I was reading "Falling Man", Don DeLillo's tired and drifting buffet of angsty metaphors that attempted to typify a post -9/11 New York with the various miseries an inane act of performance art can induce when those locked in their Big City rituals view the act askance and from afar. I was on the bus and this student had gotten on, an Italian who'd discovered the ass crack aesthetic of Skater Style; he was standing in front of where I sat, trying to find some joy in DeLillo's peerless yet neutral prose when I noticed this unshaven European was unwashed as well.
His back pack , jeans and skateboard stank of the aroma of several weeks of being unwashed, dirt, grease, dust , urine and spatters of dried feces made for an aroma that flew under the radar. I was about to read something about a business man viewing the performance art piece, an artist dangling from a scaffold in public space , engineered to look like he was one the 9/11 victims who chose to leap to their death rather than be burned alive.
The point, I supposed, was to replicate famous photo of the Falling Man, the jumper snapped during his fall, seconds before he slammed to the earth, to his death. The business man, with a lot on his survivor-guilt ridden plate, was about to deliver a nuanced account of how the material incidentals in his life formed a running commentary in a city that has had the spirit burned out of it. The bus door opened rather suddenly, a wind blew in along with the boarding passengers, and the Italian's sedimented body odors hit my nostrils ; my head seemed to cave in, I seemed heavier, cell phones rang and sirens blared. I closed the book, looked at my much. I opened the book and looked at my watch again.