People, my ex-husband, Eric, is the proverbial bomb.
When I look back on my mostly ill-starred love-life, there are only a few situations in which I can remember exactly what in the hell I was thinking when I took up with that guy. Where Eric is concerned, however, I know I was thinking that he was (and is) a genuinely good, kind man. Thank god for that, because we actually went so far as to marry each other and two years later, brought forth the most sparklingly beautiful child in the entire world. Four years later, we were divorced, and ten years later, we're friends. In the past week, while I've been twisting over what I should do next, he was the person who listened most thoughtfully to me while I told him about all the crazy plans I'd been hatching, even though, with some of them, he has the most to lose. Like, if I move far, far, away or something.
Then, he fixed my broken toilet seat.
As you can see from the look on the monkey's face in the photo below, the toilet seat, which was coming all loose from it's moorings 'n' shit, was whack. There was rust, there was compromised integrity of the enamel casing... I shudder to describe it, actually. We had been afraid of it for months, and no amount of bleach could entirely remove the perceived danger. I had an exaggerated sense of the complicatedness of the replacement procedures, so I asked Mr. Handy to help us out...
NO PROBLEM, apparently.
You just have to get a replacement, like the one pictured below; which, Eric, in his unexampled kindness went out and got for me immediately, and then, like a true good sport, agreed to be actually PHOTOGRAPHED with. Yeah. That's what I'M talkin' about.
Then, he got all up on our commode, and actually replaced the damned thing. Like I said, it was a much less involved procedure than I had previously imagined, but remember before when I mentioned that it was whack? Well, I wasn't kidding. Eric suffered for this one.
Which just shows what you can do with some big giant muscles and a good heart.
This is a tribute to Eric, because even though our getting married might not have been the best idea ever, he's still one of the best and worthiest people I have ever met. Frankly, I'm lucky to know him, let alone share parentage of a completely brilliant little monkey with him. In fact, it gives me some hope to know that when I actually decided to get married, I chose someone this good.
Eric, this one's for you. I love you to pieces, and I couldn't be more grateful for the many episodes of your kindness towards me.
This past weekend I went to the Sunset Junction street fair in ultra-hipsterville Silverlake, Los Angeles, California. I'm telling you what, folks: there were absolute square miles of tightly-packed tattoos and haircuts galore: miles of people wearing their favorite musical sub-culture with 150% committment. There's something silly about that, and it's easy to make fun, but there's something truly heart-warmingly uncynical about it, too. For those of you living in Los Angeles, you can see the phenomenon I'm talking about any day of the week at Amoeba Records on Sunset, and it is magnificent.
Anyway, I went with my little monkey and my brother Zak, who is tight with hipsters and music types, and who was wearing a very nice brown hat:
My brother says I shouldn't fool myself, because I'm tight with loads of hipsters, too; but I have to say, I think I'm tighter with geeks, some of whom have hip costumes on, but for the most part, aren't really as hip as they make out. I think it's possible that I fall into that category as well, what with being in my thirties, motherhood, and the fact that I tend to be a little behind the curve on the latest developments in indie rock... Except that I don't ever have anything hip to wear, unfortunately. Believe me, I wish like hell I did. Don't get me wrong, here: I like the hipsters.
The big attraction for us at The Junction was a performance by Camper Van Beethoven, a band that of my brother, sister, and I loved with special devotion for their brilliant numbers like Take the Skinheads Bowling, Good Guys and Bad Guys, and Joe Stalin's Cadillac, all of which we enjoyed thousands of consecutive times as teenagers in the 80's.
Later, I think Camper Van elevated themselves into favorite band ever status for my brother with the release of their especially delicious album Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, which I can recommend to you all with unalloyed enthusiasm. Given all that, it's crazy that years later, my brother befriended one of the players in that band without knowing of his Camper Van-hood, and that on Sunday, we had to rush to the show, park illegally in front of the Salvation Army, and power-walk through the oceans of punkers, cross-dressers, greasers, and coolsters to deliver a delay pedal to that guy, because he forgot his at home; and that right now, that guy's car is parked in my driveway for four days while they drive around in a van to play their songs in Arizona and whatnot. Life is full of unexpected outcomes, and thank god, because sometimes that's all there is to hang onto, really. Not that this particular unexpected outcome is making that big a difference, but there might be another one, sometime on the horizon that could. I'm just saying.
