Saturday, July 26, 2008

On tour (of course.) Huge house full of kids, almost all of them are younger. Tie dye shirts, headbands, neon. I keep thinking I’ve put down my cellphone somewhere which sends me into a panic— the idea of not being able to even text Roby surrounded by this kinda element is anathema, of course, and I’m putting a brave face on it because there’s kids here who seem really psyched and also fragile and the tiniest I-smell-shit face might seriously send them into a moody funk which I know will in turn disgust me and there is a wide chasm between our particular takes on those two states, a chasm over which further negotiation is not really possible and any progress will require mediation. But there will be no mediator. (Peacemaker? Who did Jesus actually make peace between again? I’m not being sarcastic, I really want to know. I guess I never got the impression that all those people who put down their stones went on to welcome the foxy sinner they had intended to brutalize into their community. [Sort of the problem about those kind of communities— the ones that appoint themselves the authority to punish, I guess: you can’t get outside. You’re either in or you’re brutalized into.] Putting down the stones, OK it’s a temporary peace, and I’m even willing to believe the bastards might not have killed her the next day. I think it was much more of a possibility back then, before all the distance and depersonalized propriety introduced by the more modern and more formal courts did.)

SO perhaps it is all chess to me. And I am losing a lot of pieces. But I value annihilation unconditionally, purely: if my own alone I am able to engender and enjoy I will not be selfish. Deep down, I think the idea that speaking reverentially of total annihilation might be a pose is itself a pose. We all pay closer attention when total annihilation becomes part of a story. Whether it’s a story on a news television show or in an epic action movie, in a history textbook or a sick comic: impending annihilation makes it easier to care. And it is hard not to revere such a powerful, Earth-changing force when you live in a world where things never change, except to get more lazy, and less original, and more convenient, and more vapid, and more volume, and more artificial, and so much compression, and ever more expensive.

We all start walking in a great big, meandering line out of the house. There’s so many. Hundreds. In a row. I have little conversations about the show with them. Not in any detail— only just, “Here we are, at the show, yep it’s the show. Some people are here, some people we know. We’re at a show tonight.”

In the distance there's a huge highway, glorious fourlane on either side. The line approaches it over a very long period of hours that just fly by due to everyone’s cheery demeanor and the genuine sense of euphoric anticipation I can smell all over them. We enter some kind of trench that looks like a pool, a long narrow pool, and it's filled with chlorinated water like a pool, too. The line moves into the pool and the water goes up to my shoulders. It runs parallel to the highway, but from the pool you can see all eight lanes. The highway is in the distance, it feels like we’re looking up at it but we must be looking down if we can see the whole thing, right? It’s so full of cars. And the cars are never stopped, or slow— but their flow doesn’t fluctuate at all. There is basically a steady and tightly confined beam of cars that never ceases, like molecules moving in opposite direction.

I have anger, does it matter where it originates? You point out calmly that my anger originates some place low and at some distance behind where I have assumed to be the source, as if this makes it go away. It doesn’t go away. And that’s why knowing the proper source of the anger is not information as valuable or powerful as knowing the proper receptacle for it. I believe I have written enough by now to make it clear that I have not selected the receptacles for my anger arbitrarily, or on some kind of whim.

We’re in the water, walking, talking, winding, this line of a thousand children. Some guy starts pushing his index finger hard into a space between my ribs, five inches beneath my nipple. He walks up to me and pushes with his finger right hard in that spot. I try swinging my arm and it swings so slow through the water. He keeps backing off and then approaching again to jab me in the same spot with the same outstretched pointer that he never relaxes or flexes.

Later, seemingly on a whole different tour. A tour with Lil’ Frodo. And others. From here. (A future RR?) In a huge house, it’s a house show. But this house is some kind of mansion. So many stairs, stairs going up and up and up. There’s a big line of kids, like the last line. I’m always moving somewhere with a few people ahead and behind, and the knowledge that there are even more people ahead and behind them, and we talk the whole time we’re moving and act even like we’re just in some transitional period, like when you’re in the elevator with people you don’t know on your way to the sixth floor of the H&H, or getting a ride home in someone’s car with other people who are getting rides home from the same driver. But we’re walking in the line, following where the people just in front of us seem to go— they’re talking, too, everyone’s talking and waiting and going to this show. At some point, people start sleeping on couches and on the floor, the show is tomorrow, I guess, and we all kinda find little nooks and spots to crash in the immediate vicinity of where we were in this line that is threading through the entire house and ending up (presumably) in the room that the show will be in. I text Roby, tell her about things, observations she would understand or value or discuss with me, it makes me feel a little better, more positive, and I am able to get to sleep, too.

