Friday, May 27, 2005

Shane was tall, taller than me at 6-2, thinning hair swept up in a rockabilly pompadour and babyish good looks slowly losing the war against fat. He would show up at the studio in white V-neck T-shirts and always smelled strongly, pleasantly of coffee. I want to say he had a bunch of Sailor Jerry tattoos, too, bright and optimistic, the Bettie Page pin-up girls, swallows, stars, and hearts reminding me of forties funny pages with their raw pulp-color brilliance and nostalgia.

I had committed to a daily morning Mysore practice at the yoga studio, a move that had jimmied open a whole new perspective on the yoga and introduced me to a whole new cast of characters: the morning shift.

My girlfriend and I were living in the Mission in San Francisco, on 27th and Guerrero, in a slant-floored firetrap. The flat's amenities included splinters from the peeling wood floor and, living in the building's common basement, an uncountable and ever-changing mass of illegals sleeping on sweat-stained mattresses. On weekends the group of small, sun-darkened men would drink cases of beer and listen to what sounded to me like Mexican polka music, the bomp-bomp of the drum and nerve-grating whine of accordion turned up as loud as it would go. I never felt in any physical danger, but the men on the street would hiss and sometimes grab at Tiffany, so I feared what the men in the basement might do, nerves galvanized by cases of beer.

The yoga studio, Ahimsa, was only a few blocks away on foot. Alice, with her fierce full-back tattoo of Kali, had turned an old storefront into a warm and inviting yoga studio tucked between a grocery and a storefront church.

Shane was gregarious, friendly, quick to laugh. He was inconstant in his practice because, as I soon found out, he was a member of the dock-worker's union. A few mornings a week he would head to the union office to put his number in the lottery for work. I imagined the job hard and exhausting, calloused men in peacoats and beanies cursing in the cold and fog, wrestling giant crates, twisting crowbars, banging, slamming, heaving, and groaning.

Months passed. My girlfriend and I moved to a better apartment in order to better unravel, and Alice eventually closed the studio to have a baby. Shane joined a long and ever-growing list of people I idly wonder about---people I knew only in passing, yet with whom I was profoundly intimate, peope I saw every day, six days a week, for months on end, all of us sweaty and half-naked, moments of poise and grace alternated with shaky struggling and ragged vulnerability. Where is Shane now? Maybe practicing yoga, maybe hauling crates on the Oakland dock, maybe lolling about the union office, waiting for his number to pop up, hair a bit thinner, face a bit fuller, bright tattoos beaming, still quick to smile, still fast with a joke, still good for a laugh.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Notes from a recent Ashtanga Yoga Journal editorial meeting:

Proposed article topics:
Pattabhi Jois: Always Right or Simply Never Wrong?
Coffee Before Intermediate: Good or Bad?
Investigative Report: Does Ashtanga Make Women Hard and Men Soft?
Fashion Report: Men's Apparel---Banana Hammocks Versus Board Shorts
Reader Poll: Shala Voted Best Place to Meet Women
Romantic Advice: Fending Off Creepy Male Ashtangis
Best Pre-tan Tips Before Hitting Southern Star
Beauty in the Shala: Makeup That Won't Run When You Sweat

Proposed cover shots for June issue:
(Note to photog: prefer sharp photo to blurry, poorly framed digi/instant)
Pattabhi Jois smiling
Pattabhi Jois grinning
Pattabhi Jois laughing
Pattabhi Jois waving
Pattabhi Jois counting a led class
Pattabhi Jois and Sharat in conference

Additional notes:
Not enough space to print entirety of Richard Freeman's asana advice column---publish separately as 300-page book?
Tell art director NOT to Photoshop hair onto Swenson's head!
Potential ad buys? Tell reps to call: Ibuprofen, Motrin, Ben Gay, Tiger Balm, Starbuck's, all imported chocolate manufacturers

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

As per the last post's myPod music list: I am an Urban Outfitter's playlist.

Which raises the question as to whether it's better to live in ignorance of "hip," or to expend extra energy moving faster and searching harder in order to live lower under the trend radar.

Lately I've been listing toward ignorance. Well, that, and never setting foot in an Urban Outfitters.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Yesterday afternoon, I applied Tiger Balm to my knee and then urinated.

There was five seconds of dawning realization before the napalm ignited.

And let me tell you something about Tiger Balm: that shit don't wash off.

The "Village Voice's" Johnny Maldoro on Lindsey Lohan
"Everyone says she's a skank, and of course I agree, but ... where was I going with this?"

Me on "60 Minutes''" and "CNN" Reporter Christianne Amanpour
Everyone says she's a skank, and of course I agree, but ... where was I going with this?

