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Easterly Travelogue

Friday, September 13th, 2019

I'm back from two-and-a-something months abroad, a vacation-in-a-vacation, you could say, head and body just now burbling back to the surface after a pair of double-digit sleeps. The level of normalcy in the atmosphere is returning to something more like what I'm used to. Docked at my desk in the coffee-themed socks I bought in Poland ("Praga praca ale kawa sama sie NIE wypije" they say on the soles, and yes I read that upside down on my foot just now, no-one can say I've never suffered for this blog.). Trashed from the return to my regular gym program. Floating on the leftovers of the five-kilo Varza a la Cluj I made in the dutch oven, and the four-gallon chicken soup we put together afterwards, didactic vegetable soux-ing inclusive. My desk is all stacks: unanswered mail, undelivered edits, unopened notebooks1. It mirrors my mind with all its un-s: the unanalyzed fiascos and flights of joy, laid aside until there'd be time (now) to process them; the uncemented intentions, the unspoken desires. Touring is all shorts. Short notice, short on time, short delivery from the people who must, as a condition of travel, be relied upon to deliver. Just so, returning is a deep stretch, in which everything collected must be collated, and abbreviations must make room for all the letters left up on the shelf.

Some things I wish I'd known before leaving: well, principally, that Oslo sucks. The definitive report on the matter has already been published, and I won't beat the nag, but merely reinforce the idea that the world is wide, and when confronting something like the emergency-grade taxi queue at Oslo's airport the choice to kill it with fire or move on is the correct set. The choice to "give it a second chance" and spend one's resources searching for potential redemption is almost guaranteed to be fruitless. Sometimes one's subject is important enough to warrant this spending and searching, but Oslo sure as fuck wasn't.

Secondarily, I wish I'd known that leaving my hunting knife behind would cause buckets of grief. Along with palatable water and bread without lots of "improvement"-driven ingredients that have no business being in bread2 knives that actually cut seem to be going out of style, at least in the east. The things vaguely resembling knives in our Minsk apartments were barely fit for cutting cream. In Kiev, as I recall, the very procurement of anything cut-able was so laughably difficult as to not require noticing the flimsy foil-like item offered as a "knife". Warsaw delighted us with regular switchamaroos of not-quite-knives by the maids, who eventually left us entirely knifeless, and could not recover one despite literally running up and down the hallways sneaking into other rooms to search for them. I don't quite remember how many knives we ended up buying for a few days' use, or how many times we were obliged to hide them from cleaners.

Much more importantly, I wish I'd known how much I'd come to regret not having my keys on me. The keys that drive my connection to the Republic and allow me to publish are apparently precious enough to me that I made them sit in the closet while I went out wandering, a sort of paranoia-driven abuse that began haunting me about two weeks in and worsened by the day. In truth I didn't know just how long I'd be out --but if anything that was reason to make myself a set of keys in miniature rather than to dismiss their use entirely.

All that out of the way, then, here're some shots from sorta-middling-out-East-ish, entirely out of order:

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Sticker wall in bathroom stall, Kiev. Sticker scene's kinda weak, with maybe the exception of that бити тату guy an' his inky dogs.

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Also in Kiev, abuzars of taste and decency.

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There was a confusedly-operated little patio restaurant that won us over on account of offering proper soup all day and having excellent hachapuri. I caved on the third visit and translated their menu to english so we could try something(s) else. With, y'know, the soup.

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My sillhouette some late night in Old Town, Warsaw. It struck my fancy at the time, but now, I confess, all I see is age, is oldness --but I suppose I should've expected such trickery from shadows, after all.

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The Warsaw mermaid, whose shadow merely animates.

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I can't read Polish, but I'm pretty sure if you have more than five teaspoons of lorry in your car here, the whole thing's gonna explode. Careful.

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It's not so much that they're tasked with holding up a bunch of junk as it is they can't seem to find their own.

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Death by pierogi round 84928507. Interesting tidbit about pickles in Poland: nobody will admit to having them. Do not ask for pickles. Demand sour cucumbers, at which point you'll probably receive some overly-cautious presentation as above. Ever been served a solitary pickle in a silver gravy train before?

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King Quack Kossack, probably, in his rightful repose.

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I don't remember why we stopped at the Deli of No Way, but no, we didn't.

