“Another type is fetish sweaters. There are a lot of people who like sweaters as sexual attribute. Such sweaters are made of 100 % wool, have a high thick turtleneck collar (for sweater mask game), and sometimes have special attachments for wool bondage.”—
The three main things I demand from music are idiosyncrasy, excellence, and soul. When I listen to music, I want to believe that the musicians are doing something that no one else is doing, better than anyone else could do it, because they are supernaturally compelled to do it. Of course, I…
Yay the Weird Weeds! I love your review, and I can’t wait to hear their new record. And damn, it sounds like I really missed out when I left before Ralph White’s set.
“When I think about the news items my social circle has discussed most over the last week, I notice that white privilege is a common thread among them. Only white privilege can account for why a mediocre white musician who publicly disrespected both white and black female celebrities can apologize for his actions without having to put his career on hold. Only white privilege can account for why an excellent black athlete who cheated on his wife had to apologize publicly twice for it and put his career on hold in the process. Only white privilege can account for why a white professor who killed her own brother, assaulted a stranger in public, and was suspected of multiple bomb plots could be allowed to teach at a state university. Last but not least, only white privilege can account for why a white engineer who set his house on fire with his family in it, and then suicide bombed an IRS building, could be called anything and everything but a terrorist by mainstream media.”—Sean Padilla, I Make Good Music, Love Women, Hate Violence, and Don’t Owe the IRS a Cent
“Much of On The Road consists of loopy conversations that probably seemed profound before they were transcribed on paper and dried out, without all the chemicals; on the page, they made me regret not downing a handful of bennies and chasing it with a bottle of rotgut wine before picking the book up. The rest of On The Road details encounters with hitchhikers, cowboys, hobos, poets, and other free-spirited ne’er-do-wells who never seem as captivating or significant as Kerouac’s easily excitable Sal thinks they are. Whether it’s matter of nothing much happening, or Kerouac’s convoluted, inconsistent prose failing to bring the events to life, reading On The Road was like being stuck in a car with a blowhard with a vast repertoire of rambling anecdotes without punchlines.”—
It’s been a hard fucking week, that’s for damn sure.
But two miracles occurred that have inspired and enraged me. Two miracles have helped me to put my life and my emotions into perspective.
The first miracle was reading Esquire's new piece on Roger Ebert and his struggle with cancer, An Essential Man. I literally wept at my desk as I read about how Ebert has found new joy in writing and connecting with people despite being unable to speak, eat, or drink. The man’s profound lack of vanity, and his acceptance of the inevitable dissolution that comes with aging and dying, hit me like a freight train the minute I looked at the harrowing picture of him in the profile. The bravery and humanity of this man made me proud to be a fellow human, walking the same unclear path as he through life to death. The following words, which he wrote in an entry on his blog, have touched me more deeply than I can adequately say:
"I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try."
To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. I want to write these words on my heart and live by them for the rest of my life, because I believe they are true. For all the years that I’ve been hard on myself, for all the years I’ve hated myself for feeling, looking, or being other than what I thought I should be, I have committed crimes against myself, and I have cut myself off from the love and joy that comes with being at home in the world. While I can’t control how I feel or what I am for the most part, I can control my perspective on myself and my life, just as Ebert has done.
The other miracle is the fact that Joseph Andrew Stack, the man who purposefully crashed his private plane into an office building not far from my house yesterday morning, killed only himself and one other, unfortunate person. The entire building was engulfed in flames that could be seen for miles; it truly is a miracle that almost everyone in the building escaped with their lives, and most of them unhurt. On my bus ride home in the evening, I could see clearly where the plane had made its impact, and parts of the plane were still visible. The sight made me physically sick.
According to Stack’s suicide note/ manifesto, he was fed up with the federal government’s support of corporate interests over those of middle class folks like himself. I don’t want to get into a debate over the merits of his political points and philosophy, as all of that is beside the point I want to make. As I read his rant, I had chills down my spine, as I’ve heard eerily similar diatribes from a former friend of mine that I cut out of my life. This person hid his deeply unsettling emotional problems behind a veil of obsession and blame towards the government, Israel, or any monolithic figure he could come up with; while he ranted endlessly about the problems and unfairness in Palestine, he was physically, emotionally, and sexually abusing people I knew. He was a grade A, full blown, textbook, malignant narcissist, and I think Stack was one, too. He barely mentioned his wife (and doesn’t even mention his daughter) in his note, and only to say that her tax issues compounded his own tax problems. Plus there’s the obvious fact that he thought the only solution to his problem was to murder innocent people whilst offing himself in the most flamboyant way possible.
