Biting the Nails of Success
December 28th So much to say
Again again again so much to record and so little time to do it. I zipped over to Bend to see my father and step-mom on Christmas day. Good times there, I missed the extended fam due to scheduling complecations with the neices and nephiews getting sick, but I got some great cowboy boots. Then it was up and over to Hood River for a re-visitation of youthful times on the commune. Driving through the inclement conditions -- night, sleet, uber-thick fog -- along a similar route that I took last summer, contemplating the way in which everything old is new again, the drive was tense but purgative.
Rachel, my best friend when I was a wee tyke, got in touch with me a while ago (via the website! see these things are worth something!). She's being a nanny in Conneticut, and so we had lunch in the city. Contact, after 13 years. Total blast from the past, in the best of all possible ways. She brought her friend from home along who's also living in the city (and is tall and red-haired and cute and makes me laugh...) Anyway, she and I corrisponded and set up a visit and I saw all the old and new stuff. It was wonderful. I'll have to gush about it at some point, but not now. At the moment I'm mooching off of dave's DSL while he and his step-dad use a "snake" tool to clean out his sink. It's good and hopeful times, but I need to get on with my schedule. Tomorrow I drive to Oakland.
December 24th Eve
On the one hand I feel like a nerd for writing on the site on Christmas Eve, but on the other hand I have the feeling that if I don't bang out the rough edges I won't remember it all. Last night was the last night for Mark and Luke and I to hang out. We went down to the "new" bar in town and were having a good time planning Mark's bachelor party when the scene turned into a high-school reunion. While it wasn't the perfect time, this is one of the reasons you come home, so it was allright. The rock and roll kids are still doing their thing. Hipsters everywhere, even in Eugene. We even saw good old Abe just as we were leaving. He used to be a regular face, but he's been spending a lot of time with a girl who didn't really groove with the slovenly messy debauched under-arm-odor scene we were all living in at the time, so we see him less and less. A fleeting face, like high-strung Dylan who met some woman over the internet and dropped off the face of the earth. I should email that guy.
I also saw Jamie, a theater friend who lives in New York too. Funny how we have to come back to Eugene to run into one another. Funny how NYC will drive that space between people, you get such a chip on your shoulder about living in that city, the palace of dreams and ambition. Funny about a lot of things, really. I saw a girl I dated for five minues a couple of summers ago, looking much better than I remembered. She's got a sweet face but clearly had an eating disorter when I tried to hang with her. Last night she was looking pleasently plump, healthy face and the same blue eyes, which made me happy just to see. Reminds me that I want to do a little bit on the site here about body image. Another log for the firewood pile I suppose.
After that whole scene had passed and we'd had our fill of South Eugene High School II, we went out walking after midnight to relive old glory, buying Pabst 40s and corn nuts and drinking in the dark near the railroad tracks, watching the ghosts of the industrial revolution lumber by in mammoth rusting steel. In our wild immortal youth we once blazed into town late one night, all liquored up after fleeing a party of our own devising, and shambled our way to the top of a parking garage downtown where we proceeded to sing and piss and throw things (50-gallon trash barrel) from the top. We're not that fast or stupid anymore, but the camradre is still there, even if it did seem like there was a little pressure due to time and space considerations.
The frightening and exhilerating truth is that things are changing. High-school hijinks and youthful indescretion are not only harder and harder to come by; they're also getting tired. Boring, even. It's not just marriage and graduate school and aging kidneys and livers, it's the ceaseless march of time. The questions put before us now are weighty and precious. I try to expresss to my friends how much they inspire me, how thoughts of them keep me rolling through the bitterest and most poluted lonesome nights imaginable. I want to express a lot of things, but it comes out kind of garbled and confused, my clouded breath becoming lost in the fog from the river. I think they know anyway though; another telepathic thing.
December 23rd The Thing is Burnt
From an article in the latest Harpers:
Toss a few rocks at a Starbucks during the next WTO meeing if you want, but don't mistake such gestures for genuinely radical responses. What radicals should be doing right now is studying and thinking. You need to put in your ten years at the library like Marx did. You need to be figuring out what makes humanity tick and what, if any, direction is to be found in history. And I don't mean some hald-assed sci-fi ararcho-Gaia nonsense you cobbled together before you dropped out of Bard; I mean serious study, working toward an alternative to a global bourgeous democracy. What radicals need most right now is theory, not action.
Bam. The gauntlet has been thrown down. I am making travel plans -- Central Oregon, California -- and begining to worry a bit about money. Maybe it's just the workaholism ("I just can't live without workahol!") but I'm begining to get a little itchy about knowing where the next month's rent is coming from. I really want to make more money than I do, which is a fairly large admission for me and my classist self to make. But money is opportunity, and I feel like it's time to make some moves in life. It's partly the impending end to 2002, but I really want to get this whole show off the ground.
