Merry Christmas and holiday season!
This will be the last series of postings ‘from the road’. Thanks to those who have followed this story, and to the people I met along the way, it’s been a great and wild adventure.
The next (and last, for now) posting will be a trailer for a possible short film using the video clips gathered along the road.
I’ve also begun work on the large ooamerica pictures, and the first steps look promising.
So stay tuned as this blog is redesigned and moved to http://www.ooamerica.com
If you’ve liked it, you can help by leaving comments, sharing this with your friends or ‘liking’ the Facebook page. Thanks!
Oh, and maybe there’s a little bit more road up ahead…
Till then, best wishes for a happy 2012!
The days have passed in rainy New York. After the festivities, my friends soon return home. I take to the unpleasant task of finding a room. I need to settle down after the months on the road, to get some work organized.
I first find an arrangement, after paying a hefty agency fee which resulted in me spending a cold night in the car – details unnecessary – with a Hispanic lady, in the West hundreds, a few blocks from the Park and Columbia University. No smoking, no drinking and no girls. The area is nice.
No bed either when I get there, but I need to be rested and clean for a professional meeting the next day. I spend my first night on my travel mat, which is torn and barely padded by now, on the floor of the room. Poor sleep, amidst the grizzly lives of small soft-backed cockroaches which tread murmuringly across the floor in the darkness of the night.
The apartment is modest, decorated in the old fashion. There’s a reproduction of a lesser known painting of the Last Supper in the kitchen, as well as a cheap gold-ish sculpture of the Last Supper sitting on a dusty shelf in the living room. The TV is not flat screen and the couch cushions are ripped at the corners. All the apartment’s windows face either the courtyard or a back-wall, reflecting at all times of day a dull grey-ish light through the shabby curtains.
Those days are grey.
There’s a mouse, maybe a few. I see it scurry ahead of me on one of my first trips to the bathroom. I later discover some food in a drawer, not rat poison, which leads me to believe (a theory I never am able to corroborate) that the lady may be feeding the mouse or mice; she’s the friend of all animals, oblivious to their sometimes (unduly, or not) proclaimed pestilence.
Aside the Hispanic lady, among my roommates is a weakly dog, who is sadly confined to a corner beside the kitchen sink, trapped behind a pet guard and an old paint jug, and who is condemned to live in the two or three square feet that have been allotted to it, eating its artificially-colored sliced hot-dogs and peeing on the plastic of a trash bag torn in half for that very purpose.
My other roommates include a parakeet, who is unfortunately left to perch freely atop its cage, and a short African American IT guy, who keeps to himself and his room, and whom I barely meet.
The days go by monotonously, depressing. I am not able to work in these gloomy surroundings. The lack of sunlight hurts. Several trips to the public library in order to work, but these are mostly fruitless.
Trouble with the car: parking tickets, it gets towed once. The battery runs out a couple of times. Here in the city, it is quickly becoming an unrewarding expense. But this is a minor inconvenience compared to another.
I can never get used to the squeaking squawks of Iago, as I shall call It, who, as I find out with increasing dissatisfaction, throws daily fits, its shrill gibberish squealing through the closed windows, under the cracks and through the hinges of doors, turning, little by little, the entire building and its inhabitants into a madhouse.
Iago has the unnerving habit of throwing a fit whenever one of the apartment’s dwellers leaves the house, thus achieving the reverse effect of a well trained security dog.
But as I note one day, as I descend the steps, the nuisance must be even more unbearable for the neighbors, since these acoustically dreadful operas mostly occur once its occupiers leave the apartment.
I later discover with great hilarity that one of the neighbors has named their wifi network “ShutYourDamnBirdUp.” This thought suffices to make me forget the short-termed annoyance of the parakeet who, as I gather, must have been driving the longtime residents nuts since the beginning of ages. Imagining the poor neighbor(s), who may have been putting up with this exquisite torture (did the Marquis de Sade ever consider this one?) for years, and who in final, desperate and sublime desperation decided to rename their wifi network, an ultimate act of respect and submission to the toxic power of Iago; well, that’s enough to make me put up with it. I suppose we do (sometimes) strive – and rather innocently at that – thanks to the unhappiness of others.
