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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

fireworks (a time capsule)


"Pop!" She shouts from the living room. "It was a bomb!"
We are in the kitchen. I do not even look. 
"It's just fireworks." I call to E, chopping some garlic.
There are always fireworks here, a series of holidays I will never grasp or remember. Fireworks for every day, just like Disney World.

An hour later, N calls me to the kitchen and points out the window. In the distance, a building is on fire. Federation Tower, the half-built jewel of modern Russia. 

Old men say it looks offensive, this cluster of steel and glass next to the river. 


Like any New Yorker who lived downtown that September morning, seeing a building on fire like this strikes a certain chord. It all tumbles back. Night becomes day. A time capsule opens and we look inside for a while, from a safe distance. Where we were, what we were doing, the drone of tv sets left on all night, the black cloud that drifted towards Brooklyn, the smell.

I have been standing looking at the flames for some time. N says nothing, but knows everything. She makes us two cups of black tea. I get E to brush her teeth. I put pyjamas on her bed to change into. We sit at the round edge of the kitchen table in the near-darkness.

Monday night, and no one is sleepy.

A helicopter thrashes the air outside the balcony windows. Dogs in the sky, patrolling the territory.


The next morning, all is quiet.
It is over, again.



Comments

liv said…
You see, she was right! "Pop, bomb!"

What a scary place to be living in. Is there anything good about Moscow??
Omgrrrl said…
So what caused it? Reports here say the cause is "not known".
Marco North said…
The official cause is a sheet of plastic coming in contact with a work light - something between negligence and an accident. Two days before the fire, Mirax the developer admitted the project was $250M in debt to the press.

Quite the coincidence.

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