“Maniacal Grace” — Conversations over Stolen Food, Pt. 4 of 4

We (Jon Cotner, Andy Fitch) recorded forty-five-minute conversations for thirty straight days around New York City. Half these talks took place at a Union Square health-food store which, for legal reasons, we call “W.F.” Other locations included MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera House, Central Park, Prospect Park, and a Tribeca parking garage. This piece comes from a W.F. conversation.

8:30 p.m. Sunday, January 8
Union Square W.F.

J: When I walked back to my apartment today, a car, a a dri—as I walked back to my apartment today one driver made eye-contact with me, through her windshield, and allowed just enough time so I could cross an intersection before she passed through it. If I had hesitated (for example to tie my shoe) I’m sure we would have collided. She’d counted on the continuity of my my movement. I took part in mathematics of the most complex kind.

A: I do especially love that you…that in New York to hesitate means to cause others problems.

J: Yeah, since continuity remains the norm.

A: Now now do you think continuity can include fits of tension or violence, flare-ups, frustration? I for example, the other day, and I’ve been meaning to ask if—I gave a mom the finger…

J: But not…

A: in a station wagon: a mother and daughter. I didn’t see the girl until too late. The mom kept trying to turn though clearly I had a Walk sign. She honked um at the presence of my body.

J: This happened in Tribeca?

A: Outside MoMA.

J: Ok.

A: So I flipped them off. Now could you…afterwards I, instead of feeling guilty, felt attuned to the momentary slip that…

J: Well…

A: But I don’t know how she’d felt about it.

J: at first she might have felt insulted, but when she recalls the moment, if she does, I’m sure she considers your response appropriate. I remember crossing Broadway (around the mid-80s) as as a girl learning to drive turned an enormous SUV, nearly killing me, and we made eye-contact through the windshield, and so I started whacking off. I mean in an…I didn’t pull my—I I didn’t pull out my genitals; I’d simply, how should…

A: You gestured.

J: I gestured yeah, lewdly.

A: Though was this driver…

J: She seemed shocked.

A: accompanied? Did a driving coach accompany…

J: Yes, she and her mother stared with wide-open eyes.

A: Did they turn towards each other?

J: They looked much too frightened.

A: [Voices] glancing at my mom if, when swears came up in movies. Go…

J: Then after making my lewd gesture I crouched.

A: Did your hips rock as well?

J: I got totally into it. I swayed my hips. Pedestrians behind me started laughing. They too almost had been crushed. A large SUV can take out groups…

A: Sure. The driv…

J: without difficulty.

A: the driver wasn’t wearing sunglasses, was she? That would infuriate…

J: She wasn’t wearing sunglasses. Nor was the mom. I saw their large eyes fixate on on my gesture. I then stopped gesturing, pointed and began to laugh loudly, and then I passed through the intersection and spanked my rear then pointed back at them—one final time, and kept walking. This all took four to five seconds.

A: Of fluid motion?

J: Precisely. But I hadn’t left my apartment thinking Ah, the moment I encounter reckless drivers here’s what I’ll do. It came about naturally, and felt harmonious and continuous. I thank I thank the city for such episodes of maniacal grace. TC mark

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“Maniacal Grace” — Conversations over Stolen Food, Pt. 4 of 4 is cataloged in , , , , , , , , , ,
  • dave

    sad this is part four and the show is

    i enjoyed this series

  • a polar bear

    glad this is over
    these guys transcribe conversation so badly
    i still think that comment from #1 stands, whatever it was
    'if it's not an exact transcription, what's the point'

  • Caren

    This is so funny. I'm sad this is over. I'm not sure what “A Polar Bear” means. So long as this is interesting who cares if it's verbatim?

    • a polar bear

      it's not 'a conversation' if it's not verbatim, it's 'dialogue'

  • k.g.

    wow i was almost hit by a car today and i wish i'd acted similarly!

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