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29 October, 2013

And Thanks For the Tea

              I always loved the idea of having a superpower. Something extraordinary about myself that I can use for good, mine or others. I deeply admired everyday superheroes, savants, who could cite the ever infinite Pi to is 24000 something digit or remember every single sentence they read. Although I haven't got anything like that. I am not nearly a genius yet alone a savant. I am pretty smart but pretty does not put it anywhere near genius. Although I do have one superpower: I am always in the right place at the right time. I know, from a somewhat existential point of view, we are all always in the right place at the right time. Why only so few come to recognize this fact beats me. But my being in the right place at the right time is slightly different from that existential point of view. It may be because I came to accept that no matter what I do I would always be where I am. Where I am at any given moment is the only place I can be. Many people might find that very inconvenient, say, in cases like accidents. But even the accidents cannot change the fact that at any given moment you are in the right place at the right time. Actually accidents are far more miraculous then what we give credit for. Imagine all the little details that need to be orchestrated to create this one loud outcome; the accident. Of course don't tell that to the guy who lost his left leg during that accident.
             Being in the right place and the right time is not only limited only to accidents. There is a whole story going on around you, unbeknownst to you. You are the star of an amazing movie that you cannot see beyond 'you'. And only if you could open your eyes super wide, you can maybe see right when it passes you, maybe a shortly little after. I, on the other hand, for some reason I still cannot fathom, see it shortly before it happens. Since I 'know' I am in the right place and at the right time, I can look around and see the story unravel before me, if I want. It is a little bit like future telling but there is no telling only living.
             Let me explain to you like this. Imagine you are watching an action/adventure movie. Cars are chasing, bullets are running, the hero is fighting. You rout for him. You stress, you cringe, you cry, you jump up and down as he gets the beating. And the movie ends, your hero has won, safe and sound. He even got the girl. You loved it. Next time you watch the same movie, you are less stressed with what is going on and maybe more focused on the details this time. When the stress factor of 'is he going to make it?' drops out of the picture, you find yourself enjoying the movie very differently. Maybe the colors, the textures, the light and your awareness of it becomes more predominant. 
            The reason I am in the right place at the right time is because I know the story of the movie I am in right before it happens. I know I am going to make that jump between the subway car and the platform. So instead of running all stressed wondering if I am going to make it, I run nonchalantly, enjoying how my body moves, wind on my face, people around. Although, this knowing did not occur to me hours beforehand. I did not know it when I entered the station. I did not even know if there was a train about to leave. But as soon as I saw it I knew I was going to make it if I ran and with that knowledge I start to run and enjoy. 
            One of the great things about superpowers is you can turn it on and off at will. Not all superpowered characters in the high literature can do so, but I can. So sometimes I just live my story without knowing what is going to happen; Whether or not  I am going to be ok, or if I am going to make it. Living like that has a certain thrill, suspense, if you will, that allures me from time to time. And when I turn my power on, it is a completely different experience. More serene, wide, expanding, like watching a beautiful movie in slow motion. "In The Mood for Love' by Wong Kar Wai comes in to mind.
              There are only 3 people in this world who knows about my superpower, and they are all here.