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Chlodnik monster. The important part about being a responsible adult is going to formal old-world restaurants and shamelessly playing with your food.

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On the way out of .pl, I sat in front of this disaster at the airport for a while. Challenge: point out anything, anything at all, that isn't blatantly wrong with it. I particularly liked the "arrows" you're supposed to follow, pointing all over the goddamned place. In an hour of waiting nobody gave it a second look (insert sad Casio synth two-noter).

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The last time I'll have the pleasure of donning a sheep on my head, Budapest. Cornelius, you are remembered!

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An especially pompous Hungarian wine menu. The problem with copywriters is that they could be anywhere, even right next to you.

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Portrait of Oslo.

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Barbican seam in sodium splendor, Warsaw.

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Pie jokes are not allowed in Minsk.

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Cafe de Paris, ул. Карла Маркса, port and djarum.

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Wall sconce chintz product placement, Belarus. Because I'm a slave.

Tudeloo.

  1. There's a certain neurotic bliss in having fresh, new notebooks available when one's been living out of the butchered, by now indechiperable chaos of traveling notebooks for months. []
  2. The specific traditions of breadmaking that vary by place and culture are especially interesting to me, such that the utter lack of real bread --that is, something baked from flour, salt, and yeast, and ***nothing else***, no sodas, no sugars, no preservatives or MSG or any of the shit-- in this excursion was perhaps more of a disappointment than'd seem rational. The Georgian minorities in Minsk and Kiev were doing the best work in terms of delivering something like actual bread, but close as it got it was still obviously adulterated. We eventually caved and bought pans so I could bake in our hotel. []

B,TMSR~ Comix

Friday, September 13th, 2019

From the logs:

~*2018*~
stan-summer18

~*2019*~
stan-summer19

All complaints re quality, squiggly ghetto sharpie margins etc to be directed to diana_coman for her plenivoluminary faith!

Transfagarasan

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

Whaddya know, just as I'd been sitting down to write a recap of the multi-month journey to the East, a whirlwind of cash, paperwork, and the machinations of our favorite adventurer produced a midnight blue Mercedes and galloping orders towards Transylvania. "But can we go via that super awesome twisty famous mountain crazy road?" "Obviously." The larger recap's still coming, but what can I do; life is sometimes super awesome and twisty, shit gets out of order.

First, we went to Sibiu. Like most towns in and among the mountains, it's the historic center that's of interest, but staying there may mean huffing thirty kilo suitcases up fifteen percent setted1 grades. And the hotel said it had no gym. Meanwhile, admire below the establishment's creative bathroom placement:

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On the advice of a local psychiatrist (our date, not our doc), we went to a place called Oldies, an odd mix of wannabe biker dudes in studded leather and flip-flops and Zara-bedecked after-work sangria drinkers. It was a poem to things that don't go together, including AC/DC and The BeeGees, cheap whiskey and amaretto, and the poster collection lining the walls.

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Here's one for Mom. Hi Mom. Do you think we should ring for a pallet?

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As the owl demands, so we acquiesce. It helps that he controls the flow of coffee.

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Back in Florimund2, the route takes a fortuitous turn off the beaten path to Brasov. Pokey3 is nervous but a little excited....

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The Transfagarasan (DN7C) was opened in the mid-seventies and was one of the major accomplishments of the communist regime, at least if you'd asked them. It connects Transylvania with Wallachia and winds through some very pretty places indeed, with only the occasional kilometer of pavement in need of a little work. In general it was remarkably smooth.

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I've always wanted to drive it, particularly for the past few years in which the back seat's been occupied by a calm, steady voice unfazed by high speeds. When I drove in the US I got a lot of grief for going over 80mph4; since I started driving again in Central America I've happily found it's generally accepted as the minimum. As it turns out, I didn't manage to go anywhere near that fast on this particular road between the hairpins and the tourists in '95 Dacias, but it was still a thrill.

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"You need a break already?"
"Whoa! That was dizzying. I almost lost my oat milkshake!"
"Don't be such a wet noodle, we have a long way to go yet."
"I'm noodly by nature!"

Off again, through the trees. The summer heat in Romania has been insufferable, but up here it's a cool 23, crisp and sublime.

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Sheer drops and shitty drivers abound. As much as the Transfagarasan would be spectacular for motorcycle riders, lemme tell you 75% of the cars I got stuck behind were way, WAY over the median on every single blind curve --do it at 5am or forget it, I think.

