Some fashion notes:
If you did not have a black leather jacket, tight blue jeans, and a Yankees cap, you were not really a young black man in New York City in 2009.
I like to think that it isn't so much that Ed Hardy clothing is popular but more like a lot of decent, hard-working people got sprayed with a high-pressure firehose like protesters at a Sixties civil-rights rally but instead of water, the hose sprayed them with spangled skulls, roses, and tigers holding banners in their teeth.
Girls with long hair, if you are at a loss for how best to be hot, you can always throw on a black knit cap with just a little room at the top. It is a weird thing, but it is pretty much impossible for you to wear something the anonymous bassist in a third-tier grunge band would have wore in a music video in 1993 and not look sah-mokin'. Why not try it today?
There's no such thing as ready
and the three best words
in the Bible
BE NOT AFRAID.
When we discovered there was another Earth, pristine and uninhabited except for plentiful animal and plant life, floating just next to our Earth and hidden from our view since the beginning of time by a light-refracting reality rift, connected to ours via a painless, naturally occurring space-elevator at the North Pole, we sort of lost our shit. All environmental slogans about there being one and only one Earth we had to protect and cherish kind of went out the window. We started fucking this Earth up even more aggressively than we had been, any thin pretense of preservation was gone, because we knew we had another one, totally cherry.
Really really REALLY die-hard environmentalists who were anxious about the pace at which we were destroying the original Earth, concerned we would not slow up when we were left with only the new virgin Earth, had to change rhetoric now that the One-Earth thing wasn't true. So they put forth a “Just Don’t Destroy Planets In General” thing, but it fell on ears deafened by chainsaws roaring in rainforests and the gunning of jet engines retrofitted to sick motorcycles and IEDs going off in meadows where endangered species frolicked, placed there for the stone fuck of it, revenge for making us care about them all those years. We tore up this old world like it was something we’d been doing furtively and in secret all these years that had just been legalized and now we were doing it openly and wantonly in the streets. At the rate we were killing this one, it wasn’t impossible to imagine we would eat up that whole other planet in no time once we moved there, but it really did feel like then we might find another one hovering and cloaked just beyond this new planet, and so on and so on in a chain of gorgeous new homeworlds just for us. It kind of felt like maybe we really were some God’s favored species. It kind of felt like school was out.
When the new Earth turned out to be an alien trap and we all had to flee back to a beshitted Earth-1, we felt really dumb there among the acid seas and garbage continents, and we sort of envied the people who’d been first to arrive on the new Earth and were there to see the brand new fields turn into fire and see the untouched mountains open up and whole platoons of killer alien footsoldiers come pouring out, you know, the people that were dead.
Sometimes I'm not sure they should call it being smart.
Sometimes I think they should call it
a miserable brainfire of neuroses,
an assigned seat in a section where hardly anyone is sitting,
a plexiglass riot shield between you and enjoyment.
Know how I'm able to think of
such an inarguably positive thing as intelligence
in such an overwrought and shitty light?
When you find out you’re going to be the guy to go back into the past with a critical piece of information, you think about it, and you think about it like you think you would. That harried-yet-determined thing that all guys who show up and say “I’m from the future, and I’m here to…” seem to have doesn’t come naturally. No one is just like that, especially not us, most of us are scientists and technicians and things and not given to be overtly theatrical, but it’s not just a movie convention, you do have to be very forceful and commanding and burst in with steam trailing behind you and simultaneously convey that you are not lying or kidding, you really are from the future, and take charge right away. For complex reasons I won’t go into here they almost always have to send you back to right before the thing you are trying to prevent with your actions or critical piece of information happens. Logically, you’d think you’d want time to sort of settle into the past and establish your credibility as a guy from the future and THEN prevent the thing you need to prevent, but it doesn’t work that way. You’re almost always thrust headlong into rapidly unfolding events, and there isn’t much time to prove your time-traveller status with shows of advanced future-tech or things like that, you kind of have to do it all with your voice and your eyes and maybe MAYBE the quasi-futuristic cut of your clothing, though honestly we aren’t typically going back to times where the fashion is all that different. One of my co-workers likes to wear a bandolier of large bullets to send a “I came from a post-apocalyptic wasteland” signal, but it’s really just for show and in actuality it’s sort of deceitful because we aren’t in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, largely thanks to our pastwork.
