Monday, June 28, 2004

I tend to wander. Sundays are for getting lost. I explore this city without direction. I meander along its cracked pavements and follow ancient walls. I have said before how much I am enchanted with cities and this one in particular. I love the grime. The well worn buildings and detritus are comfortable to me. The tired warehouses near the shore seemed to be a refuge. My dream is to live in one and it would have a huge garage door which I could leave open and watch the weekend stillness of the warehouse district where only gulls mill about upon the roofs.

Another thing I love about the city is graffiti. Not the ciphers of the street artists. The pieces where the person’s name is displayed in their hidden language of intertwined letters. I can appreciate these but I do not understand them. They are not written for me. Nor am I a fan of the quickly scrawled tags. I can see why a young person who walks through a wealthy man’s city wants to, with the flick of the pen, say ‘This is mine. That is mine’. This being so, I still watch the various names appear at night and disappear by pressure wash by day. Cert X is one of my favourites his art has more wit than most. In the park, he stencilled silver snails leaving silver spray paint trails. There is another name S.H.E.I.L.D. Around town someone writes this acronym. It is written in chalk or pen on walls, adverts, everything. He usually accompanies his tag with another word. Usually, FRONT or BACK. He is well travelled I have seen his mark at the furthermost ends of the city. What these designations of FRONT or BACK mean. I have never come to know. There are others who leave their noise upon the walls as well but without claiming ownership. Random splashes of art wheat pasted over the legal graffiti selling unneeded crap. (I always wonder why people abide huge ugly billboards of nonsense which mar the cityscape but complain when some when paints a tiny stencil right beside it.) Yesterday, my travels rewarded me with seeing someone had written, “Looting takes the waiting out of wanting.” I love my Sunday walks.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

I bought a compass yesterday. Except it does not point towards the north. It points to Mecca. I am not Muslim. nor Christian or Buddhist or miscellaneous. I have only cursory understanding of Islam and the significance of Mecca. I do know that the city is important enough to ensure the devout need the ability to divine its location no matter where in the world he or she my reside.
I was attracted to the idea that this compass points to a city. a city built by humans and occupied by humans. Knowing where this abstraction North is has only a utilitarian attraction. No one uses a compass to go to the North. They use it to find some other place which may or may not lie in the North.
For everyone of us I am sure there is a geographical location that we think wistfully about. It would be nice if we could focus that longing by facing in the direction of that spot and know that if I walked in that direction I would arrive at that city or that place which holds watch over my most cherished memories. I am lucky enough to have several places to care take various wonderful memories of my life. Having my memories scattered about the planet makes it difficult to focus one's reflections. So, I have gathered each of them carefully. I have found a nice safe corner of a city to the east to which I have never been and stored them. To locate them I have this compass. A compass covered in a script written in wisps of smoke. A secret incantation to bring all my wonderful memories back to my thoughts. All I need to do is follow the compass' needle and look over the horizon to retrieve them.