Friday, August 12, 2005

Round here--Part Two: signs of life

Locust Point still works. From most places in the neighborhood one can see the big blue port cranes, cargo ship superstructures rising above the rooftops, the stacks of the sugar factory. It's not a loud place, but is filled with sounds. Sounds and smells.

The smells one smells here:
  • The deep yet sharp odor of molasses from the Domino Sugars plant. This is a fun field trip--out to the factory to see what sugar boat's in town, to see where it's from. This week it's the Shinyo Challenge (27,940 dwt/mt).
  • The city-harbor smell of salt water and diesel fuel.
  • An occasional gas leak.
  • Fried bar food. Many bars here.
On a typical day and night, I hear these sounds in the neighborhood:
  • Starlings
  • State Police helicopter on its way to or from the Shock-Trauma unit
  • The brrr-be-beep of those cell phones with the walkie-talkie function--often at night, in the hands of young men in baggy denim shorts, t-shirts and backwards caps.
  • Ships' horns out in the harbor--also usually at night. Few sounds can compete with this for goosebump-inducing thrill. Sitting in bed, reading about North American forests, or Willa Cather stories, and in through the window comes the broooo, broooo, broooooooo--news from some faraway place. A friend recently asked us how it is that we have lived here for a whole year and have not jumped aboard stowaways for Cathay or the South Seas. I don't know. The holds of the ships are full of cheap TVs and cars, but late at night one drifts into romance.
  • Train sounds. A close second to the ships'. They couple and uncouple in the yards a couple of blocks away; they blow their whistles before crossing that industrial end of Andre Street; they hum in their diesel constancy.
  • Trucks. At the end of our street is an operation called Perishable Deliveries, Incorporated. Often at night we hear the trucks, a low rumble way down the block, slowly and ominously heading our way. I suppose that either these trucks are quite full of perishable deliverables, or that there is some sort of speed restriction on this residential street that causes them to drive so slowly, but the effect is sometimes actually frightening, like some enormous, dark thing is coming this way, bringing destruction and horror with it. Our cat certainly thinks this when the truck passes.
  • The Department of Public Works guys who show up on the block every couple of weeks to fix this or that. Usually one or two do the actual work, and the other three or four stand around and offer advice on how to do the work, how to live, how to love. One day it was an older guy cussing out a younger one for thinking he knew everything. "Stan' back, evrybody, cuz GOD's talkin! He knows ALL! GOD's gonna tell us the thing! Ha!" Etc..., for about a half an hour, while the younger guy fiddled with a handicapped parking sign outside our front window.
  • Domestic disputes ("F#ck you, you f#ckin drug dealer! I'm f#ckin callin the f#ckin cops, that's it. You f#ckin blew it! You tell that assh#le that the f#ckin both of you are goin' t' f#ckin jail!" Etc...); drug-induced breakdowns; kids arguing in the alley.
  • Dogs


Blogger Slimbolala said...

I really like this series. I'm getting a much better sense of your corner of the world.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Cham said...

Where is your completed profile?

8:51 PM  
Blogger Portipont said...

As with most things I do, the profile will probably never be finished. I am new to this sort of digital sharing, and a natural shyness combined with technical impatience has kept me from doing anything with the profile until now. It would be rude of me not to, and so I took the opportunity afforded me by Cham's question to add a couple of things. Others might be forthcoming, but I want no breath-holding out there.

10:26 PM  

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