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July 4, 2011

Note It Here

Monday. Up at seven, out the door and back just after nine running into the apartment manager who said he indeed had a set of jumper cables that I could use tomorrow morning to get my car started and over to the shop. I was planning on having it serviced anyway before heading up to Portland so the timing is right.

We're looking at another warmer than warm day again, something about it cooling off later in the week, so I'm not looking to do anything strenuous here on the Fourth. A bus downtown and then a walk to Jack London Square? They're having a celebration of some kind without the fireworks and it is, after all, reasonably close by.

I notice it's all the wealthier towns and counties around here that are having fireworks tonight, Oakland and the broke not being able to afford it. My former life as a child pyromaniac comes to mind, the legal to buy fireworks Fourths when we lived north of Seattle, the even louder Fourths when we lived outside New York City where fireworks were illegal.

Money will get you fireworks in towns where they're illegal better than no money will get you fireworks in towns where they're legal. Cumbersome, but something like that. Follow the cash. Good advice. Those days were a long time ago and most of the old emotional need for combustion is gone, but the memory still lingers. Less complicated days in some ways - fireworks, after all - but more complicated it turns out in others.

Walking back from breakfast I noticed this. Coming from the other direction I noticed what I thought was a tag of some sort naming the plant - has it always been there? - but saw it was a paper approximation of the flag standing small but proudly in its potted plant. Probably a more genuine expression of what it means, this Fourth of July, than many that are more elaborate. Made by a child? You'd think, but maybe not.

Later. Another walk then back to the morning restaurant, after laying down for about an hour listening to the radio, taking the odd picture as I progressed. The walk seems to have done me good. I took a closer look at what I was calling a label of some kind on the back of the little flag I'd found in the potted plant and deciphered it: “Misrepresentation Dictionary”. OK, makes some kind of sense. Still patriotic enough, patriotic in its dissent.

A slow walk back (very slow these last few days, ambling, taking my time) stopping to sit for a bit on one of the benches by the white columns on the lake, a place I've sat more often than I can count. A nice day, lots of people, fewer cars (also nice), the temperature warm without being too hot. Whatever they were forecasting, way warm or just warm, warm seems to have won out.

Some guitar now that it's mid-afternoon, I do need to go through the chords playing with the recorded songs or I'm not going to get it right. Should I have gotten a leg up with a short session this morning? Of course, but we're not going to worry about it. Not on the Fourth of July.

Later still. Guitar practice while two or three news programs were playing in the background. Chord changes and the four fret stretch. I've yet to reliably get that four fret stretch. Still, another evening ahead.

Earlier, sitting at an outside patio table at the restaurant early in the afternoon I noticed a young guy who was engrossed in writing on a legal pad, noticed he had the tattoo of a phrase of some kind written in script showing at the edge of t-shirt just below the shoulder and across the collarbone. Didn't think much of it other than he looked to be in his very early twenties, clean cut, maybe gay, maybe not, more that he had a seemingly out of character tattoo (aggressive in its placement) than anything else. Just passing old geezer thoughts. Lots of tattoos around, just not so many like that.

Getting up to leave, however, I was able to make out the tattoo: “Infinite Jest”, David Foster Wallace's opus magnum. Oh. Shift gears. OK, he is young, late teens, more likely very early twenties (it's hard for me to tell anymore), but someone who's been so impressed by the book he's had the title tattooed across his chest.

I've read Wallace, have a copy of Infinite Jest in the bookcase beside the bed, a copy I've started more than once. I say (more likely complain) I don't read nearly as much as I once did in my earlier days and I've used that to some degree as an excuse. Wallace is something of a legend among writers and readers both and his suicide (last year? has it been longer?) at forty-six was much remarked, but none of it has been enough to get me to read it through. Is it good? Is it important? Oh, yes. No doubt, I don't need the comments of others to know it for a fact. You can tell from the first paragraph.

And so?

Well, some youngster sitting at a restaurant table with an Infinite Jest tattoo may have been able to do what the critics, other writers, many readers and my own experience has been unable to do. I may actually read it myself. Starting this evening. I'll be curious to see if I in any way follow through. Tomorrow morning when I note it here.

I won't hold my breath.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco 2011 Gay Pride Parade - Dykes on Bikes with a Nikon D3s mounted with a 70-200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR II lens.