Originally written 03.19.13
I arrived in Denver haunted by a tragedy. The death and its sad fallout were indirect to me personally but still close enough to leave a mark. I didn’t know him very well—but I knew him, and that was enough. There was more than that, though; there was the wife and two kids that he left behind and all of that incomprehensible sorrow. His death was tragic in many ways: He was young—or young like me—and he had been involved in an accident which carried some mystery about it. He had either fallen or jumped from a moving taxi cab, and even then he had survived the initial injuries; the bigger tragedy being that he was alive and assumed to be recovering when he suffered a brain hemorrhage and died a week after the accident.
The images that surfaced in the days after were heartbreaking, photos of him in the hospital bed hugging his children, alive. These were taken just hours before he unexpectedly took a turn for the worse. It was crushing. I had seen too much. I had too much knowledge. Oh, those children—I could hardly bear the grief that had befallen them. And me, detached as I was, still moved to tears. I had to look away.
On the airplane out I was faced with nothing but quiet contemplation, alone in my thoughts and immersed in fear and death. I was flying out to Denver for purely frivolous reasons, leaving my wife and two kids at home for a quick vacation; I felt undeserving and guilty. But beautiful Colorado … I landed smoothly in high winds and was magically transported from air to car and then a soft seat on a bicycle riding through the streets of downtown Denver. The bike-sharing program in the city was starting up again after winter and they had rounded up volunteers to deliver the bikes to the various ports around the city. So there I was, quickly fitted with a t-shirt and given a bike, riding along with a block-long crowd of folks and ringing our bells.
The weather was perfect. I had left cold and dreary Chicago in all of its relentless gloom for St. Patrick’s Day in fresh mountain air under the sharpest of blue skies. The sun gave off a warmth like spring and there I was in my new red shirt completely unburdened, with nothing but time and freedom. Later, after we parked the bikes, there were drinks in the camper van—a classic VW equipped with kitchen and sleeping quarters—and I wished we were taking off somewhere in it instead of sitting in the alley behind the garage. We ended up biking and bar-hopping that night—St. Patrick’s Day—and racing down the trail that lines the river (South Platte) through the city.
I was only in town for two nights and there were thoughts of going skiing before the hockey game Monday night but we decided against it and golfed instead. It was Bloody Marys and Old Styles as we carted around the mostly empty course hacking away. Later, we biked out to the arena for the Blackhawks-Avalanche game and had a hilarious time in the 4th row; I wore Jim’s feather knit hat and our phones lit up with the news that our mugs were all over the TV broadcast. The hat was a star in itself.
After the game (Hawks won 5-2) we sat at the jazz bar near the baseball stadium and listened to the band play bluesy jams. I was longing for some real jazz and so we eventually biked over to this place closer to home, where you walk down steps to an underground bar. As we sat down there was a break in the music but we could see the various musicians milling about; they looked like kids, not the grizzled old jazzheads I pictured. I was still wearing the hat and so people were quick to chat with me, especially the pretty, wild-haired dark-skinned girl sitting next to me. And then the music kicked in.
At first there was a singer, a drummer and a keyboard player but then as they went on there were various other players that stepped in and out, rotating and moving. A saxophone from the shadows blurting out, or a trumpet blasting; and then gone. The musicians themselves changed as they wound through the set, like a game of tag. A drummer would get up and another would sit down; a keyboard player relieved by another. And these horns would explode from out of nowhere, unassuming on the sidelines and waiting to burst. It was amazing, fantastic, moving. It mattered not at all their age or appearance; the sounds they made were like 60s poetry or 50s Beat jams or who knows where or when, but they were awesome. This was it. This was the beautiful, true jazz, Kerouac-ian moment I had always been looking for, Holy Denver in all its glory.
