Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Prove It Lost and Found

It's beginning to be autumn, here in Brooklyn. Charles and I went out on Wednesday evening to a local establishment, Sample.

It was late, I was jet-lagged, and I'd just finished recording my first event from a new series of debates that I am producing for NPR called Intelligence Squared U. S.. And as the weather was in that in between place -- not summer, not fall -- while I'd worn a jacket in, I hadn't remembered it on the way out.

I remember later, and Charles, in a very kind and chivalrous way, returns the very next night to reclaim my lost jacket. Little did he know what sort of barkeep had kept an eye on my jacket.

He walks in, goes up to the bar and describes the lost item: a light weight black jacket, zippered front, two pockets with flap covers. The barkeep, let's call her Psychotic Fashionista Barkeep, or PFB for short, tells him that while, yes, she does have a jacket answering to that very description which someone left the previous evening, that his description is not sufficent. She wants names. Make and model.

The phone rings. It's a very confused Charles who hands me over to PFB. I describe the jacket and she explains to me that my description is missing the key element: the fashion label. I tell her that I haven't a clue, that in fact, the jacket was a recent hand-me-down from my older sister. And there we remain locked in a bizarre dialogue: PFB clearly believing that she is protecting a jacket for it's rightful owner, vs. me, the rightful owner, trying to suss out if she is on the level. She tells me it is from a very exclusive label. That, in fact, there is only one boutique in Manhattan. That she had two frenchmen as customers that night and what if it belongs to one of them? "Did they call and tell you that they'd lost a jacket with the exact physical characteristics of the jacket you found?" I ask. "Well, no." She admits. "Why don't I come down and see if it's mine," I offer. "No. You have to know the label. If you see the jacket, you'll just want it, it's just so nice." Thanks for the complement to MY JACKET. True, it is nice.

In my imagination, I follow her home from work. She unlocks the deadbolt and throws the door open. The door swings into an enormous stack of hundreds of lost umbrellas. She drops her keys down on the table, next to the display rack of sunglasses she's aquired from all those forgettful happy hour customers who arrived at her bar in full sun. She goes to her desk and sits down at the computer, checking her ebay store to see if any of her used designer jackets have sold.

The following evening I went over to Sample myself and picked up the jacket. My sister Jenny had furnished the label: Facconable. France. Yes, she'd furnished the label along with her remarks about regret at giving fine boutique clothing to a sister who clearly 'didn't know from T.J. Maxx.' PFB greeted me -- and I was reunited with my jacket (which, by the way, had my public radio conference schwag pen in the pocket). "I'm so glad it's yours. I wanted you to have it." "Right." I think. She sure didn't act like it. And poor Charles for having tried to do something kind and gentlemanly for me, only to be met with her suspicions and unnecessary protections! "Well, my sister will never give me another hand-me-down...because of the whole label thing." "I just didn't want to give it to the wrong person." PFB explained. Ok, plausible. Fucked up, but plausible.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

We Won!

Hooray! The Third Coast Audio Festival Awards have been announced. Can I just give a HUGE kudos to Marina Cole for making this story happen? She's the best reporter and private eye that I know. Too bad that's not her day job. Rock on, Marina. This award is for you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This Broad, Abroad.

I’m profoundly lucky. The nice Saudi’s over at Citibank decided to let me charge up some plane tickets to join my mom in Gozo, Malta. Where in the huh?, you ask. Southeast of Sicily and just north of Tunisia, these little limestone rocks pop out of the Mediterranean. There are 3 main islands: Malta, Comino, and Gozo. Carved out of the rocks are churches and armories, bridges and houses, drawn from a bland palette of sand, beige, taupe, buff, camel... a soothing mosaic of uniformity separates the cerulean sky and the azure sea.

I’ve come to dive while my mom takes swim lessons from Steven Shaw. The fish life is pretty limited, the coral seems to be a mere memory covered in algae, yet the limestone makes these incredible structures – caves and archways and tunnels – and with the light pouring through these structures, it is stunningly beautiful. And I do see some pretty amazing things: cuttlefish, octopus, sea horses, huge amberjacks hunting.

Walking around the island, one is stuck by a funny paradox. The population on Gozo is tiny. And yet, every three blocks, there is an enormous church.

The history is one of invasions and oppression...which turns out to be the perfect fertilizer mix for growing religiosity. Saint Paul, on his way to trial in Rome was shipwrecked here. And the story goes he performed miracles and was bitten by a snake and yet did not fall ill. Then he went to Rome for his beheading. What follows next are about a thousand years of being taken as slaves and ruled in turns by Arabs, Normans, Castilians, and finally Turks. But then, these guys show up, clad in steel, boot the Turks off the island and take over. They were knights. An order of medieval crusaders called the Sovereign and Military Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, to be specific. And here’s the weird part: they never left. To this day, the Knights are around. What’s more, they are a nation unto themselves. They mint their own currency. They have diplomatic relations with over 70 nations. I’ve no idea how you’d spot them, I suppose they’ve updated to gortex armor by now.

Care to see a few photos?.

Friday, September 22, 2006

That can of paint.

"My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams."
That's the refrain from The Big Orange Splot, written and illustrated by Daniel Manus Pinkwater.

I was raised by this mantra. And, if you accept a very loose definition of "house" I'd say it still holds true. Today, my house is my community, my relationships, my apartment, my career, my way of being in the world. I've never been one striving to look like all the other houses on the block.

Here we are at this, my inaugural post on my initial blog, and I am wondering, why the hell did I pick the name 'Big Orange Splot'? I guess I've recently been struck by how that chance occurance...that bucket of paint dropping on your head...might just be the perfect opportunity to express your true dreams.

If that makes no sense to you, then go out and get yourself a copy of the damn book. Or come over to my place and we'll stay up all night drinking lemonade under my baobob tree and talking about your dreams.