While perambulating recently, I was stopped in my tracks by the oddest, most erudite of graffiti.
Strictly speaking, since the message was not written by hand (graph-itti) it might be called a poster or one of those bills nobody wants others to post. Whatever the actual medium, when slapped onto a garage door, the message is both mysterious and unsettling.
A citizen in the 21st Century, I turned immediately to the inter webs.
I will not deny that my first thought was that it was some sort of political code. And perhaps it is...one that might encourage deescalation. I mean, really: people are CHEERING that an 82-year-old got his head bashed in by a home intruder?
Well anyhoo, the formula I known as Euler's Identity. Which sounds like a spy story, but that name is pronounced "Oiler's". So, less international-operative let us say, and more rogue garage-mechanical.
And, she re-phrased with laser-like focus, it's commonly considered the most beautiful of mathematical equations. (I wonder if they have an annual contest with capes and crowns and airbrushed tans).
It's been likened to a Shakespearean sonnet, and my favorite starry-eyed quote about the formula is that it "is absolutely paradoxical; we cannot understand it and we don't know what it means, but we have proved it and it must be the truth."
But wait, she said plaintively, what the Euler's identity DO in the world? Short answer: math stuff that I cannot, for the life of me and the love of light, manage to keep herded up in my brain for long enough to summarize. Dang. We REALLY don't know what it means.
Ah, but wait. Plot thickens: there's Euler's Identity, Euler's Constant, Euler's Four-Square Identity (okay, check this shiznit: double the sum of 4 squared numbers and the result can be expressed as the sum of four squares whaaaaa), Euler's Number, Euler's other Number (a cavitation number in fluid dynamics), and Euler's Theory, and, Holy Bologna on a pony –– Euler's Lucky Numbers. Which are, btw, a series of prime numbers that, well, geek.
Ooh! electronic music based on it can be seen here.
And of course there's a Euler's Society.
And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street.
It's the Spring 2022 collection! Can you hear to pop-pop-popping of the cameras? Live from the Would-Be Farm, I give you...a fashion show of sorts.
They prowl the stage.
They have cheekbones to die for.
Others preen and strut.
Some amble, even.
Many –– so many! –– are ready for their close-up, Mr. deMille.
Please disregard the off dates on these game-camera photos. The tiny chip's worth of brains that power the camera occasionally lose track. Reminding me, uselessly, of the first rule of time travel: ascertain your temporal location.
Foodies have "amuse-bouche." Readers have flash fiction. Writers make up little stories about whatever comes to hand.
She wasn't Betty Boop, not exactly, though that unsettling glint in her eye suggested she warn't no Campbell Soup kid.
She'd maintained an over-the-shoulder flirtation with any old observant gaze for –– let me count this out –– more than 75 years. Didn't a glamorous little thing like her just get tired of her role? Didn't she want to shake out her hair, shrug those shoulders square, and frown from time to time?
At least she was out of the closet. Nobody likes to spend a lifetime –– a literal lifetime, if you do the depressing math –– holding on in the dark. And whether she was the vivacious creature she appeared, or if, like Jessica Rabbit, she was just painted that way, that face made it harder to shut a bifold door.
So she there she hung in the window. Peeping. A coquette such as she must peep, surely. With that coy, art-deco fan of cloth –– a peignoir draped over her shoulder, I think with matching wee mirabou mules on her off-screen baby feet.
Maybe seven decades gave a gal perspective along with a few chips and pallor. She might have burned as wooden matches, or splintered as a chair polished by generations of school-children's sit-upons. She could have backed a mirror or a dresser drawer. She might have moldered in an attic or ended in a bin.
Instead, she waited liminal, looking in. A few characterless companions for company. The time passes.
The laundromat: a hotbed of outrage.
Maybe it's a North Country thing, this expression of grievances. Every day is Festivus and they have a problem with you people.
I've resisted the impulse to post the rather frequent road-side rants –– partly because I have very little access to the web, but also because it seems so unkind to broadcast these beefs or private tragedies any farther.
The farm with the big hand-lettered sign about the "Careless Driver who Ran over our Dog..." or the beautifully manicured lawn with the sign: "Community Propane SUCKS!!!!" or, the one I can't quite read and am afraid to stop for a photo or a closer look, which starts "This is NOT a parking Lot! It's Private Property..." and ends with "Now get OFF my PROPERTY."
I visited Saratoga Springs as a 15-year-old on a 4-H trip of some stripe. I suppose it had to do with Horse Bowl or another equine-related activity. It was meant to be a treat, spending the day at this classic horse-racing center.
I don't remember how we got there, or why we were sitting in a dining room listening to some adult talk about something or another. For seemingly eternity.
But what I do remember, with vivid, visceral detail? The sensation of the tiny packet of catsup between my restless fingers. I flipped that packet between my fingers the way a magician moves a coin from knuckle to knuckle. It had a particular squeezy resistance to pressure when I flexed a fist.
And then it didn't.
A small packet of catsup, I have every recollection, can be propelled by hand to a distance of two banquet tables.
The teaspoon of tomato-based condiment can, demonstrably, touch base with at least five innocent bystanders. And for the remainder of that day in Saratoga Springs was divided into thirds: first third: horror and mortification. Second third: silent apology. Third third: suppressed hysteria.
I competed in a horse show at Skidmore College when I was in college. I don't remember anything about the horse I rode, or how I performed, but I can recall exactly the swoop and sway of the car on its way. The upperclassman driving us in his car talked to his audience of student sardines with liberal use of both hands, regardless the conditions of the road.
This time, the trip Saratoga Springs was just delightful.
A pleasant drive. The Saratoga Lake Yacht Club welcomed us with extraordinary warmness, our visit to the racetrack was unmarred by condiment incident, and we came home with the sailing equivalent of blue ribbons...
The bay was a hammered silver platter under flattened silver clouds. A cormorant rose and dove, rose and dove.
A tern sliced the sky and was gone.
Water seeks its level, but when something large moves under the surface, a bulge will flex and dimple. The displacement of mass made visible.
With a sound like the almightiest belch of all time, the bay heaved up one of her dead. Water and small fish poured from the wreck and the stink –– like a dumpster brimming with rotten calamari –– rolled in.
Tireless tides had yanked the soft furnishings away, leaving behind pink soft coral and grey silt. Nothing smooth was left unroughed.
Saltwater does not affect fiberglass the way it infiltrates mahogany or oak, but it will devour anything metal. Consequently the aluminum window frames let go. The glass windows of the wreck, clouded with growth, surrendered to the alien influence of gravity, smashing musically one by one on the deck on the way down to the newly retreated water.
Barnacles gulped and winked in the open air. Algae, fine as frog's fur over the hull, lay slick and flat. Something moved inside the dark cabin. Something swayed in the missing currents.
Where is the captain with her flat-topped white hat and a cigarette clamped between her long teeth? The party-goers, the fishing folks, the small children mesmerized by the churn of water from the propellers?
Time makes phantoms of everything that was.
Can anyone argue that humans come with music and dance already pre-loaded?
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