There’s been so much death lately. Almost all of it famous and detached, but still…a lot of death. Ebert and Thatcher and whomever else. But the one close to home continues to haunt. There’s a page for him on Facebook and it updates daily, regularly, with notes, thoughts, pictures and all kinds of sadness. I don’t believe I’ve gone to sleep without thinking of it, or him, once since it happened. And again, I barely knew him. It’s just so terribly tragic but it’s more than that; it’s the hole left in its wake. The kids, his wife…I went through the Easter rituals—baskets of candy and all of that—and in the back of it all was the Easter they weren’t having in his house. The emptiness. The grief. The sorrow.
I really wish I could stop thinking about it.
“There was no way anyone could properly fill up a life. There would always be something left, always somewhere else to go, and in the end we would all have to accept that the world held places we would never see: Pyramids, jungles, exotic locales; mountains, skyscrapers or a burning hole in the ground where a satellite fell. Somewhere was a girl I would never meet, standing at the foot of the Great Wall or walking the beach on a remote island in the Pacific, or maybe just around the corner on a street I sometimes walked. She would close her door just as I went past and go inside to an empty house and I would see a shadow behind a curtain and then a light switch off. It was a world too big, a life too small, and I could hardly move, paralyzed with despair.”
I’m not sure if I’m back here again or if this is just a momentary space where I decide to write something and then drop off again. This doesn’t mean what it used to. I am focused on internal worlds that I made, both finished and outlined. I wrote a book and I am trying to get it published. I have no idea the proper way to go about that but I’ve been working on it. It is fiction and more specifically it is literary fiction and even more specifically it is laced with some science fiction. I have no idea who my audience is, but I would imagine that it is someone like me. Except that age and philosophical leanings are hardly bound by any borders or definitions and I don’t know where I fit into all of that anyway (mental age is diminished and philosophy confused).
The story takes place in no specific time, except that it is probably the 90s or early 00s. I semi-consciously left out any cultural references and consciously avoided any signs of technological progress, i.e., computers, cell phones or the Internet. I was hesitant to even include specific geographical locations but that became impossible as the story unfolded. Still, I have issues with using actual existing places, such as cafes, bars or restaurants, or whatever. They are temporary, ultimately, and I wanted this story to exist in a non-specific, enduring time frame. This is easy and very difficult to do at the same time.
The characters are in their mid-30s, which is around the time I conceived the idea in my head, almost ten years ago. Actually, the idea that was conceived became two ideas and then split out into a few more; now, part of the original idea is my new outline for a second book. It had no place in this story.
The characters are fictional but there is one, and only one, that is based quite loosely on a real person. I am concerned that should this person ever read the book they might be…pissed? I don’t think that the portrayal is negative or even all that accurate, but it is probably a fair representation of my own lack of understanding of their evolution, as it were. My contact with this person is virtually dead, even in this world of unlimited communications, and this leads me to believe that there is little chance we will ever speak again. But we aren’t angry with each other, as far as I know. And the last interaction we had was nothing like the one that takes place in the story. But ultimately I fear its repercussions should he read the book.
The book is in first-person, narrated by a deeply flawed and hopelessly romantic fool named Samuel. He has a girlfriend named Sandy and their relationship is failing. He has a friend named Benedict who left town for grad school but is flunking out. He has a girl named Lora that he sleeps with from time to time, and he’s not sure what to do about that. He has lost touch with the rest of the “gang,” namely Georgie, who has moved to New Orleans, and Kenneth, who has moved to Arizona. Walter is the friend that Sam has just returned from visiting, in Australia. Walter has undergone a religious conversion of some kind and as a result their visit was strained.
Sam returns to Chicago in autumn, where he soon discovers the news concerning a broken satellite that is falling to earth. Much like Skylab in the 70s or any various space events that have happened over the years (most recently the UARS satellite) there is considerable media attention given to the falling satellite, despite its probable break-up and incident-free re-entry. The distinction that gives this satellite (named HERO-76 in the book) heft is the uncertain claim over its purpose and contents: It is rumored to be more than a your typical space vehicle, but instead a military weapon containing nuclear elements. No one knows for sure but, as happens when details are scarce, the fear is amped up to hysterical levels.
