Prince in my apartment: A scene

[Prince] attends meetings at a local Kingdom Hall, and, like his fellow-[Jehovah’s] Witnesses, he leaves his gated community from time to time to knock on doors and proselytize. “Sometimes people act surprised, but mostly they’re really cool about it,” he said.

The New Yorker, Nov. 24, 2008

Prince in my apartment

A scene

10 in the morning on a cold November Saturday in Wisconsin. The interior of a sparsely decorated but clean apartment is seen. Mount Eerie’s “Lost Wisdom” plays softly in the background. Jerry (bespeckled and semi-clean) enters stage left with coffee and a sugar bun. He is a thirty-year-old male slightly balding, but with great pecs and glutes. He sits down on a big seemingly comfortable chair and carefully arranges his sugar bun and coffee on the table next to the chair. He picks up a severely dog-eared copy of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing and settles in for a good late morning read.

A loud definitive knock at the door is heard.  Jerry ignores the knock, ensconced in comfort as he is. A single knock is heard again. Jerry looks up. Silence. He returns to his book.  A slow persistent knocking begins. Jerry jumps up clearly annoyed and goes to the door. He looks through the peephole. He steps back, clearly confused. The knocking continues.

JERRY Wha? [Jerry opens the door. Prince enters, pads into the kitchen. Prince is a small fifty-year-old man in yoga pants and a big sweater, wearing platform flip-flops over white socks, like a geisha. ]

PRINCE [Prince’s voice is surprisingly deep, like that of a much larger man.] Would you like something to eat?

JERRY Aren’t you Prince?

PRINCE [Opens refrigerator, pulls out a bag of carrots and begins to chop.] Who eye really am only time will tell/ 2 the almighty life 4ce that grows stronger with every chorus/ Yes give praise, lest ye b among the guilty ones

JERRY Hi, Prince. Why are you in my apartment?

PRINCE [Puts a pot of water on the stove.] I wanted to be around people, connected to people, for work.

JERRY Gr8.

PRINCE You know, it’s all about religion. That’s what unites people here. They all have the same religion, so I wanted to sit down with them, to understand the way they see things, how they read Scripture.

JERRY I don’t really read Scripture. Mainly just Cormac McCarthy books these days. I think I read them better than that munch at Paste. Are you converting people?

PRINCE  [Returns to the kitchen preparations.] I don’t see it really as a conversion. More, you know, it’s a realization. It’s like Morpheus and Neo in ‘The Matrix.’

JERRY Okay. So you’re Morpheus?

PRINCE [Pauses. Blankly stares through Jerry.]

JERRY I don’t have food processor anymore, if that’s what you’re looking for. 

PRINCE [Limping slightly, Prince sets off on a walk around the apartment. Sound of platform flip flops are heard. ]

JERRY Hey, did you see that Sarah Palin turkey interview?

PRINCE  So here’s how it is: you’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this. [Prince points to a Bible he pulls out from under his bulky sweater.] But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re, like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.

JERRY I don’t think that describe them very good.

PRINCE God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’

JERRY Kinda like what I was halfway through watching Graffiti Bridge

PRINCE [Tilts his head as if to hear better, geisha-like.]

JERRY That’s the new Mount Eerie album you’re hearing.

PRINCE People with money—money like that—are not affected by the stock market, and they’re not freaking out over anything. They’re just watching.

JERRY I don’t think Phil Elverum is doing that well. Hey, is that story Eddie Murphy’s brother told on the Dave Chapelle Show true?

PRINCE [Pauses. Blankly stares through Jerry. Licks finger. Speaks. ] I throw a lot of parties.

Later, in the dining room, Prince is eating a bowl of carrot soup in the big seemingly comfortable chair. Jerry is sitting on the couch opposite. While Prince speaks, Jerry slowly removes his glasses and closes his eyes as if in pain.  Jerry slowly massages the bridge of his nose between in thumb and forefinger while shaking his head.

PRINCE There was this woman. She used to come to Paisley Park and just sit outside on the swings.

JERRY You had swings?

PRINCE [Prince continues.] So I went out there one day and I was, like, ‘Hey, all my friends in there say you’re a stalker. And that I should call the police. But I don’t want to do that, so why don’t you tell me what you want to happen. Why are you here? How do you want this to end?’ And she didn’t really have an answer for that. In the end, all she wanted was to be seen, for me to look at her. And she left and didn’t come back.

JERRY I was really hoping to get some reading done this morning.

PRINCE [Sets his empty soup bowl on top of the Cormac McCarthy book.] I’m really proud of this. [Prince gets up, limps slightly while he pads around and exits through the apartment door that is still open. Jerry remains on the couch, still rubbing the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. Sound of platform flip flops slowly fades.]

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Bike to Work Week: Thursday

These are the things I have come to expect from my daily biked commute:

  • A wet bike. No matter the weather the night before, my bike is always wet in the morning. Am I being pranked? The other bikes don’t seem wet.
  • A damp helmet. Not fully dried from the day before. Perhaps need to invest in other helmets if I don’t want to continue with these soggy starts.
  • Almost getting killed six times.
  • A daunting morning climb up the hill at Old Sauk, usually while being casually passed by some dorky 80-year-old dude in a yellow vest and bulging calves.
  • Self-consciousness about how I look in my helmet.
  • The pungent smell of decay from UW’s poorly maintained grain silos. Though it doesn’t smell like grain. Maybe they’re ham silos?
  • Awkward head nods to bikers coming in the opposite direction, silently acknowledging our ethical commuting choice or inability to afford gas.
  • Incomplete contemplation of the mundane. This morning: Whatever happened to the cherry they used to put in canned fruit cups? This afternoon: Is our go-to-market strategy based on a fundamental misunderstanding of our customers’ purchasing affiliations?
  • Student pedestrians: Dumbasses, all.
  • Student moped operators: Dumbasses, all.
  • Sweat. A lot.
  • The guy and his Airedale.
  • The repeated dilemma to stop at red lights and stop signs, or to embrace the biker outlaw spirit and fringe status by blowing right through.
  • The finger.

