Saturday, May 31, 2008

you're pretty good looking, for a girl

Tonight I went to see the Sex and the City movie with a good friend of mine (male) and fourteen other women who were the friends, relatives, and friends of relatives of my friend. I never -- nevernevernevernever, ever -- thought I'd do something like that, and the fact that I'm "blogging" about it makes me feel brave, like I'm admitting for the first time that I have an addiction, or a foot fetish, or a conjoined twin. It was strange, almost surreal, and the fact that I was all hopped up on Sudafed probably added to my disorientation... but it was nice. We met ahead of time at someone's house for hors d'oeuvres and cosmos, and everyone drank a little too much and laughed a lot. I met several interesting, kind people and enjoyed a (somewhat) relaxing evening (except for the moment I actually heard the words "girl power" used in conversation unironically, and subsequently had to spend a solitary half hour chain-smoking on the back porch in order to regain my grip on sanity). Anyway, I had a good time. There, I said it.

Then came the movie. There were over two hundred women in the theater, and five men (I counted). At least half of the women cried a minimum of three times during the film (didn't count, too busy feeling awkward over the fact that I didn't understand what the hell everyone was crying about). At one point partway through, I went to the bathroom and found in the stall an abandoned martini glass containing a few tablespoons of cosmo (wanted to drink it, didn't). I wanted to like the movie, but I didn't. I wish I had some witty or insightful observations to add here, but I don't.

I guess it's okay to be one of those women. "Those" women. Usually I feel like I belong to a different species. Men seem to like the "girly" girls, so maybe it's preferable, who knows? I've never felt quite like I belong among them, and probably never will. I prefer to be cynical, pretend like nothing scares me, dress like a ten-year-old boy, build my own furniture, and guzzle single malt scotch. Even though it doesn't really seem to be working out so well for me, I like me the way I am. And sometimes I say things like this because I like to feel like there's really a difference between me and "them." Because, y'know, I'd hate to be viewed as prissy while I'm talking about watching Sex and the City.

it's on television

When I lived in New York, I didn't watch T.V. at all. I didn't even have one for the first year, until the bar downstairs from my apartment gave me one that they were going to throw out. I never even plugged it in; I ended up giving it away to a needy pal when I moved back here. Anyway, now I am becoming addicted to the Direct T.V. DVR thingie. I spend an inordinate amount of time looking through the guide for movies I may or may not want to see at some undetermined future date, and if I miss an episode of Top Chef I freak out like a dingo stole my baby. (Not really. My current "Playlist" contains: two documentaries on photography, the Sylvia Plath movie, Lynyrd Skynyrd on The Old Grey Whistle Test, and, okay, one episode of Top Chef.) But I think this is partly why I'm so excited about going back to school. In order to make up for not being in New York anymore, I've made it a point to do more reading and writing, but somehow I still feel like I'm losing I.Q. points at an alarming rate. I can't wait to have homework.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

i kept your poem here with all my other gear, but in the end i missed what it meant.

Yesterday I picked up a dear friend from the airport and drove him to Winter Haven to visit his dying father. Afterward we chain-smoked cigarettes with his lovely and courageous mother, and then we went out and got really drunk. To be fair, let me say that we did try and enjoy some more wholesome relaxing activities, but since every sign directing us to "Spook Hill" was pointing in a different direction, and you can only admire downtown Lake Wales for, like, five minutes before you start yawning and/or looking for hookers and crack, we finally had to throw in the towel and call on our old standby, booze. I know I'm not very good at finding the right things to say or do during times of emotional crisis, but one thing I can do right is listen. And drink. Sometimes there's not much you can do for somebody but just be a friend when times are tough. If I've been half as good a friend as my pals have been for me over the years, then I guess I'm doing all right.

Soooo. . . this afternoon I made the two-hour drive home through some of the, let's say, less populated parts of central Florida. I took lots of pictures of trees and cows and signs saying things like "I lovE God," "Jesus Saves," and "GOAT MILK FUDGE."

Here is a scary "citrus processing plant" where it's obvious that what they're really doing is cooking small children in vats of boiling oil and feeding them to their army of vicious nocturnal flying monkey-bats.

Here, figure this one out:

Cows. Cattle. Cows.


This week has been trying and strange; I was feeling hollow and ugly inside until yesterday, when I was lucky enough to spend time with some people who reminded me what life is really about. Thanks, Carls!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

later on you stand alone, below an empty moon, with an empty heart and your empty hands

They say you reap what you sow. I've just been flogged with my own stupidity, so I guess I have gotten what I deserve. Considering some of the situations I have found myself in, the level of my continuing optimism is, at times, staggering. But it always comes back to bite me in the ass.

End of story.

People -- okay, NEW YORKERS -- keep asking me about Florida, so here you go:

Florida is nuts. It's really beautiful here, especially in this particular area, but it's also weird and as my friend Jacquie would say, "trash-tastic!" The other day I saw lawn ornamentation consisting of a 6 ft. wooden boat with plants growing out of it and the words "cheaperhere" painted on the side. Pictures are forthcoming.

