If I can insert Jennifer Lawrence into your argument and it falls apart, it might not have been a great argument to begin with.
I’m going to once again put my argumentative rocket boots on and slip into warp drive. I know I cannot stay outside the anti-matter bubble of destruction for long, but for a few blinks I will charge into futility. This is my only hope. I will be lost in the fray soon enough, but Internet Icarus can’t ignore this thing which tantalizingly flops across his face.
No, I will not tell you what the fuck I am talking about.
If it hits you right in the feels, you may know. If it causes you to question your rage, perhaps it fits. Jennifer Lawrence. You’re decrying the loss of some great institution. Jennifer Lawrence. You feel as if someone’s rights may have been violated. Jennifer Lawrence.
What if something bad happened to someone but you think they’re sorta gross? Jennifer Lawrence.
What if something great happened but it happened to someone you didn’t particularly like anyway? Jennifer Lawrence.
Everything will become clear when you Jennifer Lawrence.
I vividly recall the moment I became aware of the concept of generations. It was about 15 years ago, at the very dawn of Wikipedia. I came across it after I watched Band of Brothers and did some research online about the generation who fought World War II. Tom Brokaw had coined the term “Greatest Generation” just a few years earlier. Greatest? If they were the greatest, what are we? What am I?
My friends were not so excited about my newfound fascination. Even then I wondered, are we Generation X? Generation Y? What is that? “Fucking stupid,” was their reply. As always, this did not stop me, but they were correct. It is fucking stupid. It’s also all we hear about these days.
I really wish I had stayed on that boat while I worked towards my sociology degree (which I later abandoned to get my bullshit bargain basement degree in absolutely nothing).
By now I could have a Ph.D. with my thesis in generational theory. I’d be the leading authority, often referenced, when the discussion of whatever we call all these shiftless fucks, I mean Millennials, arises. Willennials? Ha-haaa (hey there 90s kids).
I don’t have a time machine (anymore) so wedging this into the current debate may be an insurmountable task. Nonetheless, I offer here, Bob Talbot’s Generational Unified Nomenclature Theory, or GUNT.
Unicorns: These are the people so fucking old that they shouldn’t really be alive, but they are, through science or curse. They’re the ones who croak, “I guess the Lord forgot me,” and talk about how they’re ready to fucking die any minute. Can you even comprehend being ready to die? No one is ready to die. People who are 88 with no legs and a dick that hasn’t worked in 30 years aren’t ready to die. These people are even older. This generational classification shifts ever forward, engulfing the one after it. Someday, if you are very lucky, or unlucky, you will be a Unicorn. #squadgoals.
The Expendables: What Brokaw refers to as The Greatest, these folks were born in the early 20th century, and they are old as shit. At this point they are definitely Unicorns but how could I fail to mention the generation who literally punched Hitler in the face? I don’t have the sack. If you’re lucky you can find one of them to stand in front of a auditorium of teenagers and rattle on about the Bataan Death March. This is a great idea for your high school Veteran’s or Memorial Day celebration. Prop up an elderly traumatized dude in front of a bunch of young sociopaths who think that American Sniper isn’t a propaganda film about a proud child murderer. You’ll probably give them ideas.
The Expendables II: These are the younger dudes who fought the Dubyah Dubyah Aye Aye and Ko-Rea. If they were too young to enlist they collected scrap metal for the war effort or ran around screaming about airplanes. Why is everything about war? Chalk this up to my Southern education and upbringing. Fuck 4,00o years of European history, guys, we need to talk about the War of Northern Aggression and skip WWI because that shit is boring. Nukes and Nazis! It’s Friday and I don’t have a lesson plan so today our guest lecturer is John Wayne, but I digress. These were the beatniks, the old hippies, some of the first people who thought maybe public racism wasn’t cool.
