3/20/2023 0 Comments
Material by Kenning JP Garcia
sick jokes stick to the roof of the mouth. can taste it again and again. preferable to some other tastes, to be honest.
come shining and shy. be mismatched in existence for the sake of a sound. a series to go with the entrance as silence will be all there is for the exit.
ancient and reckless. nothing left to lose. everything important already fell off.
there's always nowhere else to be. then there's here and now in West Bubbafuck with two options not to choose from but two options are given anyway. two options are always available as options but not really as choices. there's a difference but only in the dialect of this land.
this place is somewhere and it doesn't matter. not much these days.
the sun is restless. relentless. never takes the hint. will bark up every tree and write home about all the wrong ones. there are situations to be in and situations to leave. live by the situation and die by the situation but leave a beautiful corpse. a supernova of a dead star.
in the mean time, Mars loves Venus.
and the telescopes all sing sad songs.
the maps go back to telling stories even though the globe has no sense of humor.
the truth is no better than the lies but it's more affordable. the truth is a lie bought from the clearance rack. so last season.
running on empty is just second nature which just a-okay since first nature wasn't any good anyway.
always check the expiration date.
don't drink the water.
tip the bartender.
tomorrow should be clear skies and warm weather. a high in the lower highs. t-shirt weather for some and a hoodie for others. wearing a heart on a sleeve will never be a good look but when in Rome take a vacation in Sicily or get out of the country. see the world.
Utopia is up ahead and the Land of Nod is a couple more exits down the road. almost is never almost enough. should've left the backseat back in the Elysian Fields. should've picked up some more sorrows for later in the Garden of Gethsemane.
hey, what's the big idea? how does one get off? where does one get the gall? well, dear inquisitor, the gall is coming from a sentence that can finish itself as any good sentence should. communication is not a fucking mystery to be solved even if there are a million questions to be asked between the subject and the verb.
inside out. the wrong way fits as a glove could if and only if one did what one was accused of doing.
eventually eventually every boat sets sail if it is a sailboat and the sail has been hoisted and somebody puts it out on a body of water. a boat won't venture out on its own. of its own free will. now, accidents happen. tides pull and winds push. things have a way of getting loose.
sooner or later are not opposites. the opposite of sooner is surprise and the opposite of later is never. or not the opposite but an equal force exerted upon a moment to come in one's mind that has yet to arrive if ever an arrival will come.
hyperbole is always so much funnier in private.
it's not 4 in the morning. it's a quarter to one in the afternoon. stomach growling but also should've been in bed at least an hour. work hard enough every night just to afford to stay up late into the day doing not a goddamn thing. show up every shift to be able to pay for all this stupid daydreaming. to be so fortunate as to have a window and be close enough to somewhere with some wifi.
when will people stop dick riding intuition so fucking hard? oh well, maybe sensation gets its rocks off by just watching. who knows? that sort of knowledge is never really known. it's more felt or maybe more thought of and about but rarely confirmed and once that is added to one's own personal bias, shit starts getting political. instincts and the innate are big talking points. nature is debated. especially human nature. so then the political comes back for revenge upon the personal and one can see that shit clearly now the rain has gone.
can see all the obstacles in the way. gonna be a fight fight fight in a money-minded kind of way.
when the shadow can't find Jung to explain itself to where does it go for advice? Kristeva maybe. wait, is Kristeva dead?
don't want to send anybody to meet the Maker before the bell has actually tolled but then again, that coast is always clear. smooth sailing into the next world. a harbor is sure to be found somewhere.
words are failures. the tag team partners of the imagination. put into a submission hold. tapped out. uncle. mercy. by God, stop the match.
redemption is a punchline. aspirations are the setup. there is no applause. there are blank faces. sometimes a narrative arc just bombs. reality rarely kills but every day is a funeral.
nothing ruins a good day the way that sharing a good time with the wrong somebody else does. maybe one should just be grateful. maybe but it's not gonna happen. at least not today.
appreciation can be so meaningless sometimes.
a memory is a jealous twin. only one half of what has been born into this world from one's own mind. the other half of this Athena-esque chimera is experience who is not jealous but is an actual imposter. nothing honest ever happens. there's no bigger con artist than existence. but damn what a fine fucking huckster. never oversells the show. just let's the acts and attractions be all that needs to be said to get a buck. every soul deep down is just begging to be a mark. every spirit is the antithesis of the fakir. every essence, every aura just wants to give it all away but not as a form of charity or to get closer to the divine but simply to disappear and see what that means. see if that has some kind of a value.
high and mighty but long gone. high and mighty due to being long gone.
oh, nobody believes this nonsense. nobody is buying this. this is another scam. it has to be one big act. a routine. a real laugh riot. well, a riot at least. this is not a peaceful resistance. this is not non-violent. distractions are not meant to keep the peace. no sleight of hand is here to uphold the status quo. tricks are the one surefire way to change the world. or at least to question it in a lasting way. the empirical has to be put on trial constantly. make everything unbelievable. the only thing that can be proved is the absurd.
one has to kick the serious cold turkey. go through withdrawal for a bit. check in to a rehab. join a support group. get over what makes perfect sense. let go of so many explanations. but maybe, come up with some new ones.
be new. but don't ever think that one can be original. be reborn. be an afterlife. be undead. be nothing. that would be new.
the greatest lie the truth ever told was that it exists. no, that's a lie. the truth is, the truth exists but it has a bad memory. bad not as in forgetful but bad as in villainous. so sympathetic but so misguided.
is this a cop out? and is that any better or any worse than selling out?
it only takes 5 minutes to write 5 years of new work. everybody knows that. well, not to write it write it but to think it think it. some work is invisible. some products are also. not everything comes with a hard copy. a thought is a year in the making. not a year but time works differently in different places. gravity affects time. this is both scientific and absurd but there's no reason to talk about time. time does enough talking but never enough thinking. anyway, the point is meant to be missed. nobody wants to get to a point. the point is the end and who wants to be on the wrong end of the end? there are lots more questions to ask the point but nobody here in these thoughts is an investigative reporter so it makes sense to ease up on the questions a bit.
no hurry, just wander. that's the problem with problems these days, there are only two reasons to end up in these situations: 1) thoughts and 2) feelings. but, these situations aren't problems that ever needed a reason. the maze has always been here. the city was built on it. the maze is a graveyard for some and a harvest to be had for others. a game of hide and seek for some and a stroll in the woods for others. it's haunted but maybe also fun. it's not welcoming but one is invited in. look, a story is not meant to be seen, especially not its ending. it's to be understood or felt but to be felt brings one back to reasons and problems and that's a threat. understanding also leads to thoughts or arose from thoughts and what is one to do with that line of thinking, that reasoning? the maze is more innate. the teller or the tale needs to follow this lead but also take the lead even if every story told is a tale being retold and really one maze and only really one maze was well-known for its relationship to a thread.