I have to wonder what would have happened if Stack, instead of being hounded by the IRS, had contracted cancer in his throat and jaw like Ebert did. I think he would have acted the same way, only instead of IRS offices, he would have driven his plane into a surgeon’s clinic, or an insurance agency billing office, or a cancer-causing electric transformer near his house—any other target that he could blame for all of his problems. It goes without saying that he also obsessed over, blamed, and hated himself. Why else would he have treated his own life so thoughtlessly?
To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts.
What, fundamentally, is the difference between Roger Ebert and Joseph Andrew Stack? It is how they have chosen to view themselves and their lives. One chose love and joy, despite the odds; the other chose hatred and murder.
Life is uncertain. We can’t choose what we are born into. Ultimately, we don’t know what’s going to happen to us tomorrow, or even an hour from now. The museum I love and work for might go the way of the Cactus Cafe, a psycho with an axe to grind might crash a plane into my house, my desires may never be fulfilled. As a friend one said to me, uncertainty is “the main ingredient of consciousness. It’s totally okay to be uncertain. Certainty is only stuff you add every day into this big bowl of uncertainty we live in. Uncertainty is the broth we make our life soup out of.” It’s a fact of life that we often forget in our daily attempts to have things the way we want them.
Stack’s hateful actions have filled me with anger, but he and Ebert have both struck me down with knowledge this week. Uncertainty fills me with fear, and anxiously, I scramble to do whatever I can to pin things down, make things certain, and predict the future. I will always struggle to love myself; I will always be afraid of uncertainty. But as far as I am able, until the day I am buried in this earth, I am going to choose joy and love over hatred. No matter what happens, that is good enough. I am going to share what present joys I have with anyone near me, as best I can, be they stranger, lover, family, or friend. No matter what happens, that is good enough. This life is too short and precious to spend it on anything less.
To anyone reading this, I want you to know that you are special, you are loved, and you are possessed of infinite possibility. Tony Kushner said it best: “You are fabulous, each and every one, and I bless you. More life. The great work begins.”
Add the Bailey’s and Jameson to a shot glass, layering the Bailey’s on the bottom. Pour the Guinness into a pint glass or beer mug 3/4 of the way full and let settle. Drop the shot glass into the Guinness and chug. If you don’t drink it fast enough it will curdle and increasingly taste worse.
Fill in the blank: “It seems like most people I know enjoy ______, but I don’t.”
Water. I just don’t trust the stuff. I blame this on having grown up in southern Arizona, and then being further reinforced living in central Texas.
Water is tricky. Look! it says. I bring life to plants! I’m…
Word. I hate drinking water straight; I only do it after running or when I need liquid to swallow a pill, or when there’s nothing else. The only water I like has bubbles added to it. Yeah, I’m spoiled. Call me Marie Antoinette: There is no water? Then let them drink sparkles!
I love singing, for one. The physical sensations I have when my voices is raised in song are deeply thrilling and satisfying to me. I also like it when people like a song and clap for me, though that’s not so important. I do increasingly crave the suspenseful thrill of getting up to do a song I’m not sure I’ll be able to do well, but throwing myself into it anyway, wholeheartedly.
But mostly, it’s self love. I get to be on stage under lights, singing songs I’ve sung to myself alone all of my life. Though I can read music, and have dabbled a tiny bit in songwriting lately, I have no serious desire to be in a band, but I have a serious desire to sing. My brain shuts off and the world goes away when I sing karaoke, and I know nothing but joy, especially when I’m singing some off the wall, super emo song like Maria McKee’s “If Love Were a Red Dress” or Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song.” I know few greater pleasures than spilling my guts on stage with a hugely over-emotional torch song.
I enjoy watching my friends sing, and sometimes strangers in a bar will surprise me with an unexpected rendition of a song, but really, the main draw is getting to hear myself sing songs I love. Singing is deeply cathartic for me.
(I’m not getting into karaoke league, which is its own, separate subject, really.)
