jason christoper hartley

October 27, 2009

City Swing Sets

Filed under: Short Stories — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 2:45 am

After a long, cold, miserably rainy Army weekend spent mostly at a rifle range in New Jersey, I go to bed late Sunday night and sleep well into Monday afternoon. When I wake I feel renewed and well rested. Everything is wonderful and anything is possible and what the fuck am I doing with my life. Wearing body armor all day is murder on your back. It felt good to have spent several hours supine. I hop on the computer and get an IM from Paul Hoffman asking me if maybe I’d like to see a movie and grab some food. I haven’t seen Paul in the longest and I don’t have shit going on, so I agree to meet him at his office near Union Square. Paul is the editorial chairman of the website bigthink.com. He’s also the former editor of Encyclopedia Britannica and author one of my favorite books, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers. He’s this unassuming brainiac. He’s about six-foot-four and wears faded t-shirts and jeans like it’s his uniform. I walk to his office, he shows me where all the magic happens, and we leave. He hasn’t seen Inglourious Basterds yet, so the plan is to hit the 6:35 screening at the Union Square theater. I drag him over to Park Bar because it’s early and it’s not yet packed with the afterwork suitdrones and other midtown chum. We sit at an absurdly unstable high table and my stool is more like a rocking horse than a seat. Three rounds of Amstels and Malbecs later with no fucking buybacks which is bullshit, it’s well after the start time of the film, so we say Oh well and makes plans to eat. We agree on Chat ‘n’ Chew, which is close and both of us haven’t been there in a while. I get a text from my friend Theresa Ortolani. She’s a photographer. She did my headshot. Her text reads, “KGB MF!” Fuck. I tell Paul, “I have to leave right now. I have this friend who has a PhD in English from Oxford named Ernie Hilbert who recently published a collection of poetry. He’s doing a reading tonight at KGB Bar and I completely forgot that it was tonight. Anyway, you should come!” He agrees. We split, grab a cab, get to KGB, and head upstairs. Ernie is already reading. The bar is packed and quiet as a church. Theresa has two open seats and two bottles of Stella waiting for us. Nice. We sit and listen to him read a dozen or so poems. One is called “In-School Suspension.” In it a kid staples a piece of paper to his own head. Another is called “Panthera,” but it is not about Pantera. Ernie jokes about the Panthera-Pantera thing because he’s a huge metal fan. My favorite line is of the night is, “In suburban sandboxes and city swing sets.” Ernie finishes and is signing copies of his book. I sidle into an open chair at the table where he is sitting and I shake his hand. We exchange platitudes about how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other. He introduces me to the man next to him telling him I’m a marine and a machine gunner. I correct him by saying that I’m a soldier, but whatever. The man introduces himself to me as Dave King. I tell him, “I know who you are, Dave King. I acknowledged you in my book.” He’s the author of the book The Ha-Ha and read my blog while I was in Iraq and he was instrumental in helping me find a literary agent. This is my first time meeting him in real life. We chat briefly. A woman at the lectern is clearing her throat, about to read some of her work. Paul, Theresa, and I exit before she begins. The three of us cab it to a Ukranian place called Veselka where Theresa had agreed to meet a photographer friend for dinner. Paul tells me that when his mother immigrated, this was the first place she went because it had food familiar to her. Theresa’s friend shows up. He has long, braided pigtails and is sporting a mustache-soulpatch facial hair combo. There should be a name for this configuration. He has an accent. His name is Stephan and he’s Swiss. During dinner I mention how excellent of a website Look At This Fucking Hipster is not realizing until I’m already talking about it that I’m sort of an asshole. Theresa and Stephan are going to a party and invite me to come along. Paul peaces out because he’s a grown up. We take a cab to the party which is at a club way over on the west side. There’s a velvet rope and dudes in black suits at the front door, which is something I normally stay far from, but Theresa and Stephan were invited and Theresa knows the girl with the clipboard, so we get in without effort even though apparently 3000 people RSVP’d and the capacity is 300. Inside is swank and there’s not much of a crowd yet. There’s a hostess girl who is easily six foot two. She dances playfully and it’s utterly graceless. The party is to celebrate the opening of the Tokion Magazine website and is sponsored by a gin maker. We beeline to the bar and order some gin drinks. I joke with Theresa that I most certainly will not know anyone at the party, then I see a guy I know who also happens to be a photographer. I try to avoid eye contact. He sees me, we greet, he starts taking to Theresa, I escape. Once Theresa regroups with me I inform her that the guy is a fucking toolbag who used to be what both of us once were: the studio manager at George Brown Studio, my current residence. I tell her that on more than one occasion, people walked in on him masturbating. Yeah, gross. We take a seat on a bench and commence with people watching. Now that I’m sitting and looking around I realize what a scene the place is. There’s a guy with a camera running around snapping photos of all the beautiful people. The guy who owns the magazine is here and I’m introduced to him by either Theresa or Stephan. I think his name is Don. Theresa tells me he also owns the magazines Surface and Inked. He has a Buddha belly and is wearing a sweater and does not look the way I’d imagine an owner of hip magazines to look. Which I like. Because the asshole I’m sitting next to has eyeliner on and is wearing a single fingerless glove on his left hand. It dawns on me that this is probably an event that people in the fashion industry, or whatever industry this is, would kill people to be at, judging from the amount of peacocking and huckstering I’m witnessing. Tokion was the second magazine to ever publish anything I wrote, so I have in my heart a warm place for them, but who or what exactly I’m not sure where to find in this room. Theresa isn’t really feeling it either and Stephan has been in search and destroy mode since we got here, so we finish our drinks and prepare our exodus. Theresa tries to find Stephan to tell him goodbye, but fails. Outside there is a massive throng of well-dressed, well-scrubbed young and fanciful Manhattanites crowding around the velvet rope. They look like the sheer face of a glacier, pieces occasionally breaking off and slipping into the ocean of open sidewalk before disappearing behind the doors. The palace guard in the black suit warns me, “All exits are final.”