It’s unfortunate my landlord doesn’t own a computer.
Spend the unproductive days reading Roberto Bolano’s last novel.
Getting used to the renewed pleasure of a daily shower. And it shows (or smells).
I’ve seen the girl I met in San Francisco several times. Things aren’t all that bad.
On one night we go with a friend to Wall Street, where the Occupy Wall Street movement is gaining ground. I am impressed by the sight of the dozens of tents and sleeping bags lined up, how many people have joined in the weeks since the seed germinated. And the movement is spreading throughout the country, even internationally.
I am also impressed by the early signs of organization as the community grows organically: at one stand free rudimentary food is distributed to the supporters, another stand proposes sleeping bags and sleeping gear, and so on.
The days are about to get cold, which will threaten the movement I believe. It turns out, as a matter of fact, that the winter doesn’t come at all this year – or too late for these matters. Something else puts an end to the movement, which didn’t whither from within, and that is I suppose a positive thing.
After three weeks living in the depressing room in company of Iago, I find a temporary situation in Harlem, a few blocks from 125th. I am slowly moving further north of Manhattan, but at last I’m in a hospitable setting.
I sublet a trusting girl’s room during her two-week trip to France. On her bookshelves a diverse and appealing assortment: neuroscience textbooks, music theory, drama, and a book called Sex at Dawn which despite the literal appeal of its titles is an account of the history of sex throughout mankind.
I enjoy spending time in Harlem. I get back to work. Some friends visit the city. We go visit OWS again: the evolution within a few weeks is striking (plus the fact that we check it out on a Saturday). Multiple new stands have made their apparition, including medical care, scheduled workshops, and a sustainability stand. Flocks of dis-engaged passer-bys and tourists scour through the tents and sleeping bags, snapping pictures.
Media coverage about the movement has been flourishing, both negative and sometimes enthusiastic, and popular support has been steadily growing.
I begin to work on a part-time telecommuting job; my crippled budget requires immediate attention.
Due to usual lack of preparedness, I am once again without a home upon the girl’s return from France. I spend some cold nights in the car – it snows one day, before becoming warm again – and at friends’ houses, uncomfortable, eager to find a less temporary situation.
After dozens of emails and a few apartment visits, I find an acceptable room high up north, with two girls who are rooming together in the second bedroom in order to save. I’m now quite far from the city’s livelier areas, but so be it, this room is propitious for work.
The girls are about my age, and are enjoyable company. I begin wondering if their agreement is other than economic in nature, in the intimacy of their room. This seems to be confirmed by one of the girls the next day.
The girl who owns the place, S, and who’s more talkative, was and is married to a guy, but “she’s back to dating girls now,” – yet I still have difficulty understanding the mechanisms of the two girls’ relationship, since S beds another woman from time to time.
She’s also one of the rare warriors who have managed to lose extensive weight and remain there – over a hundred pounds, as attested by an earlier, and almost unrecognizable, picture stuck to the fridge.
The household dynamics are interesting. As S acknowledges herself, there’s sitcom material right there.
I later find out with some astonishment that my roommates’ agreement is in fact solely economic, as one of them is straight – a revelation which would only make for more fascinating sitcom material…
I’ve been stung with a flurry of parking tickets, which are for the most part due to my own irresponsibility. It comes to the point where, one morning, as I collect another one of the orange slips from my windshield and return to the room, holding up a wad of the orange envelopes, I am seized with hysterical, sickly laughter.
Other than that, things have been going great. I am almost done with the first set of work concerning this project.
In fact, if you’re reading this, these are the last touches to the blog version of ooamerica and this part of the road narrative. Hope you enjoyed it. I did. But there’s more ahead. And if this is you first time here, welcome to the road.
Ahead, projects and plans, some of which are currently under way:
– possible short film / documentary
-large ooamerica photo montages
– writing the story of 101 Nights with Fanta
– new website www.ooamerica.com
Thanks again for following. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!