Saturday, April 26, 2008

Editor

eagarthóir



"You should meet me at the Apple Store on 59th, right now." I can tell this is about to become a really stupid conversation. "I'm in City Hall Park, why don't you carry your damn new Macbook Pro down here. It's hot, I don't want to get on the subway." "No, no, no..." he stutters this, "I've got this video I shot last night on two of the big cinema displays, it's gorgeous, you've got to see it." "But I am a long, long way away from you right now." "I can wait." "I bet you can."

I've just walked from Brooklyn, over the bridge. It is ninety-something, and I fried out there above the East River, even succumbing to buying a dollar bottle of water by the New York tower. Now I sit in the park, in the shade, and the breeze is blowing mist from the fountain over me. I have kicked my shoes off. I have even pulled an ancient paperback of The Great Gatsby, just purchased from the used bookstore on Montague Street for twenty-five cents, out of my pack, and am flipping through looking for the greatest lines. My own literary YouTube. I really do not want to go anywhere. But.

The phone rings again. The Persuasions, "I Just Want to Sing with My Friends." Him.

"You on the train yet?" "No." "You're not still sitting on some park bench drooling like some old man?" "That is exactly what I'm doing." "Fuck man, c'mon, I can't be waiting for you forever."

"Fuck, fuck." I shout this. Now I really am the crazy old man. I close the book, drop it in my backpack. Pull my
shoes back on. Stand up. Pull the pack onto my still sweat-soaked body. I walk over to the fountain, lean in, scoop up water, and dump it on my neck. I consider direction. My first thought is to walk over to the 6 train, but that's old memory, going the other way, catching the R, will get me right there.

It's only fair, I suppose. I have called him up at four in the morning, his time, often. Telling him to get up, check his email, read a paragraph or a story, and tell me how to fix it. I have stumbled into his homes at many bizarre hours, drunk and depressed. He has done the same to me. The drunk and depressed. When he wants me to see things they are always visual. Photographs, films, videos. It goes way back to him as a film student at NYU when he dragged me through abandoned ancient Lower East Side synagogues as he shot his senior thesis. He filmed. A huge old 16mmm camera lugged on his shoulder. I scared him by pulling out my gun and shooting at rats the size of fat house cats.

And there was the joint venture in illegal Irish immigration filmed on the streets of Belfast and The Bronx. And there were those early moments, when I showed him my initial attempts at cop stories. And then, later on, those first tries at the childhood stories.


The subway station is damp but cool. The train is mostly empty and crisply air-conditioned. I sit with my pack between my legs, watching the tunnel lights flash by, and the stations roll into view, one by one. The R reaches from 95th Street in Bay Ridge out by the Verrazano Bridge and goes all the way to Forest Hills near the leafy parts of Queens. It used to go to Astoria, terminating among a sea of Greek diners, but then Mayor Bloomberg decided to confuse everyone , and switched the way the N and the R go on the Queens ends. Either way, I'm sticking with Manhattan right now, so I'm wasting thoughts.

I get off at 59th and Fifth, and climb out into the sun. The Apple Store looms ahead of me. The great glass cube with the Charley and the Chocolate Factory glass elevator (the book or the Gene Wilder movie - not the Johnny Depp one). I cross the street. Enter. And glide down.

He is waiting. He has been connecting and conniving as well. As I approach his video of one night at Nathan's Famous explodes across twenty huge screens. It is him at his visual best. The camera sweeps and lurches, the colours explode, the people's essences burst through. He has even edited it pretty well already. And thirteen minutes later it concludes to loud applause.

He bows dramatically.

"Four hours last night, barely left the place at all," he says. "Wanted to do the beach on a night this hot, but I got sidetracked." We spend the next three hours re-editing. I help - I suspect. In little bits. In saying, "no, that one," when he might have picked something more for just him. We show it big four more times. People like it again and again, even those who have been here, working on whatever, the whole time.

Then he says, "got anything?" I pull a jump drive off from around my neck, and plug it in. The lanyard lies on the table, still wet from sweat and fountain water. "I'm struggling with this, been fighting this chapter for a week."

'"You've never looked at a city the way I have," I told her, as I took in the entirety of the street, the entirety of the moment, in a way most people never learn to do but which is the key to survival if you find yourself chased. "Thank God for that," she said, "you know, you may be getting a bit scary." We were right there. At the spot. The rain polishing the footwalk's pavement. If I saw ghosts and Caitlin did not, what of everyone passing by in the rain this afternoon? If I saw ghosts here could I walk the eight or ten blocks over to Donegall Street and make it through that? "I am more than a bit scared," I said in surprising confession. "I do not like this city at all, and I want it to stop raining. I want fewer reflections." "We should find you a pint," she said, "we should find pints for both of us. And maybe you need to tell me a story I have yet to hear." '

It appears on the screen, this paragraph filling the pixels.

He grabs the keyboard. Changes some things. Hands it to me. I change some more. He takes it back, a touch violently, and types for thirty seconds.


'"You've never looked at a city the way I do," I told her, grabbing the entirety of the street in my eyes, the entirety of the moment, in a way people never learn to do unless they know what it is like to be chased. "Thank God for that," she said, "you know, you may be getting a bit scary." We were right there. At the spot. The rain polishing the footwalk's pavement. If I saw ghosts but Caitlin did not, what of everyone passing by in this rain this afternoon? If I see ghosts here can I walk the eight or ten blocks over to Donegall Street and survive there? "I'd be a bit scared," I said in surprising confession. "I do not like this city, and I want it to stop raining. I want fewer reflections." "We should find you a pint," she said, "we should find pints for both of us. And maybe you need to tell me a story I have yet to hear." '

"That is better," I say honestly. "It is," a woman nearby says, and now I realise that my words are illuminated across an entire wall, "but either way it's beautiful writing, really, a book?" "Shut up," he says sharply, "this is private." I look at her, past him, and mouth, "Thank you, and sorry he's an asshole." She smiles - she may be older but she is very beautiful - and goes back to her email.

"You're a fucking eijit," I say. Pushing a few keys, shrinking my words back to just this display. "Yeah, he says, "but people ought to be paying to read your shit."

"We should all be rich," I tell him. "Then it wouldn't matter." "And we could do this shit all day?" "Yeah, and we could do this shit all day."




copyright 2007-2008 by Ira Socol

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