May 24, 2020

Frank had a small TV

The beginning of a letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse:

Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just do.

It sat on Frank’s desk. While he hated referring to alleged quotes for inspiration, he knew this was some bona fide correspondence and he liked the sounds of the words in the long list when said. Frank considered that he would willingly give up all of Sol’s suggested verbiage besides boning if it would mean he could do in the sense of accomplishing something rather than ing-ing about it. Then he pondered the disparity between boning and doing and wondered profusely which provided more agency to that being boned or done. Or whether it should be them rather than that, for that matter—for their matter.

The phone rang, as they tend to do. Frank spat his toothpick into the deforested hectare of felled wood-pike disarray fencing a lousy perimeter round his desk chair.

Frank.” said Frank.

Frank I need you to tell me what’s on channel nine. It’s dire. Frank. Frank? Can you hear me? Turn to channel nine. Be a dear and tell me what’s on channel nine. Frank dear do it now. I know, I know, thank you Frank.” said a high-pitched voice across the telephone line.

As Frank listened to his name leak out her lips a dozen times, he pinched and spun around the embossed brass nameplate at the edge of his desk. The more he stared at the letters, the less they formed the name he’d been branded with much like that cheap metal rectangle who wore it better.

Elsewhere on the desk, a sticky note read: MILK, CHICKEN. Was stuck to a stapler spread open by its hinges almost as wide as the legs of Kermit the Frog, who leaned crookedly on a can of ale weighed down by a straight razor shaft sticking out of it that directed a fleck of light from its blade onto a chiseled section of wood whittled by a worried pen tip whose cap escaped this microcosmic crime scene for the great abandon of the corner behind the waste basket. A projector was set up, searing the ceiling with a tired bulb whose luminescence shone obscene shadows built by what lay on its lens-like surface each day as an extension of Frank’s desk. The common lamp was on backorder for the second time since some mysterious late-night circumstance had hopelessly toppled it.

Frank didn’t smoke. He simply liked the smell of cigarettes and carried the same pack of double gold-ringed Rohnsteins around for aromatic comfort. He withdrew a stick and popped it into Kermit’s perpetual jaw-drop where it wedged into the stitch of the fabric at his puppety gullet.

You still have my remote, Wendy.” said Frank.

I… Wendy trailed off.

The hole!” Frank shouted opposite the receiver, to the empty room.

Ah that. Let me see…”

The wall on the right rumbled a bit. Something rolled from a height and thudded on the floor. Papers shuffled. Then, a dot of red light appeared through a pencil-thin poke in the wall just under a nail-hung gloating plaque.

Nothing happened. Frank picked an apple core from a little plastic dish and lobbed it at the wall, striking the plaque so it spun on its nail and dislodged, clapping on the ground.

Eh fuh,” Frank mumbled.

The light dot shone again, longer. Then off. Then on. It blinked. In the opposite corner on a stout refrigerator box, a pale black screen jittered to life. Though the stodgy man had big dreams and an even bigger ocular prescription, Frank had a small TV.

Wendy suctioned her ear up to the wall, listening as she held steady the remote control and lathed its channel button over and over.

WALNUTS AND CHERRY OATS. ADULT CER…

Click.

WANTED TO KNOW WHO SHE WAS. SO I TOLD HER. SHE THOUGHT SHE COULD GO DOWN TO THE LORY DISTRICT AN…

Click.

SA-VANVANVAN RA-DUNDUNDUN SVAAA!”

Click, click.

Frank kicked his feet up. Wished she’d stayed on the orchestra. He watched the channels turn from the doubles back to single digits and up toward nine.

06, 07, 08…


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