samedi 31 janvier 2009

Walden III

Needless to say my affection for the parking lot grew during the summer. True one was more aware of certain odors emanating from the trash but on the upside the buzz of life, both human and animal, made it exciting. During my experiment I would pick lost coupons either on the asphalt or in the caddies. This provided me with an extra income that was satisfactory and I judged politically correct. But in July I could actually make money on the coupons!
On the lst I found:
$1 off on dandruff shampoo
50 cents of on 3 razors
$1 off with the purchase of diet coke
$1 with the purchase of 6 bottles of milk
$1 off on a new strawberry banana grapefruit juice
$ 1 off on 6 family sized chicken dogs
50 cents off on a bag of pretzels
$1 off on extra-strength dishwasher soap
50 cents off on concentrated instant soup
50 cents off on a 12 pack of sugarless chewing gum
50 cents off on antibacterial toothpaste
and $2 off with the purchase of 6lbs of chuck steak

for a total of $10.50

On July 5th, my findings weren't so great but my heart was lifted by a $l.75 coupon for the purchase of an acrylic cover. Just the night before my blanket burnt up during the 4th of July fireworks show and its replacement was critical.
On the 7th I ran into Carl Field, the owner of a big, red SUV.
He needed a quarter for his caddy and since I always had a pocket full I was glad to help him out. I accompanied him to the store (I had needed a bottle of mouthwash) and we had a long talk about self-sufficiency and recycling. When I poked at Carl for having a big car he questioned how he could possibly put 14 grocery bags into a compact sedan? "Even my kids are bugging me bout CFO's, NFO's and FFO's or whatever but I got a big family and it's my job to bring the chow home." I tried to mention planting carrots in his garden but by then he picked up his pace and raced his caddy onwards.

Walden III

Spring time finally came about but the month of April was extremely wet. It rained and rained on end and a phenomenon of relentless puddles produced caddy-pushing behavioral modifications that were quite astounding. Though most would go around the puddles some would ignore or take joy in going through them. The depth of the puddles was always at issue. One I named the "Great Puddle" appeared bottomless and it lasted from November to May due to a clogged storm drain.

In April when I measured it it spanned 31.2 yards by 24.6. At it's greatest depth, and this I measured with accuracy thanks to a GPS locater, was only 2.9 inches; not very deep but deep enough to overwhelm the sole of a Timberland Goodyear stitched boot. The following year the "Great Puddle" did freeze on January l6th, 2008. Children loved sliding over in every direction while the elderly struggled for balance. On the day of a power out -I had recorded 7 over the 2 year period- I witnessed the general manager come out with a team of helpers. This surprised me as I had rarely seen them leave the complex.

Yet there they were cutting out cubes of ice, steam puffing out of their noses, some piling them into caddies and hauling them away, most likely to the frozen meat section which was in a state of deep thaw.

mercredi 28 janvier 2009

Walden III

Winter was hard on the caddies and that's when they got most worn and rusty. Out of precaution I filled a caddy with covers to be sheltered from the chill and the winds from the Great Lakes.
The carts seems to move up and down the lot with much less speed compared to the fall, as if they had taken on extra weight and shoppers had more difficulty pushing them.
I especially felt sorry for the guys who were out there late in the day grouping all the caddies together into long train-like accordions and having to push them with all their might. One such caddy pusher was Vincent. He often whistled as he went about his work and he would tell me he preferred working outside, far from the speakers blaring out discounted merchandise every 5 minutes. Out on the lot, despite a strained back, Vincent found peace.

Walden III

I spent 2 years, 2 months and 2 days at a Walmart shopping center in Illinois. The experiment started on November 22nd 2007 and ended January 24th 2009. There are several experiences that I had which, in time, I would like to relate. To begin, I would like to speak about my perception of shopping carts through the 4 seasons.
Autumn 2007
In the late fall, when I started, the early dew hung on the shopping carts until the sun sleepily snuck out of the horizon. Often customers were caught by surprise by the wet handles and once, on a foggy morning I saw two shoppers collide with their caddies. Fortunately they were empty and nothing was lost. I thought it was special but it turned out that one of the unexpected things from living on a parking lot was all the entertainment from caddies with broken wheels which made shoppers struggle to guide them straight! Collisions happened often I developed a system to rate them but I had promised, that over the 2 years that I would never intervene. And so on a daily basis I witnessed crash after crash, sometimes people would crash their caddies into their own cars.

dimanche 18 janvier 2009

Inaugurations, birds and planes

It is said that a sincere, straightforward look of a maiden can generate so much turbulence
that if crossed in a pilot's cabin at 30,000 feet
she can bring the whole plane down.