The Motherfuckers Who Ruined Everything: Otherwise known as “Those Fucks” or “Goddamned Bastards” or Dad/Mom/Grandpa/Grandma. Apparently everyone was really horny after surviving WWII and they decided not to pull out, which was, in retrospect, a tremendous error. We’ve all been there. Back in their day you could dance in the park on LSD, shit your way through college, get a job sweeping floors at a major corporation, and have your own office and company car by the time you were 30. Livin’ the dream! Squatting on the shoulders of giants and shitting down their backs. Their parents died in the fields and the factories so they could have a two car garage and shitty, coddled navel-gazing children. Which brings me to-
The Smiths: Oh boy, John Cusack. Watch every 80s film. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It will be about as accurate as judging Expendables by watching The Longest Day and Look Who’s Coming to Dinner but all you need is a general idea. Guys, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that you don’t possibly have time to learn everything. You don’t even have time to read this, which is why you aren’t, so take all the provided shortcuts. Anyway, these fuckers are getting grey and they’re still way too cool for you. No one can ever decide when this generation ends.
At this point, the generational classification starts speeding up for some reason. I blame technology. The old standard 20 year setting (allowing 5 years for fuzzy grey area, of course) falls by the wayside and we’ve got shit like this one starting in 1963, or 1966, or some other time in the fucking Sixties, and ending at 1978, 1979, 1982, or whatever other random year the next hip blogger/sociologist/Rolling Stone columnist chooses. What the fuck? Not to mention that these, the pre-beard pre-manbun hipsters, will tell you that you aren’t a Smith even if you were born in 1977. You were a pants shitting baby, what do you know? Which is why-
Ewoks: So named because you represent the bright line between people who hated those fuzzy little buggers and the ones who couldn’t get enough of ’em. You were born too late to be an extra in Platoon, too soon to own anything more powerful than a Tandy 1000, but just in time to taste the sweet fruits of Eighties culture. You were raised by it. If you loved Muppet Babies, you’re a fucking Ewok. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a goddamned Millennial. You have Smith blood running through your veins, and while you were raised on John Williams, MTV, HBO, and the specter of nuclear holocaust, they still won’t let you swim in the big kids’ pool and yell Revenge of the Nerds references so this is all you have.
If you know what the telephone with wires and a funny dial is and you’ve actually had to use one, you’re not a goddamned Millennial. They aren’t VINYLS they’re records or albums you sick fucks! Which brings me to-
Generation Y/Millennials/Willennials/90s Kids/Cultural Death/Edgelords/Memeclowns/#Hashtags: If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re one of these. Pick a title, you fucking snowflake.
I’m glad we have hot little computers we can shove into our faces all day instead of newspapers or books or the teats of a slave. Our ancestors spent long hours jamming their dirty noses into everything they could hold down so don’t feel bad that you have a lithium grenade next to your eyeballs for most of your waking hours. The Smiths and the Ewoks do it too. It’s a disease, a virus. The cancer is inside us all now and if I’d known then, when I watched Jean-Luc Picard tap around on his PADD, I’d have yelled at Old Baldy to blow that shit out the airlock before it was too late.
But you have to check your notifications. You have to because of the despair. You’re unemployed or underemployed and you spend your day listening to everyone tell you how shitty you are. I mean, you are a bit shitty but here’s the kicker: so is everyone else. The greybeards have invented all these reasons that you’ve ruined the Earth, but blame shifting is a human tradition since time immemorial. Rest assured, the people with millions and billions of dollars are probably the ones literally raping this godforsaken rock but you’re just wrecking shit behind that counter at Starbucks, right.
Instead of real accomplishment you’re going to have to settle for the dopamine spike that comes from hits, likes, shares, comments, “achievements”, retweets, karma, swipes, sexts, trending, and the hugbox. The fucking hugbox where you can huff your own farts until you suffocate in bliss. You guys call this “punching down.” I calls ’em as I sees ’em.
Remember, though, it’s not just you. It’s retroactive. It’s farting its way back through the generations until it reaches the wall of people who thought that ENIAC was cutting edge. You’ve got those too set in their ways to adapt, and they’re playing bridge and eating pills for breakfast. Everyone else is playing Pokemon Go and eating pills for breakfast.
The Old Ladies on Mad Max – Fury Road: After the recent world summit on climate change, John Kerry said something to the effect of (and I am paraphrasing), “Shit is fucked, yo. To reverse or even halt anything it would take a global initiative somewhere on the scale of a worldwide Manhattan or Apollo Project and so far all we have is a bunch of chucklefucks literally burning the Earth and laughing while they do cocaine off sex slaves in their Learjet so smoke ’em while you got ’em, I guess.”
