so i moved this half-dead blog and its archives to petebeatty.org. I’m gonna leave everything up here for the nonce, but eventually you will just see nothing in this space.
2nd half of 2015 uncollated personal humanity
I moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to get an MFA in creative writing. I lived in a house in a graveyard across the river from campus. The first month was lost in novelty and huffing the rich scents of the one-time middle-four-figures stipend the university gave us to get set up in Alabama. I abandoned a lot of materiel when I left Cleveland at the end of July, silently essential implements like vacuum cleaners and incidental furniture, after abandoning a lot of material in Brooklyn. In leaving two places within one year, I abandoned or never occupied a sense of complete belonging. Not knowing where in the grocery store reside the things you want. More knowing where in the place you live reside the people and vortices that sustain you. It’s easy enough to proceed without a sense of belonging although it is also easy enough to drive a car until it runs out of gas.
Grandma died, went home for funeral. Got depressed re: alien corn, general feeling that life was a new pair of shoes that did not entirely fit. Participatory ethnography of bad habits, old and new. Continued making new friends. Wondered whether I was too old for any/all of this, determined that I had no practical options re reversing direction of space-time. Which led me to October.
Officiated wedding of friends. Basked in radiant practical operative love. Self-lectured about being in school to write and to put own ass in gear re personal implementations of telos re caulking seams in sense of self.
Like October but with Thanksgiving. Attempts at writing and being human continued with typical rate of success.
Stressed over emerging demands of grad school (it turns out you can’t just poke at a weird bunch of fiction and then get a graduate degree at the end, you have to do some actual thinking and working). Met emerging demands after some whining.
I wrote 30 postcards to my mother for her 60th birthday. My sister sent the other 30.
For three days I went to New Orleans. As I walked past a washeteria on Prytania Street, a man in a green shirt said a pinched high sweet accent “You can go on and do what you want but when we get you, this is what we’re going to do to your ass.” He wasn’t talking to me. New Orleans is broken/fixed, bones peeking through skin, beautiful/ugly &c. I want to go there again and fail to see everything again. I saw the jaw bone of a hog killed in self-defense by two Confederate soldiers near Port Hudson, Louisiana. I saw Jefferson Davis’s robe and slippers, and a crown of thorns that the Pope made by hand for the ex president of the Confederacy. I saw a hologram fridge magnet that showed Robert E. Lee knelt in prayer. I ate banh mi in a bleak strip mall. I lost $1 in a video poker machine in a cafe where I got Vietnamese iced coffee that tasted like butane. During the Vietnamese food interlude I received and transmitted information on the phone about my mother being in the hospital with abdominal pain, just two days after she turned sixty.
I drove back to Alabama and packed up my stuff in the graveyard house. For four days I looked after three old black dogs, aged 14, 14, and 12 years respectively. Dogs this old take very short walks. Sometimes dogs this old stop in the middle of very short walks and look at you with their rheumy eyes. I frequently ascribe human-wise thoughts to the expressions of dogs. When these dogs stopped in the middle of walks their eyes said I forgot what we were talking about.
The civil authorities of Western Alabama, even in the relative congestion of Tuscaloosa, have austere ideas about streetlight placement. On the dawn walks the sun pushed up behind the broad prairie of chain retail to the east of town/university and the sun helped me see where I was going and more importantly it helped me see the dog poop I was duty bound to collect per social norms. In the hasty December dusk, that same sun hurried out toward Mississippi. So I walked the black dogs in the dark. I had to bring my cellphone on the walks, to use its flashlight to discover the poops of my charges. Otherwise I went to the gym and watched Netflix and ate at Waffle House. The first time I went to Waffle House a strung-out lady came in at 6 am and asked for plastic bags. I finished dog-sitting and moved all my stuff into a new apartment which coincidentally is very close to the Waffle House. I subsequently ate there a second time, the third time in my life to date.
I drove back to Ohio in stages. I saw my sister and her family. I shopped at Ikea with money I would probably have done better to save. I drove on to Cleveland and looked at newspapers from 1836.
In 1917, you are born, a fine baby. Really the only thing wrong with you is the third eye.
The midwife says Oh that’s just a baby eye, we used to see those all the time before they put iodide in the salt. What a hoot.
Your mother is reassured by this.
Your father takes a short performative breath and asks Will we be charged extra for the third eye. He says that No one asked if we wanted a third eye.
The midwife says No it’s cool, the baby eye is free. It’s like baby fat. It will just melt away, close up by the time the kiddo is 12 or 13. Sometimes before they’re 10. Everything they see through it will be forgotten. It will even disappear from any properly formatted digital photos. If you do choose to have an oil painting or sculpture made of the child, that won’t update automatically. You’ll have to bring it in and in all likelihood it’ll be out of warranty.
So it does cost extra, your father says with a thin vinegary smile.
photo (c) peter holliday
Deserter 105 could not stop blinding cyclopses. The other men were running down the shore, fleeing to the hollow ships. Odysseus gesticulated wildly come on come on dude hurry, but 105 still struggled to lift the giant stick, its sharp burned end fouled with eyeball bits cooked like egg. The other cyclopses could come get a piece, he screamed to his departed shipmates.
Deserter 106 walked naked from the bushes to ask the princesses for help. The guards stabbed him infinity times.
Deserter 107 left the island of the beautiful sex goddess after seven years of beautiful sex. He stole some of her shit on the way out.
Deserter 108 felt bad about his body and excused himself whenever sex or nudity or princesses were discussed. The guards stabbed him infinity times also.
Only the priests had knowledge of the calendar but Deserter 109 went through the temple garbage and found a printout of the sacred dates, brushed away the coffee grounds. Deserter made a Google Calendar and invited everyone to celebrate the holy days. Everyone subscribed but the priests took away Deserter’s computer privileges.
When the shepherd communities began to rise like bread into permanent villages they needed a heart. The shepherds chose as their heart a sacred fire guarded by economically disadvantaged virgins. Deserter 110 was the poorest of the virgins. She was behind on her bills and desperate. She sold the eternal fire on Craigslist. She forgot to take the ad down.
it has been a minute (time works differently in a one-way derelict medium). semirandom nugget from school-derived stuff.
Secret Donald excerpts
Secret Donald’s family painted outlines of him on walls and floors and couches like his memory murdered.
Donald left for work that day without finishing his prayers. No one could be sure what god he was aiming for. They left the words there like unwatched TV.
The painted outlines became a whole thing a mode of expression different colors different patterns different sizes. Nothing like Donald at all.
Gods were always stopping past on their summer vacations. Gods on their days off. No winged shoes. No makeup. No bright eyes. No pushup bras. No thunderbolts. They saw the halfsaid prayer and tried it on. Tried to pull it out of the stone. Some gods laughing, some gods shaking with effort. Some gods tried so hard to make the prayers theirs. Some gods just looked at it and said This prayer sucks I won’t hear it. But one god did that thing where he was obviously thinking about buying it and asking the questions you ask a salesgod. There wasn’t a salesgod just that same god imagining himself in a polo shirt. He pretended to get a phone call and walked out of Ithaca.
The prayer and the outlines existed and we gave fucks but not like quality fucks. Not the kind you give as gifts or burn as offerings.