If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Easy—True Stories by David Byrne. While I think 2001: A Space Odyssey (which I mentioned earlier today) is unbelievably beautiful, improves with repeated viewings, and is one of the greatest films ever made, when it comes down to something I’d watch for the rest of my life, I’m going for something that hits me in a warmer, fuzzier, more personal way.
This film encompasses everything for me. It’s the only film I’ve ever seen that’s realistic about small town Texas as an actual place without relying on stupid cowboy and redneck cliches. It depicts with frightening accuracy the Texas of my youth, when Mom would take us by the Stop and Go for gas, and we’d watch and take part in parades down Sherman’s main street. For years, most of my friends’ dads worked at the Texas Instruments plant just outside of town, which was not only namechecked in True Stories, but formed the inspiration for VeriCorp, Virgil’s silicone and computer processing plant. I remember watching most of the commercials used in the “Love for Sale” scene back when they were originally on TV. I went to Northpark Mall several times as a child; the mall scene (which was filmed at the same mall) always gives me weird little nostalgiac chills.
The film is absurdly funny and satirical without being snarky and mean. There’s a lightness, a Subgenius-fueled subversiveness to it that’s tempered by its genuine love for all the people in Virgil and their true stories. The film believes in love and making it work, no matter what, even if you have to hire a voodoun priest to help your luck (who is also portrayed accurately and matter-of-factly—again, no Hollywood cliches here). There’s also a wistful sadness hinted at during long, quiet, unbroken shots of Virgil—I can never forget that shot of the faces of actual local folks watching the parade head out of town.
I love so many of the film’s performances, too. John Goodman, in one of his first film roles, is wonderfully warm, funny, and confident; you get the feeling that, while he’s frustrated at not finding a suitable wife, he’s not going to let that get in the way of his good time. Spalding Gray requires almost no introduction. (If only the two of us were actually related, as our matching last names suggest.) And who can forget David Byrne’s bizarrely stylized narration, and how it bookends the film with words that seem like zen koans and nonsense at the same time?
And the music! Geez! It’s a real shame the original soundtrack of True Stories was never released, as I love hearing John Goodman sing, and so many other performances in the film are stellar.
Mostly, though, I love this film because it makes me wake up and see my own world in a gentler, happier light. Byrne saw my world, the world I grew up in, as it was, and decided to make a film about it. Every time I watch it, it reminds me how funny, amazing, mysterious, and true my mundane world really is.
I’ve been sitting on the idea of taking a beginner’s hooping class for some time. I’m going to do it for real next month—the 28th, in fact. Come payday, my spot in class will be reserved. (And my left hand will be fully healed.)
Esquire profile of Ebert and his life, post-surgery. Absolutely heartwrenching and inspiring. Just go read it.
I’m tearing up with joy and sadness after reading this. What an incredible writer and an incredible man. Although I don’t keep up with his reviews very much anymore, I will always credit him with inspiring my love of films from an early age (I never would have watched 2001: A Space Odsyssey if it weren’t for his four star review I read in a book collection of his reviews my parents had).
There is no need to pity me, he writes on a scrap of paper one afternoon after someone parting looks at him a little sadly. Look how happy I am.
I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.
The thing about Woody Allen is that he’s not only willing to put his own issues up there on the screen, but he also knows how to open up the doors that lead to your own deepest fears and insecurities, the ones you only entertain in your most paranoid and neurotic moods. And although those doors open onto very different places for each person, I think everyone who’s ever cared about anything—I’m not even talking relationship love here, I’m talking about just being really invested in something, whether that’s a person or a pet or a job or a house—has a door that opens up onto some terrible landscape where he or she has taken just that thing and destroyed it. Cut off its head, eviscerated it, thrown it out a window, pushed it hard while its back was to you.Which is exactly the scenario that Emmett Ray performs in front of our eyes in Sweet and Lowdown.
Look, this is something I’m particularly terrified of. For most of my life I managed to stave off this fear by not allowing myself to get involved in a situation where I had anything at stake like that. I would only date someone for whom I knew exactly how far my feelings went (and could therefore leave at any time without too much damage). I would only work at a job I knew I didn’t really want to advance in. I wanted always to be in control. Because the alternative meant you could lose. You could lose. You could, as Emmett cries unforgettably at the end of this movie, make a mistake.