With no predisposed warning of what is to come, I opened my eyes to a sunny Thursday on a mid December, close to Christmas in a country that did not care for it. But the snow showed itself from time to time to my liking, rapidly turning into a grey slush most metropoles are condemned with. Laying on my back, I could see the sun rays seep through my bedroom blinds. Snow is coming I thought. Completed with the rustic shape of my ceiling, wooden beams across and an almost an antique fan, I immediately thought of Maltese Falcon. Or was it The Big Sleep? I seem to remember Lauren Bacall as the femme fatale. But Lauren was the innocent sister in The Big Sleep, and Mary Astor was the femme fatale in Maltese Falcon. Maybe I dreamt the whole thing and made a soup out of the two. Nevertheless, Lauren looked dashing in femme fatale.
Alone in my newly acquired queen bed, I turned diagonal for a full stretch. Allowed my self to imagine everything turn into black and white, maybe even remember a line or two from Maltese Falcon:
That - - that story I told you yesterday was all - - a story.
We didn’t exactly believe your story, Miss – Miss—is your name Wonderly of Leblanc?
It’s really O’Shaughnessy, Brigid O’Shaughnessy.
We didn’t really believe your story , Miss O’Shaughnessy. We believed your two hundred dollars.
I continued to play the movie in my head for a short while, replacing Mary Astor with Lauren Bacall. Then I tried to remember The Big Sleep to no avail. I could only remember how dapper Lauren Bacall was. Instead I closed my eyes and Lauren’s beautiful but fragile face came in view. The fan slowly turned with a humming sound reminiscent of a lullaby heard long ago. Lauren moved her cigarette to her lips. Humphrey took a second or two before he lit it up staring deep in to her eyes during all that time, then lit his up. They stared at each other. No need for words. The cigarettes have spoken.
I sported one last stretch before I rose. The room outside the blanket was cold. They have not turned the heater on yet, I thought. My phone started to ring. I checked the time as I answered it: 9.18am. The heater must have been turned on by now.
It was Mike pleading me to take his pet rock Murray to Timbuktu, not the place in West Africa of course, but the Aramis of us Three Musketeers. Tim for short. I am Babs by the way, short for Babylon. No kidding. I’ll tell you the story behind these weird names at some point. Not now though.
Tim owned a bar called Praying Mantis in the southern district, very close to where I lived, funny story there. I will tell that in due time, too. Well, you know what, I might as well tell you now before stories start to pile up. It's story telling time anyways. I think it can provide an essential insight to what kind of people you are dealing with too:
Roughly about 12 years ago, just before I was legally allowed to drink alcohol and after I lost my virginity, Tim bought the building that harbors Mantis now with the money left from his newly deceased in a car crash parents. Of course we didn’t know each other then. But you can get an idea of the timeline. Let me help you with math here; I was in my late 17’s and Tim was around his mid 40’s then, bordering a late mid life crisis, looking for a, hopefully, major change in the scenery. Until this point in his life, he had jumped from one trade to another with the eagerness of a young entrepreneur for as long as he could remember. But now he acknowledged that he grew tired of jumping around like a grasshopper that he was and desired to settle down like the ant that he is. The 3 story building, 3rd being the attic, was in a then shady neighborhood which allowed to him to close the deal for a ludicrously cheap price. He even got money left to renovate the whole place, decorate it, buy the licenses, the whole nine yards. He was willing to spend every penny on this new and crowning idea he had: a 50’s themed bar. He cared for this baby in particular since this was going to be his last entrepreneurial effort. He was going to settle into it, live his last days and retire if he could or die in it.
The idea had come to him several years prior, when he had found a beautiful jukebox from 50’s with blue and gold ridges, 35 lp’s from Elvis to Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis even Johnny Cash. He already knew then the idea was not genuine, that there would be a whole bunch of 50’s themed bars around, if not in this district, surely in this city, if not in this city, surely in this country, if not in this country, surely, well, you catch my drift. But he wanted to make it happen nonetheless. Call it his tangible seal on this ethereal life. He did not even particularly care for the 50’s either, if you can believe it. He was more of a Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Astrud Gilberto kind of guy, type of music I grew up on. He surely was not aiming to create a touristy attraction to draw a clientele who dreamt of tasting the 50’s for a couple of hours. Bu he also lived by right place at the right time M.O.(modus operandi: methods of operation) and when all the chips fell where they may, the picture he saw told him to open a 50's themes bar. He slightly worried how long  50’s can continue to drag on 65 years after it was over. 
I have to hand to him though. The earlier photos of the bar showed such elegance and pleasant design application. From color scheme to choice of wood on the bar, from glasses to the bathroom décor, everything was impeccable. Obviously everything was delicately and harmoniously chosen. But over the years, things got moved around and the feng-shui of a zen local found itself shaped into a rough ol’ bar. I guess first the bar wore out, then the colors on the upholstery faded. Slowly and surely items moved or tossed around until they finally found their true places. Yet Tim kept the bathrooms intact, like a sweet reminder of what was once was and I am eternally grateful to him for that. The sweet reflection of green tiles softly illuminated by 3 wall fixtures completed with pink marble sink and dark rustic yet elegant faucets. I remember popping in there from time to time with no reason other then feeling the vibe. Yeah, the vibe of a bathroom in a bar. Was it the light, the darkened mirror or the green tiles, maybe it was the booze I can never be sure, but I thought I looked stunning in that bathroom. I felt calm, in peace. I felt strangely home.