Had a good talk with Lucas last night about what we aught to be doing with this life. He's on the acadmic fast-track, and sometimes it's hard for me to get into it with him because he knows a lot more about what Great Thinkers have thought in the past than I do. Sometimes I wonder if reading all those books isn't also detrimental to the development of relavent/independent thought... part of my rap about the consumerist nature of higher education (not enough focus on "so what does this mean/what do you think about this). I suppose that's not a question a scientist is supposed to ask until the data tells him the answer. But being more of an artist, I suppose I tend to assume that what Luke says is his own personal convicion, but often he's just trying to explain Weber or Bourdeux or Marx to me and I get all worked up about what my friend might believe.
It reminds me of the time my pal The Girth started to justify racial profiling of airline passengers, which I found odd and disturbing, especially since he teaches in the inner city of LA and often rails against the corrupt nature of the LAPD and their prediliction for frivilously stopping and searching young black men. I hold my friends to pretty high ethical and intellectual standards, so I get kind of bullish when they come forward with something I find repugnant. Like when Sam tried to talk to me about the importance of the 2nd amendment. Eventually I got to the core of this idea and I had to give my respect (basic liberatarian responsibility), but while he was casting about trying to explain it to me I was pretty vicious about picking apart his argument.
So Luke and I got into a bunch of inebriated rhetorical battles about the delusitory "clash of civilizations" and such. We played thought experiments like "what if there was a draft" and complained about lazy liberals and masturbatory marxists; while they might be better for the world than Sean Hannity, we also expect a lot more from them. Points of agreement, points of divergence. Luke's got a strong patriotic streak in him too, which I sometimes feel the need to confront. While I know he's a more than reasonable guy, sometimes I detect the faint odor of propaganda around some of the things that he says, the offhand things that just slip out. For instance, a conflict about population distribution along religious lines led me to dig up these stats which, besides (I think) proving one of the points I was trying to make last night, also show that nonreligious and atheist groups make up about 20 percent of the global population. Go reason!
December 22nd Afoot
It is a halcyon world, full of soulful music and bright-eyed true believers. The Girth writes in:
Just read your website entry about Mark and Shannon. Damn. I mean I guess we all knew it was coming, but this is it, they're like officially grown-ups now aren't they? Which makes us people who have married friends our own age. Which means that we are now beginning the fateful journey down the path of realization that perhaps it would be best if we stopped randomly attempting to screw chicks we meet on the bus and actually attempt to develop meaningful relationships with people, lest we die lonely hobos in a cold Nebraska alley, shanked to death for our bindles with no transient wife to defend us in our drunken stupors. This is not at all an implausible scenario from my perspective.
The man has a gift for imagery, you have to give him that. And he's right; it's a rather humbling thing being in the presence of a love supreme. Makes you think about what you're doing, what you're not doing. Last night wild hometown hijinks, pitchers of microbrew and meeting beautiful old Waldorf friends, then standing around a hot fire in the cold night slowly becoming one with the cool damp darkness with the aid of port wine, a silly game of coordination which I was too drunk to play very well, more friends showing up and the after-hours scene, special life-boosting notes and a bottle of rum from Honduras, unexpected lightning bolts of energy given out gratis powering the soul train to dawn -- for some into the beyond -- and finally making out on a bed with far too many pillows with another dear old friend. Dry hump for Jesus, but it was the right thing to do, coming together to feel allright for a while. Easy company. Sleepy biking home in the grey peaceful morning, a hot shower, a cup of tea and the simple pleasure of jazz.
December 21st Gadge
Sitting down to write this entry, I actually made a little outline on paper since there are a bunch of things I want to cover. So much that feels worth documenting! The number one news of course is that Mark and Shannon have announced their engagement. I've know about the plan for a while but had to keep it quiet until he actually got the chance to ask (she's been in South America). It's a beautiful thing, one that deserves some deep and powerful exposition, but as I said lots to document. Breadth will suffice for now.
The other night I had nothing to do and was feeling strong pangs of cabin-fever and lonely-panic. So I went out to the little hippy/yuppie market up the block and got a couple big bottles of very fine beer. The place was kind of jumping. They serve tasty food and have plenty of seating as well as functioning as an epecurian convienence store. Lots of solid eugenians: country fair folk and all.
I had the beers and I sarted reading more of my Allen Ginsburg book. What I love about it is that while what he's saying is nothing new to me, it's so fucking persuasive, makes me believe in what I believe in again. But the book was unable to combat my ennui, so I started writing. At first just a little headlong dive into my identity crisis, trying to find a nice title for the currently nameless alloy of my being. That was more of the same -- it persists; s'what makes it a crisis -- but something I wrote sparked me off on drafting some plot for drama, coelescing a couple of long-brewing play ideas into something resembling a coherent storyline.
I banged out a plot synopsis (a pretty standard love story, really) and some breif character notes in about 45 minutes. As I put the words to the page I could literally feel the sensation of pent-up loneliness melting out of me, reminding me how needful a thing the creative act is. Afterwards I took the bike out for a moonlight ride, passing old haunts and new developments, breathing the clean night air or the American NorthWest. In my little isolation, I was tempted more than once to stop off and check out the scene, but in the end I decided just to head home. The particular brand of loneliness I've been drinking lately is a little too soulful for loud music and strangers, and the bar would likely just exacerbate my thirst.
