Inspired by a Borges short story, it's a webpage that uses an algorithm to generate every possible combination of 3200 characters. Each possible combination is associated with a virtual page in the Library.
So, if you write a poem and enter it into the search engine, you'll find the poem already there along with its unique card catalogue number in the Library. The content and arrangement of each page is always consistently associated with the number provided by the site.
Think about that.
Any piece of writing you put into the search engine is already associated with a number. Since the number, large as it is, irrefutably exists, so does the content. Instead of laboring away on your next play or novel, you could, if such a thing were possible, insert a huge number and voilà! it's already out there.
The act of creating is a process of discovery.
We think of ideas as emanating from us when in fact we are only witnessing them for the first time. They are our ideas in the same way that America was Columbus' land - we find them and claim them, but in truth their existence is already affixed - all we can do is sail up to the shore and plant our name like a flag. This is also true of any thought you might have, or, even perhaps any experience. We are all navigating space in a very fucked up and magical universe - we should do our best to abandon our egos, look to each other, and explore.
August 20, 2015
Speculation by a man who was not on Ashley Madison:
But maybe you were. Just imagine you were.
Imagine you went online one night because your curiosity was piqued. An advertisement had presented the site to you as an antidote to the supposedly dull, callous little reality you were already experiencing with the choices of your younger self: imperfect spouse, shitty job, screaming kids. "Life is short," the ad enticed... implying that the golden clock of steamy sex and delicious romance enjoyed by others less deserving is hurriedly ticking...
...so you indulged in a little of that time for yourself and you leafed through the site. But the field had yet to be fertilized: the site still withheld the promise of the ad; your searching powers were limited and you were forbidden from seeing full profiles - understandable since membership implies guilt and only the guilty ought to have have commerce, access and mingling privileges with the also-guilty.
So you pulled out your credit card and you stupidly, excitedly, selfishlessly despite your family and common sense gave the site your information and became a full member.
Maybe you were hoping the site would somehow seduce you, that the exhilarating powerlessness of forbidden lust would present itself to you in the magical serendipitous form of a picture or in the promise of a titillating phrase... once you had access to those profiles...
...but this was also extremely unlikely since, as you already suspected, and as the hackers now attest, many of the profiles are faked.
More likely: you made a few attempts at contacting a few people and gave up. Maybe you cleared your browser history and played Minecraft for the rest of the evening. Maybe it was time for dinner. Maybe you felt ashamed. Maybe not. The Internet is full of fantastic experiences whose thrall leaves us the moment we log off.
It probably doesn't speak well to your marriage - but here's the thing: there are many people out there having actual affairs, real sexual contact with real people, trainers or assistants or acquaintances or strangers and those philanderers are all collectively patting themselves on the back today because they had the good sense not to cheat online. They meant it when they pursued cheating, they took precautions, they covered their tracks like professionals...
...but you, you amateur, you oaf, you were just exposed to the whole wide world. They look down on you, the real cheaters. And the fact that you didn't actually cheat, as they did cheat and are cheating, doesn't matter because you THOUGHT about cheating - you allowed the consideration of the action to soak your consciousness - which is just as bad...
..unless you consider how the consciousness-soaking illicit emotions and imagined experiences we have in daydreams and when watching movies and when reading novels are also personal and intimate and therefore must also constitute cheating, right? or that up to the early naughts, we were expected to be tempted and that our characters were measured by our ability to resist temptation and not by its absence.
But this is different. You took action. You joined. You logged on. You tried to connect. The failure you experienced wasn't an act of character, it was the result of the game being rigged against you. You went for it, but you stumbled. And now your pathetic muddled attempt is public.
Because we carry these devices with us everywhere we go and since they've become an intrinsic part of the way we process, reconstitute and personalize information, our consciences are on permanent display. And you, disgraced cheater, you knew you were dreaming destructive dreams - but you made the mistake of thinking they were only dreams even while they were imprinted and coded - as almost every cognitive process is these days - in a series of ones and zeroes.
Up until very recently unless you were already a public figure the idea that everyone in the whole world would be privy to your trespasses was absurd. Yes, your spouse would and ought to be hurt and furious, perhaps to leave you...
