Category Archives: Talk Amongst Yourselves

The Mourning After

On 06/24/2016 03:13 PM, DB wrote:

You are really in the thick of it. Just reading a bit about it this a.m. Thanks for your blog posts. 


I’d love to hear your interpretation of what this means. Is it the most conservative faction that wanted independence. Is this about immigration as much as anything?

Anyway, enjoy. Looking forward to your next report.

D,
Yes, quite thick things are here.  I’ve just come from the Book Arts Book Shop.  When I got there all the talk was of the collective hangover people feel today about this.  One gentleman had spent the entire past week campaigning for Remain, and said he hadn’t slept yet.  Tanya, the proprietress, complained, “I talked with my neighbours, I talked with my friends.  Everyone I know voted Remain, so what more could we have done?”

She then announced that it was her birthday, and she did intend to celebrate, despite the long faces all around.  I do believe I helped in that undertaking, buying a pile of books.  “I feel like shutting the store and going to celebrate right now!” she exclaimed.  “You say that every time I’m here,” I replied. “That’s because you spend so much.”

My thoughts on this are still resolving.  I think, for the short term, there will be much upheaval.  The financial markets are a mess, and a recession is widely anticipated.  Some have suggested the pound sterling may ultimately lose as much as 30 – 40% of its value, although the BofE seeks to ensure it will not.  The FTSE will doubtless continue to suffer, although at present is up for the week, mostly on the strong pre-Brexit trading volume.

20160624_144543

Cameron’s resignation, pending until a vote can be organized — first within the Tory party, and then, perhaps, nationwide — sets up an epic power struggle.  Boris Johnson, former mayor of London, is widely expected to stand for PM, and just might win.  Meanwhile, in Labour, there is already a call for a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, and challenges have been mounted.

This all in just the past few hours.

Scotland have threatened secession, again, but will no doubt succeed this time.  SNP, the standard bearers of Scottish independence, control over 70% of the Scottish parliament, and Scots voted overwhelmingly for Remain.  They feel more tightly bound to Europe than England lately.

Wales, while not asking to leave the UK, have demanded assurances on funding levels.  They feel England forced through this referendum, and even though they voted Leave by roughly 60%, they are now complaining about the effects of that.

And this all in just the past few hours.

See what I mean?  The dust has hardly settled, and already ever sharper lines are being drawn.  France, Holland, Greece, Denmark and more are queuing up to Leave now, too.  If that happens, the entire experiment is as god as over.  Marine le Pen has already called for a French exit, Frexit I guess it will be called, or perhaps Fraisser, to introduce a new, French, portmanteau.  Last country out, please douse the lights!

Similar nationalistic parties are surging all across Europe, and if their main economic and security apparatus crumble and fall away, what is to stop another march towards war?  We already see borders being closed against each other; crude characterizations of the other in the press and campaigns.  Waning religious majorities in France and elsewhere are waking up from decades-long slumbers to discover that in fact a significant portion of their fellow countrymen worship differently than they do.  Intolerance on one side is met with intransigence on the other, and vice-versa.

Then along comes Donald Trump to rub salt in the wounds.  Thank you The Donald.  May you choke on haggis.

UK leaders are variously calling for immediate invocation of Article 50, or a more deliberate course, leaving such actions for the next PM, who, in any event, wouldn’t take office until October, earliest.  The EU, meanwhile, are impatient, like a jilted lover.

A senior EU leader has confirmed the bloc wants Britain out as soon as possible, warning that David Cameron’s decision to delay the start of Brexit negotiations until his successor is in place may not be fast enough.

Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, told the Guardian that EU lawyers were studying whether it was possible to speed up the triggering of article 50 – the untested procedure for leaving the European Union.

“Uncertainty is the opposite of what we need,” Schulz said, adding that it was difficult to accept that “a whole continent is taken hostage because of an internal fight in the Tory party”.