Your kids, if you get your shit together and have any (doesn’t matter) are probably going to die horribly, depending on who you are and where you live. We might eke out some Elysium shit where Fortress America sits pretty while the rest of the world dies of widespread famine at the end of the 21st century, but I kinda doubt it. We’re going to feel it.
And I know. I know. People have been calling doom down for all of human history. In the Seventies you had the ecologists screaming that pesticides were going to end civilization and overpopulation was going to have us all standing on top of each other by now. Remember Peak Oil? We solved it by coming up with new and exciting ways to violate Mother Earth. However, this time there’s real evidence that, man-made or not, the global temperature is approaching something which will not support agriculture in the way and shape it’s currently practiced. Human ingenuity is what gives me some hope, though. It may end up being more Blade Runner or Dredd than Mad Max, if we don’t go Terminator and end up in Vault 13, but the future’s not so bright that I have to wear shades. Plus I own these nifty photochromic lenses.
You know all those dystopian young adult novels? We’re the prequel. This is what happened first, so at least our zeitgeist is pop culture psychological preparation for what’s to come. Welcome to the Dystopian Present, baby.
This is as far into the future as I care to take these shenanigans. It’s probably best that I’m Bob Talbot Retail Manager instead of Dr. Bob Talbot, Doomsayer. I know that I know nothing, but I’d bet that I’m at least as close to the mark as the French artist who predicted the Roomba.
Thing is, humans love heuristics. It’s our jam. We’ve got a world full of categories and if something doesn’t fit we’ll hammer it until it does. The dark is too frightening, the mess too gooey, and if it looks like a shark we assume it’s a shark. This must have benefited us in the past, natural selection and all, but maybe it’s time to rethink the approach.
I’m not going to say we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. It’s been suggested. No, what I have is even better. I say we all stand on a hill, late in the day, and sing. We lift our voices and sing, and perhaps enjoy a cold beverage. A nice, refreshing Coca-Cola. Our sugary savior.
I think you’ve always known it. I have too. Ask anyone on this list, from the mud of Bougainville to the dust of Fallujah (because again, war, it’s all we have), what they wanted to snap into after a long day of killin’. What was sitting beside our favorite actor in the pivotal scene? What was painted on the side of the drug store, who supplied the scoreboards, who invented Santa Claus and polar bears? Pepsi? Fuck Pepsi and the Joan Crawford it rode in on.
It’s the Real Thing. Someday we’ll get off this rock, in rockets red and white. Systems will fall under our syrupy boots. This will not be our grave. The surveyor drones will construct our habitats first. Then, the billboards. It’s not the most efficient practice, but who needs efficiency?
Type @ and their name to tag a “friend” (frenemy/enemy/acquaintance/coworker/stalker/bartender who won’t text you back/family member/racist family member/guy from High School you haven’t spoken to in 20 years who posts memes about “$hillary Cunton”) and send a dopamine nugget of titillating joy into the wilted remains of their cerebral cortex, pre-formatted here for your copy and paste convenience.
I dug (and I mean dug because Facebook is a shitpile when it comes to locating anything) for the post I wrote that day and re-read it. It was heartfelt, but it was also full of assumptions about him and misconceptions about my life.
We know now that he had been suffering from a terrifying degenerative neurological disorder. He killed himself, was forcedto brutally kill himself, because euthanasia isn’t a thing around here. Maybe it should be.
I didn’t know him, and I’m not a doctor, but I assume that he didn’t want to die any more than the people who leaped from the World Trade Center. For him, there was nowhere else to go but out.
David Foster Wallace put it better than I did when he described suicide and the will to live. He reasoned that no one really wants to die, but the encroaching flames seem too much. When it’s the inferno or the window, people often take the window. Rest assured they know they can’t fly.
David couldn’t fly, either.
On that note I want everyone to know that I’m okay. I said some things about myself that day and they weren’t completely accurate. I wasn’t lying, but I was confused and distressed. I did eventually talk to a professional about it, and while it wasn’t under the best of circumstances, we finally realized that most of the bullshit I’ve called dire was a combination of situational depression and poor coping skills. Not all of it, but most.
