Hola NSA

Practically speaking, yes, difficult, even if desired, which it isn't, but, yeah, fuck America.

I want to become a total self-righteous asshole. I'm already way past merely disillusioned with any and all institutions. But fuck America doesn't quite get there. Fuck Americans is more like it. This is what happens when politics is a "lifestyle choice". When "ordinary citizens" maintain a distinction between the personal and the political, the private and the public. Guess what. Those distinctions never existed, and they certainly can't be protected anymore, neither intellectually, nor literally, at least if you use the Internet. There is no private life to retreat to, no place where responsibility can be denied. Being an adult and being a citizen are the same thing; you can be both an adult and a citizen, or neither, but never one or the other.


Finally, an important distinction...

The beginning of the end happened a long time ago. But now that end is ending, I hope.

I remember, actually pretty distinctly.

You see, walking, for miles, late at night, is really, really important to me. Maybe I would like Providence more if it were bigger, and more atmospheric. Regardless.

When I lived across the river from DC, I was only a few blocks away from the George Washington Parkway, and the bike/walking trail alongside it. I walked that trail many times, sometimes all the way into, or back from, DC, over eight miles. This trail, which runs along the Potomac River, mostly leads through wooded areas, though also around and underneath a power plant, and also alongside, well, an airport. Now you know why this place is called what it is (assuming you haven't read all the way back to the very beginning).

Walking past the terminals towards DC puts the walker alongside the runways themselves. There are fences, of course, and I can picture them in my mind quite clearly as they were alongside me when I came to the inevitable, and inevitably disillusioning, realization, that, art, is, a lie.

Maybe it was some Rothkos, or some Bacons. Something I had seen earlier that day in the National Gallery. Who knows (me, but not now)?

Of course I was depressed. I want to live in paintings, and also Truffaut's Paris and Antonioni's Rome and also, of course, Chicago in 1987 and London in 1993, and yeah, New York, 1945 to, say, 1997, maybe 1999. But only because the closest thing to living inside of records is living inside the culture that generated them.

And gradually everything fell away. I think the visual arts, and architecture were first. Then film. Then reading anything besides social theory and music criticism. Grand hotel abyss. Music has stayed of course. Like any great love, music is capable of both disillusioning and healing the disillusionment.

But last night, I said it. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have done so, but it's hard enough to say what one means, and to mean it, but when someone else says it, what does that mean?

Art is not a lie, it is a fiction.

I don't quite know the ramifications, but I know I am relieved. Not all that I wanted, but not none of it, either.

All of the above is a preamble. The real news is the following:

Criterion are releasing their typical deluxe versions of some really, really great films very soon.

First comes Seconds, John Frankenheimer's barely-seen and stunning film from 1966 (though I'll tell you right now, it does sort of fall off of a cliff in the middle and then climb back up again). The film is deeply, and thoughtfully critical, already, of the 1960s, and the limits to ideas self-transformation that were becoming articles of faith for so many. The idea is not, silly hippies, things can never change, but rather, if your understanding of yourself is superficial, all changes that follow from that understanding will be superficial as well. If "yourself" is American society... yeah, you get it. All that AND some of the most innovative cinematography since Gregg Toland's work on Citizen Kane. Yeah, THAT good.

Secondly, three films I haven't seen. Rossellini's work with Ingrid Bergman is not as well known, or as critically-acclaimed as his earlier war trilogy and his later biographies, but, but. Ever since I saw Scorsese's Voyage To Italy (my favorite film of his, possibly his best, certainly his greatest gift to humanity), I have been waiting patiently, desperately, hopelessly, faithfully, for someone (though who else would do it?), to release definitive editions.

You see, many films have multiple versions, and in many cases, those versions contain, well, bullshit endings, ones not desired by the director, done to make the film more palatable. So it's not even worth watching them until the correct version is released by someone who knows what the correct version is and has access to it.

Consider Stromboli, one of the aforementioned three films (and bear in mind this plot summary is coming straight from my recollection of Scorsese's summary):

Woman starts in displaced persons camp after World War II with no prospect of being taken in by any country marries Italian man as a means of escape. She travels with him to his hometown, only to discover that she is now trapped on an island with an active volcano in an intensely parochial, and, of course, very small town. A casual, non-physical encounter with another man is witnessed by villagers, who tell her husband, who only has his manly pride to hold on to. He works to makes her life even more hellish than it already is. She eventually leaves him to travel over the volcano to catch the only ferry out (I almost wrote home, but, for her, there isn't one to return to). She collapses with exhaustion. She wakes up. Cries, is overwhelmed with the beauty of life and the possibilities that may still exist. And. Then. Goes back to her husband and everything is fine.

Last sentence a little confusing? That's the ending you don't want to see, the ending I doubt Criterion will release. Bless their hearts. I want my fiction to be truthful.



Can you be, of dark,
brooding sensuality,
walking through the mall?

Stop Violence, Stop Materialism, Stop America



Even more...