Oddly enough though said decay of the place increased the financial success of the bar. Less intimidating the place got in terms of inner décor, more people arrived in bulks. Jolly crowds came to unwind after a stressful day at work, first dates or seconds for that matter and regulars like me who either lived around or close enough to stop by even if it is for a single drink or a chat.
Between the early pictures and the actual Mantis today, the only give away was the bar. Immoveable; it was still in its original coordinates. But almost everything else had moved around. Some tables here, some chairs there, some addition here and some subtraction there. Even the pictures on the walls had either changed or moved around. The saddest relocation was the jukebox. Once was the star of the limelight now was pushed, or even thrown into the depths of a dark corner, hidden, marked to be forgotten.  Yet, I have to admit I like the way Mantis looked now a lot better. It was a breathing, beating change that had occurred over the years and befitting one was as well. Tim’s own character seeped into the wood and metal, forming the Mantis today. No change was made on purpose yet served a great one indeed. A leg of a table broke and Tim moved the table out of the way, putting in its place a lamppost he found on the street. A chair’s upholstery can no longer hold, he brought something down from his apartment above for a quick fix and forgot it there. And little by little, Praying Mantis found its final state, taking about 7 years from Tim’s life in the process. The Mantis now, had regulars, inside jokes, ongoing bets and shared stories of grandchildren. You couldn’t have done that in a strictly 50’s themed bar now, can you?
As refreshing as the story how Mantis came to be what it is today, the main reason I wanted to talk about it is hidden in its name. Of course, Tim did not imagine calling a 50’s bar ‘Praying Mantis’.  A Praying Mantis has nothing to do with 50’s or Elvis, or Marilyn. Praying Mantis is just a super cool bug, handsome looking and fierce acting. If he wanted to call his bar Praying Mantis originally he would have decorated like a jungle and played National Geographics 24/7. No, sir, he originally wanted to call the place “Playing Memphis”, as corny as it sounds, he imagined he’d be playing Memphis tunes in his jukebox. Boy am I glad that did not happen and this is how it didn’t:
Down to his last dime and last days, Tim realized that he did not have a sign for his bar. How did this little detail skipped his mind, beats me. Call it fate or act of God or the making of the universe or even karma, if you are into that kind of thing. Like a dog chasing its own tail in an endless fair, he had missed this little detail until someone sniped the dog in the ear and got him out of the vicious circle he was in. That person was Mike. Not that Mike was new to the scene. Tim and Mike had been friends for ages, proudly presenting decades. They were constantly on the opposite parts of the country, or the continent or sometimes even the world. Their paths had just finally crossed when Tim was in the process of making Mantis happen. Not that Mike knew anything about bars or interior decorating for that matter, but he was present in every step of the way, out of sheer curiosity, great company and free booze, of course. See, these two were and still are true epicureans, where we all three come together, bond actually. Whether it’d be a great bottle of scotch or an Ethiopian dish, they’d be there, sharing it. Sometimes it’d be a movie or an interesting topic to discuss, they’d be savoring it. Over the years Mike lived in Japan while Tim was in Canada. Tim was in Chile while Mike was in Paris. They shared a meal or two and maybe a cigar and a brew as often as they could. But when finally Tim was back in the country and luckily so was Mike, they ran towards each other with the full corniness of 2 teenage lovers on a spring afternoon and they got down to business. They relished a brew or two along the way and had tremendous fun creating the simple but strong menu for the bar.
During that time, Tim had already started living on the upper floor. First he had planned it would be the offices but as the need for an official office diminished and a need for a living space increased, he speedily transformed the upper floors to a condo. So Tim and Mike spent day in day out in the bar and in the apartment gnaw over small details, sometimes without even having the touch of fresh air on their faces. I personally blame everything on this. Once you get too infused into something on a deeper level, it becomes easier to miss some bigger essentials that might seem very obvious to an onlooker.
Mike caught it at the last minute. They were down to their last dime and last day. The grand opening was just announced and around the corner and they did not have a sign, not even painted window with the name. So Mike pulled some strings, called some old friends and found an awning maker with a terrible phone reception. How the name 'Playing Memphis' was heard 'Praying Mantis' over a phone order I can never tell. Maybe the guy had an extra ear wax that day. Maybe Mike was chewing on something or maybe it was karma, if you believe in that sort of thing. But the day of the grand opening, the sign came neatly covered in a blanket. Until it was put up, connected to power and lit, no one knew what a horrid mistake was made. And that’s how Praying Mantis was born.
I can only imagine the expression on both Tim and Mike’s faces at that particular moment. And I am sure they were not amused at all. Although over the years, the story of how Playing Memphis came to be Praying Mantis was the most popular story told at the bar. But at that exact moment I am pretty sure they both had a pair of mini heart attacks.
I, on the other hand, would have never entered a bar called Playing Memphis. I have nothing against 50’s, I just don’t like it. I would have not chosen it as a time passing place. But Praying Mantis on the other hand is the coolest shit. Just the name was enough to lure me in. I would not have expected to see a jungle décor inside but I sure would have wanted to meet the owner who came up with such a cool name for a bar and sure ask him how he had come up with it.

