… on a song of time and place, with help from 3 dumbwaiters


(photo from Complete Lift Company)

1) The door to dumbwaiter no. 1 rolls slowly, up and back. Like a chicken that stiffly elevates her bulk at 4:15 a.m. in the third week of July, waking from a peaceful sleep. Then yawns and fluffs the feathers of her nest-head butt before waddling to the toilet in a corner of the coop.

Where she pees and two-square wipes, then thinks, perhaps, of the Starbucks ad from last night’s stream on Tubi. Wondering just how complicated barista math must be to anticipate a customer demand for fresh 20-hour cold-brewed coffee, 20 hours before it happens. Then, following the link-link landscape of that thought, she lingers on the chicken pot a moment longer and imagines a Seattle classroom full of Scandi-blondo chicks at Starbucks’ “Barista U.”

“So, class,” Professor Olafson continues, “the formula for determining a market push 20 hours before it happens is simple. It’s also secret and, having been turned into a software program, is now copyright protected. Since the 20-hour market forecast is a fundamental element of our marketing campaign, which is, in turn, as was decided correctly in ‘Pinkish vs. Hue’ — ‘a pre-delivery characterization of a product that becomes the reality in which that product, then, continues to exist.’

“Or, as summarized later on the Twitter account of the 13th Circuit Court of Appeals: ‘Yo, bitches — what we say is what it is!'”

Heather Jenkins, 19, is recording everything that Prof O says on the “Bean Chip” clipped to the neckband of her sweatshirt. Which is good since she’s thinking of the weekend and driving with “the crew” to the beach at Ocean Shores. Then sitting around an evening campfire while roasting hot dogs, buns, and marshmallows, after dropping E and swimming naked in the surf.

Three rows down in the lecture hall at 111 Kona, RiskAdverse, a.k.a. Frederick Temple James, is actually asleep and dreaming that he’s swimming in the surf with Heather, in a liquid metaphor for a fantasy the knotted boner in his jeans is pushing to become completely literal.

“Come, Monday,” Professor Olafson says louder now in closing, as RiskAdverse’s head abruptly leaves Heather simmering in the surf, “there’ll be a quiz in your discussion groups, where you will be expected to describe in detail Grindstone’s 20-hour forecast algorithm.” He then turns the overhead projector off and glances at the class before turning toward the door.

“So study hard, and play care-ful-ly,” Prof O says. Which is sound advice at Barista U, or at any of the other thousands of employer-driven business universities, that have now become the current-future state of formal education.

2) In Los Angeles, eleven-hundred miles south, the geography around the showtime curtain of a narrative dumbwaiter is different. So different, in fact, that if these two cities — each built up near the lead-edge of a continent in super-slow-ward motion to the west — weren’t, by the complicated settlement of social history, put into the same confining state of nationhood, they would be, of and on their own, thought of as similar but different states of place, existing on their own. Because they are, in the point-of-fact of things bound by gravity to the surface of an enormous sphere, each existing with a similar but different individual history of coincidence and circumstance, that makes them each distinct in space and time.

Which might sound extraneously complex for a place called “Tinseltown.” But isn’t when you consider that a movie project is like a small town of joint endeavour, that can come together and apart as effortlessly, in a project planner’s dreams, as a nighttime breeze that gently brushes past the naked butt of the girl or boy you met five hours earlier at Frisky’s.

Which is a dream that, in the barren metaphors of waketime, never really happens. In waketime everything’s a struggle, from before the beginning, to after the end. But it’s a moving picture of a struggle that nevertheless manages to be repeated, not just because of the prospect of a money tree of lush reward, but also because when the movie of the movie that comes together and apart really, in fact, works, it’s a thing of magic large enough to show the work of all the hands that made it. Which really is a magic trick, as the play-out then becomes a play about itself, living on a production stage where competition shows itself to be a loud-mouthed weakling from the brutal, beastie night, when it meets cooperation.

Which is the main story of this time, for a beast that made its place by how it works the indie head to hand connection. A storyline that, when the play-out of any hand-some product really works, can feel like going to a church you visit on your own, as others go to theirs, for communion with your genes.

