22 August 2010

Rain Like Mercy

12 Elul 5770

"Rain like grace, rain like mercy, rain where it's like the smallest possible drops are the ones most deserving of our attention and gratitude, you know?"

Nathan was talking again.

"If that pitbull had attacked me before Shul yesterday, I'd have asked you to bensch gomel for me, Boss.  As it is, would you nevertheless do the honors?"

Not at all, buddy, not at all.

Yesterday in the dog pond in Prospect Park, an aggressive pit zeroed in on Nathan as he blithely swam after pink and yellow tennis balls with a couple of other labs.  The pit first tried to take Nathan's ear off; and then focused on the neck, going for the jugular, as it were.  Through a twist of good fortune, the pit grabbed his collar and locked in, only relenting after being choked and punched in the face by its owner.

"Heathens," Nathan said, as he finally wiggled free.  Soon he was after those balls again and we brought the pink one home, adding a new color to the collection.   "The girls will appreciate it," he said with a wink.

"So what did you in the afternoon?" he asked.  I told him about my bike ride into The High Line, that uncommonly miraculous architectural miracle above the West Side Rail Yard, a sight to behold, a real game-changer in terms of recalibrating one's perspective on life itself.

"Wow, you were really moved!  Why don't you do that to the roof at Shul--change the terms of engagement.  Lift people up!  Make them see Brooklyn and their relationship to the synagogue in a whole new light.  That's the genius of great architecture and the soaring imagination:  you can be transported to another place while keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground."

I nodded in agreement.

Nathan continued.  "Celebrating the natural life of the Hudson River vegetation; taking into account the historic uses of the space; honoring what the working class delivery men and women of an earlier generation in Manhattan saw of the city when they worked the trains; fierce attention to detail and a transparent aesthetic that melds the human and the environment and art and commerce and history and light and sound and the cosmos...that place is amazing.  Even if the Meat Packing district is like a mall with some frat bars." 

Wait, um, huh?  What?  I looked up from the Book Review.  I was reading Tom Segev's review of a new book on the Balfour Declaration and got distracted.  What do you do, Buddy--sneak out at night?

"You have no idea of my inner life," Nathan said.  "I'm not like these other exhibitionists who roam around online or in public, displaying my every whim and fancy.  *If* I sneak out, what's it to you?" he snarled.

(Do I need to check for rabies?  Did the pitbull draw blood?  Maybe I didn't check him well enough...)

I hear you, I hear you, I conceded.  I told Nathan about how yesterday, after the High Line, I rode over to Union Square.  Browsed at the Strand, bought some apples, and waited for "Get Low" to start.  While sitting there my minding my own business, a self-professed foot fetishist lay on the ground in the middle of Union Square licking the feet of a well-dressed Asian woman while two people filmed the action on their cellphones and Flip cameras.

"Robert Duvall and Bill Murray!  How was that?" asked Nathan, passing up the opportunity to declare the obvious obviously stupid.  "Wait--don't tell me.  I'd gather that some producer decided to himself that it would be super cool to see Duvall in a long beard, cranky and nutty, planning his own funeral with a horrible dark mysterious past to hide while Murray plays the jaded, sarcastic Chicago salesman of southern graves to the hungry bellies of the movie going crowd."

There were a few laughs, I told him.

"But not too much insight into life and death, eh, Boss?"

Sadly, no.  A major disappointment.

"Everything is for sale, Boss.  There's very little opportunity to really escape it.  Even the supposed hermit character played by Duvall sold his story to the community that hated him, and this is America today.  The cynical selling and buying of what we fear, of what we hate, of what disgusts us.  I mean a foot is one thing; but a foot that's slogged through Union Square on a Saturday afternoon in August--BLECH!  What did you do to cleanse yourself of that one-two punch?"

I ate the Honey Crisp apple that I bought, rode my bike over the Williamsburg Bridge at 10 pm and went for cold beer at Dumont Burger.

"Six Points Sweet Action, no doubt, Boss," said Nathan, reaching up for a high five.  "I heard those guys went to Madison.  Now, the prairie grass there is a sight to behold.  You need some Brooklyn prairie grass up on the roof at Shul.  That'll calm things down a bit.  And with a gentle rain falling like it is this morning, oh, man, you'll be living large."

I'll look into it.

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