...but why did the middle-aged version of the girl who sang "By My Side" in your high school's production of Godspell (and who 30 years later facebook-friended you) grimace when the news came out - and why did she search through the data dump with your email address (also on facebook) to confirm it? Why did the captain of your college intramural football team feel betrayed enough to revisit your photo albums with a new darker perspective, hoping to see your wife - the victim - and your children - poor things? And why did the woman you "friend-confirmed" seven weeks ago even though you didn't recognize her from her pictures shake her head and mutter softly, "How could you?"
We are allowing ourselves to be publicly degraded and castigated for crimes we haven't yet committed. We have opened the innermost parts of ourselves to the world to be examined and judged - and there seems to be no hesitation in the resulting outrage. Are we humiliated? Well, we deserve it .
The sentence "it's not your business" has become profane, incendiary, even a lie -- of course it's my businesss, it's ALL of our business. You have no rights - you were thinking about cheating - how dare you question us for exposing/investigating/shaming/delighting in your lapses, your publicly recorded searches and your skeevy predilections -"threesomes?" "role playing?" "slightly kinky?" Ewww!! And who cares what you feel now anyway? As the hackers wrote, "You'll get over it..."
...but maybe that's part of the problem. After all the sensationalism and the click-baiting and the promising and surprising and the instant gratification and the feeling of being connected and empowered that the web provides, the idea of having an affair - once a dark, tenuous and difficult enterprise, seems clean, innocuous, depersonalized, even easy. Maybe you will get over it.
...maybe we should stop shaming each other for being stupid sometimes. Maybe we ought not to start with presumptions. Maybe we ought to refrain from judging until we truly know. And maybe we should not allow hackers or thought police to dictate the course of our opinions, our feelings or our relationships. Maybe it's better to stand together and to tell the hackers "fuck you, we don't care." Our intents are only intents - and should not be held hostage nor prosecuted unless or until they assume the shape of action.
Otherwise, our personal thoughts will inevitably conform to groupthink and we will become ants - thinking and feeling collectively, rejecting dissent, subjugated by the caprices of the majority.
And those caprices may be inspired and controlled by outside forces. Once they're in your head, they're very, very difficult to remove.
Individuality is not easy to relearn.
August 5, 2015
20 Things I've Learned Swimming One Mile a Day in Lake Michigan.
1. Change is scary. Life is scary. Swimming in Lake Michigan is scarier.
2. If at some point you think the water may be shallow enough, but you aren't sure, do not test it by trying to stand up straight. If you can't find the bottom with your foot, you will sink quite suddenly. Panic ensues.
3. The realization that breathing is just a rhythm and if that rhythm becomes too regular...
...it can stimulate an onset of panic. The regularity closes in on you - it's exactly what happens during a nervous breakdown. The only solution is to break it up by holding your breath for two or three strokes every once in a while, and not at even intervals, but improvised. If you surprise yourself your heart will slow a little to compensate.
4. Swimming is low-impact, but the impact is total - almost every inch of you is fighting through a denser medium. Sometimes a discarded can of Pabst is also floating through this medium. You must deal with it.
5. In the open water trash, rocks, waves, your legs, your arms, and even calm itself can feel dangerous.
6. It's best to keep going. Stopping and treading will only further exhaust you.
7. Lake waves are akin to bathtub waves; they don't roll or break, but they can be fairly high and you have to allow yourself to be jostled and taken up and down. This is terrifying, but it's also great fun.
8. Fear is a powerful antidote to tedium. You don't notice bodyaches like you do at the gym. You also can't grunt loud enough to embarrass yourself.
9. The biggest psychological challenge is getting used to the idea that if you stop swimming, you will drown. You have to learn to trust your body's capabilities. This is the same body, by the way, that made you miss the entire red pill/blue pill sequence of The Matrix because it had to pee - but it's probably best not to think of that now.
10. When you get tired enough endorphins kick in - fear exits the stage and is quickly replaced by a boost of self-confidence. Careful though: as you decide your body is in tremendous shape, that your strokes are embracing and not fighting the water, and that you are, everything considered, a brazen adventurer, it's just possible that you will be passed on the left by a very old slightly rotund lady in a light blue one-piece who swims freestyle better and faster than you ever could.
11. Do not imitate her to prove a point - freestyle is damaging without earplugs: no matter how much you try to control your technique, your head will inevitably lose contact with and subsequently smack the surface on its side. This sounds like wet thunder and feels like getting shot in the eardrum with a nailgun.
12. Breast stroke is slow but better - and allows you to enjoy the view of the surface, the boats, the boardwalk and the old lady's arms tearing the waves like a circular saw in front of you.
