Saturday, October 25, 2003

House of Ellsworth

At length I have endeavored to detail the circumstances attending this night in my own mind; my recollection, if the reader should find it peculiar, no doubt reflects the strangeness of the occasion, as my memory in this regard would remain the evening's sole inheritor. It is only now, several days elapsed, that I purpose to take up my pen and relate the harrowing ordeal as it occurred:

The evening was dark, and the gloam pressed heavy against the house. True!--famished--very, very dreadfully famished I had been; but witness how craftily I hastened my way to the kitchen; why will you say that I cannot find my way? The famine has only sharpened my senses--not destroyed--not dulled them. Above all was the sense of taste acute. I tasted all things in heaven and earth. I tasted many things in hell, and several in Congress. How, then, am I delirious? Hearken! and observe how healthily--how calmly I resolved to make a sandwich.

I steadied myself before the refrigerator door. Inside was cold, frightfully cold, like the tomb of Ann Coulter--how curious that life and warmth should be drawn from within! As the bell sounded the hour, I was perched over my plate like a jay, anticipating a fine repast. Not once did I rise to pace, rant or rave! I presided over the feast as a king might over a banquet--with grace and poise--do you mark me well? But no sooner than I had finished my plate than my attention was arrested by a banana. Ah-ha!--the banana, with its sugary, seedless pulp! But you should have seen me. How I strode to the fruit and handled its porous exterior. And then, with a glass of Vitamin D milk, how stealthily I retired to my chamber--quietly! oh, so very quietly--so not to disturb the sparkling, seamless garment of night that whispered throughout the house.

Oh-ho! And now how perfectly I was concealed within the city; if by some chance a visitor would call upon the house--some familiar plague of acquaintance--no answer would be issued forth from the darkness! I was perfectly small now--perfectly unobserved! Perhaps they would discern I was home; perhaps they would suspect it! For it is commonly understood that I am loathe to venture far from my books. It is hardly any secret. And yet they persist, like a terrible clockwork, never quitting me, scaring me half out of my wits at every hour, unceasingly as they materialize, unannounced, at my door.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Night in the House of Ellsworth


At 8 o'clock, p.m. Roommate, Nicholas and a gentleman caller took their departure, leaving me in possession of the Ellsworth Shanty. The first observation I made thereupon was, "Verily does my estomago protest for a meal." The impulse so acute, it put me almost beside my propriety; and I counted myself most fortunate not to be entertaining, lest I should collapse forthwith in a famine-induced slumber. Many were the evenings of my youth that fatigue did visit itself upon the house, calling expressly for lack of sustenance, with neither ale nor wafer to tide me till the morn; and so I greeted my condition with the weary resignation of someone for whom the familiarity of their symptoms is as marked as much by complacency as by vexation.

In the south of Philadelphia there exists an impressive tradition of eating, and it would be folly to think I have not pursued this nonpareil to my every advantage. There is of course the Washington Avenue pretzel dispensary, whose destination in transit I am often times spied for by the men and women of 9th street row, a few minutes after midnight, and whenever a dollar proves handy. The proprietor is a round man with large bundles of currency wrapped in elastic bandings which he snaps curtly should you produce any large bill. There are many nomadic packs of youth at this hour, and my crab-like compatriot recedes into the belts and furnace of his machinery until summoned for another exchange. (In a similar way, I make a hasty retreat to Ellsworth; I am not by nature a person of easy talk.) There is also the Italian Market, which must only be attempted in the early hours, lest one be swallowed by the throng mid-day. I learned early on to prepare myself the meals I hoped to profit by in days ahead, and the market has been instrumental to this end. For instance, I have spent considerable time in the development of a type of pan-cooked battercake, which I employ to offset the shooting pains I awaken to most mornings. I have also a rice and bean compound which goes very well with bread, and a potato and cabbage mixture that was a favorite among the Irish in times of prosperity. Of these articles I have subsisted heartily for many years.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

On the Question of Mortality

Dying is an important part of a healthy, active lifestyle. After all, nobody wants to live forever--unless they already enjoy rent-control. And even if death is a total state of nothingness, it's still better than $700 a month for an efficiency in Bella Vista. Dying should be a welcome part of the human experience, especially when it comes to gentrification. If your life's ambition is to die before thirty, you can save big bucks, even if you forfeit the security deposit on your apartment--and it's never too early to start thinking about retirement. Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live, but short men that live with women encounter many bosoms. Some things are hard to give up, and women don't make that any easier, unless they watch Dr. Phil on a daily basis.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Wars of Compassion

How Very American

by Overlord

You beat up my bad boyfriend
And became my worse boyfriend
How very American
You took everything I had
Left me in your cronies' hands
How very American

Still I fell for your tales of home
Where the streets are paved in gold
To cover up the blood
Now you're taking your show on the road
And we're all going to pay for it
How very American

You've got a sickness
That you can't admit
It's very American

Still, the lessons of the pioneers
Weren't lost on my schoolyard peers
Arena or battlefield
Since they first traversed these shores:
How very American

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Job Corner

by Stephen Lentz

Sorry to have not responded to your many politically motivated forwards recently, but I must confess that I have spent the last month readjusting to the work world. Yeah, it sucks. I much preferred the summer, when the City of New York paid me to sit on my ass for an entire month. But, as Shakespeare once said, "ain't paybacks a muthafucka?!" Yeah, the children are definitely getting the last laugh these days. But seriously, school has been OK, and it's nice to be in place where I know everyone's name now, and am able to kiss the appropriate asses that need to be kissed, rather than simply groping around in the dark trying to figure out the identity of my actual boss. That's the thing about schools... who the hell am I supposed to report to anyway?! Principal, Assistant Principal, Staff Developers, the Special Ed. Director, the head custodian? It used to be so confusing, but this year it's like, "Ah yes, I know your opinion means this side of dick... I'll just keep nodding in agreement until you finish up though."

Friday, October 10, 2003


The Organ bio has finally arrived!

Monday, October 06, 2003

Reproductive Rights

Everyone should have the right to reproduce, although not everyone reproduces right, which only underscores the importance of finding a partner first. This is not easy: even with the advantages of technology, dating services, and women walking their dogs on Sundays, still we find ourselves turning to chocolate for decent company. But what about our biological imperative to populate, or, more popularly, copulate? This will vary by individual--and God help you if you are Catholic. Every religion finds a place for nature's oldest ice-breaker, although if you think this includes the church confessional you should probably see a psychologist.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Nickel and Dimed

When someone works for less pay than she can live on--when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently--then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The "working poor," as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that others will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.

Barbara Ehrenreich