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It's a nice view if you can get it.

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"Hey, I think the famous hairpin spot is up ahead."
"Yippie! Look, no horseshoes!"

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Thar she blows, obscured but present. The shining rocks throughout aren't wet, but rather feldspar- and quartz-bearing schists. It's El Dorado, just about.

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Heading on up, into the schists and the mists.

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The view from up top.

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The money shot.

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Pleased as punch.

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"Are you napping?! We've still got a ways to go!"
"I'm just resting my eyes...."
"Hop to, Pokey!"

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"Okay!"
(Yes, the road, at the top of all that business, warns about...curves ahead.)

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We were lucky enough to spot no less than three curious bears on this excursion. This guy was the clear winner for showmanship, what with his snaggletongue and attempts at dancing for snacks.

We stopped for some snacks of our own, and decided to turn around rather than insist on gunning for Curtea de Arges --maybe another time. For now, a fond farewell.

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  1. Setts are cut into shape; cobbles are unworked rocks or pebbles. Until being corrected a few weeks ago I'd been calling setts cobbles every damn time. It's not as fun of a word to say, I guess, but it's got the whole double t thing going, so I'd say it's not a total loss. []
  2. Florimund the Mercy, that is. []
  3. Pokey the Horse, geez, try to keep up! []
  4. I'm sure the Honda Civic and Nissan Frontier didn't help --especially the kayak mounted upside-down atop the latter. []

Localbitcoins cracked corn, and I don't care.

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

On June 1st, localbitcoins silently switched off the ability to select "cash in person" as a bitcoin trade option on its site. Unsurprisingly, it "temporarily disabled" its forum at the same time. I know this, or at least, I knew it as quickly as I did, because various members of the WoT I built there over the years wrote to me to decry the fact and point out that they were still available for cash trades; I've only to say the word.

I've been trading on localbitcoins for about five years. I've used it on four continents and in more than thrice as many countries. If you looked at my profile, you wouldn't know any of the foregoing. Why? That's implicit in the word used above. I don't give a shit about some dorks and their wanna-be website, or about what they think are good criteria for trading. That's *my* call, and the kinds of people I want to trade with in the first place are also the kinds of people who rely on their own damned research. That means absolute bullshit in the vein of "verified accounts" is more of an anti-signal than a real one. Always has been, always will be. The very idea that a third party, not in my WoT, with unknown incentives1 can do the work of verifying someone for me, is antithetical to Bitcoin itself. What do I care how many trades some anonymous randos (for all we know, and likely so, bots, or as close to bots as humans get) say a trader under my consideration has done? Why would I take some website's word on the matter, even if I were interested in the foregoing; why wouldn't I talk to those randos myself?

And therein lies perhaps the most damning aspect of the use of sites like localbitcoins as the maintainers themselves would propose it be used --just like every other such layer of obfuscation, it attempts to separate you, the user, from what is a potential member of you WoT. It attempts to exploit your natural disinclination to talk to people you do not know, to automate and opiate the uncomfortable, so all you have to do is click here or there, compare one and two. I would very much like to live in a world where everyone already knows, consciously, that giving in to such a thing is tantamount to selling oneself in the worst way --that is, selling one's willingness and ability to think, to decide-- but I know I don't. It's too goddamned tempting to walk the "easy" route and let someone else do the dirty work of uncomfortable interaction for you. But you're giving up control, and while it's easy now it'll be a damned sight harder later, when you're older, when you need the fruits of your control that much more, and you haven't the ability to wrest it back.

So no, I'm not especially concerned that localbitcoins is handing itself and its users over to the forces of evil2 The people who will be negatively affected are either attempting to "be involved with bitcoin" in ways that directly oppose what bitcoin is, or else belong to that sad group that was however slowly attempting to figure out how it ought to be used, correctly. They built relationships, but kept them on-site. They traded when they absolutely needed it, but didn't trade for the sake of WoT-building. They acted, in one way or another, out of hesitancy and avoidance of their duty, which is to be responsible for their connections.

