Daily Archives: January 12, 2007

Another Year in Guantanamo

I notice that another year has passed, and still not a single prisoner at Guantanamo has been afforded an actual trial. Since last year, however, we have seen the Military Commissions Act of 2006, that singularly fucked up bit of Orwellian nightmare.

David Lynch used to have this comic strip, The Angriest Dog in the World, introduced thus:

The dog who is so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis.

Guantanamo and the MCA make me think of that dog.

What I mean by that is that thinking about this administration and its attendant lies and horrors makes me so angry that I can sometimes barely function, much less write coherently about them.

But then now somehow I’m also thinking about the dog itself, perpetually chained, day and night, the same in every panel. For those of you unfamiliar with the work, it’s an example of a constrained art. Each edition of the comic is the same four panels, the first three the dog chained and growling in the daytime, the fourth the same dog & chain & growling, only at night. The only thing that changes is a word balloon or two, indicating something being said by someone in the house, the house of the yard where the dog is perpetually chained.

And so we have the dog now as metaphor. Perpetually chained.

The Sounds of the City

I had noticed it yesterday, as I was nearing and then riding the street escalator at the Judiciary Square station.

Every Metro station has three levels, and the conveyance from the street to the middle level is denoted by the word street, as in street elevator or street escalator. The level of the trains themselves, and therefore the conveyances thereto, is called platform, as in platform elevator or platform escalator. That middle level is called the mezzanine. I wouldn’t have a fucking clue as to what a mezzanine was without knowing it from the Metro. I think maybe theaters, like on Broadway, have mezzanine levels, as opposed to orchestra or balcony.

And these elevators and escalators are usually not like single units. Of course there’s an up escalator and a down escalator, and many (most?) stations have a third escalator that switches from up to down in the morning or evening depending on where the foot traffic is flowing. And a lot of stations have more than one entrance/exit, e.g., Dupont Circle’s 19th Street side and the Q Street side. So in a lot of cases there’s more than one street escalator and there’s always more than one street escalator.

Well, except for Forest Glen station, which is so deep underground that they’ve only got elevators, six of them, going from the street to the mezzanine. I assume there are emergency stairs somewhere, but I’ve never seen them, and there’s for sure no escalator. And so anyway, I’m talking about the street escalator, the down escalator, on the Fourth Street side of the Judiciary Square station.

I had noticed yesterday that it was making a lot of noise. Some major groaning, it was doing. It was almost alarming. But it seemed like the groaning was more towards the top, whereas at the bottom it was really more sort of bleating. Kinda like the bleating of a saxaphone. And that was pretty cool to realize, that the escalator was playing jazz saxaphone.

Arriving at the station with Dawn this morning, I asked her, “Hear that?”

We were standing under a tree with a noisy little house sparrow singing away, so she asked, “The bird or that awful music?”

Exactly! I explained to her about the jazz saxaphone. Sadly, she was much less excited about it than I was.

But then also when I got to work today, I grabbed my big travel mug to go make a cup of coffee. We’ve got one of those individual serving coffee makers, one that uses coffee pods. As I was walking into the kitchen, I could hear that someone was making a cup already. And I really enjoy imitating the sound the coffee maker makes, kind of a low groaning grinding noise. So there was Nancy making coffee as I was walking in going “Aruuuurrrrrrr.”

But she asked me, “Are you imitating the coffee machine, or are you chanting om?”

She’s right! The cofee maker kinda sounds like that!

So that’s life today for me, where the escalator plays jazz saxaphone and the coffee maker chants om.