Just some parking garage photos.

I park on the roofs of parking garages. Always.

I don’t really like parking garages. It’s not a phobia. I’m not afraid of them. I just don’t like them. They’re cramped and dark and they smell like exhaust fumes and there is just nothing natural or human about them at all. It’s just layers and layers and layers of concrete and cars all smashed on top of each other, and I don’t feel like I should be there. I don’t really feel like anyone should be there.

So when I have to park in a parking garage, I park on the roof. I drive upward and I keep driving upward until I can see the sky. There are always parking spots there. Nobody likes to park on the roof of the parking garage, I think because most people like to have a roof over their car for some automotive reason I can’t and don’t care to fathom.

This means I get more exercise than I usually would, because I take the stairs. And it also means I take a lot of photos from the tops of parking garages. Like these.






Lessons on social media

In today’s lesson, I am going to be showing you a neat trick to avoid being an asshole on the Internet.

Do not take this personally. Into every life a little asshole must fall. Everyone has a little asshole.

Anyway, don’t take it personally. This is meant to be helpful, not castigatory. I concede there is a fine line there.

So here’s the lesson: You don’t have to actually reply to every post.

I know; this seems obvious. But if it’s obvious, then how come so many people reply to posts like “What’s your favorite holiday song?” with “I don’t have a favorite holiday song”? Or “I don’t like holidays.” Or “I’m philosophically opposed to the concept of music,” or whatever.

Or maybe a friend is asking for advice on the best type of windows to buy for her house. You reply, “I don’t know anything about this, sorry.” Or, “I would know about this if I had a house, which I don’t.”

Some of you probably think I am being hyperbolic right now. I assure you I have seen these examples and worse. And having put some thought into it, because Lord knows there’s not much that I put more thought into than social media, I think it really comes down to people thinking they have to reply to every post. It’s something about the nature of the medium and how it feels like a one-on-one conversation between you and every friend who posts. I think for some people it just really feels almost rude not to reply to every question, even if the question clearly and obviously does not apply to them in the slightest.

So like, here’s an example of what you should not do:

Friend: What’s your favorite place to buy knee-high socks?
You: I only wear sandals, sorry.

But here is an example of what you should do:
Friend: What’s your favorite place to buy knee-high socks?

It is really just that easy.

Make a Mulberry St. joke and I will end you.

Most days I go walking at lunchtime. I tell everyone that this is for exercise and fresh air, which it sort of is, but really I just like seeing the city.

Today, for example, I saw a car nearly take out a couple of pedestrians by trying to do the “quick left” through the intersection when the light turned green, the driver having not realizing people were in the crosswalk. Then he slammed on his brakes and had to sit there blocking oncoming traffic, and he almost got taken out by an oncoming cement mixer. So that was interesting, not least of which because I was one of the pedestrians.

I saw a very realistic drawing of a penis, complete with veins, in the dust on the window of a diner. Underneath the penis it said “wash me!” and I assume that was referring to the diner window, though it could have been referring to the penis.

I saw the boom of a crane swinging wide over what I think is going to be, disappointingly, a parking garage. Disappointing because I have been walking past this construction site ever since it was just a giant hole in the ground, and I will tell you that nothing in life has quite as much unrealized potential as a giant hole in the ground. It could turn into pretty much anything. This one, unfortunately, is turning into a parking garage, but it could have been so much more.

I helped an old lady who was lost trying to find the bankruptcy court. It turned out she was only about 200 feet away from it, but she was walking the wrong direction. I saw her wandering back and forth and asked if she was lost and she said, yeah, she was trying to find the bankruptcy court and it was next to Kinko’s but there was no Kinko’s. It’s true, there isn’t a Kinko’s anymore. You can still see the purple awning of the building, but it’s a FedEx building now, not a Kinko’s. And this lady did not have a phone. I got mine out and found the address of the Southern District of Ohio Columbus branch bankruptcy court in about 10 seconds, and spent another 5 seconds mapping it and figuring out that it was 200 feet away from where we stood, and walked her over to the door. 15 seconds because I had a smartphone, and she’d been wandering for half an hour lost and that, my friends, is privilege.

I also noticed that the building at 8 E Broad St has a giant number 8 on top of the building. Like, a Sesame Street-style number 8 just perched up there, looking like it will topple over onto hapless pedestrians below in a stiff wind. “Look at this building,” it says, “it’s number f’ing 8.” 8 is the number of the building and the number of the building is 8.

And then also there was the usual motley assortment: flocks of blue-suited businessmen; paranoid dudes who think everyone can tell they are smoking weed, which is true, we totally can; suicidal Jimmy Johns bike messengers; office workers at noon, when all the buildings disgorge their occupants into the streets as though ridding themselves of an unsettled meal; and those who fit nowhere into this taxonomy, moving through the city for no other reason than because it is there and so are they.