13. Breast stroke is less prone to splashing. As you get tired, you do it poorly, though - your arms go too wide and your legs flail behind you. It's enough just to keep afloat.
14. The half-mile buoy lies just beyond the place where the boardwalk wall grows too tall to climb, and the ladders and the protective barrier around the cove end. The water under the surface plunges into darkness and the waves get stronger. When you reach it, the buoy - three feet of bobbing red and white plastic - seems utterly helpless and alone.
15. This is the most thrilling part of the swim.
16. Once it's over, you must head the fuck back.
17. The mind won't wander during any of this - dear God, you may want it to, but it won't.
18. There are many people who sit on the boardwalk water's edge along the wall. They all stare in the same direction. There's not much to see - the sun is usually above or behind them. These people are almost always lost, attractive and lonely.
19. Once you reach the sign on the boardwalk that says "Bicyclists dismount" you can touch bottom. You may want to keep swimming, though - the beach is further than you think.
20. Something about the lake doesn't leave you. You still feel it when you're asleep.
June 15, 2015 In case you're wondering:
1.) I'm writing this from the Food Court in the B Wing of LaGuardia Airport. There's a crowd of Chicagoans stranded, as I am, overnight by will of Thor, God of Thunder. The Fix Bakery and the Hudson Bookstore have kindly remained open; everything else is metallic and empty.
2.) Do not ever and by that I mean ever in the sense that ever means ever and ever in its everness overwhelms your senses with thoughts of ever and how its enemy never cannot ever be ever because ever is forever ever everlasting - do not EVER fly Spirit Airlines.
3.) If you find yourself stranded and decide to accept it by "Zenning Out," taking a long trip back to the city, visiting a large museum and making unmerited snide comments about their celebrated collection of post-Renaissance masterpieces - make sure you don't accidentally leave your glasses on the subway on the way back while in reverie remembering all the heinous bullshit you just said.
4.) Little birds live in the LaGuardia Food Court vestibule. Your chances of being shat on as you try to sleep are more than 15%. Accept it and move on.
5.) Fatigue and delirium are actually great palliatives for flying anxiety. In some ways you can't wait to get on that plane already.
6.) Keep your chin up and your mouth closed (remember, the bird shit). The Universe has placed you exactly where you need to be. Ball your fist against that crick in your lower back, inhale the processed air and accept its bounteous gifts to you.
January 4, 2015
I met you for the second time in late December. I was a 26 year old actor who had just driven across the country in a used white Plymouth Acclaim. Most of my training had been stage-focused, but I had decided to move to you anyway. I had given myself a three-year-get-a-series-or-go-back-to-New-York deadline. I drove over the pass and into a blanket of muddy white - that morning you were wearing a robe of super-dense fog that made the entire world disappear five feet in front of my car.
I thought the fog was smog. I'd heard about your terrible pollution, but this seemed downright apocalyptic. I said out loud to myself, "How do these people live?"
My first place with you was a bright pink room in the house of a recently divorced TV actor. My agent in New York had set it up - Hancock Park - not bad for a newbie. I set about painting the pink room white, getting to know as many people as possible, visiting my agent, procuring a delivery job, going to auditions (when I could get them) and privately worrying that I was already wasting what remained of my youth with you.
But I stayed - long after three years I stayed - and always for some genuinely compelling reason - a binding relationship, lack of funds, the near-future promise of some life-altering project, and finally the inevitable "everyone I know is here" that bars the possibility of leaving unless compelled.
Which is ridiculous, because we were never a good fit. You're way too "Type B" for me - there's your fondness for beaches, your outspoken uninhibited braggadocio, your unapologetic materialism, your bottom-lineness, your obsession with age and beauty, your exclusivity, your classist distinctions between districts, the west side and the east side, the working and the non-working, the represented and the under-represented, your lack of structure and planning, your fake teeth, fake boobs, fake face, fake tan, your manicured pets, and your view of pink and green as a legitimate color combo.
On the other side is me with my love of urban architectural harmony, my tendency to make assumptions about people, my compulsiveness, my powerlessness over my addictive nature, my fear of not being liked, my obsession with losers and outcasts, my unfamiliarity with beach culture, my indifference to car brands or house sizes, my inability to fit in, my baggy eyes, thinning hair and overbearing self-awareness: I'm too old, dumb, ugly, fat, I don't write enough, I should have done this but I didn't, I should have said this but I stayed silent, I should have succeeded but I failed, my difficulties selling anything, especially myself - and how too many of the painful and awkward meetings I took in your industry offices ended with a strained handshake and an unfunny self-deprecating joke.