That was two nights ago. Last night I also had a number of interesting experiences (now you see the need for the notes). First I was just kiling time, watching the tube when some sci fi show I've never seen before came on Fox, called "Firefly." Really interesting cross between the western and the space show motifs, with strangely intriguing christian overtones. I didn't understand everything, not being privy to the backstory, but the situations and characters were vivid and interesting enough to capture my attention. Visually and conceptually I found it momentarily captivating: the future as a criminally chaotic riot of humanity and technology, a stark contrast to the antiseptic utopianism of Star Trek, like a good hit of old Mos Eisley from Star Wars. While I'm very fond of the purity and purpose that the Star Trek idea presents -- a world of self-actualized explorers -- I like the notion of a dirty future too. Seems more honest and full of drama.
Then I went down to the Tiny Tavern, oldest bar in Eugene and known anarchist hangout, with Dave and his lovey artchitect nee rudegirl special lady Jessica. We had a pitcher of Olympia beer and listened to these musicians I love to hear but was not expecting to encounter. It's a husband and wife duo, the fella sounding uncannily like Johnny Cash and the lady like Patsy Cline. If you close your eyes, you could be fooled as to who is on stage, no kidding. The summer after I turned 21 my pals and I would make a point of checking their show out whenever one was announced in the local paper. They cover a range of contry-fried music, and it's quite a good little show.
On the walk home I got the monkey call, Mark and Shannon were back in town and the runion was gathering steam at Brian's place. He played great 70s music -- disco though soul through lounge and then back around again -- and we drank pabts, got high and danced until 3:30am. Mark and Shannon announced their engagemen, everyone excited and congadulatory as they should be, a joyous and portentious glow cast over all. It's was a charged and liberating night, people being kind to one another in the great warm boozy soup of home. We're not all met yet, so that particular airplane has yet to really lift off, but it's a wonderful feeling to come back into that loving and permissive space.
Today I did high tea with the Fam (Grandma, ma and sis), an experience in itself. The height of respectability, dickensonian dressed up christmas carolers and a cute tea serving lady, plus some good family conversation. Now the night has fallen and I'm eager to post this business, brush my teeth and get out on the town.
December 20th Pretty Regular
Thank goodness for the onion. They can make me laugh at anything. It's looking like the whole shithouse is about to go up in flames, as Mr Morrison was often given to predict. I'll blab about that soon in the politics area. For now I'm enjoying the morning.
December 19th Crazy Kat
Sitting here drinking what feels like watery coffee with a purring kitty on my lap, listening to birds and thinking about where life might take me in the grand scheme. I have a little espresso kettle back in Brooklyn -- one of the habits I brought back from my trip to the Netherlands this summer -- and now normal coffee just doesn't seem right anymore. Addict addict bad bad bad. I'm burning a CD to listen to while I drive around today, errands and such. Driving is one of the pure pleasures of coming back to Eugene. It's quite a bike-friendly town, but the pace is too slow for me and the bike I ride (like the car, belonging to my mother) is a little small, half leg extension, no powerstroke. Still, I enjoy the mild look of shock on people's faces as I pedal in NYC style, weaving through the lanes, synchronizing my breath with the ebb and flow of traffic. It's quite zen, I think to thing, or at least six viewpoints. Most folks out here stick to the designated bike lanes or putter along on the sidewalk. Even more than biking I enjoy the commanding feeling that comes from piloting oil-powered American steel on the road. Less kind to mother earth, but as a once a year indulgence, I don't think it's all that bad.
What's really interesting is that mom's new car is a similar model (Chevy Corsica) to the one I drove -- drove into the ground, you might say -- in high school. When I was 17, my father more or less coerced me into getting my license and gave me his old old car to use. It was one of the things that transformed my life, the freedom of mobility, the sheer cool of being automotively able. I used to delight in giving people rides, late night runs across town to deliver people from their parents' rage after a raucuous high school party and the solitary trip home. I used to drive around the nearby country and listen to college radio on sundays. There was a great loungey show with a sexy (sounding) lady DJ and I was depressed and lonesome. There's a certain poetry etched into my mind in the shape of the rolling wooded hills south of my hometown.
And so in spite of everything, I'm a pretty happy man now. Starting to feel the tug of boredom, but Mark is back tomorrow, a glorious reunion. It occurs to me lately how much stuff I have going on that I don't share with people. Hanging with Dave and talking geek talk has been a lot of fun because I never get to do that in New York. Now that I'm pretty far out of school, I don't have many people to talk performance art with (e.g. how many of you knew what that "six viewpoints" remark was about?). Same thing with politics and my crazy ideas about the future.
