It’s been…

I want to back up, but I’m having trouble ordering my thoughts. As far as I can tell, every day of the last six days by my reckoning has lasted about a full month for everyone else. I’ll go day by day and see if I can work this all out, one post at a time, and try to deal with all the feelings I have about it. It’s…I’m finding that it’s not something I’m equipped to handle. Emotionally. I don’t know who would be. Some sci-fi character, maybe, John Crichton from Farscape or Olivia Dunham from Fringe. I’ll start at the beginning.

Monday

I showed up for the first meeting of the special session on theoretical physical engineering early. Was that the name of the class? I’m not sure. I’ve been to so many and they all have such technical names. I’m never an expert in the subject matter, not even an amateur. I do ask a lot of questions, though. If I’m enthusiastic enough, most professors seem willing to overlook the fact that I know nothing about their topic. I’m good at enthusiasm. So far nobody’s even figured out that I’m not actually enrolled in MIT.

Enthusiasm makes it that much easier to get into the labs, where they keep the good stuff. You know, the real moneymakers. The ones my clients will shell out for.

I’d ridden the train into the city, then walked through the sticky morning until I felt swollen as a sponge. The ascending sun would soon turn Kendall Square into a furnace, but by that time, I’d be in a nice air-conditioned building, probably pretending to take a bathroom break so I could snoop. A few other early birds joined me in front of the imposing academic edifice where the special session would be held, walking in and out of the long morning shadows that striped the sidewalk. Everything seemed extremely usual.

Until he grabbed my arm.

He was a young man – very young, actually, no more than eighteen, with an acne-scrambled white face. It took me a minute to determine his age because the rest of his appearance and demeanor were so arresting. The first thing that I noticed was that his hair was falling out, and had in fact almost all fallen out already. What remained was nothing but a few thin, light brown clumps. Once you looked past that, it was clear that he was on the verge of collapse. His head hung off his neck as though it weighed a thousand pounds, and when he stood, he swayed a little, hanging onto my arm for support. His eyes focused and unfocused like broken cameras as he seemed to fight to look at me.

“Are you here for Paven’s special session?” He asked in a wavering, weak voice. [NOTE: Paven isn’t the professor’s real name. I’m just borrowing it from my high school art teacher. (Sorry, Bob.) You’ll see why I can’t tell you who I was taking this class from. Later.]

“I am,” I replied. “First class of three. I don’t think we’ve met. Are you at MIT too?” At this, he seemed to become uncomfortable, even upset. He swayed on his feet, nearly falling.

“I’m Greg!” the kid gasped, barely catching himself. He let go of my arm and gripped his pack’s shoulder straps as though they could hold him up. “I need to talk to him!”

I was alarmed at this point. “OK, no big deal,” I said. “You OK? You need a hand?”

He didn’t reply, but he did acknowledge me with a quick, tense nod. His forehead was drenched with sweat. I offered him my arm. He didn’t move, but seemed to stare into the distance.

“All right,” I said, moving around him and ushering him toward the building’s big glass double doors. “Let’s get you inside.” I was already calling 911 in my head. The first step towards getting him to a hospital was getting him off the street to a place where he could sit. 

“I…I’m gonna…”

I barely moved in time. Vomit splashed all over the sidewalk. Greg collapsed to his hands and knees in the mess, still retching.

My side gig may be a bit unethical – hell, it’s downright wrong – but I’m basically a decent human being. The kid was clearly in need, so I sprang into action, for a minute anyway. My phone was already in my hand when he grabbed it with surprising strength, covering the screen in a thin, sticky reddish layer of what he’d just thrown up.

