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Bainbridge Island, Washington

August 4th, 2001

Whiskey Drinks
Another Oakland morning, foggy, overcast, but breaking up by noon, and then the sun and the bay breeze for the rest of the day. I like this kind of weather. Sleep under the covers, because it's cool, and then enough sun later in the morning to walk along in your t-shirt, feeling fine. Breakfast down near the Grand Lake theater, as always, back to the apartment to look over yesterday's entry, shake my head - my, my - do what I can to salvage what's there and post it to the journal.

Get in the car and drive down to the warehouse district near Jack London Square, wander around a bit, have coffee and an apple at the gas station across from the jail that's been converted into a coffee house - young gay women sitting at the tables talking under the paintings along the wall - mind blank, camera on the floor, not a photograph in sight. Looked for numbers, though, half looked for numbers, anyway, but found not a one. Need to think about that. Classic photography class assignment. Nada. Nothing. Probably best I majored in Political Science. You could get by on snappy patter in Political Science.

Watched a movie later on video, The Wooden Man's Bride, in which a young Chinese couple show great forbearance in not becoming bandits and killing the young woman's mother-in-law until the end of the film. A gross transgression of traditional Chinese values, of course, this killing of a mother-in-law, but that's what America is about: a place to go when you have to get out of town, the mother-in-law laid out and buried in the garden, ten thousand miles behind.

We've always attracted the wild eyed here: half bandit, half crazy, half starved. Lots of halves here in America. What would the world do for a safety valve without us? Chopping up all the local monarchs is a good start. I have a distant relative, a great, ever so great, uncle, a bachelor, come to think of it, who served Napoleon. He's often portrayed as a bad guy in the movies, my great great uncle, but he himself was part of a chop up the monarchs plot until the man he served became something of a monarch himself. Hi, ho. You can tell the afternoon has been a long one: movies and monarchs, political science and regicide.

I also rented Bertolucci's 1900, the long one with Burt Lancaster and Robert DeNiroBainbridge Island, Washington and Donald Sutherland, who in this one, plays a rather bad guy. Actually, come to think of it, Sutherland is pretty good at bad guys. Two movies about repressive social systems in one day, what's up? I realized at some point I'm old enough now that the politics here will not change fast enough to make much of any difference to me in my life. Lots of potential disaster to focus on if you're younger and into potential disasters, of course. Maybe I could put together another section not unlike my 100 books page: "Ten Top Disasters That Will Lead to the End of the World, Part I". I could do that. There's a long tradition here of moving to someplace like Montana, way back into the mountains where you can bury canned goods and stockpile ammunition and await the next coming. I'd do that, but I still get up in the morning after a pretty good night's rest and wander down the hill and have my coffee and read the paper and think about taking photographs and pretty soon it's evening and I haven't even packed a bag or ordered a ticket to Petaluma, let alone Montana, and besides, what's the chance of good DSL in the boondocks?

Probably not good to watch two movies, one about feudal China and one about fascist Italy, in the same afternoon. Public radio had a program on earlier about the fire bombing of Tokyo (100,000 dead in a single night), a story about a thirteen year old girl who died at Auschwitz and the Japanese woman who tracked her story, which put life in perspective and made me realize (again) my own life and circumstance is not much more than an armchair Disney fantasy, and then, feeling worn and bruised, Auschwitz is followed by a chapter of This American Life about twelve and thirteen boys who run away to Los Angeles to live as women, interviewed in this particular episode in a pastiche of dreamlike weirdness that made me think, hell, I'm going to go out and have a cup of coffee at a gas station that's been converted into a coffee house just across the street from an Oakland jail and sit there with my camera on the floor beside me thinking, maybe, just maybe I should go home, chill out and rent a couple of upbeat movies.

Oh, well. Let us not be morbid. It is early evening, the air is clear, the sun is setting and I am thinking of crawling into bed and continuing my read of White Jazz, the last book in James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet, a story of mutilation and murder and death and I'm only up to page 72 and I am thinking, as I am writing this: WHAT IN THE FUCK! This started with breakfast and a warm afternoon sun. I have taken a seriously bad turn in my choices for today's entertainment and maybe I should hang it up and have another one of these whiskey drinks.

The photographs were taken at my cousin's on Bainbridge Island. The quote is from The Zen Koan, by Miura and Sasaki.