"... metaphor can also be irresponsible, especially when an image shares its territory with a strongly held belief." (Claire Cronin – Blue Light of the Screen: On Horror, Ghosts, and God)
dream logic? perhaps, dream bullying or dream legislation. the law and order of dreams. the protect and serve of the subconscious over the conscious as most readily understood in night terrors.
spent too long looking for a shirt that was never found yesterday. it's still irritating and will be until it is found. spent the morning looking too long for a piece that was clearly labeled as opposed to most other pieces in these diaries. may tomorrow come with no looking for anything.
one does not need to have courage to face repetition. one needed to have had courage or one needs to eventually obtain courage. repetition will always catch up to where one is or where one has been.
"... the tape runs on in silence." (Samuel Beckett – Krapp's Last Tape)
is this a conversation? no, it's a routine. ah, could be worse. could be a piece. could be material. could be a stanza. it's a miracle. but still not happy to be here. yes, here. right now. but such is the curse of a miracle.
the best writer in the world is no longer writing. the second best is. the best living writer in the world is dead. the second best pulled the trigger and wrote the best-selling eulogy.
could just sleep this life away. and dreams are made of emotion. flirt with the counterfeit, elastic eyes, telescopes and microscopes. be released from outtuition (?), the extuition (maybe) of the everyday. the world swirling around in the know. the rumors, the gossip, the deja vu for some and the jamais vu for others. a feeling on the street. a thought on the tongues of loiterers and passers-by. nothing on the inside can help in a situation such as this so better to be a bore. say nothing. be of no interest. return to the underworld. look back and keep on looking back.
OK, how else can it be explained? never mind. some things are easier done than said.
it's a miracle. it's a miracle. it's bullshit. shut up. shut up. silence. stop talking. shut the fuck up. just kidding, nigga. there's nobody else here. it's just a one on one. a one in one. a hole in one. an ace. a tête à tête in one single tête. hand in hand and out of pocket.
and dreams are made of emotion.
wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey. winner, winner, chicken dinner.
it's a miracle.
cute little dog there but hold on, could've been George Washington in a past life. nice cat, could've been Anne Oakley. pet reincarnation. find out more about all sorts of furry friends. lazy puppy, could've been Marcel Duchamp. the bird won't stop squawking, maybe Marcel Proust. never hear a peep out of that goldfish? perhaps Marcel Marceau. what human beings were these companions?
what's on next? hopefully another commercial. need to pretend. no disbelief to suspend. just follow the plot to its happy conclusion.
the weird used to be tied to the wayward but now it's not and that's why it's not what it once was. would prefer the askew. that which is just off. whether by a little or a lot, it's never on the level.
things are always different but tomorrow will be mostly more of this same shit. all of this time and all of this money. all of these miles in uncomfortable shoes wasted on nothing altogether new but not exactly more of the same old same old.
this text was supposed to be engaged with another text by now but the other text turned down the proposal.
and the tape plays on in silence.
shut up. shut up. shut the fuck up. shut up. shut up. silence.
it's a routine. what would the dead sea do? leave room for mistakes. but make it all float. not just the cream deserves to rise to the top.
themes are made of emotions.
" 'because' is a fantasy" (James Hillman – the Politics of Feeling)
what follows does not follow but appears next on the scene. in the scene. in on the act but always a headliner never an opener. not exactly a fan favorite but a usual. what follows is what happens. what happens is a mystery. always a mystery and never a hunch. always a mystery and never a clue. always a mystery and never any evidence.
a halt. grinding down.
"a connective tissue of obsession and bewilderment, obscene craving and total disorientation. futility of the fever-dream." (Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh – Omnicide: Mania, Fatality, and the Future-In-Delirium)
formally. Sunday's best. sign on the dreaded line. reply all.
erase the start of the sentence about the gears being of no use and start another one about the grease being wasted drop by drop. erase. drop by drop and rethink what it means to be wasted. the grease served some purpose in the moment.
once in the ocean. twice in a river. half in the tub. about ready to get out of the shower and arrive about 15 minutes late.
no grace period has the grace of a period.
sadboi and fangirl both disappointed together for different reasons.
nobody here is telling anybody any jokes and that is a waste of this space. there's something about everywhere that really lends itself to a bit of parody. everybody should be writing jokes after every armistice as so seen on the big screen whether it was nominated for an Oscar or not.
Horkheimer and Engels always sit through the credits waiting for one last scene.
there is no author worth crediting when it comes to listing all those scrolling names but somebody wrote that. published it.
rest in peace to recognition. this is Hollywood complete with class traitors. lights, camera, action.
these words will be read in black and white. these words were spoken in gray. most people forgot how to hear colors a long time ago. colors are too over the top anyway and black is so melodramatic while white is so tragic. gray is the most Gothic quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light; saturation or chroma; hue.
there needs to be no further explanation that was not also copy and pasted from the dictionary and not properly cited.
but if one sees these definitions in the street, it's on. on sight means on cite.
how the comedian begins a set is not the same way that a musician does. a fork, knife, and a spoon are a set of silverware and even the fucking poets don't want to talk about that. all of the sudden people are too good to get the food off of the plate but love that act of having eaten. what kind of bullshit is this? but some foods are finger foods so that's ok. one can forgive the novelist if a narrator chooses to eat cake. the speaker of the poem on the other hand had better give glory to the cup or else may there be only tummy aches to come for the inobservant but more so for the lyrical desire to skip steps. only a memory can play hopscotch. to be sentimental is to be it. to have been tagged and to yearn to tag someone back.
when the comic enters the stage the comic goes over the topic of the day and seeks to address the elephant in the room. the playwright put that elephant in the room and called it cruelty. called it as was seen fit to be called. a calling is not the same as an address. nobody puts a calling on envelope with a Toni Morrison forever stamp.
everything that was ever heard around the world was mistranslated by every individual listener. not on purpose but never put faith nor trust into one's own ears. be Odysseus. just stop listening for a second. it's for one's own safety. meanwhile, for the rest of the crew...
no discussion is needed but it will most assuredly come to pass as so one generation will beget another one and a curse becomes a family's pride and heritage. as one becomes a half and half becomes a quarter. as long as the arithmetic stays simple.
everybody has enough shit to do without ever doing it especially the ones who are out there doing all that feeling. a mood is a fucking job and one surefire way to be fired is to think. nobody is paid to be thinking but may have received a payment for having had a thought. in fact it was Spinoza who once said something that nobody in here can either confirm nor deny since nobody here was there when Baruch said that one thing that one time. everybody in here had something better to do than to travel in time and across the globe to hear out what a poor lense crafter had to say. it's ok but this narrator will neither forgive anybody here nor forget about such transgressions. every listener is a Hatfield and this narrator is a real McCoy.
one could become a one trick pony if only one could learn how to commit to the bit. and that's the problem with niggas out here nowadays, can't commit to shit. these niggas ain't loyal.
the hills out here are crazy and that's why can't nobody trust anybody who says that the world is flat.
somewhere over the rainbow there is a more inclusive version of the rainbow.
with enemies like these, who needs friends? no fight left in this dog, just a longing look.
at a loss for silence, words are set up to fail. who has a a good pep talk for these morphemes on the losing side of this game? nobody? see again, everybody here is just here to let somebody down again. thanks.