A generation rose up unhappy with the outlines, constrained by even mutant memory not out of hatred but forgetting and because the outlines stained their beautiful tunics.
When the season for god tourism ended, Donald’s family took off their salesgod polo shirts and looked at the prayer and tried to finish. They tried every letter but praying wasn’t Scrabble.
The absence of Donald was like someone else’s money Squint at it all day, see where it gets you.
What if we just had one big outline? We could change it around seasonally Different colors different meanings. We could honor veterans. We could stand up to cancer.
At night Donald’s family would get shitty and work on the prayer. But the one who cared the most grew old and died. No one knew about the spreadsheet and they just kept unmaking.
We have to let Donald go to hold onto him or maybe we got it backwards.
Why does the outline even have to be Donald? At a certain point you have to consider his absence a desertion.
Eventually they decided to treat the halfprayer like they treated the outlines
I mean I don’t know what the deal with Donald is either. He should have been home fifteen years ago. But we were not even waiting for him It was not his birthday. We were not going to jump out from behind the halfprayer and yell DUDE YOU MADE IT AROUND AGAIN and make him sit in the outlines and take pictures.
If they can’t have an outline of Donald, just burn the fucking place down.
Because the halfprayer got sacred they stopped looking at it. One day the youngest baby knocked the prayer over, translated it into a different forgotten language. Who would ever know the difference?
The snow’s smile fell and it built unfinished churches on Ithaca.
First, Maine belched 9 buses full of Stephen King characters and hippie deodorant
New Hampshire drooled 8 Subarus led by the fictional president from The West Wing and the ghost of the schoolteacher astronaut from the Challenger
Vermont smelled 2 battered SUVs driven by the maple syrup golems, from deep in their semi transparent barrel chests came concerns about high sugar intake
Massachusetts underwrote 36 Volvos, full of donuts and mixed-bag history and the smell of the Alewife T station
Connecticut ladled 21 Escalades, each spattered with robin shit, full of men in moderately nice shirts
New York choked on 47 beef patties, each patty cautiously justifying its existence in a calm voice, the voices harmonizing into insanity
New Jersey fake-choked 39 tomatoes dragging behind them 20-acre parking lot
Pennsylvania exhaled 44 Wienermobiles contained steelworkers and football coaches full of problems and a family of frightened deer and the Wendy’s where the Greyhound always stops
Ohio squeak-farted 43 garbage trucks laden with more football coaches with better problems, seven mediocre presidents, and the unpunished murderers of gravity
Maryland stabbed 31 unmarked police vehicles, filled with crab delicacies, rowing under the splattered banner of that mellow-scented jurisdiction
Delaware spat 5 maroon 1992 Chevrolet Corsicas, their fuzzy upholsteries murmuring faintly of peace
Kentucky emitted 24 almond-hued hatchbacks, split evenly between 12 happy families, violently dissimilar, and 12 unhappy families, unrecognizable
South Carolina bled 26 Teslas, their paintjobs scratched by the amorous fingers of spurned part-time lovers on the homefront, the occupants of the cars using their toes to idly swipe through Tinder matches
North Carolina politely sneezed 40 Amtrak diner cars into the crook of her elbow, the germs in rusty armor running every direction
Georgia hiccuped 42 underfunded light-rail cars for the greater good, each one’s destination sign staring out A WAR in cute green diodes
Virginia frontstabbed 38 black Labs in tuxedos, each ridden by a monkey dressed like George Washington, doffing their powdered wigs like hats and chewing on roses
West Virginia suppurated 12 gleaming tour buses, each containing non-native Merle Haggard at a different life stage, including skeleton Merle Haggard who has the best songs of all Merles
Wisconsin smiled 30 roller skates yoked to guinea pigs like a chariot, steered by half-melted Barbie dolls
Illinois tripped over its 45 man-shaped boats and boat-shaped men, scaring everyone half-stupid
Michigan belched, but the kind where you swallow it and just dispel a jetstream of burp-colored breath through pursed lips, 41 grease-only dumpsters full of corporate spokespersons, deaf to mercy
Tennessee dry-heaved 33 orangutans in Bonobos brand internet luxury pants, 16 pairs waltzing elegantly and the one spare wheel sobbing on your shoulder
Florida air-kissed 46 monster trucks full of Al Pacinos
Alabama fake-hugged 27 short lengths of twine blown toward the war by an enormous set of lungs inside the moon
Last and being a baby about it, Mississippi finger-banged 19 cars shaped like the plastic bride and groom on top of a wedding cake, their eyes burning with wayward misery
with like >67% fidelity i think i’ve kept every baseball game/movie ticket stub i’ve acquired since high school. while i was pruning my crap garden before moving everything to alabama in two weeks (did we talk about that, quien sabe), i found this folded up post-it note in my second tupperfile file box of random paper-based souvenirs/proof that i live and will have eventually lived. the post-it note says NOSTALGIA IS A PRISON. i can’t remember why i wrote that on the post it note exactly, but i do remember that it used to be on the wall at my old office in NY.
whatever the reason i wrote the note originally was, it worked out that the real reason i did it was to encourage myself to throw a bunch of shit out here today in 2015 C.E. but because i am a maniac i am going to write down some pertinent info so if i ever desperately need to know what went down for me personally from like 2000-2014 i can consume this list as a memory vitamin. but yeah it is time to stop carrying around this cigar box crammed full of pieces of paper when i could just have this one piece of digital paper. also, if it helps us remember, the cigar box has a hubert davis 1990s panini NBA sticker on it.
