Friday, January 25, 2013

The New After-Math


I am approaching another of those age milestones which prompts assessment-inventory mode.  In one sense I have exactly the life I want—no apparent routine, no apparent ‘boss’ or structure except the pressure of time itself-- plenty of creative ceiling.  The fact that I have very little income, cannot master that Wall Street math that makes millions out of air, and spend inordinate amounts of time devising Rube-Goldberg-worthy schemes to manage, is quite a challenge, some days.  I concede this life of spontaneity, as one gets older, is comprised of myriads of loose ends—things I collect, daily-- thoughts, projects, ideas, inspiration.  Then there are the stray people I take on, the fact that I give time to the insane unemployed physicist in Starbucks, the Holocaust survivor who nags me to at least hear her memoirs because there is neither time nor sufficient megabytes to write it out;  to the blogger with no blog, the dog-savers and ex-junkie poets, and to my friends--- few as they are, now, the good ones.  Not to mention kids, who wouldn’t even know my birthday without facebook, and they are too busy or too guilty or whatever. 

I know now that no one will ever pay me back, and that as I begin to melt more into the fabric of what is the forgotten class of people--- the has-beens and middle-aged-- no one really wants to listen.  I am succumbing to the alarming fact that I go to the library and besides the re-packaged classics whose recent translations are often offensive and colloquial and wrong, the new books—even the New York Times top 10 of the year--- well, they are generally a literary disappointment.  Do these authors feel like failures?  Do they realize that the Housewives of Atlanta are winning?  That Warholian fame has become cheapened beyond his prediction and 15 digital nano-minutes might be all there is.  That the old has been shoveled up and piled on dumpsters not because it is useless and obsolete but because it was real and had a shelf-life, and value has become something the hedge funds determine to accommodate their maximum bonus pyramid.  

My life has resonance, I try to console myself, as I leave the grocery store practically empty-handed.  I attend few gallery openings--- not because I don’t have suitable clothing, but because most shows are just an idea—of course, some are executed with enormous gestures and presented with unprecedented chic d├ęcor-ready props, but although they ‘look’ good--- as fashion on the runway often does, it is unabashedly deja-deja-vu for me, and the models, lovely as they are, ‘wear’ the idea, but do not give it real content.

I recently was really taken by photographs of an art-piece done years ago by a window-dresser who actually went a little ‘outside the box’.  They were from the 1970’s—she’d actually created pulp-fiction-type drama within the store display windows--- with guns, intrusive characters… even a plaster hand that protruded from the actual store window---‘Help’ it was saying…’I am crossing the line between reality and advertisement, of theatre and solicitation.’  The artist then placed the mannequins in real situations--- dressed and still—in cafes, one even on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum where she sat—all dressed up and nowhere to go… alone, in the wind, among the then-small crowds who went to museums which were still, in the 1970’s, for art and not spectacle.  I remember the windows.  They were important.  But now I realize they were a sort of foreshadowing. 

Even the 1970’s still had some credibility, some sense.  There were still typewriters and land phones.  The people who brought the news on TV had side-parts and narrow ties and dark suits and spoke extemporaneously with unadorned style and used words properly.  They had something to say-- and when they didn't speak--- well, that was a statement in itself.   How many Anderson Cooper reports would it take to weigh in with Walter Cronkite removing his glasses in 1963?  The old journalists weren’t reading prompters and chatting about pop-stars who can’t sing and football stars with fake girlfriends because none of that was invented and people with no talent stayed home or worked in a cupcake factory and hummed to themselves while they wrapped their kids’ lunch sandwiches in waxed paper.   Some of them even smoked while they did this. 

So now, maybe the mannequins are the art… the clothing--- well,  the packaging--- the ‘carrot’… another public company on the stockmarket because commodities are no longer wheat and corn and coffee—these are altered and manipulated, and futured-out.  Now there are handbags and cellphones which move the markets-- accessories-- and yes, there are worthless ideas--- like facebook--- like Zinga and instagram--- ideas which are mysteriously bankable and which put solid-gold spoons in the mouths of the Goldman Sachs Babies, and the finest sushi on their conference tables, billions of monopoly dollars in every greedy bank account. Web-ideas trying desperately to convince us we are not loose ends--- we are connected, we are touching… we are blogging and we can see Beyonce from our desk, we can tweet her and we can tweet Carmelo Anthony and Ashton Kutscher and we can see what jacket they are wearing, and we can see their baby pictures and their girlfriend’s bikini butt and her spray tan.

I am realizing today that fringe is what happens to the loose ends—when they are gathered.  At the edge of the fabric.  I am not even sure my loose-ends of books and poems and songs are that cohesive.  Maybe I am not even fringe-worthy.  After all there is a fringe-festival and although I attended one or two events years back, I now process it as the ‘cringe’ festival.  I am not speaking virtual or tongue-in-cheek fringe, I am speaking threads and knots and speaker-wire and guitar-chords and lyrics—lyrics that float and haunt and define me, first lines of books I can still remember—these things did exist, these things made me the disorganized and obsolete person I am, on the verge of extinction, without a human-loving society to protect us and find us and tag us and make sure we are not being stoned to death or slightly abused by our neighbors who shop online for their Jimmy Choos and live in glass houses with no books and speak too loud on their phones in Starbucks and misuse the word ‘of’ even in newscasts.  We, the real-time newly unpublishable, who type and write and think and refuse to lipsynch… who hear the sound of one hand clapping and the still-silent voice in some loose-ended non-linear universe with far more resonance.  We are listening, we are counting...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pass