Sam greets the news with considerable disdain but Sandy is affected deeply. Their relationship already teetering, Sandy begins to seek solace in prayer while Sam, in turn, seeks solace in Lora’s bed. Meanwhile, Ben returns to town as a failed student and finds his mother ailing. She dies only days after his return and now, with both parents dead, Ben arrives at Sam’s place in grief. The two friends regroup and reacquaint while the panic over the satellite news grows. On the night of the re-entry Sam and Sandy disintegrate, their considerable differences finally coming to a head and blowing up. The satellite falls and, much to Sam’s surprise, it does not land in the ocean but instead somewhere in the American West, near the Grand Canyon.
The news becomes scarce after the crash as signals become crossed and transmissions interfered with. No one seems to know for sure whether the fallout is toxic but the official word is that all is well. Ben gathers up Sam and explains his plan: His mother’s ashes need to be spread according to her wishes, and he has drawn up a map detailing a journey that includes visits to old friends Georgie and Kenneth. The trip will taken them to New Orleans and then Flagstaff and finally to the desert landscape where his mother requested she be set free.
The second half of the book is a travelogue shrouded under gray skies and uncertainty. Sam and Ben encounter strange scenes and odd folks. Refugees from tent cities line the road and local weirdos recite wild theories. A girl named Angela seems to follow Sam everywhere. Reconciliations are painful and sometimes surprising. The radio never works. Sam and Ben hash it out and Walter’s presence remains, despite his absence.
That’s about all I can say. There are conversations and there are arguments. The search for answers is one that depends on your ability to believe. The acquisition of comfort is obtained in different ways, or not at all, as the case may be.
I’m not sure who should read this. There is sex and there are drugs and there is blasphemy. There are no politics, nor is there rock and roll. This is not a message and it’s not an opinion disguised as prose. No one “wins.” I think this may have been written in a pretty dark place:
I could hear Ben hollering in the distance again like a wolf. I touched the urn. Cold. I pulled away from it and my heart sank.
“Ashes. Dust,” I mused sadly, looking back up at Angela.
“Feel doomed much?” she said.
“You should. You’re not special. You’re as fucked as anyone.”
INTERNETS, 18th of January 2012.
PRESS RELEASE, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
Over a century ago Thomas Edison got the patent for a device which would “do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear”. He called it the Kinetoscope. He was not only amongst the first to record video, he was also the first person to own the copyright to a motion picture.
Because of Edisons patents for the motion pictures it was close to financially impossible to create motion pictures in the North american east coast. The movie studios therefor relocated to California, and founded what we today call Hollywood. The reason was mostly because there was no patent. There was also no copyright to speak of, so the studios could copy old stories and make movies out of them – like Fantasia, one of Disneys biggest hits ever.
So, the whole basis of this industry, that today is screaming about losing control over immaterial rights, is that they circumvented immaterial rights. They copied (or put in their terminology: “stole”) other peoples creative works, without paying for it. They did it in order to make a huge profit. Today, they’re all successful and most of the studios are on the Fortune 500 list of the richest companies in the world. Congratulations – it’s all based on being able to re-use other peoples creative works. And today they hold the rights to what other people create. If you want to get something released, you have to abide to their rules. The ones they created after circumventing other peoples rules.
The reason they are always complainting about “pirates” today is simple. We’ve done what they did. We circumvented the rules they created and created our own. We crushed their monopoly by giving people something more efficient. We allow people to have direct communication between eachother, circumventing the profitable middle man, that in some cases take over 107% of the profits (yes, you pay to work for them). It’s all based on the fact that we’re competition. We’ve proven that their existance in their current form is no longer needed. We’re just better than they are.
And the funny part is that our rules are very similar to the founding ideas of the USA. We fight for freedom of speech. We see all people as equal. We believe that the public, not the elite, should rule the nation. We believe that laws should be created to serve the public, not the rich corporations.
