Thursday, November 22, 2012

Things I Am Thankful For

I am thankful I am not Sarah Connor.

I am also thankful I am not Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Cinderella, Cosette, Esmeralda, or any Edith Wharton woman.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful that I am still young enough, even Paul Rudd can't interest me in a movie about being forty.

I am thankful for Radiohead and Christmas commercials featuring dogs with bows on.

I am thankful for feeling like I'm twenty three at thirty three. I am thankful I live someplace where that's possible. Yay for populations living longer. Maybe.

I am thankful I'm able to appreciate the process of my sister turning into my brother.

I am thankful for my brother's infinite capacity for love.

I am thankful for my parents, who remind me to appreciate the perspective of being really close with remarkable people, so close that sometimes you forget to look at it that way.

For: russian scifi movies, being able to access russian scifi movies, for having friends that introduce me to russian scifi movies, for the people who translate russian scifi movies, and the ones who put them on art theaters' schedules. Oh and dogs in russian scifi movies.

For it barely being cold enough to wear a sweatshirt all the time here.

For the opportunity to get really mad at guys calling me Honey. For guys calling me honey.

For OK Cupid, which in the future may be regarded as the most influential website on my body of work.

For gchat. Which, for all the awkwardness of google+, still remains the intimate version of Twitter.

For the miracle of that sentence even existing. On it's own, that may be the weirdest duo of sentences ever written.

For whoever and everyone that was responsible for raising me with a basically very healthy body image and self esteem. I'm sorry it took me so long to appreciate and use it properly. I'm thankful for whoever it was specifically that gave me the confidence to be like "fuck the rule of threes, I will make this work with five if it kills me."

I am thankful for nice people. Thank you, nice people.

I am thankful for living in an age of tea sieves shaped like robots, and spotify, and self publishing, even though I realize how very 90s that sounds, especially when you combine it with Radiohead from earlier. Whatever, I give in, I'll try to appreciate it better the second time around. I guess. I'm not getting into Bjork again. (you guys know we're totally getting into Bjork again, right?)


Monday, November 19, 2012

Don't Ever Go Into the Basement

I finally found a place I want to work, more than any other place in this entire town.
The Serpentarium.
This place is AMAZING.
First, you walk in, and there’s this giant wall display about chemtrails and the government conspiracy to spray us with DEATH GUNK. Like, right in the lobby, with three large parrots. It's all chemtrails and Magellons, and pictures of weird sores people have gotten from secret chemicals in the air, or fibers under their skin. Death Gunk.
That’s the scientific term for it.

 Then you go through the dark low doorway into the snake and reptile galleries, and every exhibit has, you know, a little plaque next to it describing what kind of snake it is. Only the descriptions are really just stories about how many people and dogs that snake has killed, and next to the name there is a rating system of how poisonous each snake is, represented by SKULLS. So like, the black mamba is a 5 skull snake, the eyelash viper is 2 and a half.

At one point, this beautiful woman with an Eastern European accent emerged out of some back room, with a bowl full of bloody chicken parts, opened one of the cages, and took out this monitor lizard. She then proceeded to feed the lizard chicken pieces with a set of tongs, just sitting out in the hallway there, on this dirty carpet with tape and obviously tons of salmonella on it. Meanwhile, in the cage across from her, these other two giant monitor lizards can smell the blood and they’re going nuts scratching at the windows and wall to get out and get some.

The creepiest thing was how each snake was actively interested in you, like, it wanted to kill the fuck out of you. The green mamba was my favorite. It’s this beautiful delicate gorgeous thing, and every time I came near, it would stick it’s head directly in front of me and just stare me down, like sort of hovering in mid air, looking at me. After about ten minutes of this, I could see this light bulb flip on behind it’s evil reptile eyes, and the damn thing started coiling it’self up towards the ceiling, like, it knew there was some gap up there it could find, to get out and murder me.

I had this deep visceral reaction that every creature in there was my mortal enemy. I mean, they were beautiful and interesting, but also, nope, monsters. Murderous bloodthirsty barely sentient dinosaurs. Genetically, I am predisposed against things that don't give birth the same way as me. That's not really true...but it sorta is.

You know, I know its sad that all these creatures are locked up in these tiny places, and I really do feel sorry for them. But I get it. I mean, how else am I going to be able to look at them so closely? If there were aliens that came down and kidnapped me, and put me in a cage, I would totally understand if they just stood there staring at me like some marvelous beautiful creature.
Cause I’m vain as fuck.
And I bet snakes are vain as fuck too.

The only snake I didn’t get to see was the King Cobra,  he was hidden away.. The King Cobra is the only snake in the whole place that was so bad ass he was like, fuck this shit, I’m out, I’m just staying under this rock. The King Cobra doesn’t whore his shit out like those flashy pythons and dumb ass iguanas.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cleveland is Your Best Friend: 67 Things I Miss About Home

Holy Shit, I published this book! And now I really really really need you to buy it. Because you love me. And because you kept telling me I should write a book, so I did it, and now if you don't buy it, I will never write another one again. Which isn't true, I'm already working on the next one. It will have less pictures. Pictures are expensive. This is a pretty book. The next one will be ugly. Anyway, if you're not going to buy it, could you at least post this all over your FB and Twitter, and send it to all your friends? That would be awesome. Here is a trailer I made. Apparently, that's a thing we do now, make book trailers.

 Cleveland is Your Best Friend: Available for Purchase Here.