I also cought up today on Jusin's site, and lately I'm in the mood to hear about the adventures of the internet's primere freelance journalist nee playboy. He's talking about getting older (5 years ahead of me) and "turning the volume down" on his life, and it's good exposition as always. His site was the single thing that most influenced me to start this experiment (though I also rode the wave of the post 9-11 blog boom) and I've since then aspired to reach his level of honesty and integrity not to mention massive breadth of content. It's coming along. I still make my mother uncomfortable when I talk about being stoned on the plane, but I'm rather unashamed. I actually jotted a note about that through the haze on the airplane in my notebook:
Do not be humbled by your drugs. Aspire to be a drunk in action, like an angel, or at least one angelheaded. Because we are holy too.
December 18th Homeland/Security
I'm back in the city of my birth, and it's a good feeling. My mother has put a lot of energy into re-decorating and re-furnishing the old house since my poppie went back to Iowa, so staying here is rather more like visiting a high-class bed and breakfast than saying in my childhood home. While there are little things I miss, on the whole I like it, lends a sense of progress to things. The town itself is changing, a beautiful new library, various constructions sites, new hot spots to explore. My grandma (mom's ma) is here now also. She's quite a lady and will soon have a page of her own. A lot of people are getting pages of their own here soon, part of a new-years resolution package my internal congress is debating.
Being here conjures up all kinds of long-lost feelings. I was walking home last night after hanging out with my man Dave, and the dark blue-black sky had big thin clouds picking up the near-full moonlight and creating great luminescent azure banks, transparent enough that the brighter stars could sometimes still be seen behind them. It was cold and fresh and all around the sound of dripping from a recently-abated hard Oregon rain. Quite something really, conjuring back the angelic teenage romance, the vibrato of lonesome heartstrings I once felt with a regularity that was frankly inconvienent back in highschool. The foreign bed is spacious warm and lonely, and I wonder what the future will bring.
That's the positive side of things. I'm really enjoying the repose here; feel like I might be able to work a few things out about the old life plan. We shall see what we shall see in the upcoming hear of 2003. I'm also gaining a wider appreciation for the state of things in America, which I certainly have a skiewed view of in my high-grade information and wealth-saturated artists environment of new york. I've brewed up a thoughtful little rant, if you'd like to see that too. It's been an ok day for distilling the thoughts. I really want to tie it together in an essay of some sort, something compact and distributable. A talk I could give. Delusions of grandeur here in the city of my birth... as yet I am unsure.
December 15th Traveling Tales
WOW! Spread this around! This is the kind of "killer app" for politics on the internet and it's beautifully done: dubyadubyadubya.com.
Re-reading the site lately, I think I see things that are in motion for the new year, realizations about where I want to be and what I want to do. I don't want to call the new year too soon, but I think I might have to start traveling and fooling around with girls a lot more.
The following is culled from an email to Frank and Jeremy. I thought after the fact that it might be a nice little slice of life, so I corrected the spelling and punctuation, and here you are.
I had a rather catatonic flight, partly by deisgn. The morning was so hectic and the impending doom of 10 hours trapped inside an uncomfortable aluminum can so abhorrent that I took matters into my own hands, cooking up the last smidgen of shake sitting in my room (leftover from the party) with olive oil and garlic. I spread it on some bread with parmesian cheese and wolfed it down at JFK after getting checked in but before clearing the security gate. It seemed the best of all possible alternatives as I couldn't find that bottle of tylenol PM, my usual traveling companion.
This was revealed to be not the best choice when I was, for the first time since adolescence, despite a career of fairly freequent flying, seated next to an attractive young woman with great big beautiful breasts. Actually, in highsight, I don't know that she was all that attractive, but I do know that she was in our age bracket and that her endowment was of the type we rarely see in old bulemic New York; sweet, round, pillowy, gravety-defying and un-pretentiously on display in a well-worn t-shirt.
So there I was, hungover, queasy in the guts, tired as all hell, floor-burn all over my arm from a 787 hallway wrestling match and well on my way to being ferociously stoned, and, as I walked down the isle to my seat, slowly realizing that I was to sit next to this girl. I thought, "gee, you should just drift off and let it go, because lord knows you're in no shape for conversation." This would seem to be the most prudent course of action, but purient curiosity eventually got the better of me. In the midst of casting sidelong glances across the vacant middle seat (I had the window) to better assay and appreciate what God hath wrought for us, I noticed she was reading a copy of Steve Wangh's book, An Acrobat of the Heart.
So now I had to say something, as this is the sort of thing that causes me (possibly while high) to believe in fate and romance and all that good but complecated angelheaded stuff -- it's the sort of petty thing I would torture myself with regret over after the fact. However, I was rapidly descending into a complete and utterly intoxicated haze, the kind that causes the mind to work furiously but which I know from experience more or less completely disables the normal faculties of communication. Perhaps I could have formed a soulful and honest connection with her though a vigorous bout of contact improvization or tantric sex (they had a Sting medly on the airline radio), but it was quite obvious that my capabilities as a conversationalist were so far below board as to render me a fool at best. I decided the best course of action would be to take in the in-flight movie and see what happened after things had settled down a bit.
