Nights or Mornings
by Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch

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We recorded forty-five-minute conversations for thirty straight days around New York City. Half these talks took place at a Union Square health-food store that we call “W.F.” Other locations included MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera House, Central Park, and a Tribeca parking garage. What follows comes from the Prospect Park conversation.

8:40 p.m. Thursday, January 4
Prospect Park

J: Approaching Prospect Park I crossed Connecticut Muffin along Seventh...

A: Sure.

J: and saw high-school kids (one boy and three girls) sitting at an outdoor table as the boy described his weekend. He said he’d pissed then passed out in his piss, and each girl laughed and clapped her hands. They stared with bright eyes. The kid had confidence and a sense of humor. Perhaps that’s why he found himself amid such pleasant company.

A: My trademark move was to pass out on stairs. I’d wear the case like a mohawk—empty beer cases.

J: Did you pass out before a party got going? Would you arrive drunk then soon sleep on stairs?

A: I could handle another drink or two. Do you know Nitzer Ebb...

J: Yes.

A: or Nitzer maybe?

J: The noise band, right?

A: I’d dance and do hand-stands against...or wall-stands, but by eight-thirty pass out. Often...

J: Though would your girlfriend pretend you lay safe in bed?

A: Yeah I guess we argued that way.

J: This park seems so quiet and expansive. How…

A: Wonderfully dark.

J: wonderful again to walk with you, with fresh air enhancing the conversation. This afternoon I’d wanted to stop at MoMA, though since we’d planned to meet in Brooklyn, shopped and cooked. We now should bear left.

A: With crazy um kid-calls...

J: Beyond…

A: in distant branches it seems; the shrieks sound elevated. Wow I can’t believe we don’t live close by.

J: I very well may move here. Tonight I visited a co-op on Union Street (which explains me arriving ten minutes late).

A: Explains?

J: $100 buys you membership and the bulk-section appears well-stocked. They have all I’d ever need: quinoa, brown rice, flax—you name it.

A: How about low-calorie granola?

J: Oh yes, many distinct granol…

A: You see reflections...

J: They’d hung entire...

A: from puddles before us, right?

J: I do.

A: Beside the flowing stream and waterfall.

J: So this afternoon I’d shopped...

A: Can we pause to watch a plane cruise through branches?

J: Of course. You always...

A: Like a a necklace.

J: did enjoy airplanes. Sometimes when we live continents apart, I’ll point at overhead planes and call “Hey Andy look,” as though you stood next to me.  

A: And I’ll ride on those planes thinking of you.

J: But today I stopped by Fort Greene’s new health-food store and spoke with the founder, who seemed interested. I’d insisted on one basic issue: the distinction between excellent and ordinary stores. I said a well-stocked bulk-section distinguishes them. He handed me paper...

A: Hmm.

J: and a pen. I thought I’d write two sentences yet composed full paragraphs—noting bulk-sections cut waste and save money. He promised to reply after talking with investors.

A: They encourage lucidity…good bulk-sections. Our brains run best on less butter and oil.

J: Let’s look at this sandy trail. We’ve walked a straight line, which means we’ll find our way...

A: Though should continue...

J: out from this massive park in time for your dinner date with Bill and Kristin. Did you see hooves? Horse prints? Look at that.

A: Beneath what, a pixie stick?

J: [Muffled] ends of pixie...

A: Or wrapper?

J: or joint.

A: In in my local health-food store last night both clerks got really stoned but they...

J: The Bedford shop?

A: Yes. They loved that I pretended not to notice.

J: They’d probably pulled fresh goodies from the shelves.

A: Perhaps, though to be honest Jon: they do have strong—even a great bulk-section...

J: Oh sure.
A: yet terrible produce...

J: Right.

A: and so this store seems exceptional in some ways, not others.

J: My bulk-bin argument remains far from complete.

A: What an appropriate streak of jet exhaust to frame a…to frame the moon.

J: If you lean back the sky looks spherical.

A: The Midwest feels like this to me.

J: Do you remember St. Louis?

A: I picture...

J: We’ve walked through Forest Park. Prospect Park reminds…

A: We talked late at night in a twenty-four-hour grocery chain.

J: Yes.

A: Did I buy a doughnut?

J: Yes you did. We’ve we’ll cross many different terrains tonight. That field was soft and lumpy, and for a while we’d followed a gravel path, though now we find octagonal...

A: Hex…

J: hexagonal paving stones.

A: Have you played the game of guessing where you stand in the Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, by floor touch? Distinct floor textures coexist in that building. For example: a hall leading to photo exhibits (just left of the Sackler Wing...

J: Hmm.

A: when you climb steps) stays springy. Other rooms provide um taut marble floors and hardwoods. At the Met I find my way feet-first.

J: Perhaps we should test this theory by crossing the Met blindfolded.

A: Or...

J: If if if the theory holds...

A: you could shut your eyes. Nice logs here reflecting moonlight.

J: Park Slope couples must enjoy these logs.

A: I always...

J: Does the city still produce that romance?

A: grow solitary on logs, since they lack back support. This moment makes me love the moon—before it disappears beneath a bridge. The moon might look best poking from alleys as you head uptown...

J: Do...

A: catching glimpses and seeing it obscured; returning to it, then stone.

J: Sometimes I feel reluctant to take my eyes from the moon. I’ll picture the last time seeing the moon in this life. Do you have these thoughts?

A: When I lived in Berkeley [Dog barks] full-moon night, nights of full moon...

J: Good dog.

A: outdoors in the light.  I’d I pledged to lie beneath full moons, estimating...

J: Sure that happens out west.

A: six-hundred remained if I got lucky. But I find, Jonny, when you fix attention the moon loses its charm, so it seems right...

J: How do...

A: now to cross under.

J: how do you mean? I’ve locked eyes with that man in the moon for hours, and stayed in a tangible trance.

A: I’ll appreciate moonlight’s trance effect. Though just lifting both eyes—the strain starts...

J: In New York much occurs at sidewalk level, so I’d understand...

A: Do you sense a slight sheen on this water?

J: It does appear frozen which seems strange.

A: Lots of thick mud.

J: Mud/horse poop.

A: My shoes got covered in horse poo last night.

J: Did they? That reminds me of this Buson poem:

        Waking up late—
        stuck to the bottom of my sandals,
        cherry blossoms.

A: Hmm.

J: Suggesting he’d walked the countryside.

A: Presenting today as potential loss—only to reveal the night brought victory.

J: And implying, along with what you just said...

A: I almost smell eucalyptus.

J: we can’t have everything in in this life: either nights or mornings, not both.