Welcome to the Land of Consequences, right over the Bridge of Bad Fucking Decisions.
While I’m at it, I need to clear up something else. I was (am, always will be) in mourning for my father and I tried to tie him into all that somehow, as if depression were slaughtering us all. Dad. Robin. Me. How’s that for a narrative?
Thing is, Dad wasn’t a depressed guy. I’m not sure he even understood what that was. He was a functioning alcoholic who had a bad interaction* with prescription medication and it took years for the aftereffects to kill him. That’s it. I don’t get to hammer events into a pretty box so I can make my world seem orderly and tug people’s dopamine strings.
Robin was in a horrifying situation, Dad made a mistake, and I’m “Howlin’Mad” Bob Talbot with clinically diagnosed Assholery (call it dysthymia complicated by being a Massive Jerk if you need something to put on your chart), but I’ll be fine. I love my wife and my family and I’m not going anywhere until I’m dragged kicking and screaming.
Guys, I’m over drawing conclusions, because there aren’t any. You live, you die, and maybe you learn in between. I’m still learning, so bear with me. Today I’ve learned that I can’t make things make sense. It would be quite convenient for something other than Hook to tie us all together.
That’s it, though. The Hook brings us back (I ain’t tellin’ you no lie). Hook, Robin, Dad, a theater, and us. That was enough. I shouldn’t have tried to make it more, but I didn’t know enough then to do it any differently. Now I do.
*Note: I originally wrote accidental overdose here but I’ve changed it after some reflection. It was accidental. Alcohol and high blood pressure/cholesterol medication do not mix, but the word “overdose” implies that he swallowed the wrong dosage. This is not the case. He took the amount he was prescribed and he continued his daily routine of drinking in the evening. This is what ultimately landed him in the hospital. It is also important to note that from that day in late 2008 to his last day, on February 23, 2011, he did not touch a drink. He was serious about living. So am I.
I’ve tried too hard to do art farts and I’ve censored myself quite a bit as well, which has really cut down what I publish online. Wait, this is misleading. It’s not like I have some grand work waiting in the wings. I’ve been going to the bookstore, exercising, and hanging with the fam’. Noble pursuits, I know, but they do nothing for the ol’ EXISTENTIAL ANGST.
For example, I’ve probably deleted half a dozen shitty poems in the past couple of weeks but the world doesn’t need more shitty poetry. I thought of doing a post in defense of my classification as a young Gen X-er instead of a fucking Millennial. Goddamned Millennials. I considered calling it Gen X Babies and tying it in to Muppet Babies. As in, if you grew up watching Muppet Babies you might be a Gen X Baby. This follows the Foxworthy “You Might be a Redneck” format too much and also who gives a fuck, really?
I just watched Stranger Things with Gina. I thought of doing a post about how the nostalgia affected me but it felt too much like being a shill, which is weird, because I gain nothing material. I don’t work for Netflix or Kellogg’s. I’d also run up against the inevitable, “You were only five years old when that show was set,” argument, which I can’t really rebut. I was fucking alive and aware of my surroundings, but whatever. Also who am I arguing with, myself?
Oh, and I’m not mentioning all the political temptations that I refuse to get into. Fuuuuuuck that shit. I guess I can do metaposts forever about how I can’t write.
I have been reading some philosophy during my breaks at work. I recently finished Winning Arguments, by Stanley Fish. It’s not a how-to guide. He describes what the winning arguments have been, historically, and how they came about. I’ve started on Intuition Pumps by Daniel Dennett. While I’ve gained some insight, I’ve also lost quite a bit of motivation to talk to anyone about anything because it seems even more futile. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t! It’s all about the struggle, really, since that’s all there is, but right now I guess I don’t feel like struggling.
This year is making everyone insane.
I haven’t even attempted to read the new Harry Potter book. I had quite a bit of fun dressing up as old whiny britches himself and running around the store being ridiculous at the midnight release party on 7/30. Gina told me she was proud to be my wife. That was nice and I’ll never forget it. However, there’s a however coming. However, I was pretty down about it in the days following, because it was fun, and I did feel important and liked, and that seems too rare to the sucking black hole self esteem singularity that lives at the center of my soul, which requires, no, DEMANDS rock star level worship at all times.
