LOS DESAPARECIDOS

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Whatever was burned onto this CD is forever unavailable to us, like a love letter whose ink has run. But at least we can speculate about how it ended up next to the railroad tracks, and construct a bit of romance from that. Maybe it belonged to a programmer who had fallen on hard times and was hopping a train because he had heard there was work in West Virginia (this is a coal train line). But the CD fell out of his "bindle" as he leapt into the boxcar. And when he discovered that this CD, which carried the only proof that this bedraggled, greasy loner could write code with the best of them, was missing, he threw himself off a trestle a few miles outside of Christiansburg. But, as luck would have it, he survived the fall and was discovered by a right-wing militia member, who took him to St. Albans Hospital, and while he was there recuperating, he heard two doctors talking outside his door about the big computer crash the hospital had just experienced when a local militia unit blew up the transformer down the hill, and man, did they need an experienced programmer who could restore their system and save countless lives, but just then he had a stroke and, try as he might, he couldn't speak, but the doctors outside the door noticed his efforts and brought him a pencil and pad, but just as he started writing, a small plane piloted by a drunken personal-injury attorney crashed into his room, killing him and the two doctors.And then months later I was walking along the tracks in Norfolk and found the CD and drew it for my newspaper sketchbook, so all was not lost.

IN THE PILOT

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This time it's about Colonial Avenue, which runs right past my abode. On the day I drew most of these, I walked from my house, below 21st Street, up to the end of Colonial, across Mayflower Crescent down to 40th Street near Colley, and then over to Newport, where I caught up with the #11 bus. For you out-of-towners, that's roughly the equivalent of walking from Buffalo to Cleveland. But see, that's what being a true artist is all about. Walking. Lots and lots of walking. Anybody can cut a cow in half or pee on a cross. But walking all the way down Colonial is the sign of a true artist. That, and living in a garret. I sort of live in a garret, even if it isn't up in the air. How high does a garret have to be, anyway? Also, being larger than life helps. I'm not larger than life. I'm still working on being as large as life. I know a few artists who like to think of themselves as larger than life, and, believe me, it's overrated.

LAST SUNDAY'S PILOT SKETCHBOOK

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Ocean View was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it, except for the part where I almost got runned over by some joyriding punk kids, who yelled stuff like "where's your walker, grandpa?" and gave me the finger. And also threw eggs at me. Most of this is conjecture, since I don't remember it, but it's pretty solid, based as it is on prior experience. I actually did get drive-by egged once when I was a college student, and I remember being puzzled more than anything because it seemed like such a strange thing to do, and by what criteria was I chosen? What was it about me that made someone think this person deserves to have an egg thrown at him ? And how was life going to be different for me now that I had been inducted into the fraternity of thrown-egg recipients? Should I feel singled out, as if I had been chosen for a special mission during my lifetime, as if an angel had thrown the egg? Or was I marked as a pariah, someone who unwitting revolted people and made them want to violate my person? Those are the kinds of paths my mind took back when I was a student. And nothing has changed, really. I'm still sent into paroxysms of tortured conjecture by people relating to me in inexplicable ways. Well, it's one way to pass the time, innit?

LAST WEEKEND'S PILOT SKETCHBOOK

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I've decided on a metaphor: my life is like a asymptote. A narrow miss. For the longest time, I thought an asymptote was one of those things that grew on the underside of ships, until I found out that's called a binnacle, which I had previously thought was a monocle with a split lens, for reading.

No, I really didn't think any of those things. I like to pretend I'm out of it, or more accurately, I like to pretend that I'm pretending I'm out of it, so that people are fooled into thinking I'm pretending. But lately it's become more confusing, and I'm not sure when I'm kidding. That troubles me. No it doesn't.

STICKIN IT TO THE MAN AGAIN

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Okay, not stickin it to the man. But I did get my first crank letter to the editor today, complaining about my saying Portsmouth was "lousy with churches". She took it to mean "Portsmouth churches are lousy" instead of "Portsmouth has lots of churches". Of course, the fact that I actually do think most churches are lousy may muddle the issue a bit. The main raison d'etre of most of the churches I've been acquainted with was to reassure their own parishioners that they were being good Christians, when they were doing nothing of the kind. If you should ever, for some harebrained reason, want to put yourself in the midst of a bunch of uncharitable people, walk into a church on Sunday morning. That or attend a Republican Party rally. Thank God both these groups are so obsessed with gay marriage--imagine how much more damage they could do if some of their fervor weren't directed at peeping into other people's bedrooms. See now, I've let you guys goad me into another rant. Naughty blog readers!