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In The Cold (Excerpts)

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Sunday, September 17, 2006
The first bad sign is at the intake center on 30th Street in Manhattan. It's in the old Psychiatric wing of Bellevue Hospital. Shades of Edie Sedgwick haunt the place! Time for my screen test Mr. Warhol?

Monday, September 18, 2006
Wards Island to
Central Park by way of
Walkway from Wards Island to Manhattan

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Riverview Center, Harlem

campCamp La Guardia

Transfer to Camp LaGuardia. It's a real camp! Out in the suburbs about 90 minutes up the Hudson River Valley on an old yellow school bus. Is it a religious camp? I've been hearing a lot of Jesus talk tonight and I found out I was moved from Wards because I'm too old and the gangbangers might attack me.

Psych exam? I don’t need a psych exam. OK, I need one. Catch 22.

Suburbanization of the "problem." And what is the problem? Collectively men are a danger because they may work together creatively and it's best to isolate them.

Friday, September 22, 2006
The psycho next to me complains he can't sleep because I slam my locker door day and night and if I don't stop he's going to hurt me. As psychos go he's merely irritating - others who talk or rap to themselves are driving me psycho.

The camp has a free shuttle van to and from a shopping mall in Chester three and a half miles away. The only reason I know this is because the guard stopped me as I tried to leave the grounds. Only ten at a time can go and the only things there are a big ShopRite, a bowling alley, a Wendy's and other mall crap - typical suburban sprawl but without Wal-Mart.

Circumscribed worlds where the people look a lot alike. Hard to tell the good citizens of Chester, NY from the campers of LaGuardia. I struck out to find the rest of Chester and found yet another typical "Historic District" with its churches and artsy restaurant - McDonalds is down the highway and there is a vacant lot closer to the mall with a sign saying it's a perfect place for a chain restaurant and it is. Where the Hudson River is I can't tell but there is what looks to be a working bait shop so I guess it's nearby.

A fight outside Building A when I walked back to my Building B. Four DHS "rent-a-cops" broke it up. I should keep in mind that some of these guys have very short fuses and are being isolated here away from the rest of society as much as being rehabilitated. We are all being taught to belong but what belonging means these days is anybody's guess. Shopping at the mall and staying in very well-defined (and familiar) environments. I felt like I was at Disney World this afternoon - and I was.

Cult of the Military
The camp must have elements of the military that are familiar enough to seem natural but also enough of the jail, with the DHS "police" guards to be intimidating. It's all about order, of course, just as the shopping mall is about order and it's all tied together with TV. That's what is most intimidating about the net but also the most frightening because of the possibilities of control.

I wandered into the Veterans wing of the Main building while looking for a working phone. "Are you a Veteran?" he demanded. "Then you shouldn't be here" and led me out of the forbidden zone. There's not much difference between a vet, a parolee and a homeless person because they're often the same man. At least they are treated the same by the staff.

Recovery Luncheon with a guest inspirational speaker - balloons and a drawing to celebrate 12-step program living. I left.

Sunday, September 24, 2006
One of the "talkers" is on again. When I tune him in I see he's saying nonsense but his voice is such a drone that it's like water torture. Junkies all have that monotone raspy way of talking on and on and on. The only thing worse is Spanish because the volume is always turned up high. The talker is usually blathering about a wife/girlfriend and how she done him wrong - know what I'm sayin'?

Most nights this talker goes nonstop from 6:00 p.m. to 9 or 10. Tonight he's half hour into describing IN GREAT DETAIL buying a pair of sneakers. It's rap in slow motion.

There must be something in the psyche of certain men that requires them to keep talking and talking or they cease to exist. There's also a white Southern talker but thankfully he hasn't started yet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Bureau of Eligibility Verification. Brooklyn. Waiting for my name to be called so I can keep getting Food Stamps, which aren't really stamps and I don't really need right now.

Reading the introduction to Flusser's "Writings" I need to find a copy of his "Towards a Philosophy of Photography".

3-dimensional sculpture
2-dimensional image
1-dimensional writing
0-dimensional binary code and its representational form, the pixel

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
"... those people who want to 'help' the expelled to become ordinary again are, in fact, engaged in reeling him back into their ordinariness." Vilem Flusser, Exile and Creativity

Friday, September 29, 2006
Somebody shit in the shower stall sometime last night or this morning. That kind of animal behavior is a surprise - or maybe it was an accident. In any case it's disgusting to wake up to in the morning.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006
There is a flag above the intake door where we come in from the cheese bus to and from the city to be searched. That area is blocked off from the rest of the common area where we gather to board busses and watch TV but I can see the flag above the partition between the two areas and notice something familiar about it. It's not a real flag but a print of a flag and not just any print but a Jasper Johns flag from, probably, the Whitney. It all comes around in the end I guess.

