It is not the first time since it reopened that I’ve been here but it’s the first time I arrived intending to stay more than a few gawking minutes at the Rose Main Reading Room. This is the old Rose. I guess. They now make you pass some kind of Q&A where they screen you to see if you are genuinely here for research and study. No mere tourists allowed. If that was instituted as some sort of post-Covid crowd control measure it would seem the policy’s time has outstayed its usefulness. But what would I know… I just know I passed by the phone booths where I, for a few minutes, was on TV in front of 6,000,000 people. That was fun but I don’t think my anxiety levels ever reached such a boiling point. That was before I had reliable access to panic pills and BP meds, because the PCP I somehow felt I could not fire refused to give me barely any of that stuff. He insisted on the Tapping Method and other Eastern bodily jujitsu but begrudgingly, and with a predictable guilt trip, prescribed evil Western pharmaceuticals anyway.
I started using a health-tracking app on my phone, just because it’s there. I have doubts about it already. It says I walked 20,479 steps today, for 9.61 miles. That is impossible. I walked about 1 mile from home to Queens Plaza, maybe another 1½ from 59th Street to here (via pitstop at one of the Privately Owned Public Spaces on 3rd Avenue. Not even the R train from Queens Plaza to 59th could make the distance I’ve traveled equal 9.61 miles.
I’m going to a thing at MoMA tonight. I thought I might have a date but she never responded, which is rude but typical of this individual. If it ever comes up in conversation she will probably say it got filtered to spam but i don’t even care enough to consider bringing up the subject if/when next we meet.
Today had me feeling very small. Nothing. Empty space where a soul should circulate. I keep thinking of my friend Joe, who died just over a month ago. He spoke through gritted teeth so much of the time, it seemed, even through his exuberances. We got on each other’s nerves a good amount. It’s fortunate we were never roommates, a scenario which did at one point actually enter the realm of discussion, which is not to say it ever entered the realm of possibility. I remember his complaints as much as his enthusiasms, his stubbornnesses as much as his anything-goes open-mindedness. The time, passion, and commitment he put into writing his only professionally published book was supplemented only by years of complaints and dismay that it never gained traction, despite being extraordinarily well-written. I think it missed its mark for not delivering on its title. It was much less an actual history of the guitar and more of an analysis of race in America. A quantity of 30 copies was purchased by someone at a University, presumably for use in some curriculum or class. He never knew the details of what that order was about. He had very mixed experiences with women. One thing that shocked him was when I told him what a fuckfest of a scene it was at the old dialup BBS through which we met. He had no idea that behind all these screennames and veiled gossip on the BBS was a scene where everybody was fucking everybody, even a shy (in those days) recluse like myself got in on it. Joe had no idea but he didn’t really need a BBS to find a date. He was shockingly good-looking even into his 60s. He didn’t tell too many people of this but he got involved with a woman less than half his age in his adopted home town in Montana just last year. Things were going great until he told her his age. She had no idea he was anywhere north early to mid 50s. She was 31 (I think) to his 67. I can’t keep thinking about this.
My presence at the MoMA event tonight should be brief. it involves (what else?) a payphone. I got word there is a fully intact Titan payphone enclosure on exhibit in the outdoor courtyard area. I don’t know why it’s there or what artistic epiphany awaits me in seeing a once-ignored piece of oversized street furniture in an art gallery. At first I was given an impression that the phone had been installed outside the museum and ithat it was being used in some kind of interactive spirit. But apparently that is not the case. It seems it might be one the arted-up phone enclosures Bree Zucker had out on 6th Avenue in 2020 or 2021.
Someone just asked about this garish setup I use. It is called a screen magnifier. The poor person’s laptop. I use it at work and the others are constantly atitter about it. But for $12 you can turn your phone into a slightly dorky looking and almost-identically functioning device as a regular laptop.
Some minutes later that same person asked if I would watch over his real laptop and other things while he took a bathroom break. I said yes, letting a viscous swirl of concern that I had just entered into a pact with a stranger where I could be criminally liable if anything happened to his stuff. He’d been gone a couple of minutes when I looked over and saw that hiscell phone was not where I thought he had left it. I swear I saw him leave it there on the table, next to his real laptop. It’s true that I had not really paid any oversight attention to his stuff, but I also had no memory of any other person approaching the area. I was not exactly a nervous wreck about it but I did start to think I had let the kid down and that my promise to be caretaker of his thousands of dollars worth of electronica was hollow.
Upon his return he calmly and without thanking me for my lordship of his belongings produced the cell phone from his pocket. Good move. I am absolved.
I need to walk. Need to add to those 20,000 phantom steps I took earlier.