I’m home this sunny afternoon trying to prep for a class I’m teaching on International New York. I took my students last week to the Tenement Museum, where the guide mentioned the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The students hadn’t heard about it, so I thought, I’ll show them that section of the DVD of the Burns documentary…

but on second thought, I’d better not. It’s TOTALLY devastating. Between the descriptions of the thuds the bodies of the young seamstresses as they hit the stone sidewalk, and the little detail that inspectors later found eleven engagement rings among the ruins, tears were racing down my cheeks. I don’t think I could control myself if I were to show that in the classroom, and I think students might not be able to take it either, even if they missed some of the language. I’d better stick with the section on the lower east side and ask them to watch this section on their own.

To get informed about current struggles for the betterment of working conditons for garment workers, have a look at the Clean Clothes Campaign.

We’re looking for someone to cat- and apartment-sit for us while we’re in SF from Oct 13 to 19 — anyone willing? Our cats are a little weird but cute, and the apartment is spacious and lavishly decorated if, well, a bit cluttered. NB we are two blocks from Prospect Park, there are 100s of Bollywood DVDs here for the watching, and we will pay a bit to the kind sitter…

I don’t have any issue with Fence’s attempt at a booby trap, even if the suicide girls are right-wing pawns (because, I mean, aren’t we all at this point?). (That’s the ticket, Nada, nothing like a little bad faith first thing in the morning.)

What I object to are this woman’s eyebrows. And the piercings sort of look to me like little metal zits.

Encounter with an Anthroposophist

In the Jay St. subway station, a woman who looked like Meryl Streep asked me about the kanji in my tattoo.

She said she recognized some of the radicals in the character. When I told her it meant “mind, thought, or will” she mentioned something about Rudolph Steiner and eurythmics.

I asked her if she was an educator, and she said, “No, I’m an anthroposophist.”

I told her that I had studied a little butoh in Japan, and that one of its major figures (Akira Kasai) had studied eurythmics.

She replied in Japanese, saying that she had lived in Japan for thirteen months.

Only thirteen months? Her speaking was nearly as good as mine, and I was there for eleven years! I told her so.

Still in Japanese, she told me she had the ear of a monkey.

I told her yes, me too, only I always say I am a parrot. “Tensai, desu ne,” I said to her [“You’re a genius.”]

“Domo arigatou,” she answered, not Japanesely denying it…

As I was sewing this evening very hastily and badly the green velvet skirt — which turned out a kind of half-failure because the material was too hard to handle — too much damn slippage — like poetry — I was musing on my general disenchantment with poetry and wondering — well, I guess I was thinking vaguely about the story of the of the, was it Cypriot? and German? pilots who recently crashed a plane possibly because they couldn’t communicate with each other in English — and earlier I had been thinking that I could use that in my classes as a kind of Victorian morality scare-tale — and the fact that “English is the lingua franca of air traffic control” was going through my head — well anyway, I was also thinking about that old Blake quote, “How do you know but every bird that cuts the airy way, is an immense world of delight, closed by your senses five?” and how impressionable I was, ready to see every bird as an immense world of delight — and how I’m too stressed out in my adulthood to fall so readily into such moments of satori — but I was wondering… are there any really erudite, well-educated pilots who, when they are about to take off, turn to each other and say, “Well? Ready to cut the airy way?” and then start the engines…

Comments don’t always show up on this browser, but I get email notifications of them — someone wrote to ask if I knew what had happened to Nick Piombino — he’s been on vacation in Provincetown — should be back soon —