"ashes of memories still aglow" (Ultravox – Visions in Blue)
the letters are looking at the numbers again. don't bother. it isn't fair. and nothing will ever make any punctuation feel wanted. it's a goodamn shame the way people treat certain marks. guess, we're all in this together but some are just more together than others. and that is why we always ask, who all's gonna be there?
got some skin in the game. got some nail clippings also. best part of the day is being asleep. the worst part is waking up but goddamn anybody who would wax nostalgic about what occurs between the extremes.
been making dreams mad since before Y2K but Y2K is still partially to blame.
don't give the soul any warning. the anima/animus/animx can't have too much prep time, it's the Batman of the self.
destiny is willing to pay the fine. but if destiny is coming then Fate won't want to come. and Outcomes might also back out.
"nothing is lost but nothing is ever the same. each present is an inaccurate replication... recategorizing of all [of one's] pasts." (Leo Bersani – Marcel Proust: the Fictions of Life and of Art)
been running on momentum, drugs, and lust. when can things just go back to the way it wasn't? can it be the way it was when it was only a scheme? this was about getting rich quick and now it's a long con.
trust and believe.
got divorced before being married. makes more sense to get the easy stuff out of the way first. now all there is are kisses mismatched and piling up. stars crossed up worse than Jordan was. twice on one play by a rookie.
with the electric being what it is, who needs "friends"?
what makes anybody's day? don't answer that. nobody wants to get a conversation on a special outfit. this thing ain't nothing special but nobody wants to do more laundry than is absolutely necessary. except for maybe some Virgo somewhere.
visions in blue. vision thing. revisions and yet this still remains?
the things that dreams are made of are much too rich for this blood.
perhaps this subconscious died in a car crash years ago.
been burning this ritual at both ends. bring a tradition down its center or off-center if the ends aren't burning evenly. this is not the plan. nobody is trying to play favorites with any sort of superstitions. that's how things go awry and the midnight oil is already pretty rancid.
been spending way too much time just trying to get the gist of some shit.
this is called circling the drain. a title should always go in the middle since titles are stupid and quite often so forgettable also. such as that one movie with that one person. came out a few years back. was snubbed for an Oscar. that one. that title was perfect.
also the bio. the time used to write that bullshit could have used doing something else equally if not more narcissistic.
just remember, as Visage said, "the damned don't cry."
in too deep, standing here waiting. breaking in two. the mage and the fool. lost in a familiar place.
if a camera can add 10 pounds then just imagine what a memory is capable of. but also, remember that Wittgenstein said that "a picture is a fact" so jot that down.
it's not Friday night and that is pertinent information that will not come in handy again at some later date. a lot of information is entirely unhelpful outside of certain specific moments. from here on out there will be no more collecting of data. nothing else will be recorded for posterity.
carsick. going too far away from home for no good reason. overpriced and underwhelming. excitement is always a no-show. oh, don't be that way. there's always somebody new to meet. well, that's not really selling the scene but ok, it's something to pretend to consider.
could live behind a computer screen forever. could become a computer. this is actually ChatGPT.
nothing is actual. in all actuality this is nothing. what occurred really didn't and there are pictures to prove it. one thing is real and that is that nothing ever ends on a high note. or maybe that's a mistake. consider revising. don't consider it for too long. don't ever be too considerate to the work.
this whole thing was a mistake. don't believe anything that was said or will ever be said again as relates to this.
duped. turns out that one can fall for the same trick twice. Benjamin Fondane said there would be days like this and then he was murdered. should've listened to him earlier.
by Michael Seymour Blake
Do-do-do-do you have it? GUTS!
There’s a lotta talk about guts in Kinji Fukasaku’s (Battle Royal) crime/action/drama, and our main man Gunji (Kôji Tsuruta) has’em to spare. He walks headfirst into bad situations with a monomaniacal confidence that demands respect—kind of like a calmer, more compassionate Captain Ahab. Gunji’s unwavering audacity keeps us glued to the screen.
Unpacking the subtext of this film is way outta my league (commentary on colonization, post-war Japan, American imperialism, etc.), plus more informed people have already delved into that stuff. All I’ll say is there’s a lot going on if you care to look.
But the movie is strong enough without any knowledge about the backdrop or inspirations (one of which being Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers). Everything we need to know is right there on the screen. These are men who have no place in the new Japan, and who want to go back in time when things were a little more chaotic, a little less organized. Chaos, for them, means opportunity. Their way of life is being squeezed dry as bigger, more corporatized gangsters move in. So they travel to Okinawa where there’s a heavier American presence and a little of that magic chaos remains. There are “last stand of the old west” vibes all over this.
The jazzy soundtrack sets the mood perfectly, inviting us into this crime-riddled underworld. It’s dangerous and dark, but still cool place to be. Even as one of our gang members dies, he admits he had a “great time.”
Is the bloody ending a message that crime don’t pay? Are we supposed to walk away feeling disgusted at it all? Are we supposed to cheer as our underdogs go down swinging? I don’t know. But it leaves a mark.
Everyone is doing great work. Tomisaburô Wakayama’s performance as Yonabaru, the brutish one-armed gangster, was my favorite. His character feels mythic. Anyone within range of his hand or feet ain’t gonna last long. He’s old school tough. One of the best exchanges in the movie (and there are a few to choose from) is when Yonabaru confronts Gunji, who’s moving in on his turf.
“This place is ours,” Yonabaru says in a gruff, no-nonsense tone.
“This place belongs,” replies the imperturbable Gunji, “to whoever the fuck takes it.”
Ain’t that the truth in life?
Would make a great compare/contrast with Takumi Furukawa’s Cruel Gun Story.
3/6/2023 1 Comment
In Her Debut Memoir Strip, Hannah Sward Bares More Soul Than Skin: A Book Review by Melody Greenfield
Upon first glance, if you didn’t know that memoirist Hannah Sward—author of Strip—and I are both Jewish women who graduated from Antioch University Los Angeles, you might not think we have much in common. She is a recovering addict (meth and alcohol) and former sex worker who suffered early childhood sexual abuse—three boxes I cannot tick. But isn’t the human condition so much more nuanced than that? When I read, “I waited for this terrible [yearning] in me to go away…an aching that I didn’t like, a longing to find comfort in another,” I thought—yes. I felt seen. I kept turning the pages late into the night, my bedside lamp a source of light through some dark moments in Sward’s layered life.
“The saddest girl in the world,” Sward is abandoned by her mother in her youngest years and finds herself wondering “what kind of woman I would be like if my mom hadn’t left.” Her poet dad meanwhile, though a mentor to her, is also busy with his pursuits—from typing all the “poems in his head” to spirituality to women who are not Sward’s mother.
