There is a sad side to New York as well. It's represented most strongly in the homeless of the city, filthy shambling mounds of mental illness that persist throughout the subway stations and some of the lesser used streets. They are the poor and pathetic, some lying on the ground, shouting in anger at foes who exist only in the misfiring neurons of their own brains, some speaking loudly in heartwrenching terms of their misfortune and how they were beat up at the shelter and had everything stolen and are HIV positive and just want somewhere warm to sleep for the night please won't you help and they're hungry.
They're why true New Yorkers develop that New Yorker stare. You peer at the ground, at the advertisements on the subway, brow furrowed as if you're either furious at or fascinated by whatever random collection of molecules happen to occupy your field of vision. Because you can't look at them. You can't because there's nothing you can do. (I will look at them if they speak to me, look them in the eyes and say "Hello" or "I hope you have a pleasant evening too sir." Politeness and respect are free of charge, everyone deserves dignity.) Give them money and it will go to booze or drugs. Give them food and it will just allow them to avoid finding help for another day. Give them shelter and they might kill you in your sleep (Or rape you if you happen to be a female.) They're not all like that, but enough are that it just doesn't pay to help. The best you can do is lobby the city and state to take better care of them. It IS the government's job to care for these poor creatures among us. To not let them be crushed under the wheels of the wagon of prosperity that they have clearly fallen off.
For some people it's out of sight out of mind. In my opinion it should be "Out of sight, into sanitary shelter with food, medical care, and dignity, out of mind."
The rest of the conference was alright. Jesse Jackson Jr. Is a powerful emotional speaker, but he does not really appeal to rationality. Many of his numbers are just off and his dates were wildly odd. He kept saying "as sure as I'm sitting here today" even though he was standing. Listening to him speak was an odd experience. On the one hand I agreed with a good deal of what he said and his speaking style was definitely charismatic and compelling, on the other hand I kept wincing at the logical fallacies and inaccuracies. In comparison Representative Adler was really impressive to me. He came out with statistics and reasoned well thought out policy. Very impressive.
The conference as a whole was just okay. Way too much of it was stuff that I just don't agree with, some of I REALLY don't like. For example there was a talk about how the Democrats need to enforce Republican style party discipline. Fuck that. We need to remain diverse and thoughtful, not Sieg Heiling to a fucktard like John Douchebag Kerry.
Then this woman said "If all the poor Americans pooled their finances and contributed to politics, we could beat the rich Americans in November at their own game." WHAT? Look, I'm no statistician, but if, say, 60% of the population were devoted enough to the Republicans losing that they were willing to spend money on it, chances are that they wouldn't NEED to spend money. They would just need to vote. Add in those who don't like Bush but don't want to spend money on politics and Kerry would win a landslide. What she said just didn't make logistic sense at all (I'm simplifying) and any reasonable person would recognize this.
Frankly I question the quality of some of these people's staffers. They should have caught this crap.
After the conference I hung out with a couple friends, and a shitty time was had by all. Whatever.
Frank wants me to work with him on a short script for a competition. I said fine, don't have a heck of a lot going on right now, but this will probably mean putting off that short story for a bit. It might never get written now, I've lost some of the inspiration for it in between thinking of it and now.
New York is getting fucking hot and muggy. I could barely breath yesterday for the incense in the air. I wanted to say "Incest in the air" and I did. It wasn't funny.
I got an A in my first amendment seminar. It looks like my decision to not give up and force myself to work my ass off after the last final of the school year paid off. That's not a terrible way to go out, having successfully buckled down and completed your final piece of work rather than caving, which is what I desperately wanted to do.
My hand is scratched. It was my cat that done it.
There's a segment of Livejournal that works something like a shallower version of group therapy. You know what I'm talking about, someone posts something about how they are sad or pathetic, or some creative enterprise, and soon between 3 and 100 people have responded with comments as profound as "You're so gorgeous!" or "Don't worry, he doesn't know what he's missing" or, of course, "Wow you're SOOO talented."
This is a side of the service that kind of bothers me, and one I have no interest in. It's essentially a bunch of marginalized people trying to convince each other that they have worth and value, or trying to hop on a bandwagon and support some member of their group that has talent or recognition (not always the same thing.) The dynamic is a little more complicated than that, I'll grant, but not so much that it's worth getting in to. Some bloggers want to form what amounts to a support group. That's fine.