“I’m so sorry,” he gasped. “But I don’t want you to call anyone.” I pulled away, hovering between sympathy and disgust. I wiped the phone on my jeans and put it away. Once we were inside I could get out of sliming distance and call. Greg stumbled to his feet and nearly collapsed again. Around us, a few other do-gooders had crowded up, looking concerned, while others were hurrying away as fast as they could. “I…I’m sorry about your shoes, I know they mean a lot to you…I’m trying to do this backwards…”

I glanced down at myself. Sure enough, my Timberlands were ruined, soaked through with red slime. It gave me a little pang and I suppressed a rising ball of resentment toward this kid. I’d climbed Katahdin in these shoes right after I’d broken up with my asshole of a first girlfriend. For a second, I wondered how he knew that the boots mattered to me. But I decided that he was confused and probably mistaking me for someone else who loved their hikers. “Don’t worry about it, buddy,” I said, “Want to go inside?”

Again, he bobbed his head, then reached for me. I’m ashamed to admit that I flinched away. He opened and closed his mouth a few times.

“It’s not contagious. Just…please. Please. Help me.”

I’m a rude person. I own this. It’s better to know what’s going on than to sit there with a forced smile while something potentially bad happens. So I asked the following question: “What’s wrong?”

“Radiation poisoning. Please. I really don’t have much time.”

Getting inside didn’t solve my problem; I soon found that Greg wouldn’t let go of me.

“Get me to Paven,” he insisted.

“You need an ambulance.”

“No, I need to get to Paven!”

That’s how we ended up in the stairwell, me dragging him, he clinging to me like a monkey. Halfway up he lost his grip and collapsed, vomiting again. It seemed impossible that there was anything left in his stomach, but stuff still came up – reddish black stuff that didn’t look normal at all. Only when I grabbed his arm to help him up did I realize that he was actually vomiting slippery chunks of…something solid. For the first time, I felt like heaving, too. Did this guy really have radiation poisoning? Or did he have something worse, like Ebola?

I thought of the little splatters of vomit on my shoes, so demure-seeming now that I was basically drenched in this guy’s blood. If I did have Ebola, there was nothing to be done about it now, and running around, blood-soaked and panicking, in Kendall Square was bound to delay treatment. The best thing to do would be to remain calm. If Paven knew this guy, he’d probably know what to do about him, and from there I could contact a hospital or whatever. Calm. Straightforward. I basically carried him the rest of the way up the stairs. By the time we reached the top, he was unconscious and I made Carrie look like a clean, well-put-together lass. The door to the third floor was a heavy thing that I slammed into with the combined weight of my and Greg’s bodies. It yielded with a groan and we tumbled into a well-lit white hallway.

“Need some help here!” I screamed.

A few people came running, but they all recoiled when they realized what they were seeing. I deposited Greg on the ground as gently as I could. His body slumped awkwardly over his backpack. I wrestled it off him, wishing I knew anything about first aid.

I looked up and saw the hallway to both sides fairly full of students. A few people dove into their pockets for their phones and started filming. Fuck. “Don’t film! Call for help!” I fumbled for my pocket, looking for my phone, but realized that I was so covered with blood that there was no way I could use it.

Emergencies are weird. You snap into action mode and the most random thoughts drift through your head as your body does everything it knows it should. All I could think in that moment was that people were filming me, catching my face on camera. That’s evidence. I’d have to peace out without going for the thing I was there for. I wasn’t really focusing on it, just knowing it in the back of my head as I was screaming at the crowd to call 911 and randomly shaking Greg and trying to do something useful and generally failing. The stench of the blood and the weirder smell of whatever he was coughing up is still with me six days later. Six months. God.

OK.

Next thing I knew, Paven was there, kneeling beside me, shaking the kid. At this point, Greg was completely unrecognizable, and I think now that Paven actually didn’t recognize him at first, because he was on the phone with 911 and going through Greg’s pockets looking for ID with his free hand.

Paven stands out, so I can’t give you any good descriptive details about him, except to say that he’s an older, clean-shaven white guy with glasses. There – that’s just about half of everyone in Kendall Square. Paven, you know who you are, and this is more than you deserve, you fucking bastard. Because the next thing you did was find Greg’s student ID. And I saw you do a double take. I saw recognition register in your eyes like a mechanism clicking into place. Like a transformer made up of the pieces of your personality just switched into a whole different mode. Very quickly, but very clearly, you snapped the components of yourself out of the mild-mannered MIT professor persona and into something…else.