Now today is Black Sabbath appreciation day. I didn't make it that way, it just happened. So go listen to War Pigs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Swing State Syndrome and Why This Writer Guy can Piss Off

For those of you just catching up, I recently moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Wilmington, North Carolina to go back to school for creative writing. This has, therefore, been an extremely painful yet cynically entertaining  election cycle for me. One swing state to another, not much changes. I registered to vote here in NC as soon as the campus drives started, and since then I've been bombarded with fliers, phone calls, Hulu ads. I've had an Obama volunteer knocking on my door looking for me every day for the past two weeks. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood, so the Romney volunteers have been noticeably absent.

The only people who cared more about early voting than Ohio were North Carolinians. I'm one of those perverts who enjoys going to the community center on Election Day and making a whole ritual of it, and it got to the point where I was lying to the volunteers and telling them I had already voted, just so they would stop trying to give me directions to the library.

This morning I was laying in bed, contemplating my very non-political thoughts, and as I hopped on Twitter to post my deep musings about the correlation between my vibrator and my teddy bear, I saw THIS ESSAY linked to by my friend Angie. I have a lot to say about this, so you'd better go read it first, even though I absolutely hate to give this guy the page views.

First of all, fuck you. Just had to get that out there.
Alright. Let's try this again.

First of all, Ohio didn't choose to be the lynch pin of the electoral process. It's not like years ago, we somehow bid on it, somehow lobbied to be the place where every four years campaign strategists cum on our faces with 300 political ads a day and tie up our cellphones with blocked numbers just because one time we decided to sign that Move On petition. Oh yes, Ohio has email, can you believe it? No wait, actually some parts of Ohio DON'T have DSL, because not a single one of these candidates blowing their coffer loads here comes back in between elections to help us out with real issues - like accessibility of internet services, alternative energy sources, or a governor that's trying to frack us all into a giant hell pit. We are not rubes, we are very well aware of the disparity and the abuse we suffer at the hands of these invaders. There are not a bunch of Ohioans walking around going "Oh man, I'm so special and important, I'm the future of America." No, instead we're sitting in our finished basements, being pissed off that we can't watch our Black Key's youtube video without first having to sit through our 17th Romney ad of the hour.

Second, let's address this idea you posit that all human beings of vitality and vision leave Ohio as soon as they are able to crawl. It's painfully obvious that you consider yourself one of these visionaries. Let me assure you, your style is mediocre David Foster Wallace rip off at best, so tone it down a bit Chump. I mean, I sympathize, because I am obviously one of these glowing talents as well, and yes, I too ran far away from Ohio. To an even smaller town, in the Bible Belt, where grown men regularly call me honey and the job market is so slow I've been considering selling "used" underwear on Craiglist just to make rent. Look, I grew up in Revitalized Cleveland, so I'm well aware of the concept of "Ohio good", and I am not a fan of the legions of cheerleaders whose sole mission in life seems to be to convince me that Ohio is the very best place to live in the entire world because we have a restaurant with weird grilled cheese sandwiches.

But, and I'm going to go ahead and siphon off some of your ego here, I'm a good writer. The reason I am a good writer is not because I somehow had the far reaching vision to escape Ohio, but because I stayed there. I lived there for my entire formative twenties. That means I had to find jobs in Ohio, entertainment in Ohio, love in Ohio, and confidence in Ohio. In order to accomplish any of that, I was required to learn perspective.  You dismissively call Ohio "our republic in a can", and that's right. A lot of rednecks, some lone outposts of urban minorities, a thin icing of college educated professionals. That's absolutely correct, that's our country. Growing up in that microcosm, I am now able to live wherever I want in the country, even this weird little coastal town full of Republicans, and get along with people. I can even genuinely like them. I am capable of having an opinion about people with opposing viewpoints that doesn't involve degrading or vilifying  them. Those famous writers you cite, Anderson and Thurber and Crane, you know what they had that you don't have? They LIKED people. They were INTERESTED in people. They didn't just immediately dismiss anyone who didn't go to Princeton as intellectually inferior to them, or maybe if they did, they understood that intellect isn't necessarily the mark of a good man.

I was going to write a snarky little paragraph here about how you must have come from some beige little suburb town, and how the deeper subject of your essay is obviously your own unresolved bitterness towards your hometown. But then I tried googling your biography, and there wasn't much to find, except maybe you converted to Mormonism as a teenager once? Here's what being an Ohioan has done for me - I read that and immediately felt this pang of sympathy for your childhood. In my head those sugars converted to "oh, he probably just doesn't know any better" and now I've completely lost steam to make fun of you because I just feel bad that you think of your country as someplace to escape from, instead of the unending weird and interesting place it actually is. I mean, if you've made a career out of non-fiction writing, you must know this too, at least intellectually if not viscerally.

Here's what you did in this essay. You saw a week of the country crowing about the Impressive Mediocrity of Ohio, the Breadbasket of the Boring Modern Man, and you somehow felt compelled to scream against it. Nevermind that it only happens once every four years, and it isn't fooling anyone. You said to yourself "Stupid Ohio thinks it's so fucking special, it's time I remind the rest of this high school who the real cool kids are" and then you tried to pants us. So good for you, you reminded your peers that Ohio is fat and unemployed and stupid, that's awesome. We totally deserved that right? Cause god forbid, anyone pay attention to an entire section of the country that needs jobs and education and love. That isn't what politics is about at all, right? No, politics is about proving you're smarter than everyone else. Way to be a visionary there. And I hope, when Ohio goes blue tomorrow, you have a follow up essay prepared about how that doesn't really matter, because being a normal mediocre person still sucks. That will for sure help the effort to convince the "rednecks" here that they should vote with compassion towards their fellow man.