Doesn't happen in my journal. Maybe that's because I'm not pathetic or talented enough to draw those kinds of comments (Okay, well I'm certainly not TALENTED enough but I think I can go toe to toe with most in the patheticness arena and whoop their MONKEY asses!) I'd like to think it's because this journal attracts intellectually interesting people who don't feel compelled to make those kinds of simplistic statements. On the other hand a bunch of people have friended me recently without saying anything at all (which is fine, although I generally don't return the friending without some sort of interaction) and at least one of them did so because they promote a band named Socratic. Still, that's why the English language offers lovely phrases like "I'd like to think." So we can tell pleasant lies without actually being held responsible for them.
More interesting than the support group phenomenon, in my opinion, is that of the male offering emotional support through the female through sexual inuendo. I was rather shocked the first couple of times I encountered it in someone's journal. Some woman upset about something or other and then some guy posted "I'd love to come down and comfort you. Wink Wink" or something to that effect. Since then I've seen more incidents, of varying levels of subtlety, and have come to accept it as a relatively harmless thing. The thing is, I'm curious as to what exactly this represents. Okay, some of it can be written off as the same sort of flirting that one might encounter in any group of immature friends or aquaintances. Let's move that off the table and discuss some of the more intense stuff. Some of it is actually creepy (frequent offers to drive over to someone's state and perform sexual acts with them.) Yet I've never seen an angry response to one of these comments. My thinking on this is that the internet gives an illusion of safety (I say Illusion because stalking and even killings have started as internet interactions) between parties that allows insecure females to recieve sexualized interaction with adoring males while insecure males are able to tell females the sorts of sexual things that they never would say in real life.
Perhaps this is rather obvious and doesn't really need commenting on, but I find it interesting nonetheless. I guess my question is, if these comments are ones that men wouldn't say in real life and women would be very offended by if they were made to their faces, where is the distortion? Is the internet interaction more natural and honest, divested of social mores and politeness requirements, or is it that it allows people to build false personas who can deal more easily with uncomfortable situations? Is the confidence or the insecurity fake? Or are they both natural interactions to different social situations?
Bah. I'm not explaining this well and these thoughts aren't fully formed. Oh well.
I've been trying to watch "Head of State" on HBO for weeks now. Finally caught the beginning of it this morning and it was HORRIBLE. Unwatchable garbage. How did Chris Rock allow himself to get associated with such a STUPID and unfunny movie? The director is a hack too. Hack hack hack. He took bad material and made it even less good.
So. I am now unofficially a college graduate. I have completed all requirements and barring something completely unexpected I will get my Diploma in the mail in a week or so. How exciting. I guess this is a point in my life where I'm expected to take stock of things. Give myself the once over and try to put it all in perspective.
Well screw that! Seriously, how am I supposed to understand where I am if I don't know where I'm going. Sure, I could give you facts. Height, weight, eye color, hair color, my tendancy to chew up popsicle sticks and spit them into garbage cans disdainfully, like an angry baseball manager expelling chewing tobacco. I could talk about my net worth, the percentage of my underpants that have skidmarks, the fact that almost all my socks have holes in them. I could recount my age, down to the minute, the fact that one of my nipples was inverted until I was 20 but no longer is, for undisclosed reasons. The average number of strokes it takes for me to achieve climax. With hand-lotion or without? With pornographic accompaniment or not? How many hours since the last bout?
My GPA, 3.8551 at the moment. (the school has extended GPA to the fourth decimal place, an absurd decision without rational justification. How many schools are going to pick a candidate with a 3.7452 over one with a 3.7458. If you can't find some other basis on which to judge them then you aren't looking.) My honors: Golden Key society. Phi Beta Kappa. Magna Cum Laude (probably.) Dean's list every semester (I hope.)
My love life. Non-existant. Libido on the low side of normal, probably less than two standard deviations below the mean. Sexuality: Hetero. My awkwardness around women, profound. My concern with this situationm, variable.
None of this means anything without context. It depends on what I want from life and what I'm capable of. If my goal is to become a lawyer then I'm doing alright. High GPA. An internship. I'm sure I could get good recomendations from people. No outstanding warrents.