While my own parents didn’t leave physically, both were unavailable in their own ways, so I was familiar with that deep sense of childhood loneliness (for which I was put on anti-depressants at age ten), and, later, with a desperate neediness for which I too sought counseling at the same Beverly Hills, sliding scale center as Sward did. Fortunately, I never got into drugs (my father was a habitual pot user, and I very much resented the foggy haze that separated him from us, even when he was around), but I certainly had my vices. Though I never made a career of it, I—like Sward and her mother before her—was promiscuous and probably could have benefited from a 12-step program for addictive tendencies of my own, love among them.
So, when I say that I kept seeing myself on the page, I don’t just mean on the surface level, even if Sward and I do share a similar hair color and Canadian roots. I mean that, in baring more than just her skin, Sward taps into the universality of what it means to be human, and this is what kept me invested in her story. “I was unhappy. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life…I loved the ritual,” she writes of her descent into meth use. I made a checkmark in the margins. I could have written the same sentences about myself, only my ritual of choice was getting ready for dates. Those dates, and the two drinks I usually ordered on them, helped to take the edge off—the edge being how alone I was in the world, an edge Sward and I (and so many of us) share. “Maybe I would have…made choices that weren’t destructive, if I had formed a [healthier] sense of self,” Sward muses, and I often thought the same as I found myself in an endless loop of date-going—countless, interchangeable dates on which I almost always had casual and unprotected sex—until eight years ago, entirely by chance, I met my future-husband on one of them.
As my grandpa says, life is a series of accidents. In my case, ninety-three sexual partners in, I accidentally met someone (my 94th) who loved me in spite of the childhood wounds that shaped me into the needy woman holding onto her wineglass as tightly as I’d hold onto any man who’d let me. In Sward’s case, she accidentally got hooked on drugs—which she only planned to use temporarily to lose weight—and caught in a cycle of sex work—which she only planned to do in the short term to make cash for college. My path wasn’t so divergent from Sward’s, until it was. My series of accidents could have led me down a different (and much darker) path entirely—one that included sexual assault or sexually-transmitted infections, for starters—and I have only luck, not good decision-making, to thank for the fact that it didn’t.
For Sward, there is luck, even if bad luck, and then there is the deliberate choice to get clean, which altogether alters her course for the better:
I was thirty-six, lying on the floor of my pink bathroom on a Saturday night in Los Angeles, torn red from fighting with vines in the garden…I don’t like gardening…but on meth it was very interesting…I saw no escape…How many years had I spent in the bushes with my head down, tangled in the weeds…of my life?
I told you as much in the first paragraph, so you already know that our heroine finds a way to untangle herself from addiction, and I’m so grateful that she does. But it’s not only sobriety that she works hard at. She also “face[s] the lonely, frightening” prospect “of sitting with [her]self…in the hours…with the words” to write this book—a fact for which I’m equally grateful. Before ultimately finding redemption, Sward—always with the loveliest, most lyrical language—shares her lowest moments, her secrets, and her very soul with us, so we readers can see our own imperfect, complicated, sometimes-ugly-but-more-often beautiful souls reflected right back.
Tortoise Books, pp. 264,
Sept. 6, 2022 publication date
Spiritual Struggle (You Won't Understand)
KODAK BLACK & JACKBOY rang through your earbuds.
You don’t know about the struggle, so you won’t understand.
I keep talking bout the struggle cuz it made me a man.
You’re sitting on the couch, football Sunday. It’s 30 degrees outside, which is a blessing. It was in the low tens just the other day.
Your balcony window is open. The snow melting sounds like rainfall. You know this to be false rain. You think about pain. Thinking bout the struggle days.
You don’t want to explore this memory, but you also feel called to write it.
You were triggered by a Facebook post today, as you are on most days.
Someone asked if spiritual abuse is taking place in your community.
Are kids being beaten in Dugsi?
You, a survivor of such abuse in your community, who was beaten in Dugsi,
wanted to scream OBVIOUSLY DUH YEAH BRUH WHAT?
You, a survivor of such abuse in your community, want to cry.
Someone who looks like people who’ve abused you in your community
replied to this comment:
“Yes, this is a form of discipline. It is culturally acceptable. The parents know it’s happening and are okay with it. The kids who grew up here just happen to think of it as abuse.”
IS SPIRITUAL ABUSE HAPPENING IN OUR COMMUNITY?
You sit on your couch, on this Football Sunday, false rain snow melt prattling a symphony orchestra on your balcony, and you raise your hand to your head in the classic Somali fashion: palms outward.
You can’t believe what you’re reading.
You don’t know about the struggle, so you won’t understand.
You remember your therapist telling you that trauma can affect all of your relationships, especially your relationship with God.
You ask her if getting beaten, verbally, emotionally abused in the name of religion would cause you trauma?
She says yes, of course.
She is Muslim and raises her children in a way that you wish you were raised.
You cry as you type this. You’re always crying as you’re typing.
Then you wonder why it’s so hard to read those same words in public.
I keep talking bout the struggle cuz it made me a man.
You wonder what it means to be a man. You block people on Facebook in ways not associated with being a man. You never learned what it means to be a man. You still don’t know what it means, to be a man.
But Kodak keeps you company. You take pictures now. You run past your emotions. You eat the pain away. You stop writing. You walk away.
You come back. You always come back. You are a prisoner to your emotions, to your past. To the circumstances of your circumcision. Age 10. Damn. That shit hurt. Damn.
Around the same time, you had your appendix taken out. Emergency. You were at Dugsi. You complained of stomach pain. They said you were making up excuses.
You said no, I threw up on the way here, on the side of the freeway.
They said you shouldn’t have eaten all that junk food.
You search the room for cameras. Surely this is a joke, you ask, as you clutch, your stomach in pain.
You are rushed to the emergency room shortly after. They take pictures, make scans. Appendix about to rupture. Emergency surgery. You take another ambulance ride to another hospital. You are immediately put under. You wake up in a Children’s hospital. They have N64 here. You play wave runner. The Sea Pirates come to visit. You are happy you get to miss Dugsi. You feel ashamed for this.
I keep talking about the struggle, so you don’t understand. But you won’t understand…
You cry with your therapist. You realize the reason why you once left your faith: because you were routinely beaten in the name of your faith. And thus, you associated Islam with Pain, associated God with Hate. You felt cursed.
You sometimes still do, though logically, you know Allah loves you.
Allah loves you, but people have done terrible things to you in His name.
This makes you cry. You are always crying. Always blocking people on Facebook. You don’t see the connection, but it’s there.
Childhood trauma makes relationships difficult. Especially your relationship with Allah. You haven’t prayed in weeks. You feel nearly hopeless. You say Istaghfarullah when you can. You cling onto whatever you can. You know that trauma is the villain in your life.
