Sunday, October 09, 2005

 

stroller bomber


There is an unattended package at the foot of the stairs. From further down the platform, it looks like a bag of tandoori rice. But I cannot be certain at this distance. Moreover, it is not advisable to approach an unattended package. We are told to contact authorities, all of whom have the proper dogs. But telephony is not general at the Grove Street PATH Train Station.

Today, stroller bombers are planning to detonate bombs in strollers on the trains. The mayor of that other city (not my mayor) informs us that his intelligence suggests that the threat level is greatest today. It is not high enough to become tinted red, but it is reddish-orange, or blood orange. There is a young Scandinavian couple on the bench between my seated body (reading the Economist) and the suspicious, unattended package of tandoori rice. They have a stroller with a baby inside. The bomb may be inside the baby.

The sanskrit letters of the unattended package of tandoori rice dare me to read them. An overweight policeman wearing wraparound shades patrols the platform, looking askance at everybody's bags. He doesn't stop us or ask us what's inside -- he just surveils us with cool, obese contempt. We all may be terrorists, stroller bombers, weirdos.

Our train arrives. I am confronted with the decision: which car to take? It is a rolling game of Russian roulette; guess wrong, and I may find myself seated next to a sarin carrier, or an anthrax carrier, or a freedom fighter strapped with explosives. Historically, I have chosen to ride the car that contains the largest number of good looking chicks. But those good looking chicks might be bombs. When anything is possible, the wisest plan is to have no plan. I close my eyes and choose randomly.

I have chosen to ride the car containing the fat policeman. He stands by the front window, playing with his nightstick, his uniform stretched tightly over his gigantic belly. At Newport, two tan-skinned men get on the train. They laugh, and speak loudly in a Middle Eastern language. The men carry travel bags, airport push bags, shopping bags, a gift bag from Victoria's Secret, a gigantic economy-sized bag of Kibbles & Bits. They lean the bags against the steel hand pole. If the bomb is inside the bag of Kibbles & Bits, will the shrapnel explode from within a roiling mass of dried dog food?

Across from me, a middle-aged man sits, eyes closed, praying under his breath. It seems illogical that the insurgents would bomb Christopher Street station, because Midtown is where the big-city action is. But perhaps the insurgents have listened to the mayor (not my mayor), and figure their best chance is to direct their efforts against soft targets such as shopping malls, or nightclubs, or me. Christopher Street may have some symbolic value that I haven't yet ascertained. Quietly, I calculate the possible significance of various stops. Christopher Street: gay sex, Christopher Columbus. 9th Street: cafe culture, NYU, dressing to the "nines". 14th Street: cheap electronics, clothing, meat-packing. 23rd: Tekserve, Chelsea, gay sex.

There is nothing in my bag but a roll of tissue, copies of the Economist, staff paper, and a quickcam I took from Melody Lanes. The staff of the Economist was apparently deeply divided over whether the war was justifiable, though all agree that to leave now would be disastrous. On my way to the Longwave practice studio in Williamsburg to rehearse with Overlord, I am singing Mos Def's words: tomorrow may never show up/for you and me, life is our promise. I could be incinerated in a flash of light and metal, and kibbles and bits. Or these days could progress in the same piston-like rhythm, all steam and grease and pounding. There is no way to know for sure, for good.

Comments:
i keep thinking about all the times i'm riding the subway this week...half a dozen open mikes trying to network, tomorrow night's show, the greyhound station on my way to open mikes in d.c., all over the bronx to mentor first year school teachers...and in 45 minutes i leave to surprise kat for lunch given that i'll be coming home hours after she's fallen asleep pretty much every night until i leave town. i left the world of desk jobs a few months ago...that is not a commute i would risk dying for. everything else i mentioned is worth the risk.

of course, given my luck, i'll get incincerated on my way to buy toilet paper. but i suppose that's worth dying for in its own way.
 
Just be glad you don't have to deal with those aural terrorists, the Andean Pan Flute players. Hearing that trite crap in the subway station makes me wanna snuff it.
 
i fall asleep on the train. the sight of darkness hides all the evil in the world.
 
What do terrorists have against Tekserve? Did The Prophet use Windows PCs in the desert centuries ago?
 
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MOBY DICK;
CHAPTER 119
The Candles

Warmest climes but nurse the cruellest fangs: the tiger of Bengal crouches in spaced groves of ceaseless verdure. Skies the most effulgent but basket the deadliest thunders: gorgeous Cuba knows tornadoes that never swept tame northern lands. So, too, it is, that in these resplendent Japanese seas the mariner encounters the direst of all storms, the Typhoon. It will sometimes burst from out that cloudless sky, like an exploding bomb upon a dazed and sleepy town.

Towards evening of that day, the Pequod was torn of her canvas, and bare-poled was left to fight a Typhoon which had struck her directly ahead. When darkness came on, sky and sea roared and split with the thunder, and blazed with the lightning, that showed the disabled mast fluttering here and there with the rags which the first fury of the tempest had left for its after sport.

Holding by a shroud, Starbuck was standing on the quarter-deck; at every flash of the lightning glancing aloft, to see what additional disaster might have befallen the intricate hamper there; while Stubb and Flask were directing the men in the higher hoisting and firmer lashing of the boats. But all their pains seemed naught. Though lifted to the very top of the cranes, the windward quarter boat (Ahab's) did not escape. A great rolling sea, dashing high up against the reeling ship's high teetering side, stove in the boat's bottom at the stern, and left it again, all dripping through like a sieve.

"Bad work, bad work! Mr. Starbuck," said Stubb, regarding the wreck, "but the sea will have its way. Stubb, for one, can't fight it. You see, Mr. Starbuck, a wave has such a great long start before it leaps, all round the world it runs, and then comes the spring! But as for me, all the start I have to meet it, is just across the deck here. But never mind; it's all in fun: so the old song says;"- (sings)

Oh! jolly is the gale,
And a joker is the whale,
A' flourishin' his tail,-
Such a funny, sporty, gamy, jesty, joky, hoky-poky lad, is the Ocean, oh!

The scud all a flyin',
That's his flip only foamin';
When he stirs in the spicin',- Such a funny, sporty, gamy, jesty, joky, hoky-poky lad, is the Ocean, oh!

Thunder splits the ships,
But he only smacks his lips,
A tastin' of this flip,-
Such a funny, sporty, gamy, jesty, joky, hoky-poky lad, is the Ocean, oh!

"Avast Stubb," cried Starbuck, "let the Typhoon sing, and strike his harp here in our rigging; but if thou art a brave man thou wilt hold thy peace."

"But I am not a brave man; never said I was a brave man; I am a coward; and I sing to keep up my spirits. And I tell you what it is, Mr. Starbuck, there's no way to stop my singing in this world but to cut my throat. And when that's done, ten to one I sing ye the doxology for a wind-up."

"Madman! look through my eyes if thou hast none of thine own."

"What! how can you see better of a dark night than anybody else, never mind how foolish?"

"Here!" cried Starbuck, seizing Stubb by the shoulder, and pointing his hand towards the weather bow, "markest thou not that the gale comes from the eastward, the very course Ahab is to run for Moby Dick? the very course he swung to this day noon? now mark his boat there; where is that stove? In the stern-sheets, man; where he is wont to stand- his stand-point is stove, man! Now jump overboard, and sing away, if thou must!"
 
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