1. Ferdinand

    Valerie Marquez, Front Desk Agent for Valor Airways, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    Ferdinand is one of Valor Airways’ most valued customers. He buys a ticket from us every day. Every single day. I work in the mornings, which is usually when he comes through Terminal B.

    He always uses the check-in kiosk to print out his boarding pass, so it’s not often I get the opportunity to greet Ferdinand and thank him for choosing our airline. But one time his kiosk was experiencing some technical difficulties and I offered to help. I made sure to upgrade his seat to business class when I was done. After all, he is one of our most valued customers.

    So, yes, Ferdinand visits our airport every day, and always chooses Valor Airways. It just took me a while to realize he never actually goes anywhere.

    Tim Li, TSA Screener, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    I’ve been working here for about a year and a half and noticed him, like, right away. I saw this same guy was going through security all the time. That’s not really strange in of itself, we get a lotta business travelers - but they wear, y’know, suits and shit. This dude? He’s decked out in a big-ass t-shirt, cargo shorts, moccasins, and no luggage. Not even a brief case or, uhh, a plastic bag or nothin’. I mean, he could be a business traveler, but what kind of business lets you dress like you’re going to a bowling alley?

    I started paying closer attention to his ticket whenever he came through my line. To me, something didn’t add up, because they were always one-way tickets. How the hell am I seeing this guy every damn day if he only flies one way? And the destinations. They were different every time! Houston, El Paso, Reno, Cleveland, even some places I’d never heard of. One time he was flying to Butte, which made me laugh. Real random in his selections, y’know?

    We’re not supposed to make small talk with passengers because they want us to keep the line moving, but I’m a friendly guy. I can’t help it sometimes. And I really wanted to figure this guy out - so I started saying little things to him. Like, jokes and shit, y’know? I’d be like, oh, Miami, is this trip for pleasure or pleasure? You had to be there to appreciate the humor, but you get what I’m saying. Or I’d go, Omaha, huh? I got family there. You visiting people? Thing is, this Ferdinand’s a pretty quiet guy. He might smile or nod when I say something to him, but it was tough to get a rise out of him. So, after a while, I kinda gave up on figuring out his deal. I just assumed he liked to make little day trips, and maybe had something against buying round-trip tickets.

    Then one day, a few months after I’d been working here, I saw Ferdinand coming back out the security area. I was like, what the fuck, he just came through here a few minutes ago. Did he go to the wrong terminal? Did he forget something? I dunno, he only ever comes through Terminal B, and he never has a carry-on, so what could it be? I made a mental note to keep an eye on him the next day, and sure enough, there he is walking back out, not long after I’d checked his ticket and ID. All I could do was stare at him as he went down the corridor. I had some lady next in line trying to grab my attention and getting pissed, but all I could do was look at Ferdinand. I just couldn’t put two and two together. Why was he standing in this long-ass line every damn day just to go right back out where he came from, y’know? As he was walking off, he turned his head towards me and we made eye contact. I must have looked so confused. But he just had this blank face, like nothin’ was out of the ordinary. Like he was just walking into a grocery store, or visiting a friend’s apartment, or shit, he could have been going to a funeral.

    Valerie Marquez, Front Desk Agent for Valor Airways, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    I asked my old boss, Tom Pennington, about him. That’s Ferdinand, he said. He’s been coming to this airport every day for as long as I’ve been working here. 15 years! That’s how long Tom worked with us. He got transferred to O’Hare a few months back.

    Ferdinand’s ticket is always to a different place. But he never leaves! I just don’t understand. That being said, he is one of our most valued customers, and lately I’ve been thinking about how Valor Airways could recognize him for his continued business. Some kind of celebration, perhaps? I remember reading about McDonald’s doing a promotion for a gentleman who had purchased 10,000 Big Macs. That’s a lot of burgers!

    We could host a surprise party in the terminal. As he walks in, we’d do a laser light show, maybe have a DJ table set up, with food and drinks. Someone could record his reaction - it’d be great PR. Just not sure if that kind of party would be TSA-compliant.

