Monday, September 26, 2005

My brother tells a story, vol. 46

So I'm in this car with my friends and this obnoxious girl, right? Obnoxious girl is the designated driver and she likes my friend K. K. won't touch her when he's sober but when he's drunk, all bets are off and he lets her glom onto him. She's our designated driver a lot.

So she's driving and I'm bombed and in the backseat. My friend J. has bought some beef jerky, cause he's bombed too. So I take the beef jerky from him and I look for places to hide it in her car. I find these stupid tanning glasses -- you know, glasses you wear in the tanning booth? They're really stupid. I throw them out the window. Then I put the beef jerky in where the glasses were. Then I stuff some in the back of the headrest too.

She didn't find it til the next afternoon. The beef jerky was just baking in her car for 12 hours. I thought it was so funny for like a day -- and then I started to feel kind of bad. But I really do hate her and I wish she'd stop hanging out with us.

Monday, September 12, 2005

city living

Despite the still beautiful weather, I'm finding city living a little dispiriting of late. First there's all the gross shit you see (and smell) on a daily basis: normal, business-suited men masturbating on park benches in full view of small children; dead rats on subway platforms, lying in neat red pools of blood, like they were shot by rival rat gangs or bitten by vampyres; used condoms; birds smashed beyond recognition.

Then there's men. Men everywhere in the city! Can't escape them. Today one, who I had just spent about 30 minutes treating very considerately, remarked, "sweetie, I've been checking out that leather skirt, and I just wanna say, nice." I would have liked to throw him through the plate glass door but since I'm basically a six year old, I said thanks. THANKS. Oh, for the days when male relatives would avenge such a slight, and I mean avenge with a flame-thrower -- or the 19th century equivalent of one.

Why do men say anything to me at all? That's what I want to know. I chalk it up to the babyface. That, I assume, is also why, when men do speak to me (and they speak to me frequently) they call me Sweetie or Honey or Darlin. Maybe, come to think of it, THAT'S why I feel six years old. (But there is, still, undeniably, the babyface.)

And then there's work. Work. The entertainment industry has its own variation of Misery Poker. It's like Seven Card "I had to work over Labor Day weekend for no extra pay so what exactly are YOU complaining about?" Stud.
Which is to say, work has been brutal and no one has any sympathy to spare. I've been reading a lot to take the edge off. When will I graduate to tequila and cocaine, you ask? Any day now, my brother. One more used condom ought to do the trick.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

the myth of progress

Is the idea that the fate of the world moves slowly but inexorably in the right direction a human fantasy? Is it a necessary comfort, like religion? Is it impossible to determine and thus pointless to discuss?

Last night at at my friend Ilana's new brooklyn flat the queer lefty jewish intelligentsia gathered to greet the sabbath queen by eating potluck on the floor with improvised flatware. One girl, who reminded me acutely of a swattie though she wasn't technically one, said in passing that of course she didn't believe in progress. I couldn't believe my ears. At first I teased her, told her that's an unamerican worldview. She didn't crack a smile.

So a conversation commenced. On my side was the notion that Things Get Better. Overall. On average. Look at any numerical figure we have to judge history by: literacy, education, infant mortality and life expectancy. Consider: no nation can now wage war in a vacuum; no individual can own another individual with complete impunity. The world watches now. The still-imperfect world, washed with its own blood, scarcely done recovering from one atrocity before it begins perpetrating another, yes, but the world from which we have all but eradicated polio, invented the internet and sent spaceships to the moon and beyond. How could that not be considered progress? How can you argue, even if you limit the discourse to the past 7000 years of recorded history, that things haven't gotten better?

On the other side were the skeptical faces of the seven other girls in the room. They looked at me like I was western imperialism personified. It was a chilling feeling and eventually I gave up. It seemed good manners to do so: one of the girls had already risen and left rather than (I sensed) say something rude to me.

I was already, going in, on edge because of this book I'd taken out of the library. Some previous reader had recorded his/her outraged reactions to the main character, starting on the first page where s/he added a foreward: "Warning! This book contributes to negative stereotypes about Asian people." I thought of the warning stickers that school board tried to put in textbooks about evolution. This one seemed just as stupid.

The unnuanced marginalia went on to call the main character an idiot and a colonialist bastard; it got increasingly heated and self-righteous as the book progressed. Clearly its author has some issues, not the least of which, to my mind, is his/her appaling sense of entitlement. I don't care how angry you are, you don't have the right to scribble all over a library book! Go write a book of your own pointing out the flaws in Graham Greene but get the hell out of my reading experience.

Ultimately, though, these interactions don't make me feel angry so much as lonely. They throw my lack of community into high relief. I wish you could find community for sale at Target at $9 a yard. I don't know where to look for it exactly as things stand.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Mr. Ben and I diverted ourselves down to Washington DC to see my parents this weekend. They rewarded us with a room of our own, more seafood than we could shake a stick at, even more hugs, and a bag of chocolate truffles that melted on the ride back to NYC.

I'm not kidding about the seafood. My body is, I'm sure, now stockpiled up on protein: lox, chubbs, whitefish (which are technically just chubbs that got bigger), herring, salmon, and best of all freshly and inhumanely killed crabs. Maybe there isn't a humane way to kill a crab and this is my guilt talking, but I personally wouldn't want to be showered with hot spices and then slowly boiled to death. Though at least I could go to my hot-watery grave knowing I was about to taste delicious.

The vegetarians reigned supreme last weekend, since my cousin Pedro and his new wife Sandi were visiting my parents as well and they are cut from the same cloth as Mr. Ben and me. (The cloth smells vagely of tofuti cuties.) We will not eat anything that was once warm-blooded and died for our sakes. We did discuss a bit why none of us are equally bothered by the consumption of fish. My excuse is that when I tried to give up eating fish I discovered it got in the way of religious devotion and community connection. Really! I have only one friend who manages to avoid all culturally mandated Jewish fish-eating and remain a good Jew. It was certainly too difficult for little me.

And once you allow for culturally mandated Jewish fish-eating, you get inhumanely killed and oh-so-tasty hard-shelled crabs too. O, the fringe benefits of consistency.

Two of my friends and one of my brothers are starting law school right now at very different law schools across the country (UW-Seattle, U Arizona-Tuscon, and Georgetown). That's apropos of nothing, really, except that I'm awfully glad Mr. Ben never has to go through that again. And that by "Mr. Ben" and I mean "me." And that clearly my two friends and one brother should be on a reality show. WHO will be eliminated FIRST?