RIGHT

Social media is a great place to catch yourself saying stupid shit you chastise other people for saying — if you’re into catching yourself.

Some of us are not.

I’ve been on the receiving end of marginalized ire (rightfully) when I’ve (admittedly) appropriated a piece of culture or misused perhaps either optic or verbiage for the sake of portraying myself in a certain progressive light. Often then, I find myself pushing the agenda even further or laying on the ally-hood real real real thick.

Anyone that’s ever read any of my stuff before knows that I also love to hate on whites and hate on mens.

Both of which I am.

Ultimately, though, that’s all just a way of continuing to recuse myself from being an accomplice to overt, as well as covert, oppressions we [“we” meaning “whites“; “we” meaning “mens“] seem compelled to continually perpetrate on, well, y’all.

It’s also a way of recusing myself from being a white man.

Which, like I said, I am.

So, when I drop a dank meme for trans rights apropos nothing relative to me, and I get called out by someone who has a horse in the race, I gotta ask myself, “Why did I just do that?” What are the motivations behind the words (read: tweets) and, more importantly, if faced with a scenario in which I had the opportunity to stand up for a trans person’s rights in real life, would I do it?

I’d like to think so.

Some white men are great about that. Others ain’t. And others think that dank memes are enough. So when I come back around to that reality laid bare — reality oftentimes couched in the context of a Twitter feed which, yes, I understand, is decidedly not reality (nor is it really laid bare) — I have to ask another hard question: “How much of an ally am I?”

Which brings me to Ghostbusters. Or Star Wars. Or, I dunno, Doctor Who? No, no no. Not true. I mean none of what I said should bring me to any of those, but I’d like it to bring me to Goodfellas.

Or maybe not bring me, but maybe help me arrive at Goodfellas.

It’s all actually first going to bring me to a metaphor of a pendulum, and I apologize for the non sequitur here, but imagine a pendulum, OK?; a pendulum constantly on another upswing before it dives back in the opposite direction of the arc. Forever and ever, which a pendulum will do because a pendulum, although having no real motivation and relying only on the laws of physics, can still somehow be active and reactive.

OK, now back to Goodfellas.

Man do guys like Goodfellas! And Van Halen. Or Bob Dylan and Rocky II and camouflage pants and light beer. And they like to like themselves so much for liking those things so much that they cannot conceive of someone else not liking them.

They cannot conceive of someone thinking (read: being) different than them, a phenomenon commonly referred to as “prejudice.”

And some of the very progressive interpretations of any of these aforementioned “things” — i.e. Ghostbusters, i.e. Star Wars — has boiled a lot of that prejudice to commonplace. Particularly on social media.

OK, now onto something else seemingly unrelated! —

Look, let’s get this out there: I don’t care what Martin Scorsese said about comic book movies because firstly, honestly, who gives a shit, and secondly, honestly, I don’t understand what the fuck that even means.

My only thing is: I just hate he said it. Like, at all. Like, don’t miss an opportunity to say nothing, Martin. You know what I’m saying?

And what’s more is I think he shouldn’t have said it, and I hate even more the legions of sycophants that came to his very unnecessary aid, defending his legacy as filmmaker.

Which has nothing to do with a person’s ability to say stupid shit they shouldn’t say, by the way.

But apparently a lot of us somehow believe that correlation, and we love a different correlation and we love to just deride people about that correlation: that somehow hating that Scorsese said a thing means we hate Scorsese.

Or that we think his movies are bad.

Or that it’s an intent to discredit him.

Is it?

No! Of course not! Goodfellas is sick! Casino is bomb! Fuckin’ Last Temptation of Christ mothefucker! I mean, Godfather II, amiright?

Just kidding, nerds. I know Coppola made Casino.

But this is how shit goes down all the time. And then, the defensive get offensive, and the debate takes on this sinister mutation when the arguments “against” being anti-Martin Scorsese excuse the Martin Scorsese for saying the very Martin Scorsese-y thing because, hey, look, it’s the “Martin Scorsese” and the Martin Scorsese can “say what it wants,” which is just a permutation of it can “do what it wants,” and I don’t think I should have to outline what a very dangerous privilege (oh boy, there’s a word) to give anyone.

At all.

So, first, let me say Martin Scorsese has made movies I like very much. He’s also made movies I didn’t. And the thing of that is: it doesn’t matter either way. What I think doesn’t have to have any bearing on what you think. And just because Martin Scorsese is Martin Scorsese and said the word “cinema,” that doesn’t matter either way also.