“I doubt it is only in the hands of the government of the United Kingdom,” he said. “We have to take note of this unilateral declaration that they want to wait until October, but that must not be the last word.”

Sounds like the UK may come home some day soon to find their clothes dumped on the curb.

Okay, this started out as a note to you, but it seems to have grown into my next blog post.  I haven’t even taken time to enjoy my new artist books yet!  I’ll be sure to share them when I return.

Ciao!

Brexit and Breckage

What hath we wrought, indeed.

It is 8:26 in the morning, and David Cameron has just resigned.  That is not the first fallout from yesterday’s vote for the UK to leave the EU.

“A seismic moment for Britain.” “A crushing, crushing defeat for Britain and for Europe.”  That’s just two of the responses heard on the BBC.

“Shares in Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland have both fallen by 25%.” shouts the Guardian.  “…the FTSE 100 is now ‘only’ down 400 points, or 6.4%.”

Things started off on a good foot for Remain, with Gibralter coming in at midnight with 19,000 Remain and 822 Leave.  But then came the narrow lead in Newcastle on Tyne, at just 51/49%, much lower than expected; then Sunderland, with a significant triumph for Leave.  With turnout numbers of 65 – 75% across the board.

By 01:00, the pound was in free fall.  After having been bid up to $1.50/£, it quickly fell to $1.34.  This has stabilized slightly, but still hovers near that 30 year low.  Not even during the financial crisis in 2008 did it suffer so.  Gold, on the other hand, and the dollar, are bolstered.

The shit storm here has only just begun.  I worry for my friends. A, Australian by birth, not seeing a future for herself in a non-European UK, talks of returning down under.  El & Is, the brilliant women behind Artellite — parent company of Degree Art and Contemporary Collection — have built a thriving business due in no small part to the open borders and markets of the EU.  Will they be able to continue to exhibit across the continent as they have?  Fraught times ahead.

For myself?  I will mourn the loss my EU citizenship.  I am proud of my UK passport’s banner heading, European Union.  It feels good to be a citizen of these two large democratic blocs, the US & EU. I have not exercised EU citizenship much — visits to the Czech Republic and Netherlands not withstanding — but this Sunday, as I disembark from the ferry in Holland, I will once again exercise the freedom of movement so central to the EU dream.  My UK passport expires April 2017.  Will its replacement contain that EU banner? This is not yet known.  British PM Cameron is expected to invoke a clause to grant a 2 year period during which the ties between UK & EU are fully severed, and my renewal comes during that window.

Enough for now.  “A new day has dawned, in Britain,” the BBC news reader, who has been up all night, just intoned.  Indeed, and that way monsters lay.

My next stop on this European tour is Holland, widely considered to be the next most likely to vote for EU exit.  Sigh…

 

Baby is Brexity


While there are other reasons for the current visit, one is the incipient vote in the UK on exit from the European Union. There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence, so let’s get parsing. And let’s just focus on that independent clause. It is early in the morning — about 2am — on 22 June, 2016. Tomorrow is election day for a single referendum, the wording of which is, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

First thing to note is that this refers to the United Kingdom, not Great Britain alone, and thus includes Northern Ireland. To remind our readers, Great Britain is the island itself, which contains England, Scotland and Wales. The UK is more completely written “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” So even the commonly used portmanteau Brexit (British Exit) is, itself, misleading.

An amusing, or tragic, result of this is that if the vote is Leave, then the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will become a 310 mile land border between the UK and the EU, a subject of much consternation amongst the populace on both sides of it (both border and vote).

So our two sides are Remain and Leave, so named due to the ballot choices presented, “Remain a member of the European Union” and “Leave the European Union.” For the record, Pawn comes down firmly on the side of Remain. However, in the interest of fair play and the free flow of information, he last night plopped down in front of the telly with A to watch The Great Debate on BBC|News. Pawn is a citizen by birth of the UK, by way of both his own birth on these shores, in outer London, and his father’s birth here. A is also a citizen by birth, by way of her father’s birth in Northern Ireland, but just as Pawn also enjoys US citizenship, she enjoys Australian. A complex little pot of nationalities were thus present before the LCD screen last night. She may vote as a current resident, I may not as I have not been registered to vote in the UK in the past 15 years (the cut-off term for this election).