You have an appointment with your therapist tomorrow. You have a job interview before that. You will cry in between those two appointments. You will cry until no tears remain. You will cry until it resembles snow melted false rain prattling on your balcony, a symphony orchestra.
You feel ashamed to even write that. You ask Allah’s forgiveness. You do not ask His forgiveness on behalf of the people who hurt you in His name. You want to curse those people, but you are too soft hearted for that.
You settle for not asking for their forgiveness. And you know that on Judgement Day, everyone who wronged you will regret it. Just as you will regret everyone you wronged.
But you don’t care about that right now. You only care about your pain.
You’ve overcome addiction and disbelief, by His Mercy. Your family helped you, of course. And though it pains you to say, your family also hurt you, of course. And this is the nature of your pain. To come to terms with those who love you, who also caused you pain. And on top of all this… you’re Autistic. Meaning you feel everything.
You feel everything.
I keep talking bout the struggle, so you won't understand how I feel everything.
I’ve always loved going to bed early. I love how the underside of my eyelids burn orange against the dwindling sunshine. I love that it feels warmer to fall asleep while it’s still daytime. I love that it feels like I have a head start on a tomorrow. I love racing to unconsciousness.
Going to bed while there is still light is a ritual dating back to when I was old enough to notice the changing of the day into evening. When I was little, starting around 8, I would bundle myself claustrophobically with a bounty of stuffed animals, Barbies, and two different sweatshirts (one grey and one navy blue). Like all nervous and lonely children, the comfort of these creatures provided the escape from life I so desperately craved. My sweet silent friends spoke directly into my brain along with the sweatshirts who had names. We were molded into a mountain, and we’d gather warmth from the sunlight. Lonesome feels different when it's light out.
In bed, with all my friends, I would pretend that the bed was a boat, and the floor was a large river, and we were all stranded together in the middle, getting taken by the current to somewhere unknown. I never felt alone while together in the boat even though my crew and I were too far away from any shore to get rescued. Protected by the pretend, I would fall asleep imagining that the stuffed animals were taking care of me while I slipped into sleep. And dove grey evenings were a lullaby with a bedtime starting as early as 6:30 PM or 7:00 PM if I could, except during winters when I would struggle with the night sky and keep a lamp on the nightstand on all night.
In the mornings, my baby fine fig hair would be stuck to my cheeks always covered in sticky candy gloss from the day before, and arms wrapped around the bunched sweatshirts. Huddled under the tower of pals, my eyes would bat open to find their friendly faces in the glow of the morning sun, a brightness not so different from the one I fell asleep to.
Delight in imagination, I was always happiest existing within dreams while either asleep or awake. And I, like so many young people, decided I wanted to have an interesting life. But I never stopped to consider that an interesting life does not always equal a happy life.
The pivot away from childhood followed a string that led to a curious existence. A life that lacked stability, and structure, and security. The greatest safety I found as the Fates cut and tied my future was in going to bed early. Long slumber has always been there for me.
I have been bummed out lately. And it is not just because I put my phone in the microwave instead of the coffee I wanted to reheat ten minutes ago. And it’s not just because of the bitter tasting heartache of another start-over, where I wished for a composite collage of photo booth moments but instead collected scenes made in public spaces with my face blood red from embarrassment. It’s not just because my whiskey-voiced blonde bouffant Aunt Bonnie died before I could say goodbye. It’s not just because I got food poisoning on the day I got the news of her passing. It’s not just because my beloved cat, Easy Mac, has been sick. It’s not because I gave up on dry January after getting back into contact with a person responsible for previous embarrassents. It’s not just because the dark days feel endless.
It's not these things in the way that the waves of similar sorrows seem never ending sometimes. I’ve been bummed recently. But I’ve been bummed before and clawed my way out of it. I have also been happy and know that joy is always on the horizon, ever so faintly out of reach. But it will arrive. Maybe this is the cost of an interesting life.
Easy Mac has been sick during the days of my bummedness. She is an elegant Spyhnx cat with a marking around her eye that reminds me of my favorite comic book character, Domino. I have loved her for ten years. Under blankets while she purrs, I like to hold one of her paws. She has been one of the greatest delights of my life, unexpected grace in a world of disorder. Easy Mac has always made me feel special even though when she and I were both younger, she would occasionally sneeze in my hair and I wouldn’t notice until the next morning. Hand on my hand, grossed out while she continued to sleep in the warm gulf of where my body imprinted the sheets. I hate to see her not feeling well. I feed her in bed while she sleeps among the relics of my past: a dalmatian stuffed animal named Spotsy, a bean bag teddy bear named Theo, an oversized sweatshirt—black instead of the long gone grey and navy ones, and a flower print blanket that I bunch and hold in sleep. I jokingly call myself her nursemaid. And among the sorrow, there is joy in helping her.
I’ve been going to bed earlier and earlier within the last two months, in the wake of all the bummed. I repeat the behavior of the ghost of myself, a child of 8, and struggle to beat the sunset, shuttering my eyes until a new day can greet me.
Last night, among the final flame of a pink sky, I sat in bed with Easy Mac under her many blankets, sweatshirts, and our comfort items. We traveled through time together, different eras of ourselves. I read a book out loud about a Hollywood starlet and Easy Mac slept next to me, warm and purring.
Before I fell asleep, before the sky could change over to ink blotches, in the warmth of the bed and the ease of our time together, her little paw in my hand, some of the sadness faded away. And I pretended that she and I were in a boat in the middle of a large river. We were protected by pretend, buoyant in the strong current. And we were on our destination to nowhere.
In the morning, we both woke up to a warm sun, never so different from the days before.
By Michael Seymour Blake
I've seen a lot of so-bad-they’re-good movies. Creating Rem Lezar ain’t one of them. It lives in a distant fairyland we can only glimpse in our wackiest dreams. A fairyland so wholesome, so innocent, and so strange that if given access to it during our waking life we would be spaghettified. Luckily, director Scott Zakarin is a more than capable guide.
I first saw this mind-altering journey on YouTube many years ago. The upload, from a deteriorated VHS no doubt, was riddled with dropout, warping, fading, and missing scenes. Despite these defects, I fell in love. I’m usually not into musicals, but this one knocks it outta the park. Straight up into space. No, some place even higher. There’s not one flop among the bunch. Whether the kids are alone in the bedroom with a strange man in spandex, or wandering around Manhattan with a strange man in spandex, or entering the woods alone with a strange man in spandex, there’s a catchy song to fill our hearts. Each number is paradoxically wince-worthy and the best thing I’ve ever heard. I can’t explain it more than that. Bravo to composer Mark Mulé.
I made it my mission to get a copy.
Finding the film wasn’t too difficult. The real problem came down to money. The cheapest I’d seen it for was $90 bucks, and that just ain’t within my reach. So I waited. And waited. And waited. And the price went up. And up. And up higher. At one point they were going for $250. I had this baby on my eBay watchlist forever.
