Mark Blickley/Amy Bassin: APPROPRIATE TIME
Image by Amy Bassin
Text by Mark Blickley
March 24, 2022
OCCUPANT of Apt. 2K 1509 Boulevard East
West New York, NJ 07093
Dear Neighbor: Just because I HAVEN'T (any) APPROPRIATE TIME to speak ORALLY to you, therefore I took the liberty to write directly to you in the hope that you'll be kind enough to take into consideration the following request: Consequently, if you permit me, I'll ask you (right now), as follows: Did you (ever) anything hear considering someone, or (did you) see) somebody who was looking for me (in front of (my) Apt. 3K, (in the hall) in connection with any message, news, or information) in the past days, weeks, or during the last months, or within the past several years, (somehow, somewhere in the building), ANY TIME? Thank you for your very kind attitude toward the matter. In expectation of your reply IN WRITING EXCLUSIVELY in the near future, I remain, Sincerely,
(Q. Shabraya) p.s.: I would not want to create the impression that you'll not do me a favor that I just requested. If you're interested regarding our ORAL CONVERSATION AT YOUR AND MY EARLIEST CONVENIENCE, if that is the case, I'll be glad to talk to you as one gentleman to another, to exchange our views, to discuss about subject that you and I wish. Your (eventual) any FRIENDLY remark, CONSTRUCTIVE objection, LOGICAL observation, RATIONAL comment, etc., WELCOME! It's not only an APPROPRIATE, BUT HIGHLY DESIRABLE Thanks, again.
March 25, 2022
Dear Mr. Q. Shabraya: Thank you for taking the time to write me a letter and to slip it under my door. I was surprised, pleasantly surprised, as we have been next door neighbors for close to five years now and we've only met three times in the elevator. I've appreciated the hello you've given me on those three occasions.
I find the uniform you wear quite fascinating. As we descended the eleven flights to the building entrance, I inspected your uniform for some insignia, some identification to its origin. Am I correct in assuming that it is the military uniform of an officer of a foreign country? Is it beige, Mr. Shabraya? Its color is quite faded though you've kept it in superb condition. I know it must be an old uniform and the proud manner with which you carry yourself when you wear it must mean that it is a uniform that has participated in some grand historical event. Am I correct, sir?
Many a time I've been tempted to ring your doorbell, Mr. Shabraya, during harsh storms or when the ground is covered with ice. I am younger than you, sir, and on the three occasions that we've shared an elevator ride I couldn't help but notice your pallor. Although you look fit and strong, and by no means do I think of you as someone not able to take of himself, I've wondered if I could not be of assistance when the weather rages. Even before the Pandemic, I’ve help out a few other residents of our building during such emergencies.
I have not contacted you to see if I could be of assistance because of the typewritten message taped over your doorbell that firmly states - DO NOT RING THIS BELL UNDER ANY CONDITION OR OVERSIGHT. LEAVE THIS BELL ALONE! LEAVE COMMUNICATIONS WITH SUPER OR RECEPTIONIST ON FIRST FLOOR. THANKS!
Mr. Shabraya, during our five years as neighbors, I have not come across anybody seeking to deliver information to you. If I should observe someone trying to contact you, is there some procedure you'd like me to follow in order to relay this information to you? I shall only be too pleased to oblige.
Sir, as the walls to these apartments are paper thin, I cannot help hearing you from time to time. I think it is healthy for a man to scream occasionally. I believe it purges the soul the same as water purges the body. Your screams are never disruptive as I am a sound sleeper.
Mr. Shabraya, I was wondering, do my screams disturb you? I try hard, very hard, to muffle them with my pillow, but I don't always succeed. Your screams are never whimpering outbursts of self-pity like mine. Your screams never seem to deteriorate into tears. I know it is unmanly to cry and I hope I have not embarrassed you on the occasions when this has happened to me. You never cry, do you? I have the utmost respect for you because you do not. Please do not judge me harshly.
Once again, thank you for your unexpected correspondence, and I look forward to hearing from you again.
Respectively Yours, Lawrence “Kit” Cantrell
About the Authors: New York interdisciplinary artist Amy Bassin and writer Mark Blickley work together on text-based art collaborations and experimental videos. Their work has appeared in many national and international publications as well as two books, Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes from the Underground' (Moria Books, Chicago) and Dream Streams (Clare Songbird Publishing House, New York). Their videos, Speaking In Bootongue and Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death represented the United States in the 2020 year-long world tour of Time Is Love: Universal Feelings: Myths & Conjunctions, organized by the esteemed Togolese-French curator, Kisito Assangni.