exercise: N 3.5.3: pear man

3.5.3
His body is a pear, dripping with juices. Fruit flies cricle him day and night regardless of the season. He’s in a wheelchair most of the time, walking his feet forward so he doesn’t have to touch the wheels. When he arrives at a place without accessibility he locks his wheelchair up with a bike lock. The fruit flies follow him. They nest in his hair, his knotty beard, the pockets of his safari vest. Generations have called this pear-man home, generations innumerable back through the swirling haze of fruit fly history.


Logan Bright

exercise: N 3.2 – describe the mirror

exercise: N 3.2 – describe the mirror

I have a new scar on my forehead, above my right eye. It’s hook-shaped, like the discarded claw of a cat found with a bare foot in a shag rug. It’s still reddish-rose, such is its freshness. I got it from the corner of a wooden dresser. I stood up into it, sprung to my feet with my wrestled prize – a radio I was trying desperately, for some minutes, to unplug and untangle from an adjacent bookshelf – and cracked my skull on the wood’s corner. I bled, a good bit. Chose no stitches but I did stay home from work that day.

There’s a flesh wound on my left nostril, along the delicate rim, that I got from shaving recently. The shadow’s crawling back onto my chin and upper lip as the nostril wound goes rare-steak burgundy. it’s just an angled line fragment, cut it being careless, was frustrated with hacking away at the rest of my face that day. My beard had grown long but flimsy, practically diaphanous, and I’d been shaving a while already, a single-blade safety razor, all clean and clinical in its stainless silver form. Trouble is my weak technique – a few spots of scab along the throat will testify to this.

My cheeks are gaunt and pitted, thanks to veganism on one hand and a history of shit complexion on the other. Rough go with acne as a kid leaves me red and oily. The thinness I’m okay with, except the sharp planes of the face make the white-hot highlights – overblown, too hot, they’d say, the monitor zebra-striping like Samurai Jack back in time – all the more obvious.

I have a small brown bump behind my right earlobe, it’s like a mole or freckle I guess. Softish to the touch and unassuming. I’ve been asked what it is and I don’t know. I’ve never asked someone else what it is, that I know of. Maybe some doctor in the annals has run tests, or maybe that’s to come.


Logan Bright

exercise: N 2.5

N exercise 2.5 – workplace people using tools

The dough guy comes in before me every morning to shape balls from a huge wad of pink-grey dough. He slaps each around in his hands and then dumps it onto an old-fashioned scale with a spring in its neck. He must be a pro because he nails the weight every time, scooping the mashed ball up without modification, adding it to its tray of fellows. This all happens in the back, near the dish pit. Later, the front-kitchen dough guy will roll out a stack of trays, each filled with a flattened ball of dough, and he’ll use a tool from a hardware store, some kind of metal scraper with a plastic/rubber handle, and with one decisive motion chop the dough ball from its place and scoop it onto the marble working surface, where he’ll use his hands to smooth it out into a working pizza crust. Depending on the day, the same guy, or perhaps someone else working alongside, will use a metal scoop to spoon a hit of tomato sauce into the centre, using the convexity of the tool to smooth the sauce out, spreading it around to within whatever regulation distance is from the edge of the dough. The exec doesn’t like toppings or sauce or cheese to get onto the crust.
Once the toppings have been hand-spread onto the pie it’s time for the oven, and yet another chef uses a long tool that looks like it came from a public pool – it isn’t the worn-smooth all-wood construction of the commercials but an elegant and machined piece of metal, a long tube of metal, with an intricate pad at the top, smaller than a pizza, with almost a filligree pattern within the pad. The tube-pad chef then uses his tool to slide the pie in beside the flaming wood, and it sits there for a hundred seconds or so until he slips the tube-pad back underneath the pie and rotates it, the pizza spins and whorls on one edge, to even out the blackening that the crust is undergoing. If this isn’t done then one side of the pizza will be markedly blacker than the next, and sometimes customers will complain. The technique looks simple enough but is rather difficult to master.
From there the pizza is dropped onto the top plate of a stack that’s been waiting adjacent to the oven since the service began, and as such the plates themselves are remarkably hot – especially the quarter or so that has been touching the outside of the oven. Many a burn has been sustained on the forearm and fingertips when carrying a few of these pizzas, hot off the presses. Some clever servers put a linen down on the forearm where the second pizza rests, to minimize the burning. This causes worries about friction in those who are newer to the game, but the pros know what they’re doing.
Alongside the pizzas go the chili oils, narrow bottles with drizzle-nozzles, each bottle filled with an incandescent orange-red oil, olive oil infused with paprika and cayenne and whatever else. The chili oil lives in the prep fridge on the main floor in a giant vat, from which it is difficult to refill the tiny containers. Sometimes it’s poured directly, resulting in a mess; sometimes a Pyrex measuring cup is used to dip directly into the vat, resulting in a mess. The stuff is a gorgeous, vibrant colour, and it gets everywhere.
The heavy ceramic plates and empty chili oil bottles get dumped into a bus bin at the front or right into the dish pit at the back, and either way, they’re rinsed by a potent hose, and loaded into a square plastic rack of a dull flesh colour. When each rack is loaded it rolls on into a dishwashing machine with one lever, all it needs, and the dishes are usually sparkling inside of a minute. Nothing to it but to stack them where they go, polish where needed, and send back the dirty ones. Front kitchen chefs grab a stack of pizza plates, stand them beside the oven, and the cycle begins anew.


