Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dan & Lindsay, Lovers Enjoying the Park

Dan & Lindsay
(sans bad photo of a guy I know).

Dan & Lindsay, Lovers Enjoying the Park

Sunny. The early spring evenings come to you with a confident balm. To a place like New England, they say, "It's going to be alright. You've suffered long enough without genuine sunshine and its sometime promise of unquestionable warmth. " When these days happen, you see people basking in them. Reveling. Remembering what it's like to walk around with a smile instead of a wind-chiseled scowl. Games are played in fields, people not only smile back but foster smiles, and anything you went through in the winter shall thaw, you say to yourself. Friday of last week was one of those days. I wandered over from my gallery job to Boston Common, essentially to bask in the warmth, take in the refreshing rushes of park people in their spring-mind, and finally, to lie down in the grass and not think heavily, not plan perpetually, and not finish some project.

I guess I'm something of a romantic; though, you'd think by 2007, we could come up with a better word for it, no? I'm a ragamuffin child (by way of Simon and Garfunkel), a wide-eyed flaneur (by way of Walter Benjamin and in this case, Louis Sullivan), a seeker of, in this case, warm fuzzies. Be careful what you ask for. While sitting on a bench, enjoying the polyphony of conversation and foot traffic, I noticed a resolute experiment in early-evening photo-taking (during what's called "the magic hour" by cinematographers) that a man and a women were engaged in, by the fountain. They didn't quite look like tourists. Their attempts had the focus of a pair on a mission, while their behavior was raw play, at almost-sunset. As I am apt to do, I went over and asked if they were visiting from out of town, and if they wanted their photo taken by me. They explained that they were locals, and that they were enjoying doing it themselves. However, once I came over, it was hard to leave the two-part harmony and syncopated rhythm of their voices. They had that stay-a-while-and-talk look in their eyes, and so I did. After a few minutes, I explained this site and asked Mr. Dan and Ms. Lindsay if I could press record on my technological dickey-doo, and they were all for it. The conversation was the perfect sorbet to a week of hoping for spring. Their togetherness was a wonderful antidote
to the sometime-feeling of being (as Claire Danes once sighed it into our lexicon) a failed heterosexual. We had a good time explaining, suggesting, declaring, wondering. Talking and playing.

* Note: I have done my best to translate the musicality (accents, syncopation, melody) of the couple's way of talking. The accents and other notations are there for you to better hear the focus and play in the telling. The explanation of action is there for you to imagine our evening with more clarity (there was obviously more laughter than noted). Let me know if this works, as I will be experimenting with elements like these from time to time.

I. Hello's and a Little East Coast Swing

Dan: Give us the questions. Just turn it on. Let's start. I like it.
CE: Boston Common, by the Park T stop.
Dan: By the Titan Fountain.
CE: April 20, 2007. Dan and Lindsay. They're engaged.
Dan: 6:49
CE: They're still engaged at 6:49.
Dan: 6:51...
Lindsay: We're going to have to see.
Dan: We're going to have to see about that.
Lindsay: Moment by moment.
CE: How did you two meet?
Dan: Swing Dancing.
Swing Dancing!
CE: Swing dancing. Where?
Dan: Brown University Swing Club. The "other" swing club.
CE: It's called the other swing club, or is there like one and...?
Dan: Well, Brown is a liberal place.
Lindsay: It could mean, you know, the naughty, experimental swinging. Or it could mean the dance club format of the 40's.
Dan: We were doing the vertical swing.
Lindsay: Yeah. It's great. We still go.
CE: Where do you guys go? Ryles?
Lindsay: Nowadays? To MIT, actually. They have a club there.
Dan: It reminds us of the good old days. Where it's just a bunch of people coming together, dancing. A little less cliquey. A little bit more open. People are still learning so they're still having fun. They haven't taken so many classes that the fun has been mashed out of them.
[CE & Lindsay laugh.]
CE: My friend went to MIT, grad, and met his wife there. Through the ballroom dancing classes.
Dan: But we don't ballroom though.
Lindsay: But yeah, it's funny. I didn't get into dancing to "meet people," but it definitely, definitely can happen.You find couples on their way.
Dan: You told me you got into dancing to meet me!

II. School, Love, Etc.

CE: what did you study at Brown?
Dan: I was a medical student. She was...
Lindsay: I was studying international development.
Dan: Now I work internationally, and the romance continues... on a multinational scale.
[Dan and Lindsay look at each other fondly and laugh.]
CE: That's amazing! That's like, uh, love letters all over the countr-, world.
Dan: That's right.
Lindsay: Sorta, yeah [smiles].
Dan: That's right. We uh, think local, make love... internationally.
CE: That's great, that's great.
Dan: And by love I mean, you know, the vertical kind.
Lindsay: I'm just shaking my head. [Head shakes, face snickers and smiles.]
Dan: My last name is Smith, in case you were wondering.

