[Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000167 EndHTML:0000014448 StartFragment:0000000590 EndFragment:0000014432, this being one of the few weak oddities of Open Office]”]
Now that the skies, after almost four weeks of suffering rain, have turned sunny again, it is time for everybody to rush outdoors and… parade their things. First in line and closest to the bones: clothes. The colorful second skin by which we may, with adequate sartorial education, deduce what category of human being we are dealing with: indie birkenstocker, bungling bobo1, Death-Metal headbanger, effete literary type, baby bombers2, evil banker, aspiring supermodel, Goth kid, what-are-we. But the clothes are not thingie enough; they are so close to the skin and the person wrapped up in it that they can become confused with it. In other words, it is often difficult not to project the clothes into the person and end up with a muddled misconception. The clothes no longer stand as signifiers, as things, they have been Borged3 by the wearer.
Thus the balmy weather of the great, street-life outdoors makes it needful for people [who want to show off their things, accumulate prestige, diminish prestige anxiety] to put on a show of more distinct things than clothing. Sometimes these can be bicycles or sports equipment but those are not the eye-catchers in the urban mishmash of a good-weather day.
Revving cars and motorbikes are, as they power up and down the same strip at a few minutes interval, marking their territory with their noxious exhausts and noise. Sometimes I half-expect the driver to get out at an insulting red light and take a piss on the pole, just to be on the safe side of territorial marking. The cars themselves are hard, fast things, carrying soft, fragile, pink cargo; this is an entertaining, silly sight to behold. One wonders if the drivers of roaring Harleys and bad-taste-colored sports cars do not understand that 80+% of pedestrians are smirking at them? Because such a realization would mean the beginning of getting it through their skulls that their mode of accumulating prestige is kaput.
And so never-to-mind, what I need to communicate here is that when the weather has finally turned the corner and the sun comes out as a blinding smile in the sky, these strange motovehicular devotees decide that instead of fueling up their soul’s sun tank, it is time to put petrol in a metal box and go driving it about to see if other people will not stand impressed. Will not be as fascinated as they are by this huge metal thing with wheels. So prestige and lines of sight and things and risibility and odd-ball logic come together under the rule of nice days.
And what type of things are motorbikes, other than the need for speed? A sleek death wish. They can dart between blundering cars and make them look silly. They are the trickster amongst motor-vehicles.
[Huehuecoyotl, Old Coyote, the Trickster, god of deception, this god is a prankster who loves to pull pranks on people and on the gods. Sometimes, he unwittingly pulls pranks on himself. The god is a shape-changer. He is able to turn himself into any shape, animal or human. ]
Today, coming back from a long hike up and down a minor mountain, my eyeballs still balled over by a day choked with greenery, I sat in the bus studying the beautiful weather and the people enjoying it. Then my attention slowly drifted to the irritation of traffic: The grand thing parade. Suddenly, out of a tributary road, exited a massive SUV towing a trailer. With a huge motor-yacht on it, the biggest thing in the street, dwarfing all surrounding cars. In the order of this madness it was the best.
There is a couple that I sometimes see around our streets of this neighborhood Hochwacht [high perch]. They usually hang out at the concrete stand next to the long-distance-bus station where Lucerne’s alcoholics come to roost and on the other side of which we duly deposit our glass garbage [beer bottles, gravy jars, etc.]. This square is really neat, everything from everywhere gets mixed up a little. At any rate, I have seen them often enough and have had time to consider them to come up with a name: I call them “The self-destructing couple”.
I cannot remember ever seeing them not argue, they seem to have struck upon an endless fount of strife that they can tap into at any time of day. In better words, the crude of conflict. If you put it through the refinery of symbolic interaction you get all the basic chemical components of a relationship, distilling at various level of dialogue and behavior. I think.
Let me describe the couple first: both of them are young, so young that you might expect them to drip from behind the ears. She has shoulder-length, hazel hair that hangs from her scalp in sticky strands of disrepair, which is to say her hair-hygiene is not exactly up to Elsève-L’Oréal-speed. The eyes are ogly, ogrish, the face long and settled into a permanent expression of defeat as though she had just seen her entire family perish and knew this is only the beginning. Her skinniness suggests cocaine or a failed ambition in modeling, most likely the former since she is not the best-looking crayon in the physical appeals box. [Not knowing her or her BF’s name is one of the reasons I had to package-bundle them and come up with a nickname, you know?] Also, she is always trailing her boyfriend. This walking after him as though she fucked up causes the impression that he split, furious and now she is trying to convince him that if he just stops to talk this over for a sec they can smooth the waves, that together they can. This is the sort of couple which, despite the unappealing members, you root for as a dyad for them to make it.