If my goal is to get married and start a family then I'm pretty much shit out of luck.
If my goal is to move out on my own, well, things are complicated then.
If my goal is to become a writer/film-maker then I'm fucked because I have no talent.
If my goal is to know myself then I have a long way to go.
Context is everything. There's this woman who's been emailing me. We met in summer camp when I was 16 and a C.I.T. I was thinner then, significantly. She had her friend pass me a note saying that she wanted to go out with me. Out was a misnomer, we weren't allowed to leave camp grounds unsupervised. I said yes. She was big and ungainly, but one of the things you learn by not being pretty is that pretty isn't everything. You see those girls with the primped hair and unsubtle cleavage and you think that you could make them happier than their boyfriends could if you were given half a chance. So you can't not give someone half a chance. That's hypocritical. That's immoral.
That wasn't the whole story of course. There was one of those primped and pretty girls around who I might have had a shot with had she not been slutty and insecure and untrustworthy. I wanted to make her jealous. I didn't want to admit this. It worked.
I met the ungainly girl on a path with trees near it. We sat down on a bench and talked. The moon was full and there was a breeze drifting by, filled with the scents of grass clippings and possibility. She was nice, she had a deep but pretty voice. She smoked, and I hated that. She said interesting things.
I wanted to make a move. I told her that her hair was very pretty, in an ornate way that I thought might pass for romantic. It didn't smell of smoke. She told me that she dyed it. Already tense from the threat of the unknown I was rendered impotent. The date was aborted, just like that. Like a bombing run on a foggy night or a child concieved when the parents are both headed to different colleges. I never dated again. A week later the pretty girl would sit down next to me and put her thigh on top of mine. I wasn't sure what it meant at the time. She poured glitter on me and climbed all over me. I thought about the smoker with the dyed hair and did nothing. She called me twice after camp. I don't know what she's doing these days.
The other girl sent me perfumed letters after camp. I sent letters back. She wanted to meet with me in the winter but I had gained weight and was ashamed. Our exchange of letters petered out. A few months ago she emailed me and we've exchanged about a dozen since then. She's a singer now, Opera. Maybe she was back then as well. She'll be graduating in June from her program. She knows six languages. She sings in professional operas, well enough to be awarded money prizes. She is the future of her art.
A million little vignettes like that build into a life. At some point the characters stabilize and the vignettes start to look similar. This we call aging. I don't think it's happened to me yet.
Take stock of my life. Tell you what's in the inventory room behind my storefront, what I've got in reserve, what I've accumulated as a person. Make up a check list and mark off what's been done and what has yet to be accomplished. Show you a mall map of my life and stick on a little red arrow saying "I am here. The food court is up the stairs and to the left. Death is 5 10 15 20 50 years away. There are no memories of sex, that storefront has yet to be occupied."
Where's Waldo, existentially? Is he really hiding among the clowns 3 inches diagonally from the bottom left corner of the page? Is he 2/3ds done with his living? Is he in the middle of a savage divorce? Has he made 98% of the money he ever will as an intellectual property? Is he 3 years from the expiration of his copyright (the answer to the last is no, thanks to the Sony Bono act.)
Where am I?
I am almost 200% as old as I was when my dad killed himself, and likely heavier by a similar factor.
I am mostly done with my formal education and barely started on my informal.
I am still at the crossroads when it comes to career. Afraid to step down one path or the other.
I am past my expiration date sexually, at a point where competence and experience are expected and I have neither.
I am insecure and arrogant, mature and babyish, dazed and confused.
Take stock? How? How do you measure where you are when you don't know where you're going? How do you measure what you have when you aren't sure what to do with it?
I am college graduate, watch me whine. I am liberal, dedicated to love and understanding of all human beings regardless of their pasts or beliefs. Watch me hate.
I am stone watch me sink. I am gossamer watch me soar.
Sometimes measurement doesn't make sense.
Random thoughts (and yes I know they aren't actaully random, more disorganized and lacking clear inspiration).
