Monday, October 20, 2008

Lisbon, Portugal

From the car I photographed this Graffiti Art I saw along the highway Lisbon. Street art is the art of expression in urban dwellings by young folks. I imagine the fast car and flash of my camera mimics the energy needed to produce art out in the open where cops might see you.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Laundromat Trauma by Leona Leone Beasley

In the beginning there was authority (or building management) and nothin' been right since

A guy has entered the Laundromat and in his hay-day he was probably a high school star running back. And back in the day he wore a letterman's jacket, drove a red Chevy Camaro and pimped walked around school with a harem of girlfriends. Think of a chocolate-chocolate OJ Simpson when he was a USC Heisman trophy winner. Long before the white Bronco and the loose fitting black leather gloves.

And like OJ this man's running back days are gone! Today he doesn't have a flashy car nor a pretty letterman's jacket to show those of us in the Laundromat. Today he sports a beer gut, love handles and an enormous butt crack for our viewing pleasure. His too small shirt is raising up and his belt-less pant are falling down. Each times he bends over to load the front facing washer, we the unsuspecting Laundromat victims can almost see his entire ass. Each time he bends to get more clothes the wind blows up his butt and reveals more crack. Like a train wreak I watch through opened fingers secured over my face.

I'm often described as bold and out spoken but I can not find the words I want to desperately scream out. I want to say:

"Heeey-don't you feel that wind, we can-we can see it breezing up your butt."
"Hey, hey, hey--women and children in here. Cover yourself MAN."
"Mister, your pant's are falling to your knees, it's scaring the kids!"

Instead I say nothing because I was scared. Anybody willing to show his stuff in public is surely a madman. But when I relive it in my mind I bravely walk up, swat him on the side of his head with the back of my hand and say,
"Mister! Pull your pant's up or go home, your maid doesn't work here."

Laundromat Etiquette by Leona Leone Beasley

I’m gonna lay my burden down by the riverside and study war no more

The woman that seated behind the counter dealing out ten-dollar packs of quarters has got to weight at least 350 pounds.
She wobbles over to get my money.
“What’ll it be KID?” she says.
“I’d like to get a roll of quarters, thank you.”
“Now KID, you don’t have to use all that fancy talk to get service round here. We treat everybody the same,” she says.
“Well, that’s fine, but this is the way I talk. I didn’t change it for you.”
Her jellyroll fingers reluctantly hand over my roll of quarters with her eyes squinted sharp like razors. I gave her my back.
Jeez! What ah girl gotta go through to get her clothes washed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Laundromat 101 by Leona Leona Beasley

You can lead a horse to water but he or she shouldn’t drink unless it’s spring water

Have you ever notice that Laundromats never have name above the entrance that can be read? Most of the signs have fallen or the pressed on letters have peeled off. If they do have names that can be read you forget them as soon as you read them. Names such as: Sudsy-Soapy Palace, Suds and Stuff or W-A-S-H. In the glorious Castro in San Francisco the gay boys have a one that’s aptly name Sit-IN-Spin. There you can buy a latte or cappuccino with a scone, cinnamon bun or a sandwich. How civilized! But g-boys often make dull things fabulous and wonderful. Maybe some boys in the Castro can come up with a list of fun innovative names for the rest of the Bay Area. Maybe it’s a career in it. Not! But it was fun to think about.

Laundromat Detour by Leona Leone Beasley

To err is human, to forgive is stupid, but silence is actually golden

Oh to find a Laundromat that opens at 6:00AM, what a dream, what a delight. I arrived at 7:09 sharp. A middle aged white guy had already taken stake on the premises. He’s balding and wears big-framed glasses. He’s dressed in a colorless athletic wear. Perfect for washing clothes. He expected to have the place to himself, I could tell. The great thing about him was that he didn’t want to engage me. He looked and then turned quickly so we wouldn’t even have to speak. Great! Now I knew I’d found the perfect Laundromat.

When I was growing up in Atlanta we called Laundromats washhouses which sounds, and is, country. Don’t be offended; I can say that ‘cause I’m talking about myself. But in many ways the phrase washhouse is a more accurate term. It is after all a one-room shack where you can wash clothes. Without conversation I can read more of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. Many of her characters live quiet & disparate lives much like those of us who come to the Laundromat.

The large eyeglasses wearing white guy has left the building. He didn’t even say goodbye. Surprise! A friendlier white guy replaced him. He spoke and acknowledged me with just the appropriate eye contact, tone of voice, and limited word-smithing: My kinda of guy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Laundromat Dream 1 by Leona Leona Beasley

Play with the devil and he’ll spit in your eye

An old woman who appeared race-less stood wearing a crocheted cap cocked to the side like the Black Panthers once wore their leather berets. She might have once lived near Huey Newton in West Oakland but she's no militant, she was probably too tired to put the cap on all the way. She’s talking to herself, something about stupid low-down people who come and get the coins that are supposed to be for the Laundromat customers. She repeats herself louder this time. “That’s what’s wrong with the world today, those ole’ low down nasty people taking quarters from the customers' machines. Now they know better than that.” She looks directly at me. She has moved closer without me knowing. I gotta pay better attention, even old folks can get the drop on you these days. My home training tells me to acknowledge her. “Well there’s enough for everybody.” I say and look away quickly not wanting to continue this useless and unnecessary conversation, in of all places, the damn Laundromat. “Well they shouldn’t do it,” she says. Noticing that I had turn away she moves so, so, s-l-o-w-l-y with her wheeled-walker. Her voice trails off mumbling unrecognized words now. She’s getting her wet clothes and taking them to one of the really LARGE dryers. Good luck drying everything I think in that smart aleck way as my clothes spin themselves into soapy irresistible frenzy. I watch with both delight and dismay.