I wake up and meet a bunch of people. The line disintegrates, I think, even though we all seemed to sleep with an unspoken assumption that it might be necessary to resume with it this morning, but I get the sense that now that most people were finding breakfast, finding their friends, and treating the whole house as the venue. It was a rich person’s house, very nice, very sparse, huge furry pelts on the walls. I meet an older woman. She is dressed gaudily and smiling in a very forced way, trying to make me feel welcome, so welcoming it is clearly sarcastic in that tactful, rich-matron way that says, “An inhuman amount of energy and effort is being expected of me right now, but I will rise to the occasion because I must, and I am strong enough to do it! Only because I am a fucking amazing and kick-ass hostess will I now pull off the impossible depth of servitude everyone here obviously expects of me!”

I assume this is the mother of the kid whose show this is, so I heap a few praises on him as a peace offering, to show that I am an exceptionally courteous freak and not like these other beasts who demand she play the role by refusing to subtly acknowledge it’s subtext, ie: the SOS flare she shoots off from the points of her teeth and from the punctuation of her polite jokes. She makes little of my praises, sweeping them aside but without malice: We’re already cool, you and I, you don’t have to do that. I feel pleased that we’re communicating on this level right off the bat. I assume that when you get older you waste less and less time testing the waters.

I follow her to the room where the show is going down. We play by house rules: no open bitching or kvetching like we can do at normal shows. We’re onto the next step: locate the martyrs and rally them with beautiful speeches. The more martyrs willing to symbolically carry the cross of our hostess, the more spectacular this gathering will be. Lack of sacrifice is what makes a party suck. REAL sacrifice— money has never counted, that is why Jesus’ second most important action (after the stones) is throwing the moneychangers out of the temple. Giving up your money is not a substitute for actual sacrifice: God doesn’t ask that you tithe 10% to the church because he’s some kind of ghostly banker or because he wants gymnasiums built behind the rectory: he’s making the point that he knows what the fuck money is about but he’s not interested in it. Taking 1% would be too confusing to you who reject the meek and the poor on principle. He takes 10%, a tiny fraction of 100%— which lesser powers strive to obtain from you even now.

I remember about my hair and the FBI: FEMALE PUSSY INSPECTOR shirt with it’s screenprinted bright pink new-age vagina, the leafy cunt from which a great mob of kokopellis and dead darwin fish are emerging, and I realize she is proud to be accompanied by a leper, because she knows I understand about the importance of sacrifice and that I will help her. The fact that I will be a leper while I help her elevates her, and that by elevating the hostess, the one who has sacrificed herself for the good of the party, we elevate the event. She is the living symbol of the event and we must sacrifice her properly, seriously, and not just abandon that job to one or two close to her and frolic like dogs, thinking that an undirected experience will spontaneously reach any kind of elevation comparable to that so assuredly achieved by a real sacrifice. So we must follow her lead and acknowledge her suffering tastefully in the subtext of our interactions and we must make sure that we hold nothing back for it is not only her last party but it is her death party.

Some funerals, most funerals, are the sad parody of this ritual. They are humans trying to offer up one of their own conveniently just after that person had dropped dead of their own accord. You wouldn’t eat a rotten old corpse that had been cooked, but you expect God to? They dress and weep as mourning might be signified in an old play, their friends line up to express their condolences, and gesture toward the elevation of the dead through somber, plodding speeches while physically lowering the body into a deep place where they would never accidentally see it.

The only funeral that seemed even remotely convincing to me was one I attended held in the church of a man my mother suggested might be a confidence artist. He spoke for a long time and there were spotlighted singers and a multimedia slideshow. These are not the things that made it convincing, but I suppose they are physical manifestations of that thing.

The show is in a garage, a huge garage on the bottom floor. The ceiling isn’t too high and the only stairs down are iron and turn in a tightly-clenched spiral, sort of what I remember the stairs in the Statue of Liberty feeling like. There’s a table set up and most of the cast of The Sopranos is sitting there. And David Chase. The actors all seem to be in character, though. I take a seat at the table, expecting the hostess to sit beside me but I see she’s gone off to some other place just after I sat down, she’s talking to somebody else now and her back is to me. I remain at the table and Chase ceremoniously begins some kind of discussion. It is obvious the actors expect more of the audience to be paying attention. Tony Sirico is amazing to watch in person, I soon find out.

There is a young woman at the table I don’t recognize. She seems shy, kind of tame, perhaps a little too modest for my taste, but she is pretty. I quietly ask her while someone else is talking (drawing stares, although Tony doesn’t stop talking and everyone else pretends not to notice me after exchanging stinkeyes) who she is. She explains that she is the mother of the boy who set up the show. I didn’t expect that. She’s older than me, but not by much— she seems too young to be the mother of a child old enough to want to see Lil’ Frodo. I don’t heap praises on the child this time. I never had any genuine praises for him in the first place— he seems totally normal and our brief meeting did not lead me to believe exploring him any further would be a satisfying experience.