    I did the math recently. If Ferdinand has been buying a ticket every day for at least 15 years, and the tickets range in price from $150 to oh, say, $400, then that means he has probably spent over a million dollars flying with us! I mean, not flying with us. I wonder if McDonald’s would have still honored that customer if he was just throwing away all those Big Macs?

    Tim Li, TSA Screener, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    I’m here 50 hours a week and that’s more than I can stand, but at least I get paid. My time’s too valuable to waste. The way I see it, I got 4 full-time jobs. This airport shit, and the three kids, y’know? Think they’re gonna give me that kind of leeway? To fuck around in an airport all day? Fuck no. And if I did have that kind of extra time, I wouldn’t be spending it here. I got big plans. I wanna go back to school, get my degree, be my own boss. I’m sick of taking orders. I’m sick of seeing Ferdinand.

    Maybe that dude’s got like OCD or something. Or he’s trying to get laid. Don’t know why you’d be scrounging for ass in an airport though. I guess this could just be his hobby. But damn, homey. Why not take up golf, y’know?

    Deborah Simmons, Security Guard, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    I seen ‘em before. I’m good wi’faces. I don’t forget ‘em, ‘specially when I see ‘em over’n over again, like wi’this man.

    He’s got these small, lil’ beady eyes. The pupils is real big, so you never know what he’s lookin’ at. And he’s got big black bags under ‘em too, all the time. Bags that look like they’s full of livin’.

    He’s always pantin’ like a dog, even though they keep it freezin’ in here wi’the AC. Got this big tongue floppin’ aroun’ while he breathes. Sometimes I wonder if it’s gonna spill out’n do cartwheels on the floor.

    It’s sorta funny, his whole deal. Why’s he gonna come to the airport evr’day, buy a ticket, then don’t go nowhere? Haven’t he got fam’ly to feed? I know I could jus’ never up’n play aroun’ in a airport all day. I got kids, gran’kids. Maybe he was jus’ born rich and it don’t matter. Or maybe he’s got his reasons. Like he got his heart broke and now he’s jus’ lookin’ for the pieces. You know how when you lose somethin’ and you can’t find it, you keep lookin’ in the same place over’n over cuz you’re sure it’s gotta be there? Maybe that’s how it is wi’this man. He’s turnin’ over all the same rocks he turnt over a thousan’ times before. I dunno. Maybe he’ll realize he’s had whatever he’s lookin’ for all along’n can laugh about it later.

    Tim Li, TSA Screener, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    I kinda wish I had his life. Or at least his money. I damn sure wouldn’t waste it on fuckin’ around in an airport. I’d do something big. I’d start my own record label, produce music, and I dunno, travel? Something. Anything. But I wouldn’t waste my time. It’s too precious. One day you’re young, the next day you look in the mirror, and you got gray hairs. It’s like you’re not yourself anymore - the person you thought you’d always be when you were growing up isn’t there. Then you’re scared, and you spend the rest of your life hiding from mirrors.

    Wondering about Ferdinand makes me wonder about all the other people that come through here every day. I see so many faces. So many ID’s. Some of the pictures still look exactly like the person, others you can tell are from a while back. Things have probably changed a lot during that time, y’know? A person might have had, like, a goal or a plan, but it didn’t come through. Now they’re here, standing in my line to go through security at DFW. On their way to some place, or no where at all.

    Jason Detillier, Bartender at the Cock and Bull Pub, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    Hear Ferdinand descend on the Cock and Bull. Clippity-clippity-clop across the tiled floor his moccasins go. Sticky beer clings to each step. Irish nachos throw temper-tantrums under the heat lamp. I dry an imperial pint glass, thinking how much I love even this.

    A stool ripped from its place of rest. A fat ass blankets everything like storms always do. Protesting, the stool lets out a shriek of madness. Why must it be I he squats upon? Could he not for once sit at the two-top? Because the day is dark and the night is cruel, my little wooden one. And you exist only to harbor the asses of the willing.