5 Responses to “City Swing Sets”

  1. Frank Says:

    Great story

  2. Peter Shorts Says:

    This just in: At 2:24 pm EST DLST Jason Hartley called Star Wars Gay!

    I bet if the Rebels were interested in Galatic Health Coverage and redistribution of the Land on Endor Hartley would love Star Wars, but no! He thinks its gay!

    Lets look at the reasons why Jason could possibly think it is Gay.

    1. Star Wars is about Individual Liberty – think about it the Force centers around an individual and how he handles it. For good or for bad the Force and its use is determined by the individual. Some have it others don’t.

    – What Jason wants to do is re-distribute the force evenly – so everyone has just a little bit. And then he wants to regulate the use of the Force.

    2. Star Wars main hero is a redneck farmer from East asshole Middle Galaxy. Sure it is a bit cliche, I mean Luke even has a quick incestual trist with his sister. But think about it – all those faggy city folks owe their freedom now to some moisture farmer from friggin Tatoine!

    - Jason would rather have some intellectual from the Imperial City fight the Empire through the Galatic Court system – then tax the shit out of the moisture farmer’s land to pay for the new Republic!

    3. Technology lost out to determination, religion and a band of fucking monkeys. That’s right – a small group of Monekys and some determined Minutemen along with devotees of the Jedi Religion destroyed the God Damn Death Star. The most technologically advanced gizmo in the world. Science was proven wrong by Religion, Guns and fucking Ewoks.

    - Jason thinks that the Jedi Religion is wrong because none of their philosophies can be proven. The Ewoks are health threats and should be tagged and spayed. And the Rebel Alliance are a bunch of right wing gun nuts.

    5. Princess Leah chooses Han Solo to bang. He is a typical right wing anti-government Lunatic who hates to pay commerce taxes – thus he became a smuggler. His best friend is a dog and he hates the Black leader of the Empire. Think about it – he is a modern day Bo Gritz. And who does the beautiful Aristocrat Princess decide to bang – thats right – The Gun Nut Government Hating Han Solo. Not some Professor from the fucking Galatic University – not some queer John Mayer poet or even the Brad Pitt of Naboo. Nope she wants to bang the Galatic Version of John Wayne.

    - Jason thinks that the Goverment should impose a law limiting births and Leah should limit herself to one baby sired by an IQ appropriate member of the Trade Federation. Even Lando would have been a better choice for Leah – for diversity reasons.

    No Jason Star Wars is not Gay – it is about a group of Gun Loving Liberty Seeking Galatic Conservatives who want low taxes – smaller government and the right to practice theri Jedi Religion. Sounds like the type of place I want to live in – AMERICA MOTHA FUCKA!