Then one day I was just sittin’ around dreaming of a dream when BOOM! Found Footage Festival releases a Blu-ray. My heroes. I scooped it up and watched it for what felt like the first time. A fantasy come true.
The movie follows Ashlee and Zack (Courtney Kernaghan, Jonathan Goch), two daydreaming kids who discover they share the same blue-haired imaginary/non-imaginary friend named Rem Lezar (Jack Mulcahy). Their parents and teachers are fed up, demanding they live in the real world. But the kids are fed up with the “real world,” each lashing out in their own way. After a bumpy start (Zack’s a bit of a misogynist), they form a lightning-fast friendship and run away together to build their strange dream-man in an abandoned cabin. How do they build him? By using mysteriously-obtained mannequin parts of course! (Seeing Zack and Ashlee with the disassembled pieces triggered flashbacks to 1991’s Body Parts.) The power of their imagination brings Rem Lezar to life and the trio celebrate his newfound existence. There’s just one problem. The children forgot to add his symbol, a golden infinity sign called the Quixotic Medallion, to the mannequin. Without it, Rem Lezar will disappear forever come nightfall. A disembodied pixelated face named Vorock (played by Zakarin himself) has it. He says it’s hidden at the highest point that the mind could go, yet claims it remains within reach. Full of passion, song, and love, the threesome wander around New York trying to find the precious insignia before the sun goes down.
It’s hard to point out what makes Creating Rem Lezar so much more than a novelty watch. It’s not just the songs (which you’ll be singing for the rest of your life) or the bold blue leotard or the even bolder blue curly locks of rockin’ hair (and eyebrows). I think it may have something to do with the consistently odd choices made every step of the way. Odd choices made only odder because they’re presented through a lens of pure, childlike innocence. This obliviousness, for lack of a better word, allows for some truly astounding stuff. I don’t want to give too much away because this movie should be experienced as fresh as possible.
At one point, Rem Lezar sings a passionate song to a child in the woods. They’re alone, isolated. He gently brushes her cheek. They stare into each other’s eyes. Then, as he takes her into his arms, there’s a shocking second where it seems like they’re about to kiss (they don’t of course). It’s gross and weird and hilarious, but there’s no wink to the audience, no indication anyone in the production picked up on the overt creepiness of it all. You’ll scream in horror but also be… almost charmed by it?
The opening credits are phenomenal. Zack gets sent to the principal’s office for daydreaming. He exits the classroom and ambles down endless, desolate hallways as he sings the bittersweet “Dreaming of a Dream,” while his head tilts at various awkward angles. Suddenly, his prepubescent voice is joined by a deep baritone for a dual “whooaa.” Now there’s a dark figure lurking behind Zack as Silent-Hill-style mist fills the halls. Seconds later, the figure’s gone and the halls are clear again. It leaves you reeling. But wait, the figure’s back in the next cut, along with the mist. “Come on and take my hand,” the figure croons. (We all know this figure is Rem Lezar, yet it doesn’t assuage our sense of dread.)
My favorite part of the sequence is when Rem, still veiled within the mist, simply stops walking behind Zack and just looms there as the camera pulls away. My mental child-endangerment alarms were sounding, big time. Eventually we enter what I believe to be a fantasy where Zack imagines Rem giving his teacher a talking/singing to: “Part of the joy that I get from this boy is his innocent laugh and his style, come take another look.” It’s all in slow motion and a blurred trail of Rem’s movements lingers behind him—a real Bruce Lee Fists of Fury moment.
The hallway odyssey is followed by a scene where Zack sets up the principal (Zakarin’s actual childhood principal, in fact) by asking an innocuous question only to follow it up with a surprise verbal assault that leaves the highest-ranking administrator speechless. It’s inexplicable. Zack would make a good movie mobster.
So much happens in the short runtime. The gang dances with street toughs, leisurely wanders around despite their grave time constraints (they even go for a nice boat ride), and at one point, splits into two different realities. It’s packed with bonkers logic and semi-incoherence. And joining us through it all is Mulcahy’s hypnotizingly thick neck.
I was surprised to see the sheer number of PhDs who worked on this movie in some way or another (watch for them in the ending credits). There are a few scenes that wax philosophical I suppose. Did the PhDs create the mythology of Rem and Vorock or something? It’s possible…
Vorock represents our nightmares. But on a grander scale, he is the fear and anxiety we all carry inside. Give into your inner Vorock, and you will wither away. Fight against him, and you risk giving into hate (it’s a disease... don’t catch it). On the other side stands Rem Lezar. Beyond representing our dreams, Rem is our hopes, passions, and concepts of love. With our inner Rem’s help, we can attain a deeper understanding of human nature, an expansion of perception. We can learn the power of acceptance. When we befriend our Vorocks, they lose much of their hold over us. They’ll never disappear, but they’ll become manageable. Our inner Rem can teach us that the darker parts of our psyches offer opportunities for growth, and may even help us discover the things that are most meaningful to us in life.
Rem and Vorock start at the beginning and end there too. We can’t fully be rid of either. They are as infinite as the Quixotic Medallion. As infinite as my love for this movie.
Michael Seymour Blake writes easy breezy beautiful unpretentious movie reviews. A working class cinema lover. Follow him on instagram: @michaelseymourblake or visit his often-neglected website: michaelsblake.com
1/27/2023 0 Comments
Pup Sounds Friday 01/27/2023
Hi! It's pup sounds friday again. We've almost made it through all of January 2023 and that is cause for celebration. Aquarius season wants us to, like, focus and implement our plans. You're doing great. Give yourself a reward! Buy a donut.
I got Banjo this Gumby dog toy and can't wait to give it to him later tonight. Sometimes he carries his toys around for a while, gently holding them in his mouth and occasionally licking them, but because Gumby dog toy has a squeaker he will likely tear him open immediately to locate the squeaking plastic heart and pull out all the fluff.
I haven't really gotten into listening to full albums yet this year but some songs have been on repeat (When We Were Very Young by Belle & Sebastian). There are 4 songs by Swedish artists on this playlist. Bob Hund (Bob Dog) has been one of the biggest indie rock bands in Sweden since the early 90s and they released a 6 song EP yesterday, Drömmen är en råvara (The dream is a raw material... Ish), including a Swedish version of The Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog (Din hund) and I can't think of a better way to start a Pup playlist than this.
Another swedish (and swedish language) drop is Fågelle's second album Den svenska vreden (The swedish wrath), full of soft and buzzing songs I'll probably spend alot of time with. Fever Ray has another single out from the forthcoming March release Radical Romantics called Kandy. The fourth swede on this list is Nicolai Dunger who's been making weird jazzy folk type albums since the 90s (including one album interpreting Edith Södergran poems that I wore out listening to on CD).
Discovered the artist Q who has a new song out, LUV (I KNOW I WANT THIS FOR REAL), and it made me aware of the song Stereo Driver from 2022 and I'm obsessed. His voice! If you listen to one thing off this playlist make it this! Both of them.