James Gandolfini seems personally hurt that so many kids, especially those still coming down the stairs, are not listening to dialogue the actors at the table are having. David Chase is putting a good face on it and I can’t tell whether or not it’s diplomatic or if he really doesn’t care about these little kids. His presence here must have something to do with the rich woman I had followed earlier.

I join the conversation and am not ignored. The actors seem to have all written this whole thing off mentally already so my intrusion doesn’t seem to bother them so much and it appears that since I deliver my lines feigning the whole time that I am honestly not aware that I am in the middle of a performance, they improv around me. If I had broke kayfabe, I bet one of them would have walked off, or maybe even slugged me.

When the dialogue finishes they all get up hastily to retreat to some other part of the house, or maybe leave entirely. I don’t try to approach them, I find a door outside and start ascending some wooden stairs that lead up to a series of different decks. There’s a line, though, so it’s slow going.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I’m in an airport in Texas, about to fly home from a tour, but looking at the series of little colorful pictures that represent the various destinations of my flight, I realize it’s not really going anywhere near Ba’al timor. I see that the flight is crossing the Atlantic at least once— I’d love to go back to England, which this one little picture with the beefeater in it obviously indicates— but there are a few other pictures in the sequence that are labeled in another language. Is this word here beneath the spinning blue lady the French-Canadian word for Montreal? If it is, that might be the closest this plane is getting to my house… I decide to take the next leg of the flight to southern Florida. It’ll put me on the right coast and at least there’s a layover afterwards where I can plan my next move. Maybe there will be an easier way to get home that will present itself.

I fall asleep right after takeoff. As the plane circles the Floridian airport, I’m awakened by an announcement from the captain. I look out the window and it’s late at night. I also see what appears to be a giant King Kong in a suit and hat thrusting his fists into the air next to a semi-circle of burning debris. The captain acknowledges that this seems unlikely and says he’s going to fly in a little closer, and if it looks really dangerous, we’ll go to another airport. We end up landing with no more explanation and I follow the rest of the passengers off the plane, through the terminal, and onto a boardwalk that is filled with people.

I walk along with the surging crowd, past a really interesting building that looks like some kind of gigantic hybrid of an amusement park Haunted House and a Lazer Tag place. There are huge sculptures of Lovecraft-looking beasts outside, stooped and snarling humanoids with ridges on their backs and limbs and nests of knotted tentacles hanging from their mouths, all of them in the same shade of yellow wax that looks soft and sweaty in the sun. The sculptures are cool but there are only really two different ones that are repeated along the side of this very long building. I can’t remember the sign that hung above… Kumpovol? Campovol? The place was called something like that, in red lettering that was maybe supposed to be reminiscent of bloody fingernail scratches clawed into some old wood. I stop and tell my posse— GZA, my friend’s little brother, and the ghost of my ex-girlfriend— that I have to check this place out. We go down a stairwell and the first door we come to leads to a room where a big party is being held. A bunch of jocko tourists are watching some sporting event on big TVs set in the wall around the bar. There’s a doorman and big, purple double-doors. I peek through the door as it swings open and see a lot of watches and bracelets and hairy arms coming out of rolled-up sleeves from button-down shirts: not my scene. At the top of the stairway, back on street level, there are a few picnic tables underneath an overhang. The posse and I decide to wait there until we can find out more about this place.

My friend’s little brother disappears and reappears a little while later to announce that the Lazer Tag part of this establishment is down another set of steps just inside the double-door of the party room. He says it’s not like a Lazer Tag where you shoot other people but one where you walk through a creepy, winding maze with rooms decorated to look like swamps and creepy New England sea-side towns and you shoot giant Lovecraftian monsters that jump out at you, supposedly like the fearsome wax beasts that stand along the side of the building. There are a lot of people walking up and down the boardwalk, a lot of people at this party, people always going up and down the stairs.

Some younger kid who senses from my looks that I’ll be sympathetic, approaches and hands me a laminated card that’s maybe 11” high by 6” wide. It’s divided into eight squares, each one depicting a portion of a screenshot from some NES game. The first 7 are all of different appearances of some piano-playing man in a suit and hat, sitting at a piano with a slim, flapper-looking babe next to him in a feather boa. The final shot is of a King Kong in a suit, presumably the final boss of whatever game the other pictures are from. The kid enthusiastically explains to me that this card is proof that the King Kong I saw at the airport was racist and wants me to agree with him. GZA, either bored or creeped out by this kid, quietly signals to me that he’s going to go check out that party. I try to politely shoo the kid with the laminated card away but he insists on explaining the entire ending sequence of this game to me in detail, how the piano man that appears innocuously in the background of several levels turns out to be the final boss, and how he and his flapper babe morph into giant King Kongs (their clothing grows to fit their new incarnations— his hat does, too) and how before you fight him he sings a song into mic while a spotlight shines on him.