The Pirate Bay is truly an international community. The team is spread all over the globe – but we’ve stayed out of the USA. We have Swedish roots and a swedish friend said this: The word SOPA means “trash” in Swedish. The word PIPA means “a pipe” in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence. They want to make the internet inte a one way pipe, with them at the top, shoving trash through the pipe down to the rest of us obedient consumers. The public opinion on this matter is clear. Ask anyone on the street and you’ll learn that noone wants to be fed with trash. Why the US government want the american people to be fed with trash is beyond our imagination but we hope that you will stop them, before we all drown.
SOPA can’t do anything to stop TPB. Worst case we’ll change top level domain from our current .org to one of the hundreds of other names that we already also use. In countries where TPB is blocked, China and Saudi Arabia springs to mind, they block hundreds of our domain names. And did it work? Not really. To fix the “problem of piracy” one should go to the source of the problem. The entertainment industry say they’re creating “culture” but what they really do is stuff like selling overpriced plushy dolls and making 11 year old girls become anorexic. Either from working in the factories that creates the dolls for basically no salary or by watching movies and tv shows that make them think that they’re fat.
In the great Sid Meiers computer game Civilization you can build Wonders of the world. One of the most powerful ones is Hollywood. With that you control all culture and media in the world. Rupert Murdoch was happy with MySpace and had no problems with their own piracy until it failed. Now he’s complainting that Google is the biggest source of piracy in the world – because he’s jealous. He wants to retain his mind control over people and clearly you’d get a more honest view of things on Wikipedia and Google than on Fox News.
Some facts (years, dates) are probably wrong in this press release. The reason is that we can’t access this information when Wikipedia is blacked out. Because of pressure from our failing competitors. We’re sorry for that.
- THE PIRATE BAY, (K)2012
For reasons I can’t properly explain, this series of posts on The Dish has forced me to post this–for the future record if need be, to put it cryptically. I honestly never thought I would see this subject publicly discussed, since it is so hard to wrap the brain around it but…anyway:
… I would imagine her just out of my vision, fixing a meal in the kitchen or reading a book in the bedroom, and think that this is how our lives could have been. I would try to shut it down the way I would when infinity nightmares overtook my head at night, pounding my fists in the bed and sometimes yelling out loud in the empty room to no one, but the wave would pass and the next day I would wonder why I had gotten so worked up.
“How often do you have these nightmares?” asked the doctor that I saw back then, a kind old Jewish man who—it was obvious—didn’t really understand anything I said.
“Which nightmares?” I responded, trying to get him to repeat what I said. “Infinity nightmares.” No one wanted to talk about them, even the shrinks. “You have no answer for them, do you?” I said.
He looked at me sadly. “An answer for them is not what you need.”
But I kept at him. “There are no pills for it. There’s no cure. Unless it all turns to black, there is no answer. Is there?”
“What do you think?” he said, barely hiding his exasperation.
“I think you’re in denial. I think that you ignore the reality.”
“Which reality is that?”
“That we are spinning around in circles and even if it all explodes we’ll still be floating in emptiness. That life is endless. That god doesn’t exist. That this is random.”
He sighed heavily. “Perhaps we can prescribe a relaxant…”
This is how it went. I would call him out on his “existential ignorance” and he would sigh and filibuster, but it didn’t make me any better in the long run. I went back once more and he controlled the topic, steering me away from universal misery and back to my own personal depression.
“Have you thought about Winifred lately?”
“Fuck her,” I said and he smiled. Cured!
I know it’s kind of pointless to blog anymore, what with Facebook and the ability to link and comment at a moment’s notice, but yet I continue here, every now and then. Why? I have no idea. I’ve never really cared about stats (I seriously haven’t looked at any of that in years) and have been bored by many other blogs for a long time; it all seems pretty irrelevant. I mean, it is. But anyway, I only ever did this to amuse myself, and so I still post my pictures and embed clips and give the occasional rant…but who gives a shit?