Logan Bright

exercise: N 2.4

N exercise 2.4 – three places

The streets are narrow and don’t wind according to a regular grid – rather, they wind according to ancient feet, feet long gone, of men and women and work animals, their belongings trailing behind. Now the streets are gritty with dust and cracked pavement, broken ditches where sidewalks might be in another town, on the other side of the world. Squat buildings stretch to reach the sky, while plots of land are filled only with rubble, broken concrete, rebar. A policeman in a reflective vest stands on a raised concrete slab in the centre of a whirling intersection, directing traffic with flailing arms and a whistle. His white helmet glares in the bright sunlight, his whistling barely audible above the roar of the autos rushing past. Trees heavy with foliage dot the streetscape, thick green leaves with a waxy coating dropping from dusty branches. Bats live in these trees, hanging throughout the day, descending in swarms as twilight fades.
Many people have set up market stalls along the streetside, weighing with rickety iron scales bags of peanuts and oranges. The occasional butcher’s stall, replete with bloody limbs dotted with flies, sends up a viscous scent of decay that clashes in combat with the compounded stink of a thousand combustion engines. Some people wear improvised masks of coloured fabric, but most just breathe the air as-is, acclimated to the smells such that they’re no longer apparent even in the early morning light.
A beggar sits at the midpoint of an arcing concrete bridge, his left leg missing above the knee, a festering wound peeking from below his ripped-up pant leg. Deep red muscle fibres, limp and lifeless. He’s wrapped a soiled bandage, a length of off-white cloth, around the wound, stained with all hues of rust-brown splotches. His bent and knuckly hand is held feebly aloft, and he searches passers-by with his foggy gaze. Few stop to offer him a coin or two – no one offers any help.

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The Hogtown Vegan on Bloor has a picture of a pig on its front glass window, a fat round pig that looks like it came from a wood etching somewhere in the late middle ages – the joke being that no pig is actually served in this restaurant. The walls inside are a bright turquoise and at eye-level is a series of old records, from Paul Simon’s solo work to Warren Zevon. Just the covers, not the records themselves, though it’s possible their actually in the sleeves up there too. Along the western wall is a short banquette, which could seat a half-dozen people or so. The floor is linoleum, and each table has a stainless-steel serviette dispenser stocked with one-ply. Each table has a place setting of a one-ply serviette along with fork and butter knife. No butter served here either.
There’s a sign saying to wait for someone to seat you, as a guest – the sign is in permanent marker on white cardstock, stuck into a metal frame. Beyond the sign the records on the wall continue, and there are several four-top tables, each with the same sort of serviette dispenser and basic place settings. At the bar on the western side beyond the banquette is a water station, with pre-filled reusable water bottles and stacks of tiny plastic cups. Each item is from Ikea. The bar itself has a few bottles behind it on a glass shelf, basic rail-type stuff, as well as a small walk-in closet, and a computer for ringing up tabs. Through the hallway past the four-tops is an alcove of guest restrooms, as well as a regular suburb-type white refrigerator, and a stereo blasting out a hit from Led Zeppelin. The music filters through the restaurant but seems to be mostly for the benefit of the kitchen staff than the guests, given the band’s hard rock, and Robert Plant’s treblic moans, can scarcely be heard at the front.

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The many twisting roads you must take to get there are rutted, roughened, cut anew each season by 4x4s with heavy, grooved tires. You’re bounced and jostled in the 4×4 like a rider seeking thrills at an amusement park, except there is no safety cage to protect your vulnerable insides. You must brace yourself, for the trails and roads are inanimate, inert, care not for man’s machines.
The space the roads arrive at is gargantuan, a valley swallowing all vanishing points – the very horizon itself. One waist-high fence of dried lumber is all that bars you from a terrible fall, an endless fall into the dim depths of the jungle below, but beyond the fence, beyond the chasm, is a waterfall, or rather, a place where a waterfall often is. In the dry season it’s just a great void, a cascading streak of darkness off a cliff of inestimable height, plunging into a soft, flowing river below. The river is low in the dry season, barely more than a trickle heading east, but you can imagine it at its grandest, flush with eager water, nourishing the thirsty greenery this valley sustains. In the height of summer, though, the green takes on a golden tone, a the hue of the sun caught within the leaves. Green clings to each sheer cliff face, climbing up and down, the whole valley a field of vibrant green, except for the scar where the waterfall used to be – will be again. Its power mollified in summer, but indisputable.


Logan Bright