baseball games etc
- 07/11/98 Twins at Indians (Brad Radke vs Dwight Gooden, Indians won)
- 07/11/99 Reds at Indians (Brett Tomko vs Jaret Wright, Eddie Taubensee had a big revenge game against Indians a long time after they traded him for Kenny Lofton)
- 08/15/99 Phillies at Reds (Robert Person vs Denny Neagle, Person and the Phils won, Terry Francona was managing them)
- 11/12/99 Islanders at Blackhawks
- 10/21/00 Miami Fusion (defunct) vs Chicago Fire, Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, Soldier Field
- 04/11/01 Indians at White Sox (Dave Burba vs Cal Eldred, White Sox won)
- 08/31/01 Indians at White Sox (Steve Woodard vs Dan Wright, White Sox won, Marty Cordova hit a home run, it seemed like September 11 happened right after this but it was really 10 days)
- 09/23/01 Vikings at Bears NFL (tons of immediate-post-9/11 patriotic stuff)
- 11/03/01 Knicks at Bulls
- 05/21/02 Pirates at Cubs (double header; game 1 Jimmy Anderson vs Jason Bere, Pirates win; game 2 Josh Fogg vs Juan Cruz, Cubs win; Joe Beimel pitched)
- 06/07/02 Expos at White Sox (Tony Armas vs Dan Wright, Expos won)
- 07/06/02 Indians at White Sox (Jason Phillips vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
- 08/12/02 Astros at Cubs (Roy Oswalt vs Kerry Wood, Astros won)
- 04/15/03 Royals at White Sox (this was the game where umpire Laz Diaz got attacked by a fan and players from both teams definitely stomped the guy a bit; Miguel Asencio vs Mark Buehrle, Royals won)
- 05/26/03 Pirates at Cubs (Josh Fogg vs Kerry Wood, Pirates won)
- 06/10/03 Giants at White Sox (Jerome Williams vs Jon Garland, White Sox won, Barry Bonds hit a 999-ft home run)
- 06/16/03 Red Sox at White Sox (Pedro Martinez vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
- 06/19/03 Red Sox at White Sox (Derek Lowe vs Dan Wright, Red Sox won)
- 07/08/03 Marlins at Cubs (Dontrelle Willis vs Carlos Zambrano, your future world champ Marlins and a NLCS preview; Luis Castillo hit a bomb off Mike Remlinger, Marlins won)
- 07/25/03 Celtic FC vs Boca Juniors in Cleveland
- 07/21/03 Indians at White Sox (Brian Tallet vs Mike Porzio, White Sox win)
- 08/18/03 Angels at White Sox (Jarrod Washburn vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
- 09/03/03 Red Sox at White Sox (Derek Lowe vs Mark Buehrle, Red Sox won)
- 09/08/03 Anaheim Angels at Oakland Athletics (Aaron Sele vs Tim Hudson, Angels won)
- 09/22/03 Yankees at White Sox (David Wells vs Bartolo Colon, White Sox won)
- 04/15/04 Royals at White Sox (Brian Anderson vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
- 04/25/04 Devil Rays at White Sox (starters: Geremi Gonzalez vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won, Geremi Gonzalez died after getting struck by lightning four years later)
- 05/28/04 Anaheim Angels at White Sox (now they’re the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Kelvim Escobar vs Jon Garland, Shingo Takatsu got the win)
- 06/04/04 Pirates at Cubs (Josh Fogg vs Mark Prior, Pirates win)
- 07/24/04 Braves at White Sox (John Thomson vs Al Leiter, Braves win)
- 04/06/05 Indians at White Sox (Kevin Millwood vs Freddy Garcia, White Sox won)
- 04/18/05 Twins at White Sox (Kyle Lohse vs Jose Contreras, White Sox won)
- 06/22/05 Cubs at Brewers (Carlos Zambrano vs Doug Davis, Brewers won)
- 07/18/05 Tigers at White Sox (Sean Douglass vs Orlando Hernandez, White Sox won)
- 10/21/05 DC United at Chicago Fire at Soldier Field
- 04/15/06 Blue Jays at White Sox (defintely the first time I went to a baseball game by myself, AJ Burnett vs Mark Buehrle, White Sox won)
- 08/12/06 Chivas USA (now defunct) at Chicago Fire in Bridgeview (definitely got borderline alcohol poisoning while partying with Lithuanians after this)
- 12/17/06 Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (terrible game, Bills won, very cold, drove straight back to Chicago for work on Monday)
- ??/??/07 unknown University of Chicago football game, which is weird, because I graduated four years before this
- 04/08/07 Twins at White Sox (Johan Santana vs John Danks, Twins won)
- 04/10/07 Angels at Indians, but at Miller Park in Milwaukee (because of weather in Cleveland; CC Sabathia defeated Ervin Santana)
- 06/16/07 Brewers at Twins (only visit ever to the Metrodome; Dave Bush vs Boof Bonser, Brewers won)
- 06/19/07 Midwest League All-Star Game in Kane County
- 07/10/08 Giants at Mets (Barry Zito vs John Maine, last year of Shea Stadium, day game, only game I went to this season?)
- 06/19/09 Rays at Mets (Andy Sonnanstine vs Fernando Nieve, Mets won)
- 07/18/09 Cubs at Nationals (Randy Wells vs Jordan Zimmermann, Nats won)
- 05/09/10 Giants at Mets (Tim Lincecum vs Oliver Perez, the Giants went on to win the WS that year, it was really cold, we left early)
- 05/31/10 Indians at Yankees (Mitch Talbot vs Andy Pettitte, Yankees win)
- 07/15/10 Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Brooklyn Cyclones
- 08/15/10 Phillies at Mets, (I think it rained, we had really good tickets gifted by my former boss, whose wife did business with the ownership group of Mets, I bought a Mets logo poncho which I might still own)
- 05/11/11 Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees (notable incidences: E. Hosmer first career HR, Royals win in 11, ticket cost $50 somehow)
- 06/11/11 Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees (Bartolo Colon defeats Mitch Talbot, A-Rod homers, I vaguely recall seat-neighbors making racist/ignorant comments about Shin-Soo Choo; I have an unused second ticket from this game. I think I got the tickets from the old CFO at my old job and was impressed by how shitty the seats were for someone at the executive pay grade)
- 08/11/11 Yankees at Red Sox (Bartolo Colon vs Jon Lester, Yankees win)
- 07/04/12 Williamsport Cross Cutters at Brooklyn Cyclones (I was at Coney Island on July 4 which was kind of a thing unto itself. I think this was a nasty hot spell and I either was on or shortly thereafter went on a couple dates with a girl who was kind of cool but I flaked out and never called her back because I think she said she was into reading Us Weekly and like other tissue-paper-thin weird excuse, but after we saw Battle of Algiers we took a medium-long walk through a psychotically warm NYC summer night, and that walk was a little magic moment that I still keep despite not remembering the girl’s name or really anything other that she was from the part of Pennsylvania between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg)
- 01/28/13 Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets (the ticket has a giant picture of Joe Johnson’s face on it). all i remember about this game is that Jacque Vaughn coaches (coached?) the Magic and that startled me into noticing how old I am.
