27 December 2010

Powdery snow blows in a steady stream off the tops of buildings, creating layers of mist that separate groupings of buildings at different distances like the misty mountains of Chinese landscape paintings.

I checked into Snowpocalypse 2010 on foursquare and was unexpectedly awarded what I presume to be a fairly rare badge: Super Duper Swarm. It's hard to imagine how over 500 foursquare users could check into a single location unless that location is defined as a ginormous weather system (or a foursquare mob). Having just earned the Mile High badge a few days ago for checking in from the plane, I seem to be doing well for just having an iPod touch 1G!

26 December 2010


In the blizzard, Times Square looks as if it's underwater. Besides the whoa-I'm-in-Bladerunner feeling the place usually gives me, its air now glows dozens of stories into the air, asserting its palpability as it whooshes past radiant billboards. The limned currents sweeping around buildings are more visible than the currents of any river, seeming more rational for their visibility and more chaotic for their wildness.

On the walk home from the subway in LIC, every vicious needle of snow seems to pierce my skin. Cars whirr futilely on every corner, and I want to volunteer to push, but doubt that my 105 pounds of force would help. From the upper floors of my parents' apartment building, the blizzard looks like a pestilence of locusts, swarming and dissipating randomly, dimming the streetlights almost to darkness as thick clouds rush horizontally across the ground. The windows, not fully sealed against the outside, emit high-pitched whines. I wonder if snow is blasting horizontally past our window up some two dozen floors; there are no street lights to catch it in the act, but I see it billowing past another high rise some stories below.

Just for fun, I imagine that I'm in the great ancient city of Herzog's Lessons of Darkness, beset by an epochal sandstorm. But it's hard to believe it when the corners of the buildings haven't been worn down into curves by the slow but sure grinding wheel of flying sand. I have an easier time imagining the panorama of flickering streetlights as the flickering of celluloid. I'm glad to be a spectator inside, listening to the occasional creaking of the walls as air -- just thin air, but so powerful -- rages past.

25 December 2010

I didn't leave the apartment at all today. Instead, I spent Christmas day lofted high into the Long Island City air over a squat, curlicued red sign that beamed "Drink Coca-Cola" brightly at the multitude of Manhattan skyscraper windows and passing cars along the East River. My parents, a smiling beanbag dolphin, and Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age kept me company.

When I recall Derek recommending the book to me in 2004 as A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, I feel the ironic urgency of my ever-increasing leisure reading list. Near the front door, the massive black first part of Taruskin's twentieth-century music history looms, ready as a brick to be wielded against intruders or to knock me out of my daydreams, should I for a moment think I can afford more than this one indulgence.

07 December 2010


And it hit. Like clockwork. My yearly nostalgia for Europe... today in the form of Christmas in Antwerp (which ironically never even happened -- I was trapped in my room with a broken femur for the holidays). I'm longing to wander snow-covered, winding cobblestone streets and to drink genever in arcaded, candlelit underground brick cellars... Maybe Christmas in NYC and New Year's in DC will at least take care of the ill-advised snow craving.

To feel nostalgia today is particularly odd. This morning I was thinking about nostalgia quite clinically (or at least psychoanalytically) as I pondered Richard Pine's introduction to Creativity, Madness and Civilisation (2007). He points out that unheimlich really translates to "unhomely," relating it rather obliquely but intriguingly to nostalgia (Greek: nostos, the homeward journey; algos, pain). And here I am, feeling a nostalgia for an invented home, constructed in my own mind as a false memory, yet vivid enough to gravitate me towards a place that has no bearing on where I grew up. And I keep trying to critique the American carillon as nostalgic sonic mark of an invented European heritage. Maybe I'd do better if I could first sort myself out.