Today I discovered something wondrous about Portuguese sanitation. The trash cans scattered around Cascais are not trash cans at all. They’re doorways to underground chambers that hold landfills of trash under the cobblestone streets. Today I saw dumpsters collecting the refuse by picking up large sections of the pavement with their dumpsters, raising the deep tombs of trash, and emptying them into trucks. So the trash bins are like toilets that only indicate a larger disposal system underground. Why is this so fascinating? Because if your purpose is burying a city’s worth of rubbish, why stop ten feet underground? Why not just keep going with the trash? Why not dig holes deep into the center of the earth and just let stuff decompose there?
I can’t help imagining how freaked out I would be if I visited a trash can with several bags worth of waste and the trash can never filled up no matter what I put inside and suddenly I realized I had discovered a portal to China. Then I’d stick my head inside, like “What?” and suddenly I’d be a pole vaulter in the Beijing Olympics and my parents would be so proud even though I smelled like garbage.
It’s not exactly the blogging Olympics over here, but things happen occasionally.
I just discovered that the 10,000 Maniacs song “Because the Night” is actually a Patti Smith song. Thank you, VH1 Classics.
I felt pity for our neighborhood derelict who huffs paint in the sun all day wearing a black hooded parka. I almost gave him some food from my grocery bag when I walked by him today for the umpteenth time but I wasn’t feeling generous enough to give him ALL my deli ham and I doubted that he’d want just a handful of wet meat from the pack, so I skipped the charity and went home to make myself a sandwich.
Crossing the town hall square, I think I inadvertently stepped into the photos of at least five Japanese tourists. They must have just climbed off a luxury tour bus en masse. Made me wonder how many photo albums in Japan have featured my angelic visage over the years. Which made me remember my friend Yoshi in England in 1991 and how his mom fed me chocolate-dipped strawberries when I went over to his house for tea. I told you stuff has been happening here.
I lost my wireless connection for two days. Then I discovered the “Wireless On/Off” switch on the side of my borrowed laptop.
Met an Irish man last night who wants to study with Deepak Chopra and psycho-analyze people in bars for a living. This, of course, is right up my alley.
Ran out of novels last week so I’ve been borrowing mass market paperbacks from the English pub’s library. Yesterday I read The Exorcist and today I started The Once and Future King about the young King Arthur. Which would be great except that Disney already told me the whole story.
The girls of Billabong are surfing this weekend in nearby Guincho. I told my older brother and he said “Glad to know the sexualized surfing lifestyle advertising juggernaut that has so successfully sold clothes, sunglasses, and apathy to everyone at Virginia Beach under 25 is now rolling internationally.” We’re just psyched to see hot American babes. It’s so hard being the only one in town. They expect me to wear jean shorts and to order cheeseburgers and to know all the words to Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and to be familiar with all the characters in the Dukes of Hazzard. Oh, and to be hot.
You can do it, but try not to be provocative. For instance, cultivate a leathery chest area. Chain-smoke while you tan. Place a dirty towel over your face. Cough a lot. While you lie on your back, pretend you are an asexual, sand-colored rug. If you feel the need to move, put your top back on. Movement draws attention. Pretend that topless sunbathing is normal in your country. Apply sunblock beforehand. Don’t get drunk. Don’t engage the sunglass or watermelon salesmen. You have a strict business arrangement with your sunbaked chest. Don’t overdo it. Thirty minutes is plenty. Close up shop, buy an ice cream cone, don’t make eye contact. Avoid lounging in the same spot two days in a row. You’re so European.
Here are a few posts I’ve done recently for the Virginia Quarterly Review blog:
1. Can I Get That Matisse in an Extra-Large
2. Where the Women Carry Fish on Their Heads
And I’m not being biased when I say that the Virginia Quarterly Review has the best blog in the world.
The Canonical List of Weird Band Names serves as a study both in teenage psychology and in vulgarity. “Study in Vulgarity” actually makes a good band name. STD N Vulgairity playing at the Atlantico tonight with Meatloaf and the B-52s!
“You Know You’re in Europe When”
The English pub that serves as my Portuguese office plays a steady stream of homegrown techno and dance music. The last song referenced both the Peace Corps and the “bourgeoisie.”
1. They’re bisexual, especially in captivity.
2. They’ve enjoyed a short history of radical human advocacy.
3. They would prefer it if you didn’t touch them there.
4. But if you do touch them there, at least make flan afterwards.