What Martin Scorsese perceives, say, the movie Avengers: Endgame to “be” doesn’t matter. And it shouldn’t matter. But, of course, if it does matter, for example, to you (“person who thinks Scorsese is infallible” jkjkjk) then that’s just great. That’s fine by me. Because? That’s right: none of that matters either.

The fact of the matter is: in the aftermath of Martin Scorsese dropping #truthbombs on the comic book moviegoing public, I, personally, have not found myself enjoying comic book movies less just because of that little dose of Martin Fucking Scorsese.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t still watch Taxi Driver and enjoy that too (just in case that’s the illogical trip-wired ergo counter-argument bullshit you were about to perpetuate).

And you know what even else???

If you don’t like Avengers: Endgame or Taxi Driver then… shit, man, what the fuck is wrong you? Just kidding! That’s fine too! You like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Fucking awesome, people are gonna have a lotta thoughts on that, but good news: NONE OF THAT WILL MATTER EITHER.

A side note, though: Martin Scorsese is Martin Scorsese, which is fine, but he says this very particular thing about a very specific subset of products in a very fickle industry — an industry that he has, of course, worked hard to succeed in, but also substantially benefitted from — and I think it’s just a shitty thing to say.

I know that doesn’t matter either, but rising tide and all boats and all that, man.

Another side note: what really put me over the edge was the fact that Scorsese had to go publish a NYT op-ed to “explain what he meant” by the comments, and then what he meant was just the comment all over again but whilst also being like “cinema.” Whew! That, my friends, is A white man move of white man moves (and, I mean, so is domestic terrorism but when white men do it we don’t call it that).

So anyway, ps, Martin, loved The Departed, BTW. But, seriously, for real. Shut the fuck up.

You know what else? None of this matterseither. Like, what I’m saying. This — any of it. It doesn’t matter. You know what does? That you like Martin Scorsese. I hope you do.

What matters is that there’s any kind of change or progress whatsoever anywhere in this world. In small matters, and in big ones. In discourse. In how we exchange ideas. It matters that we move away from where we’ve been and go somewhere we haven’t.

The bummer is — and if you’ve seen the recent Golden Globe nominee announcement, you know what I’m saying is true — a lot of times, we don’t do that.

So, back to the pendulum.

The pendulum swings, and it will always swing because, well, gravity, I guess. But I’m not a scientist so *shrugs*. I just think that the pendulum — and it’s just my opinion and, therefore, doesn’t matter — is at its best when it’s at its reference point.

That’s the lowest part of the arc. Where it strikes a balance. That’s the quotient of act and react. That’s its sweet spot.

Unfortunately, it never stays there for long.

 

 

2019

Largely, I think poetics are bullshit. Granted: narrative, stories, the oral tradition (which loses its luster when you can’t hear me say it with a haughty affect) — all helped shape the anthropological imprint of civilization.

But, I’m sorry, “story” also fucked up a lot of shit.

I mean, for one it’s carved out prejudice and misconception. Story was the blueprint for religion — not faith, BTW, but religion. And it still today continues to influence the way in which we perceive fact, which is why we have the government we do. Or why Germany during the early part of the 20th Century had the government it did.

And, look, this isn’t a hot take; I’m not trying to draw fire. I’m a writer. I love “writing.” I love writers and stories. I love TV, film, literature. Social media’s #writingcommunity has been a great leviathan of support for many writers as it’s blossomed over the course of the last year.

The problem, for me, with story, is: it affects the way in which we view real life.

Our real lives.

A year and a month or so ago, my life, as I knew it at least, sort of, blew up.

My wife and partner of almost ten years asked for a divorce. Instead of dealing with it, I fled; threw a bunch of shit in a bag, threw that bag into the trunk of a car, and drove that car three or four hundred or whatever miles through the desert to Northern Arizona.

This is all a subject for another post — even though all these posts will be to a certain extent about *this* subject — so I don’t want you to think I’m glossing over things when I say that it was all kind of a blur up to a point. A big part of coping is just trying to stay rolled up inside a reality vacuum — avoiding influences that could trigger you, riding a wave of numbness that settles in when the brainbody decides anxiety and grief has taxed it out. Utilizing whatever numbing agents are available —

Ambien. Tito’s. Xanax if you’re lucky.

