Archive for July, 2003

Monday, July 28th, 2003

It has been an incredible weekend.

I think at a certain point, our lives mean nothing, really. When a guy cheats on his wife or someone breaks a promise to stay away from drugs or drinking, you can’t really get too mad about it. It is what it is, and when you take in the scope of the entirety of history, who really cares? When you are in New Orleans, at a certain point if you don’t pay for sex or pass out in public, you are way ahead.

My Uncle always said that nothing matters except your relationships with the people in your life and your relationship with the lord. I think my relationship with the lord is fairly well documented in this blog. So, let’s just say that raising good children who will raise better children etc., and your relationship with your friends might be the only real measure of a man.

If that is so, my brother Ian is one of the highest quality people on the planet. The sheer joy and pleasure that we have sought and celebrated this weekend is equal to the quality of the people that I have had the chance to spend my time with, and I can’t imagine this having been a better description of everyone’s love for Ian.

I think that makes sense.

I will say this, girls at a bachelor’s party is fine. Seriously. It isn’t a problem. I mean, if you can avoid it, then sure, go ahead, but seriously, it doesn’t *wreck* anything.

Osama Airlines

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2003

Salon runs an article today that shows how easy it would be to learn how to pilot a jet plane by using some new video game. They call it Osama Air Lines, or something.

I have been reading the new Krakauer book, so maybe my nerves are a bit raw. But we have this paralyzing fear that we are going to educate people into being able to destroy us. There is always this fear of knowledge, like we ought to be more careful about publishing instructions for making pipe bombs and handing out blue prints to malls and stuff.

I’m sure I am wrong about this, but I believe that truth will win out in the end. Jordana was reading the letters to the editor of Newsweek after they published their Gay Marriage issue, and she was appalled by the people who wrote in with their typical ‘God’s Law’ and ‘Adam and Steve’ arguments. And she is furious because these people are having tons of kids and they are going to vote.

But America is set up to stop any church from taking over any state, even Utah. And if they take away a woman’s right to chose, we will fight to get it back. The beauty of America, the greatness of our constitution, is that as soon as someone swings the pendulum in a way that makes no sense, we Americans can swing it back. We have to stand our ground and vote and fight, but no loss is permanent. The other side knows this, we have to as well.

And our only weapon is a free and aggressive exchange of all ideas. Even video games that show you how to pilot a 747. Even tracts blaming the Jews for 9-11. Maybe not outright lies like that, but maybe by reading bullshit and seeing where it’s wrong, you get a better sense of what the truth is.

If everyone knows everything possible, then America will approach its ideal. There will still be shades of opinion, people with all the figures will still believe that abortion is murder and that the death penalty affects crime rates, because some people aren’t smart. But almost everyone is smart enough to recognize the truth when they see it.

Isn’t it romantic?

Monday, July 21st, 2003

Exes are always hard to deal with. In my family, we sort of collect them in the same way we collect old hair dryers and waffle irons, whenever we have to deal with them again there is always a little bit of nostalgia and longing, but ultimately we aren’t going to use something that only burns stuff when you use it.

I was driving to SLC Airport a week or so ago and was stuck at a strange time of night. I was exhausted and wanted to talk to someone, but my friends in New York were already asleep and my friends in LA were already out for the nightly binge drinking. So I took a chance and called an ex-girlfriend that I hadn’t spoken to in a while, just to sort of catch up and do my bi-monthly guilt assessment.

We spoke for a while, I asked about her new boyfriend, a guy that I like quite a bit but who is nowhere near equal to the task of corralling her monstrous personality, and she said that it was a struggle. I couldn’t really help myself. I told her that this guy wasn’t up to the task, I said, ‘Look, I just hope you get with a guy who is gonna think it’s funny when you screw up. You can’t help but screw up, it’s in your wiring, I just hope you find a guy who is man enough to deal with it..’

She said, ‘You mean, like you used to be.’

I was instantly really uncomfortable. This particular girl, although definitely full of love for me when we were together, has been less than forthcoming since the break-up, characterizing the whole relationship as a series of growing lessons that she eventually outgrew. For her to give me props on any level is extraordinary. But, I knew she was right, she knew I knew, and there wasn’t anything more to say about that.

She asked me about my upcoming nuptials and I went into my dance about the future and my hesitant excitement. She asked me why I was hesitant, and I pointed out that every relationship I had been in before was a failure, including mine with her.

She said, ‘You didn’t fail. I did.’

Um…. what?

‘No, you were always there. I should have tried harder. I shouldn’t have bailed just because you hit a rough patch. I know I haven’t said it before, but this thing was my fault.’

