Monday night Kip and I went to Great Jones Diner, we had a margarita each, then shared the Popcorn Shrimp sandwich, which was with a red cabbage slaw and chili mayo, fries on the side of course. Also the blackened catfish with a side of collard greens. We usually share everything–eat half and then trade plates. We often make demarkation lines in the food when it initially arrives. No one ever asks me what the secret to a long relationship is–but eating at the same pace is really really up there at the top if there is a list. Doing museums at the same pace is also a good thing. For dessert we had the Key Lime Pie. Because it seemed the right thing to do.
After, I stopped in Astor Place Wines and bought a bottle of Aperol, and a small bottle of Noilly Prat. Then we went to Joe’s Pub to see our friend Adrienne Truscott in her fucking fantastic show “Asking For It.” Which is a comedy show about rape. She appears nude from the waist down, drinking non-stop, telling jokes about rape whistles, roofies, white men, swimmers, Bill Cosby. There is so much content in this show–ideas, envelope pushing, fine-line walking, but of course the greatest success is that it exists as a great hour of stand up comedy. She is so good at embracing and rejecting the audience. The room was screaming with joy and terror and I am so very glad I got to see it. We sat in the back row along the bar and I had a not quite perfect martini, but hey. What a bolstering and inspiring show she has made.
Today I cleaned up the garden a bit–borrowing the broom from the neighbors after realizing that we don’t really have a broom. How have we made it 6 years in this apartment without a broom? Then I dug up and moved the one huge Anise Hyssop that has–surprise to me–gotten to be almost 5 feet tall. I didn’t expect that with our little sun it would do that. I hope it survives the move. I only moved it about two feet back. Closer to the fence. Say prayers.
For dinner tonight I made sugar snap peas from Samascott, and an improvised BBQ duck flatbread–muenster cheese, basil, scallions, and the duck barbacoa from Hudson Valley Duck. Spread out, broiled, then folded to make a pocket. Superb. Butterhead lettuce from Campo Rosso, with miso-chive dressing, plus a chopped hard boiled egg for luxury. Small things, people.
Saturday’s market was brutal–it’s not the onslaught of humanity that makes it difficult, the constant stream of people asking questions, needing you, wanting something that only rarely you can provide. It’s actually about 12 individuals who are in some way in limbo. They don’t really have families, they don’t have a community, they are incredibly irritating and have probably driven away all their friends. They are maybe a little bit mentally ill. They come by to talk to us not because they are seeking all these things. They come to talk to us because, we work in a public space on a regular schedule: They know that we cannot leave.
Then I woke up Sunday at about 5am–maybe it’s the sunlight, maybe it’s the anxiety, maybe it’s that I’m usually up at 5am anyway, so what’s another morning even if you don’t have to go to work–to discover that someone had shot up a gay club in Orlando. At the time they were talking 20 dead, which was unthinkable–but just to show you how conditioned we are–I thought, well, that number is not unthinkably huge. Then after I went back to bed for an hour and emerged to look at the news again in the late morning it had grown to 50 dead, and more than 50 injured.
I saw somewhere that Orlando hospitals needed lots of blood. But, of course, gay men are barred from donating blood in this country. Because we all have AIDS, is the short answer. So I am thinking about that this morning, now Monday morning–how America has made us an enemy, both by hate-speech and religious zealotry, but also in systemic laws made not really to protect people from anything, but to make us appear as criminals before we have committed any crime. Don’t give blood. Don’t go into the bathroom in North Carolina. See how they are the same? I spent most of the day yesterday in a fluttery grief, bubbling up at unexpected moments, squeezing out tears here and there, like a statue weeping.
A month or two ago I thought it would be fun to take a big crew of people out to Medieval Times in Lyndhurst, NJ. You know the one–horses, jousting, knights of different colors, the king and his princess, tearing apart roasted chicken with your hands. And it didn’t make much sense looking at the afternoon from the morning. On the day of the largest mass shooting (of recent memory) let’s go to Medieval Times. But we zipped through the Battery Tunnel, and then the Lincoln Tunnel and then there we were, cheering for the red and yellow knight–eight of us, all adults, with nothing in particular to celebrate. The waiters and such kept asking us, as if we’d gotten something wrong by coming without something to mark. The show is how you would imagine–loud, overdone, many many entrances. But still great. It felt so good to scream and yell and boo about something that simply didn’t matter.
Remember that the same gun–the AR-15 assault rifle–was used to kill gay people in Orlando, movie-goers in Colorado, students in San Bernadino, and twenty children between the ages of 6 and 7 in Newtown, Massachusetts. See the problem?
Thursday I made the trip to Hartford and back, which turned out to be a trip to Holyoke, Massachusetts and back, when the truck coming down from the farm had a weird shaking sputtering problem, and so Josh, the guy who does that part of the driving, couldn’t drive the thing on the freeway. We met in the Barnes&Noble parking lot there at the mall, which adds another parking lot to the long list of strange parking lots where syrup has been moved from one truck into another. I would name them all but then that would reveal too much.
I’m reminded right now of the time immediately after Hurricane Sandy, when New York was starving for gasoline, and the lines for gas were four and five hours long, if there was any left. Howie drove down to supply me with syrup for the market, and he brought a big container of gas for me–and we put it into my van in the Gowanus Lowe’s parking lot, and we wondered if anyone saw us, would they shoot us.
