pineapple man

here’s a poem i just found in my notebook, i wrote in rio in october 2002; i remember thinking at the time that it was really stupid, but now i kind of like it. i wish now i hadn’t round filed all the other ones from that trip.

The Pineapple Man (hommo da abacaxai)

On the Ipanema shore,
Sultry, savage,
In a manner strange to the south of France,
No F. Scott here,
Under another universe’s hand of stars,
In the gaping arms of our Lord,
Upon one of one thousand egg shaped falaises,
Who nourish ropy trees and striped monkeys;
On the edge of the dark faced sprawl,
Building upon building,
Old and dirty like ancient Europe-to a relative reckoning-
There roars in the calm tropic Atlantic wind,
On the Ipanema shore,
“Hoooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh,” he greets,
He stands basket and all, five-eight on his feet,
Steady as a totem he has and will screech,
An established organic beach icon,
Since the ebb and flow of 120 moons,
I am made to understand,
So many to come;
To buy a pineapple or no,
Is neither here nor there, nor inventive, nor dull,
So why not screech?
Basket, smile, knife, pineapples, all,
He comes to you and screams to enthral,
Your testes shrink and five little hairs go white;
Perhaps if you give him only the blink of a tortoise,
Upon five nations and their people a blight.
So you smile and nod, to him a yes, oh, man, yes!
While he skins the fruit tortoise of its shell,
with knife and cheer,
You know there is something of gravity here:
While there are those who walk robed and suited,
Hand on a phone or button or lever, they wear a ring of power,
With the pass of a finger and a flourish,
A shadow passes over the worlds of which they know not,
They manage like Pharisees to keep so many mooted,
They choke you with words, bundled up poisonous weeds,
Who stand nothing more than in your gut to rot-
While they too are neither here nor there,
But seeds of my anger and under my stare-
The pineapple vendor will have none of it,
Save to walk on its periphery and scare the latent gentry:
Who knows after all,
Whether in the end
It is better to be the well–suited lender
or just the screaming pineapple vendor.

“an inconvenient truth”

i just came from this movie, narrated and in large part brought about by al gore. it puts “things” into a very interesting, precarious light. things being: the state of the union (not at all what the administration makes it out to be), things being the links that connect us (humans) to the great earth, or, as the movie points out, the small pixel in the vast expanse of space that surrounds us. the things being: again, all these automobiles, products, foods, and services, exported and transported across this nation, across seas, things like EGGS, shoes, computers, everything… brought to us by petrolium and non-renewable resources; our houses, apartments heated by things like COAL (old W has facilitated the formation of 17 new coal energy plants in this country since 2000), these things that we are not concious of or about. so, in an indirect way you’re capturing the notion of the film: what is the gross effect of carbondioxide emissions on the planet? the gradual warming of the earth. in the past history of meteorology, begun sometime in the middle of the 19th century, the HOTTEST ten years on record have occurred in the last 14 years and the hottest on record was the year 2005. it is only getting hotter. the film has a great cadre of visual representations of what this warming trend means: glaciers all over the earth are retreating, from alaska and canada to patagonia, from nepal to the snows of kilamanjaro (which will no longer exist in the next decade). ice shoals are breaking off of the north pole cap, greenland and antarctica: there are vast lakes building up in the ice caps that warm with sun and channel into the glaciers, creating underground runs (moulins) of water that separate the ice from the bedrock they’re perched upon (where applicable: not all the ice is connected to land; where it is not, the ice simply shears from the greater body of ice), as the ice melts, there is no longer an icy reflective surface to redirect the sun’s rays into the atmosphere and it its place there is WATER: the water retains the heat of the sun and causes the further warming of the remaining ice, which, as it melts, eliminates the cooling capabilities of the poles on the globe. as the waters of the earth heat up, it increases the capacity for jet streams to generate storms upon the water, greater humidity in the air, increased wind velocity…. the history of devastating storms is similar to that of the temperature changes in the last 150 years: the ten worst have been in the last ten years. likewise, as the glaciers slough into the seas, the sea level rises: it is possible that if these moulins become strong enough, and as greenland and antarctica melt, vast populated regions will become submerged, resulting in catastrophies that make katrina and new orleans look easy, even with proper federal planning for disaster (which was obviously not in place in new orleans). YET the movie is not a doomsday proclamation, it is simply the occasion for us to change. this change must happen. we must adopt and support engineering of alternative fuels, alternative energy, use of light rail, mass transit, consumption of renewable and local resources, energy audits of homes and buildings. because otherwise we are SCREWED. and i have the feeling that that unfortunate eventuality would occur in my lifetime. your lifetime. let’s garden, buy nice recycled shoes, drive biodiesel, engineer businesses and companies to look more like nature than a two headed beast clothed in the Reaper’s gown, building a glass palace on a hill perched over a seething multitude of slaves with cell phones and car payments. (not that those things are “bad”… it’s just that there are good ALTERNATIVES.) so one of the precepts of the film is to tell your friends to go see it. i know this is time sensitive, but: GO SEE IT: an inconvenient truth. which is funny because i have the sense that in some ways it might actually be convenient that al gore was not elected, or did not become president despite the fact that he actually was elected… because now he is raleighing all over the world for this very critical change. extreme props to him. more soon.