That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate my most certainly massive readership and rabid commenters (“commentors” is a word that does not appear to be spelled correctly either way that I do it, and is marked as misspelled by my browser both ways; oh well). But what is my point? Nothing, really. Just sayin’.
So anyway, politics. For a second. Because it’s so ridiculous that it hardly needs to be said, but yet, I have to say it: The crop of candidates that the GOP has percolating for 2012 are the goddamned funniest group of nuts you’ve ever seen. Obama & Co. have smiles as big as Rahm’s gang did a month ago. Of course it’s early, and anything can happen–even something as unlikely as a plausible Republican candidate–but I would not bet against the re-election of Obama, no matter how much he does to piss off the progressive/liberal community.
That’s not to say I’m unhappy with him. Just, not thrilled about everything. But who is, ever?
But to the point: as I’ve said before, I don’t watch Fox News and don’t have my finger on the pulse of what “today’s right-wing nuts” are thinking, BUTT…and I do mean BUTT, I do check in with National Review every now and then, to see what the established conservative nuts are saying (as opposed to the fringe nuts that hang out everywhere else on the internet). And what I’m saying is, what they’re saying is hilarious:
It’s a real article. Woo! Just throwing the idea out there! Think about it! And the great thing now is that they now allow comments there at NRO, so you can see the mind of the nut in action, gnashing and gnawing and doing the right-wing version of “deliberating.” Funny, funny stuff. When Bachmann isn’t being flat-out rejected by these folks, as she should be, there are still some definite reservations to this idea. And, more hilariously, alternative suggestions:
“Barbour/Bachman” has a certain alliterative appeal, don’t you think?
“Experienced Conservative Leadership!”
That last one really kills me. Hell, they all kill me. But what are they going to do, get behind Newt Gingrich instead? Huckabee? Pa-pa-pawlenty? Nope, it’s Romney, it has to be. There’s no other rational choice. Ha ha, I said “rational.”
Well, I don’t think I can rightfully post a boozy pic today. Haven’t felt like posting anything anyway, and today is going to suck, I’m sure. Never been to a wake/funeral of someone younger than me, I don’t believe. Haven’t drank anything since…Super Bowl Sunday!–feels like it’s been a lot longer. There’s a revolution going on and it’s cold as shit and then all of this is going to melt into a big mud puddle any day now. It must be February. We’ll get through it, some of us.
In the midst of serious summer madness, having set my feet on the ground in Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin, and now gearing up for a drive that will lead to the deepest corner of Tennessee. Dollywood, here we come! Add in a trip to Colorado at the end of this month and another to San Francisco in October and we’ll have criss-crossed the country. And there’s even a bachelor party in Vegas that I simply cannot make, which is probably a good idea anyway. Man, oh man…
And so I’ve seen a lot of animals over the course of these journeys, from dolphins and monster jellyfish to crabs and deer and tons of bugs, but then last night at home I hear a scratching in the backyard and look out to see this critter climbing over my fence. He was huge! Bigger than our cats, like a medium-sized dog, and we stared each other down until he finally climbed back into the neighbor’s yard. This is Chicago, buddy! What are you doing? Get outta here!
Just realized the last two booze pix I posted were a Corona and a margarita. In the fridge we’ve got Tecate and Pacifico. My new fave team in the NBA are Los Suns de Phoenix. Cheech and Chong still make me laugh. Today I will do what’s right and apply for dual citizenship. I am a Mexican-American!
I filled out my Census thing and sent it back. That was hard. There were like five questions, and yeah, I’m a white male, born then and what else? Not much. Are people really getting worked about this? Man, I don’t have time for crazies! Prez Obama must have had something to do with this Census thing, right? He’s trying to snoop on our privacy! Aaaaah, nuts.
