The Unified Theory of Josh
Starting to settle into the new groove. I took the temperature of the neighborhood last night, a little solo wandering. I haven't lived in the Mission for nigh on five years, and it's definitely changed. Gentrification was well underway when I arrived in '03, and has continued apace in my absence.
For instance, there are coteries of "pretty people" who I don't really think are all that pretty, but do make me feel underdressed. This reminds me of North Brooklyn in its heyday, and in the way of all NYC-to-SF comparisons feels a bit like being sent back to the minor leagues, but on the other hand this is where most of the good art comes from so you have to take the lumps with the cream.
Somewhat less pretentiously you can run into this action at a sidewalk cafe:
This band is really good live, reaffirms faith in humanity via Korg and wail, etc.
A final lurking margarita at Latin American Club diluted the buzz a bit. Observing the barmeat scene circa midnight-thirty is the opposite of humanity-faith-affirming, and the very concept of a "final margarita" has bad idea written all over it — but every sweet taste needs its salt. Lumps with the cream.
It puts me in a reflective mood this morning, slurping my way through a french press and listening to a little Nick Drake. I find myself blog-envying Zack; even though he hasn't written much yet. What he presents tells a coherent story.
I want that. I need to rejuvinate my cultural productivity, to re-assert my worldly relevance as I inch my way back onto the main-stage. I need to find the narrative, and I want it to be good, with beautiful typography if possible.
The words don't come though. The web is tangled, my own "outlandishness" confounding coherence. What is this motley collection of history?
- Ran naked on a commune as a small child in Oregon
- Reared through a gentle, art-focused and somewhat hippy-dippy primary education with computers as a (divorce) dad-powered hobby
- Discovered social grace and theater and how to start to write for serious in high-school
- Decamped to New York City after testing into the 99th percentile and passing audition mettle at Lady Gaga's alma mater
- Studied at being An Acrobat Of The Heart and other quasi-mysitical processes while simultaniously working for various ambitious but ultimately fruitless ventures in Silicon Alley
- Graduated with a BFA and the realization the life of a professional actor wasn't for, me but kept pushing into "performance" and writing and directing and Shakespeare, freelancing web-stuff to pay the rent in Brooklyn
- Cemented my core belief in bohemian (what the squares call "alternative") culture, reading through the beat cannon, scrapping around the city by bike, hooting in the woods, ranting in the desert.
- Started blogging and seriously considering politics in the aftermath of 9/11
- Ultimately ended up joining a web-fueled attempt to take over the government on the advice of a guy who's now kind of a big deal
- Which led to joining a silicon valley funded vanguard organization, which may not meet Wikipedia's "notability requirements" (sigh) but did furnish me with a couple rides on a private jet and the ammo to get this kid to drop out of college.
- Took heavy losses in the winter of '04, regrouped for an epic journey through the mind, body and soul of America in the summer of '05
- Which led to being broke and needing a job, and eventually to starting my own company, moving "behind the Redwood Curtain" and living in a big beautiful house by the beach
- Proved the concept that location ain't everything by becoming a mini nerd-celebrity by making videos that showed people how to do things, and being surprisingly successful at the business
- A growing technology wave powered me through the great recession, or as the man says, we made the team without putting on a uniform / Smart went nuts and rode a unicorn through the storm
And now? I ain't rich, but I've done several million dollars worth of work and retired my debts. I am more or less confident in the durability of my survival skills, both within polite society as a wage-earner, and in the Red Dawn context of living off the land. I am a free man.
The question is what I want out of life, and now's the time. The forgiving shine of youth is wearing off this narrative. See, people cut you a lot of slack when you're young because you're still figuring it out and you've got lots of room to grow. Those days are gone. Now comes time to deliver.
So I've come down out of the hills to San Francisco. I am starting the next big thing. I've fallen for a girl who's living in London. I'm distant and pessimistic about the state of our politics and economy, but will never get over the junk of power, or my own insane ambitions to move the heavens and the earth. I haven't performed outside of the Annual Westhaven Xmas Talent Show in years, but I'm itching to get back on stage or at least out in front of people again in some way, to be relevant, recognized, respected.
I want it all, you see.
Intuitively I believe there's a way these threads interweave to form a strong and unique pattern, though as per usual I'm hazy on the particulars.
But maybe this "intuition" is just the way my ego self-rationalizes, believing always that the "Unified Theory of Josh" is just around the corner, limitless energy sources and potentials attendant. Maybe this is how I cover for being feckless, indecisive, constantly on the run, unable to make something of anything. Maybe this is how I cover up my fears of "Peak Josh", that in spite of keeping my hair (both in quantity and color) I'm about to start an inevitable decline any day now.
The problem is I don't really know. I wish I had a unified theory, or even a resource map, but these things don't exist. They can't. The self is forever uncharted territory, a moving target. I know I don't fit the mold, that there isn't really a path to follow forward; sometimes that feels like I'm a bold trail-blazer and other times it feels I'm hacking through endless jungle. I suppose that's part of the deal though.
The things I truly want and care about are intangible. There's the respect and relevance, and there's the power, but there's also the community, the love, the justice, the peace. I like cheap thrills (and sometimes expensive ones too) and good food, but it's the soul-sustinance that really drives me forward.
Figuring all that out is a challenge.