The necessary corollary being, of course, that making strong, exhaustive connections isn't optional! That state wherein you need an intermediary to tell you when you may and may not access "your" money, and how, and how much, and you can rot on your couch ordering ramen to your doorstep and making friends/masturbatory fodder on okcupid is called Unified Silly Dosidoe banking. Bitcoin isn't it, and it doesn't matter how many "regulatory agencies", "trading platforms", "websites", or ads masquerading as media try to proclaim otherwise.

Do your work, use tools as a human uses tools. Anything else is slavery.

  1. We can imagine their incentive is to part me from at least some portion of my money, and that their hope is I'm the sort of fool towards whom this sort of incentive works. []
  2. If turning off the one desirable trade option without notice while denying easy access to discussion thereof isn't enough for you, consider Jeremias Kangas and family took the further step of confiscating all coin in wallets not verified to The Great Old Ones' satisfaction on August 1st. []

Impression of Minsk, July 5th

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Minsk is gray sheets of rain worse than the moods it provokes. Sideways, stinging, down the broad avenues flanked by hollow concrete giants, the rain finds a way into your eyes, into your packages, wherever you'd least like it to go, whenever is least opportune.

In a bout of moving apartments across the hruscheba courtyard to the better place1 the rain returns, heavier than before, somehow thirsty for suitcases and the shopping bags full of milk, nectarines, bread, and Georgian (read: undrinkable) mineral water.

The atmosphere in July is twice the Januaries of my childhood; twice as cold, twice as gloomy, twice the daylight hours, twice the misery. I misspeak at every other corner, and fail to smile at all in between. All my pleasures here are inward, in private jokes, in stolen glances, in imagined pasts that did not and can never now exist.

Minsk is an egg abandoned, without a nest to keep it warm, or eyes to watch over and wonder at what sleeps inside. Were the place not so subject to the volatile whims of the gods that go scuttling by on their way to someplace else, perhaps the beast could be coaxed to come out. Perhaps something more than surface could wink into being, bare between the birches, wind in the feathers of gliding gulls.

Perhaps if it were winter, and Minsk was in her element, not forced to pretend about sun and smiling, perhaps then it would be still enough to show itself. If all the idiots were made to stay indoors, and the big soup pots were brought down from imaginary attics, if the noise of traffic ceased and the buskers went home to practice more...if the playgrounds were empty for an obvious reason and the fact I came here without a coat would be a death knell and not an uncomfortable inconvenience...then perhaps she could break from her shell and I would know her.

Until then, I sit on the wide kitchen windowsill waiting for the rain to stop, or admiring the cartoon baked-potato man2, watching old buses like wheeled cinder-blocks streak slowly down the street. It is not yet, here. Simply not yet.

  1. That place I dismissed on the first pass because six of its seven pictures featured the same purple couch --a nice couch, but by then far too conspicuous, as though it were hiding some darker secret among its deep purple brocade. []
  2. Kroshka Kartoshka! []

Duplex

Friday, June 14th, 2019

The girl started tallying the footsteps on the stairs. They were too careful, she thought, as if the signal she desperately wanted to take them for was being denied her in the very course of the trodding. But then she realized she'd lost count. To something vague, she added one foot on the landing's small carpet, paying special attention then to the scratchy shuffle of bare feet on cold, clean tile. The soft swish of feet approached like proffered tissues from a box. She wanted to take them all, as she sat crumpled behind the door of the little room, straightening her back and looking pitifully at the handle. She wanted them almost as much as she wanted the sound of the door being flung open, and the sight of different feet, feet that never softly shuffled, and were almost never bare, on the tiles in front of her.

But the sound passed her by to set up some grand festival in the kitchen next door. It was afternoon. How late, she couldn't tell; she'd lost her sense of how the sun's shade told the time. The connection kept changing, and she wouldn't trust what wouldn't stay put once in a while. Not even herself. It was a later hour than when she'd been sent to sit there, in the little room, at least. Enough time had passed for the urge to pee to become unpleasant, and the stale air laying unpersuaded in the close corners and around the tiny window stifled her mouth and nose with the temptation of opening the door.