I saw you hang up the phone.

And turn it off.

Then, you made direct eye contact with me and said, “I’ll give you what you’re here for if you help me get him into my office.”

I’m not a bad person.

The fact that I have to say this so much bothers me more and more. What I do doesn’t really bother me; like I said, I’ve never lost so much as a night’s sleep. I need money. Everyone does. This seemed like the most efficient way to get it. At least, when I started, it did. Now, I’m not so sure.

Paven had snapped me right out of emergency mode. Without a word, I grabbed Greg’s feet. Paven grabbed him under the arms. We hauled ass down the hall, Paven leading, until we barreled into a cozy, desk-dominated room that I assumed was his office. He dropped Greg hard on the carpet, zoomed around behind me and slammed the door. Click. Locked.

“What are you doing?” I asked, laying Greg’s feet down. Was he breathing? I held my hand in front of his open, blood-soaked hole of a mouth. Some air. OK, good. “He was asking for you. Do you know this guy?”

But the good professor had removed himself from the Greg situation and was consumed with a new task: wrecking his office. When I looked to see what he was doing, he was already ransacking a shelf of ponderous engineering books, tossing them on the floor like garbage. He didn’t answer me, but bent to the floor, hefted a giant cardboard box full of papers, and upended it over his head.

“Dude!” I shouted. “What are you doing?”

“Shut up,” he snapped, sweeping everything off his desk in one clean motion of his arm.

There was one thing that I knew now: this job had gone completely off the rails. “Listen, I’m going to go get someone,” I said. “I’m going to go get help.”

Paven eyed me like a crazy man as he smashed a glass trophy against a wall, shattering a flying woman figure into a million sparkling shards. “You’re about to get yours,” he snarled. “You’re finally about to get what you deserve. That’s what you’re going to get.”

Messing up his office. Luring me in here with him. Some kind of funny business with Greg. “Oh fuck,” I breathed. Whatever was going on, this was a bad situation, and doubly bad because I’d only ever come here to commit larceny, and triply bad because it looked like this kid I’d just met was about to die on the floor. So I did the only sensible thing I could think of: I ran to the door so I could fling it open and show the crowd outside what was going on. Except that the door wasn’t opening.

“Don’t bother!” Paven said, tearing open some cabinets and digging through them like a deranged mole. More papers and books flew everywhere. “I had some work done on it. Learned from the last time. Didn’t expect that, did you?”

I banged on the door with my fists. “Let me out!” I screamed. “Let me out! He’s crazy!” At this point, I reasoned, the prof was clearly nuts and maybe mixed up with something darker than I what I was mixed up in – who would believe him if he said I was a professional tech thief? In the confusion that was definitely going to ensue when the authorities arrived, maybe I could get away without being positively ID’ed and Greg would get help. To my intense relief, strong pounding from the other side of the door met mine with gusto. “Help me!” I screamed.

“This is the police!” a voice responded. “Open up!”

“I can’t! He’s got the door locked! He-”

I felt the pain before I heard the gun go off. The bullet ripped a chunk out of my shoulder, and even before I spun around, I knew it was just a warning shot. Paven was less than five feet away, standing amidst the wreckage of his career, hands smeared with Greg’s blood, a small but robust-looking revolver now leveled at my head. “Get away from the door,” he growled. Have you ever stared down the barrel of a gun? I hadn’t until then. It’s like running through the nighttime desert at top speed, feeling the air burn in your lungs, feeling full of power, and then looking into the deep canyon that suddenly yawns before you and realizing that nothing will stop your feet from carrying you over the edge.

I sidestepped around Greg, trying to stay as far away from Paven and the gun as I could. His face was as hard as stone. The thought occurred to my fear-numbed mind that my client hadn’t told me the entire truth about this job.

“How did you know I was here for it?” I asked. From the other side of the door, there was a mighty crash. The door shook in its frame.