    We don’t look at each other but I pour him a beer anyway. Today it’s Guinness. A proper pour takes 119 seconds. I’m more patient with beer than I am with people; Ferdinand is different, I imagine. He never speaks but I always listen. He watches the bubbles rise and quickly pop, wondering why they’re in such a rush. Ferdinand is the fat bubble that rests on the surface, the one you only ever notice when you have no place to be. You stop and stare, laughing in surprise that it hasn’t popped, until it does. Order up. Who got the shepherd’s pie?

    Yawning from on high are the TVs tuned to the sports. They face us menacingly, watching our every move. A football pundit brays about defense. It wins championships. Talk talk talk, the TVs talk. A couple at the bar grabs my attention. What do you say, honey? We got time for another round? Gin and tonic and a Long Island Iced Tea, please. That’ll be 15 bucks. As they pay I glance at Ferdinand; the Guinness is untouched, the bubbles have slowed. He hangs over the bar like a morbid decoration, disgusting for sure, but memorabilia nonetheless. I disagree, Craig. If anything is gonna power them to the Super Bowl, it’s the running game.

    A family waits for their food. Dad wants another beer. Disneyworld was great, their tired faces say. The fish and chips will be slightly burnt. Tomorrow the kids go back to school; they’ll never remember this place. Minnie Mouse was creepy. Epcot sucked. Everything else will dance in their memory, until it doesn’t. The potato skins are here. Like us on Facebook. Dad goes with a red ale.

    Ferdinand shifts to his side, beginning the voyage to the bathroom. He takes care not to hurt himself or the universe. Once more the stool sighs. At least you have a purpose, you goddamn piece of shit. Most types of wood are not so lucky. Some are burned, others end up at the bottom of the sea. True, you were once a forest. I know you never wanted to meet the axe. But that happened, and now you’re here; a simple throne for a timeless ceremony. Feel gratitude when Ferdinand’s ass spills over you like foam does a pint. It won’t always be this way. I wipe melted cheese off the counter because who knows what tomorrow may bring.

    Ferdinand lumbers towards the men’s room; his bladder a chore, but one he tends to with an honest heart. Michelangelo had the Sistine Chapel. Ferdinand has the urinal closest to the sink.

    The bubbles in his drink have just about disappeared. Their joy has waned. The carnival is almost over. See the dancing bear before he retires. Win the stuffed animal for your girlfriend while her looks remain. Take in a freak show today and every day for the rest of whatever.

    There goes Ferdinand, heading from the bathroom to the exit. A perfect side profile of everything bent askew. He moves like sap down a tree trunk and preserves my memories. A woman with her mother wants a shot of whiskey. She’s afraid to fly. People just weren’t meant to, she laughs nervously.

    Deborah Simmons, Security Guard, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    Mostly it’s my job to keep law’n order’n the terminal. Stop people from wantin’ to shoplift, break up fights. You’d be ‘sprised. Travelers is antsy sometimes. Once these two older ladies was gettin’ into it, over what I dunno. They was swingin’ they luggage at each udda, it was quite the sight. I hadda call backup.

    Also I’m ‘sposed to keep a eye out for the really s’picious characters, the ones that wanna do big evil. This causes a lotta false alarms. We always feel terrible when we radio ‘bout someone who looks up to no good but really isn’t. We jus’ doin’ our jobs. One time I saw a funny lookin’ guy putta small bag’n the trash. I took it out’n found some kinda homemade device. Called it in an’the terminal went on lockdown. But it was jus’ a lil’ antique. My superiors was still happy wi’me though, better safe than sorry they said. It coulda been a bomb that kilt a buncha people. Jus’ wish I knew why that fella threw his antique away.

    So many millions’a people come through here, it’s hard to focus on jus’ a one. But that’s part’a my job. I gotta spot the person that don’wanna be spot. This man I see evr’day, I dunno if he wanna be spot. He don’really look s’picious, least not anymore s’picious than any a us, so I don’really have cause to stop ‘em. That bein’ said, I did try to talk to ‘em once. I jus’ wanna know ‘em. He passed me on the way towards the exit like he always do, an’ I decided I was gonna say somethin’ but I didn’t really know what to say, so I jus’ blurted out, you leavin’ so soon?

    He turnt an’ looked at me an’ I thought he was gonna say somethin’, but he jus’ kept on goin’. Then he went on out the exit of Terminal B.