CE: And your name and address, uh.... Anyway, so you guys were taking these Polaroids. G-rated Polaroids.
Lindsay: PG.
Dan: Distinctly vertical.
CE: Distinctly vertical. Why did you start taking these Polaroids?
Lindsay: I have this Polaroid that I got for this work thing. I didn't end up using all the film, so I though, you know, why not...
Dan: Shoot the beautiful day...
Lindsay: With my honey dear. Because I hardly have any pictures of him. And it's so much more fun to have instant gratification with Polaroids.
Dan: Polaroid is actually the only type of camera that will I will produce an image in.
CE: So, you don't exist?
Dan: The rest are mirrors. It doesn't show. Garlic, I don't like garlic either.
Lindsay: Yeah, big problem. One time, there was this guy carrying a fence stake. Dan just like, ran in the other direction. It took me another day to realize. Stakes, another big phobia for him.
Dan: Unlike my vampire brethren, though, I went crying, like a small dog.
Lindsay: They were tears of blood, so.
CE: Not like, The Band song, "Tears of Rage"?
Dan: Tears of blood.
Lindsay: You know, we had troubles with it. He just can't cry human tears.
Dan: What can you do? It makes me a little anemic sometimes, during those tear-jerker movies. Anemic.
CE: Do you have to like stop yourself from bringing it up in interviews [when they ask,] "Is there something you need to tell us about yourself?"
Dan: I'm just like, "Guys, do you have a transfusion bank?" And they're like, "We do." And I'm like, "That's great."Ah [sigh], kind of a non-sequitor conversation.

Lindsay: Oh, it's like so many other things. Do you tell people these things?. How will you be judged. And you know, you're born a vampire. It's not a choice that you make.
Dan: No. It was more injected into me by a blood-thirsty siren.
Lindsay: Again. did you choose that? Did you wake up one day and say, "I'm going to be a vampire"?
Dan: Actually, I did go to Ryle's that night, and that's where it happened.
CE: The sirens at Ryle's. it's not just middle-aged people drinking cocktails, trying to dance.
Lindsay: Here, across Beacon Hill, it's all the more poignant to be talking about vampires. Where are their rights?
CE: Where are their rights? Don't they work in those big structures [skyscrapers] over there? But they bite and claw into other countries and other banks.
Dan:They suckle the fortunes- internationally. No longer jugular. It's multinationally-jugular.
Lindsay: My, the world has really changed!

III. Politics (good and bad), Jobs, and an Ugly Bug with a Pretty Name

CE: So, how old are you folks?
Dan: I'm 30.
Lindsay: I'm 23.
Dan: Robbing -the- cradle.
CE: So, you met at Brown? You were a grad student?
Dan: I was a medical student. yeah...
CE: Lindsay, did you consider Clark? I went to Clark, and they have a big International Development department.
Lindsay:I didn't know what I was going to study when I entered college. I thought I was going to do, potentially theater.
Dan: She was a child star. Google her!
Lindsay: You can google me.
CE: Google you. I don't know your last name... Lindsay Smith.
Lindsay: I did a couple plays as a child and a couple independent films as a teenager. But I ended up getting more interested in non-profit work and social justice work. Then I got into international development. But yeah, I hear Clark is really cool for that stuff.
Dan: She hasn't been bitter one day since.
Lindsay: About not be an actress?
Dan: About social justice.
Lindsay: No, no, never bitter. Not me.
Dan: Neither one of us. We're the cheery Bostonians.
CE: The "Cheery Bostonians," right here!
Lindsay: They should just call me Lindsay Bitters.
CE: Lindsay Bitters, that sounds like a drink. Can I have a Lindsay Bitters, on the rocks?
Dan: Lindsay Bitters...
CE: Which indie films were you in?
Lindsay: Well, they were indie, you know. They were film festival films. There was one called...
Dan: DVD stock [type films].
CE: My friends just made a movie like that. They're trying to get festivals and/or DVD distribution. Still Green. It's a coming-of-age, last summer before college, summer house at the beach film. Shit is heavy.
Dan: Oh, yeah. This move is called Cicadas.
CE: Beautiful sounding... is it about sitting on the porch and listening to cicadas?
Lindsay: It's about how sometimes in moments of great pain, you can come out of your shell with the help of good friends.
Dan: And become a horrible creature who makes awful noises...
Lindsay: and then suddenly dies...
Dan: and then usually dies by crashing into a window.
Lindsay: It kind of takes the first half of the metaphor. Coming out of a shell. Discard the being alive for but one day, and then dying.
Dan: It's kind of like the butterfly metaphor, the cocoon. But with you know, with giant insect eyeballs and a giant awful body, and not beautiful wings. [All laugh and squirm at the image].
CE: It must have looked beautiful, visually.
Dan: But, it's not true. none of it's true. She's much more of a mariposa than a cicada. I'll tell you now!
Lindsay: It's a cool movie. The same director just made a movie called Jumping Off Bridges. It's screening all over the place, so that's exciting.