But, then, at some point, there are choices to make.

And, listen, for edification: none of these choices will be bad, per se, but all of them will probably be made to, for lack of a better term, “serve a narrative.”

I’m sorry to be presumptuous here, but I’m just going to call it for the sake of my point when I say that the choices we make (in the scenario of being grief-stricken or, really, any other) will always be intended as a segue into a “next act.”

I lasted almost six months in Arizona, cobbling together income from freelance jobs I could barely survive on. In February, I drove through Death Valley to the Sierras to live in Mammoth Lakes, California (meant as a “first step” into the “giant leap” of re-entry into Los Angeles, where I’d lived for over a decade). That lasted only a week until a blizzard crippled the county, and I got snowed in at a ramshackle bungalow in Bishop, forty minutes down mountain, where there was little to do but drink and realize that the answers I was looking for certainly weren’t there. In May, then, I moved to Brooklyn, New York, where I lasted the duration of the year before the pace got to me — this timeline excludes a two week expedish to Australia during which I learned the benefits of microdosing mushrooms (also a story for another post), as well as several quick trips back and forth to the Southwest to visit family, and LA.

Throughout, I made a few big-scope choices, and several smaller-scope ones, in an attempt to catalyze a moment when everything would finally change for me; when my life would take that ninety degree turn — as it had seemingly done once already, although change comes quicker when shit falls apart than when it’s getting built back up) –and suddenly I’d be on a whole new trajectory.

Suddenly, it would be good again. Suddenly, I’d have my resolution. Suddenly, it would be time to smile bemusedly at a kid, or a puppy or an animated hot dog, or Zooey Dachenel.

Fade out as credits roll.

Disagree? There are movies about this. And TV eps. And books. And essays and articles and memes. And songs and tomes and faith and belief and opinion, all based on this. And they all chronicle a moment when a “hero” is on the other side of “hard times.”

But that’s not how it works.

An Internet post I really like was written by a guy enduring a breakup. And it was about grieving, and hurting, and questioning whether or not you mean anything to the world. And it follows his journey of getting into shape — emotionally via physically — and a gradual return to self-respect and self-love. It’s really powerful, and I think it exemplifies the pattern of a real life journey because it unfolds in a natural stream of causes and effects — i.e. very “This and then this and then this and then this happened,” you know, like it does. But then at the end of this post it all still comes to a fine point; it all proceeds through a climax and into a denouement. And right at the last sentence, it captures a pivotal moment of reemergence into the world, wherein the narrator — transformed now into this new version of himself — works up the courage to ask out the “cute girl” at his gym.

All the suffering from the begging pays off at the end. And so, then, that’s an “end.”

But there is no end; there’s never an end. And things are rarely clear cut, or add up, or pay off. In the long run. For example, over the last year I’ve had breakthroughs. And I’ve had breakdowns. I’ve made choices that led me far from where I’ve been, and then I’ve found myself right back where I started. I struggled alone. I struggled with family. I struggled with friends. I struggled through therapy. I numbed myself out. Got high. Got wasted. Sobered up. Then, did it all over again.

Some days, I climbed mountains. Others, I sunk in the mud.

Because “This and then this and then this and then this and then this happens” is all that happens. Forever. Forever and ever til we’re dead.

The reality is: we’re just trying to figure out how to reckon with this very moment.

Right now I’m in Colorado. I’m almost 40, and I stay with my parents, near my sister, niece. Most days are generally good. Some aren’t. Money’s not great. Yet. But it’s not bad either. I’m working on maintaining some old things, and trying to build some new.

I’m really just trying to figure out how to reckon.

Which means that sometimes I’m aware of that ebb and flow, and I know that loads of potential is packed into the unknown like the compressed space of a black hole, and anything might be possible in “the tomorrow” of it all, and that the only constant in this reality is change.

But sometimes —

Sometimes I just want to slip back into the program — like, total reversion — and indulge in the belief that the scene is about to come to an end and the choice I make or action I take or declaration I proclaim will set me off down some brand new plot line that ends with me, in a Firebird T-top, cruising toward the horizon, burying the needle — cue the music! — and I want to believe that the montage or the finale is coming, and the end is here, or that this is just where the night is darkest, but it’s going to be sunrise in the next frame.

It’s comfortable there. In that mindset — that “movie of your life.”

Because it would be so much easier to just know there is an answer for everything; that it’s just going to get revealed in the very next scene. You know?