This is the kind of spam I get sometimes: “I am not good at reading fiction but i like this post.” But fiction is spelled “ficiton.” Mostly Akismet catches it but occasionally I am called upon to make the judgment. Anyway, I have random thoughts and here they are:
Netflix is pissing me off with its very long wait for “Inglorious Basterds.” It’s been like three months. What the hell? Half full: “Up in the Air” is on its way.
No matter is wrong with the healthcare bill, when it is passed I will be very happy. There will be plenty of time to bitch about no public option (really?) and all that caving to right-wing Democrats, but I will be happy anyway. It has to happen.
My new favorite blog: Raymi the Minx (oh yeah, occasionally NSFW)
If a man loves a horse, what is the problem? Can a man not love a horse?
I am not prepared for the Cubs to be on again. I am entering this season at the most skeptical angle ever. Seriously. Look, they’re not gonna win it all this year. Let’s just go in with that premise and it’ll be okay.
Pearl Jam. Uh, I thought “Backspacer” kinda sucked. And so the SNL appearance? Lame.
What’s that? Am I enjoying the Catholic implosion? Oh, thanks for asking. Yeah, I am. Not that it will change anything.
Blog I never thought I’d be reading: Little Green Footballs. I don’t know, it was like some kind of right-wingin’ blog and then it wised up? Whatever, I just started reading it and the guy isn’t crazy. I’m all for people getting smart, so…
Bummer. I had wondered what happened to Jon Swift–no, not the 18th century Irishman but the 21st century blogger. His blog, which was written in the pure satiric fashion of his namesake, hilariously supported conservative buffoonery in a way that Stephen Colbert would appreciate. As his tagline read:
I am a reasonable conservative who likes to write about politics and culture. Since the media is biased I get all my news from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Jay Leno monologues.
Well, he suddenly stopped writing on the blog a year ago and for a long time no one said or knew anything. I periodically checked to see what was up and nothing changed. Weirdly, the final post he made was about another blogger’s tragedy. Now, a year later, we find out that Jon Swift, aka Al Weisel, died at the age of 46 on the way to his father’s funeral. Young man. Sad. He was a truly talented writer. I didn’t know him, obviously, but have linked to him in the blogroll for a long time and appreciated his work. So long, Jon Swift.
No, I will not be commenting on any fringe groups or fringe activity here. We have high standards here at The Booze Cabinet! High, high, high standards. Now, off to another booze-filled picture shoot. This is Serious Business!
Roger Ebert writes about his inability to eat or drink or speak. Sounds awful. But he can write, very well, and I’m thankful for that. Of special note in this post are the references to Cormac McCarthy (the great writer), Dublin and Trinity College (where I visited a few years back), and the Old-Timer’s Restaurant on Lake Street (where I used to go when I worked over there–a great old pub). Can’t say it enough: I’m very glad Ebert is still putting this out, despite his condition.
I’m so bored with the blogs. There’s just nothing good to read out there anymore. There’s the tabloids, Huffington and Drudge, but Drudge is not even interesting anymore in a ridiculous way, it’s just stupid. Well, it was always stupid but it’s worse now. I like HuffPo just because it’s got everything, from politics to entertainment to hot pix of porn stars, but it’s pretty fluffy. Drudge is just limp.
I used to like reading some conservative sites just to see how silly they were but they’re all boring now too. The Corner is unreadable. I stopped reading Instapundit a million years ago. I could never stomach Malkin and Red State is just pure idiocy.
I never had much time for the left-wing blogs either though. I think I stopped reading The Daily Kos before the 2004 election, and I got tired of Atrios/Eschaton before that. I tried reading Ann Althouse’s blog (not left-wing at all) but it was just tedious, and her comment section is hopelessly right-wing. Sullivan is still interesting to me because he’s neither, but other than that I don’t know where else to go.
I read the Tribune, Ebert, Pitchfork, Stereogum, NY Times, a few others…but man, I’m bored. Has the internet jumped the shark?