The big news these days is basically the entire state is on fire. There's a major drought, so brush fires are cropping up all over the place, that is when some deranged lunatic isn't deliberately setting them. The nearest fires are 40 or 50 miles from me, but there are so many of them that no matter where you go, you smell smoke. At the beach you can see big yellow clouds of it hanging over the horizon. Lovely.

And here's the really important stuff: Unless some terrible unforseen thing happens, I will be in NYC the weekend of June 20-21. I'm hoping to extend the weekend a little and spend four full days/nights in The City. Please hang out with me, I get lonely.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's hard to hold the hand of anyone who is reaching for the sky just to surrender.

Leonard Cohen makes me feel okay. Not "okay" as in, "yeah, I'm okay, could be better," but "okay" in the most thrilling sense: "You know, maybe I'm not just that flagitious, lurching half-human wastrel I feel like inside; maybe I'm actually pretty okay."

Considering we're talking about a guy who did a hell of a lot of writing about depression and social injustice, I guess that makes a sideways sort of sense.

Most people I know have heard Jeff Buckley's cover of "Hallelujah", or at least remember the creepy songs "Everybody Knows" or "I'm Your Man" from one of several recent movie soundtracks, but there's way more interesting stuff you should know about Leonard Cohen. He wrote and was actively publishing poetry for eleven years before he started recording music. This explains a lot, because he is most celebrated for being a brilliant lyricist. He has released seventeen albums (some of which are actually "essentials" and "best-ofs", so they don't really count), but the best, by far, is the first, The Songs of Leonard Cohen. It came out in 1967 and if you ask me, he could have never made another song after that, and he still would be respected as one of the best songwriters of the last fifty years. Here -- the lyrics to "One of Us Cannot Be Wrong":

I lit a thin green candle, to make you jealous of me.
But the room just filled up with mosquitos,
they heard that my body was free.
Then I took the dust of a long sleepless night
and I put it in your little shoe.
And then I confess that I tortured the dress
that you wore for the world to look through.

I showed my heart to the doctor: he said I just have to quit.
Then he wrote himself a prescription,
and your name was mentioned in it!
Then he locked himself in a library shelf
with the details of our honeymoon,
and I hear from the nurse that he's gotten much worse
and his practice is all in a ruin.

I heard of a saint who had loved you,
so I studied all night in his school.
He taught that the duty of lovers
is to tarnish the golden rule.
And just when I was sure that his teachings were pure
he drowned himself in the pool.
His body is gone but back here on the lawn
his spirit continues to drool.

An Eskimo showed me a movie
he'd recently taken of you:
the poor man could hardly stop shivering,
his lips and his fingers were blue.
I suppose that he froze when the wind took your clothes
and I guess he just never got warm.
But you stand there so nice, in your blizzard of ice,
oh please let me come into the storm.


Here's some more Leonard Cohen trivia: He lived for several years on the Greek island of Hydra, where he wrote a book of poetry and two novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers. While he was there, he became romantically involved with the wife of another writer (a guy named Axel something-or-other whom Cohen was supposedly friends with), which is where the song "So Long, Marianne" came from. After that he moved to New York and, duh, lived in The Chelsea Hotel (where he hooked up with Janis Joplin and subsequently wrote "Chelsea Hotel #2", which contains the line, "giving me head/on the unmade bed/while the limousines wait in the street"). Three of the songs from his 1992 album The Future were used in the soundtrack to the movie Natural Born Killers. Cohen is Jewish (go figure) but spent somewhere between three and five years at a Buddhist center and was eventually ordained a Zen Buddhist monk. Oh, and did I mention he's Canadian?

When I was loooking up the lyrics to some of his songs to use in this post, I found out that Leonard Cohen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this past March, and is touring this summer, for the first time in -- I think -- thirteen years. Which I guess makes this an astoundingly timely plug. Also, there's apparently a Lionsgate/Sundance documentary on his life called "I'm Your Man", and his first three albums were re-mastered and re-released last year, so you should go listen to them. And don't say I never did you any favors.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

old news

I realize ripping on The Hoff wasn't invented yesterday, but nobody does it better than, well, The Hoff. This video is a masterpiece of self-ridicule. I've got to hand it to him, he pulls it off so brilliantly, it almost looks like he's not kidding.

When I was a kid, someone like The Hoff would have been referred to as a "Larry." As in, "what a fucking Larry." I'm about to bring "Larry" back. Other words and phrases I'm working on bringing back:

janky: "My janky Ford Festiva won't go over forty without leaving the transmission on the side of the road."

jam-up: "Damn, girl, those biscuits & gravy were jam-up! Give me another plate!"

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

did you ever have something

you wanted to erase?

not a crime, per se
but an offense, nonetheless
there's no rest, in a
bag, in a box, in a drawer
ashtray, not a relic, remains
yet to be given away
by who, to whom
i didn't want it anyway
where did the maps go?