It was about 6 years ago, I was back from my abroad studies, looking for a place to live. The city, even the country I left had severely changed. I was at lost, trying to find something familiar to cling on so I could start my life back here. So hopeless, I would even settle down for a Migros near by. Walked around all the neighborhoods I once deemed cool and saw sadly either they were saturated over the years or just lost their flair. I had one friend that I was able locate who was more than willing to have a cup of coffee with me who lived in then shady neighborhood. So I took the subway to Lancer ave. got out  the street and arrived at the coffee shop he described after a short walk. He was already having a full blown breakfast from pancakes to sausages to eggs. This guy had some appetite I thought, but he always did anyways, I recalled.
“I ordered for both of us, aye. Don’t think of me as pig that I am. I mean I can finish this whole meal of but not in front of you.” he said with his mouth half full, all smiles “So dig in.” He winked. Tiny bit hungry, I took a bite from his silver dollar pancakes first. The waitress had already filled my cup with decaf upon my request. So we just played with our food for a while. I have to admit, it was fun. There were 5 or 6 different plates on the table and as soon as you were bored with one dish you jumped to another one, then another and another until you were back at the first dish. And by that time you’ve already forgotten how the first dish tasted so the whole circle started again until you were full. Before I knew, I was eating, talking with my mouth full, joking and exchanging stories.
I knew this friend from collage I attended briefly before I moved abroad. Once I moved I pretty much lost all contact with everybody I left behind. After my mom and dad died in a so called tragic accident, I had quite a lot of money left from them and no family enjoy it with. Filled with bitter memories in my home town I had decided to go away, to give myself some space to deal with the loss I had experienced. Quite young then, that was the best plan I could come up with and I had nobody around to tell me how unwise it was. So I had packed a luggage with more books than clothes and off I went. But once I had decided to move back only then I realized what a foolish move it was to severe any and all contact. The whole country had gone through a major overhaul. Most of the people I knew had scattered around, mainly nowhere to be found. I found myself at lost in my hometown, and that my friend, was a very unsettling feeling. I had left the country in a loss hoping to find what I had lost somewhere else and I had come back to find it at more at loss. I guess ‘home is where your heart is’ comes to mind but at that age I was not sensible enough to rely on old wise sayings. I had my home in my family. Once they were gone, I had lost the ground under my feet. So I traveled around to find where I stood, how I stood. After a while, bored of constantly moving, I decided to settle down in one town and build something there, maybe a career or even a family of my own. Not a specific town in particular, just a place that I found the most appealing. Stayed there about 5 years before I depleted every interesting resource the town had to offer and I found myself still homeless and bored. On top of all the money I had left from my parents I had a pretty steady job with lucrious income that allowed me to buy whatever I want and do whatever I pleased. I was on top of the food chain and looking down and was not impressed. Still quite young, I was disappointed with what life had to offer for someone my age. A good education; check. A good job with good income; check. What was next? Start a family? But I can see now how having lost one always prevented me from starting my own. Yet at age 25 I was rocking the scene, looking down to ant sized people and wondering what would be the next step in life. Curious if I could just enjoy being here for the rest of my life, comfortable and dull. But like a well oiled machine ready to go, I was not made to hold still. I craved for progress and it was not where I was. Before I knew I had packed my bags and boxes and allowed my self a return home. Decidecd to deal with it, if that was what was required to move on with my life.
The shock started at the airport. No longer old and stinky, low ceiling Bauhaus building, this new modern, airy, almost ready to take off  wonderland with high ceilings and easily audible and comprehensible announcements sweeped me off my feet. I had to stop at the middle of the marble roadway for a minute or two to catch myself and my thoughts. Am I in the right place? Of course you are, they announced it, everything is in the right language. Maybe something shifted while we were in the air, some Bermuda triangle kind of thing, maybe I landed in an alternate version of what might have been. You are reading too much science fiction, honey. It has been over 10 years. You cannot expect to find everything exactly how you left, can you? I kind of was. Well, apparently it changed. So pull yourself together and go get your luggage. Sir, yes, sir.
After I settled in a hotel I remembered to be in a popular neighborhood I decided to walk around to see how much it had changed. The verdict: Unrecognizable. There must have been a mistake I keep thinking. I mean, I remember this tiny little restaurant here and even that green awning there but the roads, even the traffic had been altered. Not being able stay out too long due to over stimulation of all my perceptive senses I decided take refuge in the hotel. I took out my newspaper and ordered some pasta with salad. I naively thought maybe I might be able to find familiarity and a rental apartment amongst the newspaper ads. The whole newspaper was filled with bogus news, I could tell. The way it was written, the use of sentencing, punctuation or even photographs for even the most serious news sounded light and juvenile. The only missing thing to justify my deduction was the smiley faces. This used to be quite a serious newspaper with integrity, I thought. I guess the whole city was suffering from what this newspaper was, loss of integrity.