So when I got drawn to do my first jump, I really psyched myself up. I am the absolute opposite of take-charge so I really had to work myself into a pre-jump frenzy hoping I would hit the past at a real high point, really adrenal and high-strung. It wasn’t enough that I was making my first actual jump, it really wasn’t: I had nerves but not the kind that make you hyperactive or particularly effective. I wished that I could make a running start from here in the present then into the rift and back to the target moment, I wished that you didn’t have to be standing entirely still lest your very being be separated from the timestream and scattered among infinite dimensions. I drank like four cups of coffee. I actually slapped myself. As I stood in the chamber and blue streams of light enmeshed me my last thought in the present was “Shit, my mouth is really dry,” and my first thought in the past was “I should not be thinking about how thirsty I am, I should be charging bullishly into that cloning facility, and I should be shouting all the things we rehearsed,” and I started to do that, and by the time I had my legs underneath me and I was about to hit the double doors I felt like I really had something going, I could really do this, I do not need any futuristic gun props, I will do a lot with posture and emphatic gestures and repetitions of the admittedly too-cutely-ironic phrase “THERE ISN’T TIME!” And that is why when I went through the doors and there before the glowing cloning vats the scientist was standing already being addressed by one of my co-workers, Evan, not the bandolier guy but still not my favorite guy in the office, I was pissed and frustrated and bummed out. I had really worked myself up into something and Evan was already halfway through the same spiel I was about to give, actually doing such a transfixing job that the scientist never turned around when I came in. And when he, the scientist said, “My God, you’re right,” and walked dramatically towards one of the cloning vats Evan looked at me and made a slashing motion across his throat with his right hand, I was doubly pissed because yeah, Evan, I know, I wasn’t going to break the moment, we’ll figure this out later, and I backed out of the doors again very quietly and slumped against the wall in the hallway and reached into my pocket and pressed the little button on the remote that sends a signal rippling through the fabric of spacetime to let my co-workers know that I’m ready to be recalled. I knew I was supposed to stand completely, almost impossibly still but I couldn’t help making my lips move and form the words “Fuck, shit, fucking Evan.” And I thought how sad it would be if I got scattered across all dimensions just because I wanted to swear at Evan under my breath but I had all that energy at that moment and no place for it to go. It turned out to be a paperwork thing. Found that out after I got back to the present and I went and peed for like twenty minutes.
I went to my little brother's high school graduation tonight. He went to the same high school I did, and lots of heavy hitters were in attendance, teachers-who-were-important-in-my-life-wise, though unfortunately I didn't get a chance to say hi to anybody after the ceremony. It rained for precisely the duration of the proceedings, and so crowd reactions to the band's performance and the principal's remarks and the valedictorians' speeches were sort of muted because it's hard to clap when you're holding an umbrella over you and your grandma. It picked up once names started being read, because you're not NOT going to clap for the kid you came to clap for, but it was a dangerous game because once you shift your umbrella to clap you shower you and everyone around you with all that gathered rainwater.
Back in New York tomorrow.
Neat! Someone (Karissa from Dallas) left this on my Facebook wall a while ago, and I forgot to comment on how cool I thought it was, so I will do that now:
"Hey, I have a friend who has been nominated as poet of the year by the International Society of Poets and instead of performing his own work at an open mic event at our old high school, he performed your short story Flyest Police State and it KILLED! Students and teachers alike were rocked and he has been asked to read it to various English classes throughout the school. Just thought that would be a cool thing to know. Keep up the goodness IT'S FUCKIN' GIAMATTI!"
Cool! I encourage people to use my stuff for speech and debate, audition monologues, whatever, just so long as you credit me. Then let me know how it goes!
"SFG" contains the words "Hoboken Poontang Squad," because I am one classy author!
Would you rather the drunk people doing karaoke in the bar underneath where you live be doing terrible obnoxious versions of songs you like, or terrible obnoxious versions of songs you hate? Hearing awful versions of songs you actually like is like watching people you love die: it's profoundly sad but in a romantic way that means there is still right and wrong in the universe. You loved those people. It is sad they had to die that way, but you loved them for a time and they will live on in your memory. Hearing awful versions of songs you hate is like watching people you don't like die: you feel bad in a much more queasy hollow way that is much more disturbing. It's an existential crisis: should you have tried harder to like them? They sucked and now they're dead. Somehow it's bleaker. You just wonder what it's all for.
I'll say this for my friends and acquaintances and pretty much everybody in my circle: when they do karaoke, they freaking try. No one gets up there to just boozily keen. Not everybody is a singer. Barely anyone is. But everyone is trying because you know what? It's fun to try and sing well. People who purposely get up at karaoke and drunkenly howl and waste all of our time are doing so because they think it would be a sin to get caught trying at anything. They want to be told apart from their friends only as much as it's going to take for everyone to go home with a separate person at the end of the night.
