Schiele and Klimt

Gustav Klimt - Adele Bloch-Bauer's Portrait

Egon Schiele - The Family


Tuesday morning, running late, traffic in a standstill, sweltering hot in the jeepney. Outside, a foreigner is figuring out how he could take a photo of the Ninoy Monument in Ayala Triangle. He noticed how a man from our jeep alighted in the middle of traffic and suddenly leapt his way past the fences, like a parkour artist. So the foreigner, wearing a comfortable shirt, knee-length shorts, comfortable shoes and a tattooed calf, did the same. He leapt rather awkwardly past the fences, walking hesitantly, looking around for the police--unsure if what he did was considered a crime. With his point-and-shoot in his hands he paused for a moment to read the plaque. The pause was polite, as if he were to bow before the monument out of reverence. Later on, as the jeepney sped past Paseo de Roxas, one could only surmise that he was successful in taking the photo and skittered away.

Reader #13 to #17

11/31/2013 Reading Caleb Carr's The Alienist, loose bun, his face a bit pockmarked, with one of those comfortable gray shirts we wear on Saturday mornings, and cargo shorts, darker than gray. He was glued to the book. His bag actually reminds me of Sir Christian, the kind of fabric which fades well, the print kind of pinstriped, the one which you tie a knot to become a shoulder bag. I think it looks effortlessly wise and fashionable, in a sense. From North Avenue he read intently, as passengers filled the trains for the long weekend, or the bus stations for the provinces. He was using a makeshift bookmark, and by turns checking his cellphone, anxious about the trip, or the book he's reading. On his left wrist was the thick Sanrio bands used to tie the hair. His right hand is doing finger exercises, the kind which we do to crack the knuckles and let loose our joints, synovial fluids, whatnot. At Shaw he kept his book and stared at eye-level: pants, Otto paper bag, Converse all star sling bags, sometimes unusual crotches, uniforms, belt buckles, G-Shock wrist watches, fake Chanel bags, cellphones and fingers tapping them, and unwanted faces staring at other people's messages. His face had a goatee which might rule him out as someone who has a rock band since thirteen and who incidentally reads Caleb Carr. Tattoos on his left shoulder (a thin band just below the hems of his shirt) and his left hamstring.

10/2/2013 The other woman on our row was reading something. I couldn't see it through the dark, until she sort of closed the book: "The Proposition," the print reads in fancy curlicued script. She is using the reading light I used to have, the kind which you can clip on a thick ream of page and let it stand alone, the one I bought at Strand's, fueled by those little batteries the size of medicinal tablets.

Then it rained; the woman closed the book, folded the reading light. At least four people are on their smartphones: Youtubeing a talk show; watching her daughter walk on colored rubber tiles; watching stretched-resolution videos of gymnasts doing cartwheels and inhuman backflips; playing a racing game, complete with imitations of the odometer and dashboard.

10/2/2013 The man sitting in front of me is reading a pocket Bible. Romans 11. Bookmark header says I <3 AUS. Volvo logo on a shirt, and on his black backpack. Reading glasses, rectangular, tugging his shirt collar. In his late 50s. Thinning black hair. Newly shaved mustache. Brown shoes. Earphones plugged in his ears. Eyebrows raising once in a while. Very solitary face--rarely gets mad.

9/26/2013 One character is Salander. He's tall, about my height, earphones plugged in both ears, his back at me. He is reading a thick book with a Salander character. This is the only thing I know. He's wearing a black short-sleeved polo, burgundy/purple pants and Asics shoes, dirty white. Sling bag, black. He tilts his head with his book. His hair is in a tight knot. He stood straight from Ayala station, without any interruption, just reading intently.

8/29/2013 I havent came across anyone reading an interesting book--or if they are, I was lousy to write about it. Recently, I've changed jobs (a long story) with a 10AM schedule and have seen interesting ones from the slew of train commuters.