1. The new Gorrilaz---Hooks plus beats!
2. The new Fischerspooner---The eighties electro-pop boat is sent down the house river. Consistently great, consistently dirrrty.
3. The new Kaiser Chiefs---Why do I keep thinking late-era Kinks? Which isn't a bad thing, at all.

Get a Late Pass
The Rapture's "Echoes"---You've got your Robert Smith wail, your ominous Joy Division guitar, your Gang of Four jangle, your four-to-the-floor house/disco beats. It's working, it's working!

1:30 PM Sunday Practice Time?
Okay Tim, this Sandcastle Room schedule re-arranging is getting ridiculous.

Backing Out of a Vegas Bachelor Party
It's the new trend for Q3 2005---I started it last weekend.

(I did want to see the Star Trek-themed stripper. Ferengi? Klingon? Borg? Meet me in the Jeffries Tubes.)

Christ, Yet Another Yoga Student Reading Rumi
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who's there.

---from "The Sunrise Ruby"

Books on My Desk Right Now
Remember, we aren't making qualitative judgments right now.
1. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
2. Fires, Raymond Carver
3. The Garden of Iden, Kage Baker
4. Jhereg, Steven Brust
5. Isle of the Dead/Eye of Cat, Roger Zelazny
6. The Enneagram, Dimension Books
7. Finding God Through Sex, David Deida
8. Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond
9. McSweeney's Astonishing Tales, Edited by Michael Chabon

Common Asana Stories
It's all one big story, isn't it?
1. My back is too stiff.
2. My arms are too short.
3. My legs are too short.
4. Women can't do that because they're [insert adjective here].

General Yoga Practice Stories
Put a nickel in your Mysore jar any time you get one.
1. I can't get up that early.
(A popular variant: I'm not a morning person.)
2. My body isn't flexible that early in the day.
3. I can't stretch that many days in a row, I just get too sore.

How to Recognize A Story
Sentence structure will involve some form of the personal pronoun "I" and the verb "be": "I am ... ," "I was ... ," "My back is ... ," etc, etc.

Friday, May 13, 2005

As per yesterday's blog ...

I was devastated to learn last night that, since Bush's second term began, Los Angeles has changed the laws for exotic dance clubs: if a strip club serves alcohol, the dancers must wear bikinis.

Which explains why two friends and I---all yogis, no less---were at Cheetah's last night, weeping into our martinis and absolutely gutted to learn that bikinis was all we was gonna get.


What the hell is wrong with this country that two men and their lady friend can't go to an exotic dance club, sip a beverage, and be mesmerized by synthetic breasts shaking in time to heavy metal or rock-rap?

You weren't even allowed to tuck tips into waistbands! So in the custom of the Ishtar love cults of ancient Babylon, I set several propitiatory offerings of dollar bills at the feet of those ladies whose dancing called forth the divine goddess, or who did tricky and athletic pole maneuvers.



PS, and I practiced today, and it was great, so there.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The thing about this blog nonsense is that when I started, I merely fired random thoughts out into the infosphere, a place overflowing with information. I thought, "Who the hell will read more white noise anyway?"

Then I started meeting people who actually read stuff on the Internet (People actually do that? Go figure), and several of them even from the studio here in Encinitas. I noticed my internal editor ramped up a few notches, because now I'm more careful about what I put out there.

I wish to be perceived in a certain way, and as a result I don't write about certain things.

This all leads up to the fact that I've just washed down a handful of M&M-sized ibuprofen with a double-espresso before practice, and I'm sitting here thinking, "Is this something I want to write about? Is this something I want people to know about?"

Because, you know, I want to come off as some serious, dedicated, "pure" yoga practitioner.

Which is nonsense.

And on a related tangent about one's own perceptions, if I could just tell you the countless times I've had what's come to be known as "The Volvo Conversation."

I drive a 2001 Volvo V70 wagon (a T5, suckers! That's "T" for "turbo" and 5 for 5-cylinder. Shit is bad-ass).

At least five people at Cosmodemonic Shoe Co., where I work, have said, "A Volvo? I never would have pegged you for driving a Volvo---what with all the yoga you do."

What do they expect a yogi to drive?

Well, when I would tell people I was looking for a car, I got one of two responses: One, "Check out those hybrid electric cars, they'd be perfect for you," and two, "My cousin/brother/roommate is selling a VW bus."

So I practice yoga and therefore should be driving a bio-diesel or electric car. Or a VW bus from the sixties.


Tuesday, May 3, 2005

I'm back in India, in Goa, at the beach.

I've wandered out onto the sand and clambered over some large rocks. I turn to head back to shore when the tide rushes in, and I'm forced to wade through rapidly rising water, holding my iPod over my head. It mustn't get wet!

My hand wavers and it dips into the salt water.

"It's ruined!" I think. The screen reads "Water Damage."

Anxiety dream about traveling to India? Or just an anxiety dream?