Building on yesterday’s question where someone I’d never met before wanted something from me I wasn’t willing to give, even more asks came in this morning over the transom, hands outstretched and bayonets clenched and glinting between teeth.
First came one from a government agency, and that required a decision from above my pay grade. Then came another from another media outlet about something I’d filmed a while back, and that meant declining on one of several possible grounds. Then the third came from a different outlet about participation in an encounter, and that one could take a day or more to process, given how its language construes me.
I need to think about whether I’m the person they seem to think I am, and what the half-life is on the person I used to be, the person who they think they might have answered.
I wrote about something today. Hours later, I got a call from someone two time zones away asking me if I’d give them details about a particular thing I’d written but not fully disclosed. When I told them no, they accused me of being a bad journalist. After all, why write about something if I wasn’t willing to back it up? I was polite, and eventually the person thanked me for calling back and hung up. I thought about it for a good while after. I realized I’d told them no for several reasons, but only told them about one: that I hadn’t wanted to be the bearer of bad news, at the expense of advancing things faster than other parties were willing. Another, larger reason that swum up from muddier water later on: good as librarians are and excellent as it can be to emulate their virtues, I’m not one. Granted, I’m not paid to be one. I justify what I write to my editors, but I’m not required to open my notebook to anyone who asks. This is something I need to revisit or figure out how to sit with.
Later on, I drove by the old Merritt Bakery and confirmed what I’d seen a few days earlier about the upcoming auction. Town business, man. Town business.
I’ve been making more timelapses lately in order to look at the world without time, in the words of that line from “The Matrix Reloaded” I’ve never quite gotten over.
I want to see what the clouds look like in the reflected surfaces of the buildings outside the one where I work, and how the light changes as the clouds shift and the hours lengthen into evening, and when the weather predicted by forecasters and expected by pedestrians suddenly starts landing on everything outside.
Then I want to see it differently, so I’ll use one app to speed it up or another to filter it in black and white and gray, because I’m greedy about options and lazy about sharing and keen on using certain platforms in certain ways.
Today, after reading a few people talking about this early-morning fire on Twitter and Facebook, and after watching a couple of videos from The Specials, I wrote these lyrics:
It's the morning after the fire on 73rd and MacArthur on the deep East Side Everyone is bewildered and nobody saw it coming until the place got fried Not every block blaze is suspicious But not every flame can be innocent When criminals parade waving contracts And it's harder every day just to make rentOne block over there's a robbery going down don't try to protect The terms of the exchange are exactly what you would expect in this townNow flash forward years after tears run dry on the deep East Side Abracadabra hey presto there's galleries and bistros it's been gentrified Not every new neighbor is nameless But not every old one gets to linger When you're shoved by an invisible hand And insult to injury is it gives you the fingerOne block over there's a robbery going down don't try to protect The terms of the exchange are exactly what you would expect in this townNot what we mean when we used to say town business It's a sad tired scene When you get to see town business
I thought something might come together. I did some of the things might help. I waited to hear back. Today I learned it didn’t move forward. It wasn’t me, it was them. It’s their rules, their board, their game. I thought about these two gentlemen sitting outside the shuttered neighborhood fast-food spot. They have their own time to spend, contemplate moves, talk in between and even during if they feel like it. They could be in one park up the road, the other park up the road or the other one two blocks along the avenue, or beside the lake. But they play where they are because they like it, until they feel like doing something else. That was what made them caught my eye while I waited for the light to change at the intersection, and what gave me the time to capture them.
I go to these things because I’m happy that they can happen. I also go because I have time to drop in after getting off work nearby. Goodness knows that’s not a given. So many events slip though invites and e-mails and social-network queues. I forget: Is “it’s complicated” a possible response yet?
It’s not just the venue, where I can have a drink and look out one large window onto a main drag, or out another onto the jewel of the city skyline, ever more beautiful and obsolete. It’s not even the guests, though they’re pretty and pleasantly dialed in.
I go because I know sometime sooner than I’d like that I won’t be able to, and I’d like the comfort of having been. Was that a little dark? Well, okay then.