Finally Idecided to take  out my old old address book and start dialing numbers. Almost all the numbers had either other people living in them or disconnected. One that I could reach was Stam’s, whose family was still living in that number. They must have owned the house, I thought. Stam, of course, was no longer living there but they were able to provide me with a number that I could reach him. Surprised, more like shocked, to find me on the other side of the line, He was more than excited to hear from me. I remembered him being a super fun guy always after a laugh, joking around. He was one of those people I wondered if he ever got sad, if not sad maybe solemn. Apparently he was not because he sounded exactly how I remembered him, jolly, loud, fast. We agreed to meet the next day at the coffee shop of his choice.
After we were done with our breakfast he offered to show me around like a tourist that I was. He agreed the city had changed massively in the past 10 years, not so much to his liking eithe. He also complained how most important things lost their integrity and how new became more popular than old. That’s never a good sign. That is actually a lethal sign; losing the touch with old and crave for the new even before old got old. That’s how you lose your root and start to sway away. Most of the neighborhoods I was familiar with were over saturated now, he indicated. High rents, loud traffic, crowded streets, pretentious people. Why anybody still wanted to live in those neighborhood’s beats him, he said, but I reckon the key word ‘popular’ had something to do with it. So we decided to move on to some not so popular neighborhoods on the other side of the bridge. He decided to start from the furthest out. As much as I liked it, being in walking distance to the sea shore and furthest out from the popular crowd I felt too isolated there so I asked to move in a bit. He looked at me a for a second, contemplating and said “I think I know the place for you. You will fall in love it.” Although skeptical I agreed, not like I had other options.
We followed to coastline in his beat up fiat Palio. He showed me all the possibilities along the way and explaining why would I like them and/or hate them and said we’d go back at these places if I did not like where he was taking me. Once we arrived in Tribin, the neighborhood intended for me to fall in love, I was delighted to see he was right. With a huge smile on my face, like a little kid brought to a brand new playground I started to run around like crazy. Oh look, they have an ice cream shop. That florist is extremely friendly, can’t believe it. Everybody says hi to me, is that normal? What a cool name for a bar: Praying Mantis. Have you ever been there? Hakan shook his head. I already feel home here.
So in the end I found an apartment close to Praying Mantis, a block to be precise and frequented the bar quite often, became pretty good friends with both Mike and Tim and we became the oddest three musketeers history has seen. I can go in depth how did all that take place maybe I’ll tell that in pair with how we had come to have such weird names but I really want to tell you this story:
 Since I frequented Mike at least three times a week for various reasons from sheer boredom to dire need, I thought ‘why not’ when he asked me to take his pet rock to Tim’s.
It was just a convenience thing, I figured. ‘Take Murray to Tim next time you come over Babs’ had said Mike and I had not thought twice before I replied ‘Sure’. It was a freezing Saturday, a couple of day after he had called me. I was strolling around the town, testing this, trying that for the epicurean in us when I found myself around Mike’s so I decided to stop by him and pick up Murray. It was a little too late that I remembered I had not informed him of my arrival. He opened the door after my persistence rings, in his towel, shampoo dribbling all over.
‘What the fuck, I was in the shower kiddo!!’ he exclaimed as he let me in.
‘I can see that. You may want to wash that dirty mouth of yours while your in there, too.’ I snapped back. Mike let out a big wide laugh before he closed the bathroom door behind him. I could barely hear him shout something about coffee. I haven’t reached my daily quota yet, so I decided to make us some coffee while I waited. I glanced over at Murray. He looked quite pretty under the sharp December sun. His fur was shinning like a show horse’. The round edges had never looked so smooth. He is having a good day, I thought and passed my fingers over his surface to feel that pleasant sensation.
Murray was an elliptical piece of rock, not bigger than your palm, on the flat side, covered in gray horse-like or cow-like fur, if there is any difference to an untrained eye. Short and stuffy, soft if you pet along the direction of the growth and sharp if you pet the opposite way. There was not much else to him. He did not follow orders like sit, play or fetch. He was mostly a ‘stay, play dead, good boy’ kind of a pet. He did not bark, eat or drink. Quite low maintenance. I gathered it was something Mike possessed since childhood. I had mused myself in the past picturing him talking to Murray in his lonely nights after he lost his mother very early on and father not much later, the common point we bound upon when first met. He did not treat him like how Tom Hanks treated that stupid volleyball Wilson in that ‘deserted in an island’ movie: like it was an animated thing. But there was a certain animate connection between them. I concluded that it was because Mike had had him for the longest time, like one would have a family. He probably even had counted the hairs on that thing at some point. He was that familiar with it. I, on the other hand, just enjoyed the idea. It amused my imagination thinking Murray to be an animate being instead of a simple fur covered rock. Oh, and that fur bit, I have no idea how a rock ended up having fur, neither did Mike. He said Murray was always covered in fur as far back as he could remember.
