Tag Archives: Zucchini

Golf with the Epsteins

It’s Monday morning at opticnerve™ and the studio is suffused with a reddish light.  The tide is low and on the side of the pier a few feet above the waterline a blue balloon is rolling from rock to rock.  Spills sits next to the refrigerator beneath a cow skull and edits a spot.  Zucchini sleeps on a cushion in front of the fire.  There are two bananas left in the fruit bowl.  Telephones ring and everyone says Good morning.

Jon Kane is wearing a red shirt that is shiny and buttons up in the front.  There are dolphins jumping on the back of it. His shoes are checkered, black and white.  They match the checkers painted along the sides of his vintage car.  Godfrey stands in the kitchen holding a coffee mug and tells Jon he looks like the Prince of opticnerve™.  Spills points out “You got a zipper issue,” and Jon zips up his fly.

No-body sits at the dining room table.  Godfrey holds a postcard up in front of her and asks her if she knows what it is; she answers that it is the Mouth of Truth.   “Yes,” Godfrey says. “La Bocca della Verità.”

On Friday the first of many guest bloggers visited the studio to interview Jon about a plane crash he witnessed in 1977.  The resulting story was what might be called a qualified success: in his private correspondence with No-body, our guest blogger remarked, “[the post] was incoherent and got no comments.”  You can read the story for yourself to make up your mind.

Jon pours half and half over his raisin bran. He says yesterday he bit his tongue so hard it bled for half an hour.

No-body thinks our guest blogger got the story about the plane crash right but two important details are missing. First, the man who survived the plane crash was the first person to survive a fire that burned off 100% of his skin.  They kept the man alive by putting him in a full body rubber suit with tubing that cycled healing chemical fluids between the rubber and his burned off skin.  This made him famous.  He spoke at conventions.

The second important detail is how this story began.  It began with Jon’s father telling him “Today we’re going to play golf with the Epsteins.”

No-body knows this is important because No-body is sitting at the dining room table at the beginning of a story that hasn’t happened yet.  She looks at the serpent painted on the wall and its forked tongue.  The empty swing sways before her and the table gleams.  The studio looks like a postcard in her mind.  She imagines Godfrey holding it up before her and asking her if she knows what it is.

Yes, she answers.  It is golf with the Epsteins. This means any minute the world will explode into terrible, incomprehensible beauty.  Although right now people are eating cereal, soon they may be weeping on their knees.   No-body knows for sure.


Live-Blogging the Apocalypse

On the bus to opticnerve™ in Red Hook, No-Body told me about a plane crash Jon Kane witnessed when he was fifteen. As she told the story, I closed my eyes and imagined I was there, eying the golf flag flapping down the fairway on a par four in the outskirts of Pittsburgh…

… and as I swung my nine-iron into the sky, I saw my father flailing wildly with both hands in my peripheral, and looked backward over my shoulder. Bearing down through the clouds was a twin-engine Cessna. The next thing I knew some groundskeeper’s shoulders were plowing me out of the crashing plane’s path. I was thrown into the rough, though I felt as if I were floating through a dream.

As soon as my eyes found the plane, an explosion rocked the links and I felt a ripple of terrible heat. I threw my forearm over my face. Screams penetrated the haze of smoke and noise, and out of the heap of crumple aluminum burning like a fallen star on the bright green grass, a man with no clothes, no lips, no eyebrows, and gray skin like seared steak struggled out of the inferno and groped toward me…

I shook the vision out of my head and entered the opticnerve™ studios where No-Body immediately began making coffee, building a fire, filling candy dishes with almonds and chocolate-covered raisins, and restocking espresso canisters, wondering if I would ever hear the real plane crash story from Jon Kane. No-body introduced me to the whole opticnerve™ staff, who were busy but welcoming, and much better dressed than me.

The morning took another turn toward the apocalyptic and strange when Spills pulled up footage of the Japanese Tsunami on his laptop and everyone gathered round.

Mile-long jetties of rolling trash bulldozing acres of farmland. A man in a third storey window waving a white towel helplessly at a circling helicopter. A huge hole opened up in the ocean and slowly swallowed a ship. On CNN a reporter was asked, “What is the mood like there?” and incredulously replied, “Tense.”

Everyone at opticnerve™ looked out the window at the Statue of Liberty in the distance. The waters of Buttermilk Channel remained calm, speckled with seagulls. But for a moment we wondered when our time would come. No-body’s fire crackled apocalyptically in the background.

Just before lunch No-body and I took Zucchini, Jon Kane’s Yorkshire Terrier, on a little walk around the waterfront. As we neared the end of the pier a tugboat pushed a gigantic, rusty barge around the corner of the dock. This is only my third time visiting New York. We smoked a cigarette and I felt like I was in the Sopranos.

During lunch Jon Kane called me into his office. I was nervous because I was wearing a pair of really ugly Nike tennis shoes, and at one point sitting in front of Jon I crossed my legs so that my shoe was very visible. But if Jon judged me, he never let on. He simply told the plane crash story, and in my mind I watched…

…the Cessna’s wings teetering down the fairway, flicking pine trees into the sky where the wingtips touched the earth. The man with no skin walking out of the fire and into a life that would never be the same. The Pittsburgh morgue van skidding across the grass to a stop. The emergency workers lifting a skeleton locked in a sitting position, whose seat had vaporized beneath him, and having to break his bones in order to fit him into the body bag.

As Jon told this story I watched his hands. They flew around his body in a whirl of comic and dramatic expression. He described the entire experience as if it were not even his, as if it were seen from the point of view of a stranger. Then he told me he’d felt like he’d seen behind some dark, strange curtain, as if he’d seen a glitch in the inner mysterious workings of the universe. As Jon told me this I watched his eyes. They didn’t blink.