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.