I glanced over one more time to Murray while preparing the coffee, then I had to pay close attention to the task at hand. Mike did not have a conventional coffee machine like everybody else did. He barely had anything conventional for that matter, the pet rock easily being the exhibit A. His coffee machine was an award winning invention by Alan Adler whoever that might be. Yeah, I had a lecture about it when I had made the mistake of asking why the hell he did not have a conventional coffee machine. Although I had to give it to him, this manual coffee making genius made the best coffee I’ve had. So I became an avid fan myself and advertised it to everybody, minus the lecture.
Mike came to the kitchen just when I was cleaning. He glanced over the mugs and started humming a jazz tune while he added sugar to our coffees. I joined him by the window where Murray was stationed and we gazed outside for a while, drinking our coffees, listening to Mike’s humming. An orange stray cat passed by nonchalantly. Mike’s next-door neighbor was walking her dog. The dog and the cat greeted each other as they passed by. Everything seemed to go easy today. There was an air of ease lingering, pleasantly.
‘A nice December day, aye?’ he said.
‘Weather talk, aye?’ I responded. ‘Did we really deplete all possible conversation topics already.’ I joked. I liked to push his buttons, amateurishly.
‘Smartass.’ He said as he teasingly pushed me. ‘I meant good day for Murray to be traveling.’
‘Yeah, Murray will love the journey.’ I added sarcastically, though Mike did not seem to pick up my tone.
“I prepared a box for him.’ He showed me the prefect-sized box with strategically placed holes for breathing on the table by the window. Reminded me the box Saint-Exupery drew for the Little Prince’s sheep. Sheep was not real, neither was Murray’s need for breathing holes but I did not object. There were weird boundaries when it came to Murray. Mike did not like to be reminded of Murray’s in-animacy. He knew it was not alive but he just did not like it to be public. So we complied, Tim and I.
I weighed the box then placed Murray in it, carefully. There was even a bed of cotton at the base of the box to provide some tush support. So I placed the box at the bottom of my well-filled bag above new socks, under old t-shirts, gulped down the remaining, slightly cold coffee and off I went. It did not take me too long to arrive at Tim’s, luckily. It was still early for him to open the bar, but I knew he was expecting a shipment of very rare, old school absinthe and therefore I figured he’d be there early enough to greet that shipment. The front door was still locked but the back door was open, so I let myself in and found him at the bar cleaning. To my surprise, there were a couple of patrons sitting in the back.
‘Special delivery for Timbuktu Smith.’ I cried. Tim hurried from behind the counter and led me to the back room with a huge grin on his face. The back room was consistent of shelves on the left and right from the door with an overhead light in middle and a small square table right underneath it. The whole setup made this harmless little space look and feel like an interrogation room for the mafia where bones could be broken and limbs could get cut off. Add the distinct smell of spilled beer and liquor and you are good to go for nightmareville in mafialand. But I knew Tim well enough to recognie he’d have no hands in such absurdities.
I placed the box on the table and went for the freshly placed absinthe cart I caught from the corner of my eye as soon as I had entered the room. I always enjoyed the bottle and the label design that went with the absinthe. Usually some green tint to emphasize the color of the drink and some art nouveau on the label to reminisce the era absinthe actually belonged. I knew how hard it was for Tim to get this one cart of absinthe that only contained 6 bottles. He had been looking for the proper one as long as I can remember, not necessarily for the bar but for himself and friends. Absinthe sure was legalized some time ago but the shit they sold out there was just shit, nothing like the old stuff, we all knew that. Tim had discovered that some guy in Ireland was producing and selling a fine proper absinthe under the table. So he started tracking him. First he had to find the guy then he had to earn his trust and then he had to convince him to deliver a crate. And he achieved all of that in short 16 months. The guy drove the crate all the way from Ireland himself. That’s the way it was dealt. I knew this whole ordeal had cost him a mini fortune. Imagine a black suitcase full of money, maybe not all hundreds but nearly there.
I came back to the table with a bottle in my hand hoping to acquire my share there and then when I saw ‘it’ and out of sheer shock and panic dropped the precious bottle on the floor, shattering and spilling its precious green ingredient all over the floor. The incident added a touch of missing absinthe smell to our nightmareville in mafialand. Now the scene was complete.
Tim slowly lifted his head from the table where he had placed Murray. He was completely unaware of the situation and he did not seem to care about the expensive absinthe bottle with all of its ingredients spilled on the floor.
‘You ok?’ he asked calmly. I looked at him dumbfucked trying to understand if he was joking and/or teasing me or he was really totally unaware of the new-found mobility of Murray. The pet rock was not moving like rolling on the floor or fetching a branch or any other pleasing action a pet might do to please its owner but he was moving, more so like, breathing. I could see his upper shinny surface lift up ever so slightly and then go down rhythmically, just like the simple pattern of breathing. It was unmistakable.