Once I got home to Brooklyn, which was only about an hour later than I normally would have gotten home, I took my friend Nick to Costco so he could make lists and take pictures–he and Jamie are getting married the 4th of July weekend. Costco on a Thursday night at 7pm feels like it might be Costco on the eve of the apocalypse–carts strewn about, chaos in the parking lot, a plastic clamshell of chocolate danishes being kicked down the escalator. We escaped unharmed.
Friday I drove the van to market and delivered 35 gallons of syrup to two different restaurants in three trips all before 7:45am, because I had to rush off to Jury Duty in Brooklyn, where I sat for two hours with my friend Mike who had a summons for the same day–what a wonderful thing to happen. We sat in the back making jokes like bad kids at church. They asked if anyone had a vacation conflict they should write “vacation” on their summons and bring it to the front, along with the proof, which would look like an airline ticket, purchased before the date of the summons, and showing travel in the next two weeks. I had that–remarkably, it just worked out that way. And the clerk wrote some mysterious code on my summons and told me to go home.
I have A LOT of problems with the way juries are made and function in our court system. I would write ten days worth of posts only on their ineffectiveness. Starting maybe with the fact that there are giant letters above the judge’s bench that spell out “In God We Trust.” Um. I think those two things are supposed to be separate, right?
I had to leave Mike behind after they dismissed me, and I felt like I was leaving an injured brother on the battlefield, like a coward. It was Grand Jury service, two weeks, and less interest in what might be your radical political positions–23 people on each jury, so they actually want a mixture, or so they say. Mike got picked. Poor guy. Actually, it’s not so bad. The poor guy is the person accused of whatever he’s accused of forced to submit to the whims of 23 people from Brooklyn who didn’t happen to have a plane ticket in their pocket.
I started the day with the first Tri-Star berries of summer, at Rick Bishop’s farmstand. I think there were only 16 flats, something like that, not enough to go around for all the restaurants, who seem to want two and three flats each, but we were limiting everyone to a half-flat each which made people both furious but compliant–after all, we had the berries. It’s such an interesting set of emotions–forcing yourself to behave in order to get what you want. No one acts like that the syrup stand, because we have essentially the same product month after month. So many new things to learn and observe.
Before that I listened to the new Tegan & Sara record once through, and then about half again, when the Q train, as we approached to DeKalb Ave, threatened to go local at 6:45 making everyone totally insane. It did not go local, and all was restored. I love a minor crisis that is overcome without duress.
For dinner I met my friend Nick at No7 in Ft Greene, which is owned and run by my friends Tyler and Katharine, and we had the fried broccoli, and an incredible new fried tofu dish that was with cockles, scallions and kaffir lime broth–I think that’s what was in it. Then I had the skate wing, which was with watermelon, broccoli rabe and jalapeño sauce. I asked Tyler where he was getting the really delicious watermelon so early in the season and he confessed–it’s not that good, it’s brined in maple syrup, salt and a little vinegar. That explains everything. The meal was really great.
Monday I got the zines printed and collated and folded and stapled and stuffed into envelopes, then licked and stamped and off to the mail where they will fan out across the nation and bring ambiguous and uncertain feelings to everyone they touch. This one is, well, I don’t know. It’s, as I might say about any other piece of writing, “Problematic.” It’s a mess, but it does what it is supposed to do. I’m happy with it. I’m happy that it’s continued to be something engaging and meaningful to people.
Then for dinner last night I made a duck breast, and we had some fresh mozzarella made by our friends at Lea restaurant on Cortelyou, who have started a Sunday market in their courtyard area–we also got some hearty seeded bread that has been good with a huge slather of butter and some of Beth’s jam. Then I did a purple barley salad with lovage, walnuts, cranberries, and the first shelling peas of the season from Tim at Eckerton Hill.
Today, which was Tuesday, I boxed a shit ton of maple syrup and sent it off via FedEx to March, a specialty grocery store in San Francisco on Sacramento Street. So, soon, if you live there, or nearby, you can get Deep Mtn Maple in 12oz bottles for whatever they are charging, I don’t know. As long as they all make it there. Glass and such. Heavy boxes. I will look at the FedEx tracking record about 5 times a day, I’m sure.
This evening I met my friend Cyan, a wise young writer with a tremendous talent, at Kettle of Fish on Christopher. I hope he writes a shit ton this summer and sends it to me right away.
And now, on television, right now, as I type this, Hillary becomes the first woman ever nominated by a major party in American politics. She is in all white and she is beaming, and I am in tears. Our girls have grown up knowing only Barack Obama as president, and the next thing they’ll know is that a woman can run for president, and probably she can win. None of that is lost on me.
Hold the phone–there’s a new Frodo:
Volume 4, Issue 3:
What to Do with That Empty Jar:
This issue finds the author beginning with a blog post from 2006, in which joy and excitement was fleetingly felt, then travels back to a religious icon of 1930, remade by a parishioner, uses the inimitable Kiki & Herb as leverage to look at a certain kind of block, or not, and then in homage to Maira Kalman, explores naiveté as a strategy for art-making. Get brushes. Get brown paint. The first edition of this issue comes complete with positive-affirmation eyes.
The rhododendron is a Nova Zembla.