“I remembered you from last time.”

“Last…” I racked my brain. What was he talking about? “No, I’ve never…ah, you’ve never been on my list before.” BOOM. Something hit the door with serious force. Its center bulged inward, but held.

“You try about once a month,” Paven said. “Every time, I promise to give it to you, and then I don’t. But this time, I’m going to make it stop.” He hiccoughed. Then he did it again. The gun jumped. I realized that the man was giggling.

Or was he sobbing?

And there it was. In his hand. My target.

It had been described to me as a device the size of a shoebox, probably blue or black. It was black. It might have buttons, they’d said. It did, several rectangular white buttons like you might see on a control panel in an original Star Trek episode. It would have two handles that made a sideways C together, like an airplane pilot’s controls. Paven held one of these in his free hand. There were two dials and some fades like you see on an audio engineering board, as well as a green digital display. Don’t turn it on, they said, but if it’s already working, you might feel nauseous or hear a very high-pitched noise.

I didn’t hear anything, but I was feeling pretty sick. Where had he been hiding the damn thing?

From the other side of the door, another BOOM. Another big dent. I was amazed that the door was still hanging on.

I raised my hands in front of me, wincing as I realized that I couldn’t raise my left one higher than my stomach. The pain seemed distant – that’s the adrenaline, I thought. But I could feel the wetness and knew I was bleeding pretty profusely. Rushing him wasn’t going to work. Stalling was my only option. “Professor Paven, my client wanted me to send you a message,” I said. BOOM. “They wanted me to give it to you personally.” BOOM. Was it working? Did I have his attention? At least he hadn’t shot me yet. He was looking at me with piercing, bloodshot eyes. Were his hands shaking?

“They want you to know-” BOOM. “They wanted to tell you-” BOOM.

“WHAT?” Paven screamed. At the same time, the police busted right through the door, guns blazing.

A lot of things happened at once.

First, the police tripped over Greg. The first couple of officers sprawled into each other, slamming into the desk in an unruly pile. A gun went off and one of the men howled in pain. The officers behind them couldn’t make it into the room – the door was too small, and blocked by three bodies now – but they did start firing at Paven.

At the same time, Paven switched his focus to the police and opened fire himself. Though every shot shook his arm to the shoulder, he still clutched the device – my target – in his free hand. He was clearly struggling with its weight, to the extent that it was starting to slip out of his grip.

And I – I don’t know why I did it. I saw the thing dangling and…instinct? Greed? Single-mindedness? Honest to God, I really don’t know.

I grabbed it. Right out of his sweaty, slippery grasp. For a second, I held it with both hands, more than a little shocked at what I’d just done and surprised at its weight. It must have been twenty pounds, maybe more. Then I looked up and saw Paven staring at me through a rain of bullets. He’d been grazed and blood was trickling down from a deep gash on his head. We locked eyes. Deliberately, he aimed his gun at the machine in my hands and fired.

There was a blinding flash of light. When it cleared, the building was dark. Not just the office, but the entire floor, apparently. The hall lights were off and I could hear nothing, not even the whir of an HVAC system. The office itself was empty, the door crumpled and hanging off a hinge. There was tape on the floor where Greg had laid, tape that outlined a body. Little yellow tags with numbers on them marked bits of the mess, which was still there, the desk, and the grim outline on the floor.

The machine in my hands was intact. Not even a dent from the bullet.

This wasn’t a good time to question things. I’d figure out what was going on later. There’s a pretty straightforward procedure for getting out of places like this without being ID’ed by a camera and I defaulted to that. I quickly stuffed my prize into my backpack and dug a bandana out of my pocket. I tied it around my face bandit-style and left the room.

Emergency lights gave the hallway an eerie orange glow. When I looked for the red pinpoints of security cameras, I didn’t see them anywhere. I knew they were there because I’d marked them during the course intro. Was the building without power? Good, I guessed, that gave me a chance to-

I was outside.