‘What do you..? I mean you don’t…? I mean can’t you see?’ I muttered pointing at the pet rock. Murray I knew did not move, did not breath, he did not need feeding or water. Murray was a simple rock, a little eccentric at times maybe but a solid rock nonetheless. This new creature who came to life about now might need feeding with whatever he may eat or drinking whatever he may drink and even mating, god forbid with whatever it may mate with. So the Murray I knew was gone. This new guy might well be a Steve as far as I was concerned.
‘See what kiddo?’ Tim asked unaware. Was he not seeing it, I wondered.
‘Look at Murray!’ I exclaimed. ‘He is moving!’.
‘What do you mean?’ He asked looking at me dubiously then at Murray.
‘I mean Murray is breathing. Well, I don’t know if he has a hole for air intake or space for lungs inside but it sure moves like it. See, he expands slightly and retracts. Look! Just like breathing. Can’t you see?!’ I cried. Tim started to observe the pet rock more closely. I was holding my breath, so was Tim. But I cannot say the same thing for Murray. After about 10 seconds of this intense observation, Tim turned to me and said:
‘I think you should hold on to Murray for a while.’
‘What?! No way! I am not holding on to a breathing rock.’ I objected.
‘So it is breathing?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know what he is doing Tim. It is a pet rock and it is moving. Pet rocks are not supposed to move. That’s the whole point.’
‘Pet rocks are not supposed to have fur either. But this fact has not bothered you so far.’ He said pointing out the long-forgotten and maybe well hidden pink elephant in the room.
‘I think I can swallow the fur fact much easier then the breathing bit.’ I protested. I leaned forward to investigate the pet rock further, half-heartedly expecting it to leap at my face any moment. It did not. Instead, it kept on breathing slowly, almost calmly, like nothing out of ordinary was happening.
‘I am going to touch it.’ I announced. If pet rock did anything out of ordinary, other than breathing, at least Tim would be prepared, well as prepared as he could be given the circumstances. I slowly passed my finger over its surface. I expected the touch under my fingers to be softer suggesting a sheer existence of skin and bones to facilitate lungs. But it was still as hard as rock, yet it expanded slowly and contracted, slowly.
‘Huh.’ I said. That’s all I could say. One beautiful ‘huh’. A ‘huh’ that indicated the situation ought to be accepted as it is.
Huh. So this is it. So Murray is breathing now.
‘Yeah,’ said Tim ‘I think you should hold on to Murray for a while.’
‘What am I supposed to do with him?’ I said, this time half-heartedly protesting.
‘I don’t know. Put him by your windowsill. He looks good on windowsills, you know.’ He answered casually.
‘Tim, come on. What if he gets hungry? What if he attacks me in my sleep? What if…? Tim cut me at this point knowing my imagination could go wild:
‘Come on Babs. It’s Murray we are talking about. The cutest pet rock in the world. Look at him. Does he look like he is going to attack?’ I looked at the pet rock again. It kept on calmly breathing. He didn’t seem to care for a leap to my face or anything else for that matter, other than breathing… calmly. He sighed every once in a while; a little longer, maybe even deeper expansion. I almost expected a sound to follow but nothing, just the expansion and contraction.
‘I don’t know, man.’ I declared, dubiously. I had no idea what to do with it.
‘Look, just put it on your windowsill, like I said, for a couple of days. You don’t even have to look at it. I bet you’ll even forget about it but he ought to stay with you. I can say that clearly.’
‘Ok.’ I said, giving up. ‘But let’s call Mike and ask him. I mean he ought to know something about this, right?’ I reasoned. I took Murray and placed him inside his box with strategically placed holes then put the box in my bag over the brand new socks and under the old t-shirts and realized how easy it was for me to get used to a fact scared me a second ago so much so that I can handle Murray again, like in good ol’ days. Maybe Tim was right.
I moved towards the bar where Tim kept the phone. Tim followed me to the bar, rested his arm on the wall as I dialed Mike’s number.
‘The number you have dialed is no longer in service.’ I hung up and dialed again thinking I pressed some numbers wrong being under the stress and all. Same notice:
‘The number you have dialed is no longer in service.’ I hung up again and asked Tim to tell the number back to me. He told, I dialed. Same notice:
‘The number you have dialed is no longer in service.’
‘What’s wrong?’ Tim asked.
‘I am getting a “no longer in service” notice. I thought I dialed the number wrong but three times in a row? You call it.’ I said and handed the receiver to Tim. He picked it up and dialed the number very carefully, paying attention to each of the buttons. Pressing them properly and at least for a second. Held the receiver out for both of us to hear:
‘The number you have dialed is no longer in service.’
‘What is going on?!’ I shouted, attracting the attention of the patrons situated in the back.
‘I am not sure kiddo, but it looks like there is problem with the phone lines. I wouldn’t think so much of it. These things happen. We’ll call him again later. It will come around you’ll see. Wait.’ He said as he ran to the back room again and came back with an absinthe bottle under his jacket. Wrapped it in a brown bag and handed to me:
‘For the services rendered. Let me know how it goes.’ He said winking with a huge smile.
“But I already broke one.’ I said apologetically.
 ‘Ah, don’t worry about that, it’ll be great, you’ll see.’
‘I hope.’ I let out a grunt, rolling my eyes and shrugging my shoulders. ‘See you later.’ I added as I walked out of the bar.
I placed the absinthe bottle in my over-sized, over-filled bag, positioned my scarf more strategically to cover most exposed areas to protect from the biting cold. I took my hat out of the bag, which sounds like an easy task, but I have to remind you how over-sized and over-filled my over-the-shoulder bag was. So fishing the hat out required quite an effort mixed with a one on one hand to hand combat with the bag that left me sweaty despite the biting cold. It was just then when I felt a tapping on my shoulder.