I couldn't get used to your zoning laws. On my first visit to Hollywood Boulevard I turned left and found myself instantly confronted by what could easily have passed for a suburban alleyway in Albuquerque. There was no tapering down, no gradient, the corner was the only separation between famous city and obscure city - both lived at close quarters but had little in common and almost nothing felt shared. That principle permeates and defines you - it is who you are, and it is bad, but sometimes it's also good. From both sides of the corner comes a mutual understanding: we may pretend to be apart but we occupy essentially the same space. Much of the rest of the world would not appreciate the significance of this - like so much of you, it must be lived to be understood.
Evidence of how I never felt completely comfortable with you: my number of moves. I first lived on Tremaine Avenue, then on Tamarind, then on Bronson, then on 1st Street in the Fairfax area, then I was homeless for two months and slept on a friend's floor in Venice, then on La Jolla, then on Van Ness, then on Bronson again, then on Lemona Avenue in Sherman Oaks, then I owned a house on Hamlin in Valley Glen (read: Van Nuys), and then downtown to Flower Street, and then I lived in The Palazzo across from The Grove and then I moved within The Palazzo, and then downtown again to 6th and Hill, and then with friends in Sherman Oaks for three months and then downtown for the third and last time to Broadway and 3rd on the second floor directly above the Grand Central Market - if the floor had given, I'd have fallen onto that little organic Thai stand - and finally back to Hollywood with its crazy zoning to here at The Ardmore where I sit typing this into my phone among boxes because I'm moving again only this time it's from you and not within you and I feel excited and scared and so very sorry for that.
I love theatre for its transience, for the idea that it disappears immediately after it happens and can only be reinvoked through an act of enormous concerted energy and not with the flick of a button. Your second largest industry is based on the financial potential and convenience of button-flicking and I don't blame you for not being entirely comfortable with its absence. Besides, who would want to escape from eternal paradisic sunshine, swaying palm trees and a warm whispering breeze to a sweaty box where people emote and speak louder than is natural in order to be felt and heard? It feels more like banishment or temporary punishment.
Your mellowness, your love of hanging out and of flip flops, your abundant space and your open sky are great, but are hardly conducive to the innate understanding of the intrinsic power of tightly interconnected and mutually affecting geometric relationships that constitutes theatricality. Don't get me wrong: you have plenty of extremely gifted people and exciting theatre companies who have that kind of understanding and who use it extemely well. But their inventiveness isn't always as appreciated as it should be - and I can't help but wonder if your climate isn't at least part of the reason why.
Still, and in spite of the seductive invitation of the world outside to stay home or go to the beach, the people who do appreciate it really do appreciate it. And that's really cool - (I have found) your audiences - however small - are often accepting, forgiving, supportive and tend not to be swayed by the opinions of others. Maybe that's because you are not a "theatre town," or maybe it's a product of your youth, since you are constantly receiving an infusion of eager and ambitious and genuinely nice if annoyingly pretty Midwesterners, or maybe you are, despite a reputation for catty superficiality, just kind and simple and open.
Or maybe you slice what you've seen to pieces behind closed doors after you praise it - which would fit your reputation - but I've never caught you doing that. I also haven't seen the drugs you're famous for, or the supposedly ubiquitous sex or the free-wheeling sunglasses-at-night-loud-electric-guitar set that are supposed to be crowding your streets. I'm not saying they don't exist; I'm probably admitting I don't get out much, but I haven't experienced them.
I have experienced some of your darkness. I have been lied to several times and I have known that the person who was lying to me was lying but I stood still and did nothing because I was afraid. And I have lied. Well, I have.
I found relief in your spiritual landscape - in communion with people who suffer and who in suffering lose their will to judge. I have been to therapy, been saved by therapy, abandoned therapy and returned and left again. I have discovered that the ego is agoraphobic and never wants to look outside.
I have been outside and met many of your wonderful people - earnest, loving, exciting, daring, bold, smart people who came to you with big plans of their own. The majority of these people are not famous and many are not even "working" - but they are no less remarkable.
And that's just part of the reason why my heart is breaking, and while there are many for whom this move would not be such a big deal - we're all increasingly connected as the world continues to become more global blah blah, plus there's a chance I could be back sooner than I expect and that I will consequently be embarassed for having told you goodbye in such a long-winded way - I will still miss you terribly.
