Solo in Gray

Sea Lions in the park. What do my words mean here? I use the word pinnepedal. Why? Oh, God.

This weekend I saw some California Sea Lions in Brooklyn; they look like dogs and swim with pinnepedinal grace, angel-feet thrusting their torpedo bodies around in endless circles in an open-air tank.

I'd been feeling tired, so I forced myself out of the apartment. For something different, I turned right, further into Brooklyn, instead of left towards Manhattan. This put me over on Atlantic, then Flatbush, and suddenly I was at Prospect Park, at Grand Army Plaza, which the Brooklyn Public Library abuts.

On the third floor of the library I sat down with the first book to leap out from the shelves, The Films of Burt Reynolds. The book, with a four-paragraph forward by a cash-desperate Orson Welles, was a bevy of Burt, bare-chested, moustachioed, hirsute, speaking into a CB radio with "The Frog", Sally Field, at his side. It was pleasing to read something that awful and unredeeming, and I followed it with Cut Away Views of Star Wars Vehicles and What is Is, What it Was: the Poster Art of the Blaxploitation Era.

I left the library in better spirits, and took another left. This time I found the sea lions, at the Prospect Park Wildlife Center, my attention grabbed by their splashing and barking. Cute women in practical park-ranger outfits threw fish from buckets, which were snapped out of the air. The sea lions patted the women on the back, fetched a red ball, and did high dives. A feeder announced over a microphone, "the sea lions are particularly vocal during mating season," and a man to my left said of her, "I bet she's vocal during mating season, too."

I went on to eye some tiny monkeys through a glass; they were Cotton-headed Mardachibs or something like that, small enough to sit on an outstretched palm. One of them looked back from its perch, its head jittering, black eyes staring out. Right as I was feeling a connection with this particular monkey, 20 five-year-olds appeared and pressed their eyes, noses, and tongues against the glass, screaming about the baby monkeys, baby monkeys, baby monkeys, baby monkeys, baby monkeys, so I moved on to the baboons, ugly animals with red-apple asses and scary maws.

One of the Sea Lion women came up to me, brown-haired, suddenly. "Hi," she said. "You seem like a strapping fellow. Could you help me with these herring buckets?"

As she led me to a back room, I couldn't help but notice her tumescent rump through her khakis, an ass that had tossed its share of herring. I noticed it especially when those khakis slid to the floor. She turned around, ripping open her blue work shirt, and said say "take me, here in the monkey annex."

Well, no, but it was nice to think about. I left, and began a long walk along the edge of the park towards the Dtrain, and my legs began to feel tired from all that walking.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0


© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

Tables of Contents