several days ago i bought a goodly quantity of steel from the supplier next to our shop in ballard. i purchased off-cuts from other commercial order fulfillments and spent a lot more than i thought it would be. i entered into an animated discussion with the manager of the steel supplier. he is a very large man, kind of like jaba the hut (?), he has a certain way about him… and comes off much more eloquent than one (i) might have thought. (i guess that illuminates a little a poor assumption i made of a fellow human based on his appearance). from him i learned 1) the intensive process required to glean iron out of the eath and 2) that china is buying enormous amounts of steel off the world market, such that it is now evident that Earth will soon cease to provide us our now nearly precious metal: iron (the gross part of steel). so much is being purchased now (the u.s. is largely responsible too, of course) that the rolling mills are not fulfilling orders on their proposed dates: this means that when you buy steel in the u.s. now, or anywhere for that matter, it is the last steel available, anywhere, on earth. there will not be more until the mills catch up, and they are behind because the world is running out of iron to yield humans for construction of: roads, bridges, high rises, boats, cranes, trains, tankers, etc. i ask the man why? “well,” he says, “partly because governments are monitoring so tightly the mining of iron… they can’t strip mine anymore because, you know, it wrecks the ecology of the entire area it happens,” he kind of gurgles; i expect him to say, the bastards! or something; no, he says, “and i’m glad about that… because we have to preserve mother earth. i mean, this is where we live.” goddam right. man, the manager of the steel supply has got it right! i almost started crying. this is where we live. this. there is, however (by the way), a lot of salvaged steel to be had: enough for generations to come of junk artists like myself. so take heart. today i couldn’t help contemplating the difference between man’s making and the MAKING. i drove out into the washington desert this morning, near vantage, and climbed all day. what a totally glorious day today is. june 7, 2006. our lives are so short and there is so much to do! it’s overwhelming. there were rock marmots, sage bushes, tons of sparrows, snakes, and people. we encountered a teem of school children (schuulmachen) that were learning different geology things as well as learning to climb. some of them were quite nimble! the rock is amazing, it sprouts out of the earth in nearly perfectly geometrical hexigons, old river bsalt. i love the way all the climbing equipment sounds: clinks of beaners opening and closing, the rope swoosh against the stone, through the hardware, the wind making the draws and gear clank together like a rough harp. i also really love the way my hands smell after touching the rock and mixing with chalk. so nice. the best thing out there though, the best thing by far, is the russian olive. it is the most incredible tree in the whole plant kingdom (as far as i am concerned, and in relation to an aesthetic sense, not mecinal or otherwise): it smells of pure ambrosia. it is the smell of where we go when we die. forget about the twelve virgins and bacon and eggs. it’s the smell of the russian olive. i have some in my backpack now. driving through the arid high desert, the beautiful sun lighting our world, pouring energy into our bodies, birdsong, light breeze, i realized how little we are, how important it is to appreciate the complete perfection and magnificence of this earth. i watched as another car apporached the climing area on the road and wondered what that vision would inspire if a native american saw it coming six hundred years ago, what a hallucination, this giant steel animal running up towards him at the speed of a VERY fast horse. and then i looked at the road, the asphalt, the side rail, the grading, blasting, etc. and realized that we don’t need to focus on MORE, but to appreciate what we’ve done and who we are. we have made a mark, a mark that will last for millenia.