I realize now that I've gotten a bit far into the personal drama of the situation as I experienced it, and some expectation management is in order. I should admit in advance that this whole occurance was in the grand scheme of things rather trivial. I didn't join the mile high club or even exchange contact information with this girl, who's name now escapes me but who I remember (because I wrote it down) works with the Performing Arts Conservatory of Carmel. After the film I felt a bit more relaxed; less hung over and more plain body-high. I got up to pee and when I came back I asked her if she went to NYU. She'd done a workshop there and we bantered a bit about ETW and Steve and the importance of following your artistic vision, and it became clear that although this was possibly the strangest small-world connection I've experienced yet, she was in fact not my fabled and immaculate star-crossed lover who I seem to have been waiting for all these years. C'est la vie.
We parted ways on friendly fellow-travelers terms, though I did detect a slight note of scorn from her, something I'm a bit more sensitive to lately. I think maybe she was hoping I knew people she could get connected with to further her artistic development. I probably do, but I couldn't get enough of a handle on who she is or what she was about to make any recommendations and my interest in her had flagged once I realized that she wasn't the one for me. I can't imagine she didn't sense my detachment. I mean, I did bring one conversation to a close for the express purpose of drooling on the window. I'd be a bit put out if I was in her position. But once again, what are you going to do?
On the Portland-bound flight I sobered up enough to crack my book: The Secret History which I'm mightily enjoying. I don't want to reveal much of the story -- it's a mystery-type novel, as you might suspect from the title -- but I will share this particularly brilliant passage with you:
"It was only quite recently that I has managed to extricate myself from a long, claustraphobic relationship with a girl in California whom we will call Kathy. I met her my first year of college, and was initially attracted to her because she seemed and intelligent, brooding malcontent like myself; but after about a month, during which time she'd firmly glued herself to me, I began to realize, with some little horror, that she was nothing more than a lowbrow, pop-psychology version of Sylvia Plath. It lasted forever, like some weepy and endless made-for-TV movie -- all the clinging, all the complaints, all the parkinglot confessions of "inadequacy" and "poor self-image," all those banal sorrows. She was one of the main resons I was in such an agony to leave home; she was also one of the reasons I was so wary of the bright, apparently innocuous flock of new girls I had met my first few weeks of school."
You might see why I like this book. Well, that's the haps of the trip. Portland is green and relaxing and even more full of strip clubs than I remember. The night of my arrival we went to a rock and roll show and afterwards back at Luke's old place we were forced to endure the yappy ramblings of some punk rock girl who I apparently met at ren fayre. At first I thought she (blonde) might be cute, but then I rapidly learned the terrible error of my ways. And she's married. My conclusion was that since she was hitched there was no reason for her to try not to annoy stupid rocker boys (e.g. myself and my friends). You see: power corrupts, let us never forget. The debauchery has not been as prolific as in times past for me but it's been quite a good time so far. Laugh-out-loud inside jokes, good food and beer, and plain soulful conversations. Looking forward to more of the same.
December 14th Safe and sound
Landed a-ok in pdx after a long tour at 32,000 ft. I had a few interesting thoughts on the way over, which I'll bang out a little later. Hanging out now in the house of rock and roll, preparing to chow on some serious nachos. Allergies are coming up fierce, but I love this place, from the cool organic splendor to the heart-shaped algae stain in the bathtub. Hopefully I'l rendezvous with a few other friends 'round here and then down to good old Eugene.
December 12th/13th Long Sleek Blur
Preparing for trans-continental flight, savagely hungover, missed my flight, will improvise ala standby, we didn't come anywhere near to winning the trivia finals, but I got to make eyes at the h-o-t bartender and the 'redeaded girl' checked me out while I was unlocking the old steel horse. Methinks that will be a fun scene in 2003. I love you all!
December 11th Victory!
We finally won at the Pete's Candy Store quiz-off! It took a team of 11, but tomrorrow five randomly selected individuals (including yours truely) will represent in the final challenge. I talked to a gentleman who addressed me as outlandish josh, and I wasn't sure if he knew me from a prior introduction or if he'd found this site and recognized me. He's also friends with the tall blond woman who's fast becoming (as frank pointed out) my personal version of Charlie Brown's 'red haired girl,' so maybe he'll turn her on and she'll like it. Or maybe he already has and she doesn't. Either way, it's intriguing. I need to figure out how to deal with people who've seen this site who I don't know anything about. Maybe just trying to learn something about them is a ogod way to start...
I also talked with a Minnesotan Megan, nice girl who'd run me down a week prior just as I was unlocking my bike. That was good too. Wish I'd been able to be more flirty, but I'm always uncomfortable when I'm not sure how I feel about someone. I need to get back in that place where it's ok to display interest without the solid intention of getting into an epic romance, or get into the place where I can be interested without being obligated, or something.
Problem is, I really want that epic romance, and so diddling around with anything less is ultimately using less than my whole heart. On the other hand, he who refuses to play in the minor leagues will never make it to the big show. Still not sure how I should negotiate that particular conundrum.