14 October, 2013

Awesome Visual Stimuli 14.10.2013

Addie Wagenknecht, Waiting A5, 8.27″ × 11.69″, Lambda print, Dublin, 2013
Anthony Neil Dart
Cheesy but easy
quote by Harry Crews
Matthias Heinderich. Very very very nice :).
Calm, serene, etheral, yet tangible, reminds me a bit of
Martin Hinze before he started photographing people. Celebration of human through
human absence in a human-made object.
To slap someone back into their senses,
take refuge in God almighty and apply this pamphlet.
Alfred Hirchcock by Gabi Rona
Cover by Micheal Kennard
Very sensual and sexy. Not even thinking she'd be cleaning sand from
her butthole for the net 2 weeks. Opps thinking now :P
Fox Liquor bar, duh! designed by awesome Joshua Gajownik.
Very versatile and inspirational stuff
Horst P. Horst

Abelardo Morall. I shall call him Mr. Camera Obscura.
He has great fun with turning rooms into camera obscuras.
Cheesy but easy and  I am glad somebody is making it.
World would be a lesser place if no one was playing with the idea of
turning rooms into camera obscuras and then photographing them
Oscar Reutersvard:
the father of impossible objects alongside Escher
Myoung Ho Lee
Put a white sheet behind anything and voila you have a subject :) kidding
just like Oceans eleven being a smash and grab movie :P
Stefan Fürtbauer and his Viennese Wurstle diners.
I love it! I love the concept of a Wurstle diner
and I love the idea of someone photographing it so beautifully.
Stephane Thidet. Extra-extraordinary.
Go through the rest of the stuff and be blown away.
Go ahead, dont be shy.
And that's a move I'd like to master.
Claire Morgan. Sense of suspension in a whole new level :)
Oscar Wilde, my man!!
Still quote him on "I am not young enough to know everything." still...
Larry Dunstan. Reminds me tiny bit of Joel Peter Witkin. tiny bit.
Maybe the modern version after the post-modern
The others, right? I think it is essential to embrace them, somehow.
Ah, traditional and juicy AA(American Apparel)
Hypnotic, innit?
Universo de Emociones
Palaugea in collabration with Eduard Punset
Bring on the NEON!!!

The veiled virgin(s).
So nice :)
Derek Paul Boyle
seems to say:
Imma nail that nail with another nail. I present you: nailception.
His work seems young and yet to mature but thought provoking 

and super fun nonetheless
Good ol' and literally old movie endings, not all of them are happy endings.
Eva Stenram. Super cool cat.
Yanzhau Bao. He is Japanese of course :).
Cheesy but easy
Jan Maarten Voskuil
better showcase at Peter Blake Gallery
I was gonna say 'what a cheesy image I had chosen'
but then I realized it is for Paco Rabanne
. But hey in Gold we trust.
James Nizam. Nice experiments with space.
I shall call you my hello kitty lake : Lake Retba
Felix Kruger. Nice nice nice.
Say it out loud!
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Maybe in another life time I will be a Manga aficionado.
or maybe a manga character. I think I have what it takes:
Big eyes. check
big boobs. check
nice big ass. check.
Japan, here I come then.
Quote by Shahir Zag
So long story short, be the tiger
Sarah Illenberger
My teeth are itching just thinking about it
James Nizam. Nice experiments with space, again.

01 October, 2013

Proud Visual Stimuli 01.10.2013

Arrgghhkkk itching on my OCD!!! Come on smear!!!
Cover design, which I am featuring here more so than the book,
Chip Kidd
Mikola Gnisyuk
Wow. Mindblown. I always, but always, wanted to do this!
I cannot believe somebody actually does!
Nuance by Marco-Antoine Locatelli
Gifs of an amazing light and movement performance featuring dancer Lucas Boirat.
Grumpy cat makes Prada look so good :)

Jeff Goran
_True söze ne denir?
_True söz.

'My spots are walking without me.' he seems to say.
Lucas Peet. 
You gotta have little American in you to appreciate this :)
Duchamps by Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs
in collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs
a true tag btw except the Duschamps bit.
Jacqueline Maldonado
Cheesy but easy.

I don't why this is so appealing to me.
I guess it speak to the Japanese in me.

Pierrepaolo Ferrari for Toilet Paper

Science bitches!

The Type Directors Club presents a hilarious series of scary,
B-movie, typography-themed cards, created by Will Staehle

Is that Schrodinger's cat in there?
Cool ink bro :) by Neils Shoe Meulman
Jauna Gaita magazine. Awesome stuff.
Layered Photographs by Ryuta Iida and Yoshihisa Tanaka
The Art of Andy Warhol calendars designed by
Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and Brankica Harvey

Shitting my pant right about now. What the fuck is this:
portraits of the double faced girl by Sebastian Bieniek
Pretty cool stuff.