3) Heather Jenkins’ sister, Eurydice, is 29 and living on the street in Boston. Four years of following the riffs in poetry and prose at Harvard didn’t help divert the course the schooner of her life had taken, somewhere around the age of 12, when she saw the only thing she wanted to have matter in her life was to have as near a constant state as possible, of direct connection to and with the world that was, and is, around her.

Eurydice’s parents were naturally distraught, wanting only happiness and security for the product of their lointime. Which seems, in current terms, to be something that has existed since the dawn of lointime time. Though, in a reality that exists actually in time and not out of it, that happy wish could be seen to be a recent view of things that’s in no small part a projection of the world of happiness and security her parents both dream themselves as living in. For Eurydice, in contrast, her life will never be a theme park ride.

“Get the fuck out of my life!” she’d yelled at them at 21, back home for Christmas break, Milton’s “Paradise Lost” open on the kitchen table beside her bowl of uncooked oats with milk and fruit. Her Mom and Dad, both dressed for office work and standing near the doorway to the hall, were speechless. Then her mother spoke for both of them.

“It’s not just your life. It’s a shared life. You’re part of our life. We’re part of yours.”

“Right. But the problem with “shared” in terms of the current state of social context, is that it’s meaningless. In the context of this social now, the individual thing that’s the object of a shared experience, has been totally co-opted and absorbed, by the remnant of a tribal social, beast-fucked world around it. A world we haven’t left behind, but, instead, continue to drag behind us like a trunk.

“Because that’s what we’ve done for years in tens of thousands. And, apparently, even though we can now see ourselves standing in the fucking road and pulling on this frayed and futile hank of rope, we are powerless to do a fucking thing about it. I mean, all we need to do is drop the MOTHER-FUCKING ROPE, and just move on!”

Her parents were speechless again as they both stood and stared at her, like some beast that had somehow managed to emerge from the cocoon of a daughter they once knew.

“Is this what school has done to you?” her mother finally asked. “This is crazy talk.”

“Come on, Lynn,” her father said and put a soft hand on her shoulder. “We have to beat the traffic.”

Then they both turned and walked back down the hall and through the front door of the house, as Eurydice watched, then raised a hand and slowly closed the book, realizing what was done.

“Hey! Motherfucker!” she yells now, eight years later, and kicks the duct-taped cardboard end piece of the dumbwaiter box lying on its side that she has slept in for the past 5 weeks, in an alley off of Fircrest Street in Charlestown.

“It’s me, Eu,” Sleepy says, standing by the box. “I got some morning throwaways from the bin in back of Dunkin’.”

“Why the fuck didn’t you just say that first?” She crawls out backward from the box and sits up, back against the pitted brick and mortar of a wall behind some other cardboard that forms a kind of flattened sofa. Sleepy sits beside her and puts the plastic bag between them, then hands her the remaining half of a 24-ounce cup of coffee that Marianne had given him.

“Thanks, Sleep, and sorry I yelled,” she says, takes two gulps and hands it back, looking at his face. He’s smiling, staring down the alley to a sidewalk on the street beyond, watching people passing on their way to work.

“Did you sleep last night?” she asks.

“Naw. I’ll nap some later. The dreams are better in the day,” he adds, putting a broken piece of cake donut in his mouth.

“Right. Perchance to dream,” she adds and takes a bite of donut.

There’s a long pause as they both slowly chew and watch the people passing at the alley end. “Hamlet was a fucked-up dude,” Sleepy finally says.

“Yep.” She turns her head, glancing at his face then looks back down the alley. “But without the kindness depth-of-field that’s going on inside your attic.”

“A pauper with a better attic. What’s the Robert Frost line you’ve subverted?”

“Something there is that doesn’t want to see a species down.”

20160725 18:12 (1666 words)
▸ Montag and Dominic Vanchesteing, with vocals by Liane Balaban, performing “Nova Heart” by Gordon Deppe of the Spoons, from “Arias & Symphonies” 1982
▸ The Weepies performing
“World Spins Madly On” and
“Nobody Knows Me At All” from “Say I Am You” 2006
“Can’t Go Back Now” from “Hideaway” 2008
“Be My Honeypie” from “Be My Thrill” 2010

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