     


  2. Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence

    Bought: 1/1/13 for $2

    Record Grouch - Greenpoint, Brooklyn

    Simon & Garfunkel always make me think of aging – and just how weird and beautiful of a concept that is.

    My first exposure to them was listening – as a kid – to the Central Park reunion show. That means while Simon & Garfunkel had already become famous, then broken up to pursue solo careers, only to come back together, and then drift apart yet again – I was just getting into them through, of all things, a reunion show. Backwards I went from there, listening to their earlier stuff, while we all got a little older. In New Orleans I saw them reunite once more to play Jazz Fest – the first show of what was supposed to be a reunion tour, plans that were scuttled due to Garfunkel’s ailing vocal chords. Standing in knee-deep mud as I watched him grimace from one song to another, I had plenty of time to be distracted by the thought of aging.

    It’s an idea this album certainly doesn’t shy away from – along with themes of loneliness, loss, and suicide. That and the fact it starts off with Sound of Silence, overdubbed with a backing band without Simon & Garfunkel’s knowledge, and thrown together with a bunch of songs which had for the most part already appeared on other records, makes for a rather jarring experience. But it’s a great album – and like a lot of things, just not everything, it gets better with age.

     


  3. Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra - Bolero

    Bought: 1/19/13 for $4

    The Bop Shop - Rochester, NY

    Bolero is one of the first classical pieces I fell in love with. When I was in school I would take adderall and listen to it over and over again while I frantically wrote Spanish papers that were due the next day. The fact it helped me graduate isn’t why I love it, though that certainly doesn’t hurt.

    I’ve read articles which suggest that Ravel may have been in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia when he composed this piece; one of the most common symptoms of which is compulsive behavior. That would definitely explain the repetitive nature of the arrangement. 

    It’s fascinating to imagine a degenerative disease contributing to the creation of such an enduring work of art. Listening to this piece as it builds and builds has always filled me with a sense of purpose, and a belief that maybe I, too, could one day do something worthy of the memory of others.

    But it’s also depressing as shit. I mean, Ravel composed Bolero with brain damage. What the hell have I done?

     


  4. The Downton Abbey Football (Soccer) League - Week 2

    Premier League Aristocrats Table

    1.     Matthew

    2.     Mary

    3.     Dowager Countess (up 1)

    4.     Lady Grantham (down 1)

    5.     Isobel (up 2)

    6.     Lord Grantham (up 2)

    7.     Branson (down 1)

    —-Relegation Zone—-

    8.     Sybil (down 3)

    9.     Edith

    Matthew

    Bullish on the defense of his ideals, Matthew has nevertheless pledged to overhaul Downton Abbey from the ground up. He should be a contender for some time to come after he finishes revamping the training ground and youth facilities. Hopefully his stingy devotion to the wage budget doesn’t prevent him from bringing in the odd big-time signing from Brazil or thereabouts.

    Mary

    Edith’s stunning collapse at the altar gave Mary a decisive victory in the wedding derby. She continues to find joy with her attacking sensibilities, and should find herself playing continental football next season.

    Dowager Countess

    With Mrs. Levinson gone, Lady Violet should now be able to play more expressive football. Her clean challenge on Sir Anthony at the altar is a testament to her defensive capabilities and proves she is the anchor woman of the show.

    Lady Grantham

    This season’s campaign has been marked by a spirited approach for Cora. Her team talk to Edith after the would-be wedding may have been clichéd, but maybe it’s only important that she herself believes what she’s saying. It’s just that sometimes Cora appears to lack top-of-the-table ambition.

    Isobel

    Others around the league may criticize her management style, but Isobel believes there’s a certain way to play the game and holds firm to these standards. Mid-to-low table finish likely.

    Lord Grantham

    On the verge of falling into administration, Robert received a last second cash injection from Matthew. He’ll need to take his fate into his own hands from here on out, though, and stop concerning himself with the results of others around the league. With his level of prestige, a mid-table finish would be unacceptable to his supporters.

    Sybil

    Playing aimless football at the moment. Her best years are still in front of her, but she needs to shift her focus from making children to making goals.