There's also a couple of harder tracks on here. Jigsaw Youth is an all female punk grunge band from Staten Island. Riot Stares is an indie metal band from South Carolina.
Hope there's something you like on here! Here's the full list:
1/19/2023 0 Comments
Full by Jay Halsey
the internet was down all morning.
frustrated from hours trying to fix it myself, i walked to the tavern down the street for late breakfast and early whiskey.
it's the only place for a decent meal on the north side. it’s a little pricey. i know the manager well enough for chats about food, alcohol, politics, whatever. he seems like a nice guy. he seems like a bar manager. i found a stool at the bar, near the front. he brought my drink and took my order. outside, the sun toiled through slow clouds as
and woman walked in
and heavy coats.
his face like busted sidewalks.
hers ashy and grey from winter.
they were dirty. everything they carried was dirty. everything they carried smelled like labor.
i can place faces on most street people around there, but not those two; they were from a different place; from a different misery.
the man told the manager they had 17 dollars. what could they get for 10?
the manager ignored the man’s admission.
he sat them in a booth. he gave them menus. he told them to order what they want. he told them he would work it out. he spoke to them as he spoke to everyone: his approach remained unchanged. he brought them coffee. he brought them juice between other customers. he finally brought them hot food. he asked if everything looked okay.
the woman stared ahead. eyes heavy. speech heavy. she said, “this looks almost too good to eat." the man’s eyes erupted. his voice like dry leaves. his “thank you” faded into thin coughs.
a lump formed in my throat. i swallowed it with my drink and stood. i exited. i walked away from there,
my wallet 22 dollars smaller.
i walked away from there…
you just feel that way.
from Barely Half in an Awkward Line by Jay Halsey published by Really Serious Literature
1/18/2023 4 Comments
A Memoir by Nicki de Vera
I’m lying in a hotel bed right now. In the room next to mine, the phone keeps ringing. I can hear the door slamming against a deadbolt a few times and the voices of men shouting benign messages to each other. I don’t know if they’re talking about when they need to leave to catch their flight or if they’re negotiating how much for the hooker. Either way, I can’t sleep.
I try to call the front desk. They answer, but when I try to explain what’s going on, the young woman says, “Hello, Front desk. Hello?” Then she hangs up. The phone is broken. She can’t hear me. This is a decent hotel. What the fuck? I try again. Same thing.
Finally, I call from my cell. I explain. She says she will handle it. I can hear the phone in the room next to me ring. Things quiet down. Now I can hear loud music from another room further down the hall. I twist. I turn. I think about what will happen in the next 48 hours. Actually, the next 50 hours.
I'm at a Hampton Inn near the Minneapolis Airport. I'm on the way to see my 13 year old son who is in a residential treatment facility in Traveler’s Rest, SC. That’s the name of the town. What town has an apostrophe in its name? How did it become Traveler’s Rest?
I have to wake up in 2 hours to catch my flight and it’s becoming clear I won’t sleep tonight. My mind is spinning. I finished work. I had a glass of wine once I got home, bitched out my daughter for not doing homework, and said goodbye to my wife and other daughter as they left for hockey practice. I wrap my son’s Christmas presents. I don’t even know if he will like them. I don’t even know if he will like me.
My last memories are of him screaming at us. I can feel the scars on my arms and chest from countless violent events after asking him to go to bed, go to the bathroom, simple things. My brain jumps from the softness of his skin, the feeling of our arms wrapped around each other, holding my beautiful child, memories of us laughing or him nursing… to constant rejection, the agony of not knowing what will help, and the feeling of my hair being pulled out of my scalp. The smell of toilet refusal. Cops at my house. Restraints in the front lawn while the neighbors look on in judgment. Cleaning the bathroom. Carrying him to his room. His giggles. Bite marks. Running my hand over his short hair. The color of his skin is the same as mine. The way he looks when he lunges at me, attacking. I knitted him in my womb. I hope this place helps. It just keeps going back and forth. My brain.
Now I’m crying. I’m getting over a cold. I blow my nose. Post-COVID. Will everyone think I have COVID? Will I be able to fly?
This is real life. This is my life. It’s happening right now. Amidst everything else.
I don’t know what my first memory is, but I think it’s the first time I was drunk. We lived in Rochester Squares, low income apartment housing. My mom was about 22, and I must have been 2. There was a party and people were giving me sips of their wine coolers, thinking it was funny. I remember people laughing. I remember thinking it tasted like soda, but less sugary. I liked it. At some point, I felt dizzy and disoriented. I didn’t like that. I was looking for my mom but it was so hard to focus. I needed to go to the bathroom. I needed to vomit and I needed to pee. There was a lot of cigarette smoke, loud music, people much bigger than I laughing and talking. My mom surfaced through a crowd and she was laughing. She thought I was funny, too. I asked her if she would go to the bathroom with me. She told me, “You know where it is. I’m talking.” I made my way to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. The seat was too big for me and I had a hard time holding myself up to pee. The small brown and white tiles began to float under my feet, which couldn’t touch the ground. I began vomiting. My mom came in and yelled at me.
Actually, I remember a few things from that apartment and I don’t remember what was first. Was it being drunk? Was it when I saw my mom’s boyfriend wrestling her in the living room before she yelled at me to go back in my room? Was it when I snuck out a window to play while she was napping? Or when I’d sneak down the hall to play with a friend? Was it watching her get ready to go to work at Estabans, where I would eat broccoli enchiladas? Maybe it was the time my mom purposely drove our white Ford Fiesta into a ditch to get out of work, and I thought we might need oars to paddle our way out. Eating sticks of butter when there wasn’t anything else in the fridge. Was it seeing the picture of Cindy, my mom’s beautiful friend who killed herself, on top of a coffin? Maybe it was coloring from the back seat of that same car while we went to Tulsa to search for my father, who we never ever found.
I don’t remember which memory came first, but I do know how I felt. I was always a passenger, a sidekick, or a tag along in a show that featured my mother. I was an inconvenience or a doll, depending on the moment.
Inside, I felt insecure, in danger, and needy. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing or where I was supposed to be. I wish I could have scooped up that little girl and held her. But someone else did that. My grandma.
Grandma Jean was around a lot. She would give me cookies with holes in them. I’d put one on each finger and nib at them until my belly hurt. She sang me songs and made me wear a seat belt. She cut my bangs crooked with pink tape and my mom would yell at her. Grandma and my mom bagged at each other all the time.
My father met my mother while his wife was having a surgery at the Mayo Clinic. My 19 year old mother fell madly in love and believed whatever he said, even though he was lying. He moved her to Tulsa. Although, he was seeing several other women and my mother had been deceived. She found out she was pregnant and threatened to have an abortion unless he stayed with her. She waited at an abortion clinic for him to arrive. He never came. I don’t know how I exist, except through my mother’s hope that I would save her relationship.
