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Mary Harju: Montreal, Quebec: 2003


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The Posit Trilogy, the original Argotist Online pdf, on Doc Player, and embedded from Doc Player.

From Under the Knife


Inelegant

Her money, she repeats to herself, connects her
to the whole world. She still sashays into
Joan Shepp on Walnut, even if she can't
buy anything. The fabrics, the cuts of the
dresses- this is who she is.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, she
knows she's been tossed like a rogue piece
of fabric, & the hands that cut her have made
her inelegant. To handle this cloth with dishrag
hands, is to wade knee-deep into the darkness
of the suburbs, frozen like jell-o around her.


Under the Knife

A razor was placed on a table outside-
someone handed it in. From that moment
forward, everyone at this Starbucks (the
staff) were considered under the knife.
They were all young enough to be my
kids, and they all got hit before we could
make any arrests. I still get my coffee there
every day- the replacements are (as usual)
the same kids all over again. The point (for
me) is that this is a far uglier world than most
people believe it to be. The older you get, the harder it is to take.




Mary Harju: West Philadelphia: Early Aughts


Frozen Warnings (Heller-Burnham)


Black Box


When Terry trooped down that staircase
into the bowels of the Theater Building,
on the fringes of North Halls, I noticed
he (it seemed) felt nothing. For me, it was like
a plunge into empty nothingness, some
infernal realm of inversions; several
times I almost fainted. The Black Box
theater space was always crowded on
those Thursday nights, not far from
midnight, where Terry reigned as secret
Outlaw Playwrights king- officious, daring,
beneficent or malign, as the mood took him;
& as Justine Caskey traipsed past me in the line,
vulpine teeth glistening in the fluorescence-

2004-2005: Promiscuity


Summer '04 to summer '05 was the heaviest year to be on the street in Aughts Philadelphia. There was an explosive energy around everything- and my emotions oscillated, personally, between euphoria and dejection from night to night. It wasn't just the Philly Free School Highwire shows; because the Making Time DJ nights had a large national and international following, and all the DJs worked at the Last Drop, just to be in the Last Drop at that time was to be in a realm so supercharged that we might as well have been doing lines off the tables. Adam Sparkles, who shared my name and birthday, ran the place with an iron fist. If he was laconic with PFS, it is because at that time he considered us competitors.

Yet, for many of us, the euphoria of success was counter-weighed by the dejection of living a life more excessive than I (or Jeremy or Abby, especially) had planned in our comparatively "salad" early Aughts days. Abs and I picked a weird moment to consummate our relationship, but there it was. The low point of the year for me was confessing to Mary Harju, who was no dummy and knew the score. Mary and I had been separated for over a year, but still. The one Philly Free School show Mary deigned to attend at the Highwire (at which we showed her Dionysus), she brought her sister Laurie, who was as blonde and pixie-faced as Mary but sharper about making her way materially in the world. She was essentially conservative, and had a way of making us feel like heathens for being artists. Mary's "husband" that night wore a tie-dye, and was truculent. Ruth, the third sister Harju (or Hariu, as they sometimes spelled it), was more handsome than pixie-faced, brunette, and wavered somewhere between Mary and Laurie. So, oddly, my most promiscuous time passed without much real contact with Mary at all.

Unsurprisingly, Mike Land was (or appeared to be) in heaven. Everywhere we went together, including the Highwire, we were treated like celebrities, because the Free School shows were big news- even the Philadelphia City Paper was in on them. It also didn't escape my notice that for these months, we were living the way the Beatles and the Stones were supposed to have lived. If Mike Land was a surprise and a superlative running buddy at a time like this, it is because he was good with euphoric moods, but also with dejected ones- he had a precociously developed appreciation of the human condition, and an empathy with pain and human suffering, which meant that (as, again, I was surprised by) he was no fair weather friend at all. I came to the conclusion- beneath the hustle and the good looks, Mike Land was a very old soul. Jeremy was crabbed and deficient this way and not someone to lean on; Abs, maybe. In the right mood, she could be a stand-up friend. It also never ceases to amaze me that it is here, with all this tumult going on, that Abby fulfilled her destiny and painted her masterpieces.