Anyway, Camper Van (as we called them, with familiar affection, when we were kids) played a very nice set; and also, I love my brother, so it was especially (and I use this word only because I hope it might remind my brother of Fat Elvis in Vegas) poignant to be with him while the sun was setting behind the stage and the clouds were turning pink and orange, singing "...drive your car up on the lawn..." with him and his charming hat, which also looked completely fetching on my big pimpin' 12 year old little monkey.
Like I mentioned before, it's funny what ends up happening sometimes, and this trip to Silverlake was the kind of episode that made me feel myself as singular and traveling; carrying all the memories of my youth, and still riding alongside my brother, watching the days and faces change. Adding to that feeling was the fact that earlier in the week, my brother had gotten a blast from the past when Eric Gaffney, whom I had a big fat crush on as a teenager, although I'm not sure he ever knew it, and who later, it turns out, went on to be in that band Sebadoh (but now he's not), happened to show up in my brothers bar in Glendale. Although my brother forgot to bring his phone number, and we never found Eric in the crowd, I knew he remembered the song my dad wrote for me to quell my fear of garbage trucks when I was a girl, and that he might be around any corner, and it only added to my awesome feeling of strange continuity.
Later in the evening, X played, and the crowds got so thick and tight that it was impossible to move without using your shoulder as a crowbar. It was a little too much for my monkey, which was disappointing, because I really wish he could have seen Exene rock it, but I couldn't really see either. I'm short. All I could manage was to hold my camera up over my head and take blurry pictures like this one:
We ended up with my brother spearheading the retreat, monkey in the middle, and climbing a chainlink fence to watch until our hands were aching from hanging onto metal, and then he bought himself and my monkey a hot dog wrapped in bacon from a little Latino girl. And then, they actually ate it.
After the escape from the crush, we ran into two things that, aside from feeling the love for my brother and my baby and the whole nostalgic journey, and how many gay couple were making out in Silverlake, were my two favorite things. First, there was the troupe of cross-dressing stilt walkers from yesterday's post, who were absolutely gorgeous:
And, on another note entirely, there's an Elliott Smith memorial wall, which is in front of the Solutions music store in Silverlake, where the cover photo for his CD Figure 8 was taken. Since his death, the wall has become a place for his fans to say good-bye, and this gets back to my point about the fact that there's something so NOT silly about people's devotion to the music and artists who have gotten into their hearts. For my part, I know too little of Elliot Smith's music, and the songs I do know never really got under my skin, but all the heartfelt farewells got me a little bit, especially this one, which really brought home to me how thin a thread we do hang onto sometimes:
I've been pretty stressed-out lately. I'm really dragging my heels in the job search because everything in me rebels against any further miserable office slavery, but at the same time, I'm afraid of what's on the horizon if I don't submit. I was only half-joking about the mission to consume all the emotional comfort food I can find, and only 1/4 joking about that throwing in of the towel.
I'll tell you the main thing about my trip to the Sunset Junction Street Fair in Silverlake, with it's acres of hipsters, my brother, Camper Van, the ghost of Eric Gaffney, the stilt-walkers, and the sad notes to Elliot Smith's ghost: it was comforting. I felt rich, and I felt lucky.
In my ongoing mission to mainline emotional comfort food until my eyes roll back into my head and they lock me up in a home for people who have utterly thrown in the towel, I've been catching up on back issues of Last Plane to Jakarta, and also keeping up with all the cycling news with my usual voracious appetite on the Daily Peloton's haterific Message Board. Strangely, these two entirely unrelated things have me considering the same topic: why on earth are people so eager to be haters?
John Darnielle's beef was with the way in which indie rock fans are beside themselves with eagerness to hate the hotly anticipated recordings of indie sweethearts whose follow-up efforts are practically guaranteed to be labeled "disappointing" even if they rule; meanwhile the DP messageboard is mostly all about finding new ways and reasons to hate Lance Armstrong and accuse him, and every member of his team, of being doped to the eyeballs for winning six Tours de France, because real bike racing fans know how much he sucks, and that his blood is green, and as think as molassas.