- 05/04/13 Athletics at Yankees (Bartolo Colon vs Phil Hughes, A’s won; I went to this by myself to celebrate giving notice at Bloomsbury, moreso than having a new job)
- 05/12/13 Pirates at Mets (Jeanmar Gomez vs Matt Harvey, Pirates won)
- 07/06/13 Tigers at Indians (Anibal Sanchez vs Carlos Carrasco, Carrasco got shelled, my two young nieces didn’t like the game and we left early, first Indians home game for me in like ten years)
- 07/03/14 Rays at Tigers (Erik Bedard vs Max Scherzer, Tigers won)
- 07/30/14 Mariners at Indians (Corey Kluber threw a 85-pitch CG shutout against Felix Hernandez; Joe Beimel pitched 12 years later)
- 08/04/14 Reds at Indians (Alfredo Simon vs Corey Kluber, Indians won; this is the point at which I decided Kluber was probably going to throw a no-hitter and I should go to all his home starts)
- 08/05/14 Reds at Indians (Johnny Cueto vs Josh Tomlin, Reds won, last out of game came on a walk-off replay review, sat in bleachers)
- 08/08/14 Rangers at Astros (Miles Mikolas vs Brett Oberholtzer, Astros won, roof closed)
- 09/26/14 Rays at Indians (Corey Kluber vs Chris Archer, Indians won, this was probably the game that cinched the Cy Young for Kluber)
- 04/15/15 White Sox at Indians (John Danks vs Trevor Bauer, Jackie Robinson Day, Indians won)
- 04/27/15 Royals at Indians (Jason Vargas vs Corey Kluber, Indians lost, there were less than 10,000 people in attendance)
- 05/13/15 Cardinals at Indians (John Lackey vs Corey Kluber, Indians won, Kluber struck out 18 in 8 innings, took a no-hitter into 7th, only STL hit was a Jhonny Peralta single)
- 05/14/15 West Virginia Power at Hagerstown Suns (doubleheader, I left part of the way through first game out of wanderlust, Country Music Night, no idea who won)
- 05/15/15 Angels at Orioles (Jered Weaver vs Wei-Yin Chen, Angels won)
- 05/16/15 Diamondbacks at Phillies (Archie Bradley vs Jerome Williams, who I saw pitch 12 years earlier, Phillies won, first time I had ever been at a rain delay, I left before end to drive to Atlantic City)
- 05/20/15 Altoona Curve at Portland Sea Dogs (Altoona won, they had an infielder from South Africa)
- 05/25/15 Rangers at Indians (Phil Klein vs Shaun Marcum, Rangers won)
- 05/27/15 Rangers at Indians (Colby Lewis vs Carlos Carrasco, Indians won)
- 06/01/15 South Bend Cubs vs Lake County Captains (doubleheader, I left somewhere early in second game, it was unseasonbly cold, I ate Mexican food in Painesville beforehand)
- 06/10/15 Mariners at Indians (Taijuan Walker vs Trevor Bauer, Mariners won, Joe Beimel pitched again, point being, raise a lefthander)
- 06/17/15 Cubs at Indians (Tsuyoshi Wada vs Shaun Marcum, Indians lost 0-17, I left in 7th, missed two position players pitching)
- 06/22/15 Tigers at Indians (Kyle Ryan vs Trevor Bauer, Tigers won, Bauer terrible again)
- 07/06/15 Astros at Indians (Dallas Keuchel vs Carlos Carrasco, Astros won)
- 10/19/03 4:10 pm Intolerable Cruelty (Webster Place in Chicago, from so long ago there is an ad for defunct Cingular Wireless on ticket back, maybe the worst Coen brother movie)
- 11/07/03 5 pm Mystic River (River East)
- 02/29/04 3 pm The Passion of the Christ (River East, sitting really way close to the screen)
- 03/25/04 2:30 pm Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (River East)
- 03/29/04 4:40 pm City of God (River East)
- 03/30/04 2 pm Spartan (City North 14, terrible movie)
- 04/06/04 1:45 pm Jersey Girl (City North 14)
- 04/27/04 12:45 pm Kill Bill 2 (City North 14, Chicago, hated it, although working at night is good for seeing matinees)
- 04/28/04 3:45 pm Punisher (River East, Chicago, the one with Thomas Jane, definitely saw this while drinking by myself before work at the Trib, bad times, definitely made a mess changing a toner cartridge not long after)
- 04/30/04 6:10 pm Mean Girls (Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, IL. weird to think this was two days after that shitty day seeing Punisher, this one is a good memory)
- 05/10/04 2:10 pm My Architect (Cedar Lee in Cleveland, bargain matinee)
- 05/13/04 1:40 pm Super Size Me (Esquire in Chicago)
- 05/23/04 2:30 pm Shrek 2 (River East, ?)
- 05/24/04 12:15 pm Troy (Webster Place, so bad)
- 05/29/04 10:40 pm The Day After Tomorrow (600 N Michigan where you have to take eleventy hundred escalators in my memory)
- 07/08/04 5pm Spiderman 2 (Union Square, NYC, Alfred Molina, I turned 23)
- 07/22/04 5 pm Before Sunset (Lincoln Square NYC, I clearly did not have a lot to do this week)
- 07/25/04 4:50 pm Napoleon Dynamite (Empire 25, seemed amazingly great at the time)
- 07/29/04 10:45 pm Garden State (Union Square, not a great week of cinema here)
- 09/07/04 8 pm Collateral (Empire 25, Tom Cruise’s silver hair)
- 10/31/04 8:30 pm Ray (Union Square, not bad as I recall)
- 12/25/04 9:45 pm The Life Aquatic (Middleburg Hts, the multiplex that has a graveyard in the parking lot, circumstantial evidence points to need to escape mom’s condo while home for holidays)
- 04/24/05 5:15 pm Sin City (Empire 25, which is weird because I did not live in NY then, also this movie sucked)
- 11/19/05 7:30 pm Good Night and Good Luck (Esquire on Oak Street, not even there anyone IIRC)
- 12/18/05 6:15 pm Syriana (River East)
- 01/16/06 2:30 pm Munich (River East, I still stan for Eric Bana as leading man)
- 01/21/06 4:45 pm The New World (River East)
- 02/19/06 4:30 pm Tristram Shandy (Pipers Alley, this movie is sadly not very good)
- 04/02/06 3:45 pm Inside Man (River East)
- 06/04/06 4:40 pm An Inconvenient Truth (River East, definitely snuck into something after this but I have no idea what)
- 07/22/06 3 pm Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Siskel Center)
- 07/28/06 7:15 pm Miami Vice (600 N Michigan)
- 08/07/06 6:15 pm Talladega Nights (a theater in a mall in Memphis, TN)
- 08/19/06 2:15 pm The Illusionist (River East, such a cheeseball/bad movie)
- 09/03/06 4:50 pm Idiocracy (600 N Michigan; proud of seeing this in the theater because it was out for like two weeks)
- 09/16/06 4:40 pm Black Dahlia (River East, so bad)
- 10/11/06 6:15 pm The Departed (River East)
- 11/17/06 7:15 pm Casino Royale (600 N Michigan)
- 12/30/06 4 pm Pan’s Labyrinth (Empire 25, scared the living snot out of me)
- 01/09/07 8 pm Children of Men (an AMC in Seattle somehow)
- 01/13/07 7:10 pm Blood Diamond (River East, so mediocre)
- 03/18/07 8 pm 300 (River East, cannot overstate how much I disliked this movie)
- 04/07/07 5 pm The Lookout (600 N Michigan, pre-Cobra Commander Joseph Gordon Levitt)
- 04/14/07 7 pm Grindhouse (Multiplex in Pittsburgh that has the smoke stacks from an old steel mill standing in the parking lot like the world’s biggest lawn ornaments)
- 05/07/07 6:45 pm Spiderman 3 (River East, a truly terrible movie)
- 06/06/07 6 pm Knocked Up (River East)