Well, I mean, I sucked. I definitely sucked.

‘I know you did, but, y’know… I just feel like I should tell you that I should have hung in there. I lost you, I fucked up, and now I don’t get you. It wasn’t your fault.’

I don’t know if any of you read this blog besides people who know me pretty well, but surely you can get a sense of just how ridiculously self-absorbed I can get, and I fetishize my depression like a Sylvia Plath addict, and this particular relationship ended on a six month bender of failure and self-hatred. Despite the fact that she began another relationship before we were done with ours, I have always blamed myself for not doing more to keep her.

‘I mean, I’m glad it happened,’ she said, always the pragmatist, ‘but you shouldn’t feel like it’s your fault.’

This probably shouldn’t have meant that much to me, but the break-up was highly contested. Most of my friends chose to end their friendship with her, certainly neither of our families have spoken since, but some of my friends not only have remained friendly with her, but refuse to allow anything negative to be said about her. The implication was that she didn’t do anything all that wrong, or if she did it didn’t really matter, and that is tough to swallow. In the final analysis, if she is straight with me, I guess it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

And here’s the thing. I have been friends with her, despite the betrayals, despite the occasional hostility. I have always loved her in my own way, and in her own way she has received that love. It seemed wrong to me that I could love someone so deeply, and then just stop any association with them, just stop any kind of contact. I didn’t believe that I could be capable of that level of delusion, and I still don’t. Although we may speak only bi-annually from now on, although both her style and substance are anethema to me now, the connection that we once had won’t ever be completely forgotten.

And I wouldn’t want it to be. That relationship is what makes me try so hard in my present one. I don’t ever want to be caught again having not done everything I could to make the people I love happy.


Friday, July 18th, 2003

I’ll say this for Utah, we might have the spirit of the Mormon church wrong. When I think of Mormons, I think mostly of people in their Sunday best trying really hard to convince everyone else that their crazy church is right by going door to door and telling everyone that there was no truth before the early to mid 18th century.

But the Mormon spirit that I get when I am in Utah is one of fierce independence and rugged survivalism. The fascination with the trek from Illinois to Utah is one of the driving forces behind interaction here. These are not small thin white guys who call each other elder and talk about God. These are big husky white guys who call each other elder and go fishing.

I never fully understood why Karl Malone was so embraced here, I always thought that Mormons would see a giant strapping black guy from the south as some kind of problem. But, it seems that it was because he owned ATVs and shot deer and argued with his bosses that the Mormons loved him. Sure, they loved Jeff Hornacek and John Stockton for all the obvious reasons, but you shouldn’t discount how much Malone there is in these people.

I mean, the whole believing in God thing, the whole ‘old testament’ approach to religion in politics, and the desperate depression and hostility coupled with an overt cloying sexuality I see in the women, make this a religion I have actively avoided since I came of age. But these are not people to be trifled with.

Independent artists

Wednesday, July 16th, 2003

The independent artistic spirit is something that just simply cannot be killed. It doesn’t matter what you think of the current state of top 40 radio, or the state of seriously shitty Broadway plays, and believe me I totally agree with your worst assessment, there is still great theater and music being made by people with no corporate backing at all.

Movies and Broadway shows cost millions of dollars to mount, much more than you even read about because the publicity campaigns are not included in the figures you read. I have a friend who says that it isn’t possible to produce a show in New York for less than 14,000 dollars, and I understand how he gets that number.

But there are people putting on shows for much much less than that, and the shows are not worse for it. There are aspects of theater that simply cost something, and God knows talent should be better compensated than it currently is in New York theater. But if you can assemble a group of artists who are willing to work toward a purely artistic goal then you can put on a show for under 5 grand. Well under.

And that is what the focus needs to be. What are you trying to say? Isn’t it more important to say that thing than it is for your theater to have gorgeous plush seats? I’ll admit, I am a snob when it comes to theater, I don’t want crappy lighting, I don’t want folding chairs, I don’t want age inappropriate casting. But If you have, say, three people doing an hour long show that says what all three of them and the team of artists behind them wants to say, then you have perfect theater. One step above performing on the street, one step below charging thirty dollars for tickets. Paper the house with free tickets, and charge some people whatever the going rate is. The exchange of ideas is there, without the threat of massive financial loss.

Even better is the music industry now. You are being given, say, forty artists by top 4o radio and MTV. These are the same artists, despite the fact that Shania Twain and TaTu are not nearly as good on the radio as they are on the TV. So where are the other 3 million recording artists? What are they doing?