OK, so, honestly, and easily-assessed, I am coming out of another period of major self-doubt and self-hatred, etc. There will be more.


I've been at the edge of tears many times recently. Many, many times. Because life is meaningless. Because I still want to struggle. I can't, to quote, ugh, the fucking Shawshank Redemption, "get busy dying". I can't. Even though I want to. So badly.

But the whole question, the meaning of life, is a distraction. Yes, life is meaningless. It is. You can say, well, I do this thing, and it means something to me, and therefore... blah blah. It's really a sign of the spiritual and political poverty of our present era that, if you were to ask anyone as to the meaning of life, you know, happy, well-adjusted people, or those who pretend to be, well, they would probably provide an answer that was so selfish and narcissistic, so rooted in personal pleasure, oblivious desires, that the temptation to jump off a bridge would suddenly have a corresponding physical desire.


(And "but" always deserves a paragraph in solitude.)

The fact of the matter is. We Exist. We Do. So, instead of worrying about the meaning of life, simply ask yourself... should life persist?

I think so. And so do you.

(You are here, aren't you? If you felt otherwise, I would consider: pepperoni pizza, the services of  highly-skilled prostitutes, heroin. I'm boring comparatively, and maybe even absolutely.)

We can talk about the venality and the violence until the end of days, if such a relief should ever be provided, but.



It was a week ago or so, and I was at the height of my despair, a years-long despair that has seen me drunk, wandering the streets of Brooklyn, crying over the fact that buildings exist. That buildings exist. And I was listening to Sly and the Family Stone, and, I have to say, really, that, initially, the thought occurred to me that we should all just gradually bow out.

Panda bears are cuter, anyways. Regardless of their behavior (after all, who would be around to moralize?).

But then I thought about the possibility of nobody ever hearing Sly and the Family Stone again. And that thought filled me with more sadness than I had ever felt in my life. It wasn't even a happy Sly record. I was listening to There's a Riot Goin' On. Fuck. And I still thought that, why not? Why would it be better to have this album be something to be shat on by birds in the ruin of what nothing is around to call a home?

We live. And life is not as it should be. Capitalism persists, suffering is needless and prevalent. So what are we going to do about it?

That's the next question to answer.


I guess I can't quite give up on the idea that I have something to offer this world if only because TV isn't that entertaining.




Self-acceptance is only easy when a self desires ease.

I woke up at 2pm today.

I woke up late because I went to bed late, and because I slept very badly. I went to bed late because I have intense feelings for another person. I slept badly because I still dream of cities that don't exist, parties that don't exist.

There was a door to another world that now opens to reveal a CVS.

I am. I want to go to bed at a decent hour. I want to desire less. I want to stop chasing phantoms.


That is not who I am. I have no idea if I will ever stop being who I am. Probably not. Who else could I be?

I know why I feel so exhausted. I don't know why I feel so embarrassed. Bohemia must have failed. For decades, I don't think I would have felt embarrassed. Why does it not feel "cool" anymore to stay up late? To embrace contingency? I think I know. I think I have written about it.

I was drunk recently and was reading about "myself" through astrology. I don't believe it all. Just a lot of words written by someone else that can be agreed with or not. Like everything else, really. But a few things:

Scorpio. Hates small talk. Can't deal with large groups of people and incessant meaningless chatter. Prefers one-on-one conversations, intense knowledge of individuals. Few friends, but incredibly loyal to all of them. Intense emotional experiences are the only ones that feel valid. Mystical. The most challenging of all the signs to be.

I know that last bit is only there to feed my ego. But then again, being a seeker is a bitch. If even one iota of the above is true for anyone, then that means there must be some other people of other signs whose goal is to live a pragmatic life. And we live in pragmatic times. Haven't we always?

So here I am. I am 32. In a world without Ginsberg I listen to the best minds of my generation discussing nothing. And I still dream of cities that don't exist, parties that don't exist. How to say fuck you and fuck this? How to like me? How to unlock myself and be subsumed by myself? How to make it work?

Because I have to.

Because someday I will be 33, and I will be exhausted...


It's easy to be nostalgic but...

... the 1990s actually sucked. Twentysomethings take notice.

I mean, yeah, I was listening to a lot of electronic music, and it was obvious to me that it was the most important thing out there, and yet, it was really, you know, just one of many options, and unless you spent all of your free time collecting Strictly or Production House vinyl (which is something easy to say in retrospect, but was it really true?), you were subjected to:

Earnest Rootsiness:

Indie-as-bullshit-elitism instead of indie-as-perpetual-alienation/opposition:

(this may be the most cynical and pointless single of the entire decade!)

Arguments about Britpop that didn't include Pulp:


Puff Fucking Daddy:


But the 1990s are cool as shit now, right? If you have moved on from vinyl and cassettes, you might even be embracing CDs now, might even be buying the Archers of Loaf CDs I traded in over a decade ago.

So try these out, just because you really actually, you know, want to be weird, right? Pavement is too obvious... try this shit out... I don't even love... I just feel that the nostalgia is somehow more justified...