- 07/17/07 8:15 pm Transformers (River East, I am not a proud man)
- 07/28/07 3 pm The Passenger (Siskel Center, good, Nicholson and Antonioni, 1970s)
- 08/16/07 7:30 pm The Bourne Ultimatum (River East, kind of fun, too fast for me)
- 09/05/07 6 pm The Steel Helmet (Siskel Center, Sam Fuller, weird Korean War action)
- 09/13/07 7:15 pm 3:10 to Yuma (the Christian Bale/Russell Crowe remake)
- 11/02/07 2:20 pm The Darjeeling Limited (River East, this movie sucks)
- 11/05/07 7:15 pm American Gangster (River East, not a good script but still had some swag)
- 11/10/07 4 pm No Country for Old Men (River East)
- 11/14/07 6 pm Murder by Contract (Siskel Center, no idea at all)
- 12/01/07 1 pm No Country for Old Men (River East, apparently I saw this twice)
- 12/17/07 7 pm I am Legend (River East)
- 12/27/07 2:20 pm Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Middleburg Heights megaplex with the graveyard in the parking lot; I saw this with my mom)
- 01/06/08 7 pm There Will Be Blood (River East)
- 01/23/08 7:30 pm Cloverfield (River East; the big reveal is that the monster is a monster)
- 02/10/08 7 pm In Bruges (River East)
- 02/18/08 8 pm La Chinoise (Siskel Center, that one scene where the friendless Maoist eats yogurt with jam while explaining that his feelings aren’t really hurt, although they are)
- 02/24/08 7:45 pm The Counterfeiters (Angelika, must have been visiting NYC that weekend because I didn’t move until June; I remember liking this movie a lot)
- 05/04/08 5 pm Iron Man (River East, back before there were Marvel movies every other week)
- 07/19/08 5 pm The Dark Knight Rises (Cobble Hill Cinemas, literally every seat taken, some dude barfed in the middle and ran out, movie was and remains great)
- 08/12/08 7 pm The Thief of Paris (Film Forum, totally mediocre, this was probably like right before or after I started working at Bloomsbury)
- 09/03/08 6:50 pm They Live (BAM, yes)
- 10/01/08 7:40 pm Miracle at St. Anna (Cobble Hill Cinemas, good god this movie was bad)
- 06/08/08 9:15 pm Drag Me to Hell (19th St East, which I worked like three blocks from for five years but only went to maybe three times)
- 01/01/09 10 pm Gran Torino (Union Square)
- 01/14/09 8:20 pm Made in USA (Film Forum)
- 01/30/09 7 pm Slumdog Millionaire (Angelika)
- 02/13/09 8 pm Two or Three Things I Know About Her (Film Forum)
- 02/21/09 10:15 pm Gomorrah (IFC)
- 05/10/09 11 am Diary of a Country Priest (IFC, kind of heavy shit for before noon)
- 06/22/09 8 pm Brighton Rock (Film Forum, from back when it was only $11, young Richard Attenborough, this is the part of my life where I start going to Film Forum a lot)
- 07/05/09 9 pm Public Enemies (Union Square, this movie is less than the sum of its parts)
- 07/10/09 7:40 pm The Vanished Empire (Quad, Russian, this movie is really amazing, it hit me right in the toast at the time, would love to rewatch)
- 07/24/09 6:35 pm In the Loop (IFC, good but flimsy)
- 07/29/09 10 pm Johnny Guitar (Film Forum, this movie is amazing)
- 08/10/09 7:15 pm They Drive By Night (Film Forum)
- 08/16/09 9:10 pm Yasukuni (Film Forum, OK doc, but the scene where a guy makes a sword are transcendent)
- 08/23/09 7:30 pm In a Lonely Place (Film Forum)
- 09/05/09 7:45 pm Odd Man Out (Film Forum, fantastic movie, great ending scenes in the snow)
- 09/07/09 6 pm The Reckless Moment (Film Forum, zero recollection)
- 09/28/09 7:30 pm Fat City (Film Forum, great movie)
- 10/12/09 6:40 pm Inglorious Basterds (Union Square)
- 10/25/09 5:30 pm Wild River (Film Forum, man Lee Remick)
- 11/23/09 7:30 pm 2012 (Union Square, most of the movies I saw at Union Square were bad)
- 12/06/09 8:30 pm Waterloo Bridge (the 1931 version; “A prostitute’s self-loathing makes her reluctant to marry an idealistic soldier during World War One”; pretty sure this was a date)
- 12/09/09 8 pm The Road (Landmark Sunshine; not that good of a movie)
- 12/13/09 6 pm Invictus (Alpine)
- 12/26/09 4:30 pm Sherlock (Middleburg Heights graveyard parking lot place, I think I saw this with mom)
- 12/29/09 6:15 pm Sweet Charity (Film Forum)
- 02/21/10 12:30 pm Shutter Island (Union Square, this movie still creeps me out)
- 02/26/10 7:50 pm Five Easy Pieces (Film Forum)
- 03/01/10 8:10 pm Un prophète (Angelika, the one where the B/D train goes by so close that it shakes the theater, I loved this movie)
- 04/06/10 7:40 pm Sunrise (Film Forum, amazing movie, like first and a half date with someone)
- 04/10/10 7:40 pm Ace in the Hole (Film Forum)
- 04/15/10 9:30 pm The Life of the World to Come (IFC, second date with same someone, the thing fizzled on a long weird time lapse, probably my fault, I realized like a year after it was done that I had screwed up)
- 05/13/10 7:30 pm Metropolis (Film Forum, this movie is amazing, big surprise)
- 06/16/10 6:30 pm Nightfall (Film Forum, … mostly a blank)
- 06/20/10 7:45 pm The Killer Inside Me (IFC, this movie is gnarly/unsettling but fits into my larger brief in favor of Casey Affleck. very good texas swing song plays over credits)
- 06/26/10 6:15 pm Winchester 73 (Film Forum, Jimmy Stewart)
- 07/11/10 7:40 pm He Walked by Night (Film Forum, all I remember is Richard Basehart, pretty sure I fell asleep for part)
- 07/14/10 7:55 pm Reign of Terror (Film Forum, weird melodrama about French Revolution)
- 07/18/10 3:20 pm The Circus (Film Forum Charlie Chaplin series, pretty sure I saw this with my dad and stepmom because it was crazy uncomfortable hot, like too hot to walk around or really not be in a dark air-conditioned disposable tomb)
- 07/19/10 6 pm Toy Story 3 3D (Chelsea Clearview, also seen with family because it was still too hot to do anything)
- 07/25/10 3 pm Inception (Union Square, enjoyable, never once thought about it again beyond the snow part and the noise)
- 07/28/10 5:30 pm Monsieur Verdoux (Film Forum, pretty sure I fell asleep for a bit in the middle, good movie though)
- 08/10/10 7:50 pm The Emperor Jones (Film Forum, definitely took a nap)
- 08/27/10 7:45 pm Le Amiche (Film Forum, good movie)
- 09/18/10 9:50 pm On the Bowery (Film Forum, resented this movie at the time for the way it treated alcoholism as a moral failing, have since realized it’s a pretty great movie)
- 09/27/10 7:30 pm Devil (Union Square, “A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them.”)
- 10/01/10 7:40 pm Charley Varrick (Film Forum, Walter Matthau implausible sex scene)
- 11/01/10 8:10 pm Marwencol (IFC, great movie)
- 11/18/10 6:30 pm Every Man for Himself (Film Forum, weird bad Godard, creepy sex scene, Isabelle Huppert though)
- 11/30/10 7 pm Grapes of Wrath (Film Forum, obviously good)
- 12/12/10 9:55 pm Vengeance (IFC 100% a Johnnie To gangster movie starring Johnny Hallyday, as good as that sounds)
- 03/03/11 8:10 pm Oscar Shorts (IFC, the only one I remember is the one about the Scottish kid who maybe murders his friend?)