Bike to Work Week: Wednesday Evening

I caught a clear intersection at the bottom of the Old Sauk hill. This rarely happens. Usually I have to stop at the intersection at the bottom, killing all the momentum I built after going half a mile downhill. But this time, the intersection was clear, and I could just glide right through, propelling me for the next mile, cutting my time by 3 minutes. It’s a rare sweet feeling.

I also saw the guy I always see walking his Airedale Terrier. I had an Airedale growing up. Too bad it was inbred to insanity and terrified everyone. Is it just me, or do parents often get inappropriately aggressive dogs for their small children?

Eventually it would be put to sleep at the request of our neighbors, who’s son happened to have been slightly mauled by “Mickey.” Seeing this well-groomed Airedale every day on my ride home makes me think of old “Mickey” and my unsatisfying attachment to him. What the hell was I getting out of that relationship? It bit me, dragged me across yards, ran away. And yet I was always there for him. When he cut his nose after maniacally sniffing the rough garage floor, it was me as a weepy and pudgy 10-year-old who stayed up all night trying to stop the bleeding.

I kind of long for and resent that dog. And I kind of want to stop and pet this dog. But I don’t. I think I’ll probably end up bringing up “Mickey” which will probably take the conversation places this stranger does not want to go.

Plus, I caught a clear intersection this night. If I get short on material later this week, I’ll stop.

Bike to Work Week: Monday-Tuesday

Since life doesn’t pose enough challenges for me, I’ve decided to pose a few of my own.

When I’m not commenting on the Vore’s blog (which I’ve unsuccessfully lobbied to have them change the title to “Voretext”…no one appreciates me), I also hold down a full time job 7.4 miles away. Apropos of nothing (or if you think about it, everything) I’ve decided to bike to and from it everyday this week.

Lord knows why this will make a good blog series, but I need to stall while figure out what to say about “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” (the finest picker to play the blues or don’t you know?). 

I’ve been biking to work intermittently throughout the summer on my brand new Trek hybrid. It’s a 45-minute trip, 55 if I want it scenic. But this is my first attempt to do it 5 consecutive days. 

Monday was alright. Woke up with enough time. The hill at the beginning of Old Sauk Road is always a trial, a 60 degree pitch that goes half a mile. Makes me nostalgic for that 110 page thesis I once wrote. 

I’m pretty sweaty by the end of this. The factory floor bathroom at work has a shower, which it seems I’m the only one brave enough or careless to use. No problem for me. But I haven’t found a place to stash my laundry during the workday. I’ve been hiding it in my desk, which could get rank fast. I usually just take this home the next day by car. But since we don’t have this option this week, we’ll see how this develops.

The ride back wasn’t a problem. It’s a sweet ride down the Old Sauk hill.

Tuesday, I woke up a little late. So I pedalled a little faster. Even still, the tired mind wanders with monotonous physical activity. Tried to figure out how long it would take for me to get sick of it if I changed my first name to Ivanna.

“Hello?”

“Who is this?”

“Ivanna”

“Ivanna who?”

“Ivanna talk to you.”

Man, I get a kick out of that everytime.

Holy mole, I’m going to need some more dramatic tension soon, other than my moldering, desk-entombed laundry.

From 1 World 2 Wheels: A Trek Commitment

  • 60% of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation.
  • 25% of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40% of all trips are withing 2 miles of the home, and 50% of the working population communtes five miles or less to work. 

A hole, a beer, and a blanket

Sorry if I overprolonged your hot thirst for a new post. I’ve been fishing on ice and golfing in deserts these past weeks.

I was obligated to ice fish last weekend by the when-in-Rome-ness of a record obliterating Wisconsin winter. In subsequent conversations, it seems that I’m the only one who feels this obligation. Most Wisconsin natives just seem to shrug.

I thought it would be one of those special locale-specific adventures that would somehow simultaneously reveal something about myself and my new environment. Instead, it has become apparent that locale-specificity doesn’t always confer meaningfulness. Like paying to use the outhouse in France, it’s just something people could do here if they wanted, but wouldn’t mean much if they didn’t.

We got out on the lake early. This may not mean much to creatures living below 2 feet ice. But it just felt right.  By 8:00, my vista consisted of…

For the ignorant (or uncaring), that is a hand augured hole, thankyouverymuch. No gas-powered auguring for this chunk of man.

No tent, either. Just a man, his poorly chosen outfit, an ill-baited pole, on his stylish and uncomfortable Urban Outfitters [referenced, not endorsed] chair.

After powering through 2 feet of ice, the champagne-lite of beers [pictured, but not endorsed] was in order. So what if Weekend Morning Edition hasn’t started yet.

There would be a lot of those lame justifications to drink cheap beer at these inappropriate hours. I drank to keep warm. I drank because I wasn’t catching anything. I drank because my hole froze over.  I drank because I was tired.

I bellied a 6 pack by the time the good souls were going to morning mass. This day was going to be blown. Oh well. There were a lot of folks out here. I became almost comforted by this collective day-frittering. It was still freezing and I was standing on ice. Add 60 degrees, ice fishing could be awesome.

After 5 hours, nothin but nibblin, and an I-stopped-counting amount of alcohol, I was done with this. It’s hard to think when you’re freezing and drunk.  

We walked back off the lake in a large group. And there was a loud crack. We were still on pretty thick ice, but you’re made think how awful it would be to die this way. Who needs to ice fish?

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