That’s why I go walking downtown. I suppose the exercise is all right too.

Normal is a fairytale we tell to children

I posted something on Twitter the other day, some joke about how hilarious it would be if Trump and Pence both went down simultaneously on impeachment charges and we wound up with Paul Ryan as president. It just brought to mind this mental image of that Australian speed skater who won a gold medal by being the only person who didn’t fall down in the giant dogpile right before the finish line.

And then some guy replied that there would be nothing funny about a Paul Ryan presidency.

I’m not really mad at the guy, because obviously he’s right, a Ryan presidency would be shitty, because Ryan is the vapid love-child of Ayn Rand and P90X.

But can we laugh again? That’s a serious question. Are we allowed to laugh? Are we allowed to find humor in the world, even when everything is shitty? Because I am telling you that everything is shitty and has been shitty and will be shitty for a long time to come. A long time to come. The fissures opening in our polity are Mount Doom-sized, and you better not hold your breath waiting for Sam Gamgee to show up with that ring.

And yet I get this sense from a lot of people that they’re just waiting until the current crisis is over so that they can go back to the way things were before. Back to normal, you might say. I sort of remember thinking that for a while after 9/11 too, like, woo-ee, it looks like Congress is allowing a lot of crazy shit to pass right now, but we’re all living in a fever dream of grief and vengeance. Surely when it fades, everything will go back to normal, right?

Nothing ever goes back to normal. It didn’t then and it won’t now. And you can either decide that you are going to wear sackcloth and ashes and live your life in mourning for normalcy, or you can share a fucking laugh with your friends every once in a while and act like you are a human being with a life to live.

Which you are.

This is where I’m supposed to say “but of course don’t forget to call your Congressperson about important legislation.” I’m not going to say that (I sort of just did, but ignore that) because calling your congressperson is not the price you have to pay for living as a complete human being. It may be the price you have to pay for living in a society that isn’t going to shit. That I will grant you. But I think sometime real soon here we need to take off the sackcloth and remember to live our lives, because this year is not a year you are getting back once things return to normal, which they won’t. This year you get once. Last year you got once.

Make the most of it.

A bad thing happened in the US Senate

Recently in the US Senate, Republicans proposed a terrible piece of legislation that will hurt people, disproportionately poor and minorities. It was badly-written and poorly-thought-out, and it was rushed through approval without giving sufficient time for debate or amendment. When asked why they were doing this, some of them smiled and lied and said they thought it was good policy. Some were more honest and said that they are beholden to their donors, and this is what their donors want.

There was general public outrage, and an exhausted populace phoned their elected representatives over and over again, pleading with them to do right by their constituents. We cannot keep doing this, they said into the phones. Please do not make us keep doing this. We are exhausted.

But the wheels of the machine churned on, unthinking and uncaring about what, or who, was being ground beneath it on the tracks.

Uneasy Republicans mounted shaky defenses of this in their friends’ Facebook posts and in other public fora. Well, they say, what about that other time when something got passed that I didn’t like? This is the same as that.

It’s not the same as that. We all know. The senators know, the staffers know, the lobbyists know, your Facebook friends know. It’s not the same at all.

But the wheels grind on, and we will be back here again, and again, and again.

I’ve left the specifics out so that I can just reuse this the next time it happens. Maybe next week. Maybe tomorrow.

Be that person

I was walking into work today with a crowd of other people and the guy selling the homeless newspaper (I don’t know if he himself is homeless or not, but I think he probably is) started coughing. Everyone ignored it, like people do in a city. If someone’s outside your context, like if they’re not dressed for work like you are or in the same socioeconomic class you are, you are just supposed to walk past them like you don’t see them on the street. Especially if they are doing something unusual like having a coughing fit.

Anyway, this guy’s coughing fit got worse, and then he kind of sounded like he was hacking up a lung. Nobody turned around. They were all just herding towards the door of the building. Until one lady threw a glance over her shoulder to check on the guy. Maybe she was making sure he wasn’t dying, or maybe she was just looking back for her friend, or who knows. But as soon as she did that, four other people turned around to check on the guy. He stopped coughing right after that and was fine.

But I thought, you know, we really are pack animals sometimes. Nobody was going to turn around and look at that guy, even though we all heard him. Until one person broke the social logjam. Her actions made it socially acceptable for everyone else to turn around and check on the guy. She acknowledged his humanity and brought him into her context. Because she was an office worker, all the other office workers knew she was in their context, and so by proxy now the homeless guy was too. So we can check and make sure he’s not dying, because he’s de facto one of us, just for a minute.

Humans are weird like that.

The moral of the story is: Be the person who makes it okay for everyone else to treat other people like human beings.