I've addressed the topic of defining ourselves by what we hate on this very website, along with the observation that we seem to prefer the relative ease of hatin' to the difficult task of loving our fellow man in all of his imperfect complexity, which would require an interest in gray areas, and an effort to understand others that not many people seem to be terribly concerned with. I'm pretty aimlessly bringing this up, but I do have two (totally un-meaningful, so don't get excited) comments:
Firstly, I think you should visit this website straightaway, because it's bewildering. Mr. Johnso, I thought of you immediately.
Secondly (and, I'm sorry to return to this topic, but...), I know I've been doing some frivolous playa hatin' of my own lately, but I'd like to point out that my hate is not pure, and that nothing is more effective in making one an enthusiastic hater than thwarted admiration. To the person who found my humble corner of the web on their google for Adrien Brody Hummer, I hate you for putting even more hater-tude in my soul by beating my path towards the knowledge that da Brode has a spinner spare on the back of his 2003 H2.
Goddammit! All I wanted to do was admire beauty from afar, and now I have to hear about this frickin' SPINNER SPARE?! Fuck! I wanted a beautiful Grace Kelly with a big nose and a Brooklyn accent, and now I'm MAD AS HELL! Think of it as a less virilent version of the wholesale hate-fests to be found in the collected works of good little Christian boy gone bad, Marilyn Manson, who so earnestly wanted the world to be full of heroes, beauty and justice. It's all about the disappointment, baby.
Which, I guess, brings me around to a theory. Hatin' has a few different origins: there's hatin' in the name of jealousy, hatin' as a way of defining oneself in opposition, hatin' due to thwarted hopes, and then there's the righteous hatred of evil... which is where hatin' those goddamned Hummers and Trucker Hats comes in.
A quick google on the topic of hatin' reveals that there are a lot of folks with as much time on their hands as I have:
How I started with my dearly beloved Last Plane to Jakarta and ended up here, I do not know. I guess my point here is that hatin' is mostly dumb. But, as you all know, intention isn't everything, and I think the actual content of this post is mostly that I'm really coming up empty handed in my search for ANYTHING CLEVER TO TELL YOU. Worry and unemployment are sucking me BONE DRY. All Apologies, my friends.
The men's Olympic road race is today, and the startlist is so money that this sports fan can barely stand it. Among them, this charming individual and his big, bad sunglasses:
I know you're all on the edges of your seat on this, so here's the Men's Olympic Road Race Update: Big G. made a powerful move with about 30km to go on the pavé, but he was soon caught. In the end, it was that little tiny Italian munchkin Paolo Bettini - a hot favorite for this race - who took the gold, Portugal's Sergio Paulinho suprised us with a great ride for silver, and Belgian Axel "Big Sexy" Merckx, rounding out the podium in bronze... and looking charming in olive wreaths, as you can see below:
Photos from AFP
George rode a good race (as always!), but he finished with the bunch, 12 seconds off the winning pace, in 24th. Alas. Best American was Tyler Hamilton in 18th, Bobby Julich was 28th, also in the pack. Levi Leipheimer and Jason McCartney did not finish. Out of 144 total starters, only 75 finished... it was hot over there in Athens.
It's been awhile since we've had a poem, and there's nothing more fortifying than a good poem. This is an extra good one. It's by Wendell Berry, from his book A Timbered Choir, which is a collection of poems written on the Sabbath from 1979-1997.
This one is number VII from 1994. Enjoy!
I would not have been a poet
Except that I have been in love
Alive in this mortal world,
Or an essayist except that I
Have been bewildered and afraid,
Or a storyteller had I not heard
Stories passing to me through the air,
Or a writer at all except
I have been wakeful at night
And words have come to me
Out of their deep caves
Needing to be remembered.
But on days when I am lucky
Or blessed, I am silent.
I go into the one body
That two make in making marriage
That for all our trying, all
Our deaf-and-dumb of speech,
Has no tongue. Or I give myself
To gravity, light, and air
And am carried back
To solitary work in fields
And woods, where my hands
Rest upon a world unnamed,
Complete, unanswerable, and final
As our daily bread and meat.
The way of love leads all ways
To life beyond words, silent
And secret. To serve that triumph
I have done all the rest.