I blinked. It was darker than it had been a minute ago, a 3am darkness rather than a 11pm, if that makes sense. I felt disoriented, but in a minute, I got my bearings among the hulking shadows of buildings and yellow pools of streetlamp lights. Maybe the power was only out for that building. I started to walk toward the closest T stop. Was the T even running at this time? I almost dug out my phone to check it, but remembered that I was covered with Greg’s blood. Can’t get the phone messy. Then there was the other device. My prize. Something about it. Time to get rid of it-

The train screeched. I actually jumped this time. The car I was sitting in was empty…except for one person.

He was sitting across from me, elbows on knees, looking exhausted, studying me with an inscrutable expression on his face. It was a few minutes before I could say anything. He waited, eyebrows raised.

“…Greg?

He looked at me for a few more minutes, his face noticeably devoid of blood and viscera. Then, he sighed and ran his hands through his hair. (Was there more of it? No, that wasn’t possible.) More than a little of it detached from his head and remain between his fingers. He looked at the pathetic tufts of light brown on his palms and coughed. Then, he stood, slowly and unsteadily, like a man four times his age. I noticed that he’d gotten a new backpack. A new used backpack, anyway – it was as scruffy as the one I’d gotten off him in the Kendall Square building. In fact, it was remarkably similar. Same color, even.

“Don’t want to do anything,” he said. “Just focus on me. Follow me. I think you’re moving in the right direction.”

“I…What?”

“We’re getting off here. Just – Focus on me, OK? Try not to think about anything with, you know, intention.”

“What the hell is happening?” I demanded. “You were dying! What happened to Paven?”

Greg suddenly looked striken. “Dying?” he whispered. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and seemed to compose himself. When he was calm, he started to nod. “I guess I knew that. OK. Yes. Oh god.” He sighed and leaned against a pole. “I’ve got to call my mom. Or…no, that’s a bad idea. Maybe a…note…”

What??

“Just follow me, OK?” He paused. “And don’t want anything. I’ll explain when we get somewhere safe. OK?”

He left the train and I followed him, awhirl with questions but ready to go along for the minute, even if just to figure out how he was alive and un-bloodied. My pack was weighty with the device I’d stolen. I hefted it, forgetting to be careful of my hurt shoulder. But there was no pain, or even discomfort. My shoulder was strong and firm. I reached back to feel the gunshot wound with my good hand. No blood on my hand. No pain. I raised my crippled arm. I raised it higher. I raised it above my head. I looked up at it and realized, for the first time, that I was clean.

Greg’s blood was gone. I looked down. My Timberlands were…

What was happening?

We moved at a deliberate pace past the kooky art pieces of David Station, Greg wobbling and weaving as though he were drunk. As we climbed the stairs, I was blinded by noonday sun and a wave of midday heat. It was…Tuesday? Suddenly, I realized that I must be losing time. This panicked me more than anything that had happened yet. I am terrified of blacking out. Fear made my legs lock and my skin go cold. I had not been so frightened even when Paven had me at gunpoint. Davis Square was full of people…and police officers. Lots of police officers. They were stopping people and showing them a piece of paper. People were shaking their heads. Then, an officer looked up. And spied us.

He pointed.

“Run,” Greg said. “I’ll find you.”

I ran.


New shoes

Whoo. That was a heck of a thing.

I don’t shop much. When I do shop, I tend to come away with the barest of essentials, which usually do not include things like clothes. Until about last month, I had worn the same threadbare shoes for the last five years. Yes, five years. A little superglue here, a few stitches there, and a ton of black shoe polish went a long way toward keeping those babies looking fresh. I realized that I actually had to get rid of them when someone pointed out that they were mostly just a shoe-shaped glob of glue, stitching and goopy shoe polish that rubbed off and left fecal-looking streaks on absolutely everything, particularly the nice clean floors at work.