Interesting build on last night, where I was drinking mojitos (the trendy drink of the year) and smoking a hookah at a swank place on Bleeker with a gorgeous bartender of the classical style, thanks to Sarah Baker and her ambitious style. Good conversations with friends new and old. I enjoy this sort of thing, I must admit, and I hope to keep the trend rolling back in Oregon.
December 10th Attention
The local peace movement exists!
On Friday Dec 13th, members of the Williamsburg community will stand in protest to the Bush government's overtures of war against Iraq. Please join us in our peaceful anti-war protest and in our subsequent discussion of current events in Iraq, US foreign policy in Iraq and upcoming anti-war (pro-peace) activist events in New York and around the US. STAND-OUT AGAINST WAR: Friday 13 December, 6-7pm, Bedford Ave/ N 7th St. Please meet at the Bedford Avenue subway stop (above ground) at the corner of Bedford and North 7th streets. Note: this event will be peaceful and legal. The police have been notified and we†expect absolutely no problems with the Police.
TEACH-IN, Friday 13 December, 7:30-9pm, The Stable yoga/ dance studio, 281 N 7th St.
Strangeness for the Day: In The Grim Future of Hello Kitty, There Is Only War. From everything.
December 9th Open Eyes
The other day, Jeremy turned me on to samsloan.com, the website of a heavy whacky genius chess dude he knew back in college days in the village. Hey, he apparently was the last person (non-lawyer) to sucessfully argue before the supreme court. He's got the notion that the FBI is after him, the unmistakable air of con man and/or crazy hanging around the site. His links led led me to this, the "anna kournikova of chess." I stand once again amazed as what the internet has brought me and I love that I am a part of it.
It is a world of injustices, great and small. My neighbor Kevin was idled for a week (and hence docked a week's pay) by middle management at Pizzaria Uno due to his calling in for a day off on sunday after the party. That's the ostensable reason, but really it's personality conflict between him and the manager in question. Just another instance of the petty and small-minded power abuses that are slowly but surely tearing this nation apart.
Well, that's a bit turgid, but sometimes that's how it feels, like there's a pressurized bullshit tank spraying willy nilly, coating everything in sight with duplicitious slime. I'll rant in a bit in the politics section. I can feel it brewing.
Thankfully there is resistance. Steve Wangh sends me this link, showing that my old hometown is trying to resist the information-facism of the USA PATRIOT act. We need some of that to counter the drive for total information awareness. Maybe this culturejam can help turn it around on New Years eve (link courtesy the indespensable doc searls).
December 8th Things of Swing
Ticking along well here. Friday night saw some dance and met up with Chris Cromwell, an old school buddy who'd been attistant directing. After had a few drinks with him and a couple other theatrical people, all a few years more seasoned than I. It was good to be talking to fellow artists. I don't mean this with with any disrespect for my friends, but not many of them are dorky about performance and theater and art in the way that I am. I let my brain be tickled by the whole thing, making a few eyes at the 28 year old choreographer and taking heart in other people enthusiasm to make real work happen.
Then last night we made partytime at 787. It all came together and we ended up having a raging double-kegger. I mostly covered lights and sound. The whole evening was good enough that we're obligated to run it again in January. Indeed, aside from a slight case of machismo poisoning and some petty theft the event was an unqualified success. I myself became most inebreated with the help of some Dark and Stormies, Georgia Moon Corn Liquor and the keg of Pabst. Had a lot of fun until things went a little too far into host mode. But that's my business. The party was a gas. Positive reviews all around.
About the previous entry and my girl complaints, Kristi says (with love) that I'm being "a classic male asshole." At first I was going to write her back and contest this assessment, but then I thought better of it. She's right. What I'm doing right now is considered by most women to be "asshole behavior." Moreover, I see their point: guy make me sad/mad ergo guy is an asshole. The problem is, as far as I can see I'm doing the best I can in an imperfect situation. That's what's infuriating about it. I really don't feel that I've done anything wrong, yet this doesn't mean I'm not an asshole. I can do the right thing and not everyone will love me... and that is ok. Perhaps a new mantra for me, I kid you not.
Speaking of which, I was displaying symptoms of having the hots for Christine during the party, which I suppose is the truth. She left with her friends fairly early on though, and I'll admit that I was disappointed and put into a bit of a bum mood. Trouble is, experience tells us we don't really work romantically, too dificult to communicate on that level. So we (conversation) make good friends, and occasionally our bodies seem to be mutually attracted, but I've always held back a little bit for fear of some kind of humiliation coming from not being able to adequately express myself. The last time that happened I got miffed, behaved in an ugly manner and had a bike accident. Maybe best to leave well enough alone, but the hormonal pull is good and strong and clear.
Today was cleaning the house, seeing Four Winds Commune friend Rachel (after 12 years... this deserves an entry of its own!), eating chineese and watching Don't Look Back. Restoration is complete and I'm ready to face my last week in the city.