While much has been made of Sadiq Khan facing off with Boris Johnson in The Great Debate — the current Mayor of London vs the immediate past Mayor of London; the first Muslim mayor of a European capital vs a WASP career politician of fluid stripes and naked personal ambition; the second generation immigrant product of a British comprehensive education vs. the white scion of the upper-middle class, product of public schools and Eton; Labour vs. Tory (although the Tory head, PM David Cameron, schoolmate of Johnson, is putative leader of Remain); the list goes on — there were actually three person sides in this debate, the other four all being women, and it was these others who really made it interesting.

They were, for Remain, Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson, and Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress; for Leave, Labour MP Gisela Stuart and [Conservative party] energy minister Andrea Leadsom. There was much reminding voters of mum-hood and grand-mum-hood, some of which lead to laughs, and there was much clammouring for the mantle of patriotism (brought flinch from A). Gisela Stuart was quick to remind voters that she herself is an immigrant, when it served her ends to do so, and Boris was quick to remind us of the same (her, not him) when it suited his ends, which were not always the same.

Part of what makes this whole thing so blasted difficult for the public is that it’s all just so ill-defined for so many people. The term Brexit, for example, that portmanteau I referred to above, confuses people who might be forgiven to think this involves just Great Britain, and not Northern Ireland, with the difficulties that introduces (see border, etc.). Brexit owes it’s existence as a term to predecessor Grexit, itself a mashup of Greece and Exit, but that had nothing to do with the EU, referring rather to the possibility of Greece being forced out of the Eurozone, and its Euro currency, governed by the European Central Bank. The UK is part of none of those institutions, having its own central bank (BoE) and currency (pound sterling).

Into the void of public understanding of just who is leaving what pour ready vats of misinformation, carefully (or not) fashioned by the two sides, their backers (bankers, unions, business, Russia, USA, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, etc.) and the press. There are so many articles, mentions, debunkings, exposés, exploitations, etc. of this misinformation, it can be hard for even a determined voter to get at the truth.

Boris Johnson and friends, for example, were quick to raise the very real spectre of all of southern Europe — meaning Italy & Greece, but really meaning the commonly referred to PIIGS countries of Portugal, Italy, Ireland Greece and Spain — being forced into the worst depression and recessions since the Great Wars, even though, as with Grexit, that has to do with the Eurozone, of which the UK has no part. It may be an effective scare tactic to point to youth unemployment rates as high as 50% in those countries, which is true, but that has no real relevance to the matter at hand, unless one is stoking fears of mass migration, which, Surprise!, is exactly what they’re doing.

The cause and effect of mass migration is very much at play here, as are its bedfellows, xenophobia, racism, hatred. Witness, for example, the image recently introduced by Nigel Farage‘s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP):


Those are refugees fleeing war in Syria, by the way, which by International law are protected peoples, but Farage will gleefully use them as a harbinger of huddled brown people flooding the shores of England. And mind you, he’s talking just to England here. Scotland is all too happy to welcome more.

The influx of foreigners which has many here upset are those economic migrants coming from other EU countries, those taking advantage of Freedom of Movement, a central tenet of the EU itself. One can walk into a pub anywhere in this country, so it would seem, and be waited on by a Pole, or other EU migrant. But for maximum effect, Farage focuses not on those other white-skinned people, but on our darker brothers and sisters from less savoury places (remind you of someone, Mr. Trump?).

To be fair, there is plenty execrable behaviour on the side of Remain, too. Cameron has proven himself all too willing in this campaign and others, to resort to blanket statements of untruth and conjecture masquerading as fact, to the extent one wonders just how he ever manages to actually win elections. In spite of his own best efforts, it would seem.

