Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The funniest morning commute, ever. Picture it. Skinny little punk girl, wearing a black anarchy t-shirt, studded belt, mullet and camo pants and converse (old or faux-aged?). Her t-shirt was pretty cool, actually. Graffiti font on the front with the big A, and on the back it read "People are not dispensable, government is". She was also reading 1984. I checked around to make sure I wasn't on candid camera, but sadly, this was just harsh reality. People are sad, but mostly their unoriginality is fucking hilarious (and that the intrinsic inviduality of humans is the main tenet of anarchist philosophy makes it funnier) . And I didn't describe the best part. There was another girl in the SAME, my car, standing near little Emma Goldman, wearing the same shirt (it wasn't me). She also had the same ear-cartilege piercing. (They clearly didn't know each other, either). That's when I was sure someone was getting pranked, but I guess it was just the cosmos obliging me with a morning laugh.
Even though this particular government is dispensable, I don't think all governement is. It's perfectly normal to want to destroy the things that oppress you, but I think that's too easy. And statelessness is terrifying. Freedom and equality are necessary to facilitate human progress, but while this progress is predicated on differentiation among individuals within a society, society cannot be defined by personal moral sovereignty. Human nature tends towards egotism, and I don't think we can trust that we will be moved to look and act outside of ourselves by the higher call of sociability. That's taking a lot on trust. Has the functioning of our society given us any evidence of this ultimate altruism of the human spirit? There are still people eating dog food on the street last time I checked. At least they're wearing original Converse. I don't believe in a government that will suppress my civic and personal freedoms and inhibit my expressivity, but I also want a government that will force our *altruistic* asses to pay BIG taxes so we can have roads and the NEA and welfare and hospices and community centers and meals-on-wheels, so we can read 1984 in school, wear black, and tear everything down again.
So what's the difference between an anarchist and a libertarian? Other than the obvious libertarians-have-small-dicks difference, there are quite a few. Like anarchists tend to be smart and well-read, except they come with explosives and goatees. Libertarians can't seem to escape the I fuck my sister in a wooded Michigan utopia stereotype. I once had an argument with a libertarian (weird, because I usually try to avoid eye contact) about welfare and taxation. Never the twain shall meet, right? Except when you're drinking. I suppose anarcho-capitalist is maybe a better term because he spun some sort of fairy tale about voluntarily-funded institutions (competing businesses) taking over the role of taxation. Yawn, fantastists are boring. So, other than finding out that Christian fundamentalists love the Jayhawks, apparently the freedom to trade, a free-market economy and owning personal property should be our only inalienable rights. I suppose they just shoot people who fall by the wayside. People who rent, smoke weed, can't build fences and hang out in museums, have illnesses or were born into or fell into poverty. Scum, all of them. Anarchists sound warm and fuzzy in comparison, right?
So remember, when deciding between extreme political ideologies (like most of us do over our lunch hour), think about the things that matter to you. If you think white men need to get richer, that's cool. Vote Republican. If you think white men need to get richer and feel guilty about it, vote Democrat. If your inalienable right of choice is tax-free flannel (how come libertarians look so damned dishevelled and dirt poor if they're capitalists at heart, anyway?), don't vote, hole up in your cabin and dream about secession, you wooly-haired hearbreaker. And if you like throwing acid on World Bank-ers and and hating liberals, you can't vote because Bush has taken your criminal, anarchist ass off the voter registration rolls, so eat your kasha and start a Tom Morello fansite.
I know good criticism shouldn't be reductive, but should provide constructive advice and promote new thinking and creativity. But I'm lazy, so I just read a lot. La vraie bombe c'est le livre, right? I'm afraid of the police and hate crowds, so I won't protest. I haven't done a tour of New York's socialist landmarks (worst date ever, by the way), I think that System of a Down is funny, and feel very sad about Dennis Miller's life-change. I'll probably buy an SUV, start wearing Cherokee belts and join a book club later in life, but I'm not there yet.
P.S. How hot does Milton Friedman look in this picture, by the way?
Posted by ymathew at Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Monday, August 22, 2005
Wow, it's been a week. Let's see, what's new? Moms against Bush, Gaza, Nate is dead, they're all dead, some good movies and more bad movies opened and closed (I still haven't seen 2046, I know, I'm ashamed, pickle). I'm a bit bored at work, and I was bored at home. Everything seems the same and it seems like it always be that way...
Clearly, in the dumps (summer cold). When feeling this way, I've been told that one should pick a small good thing and focus on it. Okay. I'm listening to this rocking song "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" ( not that they need more buzz or anything, but for other songs, not this one: http://www.clapyourhandssayyeah.com/shows.php ) . It's pretty unintelligible, with the hipster keening and all, the sky holds the wind, sun rushes in...but it's making me feel better. A lot. I kind of feel like dancing, actually. And those of you who really know me will know that this is not implausible. Thank the healthy strain of manic in my gene pool. I'm still sniffly and I left my crack-like cold medicine at home (Coricidin Cough and Cold, apparently used more often recreationally than for cold-cureness. I highly recommend it.) but I'm going to take my booty-shaking mood and go out for the night.