December 6th Nervous Tension
Stress today. I'm having one of those moments with the website, wondering whether or not to publish something. Aw what the hell, this is what you come here for, right?
Last night I went and had dinner with a girl who I've previously had a relationship with. I'm not going to name names because that would be vindictive. Who she is isn't that important. The reason for chronicaling this online is not to cast any judgement on her, but rather to delve into the truth of the self. So anyway, dinner was nice and alfterwards we walked around the pretty neighborhood in the snow for a while. Conversation dwindles, expectation tension begins to form. In the moment, I'm not quite sure what I should do. A little explaining...
I sometimes get swept up in the eddy of another person's deisre, the essance of another person's lustful energy causing sympathetic vibrations in me. While there's nothing wrong with this a-priori, in practice it can lead to bum situations. Let me break that down.
In the best of all possible worlds everyone is fully informed about what is going on -- peoples intentions are clear, everything beautiful and nothing hurt -- but in reality there's all kinds of confusion when this sort of shit goes down. It would be great if I could get swept up in such an eddy of desire, and if the source of that sweeping eddy were aware that I'm merely being carried along by the tug of their enthusiasm, and if they were nevertheless full of said eddy causing energy, and I was able just to ride the wave, so to speak. The thing is, for most people, as soon as you realize you're just catching someone in your own gravity, they become less interesting to you. You might even feel used. After all, it's not just anyone who you extend your attractive affection towards.
So I (small guilt trip) went back to (expectation) her place and we had a drink and started to watch a movie and immediately I felt like I'd made a mistake. What to do now? I really didn't want to fool around with this girl, but the stakes had been raised and I knew that if I took off it would hurt her self-esteem, if nothing else. But I'm not that unselfish, so I bailed, making excuses about being tired.
Walking away from her place I was a little angry at myself for not just saying no in the first place, so I go home and rant at Frank a little, have some beer and go to sleep. There's something in me that can't easily ignore someone else's need, someone else's patent desire to be loved, held, fucked, talked to, whatever. I'm not sure whether this facet of me is noble or exploitative; it's been both in the past. Today I had to write emails to her explaining that she didn't do anything wrong and that she's a lovely person who I just happen to not want to sleep with. Predictably she blames me and is angry, and while I'm trying to be a nice guy ("Josh Koenig was a nice guy, he didn't need this shit"), I'm honestly sick of being scorned. Then she switches to being sad and whistful and depressingly self-deprecating, which is even harder to deal with... the whole thing gives me the tension.
There's never been any question that I disavowed any responsibility for this particular woman's emotional state. I told her that when I first met her, "I don't want to be responsible for anyone's feelings." And here I am feeling responsible for her feelings, which makes me very angry because I feel tricked, manipulated, used. I don't really think I have much of a case for being "used" because she didn't get much out of the situation, yet still I feel like I'm being fucked with here. In any event, it's put me in a foul mood.
December 5th Snow Day
Living almost all my life in places where snow is a rarity (the one exception being the farm), I get a kick out of a little frozen water falling from the sky. In NYC it's especially nice for a while; covers over all the dirty shit and quiets the air. Brooklyn is just beautiful.
I've been thinking about how we've all been getting a little more serious about life in the past year. Seems like everywhere you turn people are becoming more mature and conscious. Simultaniously heartening and kind of a drag.
December 4th Bombs over Bhagdad
I could really go for some honest sex right about now, just some good old school lovin with nothing to prove. Just good times with the body.
Sadly I think I'm not quite in a good enough mood for that to really happen for me. Maybe if I get lucky, but probably not. I've got some identity things to still hash out. Sometimes lately I get worried about falling behind on the old Ericson development plan: stuck in the realm of the identity crisis and unable to move onto the next thing of making connections.
I'm still just plain too shy for my own liking. It's all here. I mean, it's not like I don't know exactly what's going on. So let's be honest about it, ok?
Just when I thought they might actually be giving peace a chance. When the hell did the yahoos take over the internet? I don't mean the commercial entities like yahoo.com, I mean the pickup truck and gun-rack cheauvenist pig-headed bastards. One of the things that used to be nice out here was this it was all geek all the time. Politics didn't enter into it too much. These days, every where you look people are warblogging (or anti-warblogging as the case may be). Look at what Eric S Raymond has to say today:
[speaking of social security] ... When you subsidize old age, you depress birthrates. The more you subsidize old age, the more you depress birthrates. Eventually...crash!
It's not just Euro-socialism that's going to get trashed by demographics, it's the U.S's own welfare state. It might take longer here because our population is still rising, but it will happen.
So he's saying we should get rid of retirement benefits in order to reverse the falling trend in birthrates -- in essance to breed more -- to avoid being quote "trashed by demographics." What exactly does that mean? "We can't be out-bred by those darkies! Slash social security!" ???
It wouldn't bother me too much, except that this is Eric S Raymond, the guy who wrote The Cathedral and the Bazzar, seminal piece explaining the Open Source thing. I loved that shit. He's a hacker, man. They're supposed to be cool. Now it turns out he's a redneck. Say it ain't so!
