First Avenue

Another blank grey day when nature is still figuring out how to get to spring. We live among scenes unthinkable. In Nevada, they’re painting spaces in parking lots for the homeless to sleep, a grid of socially distanced squares like a demented board game. While picking up the laundry for my neighbor, I passed a woman walking a tiny dog. She wore shorts and a t-shirt and her head was covered by a bank robber mask, scuba goggles, and an insectoid breathing apparatus like she was taking an exploratory walk on a hostile planet. And I guess she was.

Seems like more people are smoking these days, although maybe I just want a cigarette. They puff on stoops and exhale in doorways, their faces defiant to these days of dangerous respiration. Meanwhile, I’m reverting to the diet of a five-year-old. All I want to eat are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Two phrases collided in my head today: Hans Arp’s century-old complaint that “today’s representative of man is only a tiny button on a giant senseless machine,” followed by John Berger’s description of “a smile that comes after the tragic has been assimilated.” That smile feels a long way off.

Each night in 2020, I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these days into my memory. Before the world changed completely.
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