She heard five eggs crack and longed for something to do with her hands and eyes. She remembered bitterly the times she'd complained of separating white from yolk. If only she could do it now, and slowly, and well, a hundred eggs to be responsible for, organizing yesterday's difficulties one by one. Then the smell of lemons stabbed its way into the door's bottom gap, and the girl felt a pang of hunger. Whether she really was hungry or already missed the dinner she knew she wouldn't have, she didn't know. She heard a cabinet open followed by the tell-tale rustling of the bag of coffee beans. Whole ages of uncounted time before she'd told herself she would, she took the luxury of shifting her weight onto her other buttock, relishing the sudden relief and the pins that instantly sprang to life in her legs. Her body sighed against itself, despite itself. Surely, if there was to be coffee in the kitchen soon, surely she would be remembered....

* * *

Each descent of the stairs, she knew, would make the girl in the little room jolt with fresh anticipation, hanging on her steps all the way down, positioning herself just right for the hoped-for opening of the door. It felt cruel going down; almost as cruel as going back up, but there was no helping it. Each time she laughed somewhere in the house she wondered if she thereby sent daggers. Whenever silence fell long enough to remind her she was relaxed, she felt an urge to remind the floor below that it was not alone, even if it was sequestered. The girl stepped lightly on the boards where she knew they'd creak a little, but the least, and picked her way into the kitchen to start a cake.

She weighed out everything meticulously, keeping notes in case this one turned out right. Three hundred twenty five grams of eggs, she wrote down. She separated them, lingering a moment to fish out a tiny splinter of shell that'd fallen in the whites. Her spoon joined the growing pile of dirty dishes. A long time now, since she'd been responsible for dirty work, but she felt a strange thrill in the return of the monotony. She wondered if the girl envied her the washing of these dishes. She let the water --serene against the kitchen's heat-- lap over her palms, feeling deeply indulgent even as she regretted the noise it made. Certainly, by now, the girl would need to pee badly.

With one sixty six gram egg left on the scale, the girl made herself find how many grams off this one was from the average. For a split-second she shrugged off the task, but the silent, invisible presence of the girl's contrition next door instantly called her back. One; good. She zested a lemon and brought the grater and fruit closer to the door, knowing the lazy hot day in the little room would cool and contract with a whiff of citrus. She looked at the door and the door did not look back.

She put the coffee to simmer and wished that she could set a bigger table, but she knew it'd be a while yet before the girl's liberation.

A Thermo-Rental Odyssey

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

When I first lived in Romania I called the kitchen-cum-living-room I spent most of my time in "The Orange Spaceship" on account of the shocking citrus blinds that coated the room in rod-n-cone obliteration by day. At night the berth was a somewhat more serious sodium carmine affair. The walls were bright yellow, the couch was bright red, and I found an excellent pair of sunglasses that year, incidentally.

Imagine my chagrin, then, on introduction to Chez Vozvrashchenie; yellow walls, admittedly a little more lemon cream than 'lectric skullfucker, and orange-as-she-comes drapes, filtering the light into the kind of shade you hear before you see. The door, inset with dithered plexiglass1, cast neon orange shapes on the opposite wall outside, a warning, perhaps, to ungoggled adventurers.

I replaced the drapes with thick black floor-length brocade, grounding the Spaceship 2.0 in one fell swoop, but I'm still at a loss as to how to approach the remnants of that alien civilization, consisting primarily of three...things some Brigaweird General thought fit to hang on the walls. Send help!

Exhibit A:

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A charming snapshot of Sol wringing the last tears out of the terran landscape, the thirsty death to come foreshadowed by rib-like ripples in the foreground's dunes. The sky's intense blues suggest cool water never again to be savored --at least, not in this room.

Exhibit B:

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Nuclear apocalypse in fiery zenith! Behold the orange intensity dividing shrubbery from topsoil; the righteous from the evil-doers; the obedient from the dissenters? Also, I suspect (when squinting, anyway) the center semi-circle may originally have been an attempt at a chaos star. Who wouldn't want to fall asleep and wake up to such a pastoral portent?

Exhibit C:

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Nefertiti looks on, decapitated and utterly unimpressed, as the procession of the KKK Dromedary Corps traverses Giza. That is, Giza Island, where the Corps presumably battles against the predominant brownness of the environment and the disappearing surface area, requiring a constant smooshing together of the perilously close pyramids.

Would you believe me if I said that furthermore, the sheets that came with the place depict black silhouettes of snowmen, reindeer, and gift-wrapped boxes on a white foreground festooned with "holyshitisthataSPIDER!!1" black stars, too?