They are making music in their living rooms, their dens, their garages. It used to be that you needed space and money to get your idea down, but not anymore. When you had 2 or 4, or even 8, tracks, you needed to get all the instruments playing together in order to record them, and for that you needed a hall that could house them. You also needed the thousands and thousands of dollars it cost to purchase a recording machine.

Now, everyone’s hard drive has recording software. A coupla grand, maybe, and a hard drive that will house as many tracks as you want. You get a guy with a guitar in your living room and plug him into the tracks you created at three in the morning in your basement. You get your friend who plays bass, and another dude who plays French Horn. You have as many tracks as you want, just record them, manipulate them, mix them down and burn a CD.

The exchange of ideas is still there. Again, for less than five grand, I’ll bet. Once you have your CD, make MP3s and CDs and start giving them away and selling them at the going rate. You aren’t going to risk one hundred thousand dollars, you didn’t soundproof your booth and build a room with no right angles.

Yeah, the lottery we’re playing with either one of these scenarios is that the play or CD will be embraced by massive audiences and make you enough money to retire before you’re 70. But the thing is, you don’t even have to worry about it. Just keep putting your best ideas out there, and if nothing sticks, you haven’t wasted your life waiting for someone to cast you in a broadway show or give you a recording contract.

Right now may be the best time in the history of the world to be an idealogical artist. None of us has any excuse.

Monday, July 7th, 2003

I got on an airplane. I am not convinced I will be able to do it ever again. Ian gave me a little sum’in sum’in that took the edge off, to the point that I was simply flexed and miserable, but at no point did I scream, cry, or demand that the plane land.

Provo, Utah. Pretty much what you might think. Lots and lots of slightly chunky hot blondes.

Here’s the thing. These poor girls who are forced to embrace right wing thinking know that they have to present themselves as willing sexual partners, but not overtly so. Just three tight t-shirts instead of one. Just the half inch of bronzed tummy skin between the shirt and the pants instead of three.

I would love to do a study on married mormon women and depression. I have never known people with more desperate sadness or overt hostility. For all the kid-having, this place is about a maternal as a scrotum.

Hot as balls. 103 when I went running.

Love and Marriage.

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003

Strom Thurmond’s Black Daughter. That’s the headline on Slate.

And I guess if I owe you a rant, I should start by saying that this one might make you uncomfortable. But the cover of Newsweek is talking about gay marriage and everyone is going on and on about Scalia, so I thought I would weigh in on this.

And before I get too far, I feel like I need to say that I understand that the individual is not only more important than the group, the individual to me is all. When I was doing a show at the Black Spectrum Theater, every single guy didn’t eat soul food and talk about black artists and basketball. Only almost every single guy. Anthony, who grew up in LA like me, didn’t really follow sports, didn’t speak in ebonics, etc. But most of the guys did, and culturally, I embraced them and was embraced by them because I also like soul food, black artists and basketball.

That being said, culturally, I have very little in common with gay people. Despite my extended relationships in high school, I now find myself barely tolerating social gay behavior, and I find that the gay community, of which I used to belong, tolerates me not at all. Although several of my best friends are gay, they also don’t fit in to gay society. I do love new nice shoes, I do love cooking and designing a home, and I do love intimacy with other guys on many levels, but I can’t stand replacing wit with flamboyance, I hate that outrageous behavior replaces debate, and I feel that celebrating sexuality is akin to finding meaning in digestion or respiration.

Again, this is not everyone. Standard disclaimers apply.

That being said, I am, of course, completely in favor of gay marriage. If you are stupid enough to want to get married, then get married. What on earth are people protecting with the defense of marriage act? Are you really so scared of your secret gay curiosity that you worry that your marriage will count as a gay marriage if gay people are also allowed to marry? I mean, gay people own cars, you own a car, maybe you’re gay…

And don’t talk to me about the ‘ick factor’ as Newsweek called it. You think about gay guys, and you think about… y’know… ‘back there’… you think about your own ‘back there’ and what comes out of ‘back there’… and, I mean, that’s just… gross… that’s supposed to be where doo doo comes out…

You are an infant. If you don’t like picturing gay people having anal intercourse, let me ‘splain something to you. Gay people don’t have to have anal intercourse, a lot of it is mutual masturbation, which a lot of you straight guys in fraternities do all the time anyway. And secondly, if you think anyone wants to watch you have sexual intercourse, even in missionary position with an attractive man or woman, you are wrong. Look at yourself. Do you really think anyone wants to picture you having sex?

