Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mill Avenue Nights – Saturday October 25, 2008

It starts on Friday.

On the feathers of a bird—or more like an Airbus A320—I returned to the Phoenix genus loci with a wing and a prayer. Doped up on numerous painkillers to handle my myriad pains from the flight I rested a while with Omnicynic and waited for the day to unfurl around us. The sights and smells of my old home city kept me company while rubber muttered sweet nothings to asphalt and Omni laid out the events of the summer that I had missed.

There are no deep secrets to Phoenix. She’s a creature of geometries of glass and steel, blacktop and desert; just barely a juvenile as it comes to cities, leaning, gawky and tall in her teenager rawboned, all elbows and knees—clumsy on her feet, flirting with everyone and never quite going home. That’s her skyline, filled with jagged blue and hopeful horizons; clothed in the forgetting perfume of mesquite, dust, and the halitosis of exhaust fumes.

In spite of myself I feel almost as if I’m home, but everywhere is my home.

If home is where your heart is then your real home is in your chest!” Captain Hammer.

Omni and I hit the Ave briefly to see the various sights and possible people, but there wasn’t much to it so early in the day. Just the trickling remnants of the crowd filtering from ASU classes and preparing for the nightlife after their day’s work. But, it is the Ave, and I enjoy all of her states—even her quiet slumber.

Saturday rolled around to deliver unto me my first experience of Mill for the winter.

Drum Circle

Like a ragged army we still descent around the dusty feet of our bronze lord, the statue of Mitchell that cuts a flat figure over the drum circle and her inhabitants. I saw a few familiar faces scattered in the crowd, but few that I speak to on a regular basis. It may take me some time to find the usuals teeming up between the newcomers, like sentimental ghosts visiting their old haunts.

After exile (the exodus that happens at midnight from the drum circle’s proper spot to out in front of the post office) I discovered a few people to speak with who remember me from the old days of Rocky Horror Picture Show. I smiled in amazement as an old timer regaled me with his memories of how the Ave’s drum circle Saturday

Cindy and Corky

She is an extremely lovely elderly lady with a proud carriage and narrow-eyed comportment. For the most part I liked her hat and her conversation—which I quickly learned she was a mathematician who works at ASU. Reminds me with some interest of my friend Rapunzel’s mother to whom I ascribe mathematical genius as well. I think I like the fact that we have such an erudite woman keeping up on the Ave.

Kazz tells me that she and her partner, Corky, are regulars with the preacher’s now. I will have to find a way to split some extra time away to accompany them in conversation and interviews sometime.

Talking to Cindy led me into some thoughts about how I could use Vex’s voice at Mill Avenue Vexations to provide some constructive observations to the growth and changes that are happening on the Ave. We have too many people in the city and the merchants guilds going in obviously bad directions. For the most part it’s easy to tell that they’re vastly ignorant of how the street works on a demographic and social level; but as much as I want to blame them, if I don’t offer the tools of understanding I doubt they will harvest them themselves.

See the first segment of Mill Avenue the Beautiful here.

Corky appears to be a writer and ad editor. I am not sure what he’s written yet, but he wears a bearded and bespectacled professor-face and also looks like an excellent element to the culture of the Ave.

The Preachers

With the advent of the ASU Secular Society stepping up their immune response to the preachers on Mill Avenue, so has increased the presence of the preachers. I haven’t studied fully their changes in tactics but here’s a run down of my observations.

There were at least twenty-five people in total making up the full group of the Way of the Master crew. This doesn’t count children under the age of 13, of whom I believe there were at least three—I did have a brief chance to meet one of them, but we didn’t really speak. Being on too many opiates makes me a bad conversation partner.

They have broken themselves into independent groups across three different corners. The more traditional spot in front of Urban Outfitter is still defended as proper, but they also put a microphone and speaker immediately across the street (manned by Al) and they’re also persistent in front of Borders now (where the larger crowd of them gathered.)

The ASU Secular Society appear to have fielded about eight people between Kazz, Sam, Jordan, Brian, Rocco, and several others. They have brought with them further signs, petitions, handouts, and even their own speaker on a tripod from which rebuttals are spoken directly to the emanations of the preachers on their own microphone. Static bursts of sharp cadence to break up the rhythm of the preachers as they try to get going, only to have their rails kicked out from under them.

In front of Urban Outfitters I listened briefly to a woman trying to do the Good Person Test (a dishonest bait-and-switch heartstrings used-car-salesman pitch to religion) but it didn’t last and eventually she dissolved into arguing with the rampant drunks who decided to surround and confront her speech. Drunk people are certainly a hazard of the Ave, but I definitely do not wish them on anyone. She finished up her spiel with some commentary on the Titanic, but nothing that I really caught onto. Shortly after I came to listen they packed up and moved elsewhere.

To Borders.

At Borders the time had reached about 10pm—it was only at about 9pm that I’d arrived on the Ave, having come down late—and they spoke for less than ten minutes and said nothing of much import or affect. A soon as the ASU Secular Society had their speaker and microphone set up it seemed like the preachers were once again breaking down to leave.

I did have a chance to see some of the preachers that I knew as well while I took my notes. Edwin I stopped and cheered on about his usual way, wishing him luck—he doesn’t believe in luck, only the Lord, I’d forgotten his wit.

However, Saturday was interesting for those that I didn’t see: neither Richard, nor David, nor Jeremiah seemed present. Their absence did spur me into inquiring as to their health, and perhaps I shall see them the upcoming weekend. Hallowse’en is going to certainly bring out as many people who want to speak about it as shall come.

In spite of being a wholly commercialized holiday people still like to hearken back to its pagan origins and paint it with all of its strange plumage however misunderstood. It should be fun with my hopeful words and smile telling people that it’s my people’s holiday and we’d like it back.

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