterned backpack with pikachu keychain resting on feet, F train [flat stanley, jeff brown - i imagine valya's boys have a copy as well]

10 F, about 8, dark brown hair in braided ponytail with glittery silver rubber band, black pea coat and magenta cardigan over yellow P.S. 10 tee, light blue jeggings, black-and-grey paisley backpack between knees, F train [the field day from the black lagoon, mike thaler - per lisa, who's known me since we were both about that tall]

11 M, late 20s, long brown hair in high folded bun, mustache and narrow goatee, black collarless leather jacket zipped to chin, red chinos, white ankle socks, red slip-on vans, A train [delirious new york: a retroactive manifesto for manhattan, rem koolhaas - anon IDs the russian karim rashid]

12 M, late 20s, black headphones over pomaded hair, mustache waxed into curls, kelly green hooded down coat over tails-out striped oxford shirt, black slacks, maroon canvas sneakers, black backpack, holding stainless black antelope thermos, B train [ham on rye, charles bukowski - anon, greasespotting]

{the books}

ham on rye, charles bukowski
the administration of fear, paul virilio
delirious new york: a retroactive manifesto for manhattan, rem koolhaas
dune, frank herbert
flat stanley, jeff brown
flu: the story of the great influenza pandemic of 1918 and the search for the virus that caused it, gina kolata
sharp objects, gillian flynn
july 1914: countdown to war, sean mcmeekin
greenhorns: 50 dispatches from the new farmers' movement, zoe ida bradbury
salt sugar fat: how the food giants hooked us, michael moss
the field day from the black lagoon, mike thaler
the double helix, james d. watson

*tip of the hat, as always, to coverspy.

**we'll be making a pilgrimage to the pearl district mothership this july, and i am already weeks into hemming and hawing over which pair of underwear to throw at the rare books section.