Today I met Brett Dean McGibbon down in Pioneer Square, where he peddles his hand-bound leather poetry journals from 18 years of accumulated motorcycle travel across the U.S., from upstate New York to Alaska and back via the American Southwest. So-so poetry, and a letdown when it comes to concreteness--I was expecting some real living rambling narratives but leafing through saw only subjectivity & inner observations. If I'm looking for substance & intellectual departures, give me Brennen instead. Not to malign; this Brett fellow was great to talk to & quite the hustler...handing out lines of poetry to all the pretty girls with a "pick a card any card approach."
One who stopped by appeared to be a regular. "Wait, I'll find you one you haven't seen," he says & digs through a hidden pile of cards. "Sometimes I find what I have to say, and sometimes what I have to say finds me," it reads. She doesn't grok it so she exchanges for another. She shares the latest news about her softball team with him: one of her players who had been throwing temper tantrums finally chucked his bat into another player's face, who got a mouthful of blood and broken teeth & is now suing tantrum man. So her season as coach appears to be over & she is feeling the heat for not preventing the incident.
Then as it turns out she is the GM for the one of my favorite sushi places right down the street--which is where I'm headed, and we talk about crossing the Asian / American cultural divide (she is half Japanese half French), and also about which dance clubs are the best in Seattle, and why the city is doing it's best to kill the club scene...which sucks enough as is.
From here I get segued into conversation with a Canadian couple down for the weekend from Vancouver...my first extended conversation with Canadians since moving up here. They're real cool & funny & the guy turns out to be an actor.
Hopping on my bike to go home, I log the first unpleasant human encounter of the day. It consists of me responding to a belligerently honking bus on my tail with the finger & a resounding "f**k you!" scream, in the middle of bustling downtown Seattle. Yeah I'm not wearing a helmet, but are you wearing a shiny badge? So shut the hell up already.
Thanks to Nickman for showing me the one true, noodly path.
Pack up your things and go on over to kim's blog.
However I feel compelled to spare this one little priceless incident from the broad stroke of summary. Jake & Penelope & I are hanging out, and Jake decides to fashion himself a helm out of a plastic grocery bag. He cuts a hole in it for his face, and then decorates the hole with a sharpie marker, adding whiskers and ears and the little forehead inscription, "Hi, I'm Billy." It is the dumbest thing any of us has ever seen but he insists on going outside with it on.
We're on the porch steps when bum #2819 walks up and asks for a cigarette.
"Sorry dude, I have oral herpes," Jake tells him. "Normally I would." The bum clearly doesn't believe him but there's no arguing with such matter-of-factness. The bum kindly offers him a dip out of a carmex container. Jake declines.
When he asks if we can spare some change instead, Jake instead pulls out his fantastic garbage bag helm and says, "You know, I've spent all night making this & I really want you to have it. I want you to wear it around proudly."
The bum just stands there, frozen, utterly thrown off, unsure whether he's just been delivered a serious insult or if he just happened to meet someone far nuttier than himself. Jake holds up the bag, waiting for the bum to assist him in this seriously strange beknighting ritual. Eventually the bum walks off in disbelief.
I hate being an ex post facto blogger, but I've been busy / internetless the last two weeks. Here's a short rundown:
* Penelope drove all the way from Lincoln to Bellingham, WA two weekends ago to check out grad school there. On her way through Seattle she deposited Jake, who is now a Seattle resident. He's been sleeping on my floor for the last two weeks & will continue to do so till he can find a place...it's all karmic anyway: Jonas lets me sleep on his couch for the my first two months in the area, I pass the savings along etc.
* I spent an unhealthy amount of time at work.
* On her return trip, Penelope stopped in Seattle (this was last weekend) and we got to hang out. In an anthology I've been thumbing through for five years, she found the poem I've been looking for all this time, since reading it back in high school & sneaking the book out of my parent's library. We burned our feet on Alki beach, watched the National Geographic penguin movie, debated veganism, danced the Mambo to numbered sidewalk instructions on Broadway and went to a super scenester after hours party. Sunday we did absolutely nothing & that was by far the best part.
This week I had the extreme pleasure of seeing The Ring at the Seattle Opera. I'm not a big opera fan, mostly because the music isn't standalone...like a movie soundtrack, you have to hear it in its visual context, and I guess I've always disliked classical music which doesn't strive for that certain level of abstraction. (Like a pure mathematician genuinely pissed off when his theorems find application? A ridiculous reality-denying posture...)
The Ring however was an awesome blend of music, story, and visuals (aptly called by Wagner "Gesamtkunstwerk"--"total art work"). The special effects were amazing, from Siegfried splitting anvil and stump down the middle with the newly forged Nothung, to the towering dragon Fafner in part three, to the Rhinegold sisters suspended midair in their mermaid costumes. From our vantage point on the upper tier the visual trickery was often completely convincing: at the end of Das Rheingold, for instance, the characters walk down a wooded path, disappear over the hill, and then reappear as tiny figures in the distance as the path winds its way towards rainbowed Valhalla. Where the actual set ended and the screen behind began was impossible to tell.
If it hadn't been so enjoyable it would have made for a long week, as my week basically consisted of work, The Ring, sleep, work...nearly 5 hours of opera each night on 4 different nights.
(Please note that I'm taking an English translation for my title here, which is definitely not what my pretentious brother would have done. If you find yourself suddenly seized by a powerful desire to slog through the full German libretto you can do that here.)
I was trying to decide the following today: is it wrong to like it when girls wear high heels? Are my amorous glances merely rewarding them for subjugation? "There there, be a good girl & accentuate your physical fragility even further, in turn implicitly acknowledging my physical dominance."
I thought of this when I saw an emo chick walking past rather self-consciously in high heels. Clearly this was a new thing for her...she was awkward & nearly stumbled once. For some reason, this made her 10 times cuter, and then I started to analyze why & now I am convinced that I am a monster.
Maybe some of my female readers (if there are any left) can comment on this.
Today I almost started weeping for joy on the bus. It was the wrong bus; I meant to take an express bus down the interstate, but I ended up on one of those buses that meanders through a random cross section of districts, and so collects an equally random cross section of people. It was like coring a very old tree & looking at the striations.
An old man hailed the bus & was panting a little when he got on. He had a cap. A man with a crazed face that didn't fit the rest of him--wild horse eyes leering every which way, a frozen clown grin, a stilted bobbling walk--was he always this way, or is he a lobotomized ex-genius? Assorted young people. A thuggish kid. A Jewish girl who almost sits down with Crazy Face but instead chooses the thuggish kid. A Great Outdoors kind of guy, a businessman.
The splendid variety of life...the endless cycle of deaths emptying the bus and births filling it...the indifferent bus slicing through all of this, through time & space & the beautiful fleeting lives of its passengers.
I was listening to 808 State a few nights ago and the layers finally separated out. Even the whooshing atmospheric background layers that you'd never normally notice, they were singled out & held up for examination. Still, I was aware of all of them simultaneously. One layer stacked on the next, translucent sheets of colored glass which slowly pass each other in parallel planes.
On a whim, we went to a country western bar last night for karaoke, where I sang the most overblown version of this song I could manage, screeching like an 80s imbecile rocker. No one can accuse you of bad taste if they're even going to a place like that anyway.
I came all the way from Missouri for this...?