Pick something fun and vaguely in your range and fucking go own it. You ARE drunk, right? Your inhibitions ARE low. Instead of using those lowered inhibitions as an excuse to go tank a song (something we could all do stone cold sober), why not use the lowered inhibitions to attempt the bolder, crazier, hotter feat of making an effort? This might be my inner cigarette-y drag queen talking, but: don't get onstage if you're not going to at least pretend to be a star. Y'know?
Electrical storms of fire drills
in nighttime buildings,
like a migraine depicted wreaking havoc
on a computer-generated brain
in a painkiller commercial.
It started as a one-time thing once she realized how close she actually lived to the hookah bar, but pretty soon she was going and getting a hookah by herself almost every night. What made her realize it was at all strange is she realized she had been driving there every night, and once she realized that, and that she could just walk, she did, the next night, the six blocks to the hookah bar, which was called Raj Mahal. She was walking just to save on gas and out of general environmental guilt, it wasn’t like she was getting too drunk to drive. She would get a couple of beers or a couple glasses of wine, but it wasn’t really about that, and somehow the fact that she wasn’t getting REALLY drunk made it that much more depressing: if it were really about the drinking then she could’ve said, “So this is alcoholism,” but as it was, she was just getting exactly too drunk to work on her thesis. The first time it had been, “I am really stressed out, what can I do to relax? I live very close to that hookah bar. I remember from high school that smoking a hookah is very relaxing.” So she had gone and gotten an apricot hookah, and sat at a table, because sitting in the back on the floor among the silks and pillows by herself would’ve been weird, like she was the lonely madam of a shitty harem who had such little business she could wear blue jeans and a fake-vintage Blondie t-shirt and it wouldn’t diminish her mystique any, and she ordered a glass of white wine and then later another one, and the next night when she came back she briefly toyed with the idea of ordering a peach hookah, or maybe strawberry, but she got another apricot one, and from then on she pretty much restricted the variety-is-the-spice-of-life thing to her choice of drink, though it pretty much always vacillated between beer and wine. And always water in the little red pebbled-plastic glasses. She would zone out on the foreign news shows on the little wall-mounted TV, shows she assumed were Indian but didn’t know enough about India to be sure and she wasn’t sure the owners were Indian, necessarily, though she knew it was racist to assume they were and also a little racist to ask. On subsequent evenings the mostly teenage mostly foreign staff would greet her in a way that she would have assumed was special if they had not greeted her that way the first night. It cost about twenty dollars an evening, some money, but not outrageous.
What was really scary was it wasn’t that bad. She knew it was strange behavior and vaguely unhealthy, but the scariest part was that it didn’t really affect anything. She would turn off the TV or close her book and leave her apartment and go down two flights of stairs and walk across the parking lot to the street and then six blocks to the hookah bar, where she would sit and smoke and drink and pay and leave, and walk home, a little concerned about getting raped or murdered, but not unreasonably so. It was exactly that way and it stayed that way until it wasn’t that way anymore.
A bit is something comedians do amongst themselves. Civilians would refer to them as "jokes," but bits are often crazier, more baroque, and much more retarded than any joke. In the car on the way down to DC this weekend, Dominic and Donald and I were doing a bit about Sam Cooke and a mogwai who was shaved, dressed in a suit, and had a human wife and children. The mogwai purchased Sam Cooke from an old Chinese man. It is not important how we got to this place. What matters is that I immediately drew it.
This is maybe my favorite thing I've ever produced. I would really like this image to become the biggest thing on the Internet. Please show it to everyone you know. Context or reasons are not important. What's important is that when you woke up today, you didn't think you would see a drawing of a shaved mogwai and Sam Cooke. But guess what? You did.
I think this is the beginning of a new series called "Bits Illustrated" here on this site. So stay tuned for that.
You think you have seen surreal things in your life, and then you are in the passenger seat of a car in Los Angeles and you haven't slept in thirty-six hours and the song "Unchained Melody" is playing on the radio, except all the words are in Spanish, all the instruments and voices sound more or less the same, it's just it's in Spanish, and you think "that's weird" and then you watch an old lady on a street corner fall out of her walker, and two ladies run to help her up, but they aren't able to get her back in the walker, so your friend pulls the car over and you run out to help the lady, but by that time two or three guys are already there and she seems fully helped, so you get back in the car and you really have to go to the bathroom and the sun is beating down and you say, "Well: what the fuck."