    Branson

    Rampant nationalism is not unheard of in football, but hypocrisy has no place. If he’s to go on all day about the merits of the Irish League, he needs to just pack it in and move back there. It’s unfortunate that this season’s campaign is so full of hot air – and not much else.

    Edith

    She watched a disastrous howler slip into the back of her net as Lord Anthony spurned her at the altar. Can it get much worse for Edith? She may be the middle child, but she’s playing decidedly younger football than her years indicate and is now staring down the barrel of relegation. Moaning about her life to the servant Anna won’t help her position in the table either.

    League One Servants Table

    1.     Thomas (up 3)

    2.     Carson

    —-Promotion Zone—-

    3.     Bates (up 2)

    4.     Mrs. Patmore (down 3)

    5.     O’Brien (down 2)

    6.     Mrs. Hughes (up 4)

    7.     Daisy (up 2)

    8.     Anna (down 1)

    9.     Alfred (down 3)

    10.   Ethel (up 1)

    11.   Molesley (down 3)


    Ethel

    There’s a quiet dignity to her style of play, even if her sex life is gourmet food for the tabloids.

    Bates

    While in prison, he’s begun to mold himself in the image of a Vinny Jones-esque hard man. He beat a clever offside trap set by his cellmate to frame him, and deserved his goal.

    Molesley

    Snubbed at one point by the lowly Alfred, then embarrassed publicly by Thomas’ misinformation, Molesley’s supporters once again find themselves burying their heads in their hands. Will it get any better, or will they be loath to see what happens next?

    Daisy

    Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and after falling into Mary’s favor while netting a goal in the process, no one can testify to the veracity of this truism better than Daisy.

    Carson

    He’s reserved in his approach and stubbornly committed to bore draws and 1-0 matches. But Carson plays well within his limitations. Could promotion be a real possibility?

    Mrs. Patmore

    Mrs. Patmore allowed too many questions to be asked of her defense as she recklessly revealed Mrs. Hughes’ secret. A true flair for the dramatic works as much for her as it does against her.

    Thomas

    Goal of the week goes to Thomas, as he unleashed a screamer of an insult on O’Brien. No, no one has ever asked for her hand in marriage, but Thomas may begin to draw comparisons to that other hand, the one of God, if he continues this form.

    Alfred

    He’s starting to play with a bit more confidence, and he’ll need to if he is to avoid the comparisons to Peter Crouch.

    Mrs. Hughes

    A model of composure, Mrs. Hughes has handled her run of bad luck well. Now that cancer is no longer in the cards, she can concentrate on getting her fitness back for the second half of the season.

    O’Brien

    Her war of words in the media with Thomas guarantees this to be the rivalry of the season. Will have to do well to not come undone by his mind games, which can only be compared to those of Alex Ferguson.

    Anna

    Still taking a conservative approach to clearing Bates’ name, valuing possession over long shots. Whether or not it will pay off with the big goal she needs, however, remains to be seen.

     


  5. The Downton Abbey Football (Soccer) League - Week 1

    Premier League Aristocrats Table

    1.     Matthew

    2.     Mary

    3.     Lady Grantham

    4.     Dowager Countess

    5.     Sybil

    6.     Branson

    7.     Isobel

    —-Relegation Zone—-

    8.     Lord Grantham

    9.     Edith

     

    Matthew Crawley

    Matthew is still adjusting to higher-than-usual expectations, having only recently established himself as an aristocrat and top of the table contender. Some early season jitters nearly cost him the wedding, but Matthew recovered nicely and could be one to watch if he accepts the large influx of inheritance cash from the oil-rich Saudis.

    Mary

    Clinical finishing did much to help Mary finally get over the altar-hump with Matthew. She looked splendid in her wedding day kit, and has so far played a very passionate brand of football. Prying a sizeable inheritance away from Matthew, though, will be a true test.

    Lady Grantham

    Not many could have handled Lord Grantham’s salvo of bad news as well as Cora did – she responded with a fine counter that displayed some lovely positive play. With two daughters now married, her supporters will be dreaming of further glory.