  3. Josh Fox Says:

    Awesome.

  4. Peter Shorts Says:

    Jason’s Black Shirt.

    As many of you know I am Jason Hartley’s Stalker. My obsession with Jason began when I saw his photo for “Just Another Soldier.”

    Jason wore a black t-shirt in that photo. It was cool for 2006. He looked like a WASPY Greenwich Village beat poet.

    Well it is 2009 almost 2010 and Jason still rocks the black T-shirt. Even Zack Ephron changed his haircut. I think it is time for the black T-Shirt to go. It’s embarassing to stalk someone with worn out fashion. If Jason were a Seattle Grunge Rocker from 1991 I wouldn’t mind. But he is an author, a play writer and part time celebrity spokesman.

    I think Jason should start looking into retro 1970’s baseball T-Shirts. Old School brown and Yellow Sand Diego Padres would be great. For you Homos he could sport the 1970s Houston Astros Gay Pride Rainbow Ts.

    The other night i was looking into his apartment with a high powered scope… I mean binos and I saw him wearing a 1994 Woodstock Peace Patrol T-shirt. (Yes that’s right Jason was a Security Guard for the 25th Anniversery of Woodstock)

    Jason went on a date with a girl to Momo Fuku on East 11th street and he was wearing his Black T-Shirt. He even posed for her like his book jacket! She was hot – not hot enough for Jason – but she was acceptable. Anyway, she left him without giving up any squirley-O! I think the T-Shirt turned her off – at least thats what I read in her gmail account I hacked… I mean ran across.

    Jason should shop at Fred Spiegels in LA. Thats my opinion an das his official stalker it would help me out if you guys would get him started on an acceptable level of fashion.

    Well I am off – Jason is heading out to Washington State and I have to be there to spy on him at the airport.

  5. Bruce Says:

    This just in: At 2:24 pm EST DLST Jason Hartley called Star Wars Gay!

    I bet if the Rebels were interested in Galatic Health Coverage and redistribution of the Land on Endor Hartley would love Star Wars, but no! He thinks its gay!

    Lets look at the reasons why Jason could possibly think it is Gay.

    1. Star Wars is about Individual Liberty – think about it the Force centers around an individual and how he handles it. For good or for bad the Force and its use is determined by the individual. Some have it others don’t.

    – What Jason wants to do is re-distribute the force evenly – so everyone has just a little bit. And then he wants to regulate the use of the Force.

    2. Star Wars main hero is a redneck farmer from East asshole Middle Galaxy. Sure it is a bit cliche, I mean Luke even has a quick incestual trist with his sister. But think about it – all those faggy city folks owe their freedom now to some moisture farmer from friggin Tatoine!

    - Jason would rather have some intellectual from the Imperial City fight the Empire through the Galatic Court system – then tax the shit out of the moisture farmer’s land to pay for the new Republic!

    3. Technology lost out to determination, religion and a band of fucking monkeys. That’s right – a small group of Monekys and some determined Minutemen along with devotees of the Jedi Religion destroyed the God Damn Death Star. The most technologically advanced gizmo in the world. Science was proven wrong by Religion, Guns and fucking Ewoks.

    - Jason thinks that the Jedi Religion is wrong because none of their philosophies can be proven. The Ewoks are health threats and should be tagged and spayed. And the Rebel Alliance are a bunch of right wing gun nuts.

    5. Princess Leah chooses Han Solo to bang. He is a typical right wing anti-government Lunatic who hates to pay commerce taxes – thus he became a smuggler. His best friend is a dog and he hates the Black leader of the Empire. Think about it – he is a modern day Bo Gritz. And who does the beautiful Aristocrat Princess decide to bang – thats right – The Gun Nut Government Hating Han Solo. Not some Professor from the fucking Galatic University – not some queer John Mayer poet or even the Brad Pitt of Naboo. Nope she wants to bang the Galatic Version of John Wayne.

    - Jason thinks that the Goverment should impose a law limiting births and Leah should limit herself to one baby sired by an IQ appropriate member of the Trade Federation. Even Lando would have been a better choice for Leah – for diversity reasons.

    No Jason Star Wars is not Gay – it is about a group of Gun Loving Liberty Seeking Galatic Conservatives who want low taxes – smaller government and the right to practice theri Jedi Religion. Sounds like the type of place I want to live in – AMERICA MOTHA FUCKA!

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