  1. Ever notice how things officially described as "Design Elements" are necessarily devoid of elementary design? []

калемегданoцорвид

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

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There he was, plucking himself through the overgrown grass and dandelion tuffets crowning the fortress like the fuzz on an old man's head. "He looks like a duck!" I hear now, gathered around the display, something I thought myself behind the lens. He eventually caught something in the haze, strange gait apparently paying off.

What can be said about his home? It's the same place, nominally anyway, I first saw twelve years ago, towering over the confluence of the Sava and Danube, a brick boot towering over a soft and cowering pair of worms. The chestnut trees and mulberries still make the place feel like any other municipal park in this part of the world (though they're maybe a mote too neat and perfect, if one takes the time). The same sodium lamps, illuminating for all below what, up top, becomes a piercing orange eyesore still shine on at night. Memorable warning signs ("bricks fall from this vault!", etc) retain all their officious unheedability.

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And the town wrapped around it, the town that owes everything to it, as many yet do, still knows the art of overcast better than any other place I've seen. Belgrade is gray, and knows no other color until it's been put to the question a little. The same frivolous beauty and monumental brutalism comingle. The old broad streets are just as inviting for a walk against the wind. The nato-bombed building not far from downtown still looms, torn and sooty, over its resident block.

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I used to hop the train to Belgrade a few times a year by special order, often alone. I typically felt lost, amidst the language and the cold, desaturated landscape. It was a place that venerated things and ideas I didn't know, or didn't know much about, and frankly I wasn't all that interested, being overwhelmed by local points of interest back "home" to the east.

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The line, tempting, offers itself: nothing external really changes, only you do. But like all trite and obvious prosaicisms it's a half-truth, or possibly more like a quarter-truth. Yes, the passage of time has allowed me to spend more interest, to recognize more signs amidst the static. I feel less lonely in Belgrade, because I'm more lonely the rest of the time, because I'm more accutely aware of how alone I actually am.

But in the city itself there are real differences; the war machines were not laid out on the inner fortress lawns so long ago --were they stored, like decorations for a combative christmas tree, in some old cobwebbed basement? Neither was the "dinosaur park" in place back then; not that it's anything but out of place now, what's changed is it's there, a platoon of fiberglass models to some scale varying inside the modeler's head. The tyrannosaurus roars unconvincingly every fifteen seconds through a tuna can speaker hidden somewhere in the wood chips.

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Somehow the recipe for bread has been forgotten meanwhile. That happy memory of waking up in Belgrade to brave the chill for kefir and croissants will stay a memory, now; every пекара is a Fornetti front, a case full of margarine-laminant and naught else. The postered kiosks call out dates for bands I wouldn't see, much less lament having missed1.

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My time in Belgrade still seems, this tenth or eleventh instance, a trip through numerous hallways. Some lined in the old brass handrails and ancient smoke of hotels, some with the tall facades of department-stores-cum-science-academies, others with impermeable walls of people, not hostile but not friendly either, the occasional immigrant breaking through. All the city is a series of hallways leading to the kalemegdan, where the windows are thrown open and one can finally see, but only the kind of seeing achieved from a distant throne: vast summaries of life, detached and impersonal.

  1. Sometime in 2012 or thereabouts I spent a sad, eventless Friday night in Belgrade by myself, only to find a VNV Nation flyer posted in town the next morning, for the night previous. I just stood there for about fifteen minutes looking at it. Yes, it was gray. []

Pica pica

Friday, May 10th, 2019

The magpie sat on the corrugated concrete wall, observing nothing, as magpies never do. A cat moved backwards through the field adjacent, whisking its twitchers and sensing the sky for rain. Spanned pinwheels everywhere; festooned in all the trees and stuck like spinning crucifixes in the damp soil, strung up along fences and floating freely through the air. All different colors and sizes but all of exactly the same cruft, cheap doppelgängers whistling out the same trite designs. A storm was gathering, fluffing up the trees and forcing flowers from the fingernail beds of all in town. They ate, frustratedly, in the building pressure of the afternoon, passing small sets of scissors round the tables so as all could trim their phalange'd tulips and rhododendrons.

The magpie amused itself by hopping from plane to plane on the makeshift rampart, back and forth, over and over again. It had no thirst for variation, as magpies always do. In the stillness following the storm freshly-ruined loads of laundry wept noncommittally on backyard racks, the technicolor plastic hangers staining shirts and stockings and stick-me-ups forever. Snails spelled out cyrillics on the bricks downtown. Later, garbage men would come to cross out their graffiti with slashed-through boxes.