Well, enough of this. It is now past 03:00 and time for my time-shifted brain to go back to sleep. Tomorrow waits on the doorstep, the final day of the campaign, and then comes the vote itself.

I would be remiss, however, were I not to mention the assassination of the late Labour MP Jo Cox, of Yorkshire (yes, that Yorkshire, you Downton Abbey fans) who was shot and stabbed by a crazy man, shouting Britain First! (coincidentally the name of a nationalist, racist party) in Birstall near Leeds. She had come for a “constituent surgery” (think “town hall” meeting) to be held in a library, in her district of Batley and Spen, Yorkshire.


A passionate campaigner for human rights, refugee rights, prevention of war crimes and other humanitarian causes, Cox was also a firm believer in the European experiment, and campaigned strongly in defence of Remain. Her death shook the country in ways large and small, and lead at least one Leave supporting Labour MP to switch her vote. Macabre as it is, in response to her death the financial markets rallied, believing the public revulsion at a political assassination (the first in over 40 years) would bring people back to their senses, as it were.

We shall see, the final vote tally should be in Friday morning…

Make Europe Grate Again

On 06/01/2016, A Friend wrote:

Make America Grate Again
Trump Makes America Grate

And he’ll apparently be making Europe Grate Again, too.

As fans of the London skyline well know, the Brits are fond of naming their skyscrapers, with monikers such as The Gherkin and The Salt Cellar for two distinct smudges on the sky.

30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin)

The Shard, Southwark

Another recent entry is Leadenhall Building, otherwise known as the Cheese Grater:

Give it a fuzzy orange/pink doo, and we can call it Trump Tower Europe.

But enough of this urban history.  I am leaving in a couple of weeks for 15 days in Europe, starting 21 June in London.  This means I will be there when newly elected Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn debates his predecessor Boris Johnson on the Beeb that evening, on the topic of whether or not the United Kingdom should remain within a United Europe.

Sadiq Kahn & Boris Johnson

Sadiq Kahn & Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson, so like Donald Trump in so many ways (but who once said, “The only reason I wouldn’t go to parts of New York is the very real risk of meeting Donald Trump” after Trump claimed that New York, London & Paris had areas so unsafe even the cops wouldn’t go there) is arguing the Leave side on the so-called Brexit issue.  Sadiq Kahn, the first Muslim mayor of a major European capital, and currently riding a crest of popularity, will argue the Stay side.

One might expect that PM David Cameron be tapped to stand for Stay, but he’s not as popular, and is especially ham fisted when it comes to persuading the public on his case.

Of course such a portentous topic has politicians coming out of the woodwork.  We have Labour stalwarts Blair (the war criminal) and Brown (who’s dudgeon has rarely been higher) on the side of Stay, and just recently we heard from the only living Tory ex-PM, John Major, who delivered this retort to claims by Johnson & team that they have only the UKs best interests at heart, in this case the National Health Service, which they’ve claimed could receive £100m/week in new funding on Brexit:

“The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python,” Major said on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.

He added Johnson was a “court jester” but not a serious politician and said that the Conservatives Johnson had divided would not be loyal to him after leaving the EU.

Hmm, doesn’t that last graph sound familiar?

Meanwhile Bertie Ahern, former EU president and three-time Northern Ireland PM says get ready for some Trump-style walls:

We are not talking about freedom of movement between the Irish and the British. If the UK leave the EU we are talking about both EU citizens and non-EU nations still seeking a way into Britain. And the only land border between a post-Brexit Britain and the EU is on this island.

If you follow the logic of the likes of Boris [Johnson] on the issue of immigration I cannot see any other way they can fulfil their promise to control the numbers coming into the UK unless they set up border controls between the north and south on this island. That would be a catastrophe in terms of business and the movement of people every single day north and south on the island.