    Dowager Countess

    Many have touted this as a trophy-filled season for Lady Violet – but the early favorite would need to first overcome a brutal fixture with Mrs. Levinson. She handled herself well, keeping the defense organized as she absorbed one attack after another – even managing to deliver some of her signature one-liners in return. But the Countess will have to recover her confidence and play solid through the middle if she is to live up to her lofty expectations.

    Branson

    The newly-promoted Branson is finding it difficult to adjust to the Premier League. He looks a bit unsure on his feet, and the confidence that took him so far last season now looks fractured. Refusing to change his clothes and getting roofied may not help his survival in the top division, but if he does go down, at least it will be in an entertaining fashion.

    Sybil

    Returning from her loan spell in Ireland, Sybil appears to have lost some of her attractive, attacking qualities. Complacency may now be an issue. Can she recover her buccaneering form in time to make a run at the title?

    Isobel

    Last year’s winner of the FIFA Fair Play award for her philanthropy appears to be putting the same focus on sportsmanship this season. Lacking a talismatic difference-maker in the squad, her charity work may indeed be the only real hope she has of returning to a European competition in the future.

    Lord Grantham

    Grantham’s campaign opened with a howler of an own goal, as investments in the Grand Trunk Railway proved to be a massive tactical misstep. The Lord will have to do better if he is to secure continental qualification at season’s end.

    Edith

    It was obvious from the start this season would be a relegation dogfight for Edith. A desperate bid for stoppage-time fireworks with Sir Anthony ended when Lord Grantham executed a crunching two-footed tackle, though he quickly apologized and allowed play to continue.

    League One Servants Table

    1.     Mrs. Patmore

    2.     Carson

    —-Promotion Zone—-

    3.     O’Brien

    4.     Thomas

    5.     Bates

    6.     Alfred

    7.     Anna

    8.     Molesley

    9.     Daisy

    10. Mrs. Hughes

    11. Ethel

    Mrs. Patmore

    No one can question her passion. She always plays through the whistle and has exhibited some lovely teamwork with Mrs. Hughes.

    Carson

    His supporters may bemoan the long ball style, but Carson’s pragmatic approach rarely leaves him exposed at the back. Until he finds a trequartista in attack, his best bet may prove to be playing for the draw against stronger opponents and become aggressive against the cellar-dwellers like Alfred.

    O’Brien

    Some inspired wing play saw O’Brien able to set up employment for her cousin Alfred. But some back and forth with Thomas – the master of mind games – will be a challenge to her overall focus.

    Thomas

    He’s made an enemy of just about every other manager in the league, so he’ll be receiving all their best efforts week in and week out. But we’ve seen him make comebacks like this before – he’s capable of outmaneuvering anyone from a tactical standpoint.

    Bates

    He’s a lightning rod for the tabloids with his off-the-field issues, but Bates is showing himself to be a resolute force in the league this year. If anyone can save their club from a potential prison yard shivving, it’s Bates.

    Alfred

    Newly promoted Alfred is off to a shaky start following a thrashing at the hands of Carson. At least his flirtation with Mrs. Levinson’s assistant shows he can score when the defense just gives it to him. Will need to take greater advantage of his excellent height in the penalty box.

    Anna

    Her play this past week was just a bit too bogged down in midfield. She looked uninspired in her detective work on Bates’ behalf – she needs to start seeing the whole field and play a bit wider.

    Molesley

    He has begun the season confident of his value to Downton Abbey – even going so far as to suggest he might be playing top-flight football next season. Don’t expect the odds makers to take that bet, however. It’s more likely the end of the season will find Molesley making a thousand-yard stare of total confusion.

    Daisy

    She’s shown flashes of what she can do since emerging from the youth system, but her lack of experience has been her undoing lately. A failed dressing room strike and being upstaged in pursuit of Alfred by Mrs. Levinson’s assistant leave her facing an uphill struggle this year.

    Mrs. Hughes

    The head housekeeper will likely find herself struggling for fitness all year due to possible cancer.

    Ethel

    Ethel has returned to the 2nd tier following a year of non-league football. Isobel has offered to be her parent club as Ethel seems to be in dire need of financial assistance. But will she take it?