This is a perfect segue into the other thing I keep not writing about. I keep thinking to myself, “Why aren’t there more books and films about THE SUCKING HOLE OF DOOM,” and then I realize that there are, but they at least try to come at it from an interesting angle. You can’t fill a work full of sad, pathetic shit and expect any large number of people to read it. Well, you can, but it has to be Steel Magnolias or one of those really gut-wrenching Robin Williams movies like What Dreams May Come.
So, I do this. I go through the motions and put it out there, like the days when I don’t feel like working out but I work out because if I don’t I’ll have the regrets. That’s another deleted post, by the way. My Workout Routine, #Slothswole, spiced with hilarious musings from The Bob Talbot. If I actually wrote every idea I had there’d be two posts a day.
The other night at 2 am I almost got out of bed to write a post about how I’d gone to Doctor Who conventions in search of some meaningful interaction with people and, while I had found it, I had also encountered so many cringeworthy moments that made me feel like the most unpopular kid in the schoolyard.
Maybe this is what I need. Maybe I’ll just be silent and let it build again, and then metapost more about the things I didn’t do. I can do that as well. Maybe I’ll proofread this 30 times, more times than there will be readers. Maybe I’ll get down about that act of futility. Well, everything is futile in the long run.
This is the workout I don’t want to do. These are the reps I did when I had influenza. These are the push-ups I did, often do, in an office because it was my only opportunity that day.
It’s not lost on me that I do so much and still find time to do this, but it isn’t enough.
Scream into the hole. Scream into the hole. Shitty indie films have been made about less. Insert pop culture references. Breathe. Fart. Shart.
I did it, guys. I stayed up all night and read the new Harry Potter book. It’s a different format than I’m used to when it comes to Potter fare, so it took a bit of adjustment, but I was immediately intrigued by adult Harry Potter as he muddled his way through life. After that, the script treatment didn’t faze me much.
I don’t want to spoil it for you so I’ll keep this pretty vague. First off, Harry seemed overly concerned with what everyone wore. According to the stage directions, they accomplished this by having a narrator present his internal monologue, which must have been difficult to present live. I can only imagine all the actors standing, frozen, while Harry mentally lists each article of his guests’ clothing and the specific Diagon Alley shops from which they were purchased.
When the characters actually spoke they seemed to spend most of their time arguing about where they were going out to eat. These arguments would often take place until all the restaurants they wanted to go to were closed.
There were also a few strange interludes where the stage would darken and Harry would step to the front and deliver a ten minute monologue on the merits of Genesis. Yes, the band with Phil Collins. I wondered if this was some sort of inside joke, like when the writers of Avenue Q created a character called Gary Coleman and had him played by Gary Coleman until it went off Broadway, but Phil Collins never actually showed up.
There’s so much more I could tell you but I am physically exhausted from working the midnight release and plowing through the book in the wee hours of the morning. Harry certainly has grown up. From his morning facial care routine to his tedious work out schedule, it’s apparent that he’s no longer bothered by trivial pursuits like snogging Cho Chang. This guy is an animal.
When you get to the scene at Gringotts with the cat, you’ll see what I mean.
On this site, I keep my political opinions to shittily crafted allegorical tales starring children with obvious pseudonyms. My friends know that I have no shortage of crappy ideas about how the world should work, and those are best shat out elsewhere. Thing is, I’m not a political scientist. I’m often wrong, or just as correct as the average guy, which is not correct at all.
This particular political season is doing me in, along with the rest of America, and it is an understatement to say that I am preoccupied. In all actuality I am fucking disturbed and I think that many of you are as well.
I know you are, because I see the pain and fear which often blossoms into rage.
Today while I was ranting, as I do, someone pointed out that perhaps we could focus some of this energy on something we control more than .0000004% of.
This notion is so beautiful in its simplicity. I will expound on it a bit further. How about doing something for someone, anyone, large or small, including ourselves? How about focusing on what we can do now, today, not excepting all those other worries (which are obviously important), but in addition to them?
So here is what I did.