There are for example 200 unapproved rural roads linking the north and the south. Are the out camp seriously suggesting migrants won’t use these roads to get into Northern Ireland and then try to reach Britain?

So I will get to London on 21 June, the debate is that evening and the vote follows two days hence, on 23rd.  Teeth will grind and nails will be bitten, until results are announced the next day.  What else happens the next day?  Well The Donald, the only man in politics with more ridiculous hair than Boris Johnson, will swoop down on Scotland to occupy his newly reopened resort there in an attempt to further buttress his foreign policy chops.

So before I leave for Europe I need to find a good anti-Trump pin or two.  I’ve already had the experience of being there back in 2000, during that terrible time between when the people finished electing Al Gore and the Supreme Court decided otherwise, when I was constantly being asked how my countrymen could have been so stupid.

By the way, after this stint in London, it’s off to Amsterdam and then, before my return, Brussels, home of the EU government, which should be a really interesting place to be following Brexit/16, no matter which way the vote goes.

And no, despite Pawn’s British birth and citizenship, I cannot vote in this referendum, as I haven’t lived there for the requisite 6 months prior to the vote.

Courtyard Seductions

steamyglass

it starts with a touch of course it does it starts with a touch and it spreads from there

a man walks up behind a woman his woman he reaches his arms around her torso and up below her breasts and hugs her and sways side to side imparting upon her the momentum he has had building in him since he saw her from the hallway and had the urge to join with her and in their duosity move as one and sway like this and it is so

the windows are thrown wide to the outside world and there is nothing between them him and her and whatever or whomever is out there

the neighbor lady is sitting by her window crouched over her desk sewing typing computing or whatever

the hot couple are middle age all heat comes in middle age the warmth which comes earlier is but a flash in the pan compared to this this heat comes from the years of combination of those volatile reagents of proximity trust love and regard

you dont believe me right now who is he to write such things he doesnt know he gave this up and left such regard behind who does he think he is

he is sitting in an aerie across the courtyard from these stories and he is gripped by them he reads into each what he may what he must and he feels loss and he feels absence but he is not bowed by this

I am not bowed by this I am watching this couple across the courtyard they had their windows open for most of the evening but closed them about twenty minutes ago as soon as they did the windows started to steam up

josh hartnet and kate beckensdale are stinking it up on screen while the couple across the way are steaming up the windows

the man watches the woman over the stove and lifts his shirt up and dances an odd little dance they both laugh she twirls around and together they have a moment

the woman down the way is still crouching over her table is it work or play

the woman the wife the lover the object she is stirring a pot or two she is in a private place where she feels him from a distance and is in perfect sync with him he approaches and she knows she feels it and she reacts before he even enters the room

he does enter the room and is only barely visible through the now thickening haze over the windows they are so steamy they are thick with steam and thick with masked intent the windows are the best ally a voracious lover could want

he approaches her again she knows this and moves to the side just in time to miss his kiss

he reels and comes in again this time he catches her and lands a kiss which turns into a swoon turns into a dip turns into an embrace

the woman down the way has suddenly stood up and drawn the curtains she is no longer a player in this story

she is back pedaling she hadnt figured on this but she is enrapt by him and his ardor his ardor has cloaked her and buried her lust in his own

she turns nonchalant-like back to the stove and puts the final touch on the risotto the paella the casserole we dont know and it doesnt really matter she has finished her dish and she is ready to both halt his advance with the triumph of her cookery and to complete her seduction

he has no hope he has been caught and he has no chance but to succumb

the windows are a complete sheen of translucent steam now but it matters not dinner is served and the kitchen lights are dowsed all is dark now even the shadows are finally cast into shadow

Art Is… Continued

A bit of a break has ensued since last we’ve written, but now that we’re back on it, here’s a continuation of Thursday, the 20th.