The guy is a different animal from her. Young too but convulsed in permanent emotional upheaval. Like a dog took a crap in his soul and now he can’t work it out of his system, no matter how hard he tries. He strongly gives off the vibe [apart from that of bottomed-out pariah] of unjustly stricken victim, as in “Why did you do this to me? Again?”
Facial appearance wise, each feature seems to have some slightly bulbous quality, yet the face as a whole is long and wolf-like. At least this is how I recall him but memory can be [and often is] a fiend. He wears a cheap baseball cap and is dressed as though ready for autumn, shells against wind and rain. Those worn-out, ugly sneakers of people you know have been vagrants for a while and in shoes look for resilience foremost. Always a can of cheap beer in hand, he is the one leading the way, shuttling back and forth from his spot with the alcoholics at the bus-station and the super-affordable grocery store, just across the street, where they sell the neighborhood’s cheapest liquor.
In my gut of guts I feel that he is the party of the two more interested in self-annihilation. He could watch the world burn and angrily wonder who did this to him. But their fights are mutual, high street drama in raised voices addled by alcohol. I don’t mind, not that I would have the right to anyway. Rather, I follow them glumly gripped by their inability not to spend a minute without hurting each other’s feelings. Then the other day, watching an intelligent series on DVD [yes, they exist] it seemed I was made to see a point rising from the mist of trying to understand the couple: dramatics are their emotional lifeblood. Her staple is histrionics, his injured pride. Despite their most desperate of desperate social statuses they are perhaps pretending that there are ample other romantic opportunities available but that instead, valiantly, they choose to battle for each other. They perform a play, a shrill romance for their very own benefit. “Oh look here what drama we have, what great emotional ups and downs. There must be meaning to this other than the absence of alternatives. As seen on TV.” Is this a pessimistic way for me to see “The self-destructing couple”, whose days I imagine ending in a daze of intoxication? Perhaps. And what is more pathetic, my indulgence in speculation or my reluctance to engage them in a neighborly conversation? And how old are they anyway?
However, I also hold out hope for them that this is just a bad season, season three where the early euphoria of the great, moving idea has worn off and the characters still haven’t fully found their groove yet. By season four, summer, I hope they will be, despite budgetary limitations, back to HBO-level entertainment…for their own sake.
When I came back from our [Andre, Kathrina, Simi, I] outdoor trip to the Eigenthal yesterday, I couldn’t help noticing how extremely “built” the environment suddenly seemed to me. Rain-cloudishly grey, thus dull, whereas just a few minutes earlier a verdant Green had been massaging my Retina into a tizzy. What a difference being in the city can make. Hiking along the tiny, proto-Mountain had been arduous, the sun gave us a beating, we slipped in ravines, delicately tried to flit across muddy cow meadows, strained our thighs up the mountains. At times it was really perilous, a vague murmur of injury and death whispering up from the couloirs left and right. It occurred to me that the city4 renders us soft, and this eye-opener seemed neither cliched nor hopelessly romantic but just “the way things are”.
Branches and grass and mud, all these things are relatively soft, whereas the city, mostly made from grey stone and a few metallic struts, is hard and it is we who, within it, become the soft thing par excellence.
We did it. Today, without prior preparation or knowledge, the four of us (S, K, A & i) hiked to the mountain top: Studberg. 630ms of vertical effort, not so crappy for complete mountaineering greenhorns. The ascent was not the textbook definition of danger but there were a couple of spots where a bad step here or a bad step there would have meant a totaled skeleton.
Instead, thighs trembling, knees gelling’ like a felon, we made it up, wrote a lark entry in the summit log [pretending to be US tourists who couldn’t find Mount Pilatus], had a BBQ, listened to the spectral wind in the pines [very disquieting, said Simi] and made it back down for Radler, soda and a chill foamer. Technically I drank from the bottle so foam did not enter the picture.
2Boomer is not adequate anymore. These days the public space is being carpet-bombed with little ones, I am afraid.
4 Living in the urban biotope you can at times imagine or day-dream about what the organic environment is like but it remains an abstraction.