Remember what the dorm looks like:
bed numbers wood ceiling
linen red floor
locker blue heaters lights

Thursday, October 5, 2006
The handsome guy leaves with bags packed in a taxi at the gate. Someone said he's a drag queen.

Saturday, October 7, 2006
Waiting in line at the 170th Street hub in the Bronx a fight breaks out, I see a knife so try to move as far away from the action without running. It ends peacefully, we go in but because I didn't give my card to the sign-in desk I was bumped to the second bus at 5:30 and so missed dinner when I got back.

Monday, October 9, 2006
The rule against bringing in food must have some logic based on health but mainly it's to encourage campers to buy junk food from the vending machines, which are restocked daily. Another scam I suppose. The Volunteers of America controls mainly through food.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Milk was spoiled again at breakfast but this time I didn't drink it. I felt like shit and have the runs from yesterday.

Geese are flying south.

Thursday, October 12, 2006
The irritating talker was taken away by the Sheriff last night because he stole a crate of Timberland boots from the tractor store in the Chester mall then went back for more. Everyone agrees he was and is pretty stupid.

Crackheads like to take over bathroom toilet stalls at night and watch DVDs while they smoke. That why all the stalls are occupied if you have to go in the middle of the night.

Friday, October 13, 2006
Non-integrated societies remain village societies with sometimes the worst members gaining control. McLuhan's nightmare of a global village. These village chiefs will fight for control.

The other talker - the Texan - is crazy. He was going on and on about Nazis today first in the dorm then at lunch.

Someone was kicked out last night after midnight. There was a whole group who came to get him.

Saturday, October 14, 2006
Big Boy snored all night and kept me awake. Now the new guy next to him has taken over the day shift so it looks like no sleep at all for the future. He's not quite as bad but sleep deprivation makes any snore sound like a railroad train heading straight for me. Now is when I could really use a cigarette.

A kindly crackhead gave me some advice as we were waiting for the van back from Chester Mall. He said to get into a drug program like Odyssey House or Project Renewal because they treat you better (I didn't mention that I don't do drugs) and he said once you enter Camp LaGuardia you never leave. Shades of Tommy's Holiday Camp!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Notice came from Riverview that I'm OK for Food Stamps, Medicaid and PA ($22.50 every two weeks, why bother?)

Woke up this morning about 3:00 a.m. with some guy telling me I'd lost my bed and to get up. He made a mistake but did he apologize? No, of course not. The people who work for VoA are worse than the clients.

Saturday, October 21, 2006
Shadow Walker - someone who lurks around the dorms looking for something to steal.

Sunday, October 22, 2006
Skunk in the courtyard this morning, deer in the field last night when the cheese bus pulled in. Someone said a guy who grew up in the city didn't know any better and kicked a skunk - found out the cartoons weren't lying.

Monday, October 23, 2006
Reading Pierre Lévy's Collective Intelligence on the choreography of angelic bodies and the different levels of the agent intellect. If I were to make art again it would combine the concepts of Flusser (alphabetic to numeric) and Lévy (agent intellect). I'll have to compare their concepts of aesthetics to come up with a technical image:
(Lévy p. 248)
"... the new agent intellect is defined as a machine to make thought visible, to image abstraction and complexity, creating a landscape that our angelic bodies can explore, feel and modify. The virtual world makes interconnected relations apparent, enables us to touch the most obscure notions; it illuminates images, makes them comprehensible."
(Lévy p. 111)

A camper threw up in his bed on the other side of the dorm.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I learned the toilet paper covering up the cracks in the stall is to hide the flame from the lighters used for smoking crack. Cops hide in the shower and wait until they hear the click of a lighter then bust down the stall door.

Earth ‡ microcosm ‡ cosmos
Territory ‡ micropolis ‡ state
Commodity ‡ microokos ‡ house
Lévy p. 153

Oikos = house
Nomia = administration = economy

A lot of new faces. Someone said there are over 700 here now out of a maximum of 1001 and many "night walkers" so beware!

Sunday, October 29, 2006
There's a community of Hassidic Jews nearby that hires guys from the camp off the side of the road to do grunt work for $7.00 an hour. They are, according to some of the workers, very rude and over-demanding, which led to a discussion this morning about how Hitler was driven to kill them because the Jews were taking all the money. One guy claimed the same thing was happening here. Out of small insults grows a holocaust.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006
"How does the brain erect a mind and how does the mind erect everything else?"
The Echo Maker, Richard Powers, p. 134