Then Yao Ming and his manager show up. I’m saved from the kid by Ming’s manager’s pushy insistence that she talk to me right away. Ming sits smiling at the picnic table with me, the manager remains standing, too caffeinated to sit. She reminds me of the favor Ming did me a year or two ago— one I didn’t ask for, I remind her, but Ming interrupts to explain how needlessly generous the favor was regardless. The manager continues to explain how Ming is going to be a master chef now and he needs me to return the favor by getting in touch with my “contacts” and getting him a cooking show on cable.

It turns out Ming is some kind of extravagantly rich dilettante, and that before he decided to be a great basketball player, he had varying success in a few other careers: one of which was music, which is how he and I know each other. I tell the pushy pair that I don’t have any “contacts” at the moment who would be able to just hand Ming a cable cooking show, and try to leave it at that, but they’re so insistent I find myself telling them that they’ll have to at least give me time to talk to the “contacts” I do have to see if they know anybody who might be able to help. Ming reminds me again of the old favor he did for me, and I remind him again that you can’t give just somebody something completely out of the blue and then call for repayment later. He is unmoved by my arguments, always stressing the extreme generosity of his original kindness to me. I suggest that he might be able to easily get a show on PBS without my help— he seems into the idea, likes how he might be able to spin it as the most community-oriented of cooking shows— the most generous.

I abruptly announce I’m ready to try out the Lazer Tag game, gambling on my hunch that there’s no way Ming’s manager would do a frivolous thing like that (she’d never do anything where she might appear out of her element, you know?) and that Ming won’t do it either if it means his manager won’t be with him. The kid with the laminated card has been lurking nearby and now perks up, obviously planning to invite himself along. The ghost of my ex-girlfriend criticizes the hour at which I usually wake up.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Big party in big house, there's a room in the basement that opens into a little bricked-in courtyard that contains a patio and pool. It looks nice, I check it out and plan to go in there, but first I continue exploring the place. Upstairs, some kind of show just happened. Some people are taking down their gear-- a big band with like 7 or 8 kids in it, smiling Rainbow Coalition-type group with lots of instruments, keyboards, cheap hand percussion like shakers and shit. One of the guys in the band has a really large girlfriend who sits at a laptop doing ebay during their set and while they take down. I look over her shoulder to try and see what she's ebaying but I can't really tell, looks like she's got her own ebay store, though.

I go back downstairs to the pool room and find that the entire room is under a few feet of water. A skinny guy with long-ish brown hair and glasses tells me that he might be the one responsible: he was throwing around some glitter and thinks that maybe glitter has clogged up the pool's filters and caused this flooding.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's early in the afternoon and I'm just back from a trip and trying to contact an important girl. I am waiting around the house of some people I barely know, calling this girl and leaving messages and waiting to hear back from her. I am ready to leave the house but will not do so until I find out where this girl is and find out where I can meet her.

Time passes and I am still waiting for the call. One of the guys who lives in the house tries to be friendly, but I am too anxious because I have not yet heard from the girl. A girl I knew from a long time ago is here, too, and is very excited to see me, but I am too preoccupied to be excited with her. I excuse myself and wander through the upstairs of the house, eventually finding a bedroom that I enter, shutting the door behind me. It seems to be the bedroom of a young boy, although I find it hard to believe anybody young enough to explain the decor of this room would live in this particular house. I stand on the bed, with my shoes right on top of an oversized and brightly-colored comforter, listening (again) to an old voice mail message left for me by this girl I am looking for, hoping there is something there I missed before which will relieve me of the anxiety I feel.

There is nothing new in the message, and I don't pay attention to any of the other voice mails I have saved, instead scrutinizing the framed posters that hang on the bedroom's walls. They are curiously all fireman-themed. To my right hangs a poster with some robotic, skeletal firefighters-- looking kind of like dollar-store Terminators-- and right beside it is a poster of The Simpsons with Homer dressed as a fireman, clutching an out-of-control firehose. His two eldest children are also hanging on to the huge, whipping firehose, while Marge and the baby look on worried from the grass below. On the wall to my left is a more traditional poster honoring the heroism of American firefighters.

The important girl calls me. She is at some guy's house, some guy she doesn't know. She met him in the woods today. Two of his friends, though, are people I kind of know, people I have seen around, and they are there, too. I try, but I cannot convince the girl to leave that place and come meet me.