Well. I thought I would be writing a lot. So far, not really.
It's just that there isn't much to comment on. I'm doing a lot of chores around the house to keep sane. Messing with music gear. Sort of reading. Playing a lot of video games at moments of high anxiety. I'm oscillating between seeing this state-subsidized free time as an opportunity and as something much darker.
It always gets me, after tragedy, during, "we are all X". It seems like blather. I guess if this wasn't happening everywhere, if it was just, say, NYC, there would be massive outpouring of reflexive empathy that would ring a little hollow. I never liked playing along. I won't now. I hear sirens, I barely leave the apartment, there's more than a bit of dread, difficulty focusing; the next Great American Novel won't be mine, even if I wanted to do such a thing, although the next Great American Album, well, maybe I'm inching closer. I'm experimenting, practicing, but not doing. Somehow, I feel like I can't quite let go.
The one thing I'm sure of is that I haven't been able to truly give a shit about politics since this started a little over three weeks ago. I've probably said this before, and I may say it again, but my general theory of it all, well. I think the notion of "horseshoe theory" is total bullshit, but there is one little grain of truth, which is that there are some people who want things to be different at the level of ontology. Most of these people do not agree in any way at all as to what, exactly, should be, should replace, what is. Of course, those who don't want things to change on any fundamental level, well, all of us seem to seem rather similar to them. I don't even know who us or them are, really. I just think it's funny that the people who will die obsessing, arguing with friends, rehashing and getting combative over minute, nearly-forgotten disagreements between Lenin and Trotsky, well, some idiots out there actually might think that this little coterie of rapidly-decaying septuagenarian Marxists might have something in common with, I dunno, Bolsonaro, Le Pen, blah blah. I really don't know what intelligence is sometimes; there's some sort of thing Nietzsche wrote about those of us (smarty-pants) flying high in the sky looking like little specs to those on the ground (dummies), but it works both ways, doesn't it?
As always, I lost my point somewhere up there.
Simply put, I bet most people who supported Sanders simply wanted to have some external help in the facilitation of gaining access to the exact same boring-ass life I'm certainly privileged to be living right now, one I would almost-certainly give up if it weren't for, well, the only adventure to be had until the pandemic recedes is what, exactly? Even if I was the kind of person who looted, I can't think of anywhere to steal from. So I guess I will take some small bit of pleasure in staring empty-headed out the window while waiting for other people to pack and ship and deliver bottles and cans and boxes of processed food, all of this set in motion by a few seconds of pointing and clicking, though not really. It's not really pleasurable at all, but it's an option, one I have, one many others don't.
So after Sanders, what? I wrote back in 2016 that I couldn't get excited about the whole thing, but, this time, well, maybe I, well, not excited, not even hopeful, but it seemed more urgent this time around, and not even because of Trump, but because, well, what's next?
As for everything else, whatever graft and greed is built into whatever bills have been and will be passed and signed, I don't know how to get excited about any of that. So much of the moral outrage presumes some sort of fair way to do all of this; like there's some better version of capitalism that could be occurring right now, which is precisely the ghost one has to give up. Regardless, things are moving so fast and in so many directions that I'll probably know more about the exact moment I am typing these words twenty years from now. Someone will write a book, won't they?
Maybe it's just different here in NYC. We have a lot of confirmed cases. I'm much more concerned about: when was the last time I poured some rubbing alcohol onto a paper towel and wiped the door handles? Maybe if I were elsewhere, I could watch someone scream on Youtube about something or other.
Speaking of, it really hit me how much I've lost to the Internet, now that I am totally dependent on it. I've watched a few good movies this past few weeks, and, well, if I consider one as an example (Rome, Open City), I probably saw it for the first time about seventeen years ago. I can't remember where I saw it first - was it at the National Gallery, on a massive screen, for free? Or did I, having read about it a few years before, rent it at Video Vault, possibly the best video store ever to have existed as far as I know? If I rented it at Video Vault, I likely found it in the Foreign section, not placed alphabetically, probably, but, rather, in the sub-section Rossellini, perhaps the first video in that section, because of chronology.
It's not nostalgia, even though, all-in-all, my twenties do seem a lot better in retrospect than they were when I was experiencing them. It's something else. I'm worried about the future. Maybe video rental shops will never come back, and maybe, well, good riddance, but what of the texture of it all? It's not that I miss renting videos, although there was a lot more serendipity in that process than telling the computer what I want and having it, exactly what I want, what I already knew I wanted, coming back at me, no more, no less. It's more about - ok, so maybe I'm going to Video Vault seventeen years ago and - what is the weather, am I walking or getting a ride? What does it smell like outside? Is it Spring, did it just rain, is it twilight? Or darker, or lighter? Maybe the sun is up when I walk there, the sun is setting as I clutch a DVD case or two, walking briskly back home, in anticipation of seeing something I read about years before.
All of this worry was here pre-COVID, and it's been sort of obnoxious reading the preemptive laments for the NYC restaurant scene. The disappearance of video stores, the relegation of record stores to something obtuse, the way even the best-stocked bookstores never seem to have what I want, the way nobody except for a few counter-people at the various, dwindling in numbers, pizza places, even remembers who the hell I am, well, this is threatening to become a run-on sentence. I think, even before, living in New York, I don't feel like I am anywhere at all. The Internet replaces people. What's left, really, besides the clothing boutiques I can't afford, and, even then, when I can, who cares, really it's just the bars and restaurants. And, well, going back to the first sentence in this paragraph, well, these laments are rubbing me the wrong way because, look, where I was working before, and where I may work again, but, hopefully, not for long, after this is all over, well, you want, say, well, say it's midweek and you don't feel like cooking and you just want to pop in somewhere and grab a burger and two beers, well, at my place, which is decidedly not mine, that's probably about a $55 investment, more or less. These crying restauranteurs chose wealthy people as their clientele, and fuck them, honestly. It's true, the overpriced places where future-hedge-fund-managers can court their girlfriends in PR over future promises of the coordinated ownership of, I dunno, something in Manhattan plus something for the weekends or the summers or whatever, I guess they are better than the haute-fast-food places that were taking over, or corporate retail, or another ATM but.
It's true, I am petty, resentful, but there is a little, well-known, Italian restaurant downtown. It's expensive, but worth it, and I know the techniques I could use to be remembered, being, as I am, in the business, and yet I don't use then, not to avoid anything but just to not add to the complexity of it all, or maybe something else. The thing about this restaurant is that I have been there a few times. It's a treat I treat to myself. They don't remember me. I guess I don't go often enough, it's true, but, probably, I don't remember them. I won't.
I guess I write like I already assume you understand me to hide the fact that I don't understand me.
Rome, Open City was great, as it always was. Watching in on a computer, though. Emails come in, I check the news to see if maybe the pandemic is over. Maybe I grab a snack. The Internet rewards impulsiveness, abhors reflection, even when I am away from it, it's in my brain. Rome, Open City doesn't come with anything, that walk to Video Vault, and all the things that could happen along the way. It just comes.
More than anything, I just want to walk nowhere to do nothing. It's almost smelling like Spring.