Mayor of Everywhere

The little house in the big atrium reminds me of a series of novels I read in the 90s and then passed on to a friend who I knew would love them—don’t you alternately hate and love when people insist you read books?

I gave him the first three or four books in the series. I didn’t think I would have the energy to read them again, and I thought he would find them bizarre and funny, as I had. The series is The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy by Eric Kraft.

The books had been given to me by a friend who was an editor at Kraft’s publishing house. You have to read these, he had said, handing me copies. When I started the first book, I was hooked. I read them through in a rush. Now, recalling the books and wiki-ing them, I discover more have been written in the intervening years. And I am going to read them. And maybe recommend them to you.

When The Truman Show came out it seemed like a similar premise, that of one’s life being a movie set, and everyone knew but you. But in the books, as I remember them, the character did know, or had his suspicions. It was more complicated, more like a series of alternate lives being simultaneously played out. But the movie, which I haven’t even seen, is a reference people get and the books aren’t.

I find myself in the atrium pictured above, with the book-receiving friend. This is such a weird place. We can’t put our fingers on it, but it is something about the authenticity of the little houses and the whole faux Docklands/Battery Park Cityness of it that is both disconcerting and funny. Fountains come on at dusk and are spotlit in a light show. It is like a museum of what a city was like in the old days, like an indoor beach, contemporary Vegas.

Is the homeless woman washing in the bathroom a master stroke of the developer or is the city within an atrium becoming its own reality? We are a $20 taxi ride away from the nearest public transport rail station.

It’s like those books I gave you, I say to my friend. Pulling at the memory like the edge of the blanket the dog pulls off of me in the middle of the night so that I am wrapping up in my dream, half imaging getting out of bed and finding a sweater. The guy was called Peter, it was in Long Island, there was a clam restaurant.

He has no idea what I’m talking about. It was 10 years ago. But on the basis of those key elements, I am able to google the books. Frankly, if the robots take over the world, they will have earned it.

Some of my friends use Foursquare. I have put enough of my life online without needing to GPS myself and connect that to everyone I am connected to and I am willing to forgo the possibility of becoming the Mayor of Wal-Mart. But don’t we make our own lives into reality shows?

His recommendation to me was this song. Which, in the spirit of things no longer being what they were, but maybe actually, really, really nice, and in the spirit of receiving recommendations and then incorporating them into my own self-documentary, and in the spirit of competitive nostalgia, and embracing middle age, I recommend to you.


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