In other news, it looks more like war. I've always felt that Bush was itching for a fight, the question was always whether Saddam would give him a reason. Is it just me, or does all this fancy "international diplomacy" remind you of playground politics from middle school too?
December 3rd Perty Herty
Axiom went down last night, more party than performance, but that's ok with me. I had a little bit of fun improvising off my planned text, getting a few laughs while I could. As Emily remarked, "I like the low key axiom nights. Like the good old days." It was a great relief to watch it happen again.
I don't know, I think things are going to be ok. We're looking like we're going to war with Iraq in spite of every reason not to, and I'm slowly beginning to understand how to be opposed to that particular folly without feeling personally responsible for not being able to stop it. Sounds foolish, but it's giving me a lot of stress-relief, not trying to carry the world upon my shoulders.
For some reason thinking a lot about graduate school this morning. It's kind of a tentative plan for me in 2003 to take some GREs and send out some applications. The question is where? Got any ideas? Hot programs with enthusiastic professors researching the intersection between technology, culture, the performing arts and international policy? Let me know.
Otherwise a furiously boring day. I did a little sysadmin learning and some hacking to get x on x back in action on the old Cube, but otherwise it was the kind of purposeless enervation that defies any effort to get started on anything productive. Leaves me tense.
December 1st Future Perfect
"Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood."
Here we are in a new month, soon to be a new year, and I find myself reflecting as usual on the state of the world I'm in, trying to envision/imagine how to progress things to the next level. I don't know how to broach the subject without sounding like a space-case, but we've got to get off this planet. As far as I can tell, the drive for new resources and space is a constant within the Human Animal, and I'm not optimistic about our ability to scale back our standard of living and conserve what we've got here on the green Earth. Given that, we need more room. We also need purpose as a species, some calling to help us rise above the petty squabbles that threaten to tear us apart. We need to recognize a higher ideal of behavior and meaning in our lives, something more soulful to gather around than the television. These flickering ghosts will be the end of us I fear.
I'm writing something for Axiom (MONDAY!) that plugs into my old neohippy talking bits (pirate utopia and truelove) discussing the almost overwhelming presence of turn-offs in the (post)modern environment, the need to return to some basic truths, and the quest to get some kind of ball rolling that can pick up all the enlightened but inactive minds currently residing within the square world. I'm nervous about it, which usually means I'm on the right track with things. I'll post the finished text here as usual.
The feeling in my heart lately is that I'm beginning to understand what's involved in balancing the worlds problems and my own selfish/saintly needs and desires. That's a tricky fulcrum to find, to maintain a sense of relevance and goodness in the spirit without burning out and shutting down in the face of everything. I hope to hope that this sensation of equilibrium grows stronger over the coming months rather than fading away. My personal internal gyroscope is a very needful thing.
I'm also thinking about how this little experiment in organizing electrons has passed it's one year marker. It was fun back when I was building. You can look in the archive if poking around in the 4th dimension is your thing. When I first got started on this mammajamma, Justin Hall's links.net was my ideal. In form (life, distilled though html; so much more than just a blog) it still is, but in content I find myself leaning more towards the messianic rantings of the equally net-(in)famous rageboy. He's an older spirit, and more furious, which I identify with more and more. And furous about more than just the bullshit politics situation. Here's a sizzling sample:
In addition to being a sort of indie-Indy, I also think of myself as An Amateur and a Dilettante. The caps are there to echo the title of the movie, An Officer and a Gentleman – though as you're already finding out, I'm neither. At its heart, gonzo is animated by an attitude of deeply principled anti-professionalism in the best sense. And there is a best sense. Historian and former Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin once wrote: "Democracy is government by amateurs.... The survival of our society depends on the vitality of the amateur spirit.... The representative of the people...must be wary of becoming a professional politician.".
Here, amateur clearly doesn't mean incompetent or unskilled. It doesn't mean unprofessional. But professional-ism is something altogether else. Over time, any functional specialization tends to forget its relationship to the larger social context it was created to work within and serve. Instead, it concentrates on developing an inner sanctum of specialists who talk among themselves in a private language inaccessible to outsiders. Almost without exception, such professionals despise amateurs. Or worse, accord them a patronizing form of faux eye-rolling patience. Related to "amateur" is the even more pejorative term "dilettante" – someone who practices a craft or studies a field of knowledge in which he or she is not a "recognized professional." But the etymological roots of these words tell a different story. Amateurs do what they do for love (from the Latin amare), while dilettantes are not mere casual dabblers, but instead are inspired by delight (from the Italian dilettare by way of the Latin delectare). But delight and passion for the work are precisely the qualities professionals tend to lose first. The opposite of professionalism is what Zen master Shunryu Suzuki called "beginner's mind" - an ability to look at the world with fresh eyes and an open spirit..
Shine on, crazy diamonds.
Back in time to November: The New Thing Is Happening