- 03/05/11 7:50 pm Uncle Boonmee Who Can Remember His Past Lives (Film Forum, definitely fell asleep for a sec, but still liked this a lot despite not being sure what was going on for a lot of it)
- 04/30/11 5 pm Fire in Babylon (Tribeca Film Festival, ticket too expensive, fun doc about West Indies cricket, seminal Bunny Wailer interview)
- 05/09/11 7 pm Cave of Forgotten Dreams (BAM, good movie)
- 05/30/11 1:45 pm The Tree of Life (Landmark Sunshine, has moments but is overall indulgent/bad, seen on memorial day)
- 07/29/11 4:30 pm Captain America The First Avenger Whatever (the seedy Alpine in Bay Ridge, all I remember is how beautiful the female lead is/was)
- 07/30/11 8 pm The Public Enemy (James Cagney, kind of great, Film Forum)
- 08/12/11 3:45 pm Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Alpine, actually kind of an enjoyable movie)
- 08/15/11 8:40 pm Tabloid (IFC, amazing movie, Booger-Ra the cloned pit bull)
- 08/23/11 5:40 pm Billy Budd (good lord was young Terence Stamp handsome; this is a good movie)
- 08/26/11 7:45 pm Attack the Block (Quad, delightful, I think I saw it with the groom from the wedding mention in the ephemera section)
- 09/02/11 6:20 pm Laura (Film Forum again. Gene Tierney!)
- 09/10/11 1 pm Contagion (Alpine, so forgettable)
- 09/17/11 12 pm Drive (Alpine, good time)
- 09/19/11 6:50 pm The Human Factor (BAM, a little slow)
- 11/17/11 6:20 pm Sons of Shiva (documentary about Varanasi, good)
- 02/04/12 6:50 pm The Artist (BAM, I have a distinct recollection of this being like 1 of 2 dates I went on with someone I thought was really cool but the time of year seems wrong; definitely maybe ate at that diner on the corner of Lafayette and whatever beforehand)
- 02/16/12 9:30 pm Night Nurse (Film Forum, not able to talk about my historical crush on Barbara Stanwyck)
- 02/26/12 4:30 pm El Field (MOMA, good non-narrative/wordless doc about migrant workers and industrial farming)
- 02/28/12 6:45 pm Undefeated (Quad, pleasant doc about Memphis high school football and weird race dynamics)
- 06/17/12 1 pm The Price of Power (Film Forum, weird spaghetti western)
- 07/06/12 7 pm Battle of Algiers (Film Forum, see 07/04/12 baseball game for bonus footage, probably the last movie i saw at age 30)
- 07/10/12 7:25 pm China Heavyweight (IFC, good boxing doc about fighters in China)
- 07/14/12 6:30 pm Easy Money (Film Forum, Scandinavian noir)
- 07/30/12 6:40 pm The Dark Knight Returns (Union Square, read this one in Bane voice)
- 08/02/12 8 pm Christmas Holiday (Film Forum, “A young femme fatale-type woman realizes that the wealthy man she married is an incorrigible wastrel”)
- 08/25/12 5 pm Blue Velvet (Musuem of the Moving Image in Queens)
- 09/12/12 7 pm Vertigo (Film Forum, yes)
- 10/07/12 12 pm Looper (Alpine)
- 10/21/12 7:30 pm The Master 70 mm (Village East)
- 11/15/12 7:30 pm Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (IFC, part of a doc festival, great doc, the best part was hearing Big Star in Dolby sound)
- 11/18/12 8 pm The Man in the White Suit (Film Forum, people used to have more modest thresholds about what constituted successful comedy)
- 12/13/12 7 pm Killing Them Softly (Union Square, good movie, kind of grim, Ray Liotta gets extensively murdered in like 10x slow motion, amazing last dialogue)
- 12/23/12 2:45 pm Silver Linings Playbook (Village East?)
- 01/01/13 8:15 pm Django Unchained (Cobble Hill Theatre, problematic but fun, like America)
- 01/16/13 8:45 pm Amour (Film Forum, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson sat two rows in front of me and my date)
- 02/09/13 4:30 pm Caesar Must Die (Film Forum, great movie)
- 02/23/13 8:15 pm Lincoln (Kips Bay, meh movie but DDL amazing)
- 05/02/13 5:30 pm Voyage to Italy (Film Forum, definitely fell asleep for like 20 minutes because it was poky)
- 05/05/13 7:50 pm Upstream Color (IFC)
- 07/12/13 8 pm Pacific Rim (Battery Park multiplex, rare chandeliers; the screenwriting in this was so bad it kind of upset me)
- 07/14/13 2:30 pm Doctor Zhivago (at the BAM Harvey Theater in 70 mm; seen with the other half of a deeply abortive relationship, felt magical but in the way that like falling out of a tree is magic)
- 08/09/13 6 pm Drug War (IFC, Johnnie To, most basic Hong Kong gangster film)
- 08/10/13 6:40 pm Elysium (Union Square, not as good as District 9)
- 08/31/13 7 pm The Grandmaster (BAM, what a great, odd, dreamy movie)
- 10/19/13 6 pm Gravity (Alpine, seen during a pretty intense panic attack/depressive episode, not the best idea I’ve ever had, kind of a good movie, they totally got me with the Clooney thing)
- 12/15/13 7:40 pm Inside Llewyn Davis (Union Square, a wonderful, sad film)
- 01/03/14 9:45 pm Her (BAM, the pants)
- 01/15/14 6:20 pm Generation War (Film Forum, sat through the entire miniseries after work one day)
- 01/18/14 9:15 pm The Past/Le Passé (Film Forum, the actress from The Artist kills me)
- 04/11/14 2:40 pm Noah (Union Square, what a lousy movie; this was a weird period of time where I had quit Open Road but wasn’t moving to Cleveland for six weeks and I kind of wilted as a personal entity, this movie did not help anything)
- 04/25/14 5 pm Captain America: Winter Soldier (Alpine; I was kind of hoping the brunette from the first one would be in it, maybe I have a weird attachment to Captain America as an idea also)
- 07/21/14 9:30 pm Snowpiercer (Capitol Theatre in Cleveland, half-price Monday)
- 10/10/14 4:10 pm Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Capitol Theatre in Cleveland, pretty much the same movie as last time I saw it)
- 11/09/14 7:45 pm Interstellar (Navy Pier Imax, Chicago; I lived in Chicago for 8 years and never went to this theater until I lived in Cleveland)
- 01/09/15 8:00 pm Inherent Vice (Cinemark in Valley View, OH; involved driving through pitch-black Cuyahoga Valley National Park after teaching at Kent)
- 05/26/15 7:10 pm Mad Max: Fury Road (Capitol Theatre)
- 06/15/15 4:10 pm Jurassic World 3D (Capitol Theatre, also half-price Monday MOTIF ALERT, deeply meh)
- 07/13/15 11:50 am Inside Out (Great Northern Mall, where they put a movie theater in what used to be the food court and a food court where there used to be that place where you could play Magic: The Gathering, and the food court is somehow like 85% those weird pseudo-Asian places that only serve chicken in goopy brown sauce)
- [undated] George Kuchar program at Anthology
- [undated] Two Years at Sea at Anthology
- [undated] Shohei Imamura program at Anthology
- 11/26/15 4:00ish pm Creed (Solon Cinemas, Solon OH, I was supposed to go to a semi-optional family thanksgiving thing and i got really stressed out so I just went to see Creed instead and it was an adequate short-term substitute for having a family)
- 12/18/15 8:30 pm Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Hollywood 16 Cinemas, Tuscaloosa; the first time I went to the movie theater in Alabama, despite having lived there for four plus months by that juncture. I have loved the shit out of Star Wars in my life and this movie brought me some semblance of joy but also I have only thought about it for like forty-five seconds since seeing it)
- 12/26/15 7:00 pm Carol (Cedar Lee, Cleveland; I guess this was good? I was kind of bored the whole time?)