We’ve made it impossible to find sex beautiful on any level. Your face generally looks like you are about to sneeze, and you are hunched around yourself all bowled over and bent double and knees tucked up or legs splayed out. You look ridiculous ‘making the beast with two backs’, so don’t go talking about how gross it is to picture gay sex. All sex is ridiculous, porn has to go to great lengths and hire yoga instructors to make it look good.

Back to Strom. You can say you hate something, you can say you want something removed from your life, but chances are that you don’t want it there because the temptation is too high. You want it yourself, or you wouldn’t care if it was there. If I was watching my weight, I could buy all the ice cream in the world, because, truthfully, I don’t like ice cream that much and I wouldn’t eat it anyway. Strom wanted the black people separated from him, because he couldn’t stop himself from rubbing up against them.

You don’t want gay people around, because you secretly know that you actually want them around.


Mrs. Walters, you suck

Tuesday, July 1st, 2003

Mrs. Walters, my fourth grade teacher, did not meet my educational needs. I would like to use this space today to call Mrs. Walters out, and to beg the rest of you shitty ass teachers to take a second and try to figure out what is wrong with that kid that you think is just a snotty little fuck.

Was I a snotty little fuck? Sure. I know this because part of me still is. Was I the son of the symphony conductor and as such did I consider myself better than everyone else? No. I didn’t. I simply never did. But should I have been held to a different academic standard? Absolutely yes. I had an unrecognized learning disability that is so clear to the doctors that I went to at age 26, they were shocked that it hadn’t been detected earlier. “What were your teachers thinking,” one doctor asked me. “They were thinking about how much they hated me,” I answered.

And I guess the latest Harry Potter book really set me off. Not only is Harry’s behavior a close description of what manic phases feel like, but Umbridge is a just and perfect description of what the horrible beaten down bitches who taught me in school were like.

My apologies, I am sure there are some of you beaten down, child hating mongrel-dogs out there that are teaching school and are merely half bad instead of all bad. But there is a myth at work in the American school system. That myth is that people are attracted to careers where they can make no money and have to deal with people who are one tenth as mature as they are, simply for the altruistic bliss of passing on the knowledge of our culture to our children. It’s bullshit.

There are several reasons why people become teachers. Number one is, of course, that they are incapable of doing anything else. There is a saying in the world of the arts that those who can, do, those who can’t, teach. However, I think this alone accounts for a small number of people who end up cornered and backed into teaching.

The prime reason to become a teacher is so you can feel good about your own fucked up life by being around people who don’t know things that you take for granted. Those little forwards they pass around the internet full of hilarious mispronunciations and malopropisms from school age children? What are you laughing at, you asshole? Seriously, what is so fucking funny? Spelling is arbitrary, it’s changed a thousand times in the last two hundred years. Was a third grader supposed to know the difference?

It’s all so amusing isn’t it, and you feel a real sense of control, being around people who, through nothing other than their limited time on the planet, know less than you, don’t you? Chances are, they are actually smarter than you. I certainly was. I had one idiot after another, every single year, every single class, starting in montessory and ending when I finally dropped out of my fourth college. Not a single teacher knew how to teach me anything, and I am not alone. As a nation we are becoming stupider, and it’s because self help dropouts, unemployed narcisists who would otherwise be in prison, and sadists are teaching our children.

And that is the number one reason why people teach. They love the feel of a menacing threat delivered into the face of a nine year old. They love bending over from the waist and peering down at a smaller human and mentioning ‘detention’ or ‘demerits’ or, as has been the case for years, ‘the paddle’. They want to spread pain, in order to dull the voices screaming out their own mediocrity, they want to hear the cries coming from the children on their laps because they have lost the ability to cry for themselves, they want to inflict discipline on these innocents because they don’t have the discipline themselves to stop watching porn or eating cheese doodles or whatever it is they are doing that makes them hate themselves.

Someone will undoubtably tell me about some noble professor who taught them right from wrong, some fucking oh-captain-my-captain sob story, but I’m willing to bet that teacher taught at a well-funded private school, where dealing with kids is offset by the idea that the curiculum will make the world better, and the pay is worth it.

Never happened in my school. Not to me, and not to anyone I went to school with. Just Mrs. Walters slowly bending my finger back when I pointed at her and told her to leave me alone. Just Mrs. Walters breaking precedent and dropping the pop quiz I got a perfect score on, because I was the only one who was caught up in the reading. Just Mrs. Walters yelling times table numbers at me in front of the class, so sure that I would get one wrong, so furious when I didn’t.

All y’all should be ashamed of yourselves.