The magpie could still read them, as magpies cannot do. The cobblestones remained spongy for days, claiming single shoes through stick or sludging from all trudgers-through. The streets laughed at midnight and shook the shoes down its gutter-clutches and towards its horrid, gaping mouth, lurking someplace no-one knew. No maps could ever be produced; the streetlines crossed themselves before the next could be drawn out. Still, some parties worked long nights on legends that corresponded with nothing.

The magpie stood on one foot, considering the other, which magpies ought to do. Fresh pies of pumice and pity put out on rotting windowsills to heat up in the cold air. Small birds sang from their centers as the temperatures misunderstood each other and began to brawl, heavily armed. A scarf on the rack forgot where it lived and cried quietly to itself while oblivious waiters passed. A little girl beneath it pulled her curls from out of her pocket and paid the bill.

The magpie fell over stone dead, as magpies must do. Antithesis howled furiously in the immediate foreground, batting its wooly wings. The lights went out as the night came on, fatigued, and losing all interest in illumination, extinguished. There was nothing interesting, after all, outside one bird living, uncaring, on a corrugated wall.

And the pinwheels rusted and grew holes in their sails.
And the snails crushed themselves under the weight of their sadness.
The scarf sighed a last effort towards hope and was smothered out.
The magpie....

Blistering Choice

Friday, May 10th, 2019

The very thought of the development of the specific psychopathies over time is enough to make me sick. Imagine the movement through a lifetime of a worm, acquiring in slow succession now antennae, now carbuncles, now splotches and hairs, complicated feet and feet for the feet themselves, ever multiplying in sickening mathematical complexity until there's nothing in particular that can be focused upon. All you can do as an observer is zoom in or zoom out, and every movement is edged in razors.

At first it was a sweet dream. There was something so simple, so round, about the correctness of things, about the possibility even of correctness. Only being able to imagine that there was some difference between paths, that there was meaning in action just as there was meaning in inaction, was revolutionary. It was the answer to all problems, and the light in all tunnels.

But there is no choice as to scope or context. For loving what is right you are not able to prefer it sometimes, or in some places. There is only where it leads you, of its own accord, by some laws you'll never know, by some laws that cannot be known. There is no guarantee that the entirety of life will be spent any other way than being compelled to love the correctness of the clutching of a sponge. And in truth, why should it really be any different? Whether something is large or small, simple or complex, whether it takes a great deal to comprehend or even see it or it appears as though a speck, a blip on the map of an existence, what does it matter to someone devoted to the thing itself?

And yet it can. And yet it can, terribly. It can matter to the extent that nothing else does, and the correct sponge holding becomes as a hateful fact, a thing utterly loathed and dreadful to think about, idol and paragon of everything wrong and unhappy. The silence and space around small things is too much to stomach, too much to mouth, even. It encroaches and grows and mocks, leaving the observer stultified and saddened, without material for anything at all. With no material, themselves, in or out. A shell, if you could call it that, for there's not all that much defining the borders after a while. Just a sort of gas that moves around, maybe, for unclear reasons, and to unclear ends.

You do not get to choose. The shape of what a dream looks like is a trap inasmuch as it contains any detail. The slightest detail at all is a lie, is a shackle waiting to ensnare the dreamer somewhere along the way, killing both their movement through the dream and their ability to wake up. Why should precision be quite so deadly? Supposedly specificity is a great boon, is a prime tool towards the development or manifestation of anything, anything at all. And yet, what can really be manifested in the presence of specificity? Only the hollow, aching death of the thing that was actually planned for.

Not knowing isn't better. Not caring is the only thing. But why would one dream if one didn't care? What's to dream about if you care about nothing? To dream of nothing itself, maybe, like a monk. Like a monk who sits, a dipole in the atmosphere, producing nothing.

It is in the network of rot of all of this that the insects appear, all fat, horribly articulated bellies and iridescent wings. What better place for such creatures to infest than a tangled nest of grief and contradiction. What experience, exactly, is one supposed to have from within an itching mess that can't be seen out of? The experience of prurience with blindness, the constant removal of one's own skin, the constant irritation to grow more calluses where the old ones were painfully scratched away.