Category Archives: Writing

The Los Angeles Blue Line

I love them I know, and I also know I write about them a lot. I don’t know why the rest of my day doesn’t inspire me the way the ride home does.

I had a lovely evening, spent with friends that I haven’t seen in ages and haven’t really talked to for years, we met up at Masa in Echo Park and then they kicked us out for a hipster wedding party and I damned gentrification and we walked a couple of blocks to Barragan’s. Masa’s used to be called Carmelos, it was a brilliant cuban place that had been there for decades with pink booths and a counter the old men used to sit at and drink their cafe con leche, and they sold magical pasteles de guayava y queso, and platanos and all things nice. Now it’s dark and candlelit with brown booths and tatooed waitstaff and really good microbrews on tap and the food is nice too…it’s just all twice as expensive.

And we drank and told stories of course, and it was just what my heart needed…such evenings are rare in L.A. because they require so much coordination…Almost everyone I love most is here and I feel like I never see them enough. The people I see are on the train. I wanted to write a novel once about the train, how it was a portal to some other place, to some much better place where everything was flipped around and the poor were rich and the sad happy, and the crazy were sane…that the woman in the floor-length faux-fur leopard skin coat was the key, or the old guy passed out in his seat. I never wrote it, the raw reality of the train itself defeated me, this world we have created…

There was a crazy guy playing porter today along the blue line, he was frighteningly crazy, with his lips pulled back and jagged teeth and no touch of awareness in his gaze, he could not speak only yell words barely recognizeable. At each stop he got out and held the door and shouted what might have been all aboard, and ushered the people in who were brave enough to choose his door…we lost him at firestone station as the people poured in and filled the car completely, he continued to hold the door as the warning bells chimed again and again and sacraficed his place so the last family could jump on. It was his moment, and as he watched the train leave he was shining.

My friend with the glasses bearing white 50 cent flags stuck on each side and selling candy with a smooth fast sales pitch that makes everyone smile was on the train today, he had almost sold everything.

A man younger then me sat quietly on the bottom of the steps leading up to the green line, he held a forty in a brown paper bag and threw up to one side casually as though he were just spitting. Once, and again, and once again. The smell of it was sickly, and it mingled with the sour stink of beer to fill the air.

An old guy told me he loved me. He was too drunk to really speak and drink had marked his face as it’s own and I was too sad to do more then smile. He might have meant to say something else, maybe he didn’t love me after all. But his eyes never left my face and when he followed me onto the green line I realized he walked only with great difficulty and a congenital limp…and the fact remained he was frighteningly drunk and therefore unpredictable and I hate to be stared at and I was glad when he got off at the first stop.

My friend from a few weeks ago was on the train as well, the one who had a crush on Hillary Clinton…he had lost the one sock he had, but had acquired shoes that did not fit his swollen feet. He had a large black book with a red logo, and on it he beat an irregular rhythm and sang a song to himself in a language that probably only he could understand. The smell of him was terrible, and his clothes were falling off of him and he was doing far worse then when I saw him last.

I saw everyone with ghetto hard faces, the kind that say don’t fuck with me, I could hurt you. You have to wear it to wall out the overpowering need of others, to protect yourself, to create your own distance from what is around you. If you don’t live here you never see those faces transformed, masks melted away where it is safe, and people return to the way they ought to be. I lost my mask in Scotland, but I feel it creeping into the set of my lips sometimes…when I think about it I do not want it back, but there is a price to pay for that. Unconsciously your face hardens.

I biked home through the darkness and the smell of flowers, and laid out on the grass for a while to search for stars. If I could have any power at all, any gift, I do believe I would sacrifice my lifelong dream of flying for the ability to heal people. There are layers upon layers of what is broken and I know the scale of it…but it is the brokenness of my people on the train one by one that breaks my heart.

The next blog shall be funny, I solemnly swear.

Writing

Woke up early this morning (damn the world cup, I knew this would happen), and it was already hot.  Am currently sitting on the floor in the front room with the fan on full and very little on.  If my house were cleaner it would be nothing, but given its current state that would not be wise…I keep meaning to clean but it is far too hot!  Might attempt it at midnight.

A glorious Monday and no work!  Independance days off today and tomorrow, though i don’t think we’re quite free yet.  Am reading Louis MacNeice, and it’s sent me all lyrical.  I buy old volumes of collected works from used bookstores, but I think I must stop because it fills me with immeasurable sadness to live and breathe and grow old with someone, to dream, fall in love, question, lose faith, grow tired, and then when the poems stop you have lost a friend to the silence…much better to dive in at certain points happy in the boundless possibilities of what they could have once been or what they later became.  Everyone seems to lose faith, it makes me sad because I still hope to find something…Yeats: “and I shall find some peace there for peace comes dropping slow” crumbling to “things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”  ee cummings from

the moon is hiding in
her hair
The
lilly
of heaven
full of all dreams
draws down.

cover her briefness in singing
close her with intricate faint birds
by daisies and twilights
Deepen her.

Recite
upon her
flesh
the rain’s

pearls singly-whispering

to a maze of letters and lost punctuation and black designs upon white paper and

(life imitate gossip fear unlife
mean
-ness,and
to succeed in not
dying)

Neruda, now, I do not know never having read the collected works I am free to believe he kept love and faith til the end.  TS Eliot I am equally free to believe found faith somehow after passing through the wasteland.  MacNeice had only hope and sadness

Forgive what I give you.  Though nightmare and cinders,
The one can be trodden, the other ridden,
We must use what transport we can.  Both crunching
Path and bucking dream can take me
Where I shall leave the path and dismount
From the mad-eyed beast and keep my appointment
In green improbable fields with you.

Still, it inspires me to write, can’t you tell?  Though I am no poet.  I wish my great novel, my Catcher in the Rye would take form, it would be often funny and sometimes sad and sometimes profound and find great comfort in things like a little sister riding the merry-go-round in a blue dress and if I could find it anywhere in myself it would call forth hope like a trumpet because that is chiefly what is missed.  Should I go to the beach?  Or sit here before my computer and allow it to mock my formless thoughts?