Last night was this woman in her late forties wearing a more formal version of a daster, reading a David Baldacci. When the train reqched Taft I decided to sit next to her, only to realize that the coach I'm in is for the women/elderly/disabled/pregnant, and that the entire coach is looking at me, wondering at my age or my malady. so I left as quickly as I can, trying to snoop at the title but ended up remembering what's written in her eco-bag instead, somethig like Save the Planet, Plant Trees, in concentric circles.

The other guy was just this morning: a guy reading Paper Towns by John Green. I found myself guessing for the last name since my view could only manage to read the first name and the title from afar. Is it Steinbeck? Updike? Whoever John it is (or Joan Didion's husband). The guy was around my age, spiky hair, wearing slacks, black shoes and a long-sleeved polo shirt which has a stiff white collar, the rest a patchwork of pinstripe, chambray, etc. he has reading glasses on and looks like a fast reader--or yes, John Green isn't that hard to read on a commute (if you want a corcus of a ride, try Thomas Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49). The guy went down at Gil Puyat, clutching only his book, while I wondered if he was a law student (wihout a bag?) or some Human Resource person


Isaac Cordal


Bristlecone, CA

Rene Magritte - Golconde

Just because

I always live with this feeling: What if I'm tricked? What if I'm believing to this just because it is beautiful? 
- Andrei Linde


Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine. 
- Isaac Asimov


His shirt was sort of burnt yellow (or sunflower, maize, or goldenrod) with a serifed print large enough for everyone to notice. "Self-parody," it said. He was installing, with other men of the same built, a tarpaulin: Birit Idol ng Fortune Market, an Inter-Baranggay Singing Contest 2013. He wears a black cap and jeans. I want to have his shirt.

American Beauty

These kinds of movies never fail to put me in a state of yearning. It's what made me quit watching any kind of movies. The human impulse to identify oneself, and that overwhelming perception of lack make us human: we know we're flawed, and we're leading disastrous lives, and these kinds of movies make us aware of what our lives could be, if we only let the chips fall differently. They are alternate worlds which unlike novels (but not short stories, and not especially by Frederick Barthelme) can overwhelm you in an hour of watching. One cannot help but identify, overanalyze, and conclude things. What if I smoke again? What if I found a scholarship in Dresden? What if I had a rare disease which gives me five years, max? What if I sold everything I own for a hair transplant? (Fat chance. I'd rather be groovy with a wig.)

As always, my appetite yearned for a midnight snack like grilled cheese sandwich. I typed this while soaking my feet in warm water and baking soda, hoped that I won't stink in the office.

Sandwiches and haiku

As with a haiku, the strictures for a sandwich are few and straightforward (bread, filling, condiment), the possibilities endless. 
- Hannah Goldfield

Rain, and other things

Work is endless. Rain starts to pour. My back aches. It's March. My birthday has just passed.

In my deathbed, I will remember Los Banos as a place where rain is nothing but a daily disturbance. The place treats it as a necessity, like breathing.

This morning, it rained hard for the first time this year. The streets weren't warm enough to smell of dank soil, or wet earth.

My first day in Los Banos as a student, it was raining. The campus tour guides tell us to always bring umbrellas. The day after that, I didn't buy any umbrellas.

Then, college life: the sound of rain spraying lightly on the tight drum-skin of an umbrella; calves sprayed with mud; reams of handouts with edges wet and soggy; heads facing downward, feet trudging slowly, heavily, wary of the slippery streets; smoke billowing out of mufflers, mixing with thin rain.

It's about dining under the shed of a carinderia, sipping some warm soup; or the sound of feet shuffling on makeshift rugs, cartons from milk packages.

Or feeling on your wrist the heavier drops of rain coming from the trees--look at them, drops hitting your forehead, your eyes. Or huddle in warmer spots like laundry stalls, convenience stores, computer shops.

Or feet getting colder from air-conditioning, in a large class lecture hall.

It's about the bare bathrooms I lived in during college, about staring at the last fabrics of tissue peeling away from the roll. Or the dorms I've lived in: mattresses on the floor, TV tuned in to Family Guy. Or a roommate playing the guitar on a rainy day, when cockroaches are coming out of cracks near a stack of blue books, manuals, exercises.

Or the rush of water from PVC pipes.

Or outside, a cat running for shelter.