- 12/XX/16 ? time Spotlight (Cedar Lee, Cleveland; the screen in the one theater at the Cedar Lee is too small)
- 01/17/16 11:35 am The Hateful Eight (Hollywood 16 Cinemas, Tuscaloosa) I wasn’t that into this while watching it but after the fact the genre play and general goofball tension kind of won me over, although there is definitely some objectionable-ass material in here, whatever, it was a movie)
- 10/15/99 concert: Pavement, the Vic, Chicago (i was 18.5 years old; maybe the first concert i went to as a human semi-adult loose in the world, Pavement played a half-ass cover of “1979” by the Smashing Pumpkins)
- 08/30/00 Weezer at the Odeon in Cleveland (roll your eyes if you want, this was a great concert. people were stoked.)
- 10/31/01 Spiritualized at the Metro in Chicago
- 05/11/02 Belle & Sebastian at Congress Theatre
- 11/09/02 Elvis Costello at Mandel Hall, Chicago (just an awesome experience; EC sang one quiet number without a mic)
- 06/19/03 Dismemberment Plan at the Metro (this would have been less than a week after I graduated from college, I do not remember it at all)
- 06/09/04 ATA Denver–>MDW (this was when i helped a friend drive home to telluride and then got semi-stranded there owing to weird circumstances and being broke, although I remember spending most of my last $20 on booze at the airport smoking bar, also the denver airport is haunted)
- 09/26/05 Chicago PD incident report from the time i got mugged
- 09/??/05 business card of the Chicago PD detective who investigated my getting mugged
- 11/26/05 Greyhound from Cleveland–>Chicago
- 03/24/06 MDW–>EWR–>MDW
- 08/11/06 Memphis–>ORD (coming home from ecology conference; pro tip: don’t fly with an expired driver’s license the day after a terrorist plot gets uncovered)
- 11/06/06 Vancouver–>ORD (coming home from history of science conf)
- 04/16/07 Southwest Airlines itinerary showing a ticket from PGH to MDW to Reno layover to OAK and then back to MDW (I lost $10 in a slot machine at the Reno airport, may have been drunk on the plane)
- 04/18/07 BART ticket, $6.90
- 06/14/07 Hiawatha Line light rail ticket, good for 2.5 hours
- 06/17/07 MSP–>MDW (coming home from AAUP conference)
- 09/29/07 ORD–>LGA (dunno why)
- 10/01/07 LGA–>ORD (see above)
- 11/26/07 NJ Transit ticket from Penn Station to Newark
- 01/13/08 DC Metro ticket (no idea)
- 04/18/08 AirTran MDW–BOS for geography conference
- 08/14/08 Greyhound NY–>Chicago I think I was meeting my dad in Chicago to get the rest of my crap in his Honda Fit and carry it to NY. involved the esteemed Wiry Cat of this blog’s topic categories
- 09/23/11 Amtrak NY–>Boston (wedding, i am subsequently the godfather of the offspring of this wedding, good job everyone)
- 09/23/11 Amtrak Boston (the other train station)–>Exeter, NH (see previous)
- 11/23/12 Amtrak CLE–>NYC
- 01/01/13 AirTran CAK–>LGA
- 04/11/13 production of Julius Caesar at BAM by Royal Shakespeare Company (it was really good, everyone in the cast was of African descent, we are all honorable men)
- 05/09/13 Frick Collection, I think I went with my mom
- 08/01/13 Alasdair Roberts at Joe’s Pub (there were about nine people at this show, it was wonderful)
- 08/03/13 James Turrell exhibit at Guggenheim (so so so good)
- 09/14/13 Delta JFK–>MEX
- 09/21/13 Delta MEX–>JFK
- 02/24/14 Seattle–>Bainbridge Island ferry ticket for two humans and one Subaru
- 08/09/14 one ticket to the Orange Show, Houston TX
- 08/09/14 seat assignment to table 20 at LG+DS wedding, Houston TX
- 05/18/?? US Airways Chicago –> Philadelphia (no idea)
- 05/26/?? United Airlines PGH–>ORD
- 06/25/?? San Francisco Muni Railway pay stub
- 07/08/?? AirTran CAK–>LGA (flying on my birthday)
- 09/08/?? American Airlines LGA–>CLE (no idea)
- 09/12/?? American Airlines CLE–>LGA (same no idea)
- [undated] Indian 2-rupee coin with elephant on it
- [undated] different DC Metro ticket on it with cute panda bear motif
- [undated] the insert from the CD Five Upstart Americans by the Monks
- [undated] pass to take pictures at Museo Casa de León Trotsky, 15 pesos
- [undated] adult ticket for Bay State Cruise Company ferry from Boston to Provincetown
- [undated] bingo card, definitely from visiting grandparents, has clearly gotten wet because ink has run, notes on back reading:
“shower curtain covered in blood”
people buzz off it
I said… you left it there
flippancy toward sad old dude. homophobia
rage in car re [redacted family member]
i inherited some garbled strain of depression-era conservation of materials from my grandparentses. right now this impulse to not-waste mostly expresses itself through paper products. i am incapable of throwing away notebooks before every page has been used somehow. i squirrel them away in the dining room hutch, planning to use up the nice white pages for journals or to-do lists or other attempts at communication with self. for a very long time my metabolism in this regard was fucked, in the sense of buying way more notebooks than i was filling. but i’m getting caught up. there are several notebooks of different types that look like this: notes from a german class i started but didn’t finish in 2007, then fretting about a botched romance from 2011, then scrambled notes about a movie i saw in 2014. almost always there is a little marginal note saying “whoops i did not write in this notebook for x years.”
so i started up with another of my mostly-blanked notebooks. there are maybe three of those mead wireless 80 page notebooks, the kind that always fall apart, all of which have dark blue covers. the one i grabbed is actually the notebook they gave me in rehab in october 2007, after i graduated from the super grim psych-ward part of rehab where they just leave you alone to digest food and metabolize meds, into the part where the rehab counselors described recovery to people concussed by the absence of intoxication. the notebooks were for writing down stuff about recovery, and that’s mostly what i did with mine, until i trailed off after 20 or so pages. but there was one page that just had a journalistic vignette on it.
most of the time in the rehab place we just did group therapy or focus groups or straight up AA meetings. but one day we went up to an otherwise unknown floor of the hospital (we had to be shepherded through the elevator like a field trip flock of children) to a light-filled room with windows high on the walls. it was the art room (the whole place now reminds me of an elementary school, although at the time it felt like … a rehab hospital).
