Monday, October 31, 2005

 

mischief night


The ghouls are out on Franklin Street. They wear black shawls and keep single file on the sidewalk. At the corner of Greenpoint Avenue, they turn and laugh. The bottoms of their faces are stained red. One takes the plastic knife from his belt and twirls it in the air in front of him. This is how I know they are not real ghouls, but impostors. Ghouls don't use knives: their touch causes paralysis. They claw and bite their victims to death. I have read the Monster Manual, and cannot be hoodwinked so easily.

I am walking back from practice in a crushed shell on Kent, in a district of Brooklyn where every building warehouses bands. The closer I walk to the river, the darker it gets. At any moment, I could be slashed by a fey assailant wielding the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album. South of Greenpoint Avenue, Franklin Street has been rent by bulldozers. It's not the Big Dig or anything, but it breaks the rhythm of the asphalt. It is a work in progress, a new city pushing up through the cracks in the ground, or an old one sinking under the road.

I turn on Oak, and then on Guernsey. Tall, narrow aluminum-sided buildings rise along both sides of the street. A Polish-language version of "Every Breath You Take" plays in a third floor apartment. The band has taken pains to simluate the production of the record, but the singer sounds more like Bono than Sting. I wonder how "bo kazz you see" translates into Polish. Brooklyn is a good place to wonder, because there is always one person there who knows the answer to every question in the world. The trick is finding that person, and making sure she isn't drunk, or stoned, or cutting a take.

McCarren Park is deserted. It's late: we didn't get started until nine o'clock, and then took five, and took another five. Turning the clock back makes the night thicker than you'd guess. Ahead, I can see the lights of Bedford Avenue, the Turkey's Nest, video stores, kids with costumes, the whirl and sparkle of chiming guitars. But that could just be my mind playing tricks on me. You can't actually see music, you know; we rock writers just pretend we can in order to expand our limited metaphoric palettes.

I am boarding the L train, and heading back to the 14th Street PATH Train Station. I am returning to Jersey City for the third ride through the spin cycle. The first was exhilarating and disorienting; the second was old hat. You can only ride the Tilt-A-Whirl once before the patterns of motion become apparent, and the thrill wears off. Tomorrow, it will be exactly three ago that we loaded the last of Steve's things out of the Hi-Vue and into a truck after he'd made the insane decision to move on Hallowe'en. We'd already carted our stuff to Grand Street, and we were preparing to begin the adventure. On November 1, our two-year lease officially expires. Our landlord hasn't said a word about it. I don't know if he will. I don't know what happens next.

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