So about music and its central role in my life. A la Rob Gordon, I can map out eras of my life with music, in 30 seconds. Leaving home: nine inch nails, obviously. freedom: pulp. love:elvis costello. loneliness:wilco, whiskeytown, obviously. nervous breakdown: one ash song on repeat for 6 months, you don't do sensible things while having a nervous breakdown... add alcohol and garnish for effect. Is that supposed to be hard?
I can't do the same thing for literature, not that my tastes haven't changed at all, but I think there's something less casual about one's relationship to literature. Maybe music plays somewhere in the background of our life and books are the underpinnings, or touchstones. My dad and I bonded over books when I was little, and even though he was fairly judgmental about what I read (my harlequin romance phase at age 13 didn't help things any) and he tried to 'suggest' authors to me (I will never read John Irving), he did teach me that books are where it's at. I used to go to the library with him every Saturday, from the age of about 6 or 7 until I was about 14 and take out a stack of books. And then I would cocoon myself in my room for the rest of the day, in bed, reading. Blissed out. I didn't know I was a nerd yet, so I was just happy.
The very first time I travelled to New York by myself, I took the Chinatown bus and found myself somewhere under a bridge with a suitcase and a dream...kidding. I was really lost in Chinatown, though. I wandered down East Broadway, getting more and more flustered, bought a soda and had a cigarette and landed in front of the Chatham Square branch of the New York Public Library. This is the biggest afterschool special story ever (minus the cigarette), but I went in, grabbed a book, sat down with some homeless people and felt better. Instantly. So there you go, I'm easy to please. For my enjoyment, I choose escapism all around, rinse and repeat.
Posted by ymathew at Monday, August 22, 2005
Monday, August 15, 2005
So, my eyes are 'fine' now. I had a dry patch on my left eye. I know, it sounds like I made it up. But it's pretty common, and even though I know that, I spiralled into a frenzy of hypochondriac whining and generally made myself intolerable. But remember, it's me. I have had a rogue eyelash that punctured my eye and created a hematoma on my cornea. I've had pinkeye and allergic conjunctivitis and once, I scratched my cornea so badly that I had to wear the pirate patch for two weeks, during summer school calculus (I didn't fail, remember, it was to boost up my shameful 89% to 96%? I guess my pirate patch was the least of my problems back then (but you will be glad to know that smartypants did fail organic chem, magnificently, two years later in university)). And when I'm forced to wear my glasses, I'm rocketed back to when I was 12 years old, with glasses and headgear, to the year of the UGLY, the year that we moved to the suburbs, the year I got my period, glasnost, the year I fought to shave my legs and lost, the year I protested Thatcher's reelection and lost, etc. I was very busy, but also, very ugly. Glasses, shudder, eau de Reagan. But everything is fine now (Reagan's still dead) and I celebrated with sushi, seaweed salad and minimal work done this afternoon.
I also saw a man sitting on a standpipe (the MTA standpipes that I ripped my pants on, remember?) masturbating, on 23rd street in front of Wendy's. I guess I wasn't the only one celebrating today.
Instead of doing my waist-high pile of laundry tonight, I am going to have pizza at Franny's, I think. I tried to go to L & B's this weekend, but it was overrun with fat men with fanny packs and fat women with eggplant boobs coming back from the beach. Pizza is verboten in my vocabulary, but today, the masturbator inspired me. Grab life and don't let go. Wring every bit of enjoyment you can out of it. And if that includes having sex with oneself on a piece of MTA hardware, it definitely includes pizza.
Posted by ymathew at Monday, August 15, 2005
Saturday, August 13, 2005
So, it's Saturday and I'm at work. If I don't let myself get weirded out by the ghostly grey cubes, I think I love it here by myself on the weekend. No big surprise that I'm happiest when alone. I can play my music without headphones (listening endlessly to interpol lately, they were even playing it at Tilly's this morning, seems everyone is feeling a bit like knives and drowning and tight black suits) and curl up in my chair. And read about a dead general. Seems appropriate.
I wandered around the city yesterday after work, bringing me to my next promised topic, tattoos. I went to Barnes and Noble to look for Jane Caplan's (teaches at the alma mater of Despair) Written on the Body (almost as interesting as the novel) to read about the cultural history and anthropological theory of tattooing. Well, it was fascinating. Tattoos have been punitive, sacred, emblems of ownership and slave-branding, masochistic and decorative. There's even a Greek amphora depicting a maenad with a thrysos in one hand and a tattoo on the other arm (forgot the date). Darwin wrote about tattooing as a global, eternal human practice, and King Harold II's body was supposed to have been identified on the field of battle by the tattoo on his chest of his sister's name and 'England'. Very cool of him, and considerate too.