Years ago, during a crisis I have forgotten because there are so fucking many, someone posted a list of reputable charities. I have given to this one before and I thought that today might be a great time to do it again. Here’s the description from their site:
Did you know homeless families now represent the majority of the homeless population of DC? Protect healthy child development and happy childhood memories while children are living in shelter – learn more about the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project at www.playtimeproject.org
So that’s what I did today. Oh, and I spent time with my wife, my children, my in-laws, and my mother. Gina’s folks brought over a huge basket of vegetables fresh from the garden. I prepared lunch. I shared this. After I hit publish, I’m going to play Lego with Cora, or Play-Doh if she insists.
I’m not telling you what to do. I’ve tried that and have thus far been unsuccessful.
There are people, though, who have great interest in getting you to talk about them every waking minute to the point of breakdown, and that’s what I would kindly request you consider not doing. Then, with that sliver of free time, engage in another thing. That’s all.
On Sunday, July 10th, my ex-wife flipped her car with the kids in it. The car was destroyed. They were not.
I have to lead off with this because I’m not going to build suspense with my kids’ lives. Next time, on Talbots in Trouble!
Everyone is fine now, physically at least. The kids still talk about it constantly. The first thing Cora said this morning when I went to pick them up was, “Hey Dad, do you remember when Mom and me and Bea were covered in blood when the car crashed?” I keep telling her that everything is going to be okay.
Everything is going to be okay.
It’s been over a week since I’ve written anything other than shitty Facebook comments. Something has happened to me. I’m fine. Everything is great. I had a nightmare about a cemetery full of bouncy houses, but everything is great.
Oh, I did write a terrible poem about current events, but then more current events happened, as they do, and it seemed like trash after that. I can’t juxtapose pop culture references and violence and act all, “Ha ha! I am the poetry guy coming in from the side to fucking wreck the narrative!” anymore. I’m in this mess like everyone else. I’m filthy with it, but everything is going to be okay. It’s great. I’m great.
The only thing I can do right now is forge ahead. I have to squat and pass this constipated mess and then, maybe, something will come after. Maybe I’ll need to whine more. I can do that too. Everything is going to be great.
Do you want to know what the problem is? I’m here to tell you.
See, I just clicked on an article and read two lines before I applied all my previously held biases, then I got bored by the end of the first paragraph and assumed everything I previously knew to be true, which is that I am correct.
My hundreds of hours of Internet research and thousands of hours lived, raised, and programmed by people who think exactly like I do have led me to this well thought out point: I have solved all the world’s problems with this post on the Facebook wall of a local news station.
Hear me out. I may not have things like experience outside my small town. I may not have “traveled”. I may not have spoken to people who don’t look or act like me except for this one guy! Oh man that guy isn’t like me at all and he loves me! He’s great and he has a girlfriend. Oh man she is from somewhere else and we get along great. I’ve passed muster now. We can talk about this. I am the authority.
Not to mention that I don’t require instruction on these matters. I’m a self-starter, just like my father and his father before him. They toiled the fields and made what they had from nothing! Absolutely nothing. They came to this wide free empty promised land and just took what they needed and made it into something. Why can’t these people do it?
I know these things to be true because I can look around and see that it is so. I have two eyes that work. I graduated high school. Sure, maybe I haven’t read a book about it, or taken a course on it, but how are you doing with that fancy college education? Go ahead and make mine a Venti. No, a Trenta! There you go, smarty pants. Why are you behind that counter and I’m over here, self-made business owner, just like my dad and his dad and his dad? Maybe I know a thing or two.
Bottom line is, guys, I’ve figured this shit out. I’m here to tell you about it and if you don’t like it go home and cry in your millennial lives matter coffee brewing panties. Just because I see something that doesn’t mesh with the other 99% of my lived experiences doesn’t mean I’m going to just change my mind. I bet you wishy washy infants go changing your mind constantly. Is that what you call learning? I call that not knowing how to be the Captain of your ship. I steer this shit straight.
Pardon my French, but it’s just how I feel. You can take it to the bank. My friends like these ideas. So do the fine readers of the KKKK News Facebook Page. Over 150 likes and growing.
Maybe I should take this wisdom to a larger audience. Maybe I should run for city council. Hell, I could be a State Representative.