Finally committing to 2013 here, and going to bypass my seething angst and obsidian heart for the latest  football drama.  Since my son is here, not by choice, taking a forced 'gap-year' between college and independence, I've been seeing the Ravens as a sports version of Bad Brains and getting into the play-offs.  So this little made-for-2013 story about Manti Te'o piqued my interest especially. The operative phrase seems to be 'perpetrated against'.  I mean, my son is certainly the victim of a hoax perpetrated by an ex-girlfriend/drama queen who torments him on facebook with sexy little quips about her activities when they're hundreds of miles apart, and posts photos of herself looking considerably more playboy-friendly than when she sits around on my sofa.  Men do set themselves up for these things.  They are bewitched and e-enticed by all kinds of minx-ness.  Every day I get friended by some Russian pin-up photo who has exclusively male (dumb) names in her friend-list.  Six months ago I read 83 million facebook pages are dupes.  Seem like a valid way to find your spouse, especially when you are a Heisman Trophy candidate and set to earn 8 figures for maybe the rest of your life?

But maybe the operative phrase here is 'perpetrated by'.  I mean, how dumb can guys be (rhetorical!) re: women?  Despite all the TV pseudo-reality shows and Lifetime movies, people seem to fail to proceed with emotional caution when pheromones and egos are involved.  Something definitely smells bad here... the pity factor, the pageant-worthy bs, the whole story.  No one loves a tragedy more than sports fans.  No one loves a stellar performance on the field right after a family loss or illness.  We are sensationalists and voyeurs; the more icing on the cake, the more takers.  We tweet and gossip and indulge in our broken-hero stories.  What I want to know is which came first-- -the hoax or the death?  Was he trying to cover up his mortifying gullibility with a story he thought no one would question?  And the big question here:  does his online-dating IQ, his lack of judgment, his possibly perjurious action affect his performance on the field?

The whole world is a hoax.  Airbrushed photos, fake Facebook posts, botox and plastic surgery faces, altered bodies, clothes that don't fit, bodies that have been trained into shapes that were never genetically intended, athletes breaking natural records with drug-enhanced ability, spell-check, corn flakes, pitch-correction, ridiculous dog-breeds and talking monkeys, perfume and deodorant, ultra-white  teeth and spray tan.  So of course we wag our pointed fingers even more furiously because we hold these athletes to higher standards?  Like politicians?  I mean, the guy wasn't advertising his genitals on youtube.  He wasn't even breeding vicious dogs.  So he's a fame-mongering creep.  We've got Ron World Peace Artest.  We've got Lance(d) Armstrong (was his name even real?).  We've got deflated homerun champions and Allstars who beat their wives.  He's got to perform in front of millions and millions.  Perform.  What's the deal?  The deal is: can he play or can't he?  Michael Vicks, what's your take on this?  I'll let you pass judgment for me.

On the lighter side, I need to get some gym-issues off my chest.  We all work out, but there should be a rule against tiny shorts for people over 35.  Especially men.  The girls who can pull it off-- -well, they don't.  But I cannot fathom what possesses these middle-aged women to wear a sports bra and bicycle pants--- or a midriff-baring outfit... I mean, we all have flesh, but no one wants to look at the true confessions of a 50-year old.  I work out at odd hours; the trendy crowd has better things on their agenda, so you get the genuine weirdos and smelly eccentrics.  The old lefty 60-something psychologist women who have finished their evening appointments and need to vent (fun) and the left-over undateables who whine and complain and watch Law and Order reruns. The anorexics and bulimics who watch the food channel, and some bona-fide artists who have lost all sense of time and schedule.  I am sometimes among them, days when I am reclusive and writing and solitary and I go to insert some semblance of routine and human contact into my dark life.  The lights alone are an assault.   I can watch    
Anderson Cooper getting old or Joan Rivers nailing the fashion bs or the Kardashians.

So maybe Manti Te'o wanted to be something he isn't-- maybe he doesn't see his pathetic image-manipulating is as ridiculous as that woman in my Latin Dance class with her wheels of fishy flesh hanging over the spandex shorts, in the front row, flubbing all the steps with attitude like she's Shakira's dance instructor.  He wanted to be Tom Brady, or even Reggie Bush or some five-minute hero.  He wanted not just the football trophy but the Mr. Congeniality Award, the Most Obstacles Overcome, the guy that gets the ovation, with the teary crowds.  He could taste it.  Or maybe he's just a kid who fell for a face and wanted that face to represent not just passionate romance but values, and it was just a face.  You don't get to the NFL by making a facebook page with fake statistics; the guy obviously worked for some years, and with all the sports-doping, pederasty, bank crookery, Federal reserve swindling and plagiarism going on these days, realize we are all hoaxed by the hoax, and people are being massacred in Syria--- maybe incredibly talented football players who will never get to hold a ball in front of any crowd or their loved-ones who have all been brutally murdered--- and no one is crying.  So this guy is just a guy.  Let him go to confession on Sunday and leave it at the door.  Draft him for his skills not his fairy-tale potential because the real joke is on us for watching and listening and binging on all the excessive media fluff and stuff.  Let the game begin.