February 22nd, 2005

Short hair suspicion

Whoa nelly

I am not even going to attempt to describe all of the happenings of the last week or so. They range from the irritating (my iPod died and my computer followed soon after, leaving me without my Mp3s and having to use my old PC for basic functions like Email, which it performed horribly, and leaving me unable to write because the copy of MS Word I have on that computer is corrupted.) The computer has since been fixed, and to tell the truth there were advantages to not having access to digital entertainments. I curled up on the couch and read the physical newspaper, checking out some articles I might have skipped if I'd been reading online. I read magazines and got to bed earlier. I spent a good deal of time pacing and thinking. I probably should and will move my computer out of the room with the television in it for the good of my writing and my eyes.

As for the other things that have happened, well I'd be hard pressed to detail them in a dozen mammoth entries let alone one that I want to keep at a manageable length. I've really embraced life over the past 10 or so days and it's been full of powerful experiences. Filming has been amazing, just a joy that I can lose myself in for hours or even days at a time. Not all the footage is usable and in fact there are problems with the whole of the project, but none of that matters when I'm out there with the camera working on perfecting a framing or interviewing someone. I wrote a lot about "art" and such in the months before this project, but it tended to be mostly talk. Today I got up at 5:30 AM and was out the door before 7:00 (Only that late because I was hoping the rain would let up.) I got to the park while it was still covered in relatively pristine snow and I held an umbrella over my camera for hours while I shot and shot. At times I had to wipe water off of it while managing an umbrella, a plastic bag, the camera bag and a few other necessary items. It didn't matter. I only ended up coming in from the cold because the space in between the lens and the sensor of my camera fogged up and the picture got too dim to keep shooting. I would have stayed out until my batteries failed otherwise.

I could mention the time that I was shooting with two friends and one of them noted two people on rented bikes and said we should go interview them because they were definitely foreign (we were looking for Germans at that point.) One of the riders turned out to be Daryl Hannah, the actress, who is from Chicago. I turned aside before we reached them but my friend plunged ahead and talked to her male companion, who declined to be interviewed. "Good eye" I said.

There are a thousand other little things I could mention, ranging from being stuck in a cab between two MBA candidates talking about how their friend who buys $1000 pairs of jeans never pays them back when he borrows money to trying desperately to get home before bladder or colon burst after a 6 hour filming session when I lost track of my bodily sensations because I was sucked in to the camera.

It's interesting how many little incidents I can recall from what amounts to just a few days, and how much I've learned and re-evaluated. There's a lot in the way of wisdom and lessons that people tell you when you're young that you can't process until you're older with a bit more experience. That's frustrating, but I guess it's also the natural order of things. Human knowledge is, in some ways, cumulative but human wisdom is not. It's something each person must acquire for his or herself. Others can act only as guides.
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Fear and self-killing in Colorado

As a suicide survivor (Okay that term makes it seem like I tried to off myself rather than simply lived through my father's successful suicide, but that's not entirely untrue.) I think that I am usually disproportionately affected by news of suicide in our society. The clamor over the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson has been something of a mystery to me though. Did anyone NOT see this coming? This was a man who not only participated in virtually every self-destructive behavior known to man short of Republicanism and religion, but did them in public and wrote about them extensively. He titled more than one of his books Fear and Loathing. He lived in what he called a "Fortified compound." He was a provocateur and an experimenter, but actually to the extreme, not like those corporate constructed losers we have now who get picked up with a few grams of weed when they want a little extra attention. The only real surprise is that he didn't die sooner. As for why he killed himself, well, who the hell knows? It could very well have been the case that he didn't know what he was doing because he was in a chemically enhanced state of consciousness, or maybe his demons (read fear and loathing) got the best of him, or maybe he was just curious about experiencing the afterlife. I understand why people care about his death, in many ways he was a final relic of a bygone era when people had things to say and artists were out there uncorrupted by corporate America and living at 750 miles per hour. His shooting himself is about the least surprising thing since Chris Farley dying the way he did. There's a reason that certain behaviors are considered risky and warning signs for potential problems. Individuals think "It could never happen to me" (god knows I'm that way about my weight, which I desperately need to get down) but celebrity status does not confer protection from death. We can celebrate Thompson's work and his willingness to bare it all for our reading pleasure, but we should not be surprised at the cost.

If I ever off myself, which I don't think will happen but we'll see how I feel when I'm 45 and still trying to break into the entertainment industry, it shouldn't be a surprise either. According to psychological statistics I have about a %15 chance of taking my own life given my family history and other factors. That's a bigger chance than a baby in America has of being born African American. This sort of shit is GOING to happen to someone, and the fact that it happened to Thompson is about as surprising as learning that Jason Giambi took steroids. The real question is whether Hunter's fans and admirers encouraged his destructive behavior when, at some point, they should have been trying to get him some help. In Hunter's case I don't think it really would have mattered. He lived life only one way, and that was staring down the barrel of a metaphoric gun, be it a big dose of heroin, a bottle of vodka and the wheel of a car, or the literal aperture of a 12-gage. It was only a matter of time before one of those went off.
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