I never sleep. I cry. I send a message to a friend, which turns into receiving the love and validation I need to keep crying. Eventually I look at the time and I see I have less than an hour before I have to wash my face and look just a smidge less disheveled so I can guzzle as many drinks as possible between the Delta SkyClub opening and boarding my plane. I’d like to sleep on the plane and it seems alcohol is probably going to be the only thing that makes that possible. So that’s what I do. I stand up, I wash my face, and I politely throw all my snotty tissues in the garbage. I drive, delirious, to airport parking and somehow navigate myself through baggage check and TSA. I reach Delta SkyClub at 3:30am, 45 minutes before they open. I chug my champagne with a side of orange juice.
I sit down in my seat near the back of the plane, preparing for comatose when a young woman sits next to me. I know her. She goes to my gym and I don’t like her. We both exchange niceties and I tell her my tale of why I’m on this plane with her while she reports back about her fucking birthday and some cousin she’s visiting. The world - this plane - doesn’t even feel real anymore. We eventually take off and I fall asleep with sand paper in my mouth.
I’m driving. Atlanta Airport is such a shit show and after 24 hours without sleep and traveling in planes, trains, and automobiles, I am in a rental car for a 2 hour drive to the middle of a Confederate flag. I’m listening to Dave Grohl’s The Storyteller but my mind is continually distracted by images and anxieties about him. It still doesn’t stop. I have to keep pausing the book so I can cry. It’s raining. Visibility sucks. I drive to a Hampton Inn. The manager at the front desk is petite and smoking outside under the car port when I arrive. She comes in to check me in, asking me in her most hospitable Southern accent why I’m in her little town. I tell her. She doesn’t say a word. She goes, “Hmm” and doesn’t make eye contact after that. I must be a shitty fucking mother. My son and I are a piece of shit. Why else would we be there?
I think that’s what pisses me off the most. Whether it be some Crossfit peer or a person checking you in to your nightmare, people never know the whole story. They create the story they want about me in their heads. That’s been going on since Day 1. Nicki is a whore. Nicki is a ditz. Nicki is trash. Nicki is crazy. She’s a bad mom. She’s wild. And all you get is the silence or the fake smile or the top of someone’s head as they avoid eye contact. I’m unworthy of even seeing their pupils. I’d like to burn a city to the ground. Now we know where he gets it from. I can blame his dad all I want but no one carries my rage like my children. I kind of don’t hate that about us. It’s the only time I feel powerful.
I stare at a wall in my hotel room for a couple hours before going to visit him. I still can’t sleep.
Going to see my only son in a locked facility across the country is probably the strangest thing I’ve ever done. I wish the drive from the hotel was longer. I have the thought that I need more mental preparation, but I don’t actually know what could prepare me for such a fucked up scenario. When I see him, he is different. He doesn’t look feral anymore. His embrace and sincere love fill me up in a way I can’t describe and in a way most mothers don’t know. It was beautiful. I felt my nervous system regulate. My heart stopped pounding and after some knocking around, I felt us fall into a familiar transaction; him coming up with outlandish scenarios for me to navigate, or me providing information on an obscure topic, such as the origin of goulash.
On the second day of visiting him, I know our time to part is drawing near. We’re in the cafeteria - about 6 large wood dining room tables, one or two families at each. My beautiful son is tired and lying his heavy body across my lap. I do everything my body remembers to do; I brush his short hair with my fingers. I actively hold his body close to mine- flexing my muscles around his young adult frame. Feeling my lips on his warm cheeks, I tell him over and over again how much I love him. When I stand to leave, I whisper in his ear that I want him home. He cracks and begin to sob. We say “I love you” as many times as we can fit in before I realize all the other parents have left. I finally say goodbye and avoid looking back as he is escorted back to his unit. I leave the cafeteria doors down a corridor. I feel that heavy rock in my chest rise into my throat. It feels juicy, more like a water balloon, ready to burst. I can’t cry. I don’t want anyone to see me cry. I walk faster to pass them. As the corridor opens to the parking lot, I pass a mother and two siblings on my left. I look directly at the mother’s face. She’s making the same face. Her lips spread and tight across her mouth stopping herself from sobbing. Oh fuck. The water balloon gets bigger. It’s spreading to my eyes. I walk fast. I’m at the back of the parking lot. To my right, another mother. I can’t not look. Same face, but head low. We’re both ashamed. Keep moving. Then another. And another.
This feels like something out of one of those psychological horrors Lisa is always suggesting I watch. I’ve told the story of this day. Of this moment. And all these people seem to think this is some moment of solidarity for me - like “Oh wow, someone you can relate with” or something. But it’s not. It’s completely fucked. As I power walk to my car as quickly as my stout legs can take me, all I can think of is how separated each of us are. We are drowning, independently, in our pain. We are doing what is most unnatural. This is so fucked.
And as each of us reach our vehicles, I hear car doors slam. The water balloon bursts. I finally scream. And so does everyone else.
by Michael Seymour Blake
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964, Jacques Demy
*You are required to sing the following text*
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a 1964 musical about young love and relationships. The story is aggressively basic, the execution is anything but.
It's filled with bright, bold colors that keep your attention on the screen. Everything from costumes to scenery fit into some surreal aesthetic world that also feels true to life.
I'm not a fan of musicals in general, which is weird because you cannot escape music while this is on. It's everywhere. Every line is part of an overarching number. I liked that there weren’t speaking parts leading to big bursts of song. A plain-spoken business transaction is just as musically charming as two lovers discussing their dreams for the future.
The Important Man, 1962, Ismael Rodríguez
Legendary actor Toshiro Mifune starring in a Mexican movie? Wha?
Took some strength to get through the scenes of animal cruelty (it's fairly concentrated in one area), but this movie was great.
It's easy to throw stones at the monomaniacal Animas. He's despicable, cruel, and devious... but he's also a prisoner of his own narcissism, unable to clearly see the world as it is. Or, if he does see it, to understand it. Everything is blurred by the veil of his unbridled egotism. I'm not saying he's the poor victim here, but there's a sense that he represents the whisper within us that begs to be known, respected, loved, important. Or maybe he's an example of someone whose whisper happens to be a roar filtered through a vengeful and unstable mind.
I love how the object of desire here isn't money for money's sake. It's not to be rich. The object of desire is to feel validated. Seems… familiar…
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, 1991, Lam Ngai Kai
If you could take your weird younger cousin's dream and dip that dream in the mind of a deranged martial artist, then I don't know what you'd get... but it might be comparable to this movie.
Loved the extravagance and ambition. I read that the manga has some religious elements central to the plot, and while religion doesn't necessarily have a huge role here, there’s some religious imagery scattered throughout (not to mention Riki-Oh having a few Christlike moments).
The magnificent absurdity of this martial arts monstrosity will forever live within me. Excellent party movie. Watch it with your heart open and your fists closed (so you can punch them through someone’s chest).
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