And this, all at a time when the first Afro-American President is about to take office following in the steps of Lincoln!
Meanwhile, a bird in Washington D.C. -down for the inauguration
waits patiently in the icy weather for it's mate to arrive from New York
She waits, she waits but all she gathers is a feint wiff of

burnt bird coming from a northeasterly direction. It's present hunger on this cold, January day, despite the crowd and abundance of goodies, is drained. Nearby, a group of Chicago youths get off a bus and proceed to double dutch on the White House lawn.
The on looking bird flutters wings
preys for spirits aloft
And the Captain of the fallen plane, now home in a dry place, takes his washing machine for another spin to get Hudson river blotches out of his uniform.
The cycle is broken
Lincoln is smiling at Obama
and the country is smiling at him.

mardi 13 janvier 2009

The pipeline and the desert rat

While the well heated country of Ukraine repulsed the bitter Siberian cold
and street festivals abounded and people chuged down cool pavlovskis defying the frost

Gasprom's gas was somehow being abutted, the transit of the precious matter no longer reached the delta of Europe's customers causing
Shoppers in Marseille, unbeware and unsuspecting of such a non-delivery to be struck with bewilderment, flabbergasted by "snow flakes provencale"

Which got some to hit the streets taking air with skis or snowboards,
making a spectacle of the spectacle
landing not on olives but real white fluff!

Until international relations tensed; diplomats were called to find a solution to this hotly disputed pipeline. Finally a study panel revealed that a Ukranian desert rat was being
from his way to visit a well known Indian actress making her first appearance for a hand-sewn Ukranian clothing company. The result which

cut off the all important valve feeding precious gas to all of Europe.

Now the problem resolved, it is hoped that the Ukranian desert rat can escort the sexy Bipasha to her new hotel suite in Saint Petersburg, just a stones throw from the Hermitage
And future frozen scenarios can be avoided.

mercredi 7 janvier 2009

King Louis and Koons at Versaille

Bubble pop, pop! Bubble
This 3 century schism between royalty and balloons;
If Louis the Sun Ra King could have inflated or blown
t'would have been the pink, latex envy of his court
And in his regal, gold gilted day, when Louis the XIV arose from slumber
the first rays brushing against his blond eyelids
He would behold the manicured gardens of the jardin du roi
frog-filled fountains spurting white froth under blue sky
The helium balloons bouncing and swirling from their anchors

In the inner chamber
humming in concert over the brio of Mozart
vacuum cleaners in the Palais de Glace

Anne d'Autriche swerving a Hoover
might have irked the peasant proletariat
but under the legs of her jeweled cabinet
dust would be a stranger

Today the millions of visitors at Versaille flashing digital images
some bubble blowing others skip hopping a few gawking
at the chateau-scape dotted by reflecting latex like stainless steel sculptures
May go home to their democratic jungle of civility
Scratch a lottery card and put the zapping finger 'en marche'.

lundi 5 janvier 2009


It was a simple dream yet vivid so
(true I had been inspired by a 48 hour tryst whereby at center was a ladder; it being the necessity, the focus of the world for without it a mezzanine bed could not exist)
To work I went carrying my ladder
and down I descended into an unfinished subway
with cracks in the bedrock
and rails galore
the lighting was poor yet my mood was gay
As I descended to my habitual stop

I noticed with surprise if not perplexity
A group of Japanese uranium detectors
Shouting: "uranium! uranium!"

Aloha! How did it happen while descending in this commuters tube
that my ladder got stuck in the turnstile?

Utopia Elysee

Not all is dire in this fresh and foreboding 2009!
Though some have lost their jobs and others have been asked to freeze their production
And some are fed up with where low cost has gone,
A newcomer is on the way on the Champs Elysée!
Emmaus or the French version of the Salvation Army is opening on prime location
A 2000 sq. meter shop (plus jamais que dans le banlieu!)
An unprofessional but warm staff will unwelcome any snooty demeanor
At a bargain SUV adornments may be found
Though shoppers will be enveloped by quality washing machines and vacuum cleaners
Used puzzles and even Gucci shoes
It's time to get trotting
Emmaus is opening it's doors!