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We circled the block a second time in Midtown Manhattan. A local driver showed his support for our navigation with a gritty sneer accentuated by a hand gesture that didn’t include individual fingers. But if we drove in his lane one more goddamn time…

None of that mattered. Google Maps never loses patience with us. We hit another 5 o’clock red light, and the pedestrians swarm the street with confidence of ownership. Looking out the passenger side window, the building to our right shows off art deco ornamentation, focusing my brain into history mode coupled with familiarity. I knew exactly where we were. We were right next to the Empire State Building.

Instead of looking up, I looked down.

My eyes were drawn to the sidewalk at the base of the primate-honored building. The intersected crosshatch of vertical and horizontal; the exact point where the ground and the first foot of concrete made a corner. The one hundred and two floors later ascending above this crucial apex, completely irrelevant.

My fascination with that key microspot of the architectural giant: that’s why I write. What’s that got to do with writing? I want to capture that exact point. I don’t just want to stare at it from my car 30 feet away. I want to get out, walk over, lay on the ground with my face next to the building as I eyeball the X-Y axis of the beginning of the Empire State Building. After I get to know it, I need to put it to words, like a Walt Whitman poem about leaves, or Herman Melville discusses whale blubber.

That’s why I write: to capture the flashpoint of beauty.

Music is incredible. It’s also repetitive and predictable. Now and then, a moment strikes where a handful of notes congregate in a vertical arrangement that brings tears to my heart, and laughter to my toes. That causes my brain to erupt in a pool of fire with explosive emojis spilling from my eyeballs and cat purring from my elbows. That one chord will place a song on my Desert Island list. That’s why I write.

Ever bite into a piece of food that makes your eyeballs malfunction or your tongue erupt with saliva and love as your mouth begs for more, and you will fork to death anyone who says the wrong vowels at that moment, thus distracting you from the orgasm in your mouth? That’s why I write.

There are too many moments in our lives that are mundane or downright fucked-up on a daily basis.

Then that one second of humanity, the emotional incident of looking at something so different, you cancel plans with your summer camp bestie so you can ponder the part of a sidewalk that a skyscraper grows from the earth into 200,000 cubic feet of Indiana limestone and granite that scrapes the sky like the most amazing architectural stalk of corn…

That you can’t go to the market because Dmitri Shostakovich writes woodwinds in octaves better than anyone, or B.B. King’s mixture of major and minor pentatonic scales that no one else does, or does better…

That Lawrence Weiner’s “GLOSS WHITE LACQUER, SPRAYED FOR 2 MINUTES AT 40LB PRESSURE DIRECTLY” (a.k.a., a splotch of spray paint on the floor of the Museum of Modern Art) is a priceless installation representing the mix of utilitarian materials, sub-fundamental technique, and the unframed delivery almost beneath our feet as the epitome of artistic expression…

I have to capture those moments, because they can’t just exist in my head alone.

I want you to know about them so I write about them or other creative ideas with a vastly different point of view, and then you get to read it too. Not just get… I need you to know about it and read it too.

That’s why I write.

Plus, I like to be funny now and then.

Jay Heltzer

Jay Heltzer writes attention-challenged fiction, plays bass trombone, digs sloppy fountain pen sketches, and is in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger.

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