You may or may not have heard of a band called Belle and Sebastian. They wrote an album, during which they must have been listening to a lot of Velvet Underground. I like that one. There’s another later album that they recorded while they must have been listening to the Beach Boys. That one is pretty good, too.
I am not a music reviewer.
I am also by no means an expert, but I do know what I like to listen to while I sit in my backyard and stare at the sky. It varies, really. Today I started on Carter Burwell’s theme from Raising Arizona, then I tried out “10,000 people sing Ode to Joy” but I wasn’t into it, which is weird because I’m almost always into Ode to Joy. After a certain number of singers, the quality of a choir declines towards the cacophony of crowd noise and that takes something out of it, for me at least.
From there I decided to completely reboot and I jumped around from Lorde to Miley Cyrus to Avril Lavigne. I didn’t finish any of those. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shitting on them in particular. I will sing “Party in the U.S.A.” in the shower and to my kids at bedtime, but today it wasn’t Staring into the Sky Music.
I have come to love my backyard. My shitty, weed-filled backyard. My mother covered about 1/3 of it with plastic and rubber mulch, I covered the other 1/3 with paving stones, and the other 1/3 is nasty, scrubby bare ground spotted with unwanted growth. I need to get some Roundup, again. Bless you, Monsanto. Bless the food, bless the cancer, bless the dead patch in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, but most of all bless my fucking backyard, may I never weed-eat it again.
I’m going to get around to salting the earth and bricking the rest over, I swear, just like I swear I’m going to fix the garage ceiling and the hot water in the downstairs bathroom.
It is good that I have found this refuge. I used to spend hours attempting to work out how to achieve some level of comfort and, sometimes, frisson, because it’s not just relaxation I need. It’s a stirring. Years ago, before I was a father, I spent hours drinking and blasting whatever music I could in an attempt to get that chill. Now, I am sure, I was trying to recreate the feeling of performing for a crowd. I missed it that much, marching on a football field at halftime, sitting on a stage in Toronto or Orlando with a trumpet in hand, standing in a shitty club in Memphis holding a microphone. I thought I could replicate it with substances and sound. Often, I did.
It really doesn’t take that much mental maneuvering, though. I’ve found, after decades of struggle, that all it really takes is a relaxing place and a song. The best time I’ve had recently was blasting the Superman theme by John Williams on my phone, which I have taken to holding to my head like an old transistor radio when I don’t have headphones handy, and flying Beatrix around the driveway with my left arm.
If I live 1,000 years (doubtful) I won’t be able to beat that with a stick.
Life may not be about feeling good all the time, but in my experience, it damn well is about trying to. There are multi-billion dollar industries based on it. I’ve finally realized that when everything starts to crush in on me, work, politics, expectations, it’s time for a song. It’s time to dance. It’s time to press reset and listen to Katy Perry because I’m not too cool to do that, guys.
This isn’t supposed to be advice. Maybe your happy place is listening to Manson, or Whitney Houston, or K-Pop, or 311. This isn’t a defense of music, either. I mean, that happens on its own. I’m not going to tell you how to wipe your ass, either (front to back).
I used to think it was hard to live, but I’ve seen people who actually had a hard time living. Either their hardware breaks before the software does, or vice versa, and that’s all she wrote. It’s usually not hard to wake up every day, and this is coming from a guy whose first words when his left foot hits the ground every single day are, more often than not, sigh “fuck.”
What is hard, to me, is dealing with that shit. Dealing with monotony. Dealing with the world of garbage beyond my control. Dealing with the night, which is dark and full of terrors (thanks, George). In the Church of My Backyard, however, I get to enjoy the combined musical works of humanity and, thanks to modern technology, all I have to do is move my finger.
Sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes everything is ash in my mouth, and that’s the other side. Sometimes all I can do is hold someone and hunker down under the barrage. It passes.
These aren’t instructions. You can’t repeat it. Sorry guys, coupon may only be redeemed once. I’m the guy who doesn’t know anything, remember? I hate to keep including this disclaimer (I know that I know nothing), but it would be reckless not to. I take no responsibility for your happiness or lack thereof. There, my imaginary spiritual attorney is at ease.
From here, though, clinging to this cliff face, I can yodel that it ain’t all that bad. Not nearly. Not today.