Learning that I have been rude is one of the few things that will prompt me to immediate action, and to action I sprang. In the name of efficiency, I proceeded to a big box, a jungle of depressing fabric, appliances and synthetics whose name I will not mention. The people who worked there seemed uninterested in my problem. I wear a size 7 men’s shoe, preferably a solid color and nothing weird. My life is weird enough, thanks. I don’t need funky shoes.

But every damn shoebox I pulled off this place’s shelves was missing its right member. I tried Converse, Dockers, Sketchers, and about five other brands that I’ve never even heard of. No rights. Eventually, I went to the sales associate to ask why.

“We don’t know,” she said. The effort it took her not to groan deepened the lines on her face until she looked ancient and exhausted. “It’s company policy. We’re not allowed to talk about it, but it’s been that way since 2009.” I asked her if her boss would have more information. Her eyes hardened immediately. I knew I’d made a mistake. She grabbed her name tag and pulled it forward so that I could read it without looking at her chest. The little square of blue and white plastic identified her as the store manager. That was a bit embarrassing, but what really gave me pause was that it also listed her blood type.

I decided to leave.

After a few hours wandering around looking for a way out, I chanced upon a golden thread, probably pulled off some high fashion cardigan or tunic by another wanderer. It was wrapped around the necks and wrists of blank-featured white mannequins and stretched between them like the cordon at some bizarre opening night ritual. I followed it. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong direction first and soon ended up staring at a door marked “Employees Only.” The thread was suspended between a stray nail in the wall and the crack between the closed door and the jamb. I didn’t feel like an employee and suspected I’d be recruited or something if I proceeded through, so I turned around and went back the other way. 

It took a long, long time to find the exit. I had to stop and rest several times. I think I slept once. It’s weird how details like that haze away when you’re in an environment where the lights never go off. I was exhausted in a wide, bloodshot way that eventually bordered on a kind of psychosis. Articles of clothing seemed to reach out for me as I passed. They seemed to whisper things about me that I’d never told anyone, things about my childhood altar serving in the Church and my family, who I left hundreds of miles away to move to this place, and all the time I’d wasted of my short life playing video games. You are an addict waiting to happen, hissed the blouses and the belts and the khakis. You are a latent gameoholic, alcoholic, shopaholic. Buy things. Consume until you die. It is your fate.

What kept me going was that I’d read about this somewhere before. Big box stores optimize their layouts to get people a little lost. That way, they need to spend more time looking at stuff. The longer they look, the more likely they’ll pick up extra things that they never intended to get. Knowing this, I managed to avoid buying anything, though if there was food, I’d gladly have spent a few dollars on it. Maybe that’s the next big retail innovation: hot dog stands among the groves of slacks and camisoles.

When I finally reached the end of the thread, I nearly cried. There was the exit. Daylight, even. My shoes were finally in pieces. It was three days later. My wife had left several dozen frantic messages on my phone, which all appeared the instant I passed through the grimy automatic glass doors. My first action was to run to her and tell her that she had been right all along about the big boxes, that I was finally free and would never leave her for life in a modern labyrinth. 

Then, I proceeded to a boutique booterie in downtown Salem, where I paid a pretty penny for a very nice pair of locally made, artisanal shoes. Well, actually, I paid seventy-five bucks. I guess that’s not so bad, right? I’m still not sure what shoes ordinarily cost, but compared to three days of your life, $75 is a pretty good deal. And at least the shoemaker provided both left and right shoes free of extra charge.

I guess I’ll be buying local from now on.


He says it so much better

Can’t bring the funny this week. I tried to talk about why, but it came out garbled and I didn’t think it contributed to a positive discourse.

So I’m just going to leave this here. Trevor Noah may have had a rocky start, but I think he’s really grown into the Daily Show and I don’t think anyone could have summed things up with more tact and confidence. Also, check out this incredible resource kite for white people who want to stop contributing passively to the problem and start becoming part of the solution to racism.

Come on, fellow white people. Let’s stand up for our fellow Americans already.