Following the advice of the shopkeeper from Book Arts Books, we strolled back down to the Shoreditch high street and Merchants Tavern for a lovely and extravagant dinner and cocktails: cauliflower croquettes, seared scallops, leek and bleu cheese tart and X had encrusted fillet of cod with creamed celeriac root. Yum YUM!! It helped, ho doubt, that we were being served some well made Martinis, which are a rarity here.

Doing-the-Business

Dinner settled, it’s back to the theatre, a double bill of works by Doug Lucie. First up was a revival of Doing The Business, in which Peter (Matther Carter) a smarmy City Boy in a bright red tie and tight hip-riding blue flood pants held up by braces tries to explain to Mike (Jim Mannering) a grammer school chum newly in charge of a theatre company dependent upon Peter’s largesse, that if they would just make some changes (not compromises) to the company’s plans, there would be cash aplenty to sort their debts and deficits.

This is a taut play of speeches, mostly, with very little actual back-and-forth dialogue. Written in reaction to the draconian cuts to government arts funding in the late 1980s, this is a sermon preached to the choir. These two, while hard to imagine as schoolboys of the same cloth, have matured into archetypes of the most severe sort. Peter is smug and self privileged, father of two young girls, who are the receptacles of his only true charity. Mike is self righteous and suffering, with high-minded ideals uncompromised by the vicissitudes of real-world life.

While predictable in its story arc, the play none-the-less forces us to consider all of the issues involved with corporate grant giving and the necessary deal making that goes on alongside it. Of course we want to hate Peter and side with Mike (we wouldn’t be in the audience otherwise, would we?) but we see Mike willing to throw away his high morals when presented with the wealth he needs to achieve his (now lowered) goals. Despite the short comings of predictability and convention, this was a bracing piece of theatre. The performances were stunningly clear and utterly believable — we saw two characters on stage, but no actors — as it should be. The technical aspects of this show, as with Blind, are of workshop standards and not to be criticized one way or the other; they sufficed.

Blind, the second half of the double bill, is a newer piece, and has as its subject the interrelations between patrons and artists, and the differences between the commerce of art, the commercialization of art; between the valuation of art and the value of it; between a patron and a sponsor, a buyer and a dealer, a dealer and a market maker; between an artist responding to their muse and an artist responding to a market. This is diamond-hard naval-gazing for the truly ennobled artists among us; and a fun bit of drama for the rest of us around the periphery of that.

Alan (Cameron Harle) is a young artist put up in a studio he could never afford by his patron, Mo (Jon McKenna), an older man with an ill wife and a whole closet full of skeletons. Mo is sitting (nude) for a portrait and as Alan paints, we get the exposition to setup the story of Mo taking a liking to Alan’s work, and deciding to support him via the rental of the studio. We get a sense, too, of a bond, call it paternal, between them; Alan is an investment, true, but more of a spiritual than a monetary one, for Mo.

Maddy (Janna Fox) is an in-your-face artist-cum-anti-artist in the mould of Tracey Emin, and is making work of stark contrast to Alan’s classicist painting. Her’s is a denial of art (i.e. “turd in a teacup), more meta and conceptual, and her personality is half the story. Clashes with the press, insults slung across galleries at stodgy arts types, explosive addictions and abuse of all around her. She takes a liking to Alan, however, and introduces him to her sponsor, Paul (Daniel York) a smarmy, Charles Saatchi type, who eyes art with dollar (or pound) signs in his eyes, always thinking of how an artist can get him to the next market nexus.

As we know it must, a romance of convenience (for which side?) develops between Alan and Maddy just as commerce of convenience develops between Alan and Paul. Where does this leave Mo? A scene of conflict between he and Paul revealing the skeletons in Mo’s past (not as shocking as the playwright may have wanted) is quickly followed by a détente of convenience between Mo and Maddy, who is redeemed by her evident mastery of drawing (a conceptual artist with actual artistic skills, who knew?!?) and as the play comes to and end, we see the depths to which Alan has been drug by the devils he has chosen, Maddy elevated by her return to art’s roots, Mo on the verge of life changing events and Paul has simply vanished, much as the whims of the art world change from season to season.

