The work of Mike Varley

The Mike Varley Plain Dealer: A Night at the Rinks

September 25th, 2010 by admin

Dear Friends and All,

As content continues to flow and I look for buckets to put it in, my thoughts turn to New York and its bottomless well. It’s the city of infinite dangers for those striving for sanity, yet it holds the mental riches of the world.

New York City is the best, New York City is the brightest, New York City doesn’t care about the world. The latter of these statements lets you test your wings unbounded while the former keep you firmly on the ground. The sacred anonymity and the snobbish disposition conceive a child-consciousness that knows it when they see it, that takes it and then leaves it. If you can make it here, you better learn to swear.

The sense of ego knowing your actions could explode the world at any moment: with thought, with joy, with what you have to say. At the top of the Woolworth Building there’s a private, olympic-sized, jacuzzi-pool where all the important people play. They get dropped in on helicopters for there is no elevator, and use their parachute time to schedule Novembers. I don’t wish to be that efficient – I don’t wish to be that forward thinking – but these public pools all smell like spoiled hay.

I commute on the BQE and I beg for the G train’s approval. I spend this lost time believing it’s lost when really it’s hidden under thoughts. It’s a forty-hour, sixty-hour, eighty-hour town, where we want our days a little longer and our hours a little shorter. When the conflicted flickering you feel grows normal, take the Metro North and tear the ticket.

You’re a dangerous place, New York, for those that wish to be holy, when all I mean by holy is not so tired. Your wounds I can’t heal, and I won’t sit still for your sermons. We’ll walk this tightrope for as long as we can – you in high heels and me mindful.

“A Night at the Rinks” was written in February of 2007 while I was living at Sasona Co-op in Austin, TX.  It’s a non-fiction account of a trip to a minor league hockey game.  It aims for the core of small town spectacle.  It aims to unravel “small town” in general.  It’s a weird collection of sights and sounds, with some moments of innocent heartache about two-thirds in.  It explores the human condition in relation to sports – how it’s the intersection of animal and spiritual.  There are also two very drunk men and a scene where a bobcat steals my Frisbee.  I swear to the truth of all previous statements.
As with the last story, there are three ways to experience “A Night at the Rinks”, all available on the “A Night at the Rinks” page at There is the audio version, available on the site as a stream or an mp3 download; the printable, downloadable PDF version and the text version on the page itself.  Choose your style and enjoy accordingly.

Until next time,
Mike Varley

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