People get them for any number of reasons, and I think mine is that I feel I'm really an adult now (how sad that it took 30 to get me to admit that). My first job (don't be jealous of my freewheeling life), my first office, my dabbling in an American life, my first business card, falling in love with this city, living in a shoebox with strangers (fucking stop leaving your dishes in the sink), paying (or not paying) my student loans back, and generally joining the teeming hordes of workaday-life people should be commemorated in some way. Imagine what I'll get when I fall in love again and have a kid. I'm going to be that gross, sagging and inked mom that my bright and shiny, clean-living, preppy child is going to be so embarrassed of. And I can't promise that I won't wear cut-off Molson's tshirts and hot pink heels either.
I will not be swayed by a hot tattooist to get a giant coi fish sleeve tattoo on my arm (though they can be very beautiful), or to add tons of color and a few grinning skulls (though that's cool too). I think it's going to be a slinky dragon on my right ankle/lower leg. What do you all think?This is Apala, an Indian dragon that converted to Buddhism, tried to convert the other dragons who blew him off, and ended up converting humans. I think it's fitting for my soapboxing self.
Posted by ymathew at Saturday, August 13, 2005
Thursday, August 11, 2005
So, everyone I know has a blog. The most boring people I know have a blog. Being equal parts boring and pompous, I decided I should give it a try. I think funny things happen to me, I see strange things all the time, and spend a lot of time alone thinking about things, so I'm going to inflict all of this on the void. Who will even read this? Maybe I'll do the ultimate, alienated New York person-who-has-lost-touch-of-what-is-real-and-true-in-the-world thing and ask my nearest and dearest to update themselves on my life by checking out my blog. That's the ticket!
My plan is to go topical. Whatever catches my fancy, like that moronic new radio station. If I feel like writing about fashion theory today, then I will. Actually, I do. That, and the use of pink as a feminist issue.
the pink manifesto
Being femme is not giving in to sexism. I had a professor at the Unnamed College of Despair who told us that when she was a struggling graduate student, she didn't have time to do her nails, she was too busy contributing to the field of Despair Studies. I guess she did so, in her boring, conservatively structural textual critical kind of way. But why did she have to deny herself a pedicure?
Same thing with my book cover. One of our designers did a book about women in shocking pink. He's a genius, by the way. Well, I couldn't even see straight through the shitstorm of twittering old political scientists who could not believe that a book about women and by women, in this day and age, should be pink. The editor was similarly upset. Even though I did make my opinion known, the cover is now a suitably pukey colour (the designer is a vengeful genius).
The moral of the story? You have to take those 'feminine' things, those 'feminine' stereotypes and rework them so they work for you. Why should we stick to any one rigid form of femininity? I wear pink all the time (it's my favorite way to break up black), I wear lipstick and most importantly, I'm not a self-loathing feminist who has to diminish other women to validate my own life. We should decorate our beautiful selves however we want to, because beauty is not frivolous or trivial. So glory in your birkenstock-wearing, bowl-haircutted, wooden-bead-necklace-sporting, labrador retriever-owning beauty, and I will keep my purple toenails. Pace.
oops, I forgot about fashion theory. Inspired by another genius friend of mine, I started reading about fashion, about the body and its clothing as a springboard for discourse. I actually miss graduate school sometimes.
On that note, an obvious cry for help, Lord Leighton's Acme and Septimius gets to grace my first posting because its a beautiful illustration of my favorite postmodern Catullan love poem. Next time I'm going to talk endlessly about plans for my new tattoo. I love my selfish life. Other people my age are saving money, getting knocked up, (except you don't call it that when you want to get pregnant) and buying houses. I, on the other hand, will sing to my cat and get a tattoo.
Septimius, holding in his arms, Acme
Says "Acme my dearest dear,
I love you desperately and am prepared to die
If it's not forever, for all the days of my life,
If I lie, give me to a lion on the desert sands."
He spoke, and there was a love-sneeze
Somewhere as approval in the trees.
Now Acme lightly flicking back her hair,
And pouring kisses on the dear boy's eyes,
Kisses from that soft, vermilion lip of hers,
"My dearest love, Septimy, let us serve
The lord of Love forever, for I feel
Deeper even that you, this strong desire
Burning in my bones, in my deepest being. "
Love again sneezed in the trees, approvingly.
From this good beginning they proceed evenly
Loving and loved together, her he sees
Finer than any lady in this whole wide world,
She has eyes and soul for him alone, in him
She fashions all her dreams of love and fantasies.
Now tell me, have you ever seen anywhere
A better match, a more perfect love affaire?
Posted by ymathew at Thursday, August 11, 2005