CE: Dan, are you doing Doctors Without Borders?
Dan: No, i work with Partners in Health, which is the local game in town. It's the Boston-based Doctors Without Borders. I volunteer with them because I work at the hospital that they're affiliated with. I work mostly in Mexico. In Chiapas. Actually, I just came from Harvard, at the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.
Lindsay: He went to a twalk.
Dan: I went to a talk with John Ross, who is one of the premier left press journalists. He was also a beat poet back in the day. He read poetry and he tells his journalistic tales much like a round table, fire side chat. Or more like a story telling. It was actually a lot of fun. Even though I agree with a lot of what he said, at the q&a session, I asked him a question I knew would be very hard for him to answer: "What are the downsides of all the people you are saying are so good?" Like Lopez Obrador or the Zapatistas. He couldn't answer.
Lindsay: He couldn't answer? I mean, if you're look at individuals, you have to able to analyze the individuals...
Dan: Good and bad...
Lindsay: Well, rigorously, let's just say, rigorously.
Dan: I would personally not join a revolution unless they're going to say, "Okay these are both our goods and our downs." Because once focus only on the good, then you just end up in the same oooollld shit.
Lindsay: Ideologoical , dogmatic rut!
Dan: It happened to the Stalinists... it happened to the Mexican Revolution.
Lindsay: It happens to every good idea, if you don't watch out.
CE: You need good, old self-criticism, right?
Dan: You do. you need to be like, "This is what we're doing well. This is what we need to do better." With a lot of these things, they're up against much, they don't [think they] have a space for self-criticism.
Lindsay: I think it depends who you're talking about. I don't know about Obrador. i think He's pretty much like, "Get in the tent, play my guitar, sing some songs, wave my flag". I think some of the Zapatistas have more self-reflexion. They have really big encuentros, they also have meetings, set priorities. It's about consent these days.
Dan: I would like to see more, personally.
CE: There's a writer, Vijay Prashad. He teaches at trinity in Hartford. He's written a few books. The one I'm reading, The Karma of Brown Folk is about South Asians in America... Their immigrant story, essentially. The ways it's been politicized by various parties. For good and bad. He wrote a new book, The Darker Nations, and it's a look at six developing countries and their plights after colonization. In kind of a self-critical ways, looking at the ways they've tried to gain independence and develop nationhood, in good ways and in ways he's critical about. And this guy! The great thing about Prashad is he's so well-read, passionate-- it's criticism, but it's still very passionate criticism-- and he take on various sides and points of view. It's very enjoyable reading.
Lindsay: I love reading about that.
Dan: South Asia, colonization...
Lindsay: And the end of colonialism and the post-colonial period. It's a period I always find interesting. It shapes so much of everything today. It's so important to understand.

Dan: Just to bring it down to Mexico again, because I know more about that.
Lindsay: Because that's what you know! [Smiles at him, laughs knowingly].
Dan: That's what i know. I'm a one trick pony. So I'm reading right now, actually, an account of one of the soldiers that went with Cortez to Tenochitlan, to defeat, or conquer, Montezuma. The amazing thing about it is, the guy is probably a pretty straight forward Joe, back in the days of Spanish Conquest. His details are from the trenches looking up. It was amazing. You know, [he wrote things like,] "Cortez lost his sandal during the fight, and couldn't recover it." And the language going around, as they're marching to the great capital of Mexico, is one of moral high ground: "We've come here to civilize you; " "We've come here to stop the sacrificing of human beings;" "We've come here to give you the true lord Jesus Christ."

But really, they're in it for the gold. They're there for the cash and the ladies. You know what's so interesting about it, too? Montezuma was such an imperialist himself. That's so interesting. Empire conquering empire. That's how they were able to do it. When they marched on, they were able to get the help of the people in Campeche and Tabasco, and they were able to get the help of all those tribes that were like, "We hate Montezuma."

Lindsay: Yeah, they gave him all their best food and best skins and animals and killed their virgins.
Dan: It reminded me a lot of the language that Bush sold to the world to march on Iraq. This moral high ground talk. Which, in some contexts, just as in Christianity, has some truth to some people. But it's for the gold. Black gold [oil]. It's just so amazing: "Let us learn what history teaches. History teaches." Eh, it doesn't teach. We don't listen.
CE: We don't listen.

IV. Time to Take in the Night

CE: This is so funny, these are three of my old friends, just walking by...
Lindsay: want to go talk to them?
CE: I'm not terribly close to them.
Dan: Want a picture of them, the three of them walking by?
CE: I'll just call them in a minute. I'll keep it up there [pointing to my head]. And I'll write some story about, walking, walking away... in my life, their lives, our lives.
Lindsay: We need to go watch this movie.
CE: Oh, what are you watching?
Lindsay: We might The Namesake, which i think at 7:30.
CE: Have you read the book? I hear it's good.
Lindsay: I read the book, it's good.
Dan: South Asian [stuff], that's her.
CE: I should get your email so that i could email you the interview and email the link, hoping that this was loud enough to be recorded.
Dan: Yeah...

We start our "see you later's", then they're gone, and I'm taking in the early afternoon, the conversation, and the proof [pointing to my head]. Sure, there's tape, sure there's Polaroids, but I'll keep it in my head... the experience. I'll keep it in my head as a distinctly vertical experience.

That guy who likes to talk with people
(Shahin/ conversations, etc./ CE).