Decoded from the Fireworks above the Charles

My fiancee and I and a few friends went to see the fireworks over the river on the Fourth. It was beautiful. We rented canoes and loaded them with food, books, and, because we are after all millennials, with our iPads. Thus prepared for our two-hour trek, we paddled our tipsy little vessels out into the breach, dodging other boats and smelling of sunscreen. The river churned under the engines of bigger boats until it behaved like another, larger body of water, its waves pushing and hefting us unpredictably. Together, we stayed atop them, and with the others, we watched the sky.

Blue faded to deep indigo and the first of the explosions began. We lay in the bottom of the boats, our books and food and tech forgotten, watching the marriage of color and sound above us, a riot for the gods. 

I’d been reading all day before we went out, and when I say that I mean I’d been reading for nine solid hours. Everything looked like a line of text to me. When I first thought I saw letters forming and vanishing one by one in the big white bloomer above, fast as flickers, I thought I was seeing things. But this is, after all, Boston, and as far as I’m concerned, the location is the explanation. Here’s what I read beginning from the time when I started writing down what I was seeing in the sky, which was maybe five minutes into the show. I’ve separated the story (poem?) out by individual salvos where possible. Forgive me if my memory is shaky when it comes to edits. When the finale began, it was all I could do to keep up. 

Morning and sunset in the same moment

A lifetime of falling fire we pay the toll of heat and light

Gravity is the mother gatekeeper and we never met our father the rocket

Now we are ash children falling to a dirt world

A meteorite mistaken for a star or an absurd plummeting whale

All falling things are brothers unmindful of their moment

Heaven’s location depends on where we began

We began above

 

 


Just living here, I get smarter


Even in the ‘burbs, the Greater Boston Area is known for its superb educational opportunities.


I tried to ride the T today…

I’m not sure I like the changes. I mean, WBUR has been going on about the T’s big plans for a while, so I guess I’m not completely surprised. It’s just a lot all at once. You know? They have these new Smart Pass things. NPR didn’t warn me about that. People ahead of me were scanning them at the new circular portal-doors and then being absorbed by columns of intense blue light that appeared out of nowhere. It was slow. I ended up getting an Uber, which made me feel like a prick. And speaking of, what the hell is up with that blue? I was trying to board the Green Line! Shouldn’t the colors correspond? Poor planning.

And by the way, those portals are made out of the same stuff as my mom’s countertops, so I know they ain’t cheap. Three portals per station, plus all that script inlaid around each portal’s edges, equals a ton of quick-turnaround specialty design and construction work for no practical purpose that I can determine. If you absolutely must have a seven foot high humming portal at your T stop, make a mold and pour twelve of the damn things in concrete. Cut down on the time and labor that goes into hand-carving a bunch of granite. It’ll look better, too. I cannot be the only one who gets nauseous looking at those crawling, glowing letters. Again, bad design choice.

If this is where my tax dollars are going, consider me a disappointed voter.


The Gift of Balloon Scythes

 

Things that I originally thought this windmill device in Porter Square might be for:

  • Generating wind power, because, I mean, look at it, and also, why the hell not;
  • Slowly boring a path for the Red Line to dive deep into the bowels of the Earth and finally be free;
  • CO2 capture and sequestration of same down in unused MBTA tunnels, where mutant rats synthesize their own carbon-fiber teeth and dream of dominion over the tyrant apes;
  • The Cambridge city council uses it to interpret signs and instructions from the eternally furious yet oddly impotent Deific Boston Wind Creature (DBWC);
  • There’s a really lame Bond villain living underneath that thing;
  • It’s part of a megastructure created by technologically advanced Native Americans long before Europeans arrived in the Hub and the government is now desperately trying to cover it up;
  • It’s a bio-synthetic growth experiment originally planted as a seedling by MIT undergrads.

However, it is art. At least, until the Not Art guy buys a ladder.

 

P.S. There’s a “Not Art” on a trash can in Salem. Is that you, Not Art guy? Did you move? Did you visit? Dude, you rock. You rock my socks. Please autograph my MacBook.