It is dense and knowing, this work, and presumes both an acceptance of convention (and classical themes) and I dare say an agreement with Lucie’s interpretation of the validity of one take on the art world over another. While I enjoyed the night of theatre, I do not accept the false dichotomy presented therein. Art and commerce are inevitably intertwined whenever the artist seeks to make a living from art. This must be so, whether it is patronage or sponsorship or selling portraits in a market stall, commerce is commerce, trade is trade, custom is custom, money is money. If we monetize the creation of beauty, then we have commercialized it to one extent or another.

If an artist chooses to make art free of commerce, there is ample precedence for that — look at the vital world of what Pawn calls “Private Art”. Often classified as “naïve,” “self-taught,” “visionary,” or “folk” art, this may veer to the commercial (crafty art sold at tag sales) but is often conceived, executed and kept for the artist’s private use and enjoyment. Occasionally hoards of private art are discovered, brought to the world’s attention, and (often posthumous) celebrity rains down upon the artist. Henry Darger and Vivian Maier are prime examples of such private-made-public collections.

All in all, Doing The Business and Blind are fine theatre and represent an ambitious undertaking by Triple Jump Productions. The performances were all stellar. Jon McKenna was a breath of fresh air as Mo Dyer in Blind in that he was age appropriate, as is too rare these days from smaller companies. Daniel York brought just the right level of sneering smarmyness to the role of Paul Stone, and we hated him for it, as with Matthew Carter’s turn as Peter (the City boy).

At a remove

Lunch today, 12:45 or something like that.  Sitting at a duce and just tucking into my meal.

A young couple are seated at a four-top nearby.  She slender, Asian, angular.  He buff, scruffy, hipster-ish.  They sit and glance at their menus.

I return to my meal.

Something catches my eye, a movement or something.  I look up.

He, on my left, has his right arm outstretched.  His hand holding her lower jaw.

She, on my right, is crying, sobbing.

His hand is holding her lower jaw still, as if by doing so, this very act of agency revokes whatever guilt or role he has in whatever has induced this tremble.

Her head is rocking, oddly.  Her sobs, though dampened by his right hand’s grip on her jaw, still rack her, and constrained in one axis, her head heaves in another.  How does he feel about this?  Is he responsible?  Has he just dumped her, for example, or just what?

This goes on.  I eat a few bites, but I do not look away.  She is unaware of my gaze.  He might be, I don’t really care.  I don’t care if he knows I am watching whatever it is he is doing to her — comforting, silencing, cajoling — I am not afraid of his reaction to my involvement.  I keep watching.

A drop, a tear drop, falls from her face and I imagine I can even see the splash as it hits the table.

She, in perfect profile, is not looking at him.  She is looking up, and to her right, so her gaze escapes my own.

He, likewise in profile, is alternately staring at her, and staring at the table.

She winces.  She squints her eyes and I see the tell-tale folds in the corner of her eye.  Another drop falls.  The table seems to shake as it lands.

He looks down, drops his arm, he is disarmed.

She shrugs and says something, but I cannot hear. I don’t care to, either.  This is pantomime to me.

Just as he raises his arm to once again grasp her jaw (whatever compels this act??) the waitress approaches.  They both miraculously collect themselves and order.  She a fish fry, and shrimp bisque.  He, a sandwich with fries.

The waitress leaves.  I am willing her to offer a napkin, a tissue, something with which this young woman, Asian and angular, sad and dripping, may dab at her face.  I am willing it, but I am powerless, acting at a remove.

Well Put Mr. Ellsberg

From the Guardian today:

Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America

Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us a chance to roll back what is tantamount to an ‘executive coup’ against the US constitution.

     –Daniel Ellsberg
This from the man who brought us the Pentagon Papers all those years ago.