the counselor gave us boxes of parched markers and blunt crayons and big sheets of paper the color of mopwater. the assignment was to draw something that symbolized your recovery. i drew a map, i remind, sort of a modified Pilgrim’s Progress type thing but heaven replaced by some kind of area where I felt comfortable in my own skin. my drawing was not the focus on the vignette in the notebook.
what i wrote down was about rudy’s drawing. rudy (not his real name) was this beefy, black-haired classical chicago irish meathead guy, about 40, very much just a swollen, mushy teenager stuck in a man’s body. he was thick and coarse and not at all bought-in on that rehab or even the general idea of not being fucked up. not long after the art therapy rudy sorted of flopped out of the boat, signing himself out AMA and hollering even as he walked out to fucked-up freedom what a bunch of bullshit it all was.
rudy’s drawing was an energetic but crude pencil rendering of a topless lady on a bed. she was on all fours, crawing toward the camera eye, sort of, and i think she was supposed to be leering sexily but the quality of rudy’s line was such that you could not really say what he meant by her expression. she was on a bed, and her nipples were upside-down pilgrim hats rendered in fairly precise right angles. behind the bed was a window, looking out onto a cartoony cityscape (water tower, etc) with a smiling moon overhead. the cityscape also featured a billboard labeled MEGAMILLIONS which stated that the current jackpot was $69,696,969.69. the only thing on the bed besides the crawling woman was a lottery ticket. Nothing in the drawing suggested whether this was the winning ticket. The drawing was titled (reduntantly) “Title: Prepare to Mount” and signed with rudy’s full name, including middle initial.
i only wrote all this down because the teacher made us go around the room and show our drawings, and say a little bit about what we had put on the paper. i can’t remember what rudy said by way of docent’s talk, but i remember the pure silence that followed his share as both historically awkward and almost beautiful. no one knew what to do with what he wanted.
I used to watch a lot of tv, as a bored, frequently lonely/alone kid. I have seen most of the episodes of M*A*S*H*, for instance, without meaning to, because channel 43 showed an hour of M*A*S*H* reruns twice a day, at times when I wasn’t structurally required to be doing something else (school, sleep, eating with family), and also times when no one else was watching TV (early or late local news, primetime shows). I want to stress that the amount of time that qualified as “not structurally required to be doing something else” was basically ALL the time. like if I was awake 16 hours a day, and I usually was, I was at school for eight hours, transitioning to/from school for another hour, and then pretty much watching TV a lot of the rest of the time.
this included: Watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. Watching regional pro wrestling on ESPN after school. Watching the same taped episode of SportsCenter over and over. Watching infomercials. Watching pan-and-scanned, cleaned-up versions of not-that-great movies on TBS. Watching USA Up All Night hoping despite myself that this would be the time they showed boobs (the 1990s were a distant and backwards land, as far as how hard it was to see boobs)
there was a reason for this: I had nothing else to do, not that anyone was stopping me from discovering other things to do. Sometimes I would dick around in less passive ways, or read, or play Nintendo. But yeah I didn’t do a whole lot. I like TV because it would take me out of a self that very often wasn’t super happy. So I could prop myself up on TV and just let stories and images and worlds pour in, which was good, because suburban Cleveland was not the richest place in terms of stimulation. But the propping up wasn’t just a rest — it was a compulsion, an addiction, operating under the cover of an innocuous defaulting-to (other addictions operate this way too).
quick aside/image: I used to watch infomercials so much. I would have told you it was ironic somehow, back in the day. Now I see it for what it was. In novels, specifically Wise Blood, I’ve read about soapbox preachers and traveling salesmen, standing in small cities, perched on the bumper of a car, hollering about Jesus or a potato peeler, with a few bored yokels. (Think of Enoch Emery). Those people didn’t watch because the Jesus patter or the potato peeler were hynotizing; they watched because they had nothing else to look at. Anyway that’s how I sometimes see the TV-drowned chapters of my young life: my chubby face reflecting the blue TV light like the walls of a swimming pool, watching the hucksters because they were there.
as i grew up and away from both suburbs and those preliminary versions of myself, I stopped watching so much TV. this was in part because I didn’t have a TV all to myself with cable, in a house where I didn’t have to pay rent. but it was also in part because I didn’t need TV in the same ways anymore, and because, the stuff on TV wasn’t as good as the sensory inputs available in meatspace (other people, specifically girls, college) and improvements on the TV value proposition (movies not shown on TBS, books). at no point do we ever stop propping our cracked or wobbly selves up against stories, other voices, in other to give them a rest, to prevent them from collapsing under the stress of being alone in your own skull.
anyway i grew up/out/away and before too much road was behind me, i looked back at the amount of TV that I watched with a little shiver of regret, like whoops, that was a pretty large chunk of my finite lifespan I farted away there. for a while, if you talked to me after a few beers, i would tell you that TV sucks, people who watch too much TV suck (the same way that ex-smokers are the biggest grinches about smoking), TV, yadda yadda. I wasn’t quite one of those weenies who brags about not having a TV, but I was a fellow traveler for sure. I definitely saw people who flicked through channels idly, watching whatever because it was easier than doing anything else, as zombified. And to be honest, I still make little bitchy judgments about people who watch indiscriminate amounts of TV. (Content zombification is a real thing; TV doens’t have a monopoly on it — say hello, narrowminded readers of literary fiction).
But with age I learned the mature pleasures of TV. you can relax after a day of slowly losing to fate by watching a TV program. you can share the joy of narrative or comedy by watching a TV program with friends and loved ones. you can fill a rainy day with a few binged episodes of a quality hourlong drama. TV is a medium it is OK to prop your battered self up against for a while, just not always. TV is fine, TV is not the enemy of anything, TV is just stories coming from a glowing box. You have to be mindful about what you let into your eyes and ears with TV, but this is also true of all other things.
The internet used to not be like TV, which is to say, I formely did not use the Internet the way that my adolescent self used TV — as a hiding place for someone who didn’t even understand what they were hiding from, or that they were hiding at all. I have been in the very slow motion process of understanding that I idly flick through the internet, keeping my e-mail and chat and twitter open in tabs pretty much whenever I’m working, in the hope that someone will ping me, some dopamine firecracker will light itself. I am on the internet to get relevant messages that are important to my ongoing human existence. The internet is more of a public place, owing to its interactivity, than TV ever could hope to be. But I also am leaning on the internet to prop up my self-understanding. But also I don’t want to go all the way in the other direction, like I did with TV, and become a roving ranter about how the Internet sucks (some aspects of networked human existence *do* suck, though).
The moral instruction here is bonecrunchingly insipid: moderation in all things, etc. I never said I was a prophet of mental hygiene. This is just how I feel about the Internet right now. I wonder if I haven’t gotten into the same dependency — using an always-on, always-there cultural thing to fill silences instead of living life.
side note: M*A*S*H* is pretty good
evaluation of social media as a presence in my life, june 2015
:: awareness of events not immediately within my sensory envelope
:: contact with other human beings
:: dopamine hits
:: learning things
:: awareness of events not immediately within my sensory envelope
:: contact with other human beings
:: dopamine hits
:: learning things