There is nothing more disapointing than flipping through the premium channels on TV only to stumble upon a cheap action movie and right into the obligatory nude scene. The attractive (but rarely stunning) actress slips out of her clothes revealing breasts, maybe buttocks, a flash of the bush and then she's into the shower and we're back to the muscley guy. There was no build up, no "I wonder if this is the scene" no time to contemplate the flattering sweaters and wonder about the nipples. They're just there, on screen. Even coming in right AFTER the nude scene is better because then you can file it away for later. "This movie has a nude scene. If I ever wanted to see Hope from that soap opera with no panties on, that would be the opportunity to do so."
What's with this bubble tea fad? Where did it come from and why?
I had a feeling Roy Jones was going to lose yesterday. He seemed overconfident and he was due. I never loved RJ but I don't want to see the fight. I don't want to see him get KTFA. Because while I don't feel sorry for him (he's rich as hell and can retire whenever he wants to) it's kind of unsettling to think of him getting taken out like that. He was invincible, superman, unstoppable.
He was all too human and a left hook left him wondering what time it was and why the little birdies were floating around his head. It's the crushing of a legend. If he had lost a decision on points that would be one thing. He didn't. He got KTFOed
That's what makes boxing boxing. Everyone's always got a puncher's chance (not that Tarver is just a puncher. He deserves a lot of respect for what he did and he's a great fighter in his own right.)
Mob bosses, fictional or real, if you're going to whack the guy who is screwing your girl behind your back, that's fine. I respect that as your prerogative as a ruthless murderer. What I DON'T respect is not cutting the girl loose afterwards. You want to kill her? Cool. You want to dump her and send her back to Idaho? Makes sense to me. You want to keep her around, well that's just WAITING for her to fall in with some other dude who you will then have to whack too. That's downright irresponsible and a public safety hazard. That I cannot abide.
All of these "Worst of..." lists are stupid. They should be called "Worst popular..."
If you want the worst movies of all time you need to break out forgotten rolls of celluloid from the 1950s. If you want the worst songs ever you need to go to obscure record stores. Calling Billy Joel's "We didn't start the fire" one of the worst songs of all time is just stupid. Does it have a tune? Is it at all catchy? Does it have lyrics that have SOME sort of theme and reason?
Sorry. Not one of the worst ever. BZZZT.
Just because a movie is coming out about some vaguely educational or historical topic does NOT mean that every fucking educational channel needs to produce a bunch of programming about said event. It's admirable that you want to suck up to the studio to try to get on to the DVD and all, but just no. People who are going to see "Troy" either don't care about history or already know about the Trojan war. They don't need 4 1-hour specials with bad CG and un-telegenic historians trying to tell a tale that Homer got right a couple thousand years ago.
People ask me why I say I'm an untalented writer. The simple fact is that I haven't produced anything good yet. Perhaps untalented is an incorrect phrasing. Perhaps what I should be saying is unskilled. I have always thought of talent as something you were born with and skill as something that you develop, but honestly they are often interchanged in our society. In football when a player is in decline it is said that his skills are eroding. That's not true. His talents are eroding but presumably his skills are still increasing because he is learning the game more every year. Anyway, I need to produce something worthwhile before I consider myself to be talented. Until then I'm just someone who might have a little potential but I won't know. I have set the end of the summer for the date that I want to have a good, edited, piece ready by. It doesn't have to be published it just has to be satisfactory. I think that's a decent goal.
I really should start editing more anyway. Maybe I will in June, during the start of summer. For now I am content to just write write write, churning out material as fast as I can.
A friend saw my film project and didn't really like it. That's okay though, it was a school thing and it was no budget and I have a million excuses. Excuses are my friends, always have been.
My other grades won't be in until tuesday morning at the earliest. This annoys me because they were SUPPOSED to be in on friday. Phooey!
Eric Foner is the main speaker for the Phi Beta Kappa ceremony. I don't know if I think that's neat or I'm disappointed.
The Mets had a GREAT win today. Did it with their pitching which is what they need to do. Mike Piazza denied Roger Clemens a win. Beautiful baby.
The nets are getting WHOOPED by the Pistons. Even when they win it's horribly ugly. If the Pistons had any offense they'have swept the series.
The triple crown has been dilluted. IT's TOO easy to win the Derby and the Preakness these days. It's been like 6 out of the last 8 years. BORING. The Bellmont is a Bellmonster for these horses, but one of them will EVENTUALLY break through. Smarty Jones I DECRY YOU!