So goodbye for now, Los Angeles, you great big crazy beautiful smoggy botoxed bastard. I will see you again soon, I'm sure.
November 20, 2014
Transcript of a long tram ride outside of Dublin at midnight. (Rated MA for Mature Audiences Only).
(The Luas tram - I'm going from Abbey Street to our Groupon deal hotel in Saggart - a one-hour ride from the city.
The doors open at Four Courts Station; a COUPLE gets on and sits directly in front of me - here's what they look like:
the HUSBAND is middle aged, short, bulbous-nosed and very drunk;
his WIFE is thick, red-faced, hair dyed jetblack, in a tight blue skirt with stockings and also extremely drunk.
Both look to be in their mid-fifties and share the kind of aggressive blue-eyed manic gleam you'd expect to see on barracudas before they devour their prey.
They start talking to each other in very slurry brogue - I can't tell if it's Gaelic or English; as soon as I decide "Gaelic" I make out a dirty English word.
Besides being obscene, they're incredibly loud.
A BRITISH GENTLEMAN in a long thick dark jacket bristles at their banter as he stands in the space in front of the tram doors. Out the windows, the landscape shifts from densely packed five storey buildings with brightly colored doors to cube-shaped silhouettes of suburban apartments to floresence and car parks to blurry yellow highway crossings to dim shadows paddling around polluted streams to open fields which would shine green brilliance were it not for the all-pervasive dark.)
BRITISH GENTLEMAN: Would you please be quiet? WIFE: What's that then? BRITISH GENTLEMAN: Would you mind keeping it down? WIFE: Why should ah kep it doon fur ye? Ah don ivin know ye. Ah nivir ivin seen ye befahr. HUSBAND: Heard bout ye, tho. COUPLE: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
(The British Gentleman turns his back to them. The train stops, doors open and he departs.
A DRUNK in his 30s who has watched the exchange with interest from a seat on the far side of the car moves to occupy the seat across the aisle from the Couple.
The DRUNK has a hard chiseled face and tattoos on his neck and on his knuckles. He's anxious to start a fight, and the Couple, very much relishing this intrusion into their space, seems to be screaming for one.)
DRUNK: Wot ar ye two doon thin, scarin' people offa the Luas? WIFE: Wut are ye doin stinkin up the Luas? DRUNK: Oi ain't stinkin it up. HUSBAND: E's stinkin it doon. WIFE: Heh heh heh. ANNOUNCER: Next stop Red Cow. Red Cow Station. DRUNK (taking note and facing the wife): Oh, they's callin ye red noo, is they? WIFE: Wuzzat? DRUNK: Noo, oi's jis offerin congratulations since ye've gone an had a stop named after ye. HUSBAND: Listen, mistor, if she was a cow yer pants'd already be round yer ankles at this juncture. DRUNK: Noo, but my pants are on. WIFE: Doon seem to keep yeh from wankin in pooblic though. COUPLE: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! DRUNK: Ah'll have yews knoo ah'm a respictible mimber of society. HUSBAND: Really, cuz ye seem t'oos t'be a daft shite. DRUNK: At least oi has a job. HUSBAND: Wut, ye hand oot floiers fer the donkey shoo, doo ye? WIFE: Strokin yerself een pooblic ain't a job. HUSBAND: It's a nuisance. COUPLE: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! DRUNK: Yew keep it oop, ah'll have ye licked a the next stop. WIFE: How yer gonna manage win ye can't get yer oon self licked? DRUNK: Yer husband's a wee man. Oi cood take him doon in a hair's bridth. HUSBAND: Why doon ye try. Better yit, start with herself. WIFE: Ah'll tear ye in half, ye nasty git. DRUNK: Oi'm too drunk an too civilized te spar with a lady. HUSBAND: Right, cuz he only does that sober. WIFE: An' loses! COUPLE: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! DRUNK: Oi've nivir lost a foight wit no one. WIFE: No One let ye win thin did'ee? HUSBAND: No One's his best friend! WIFE: His only friend! COUPLE: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! DRUNK: Oi'll shoo ye the wot-for. Next stop less have a proper punch-up on the platform. WIFE: Ai wood but ai doon wanna git yer blood on me dress. DRUNK: Wot bout yer squire thin? WIFE: He hort his little finger last Soonday an don't care te hort it all over 'gin bashin in yer ugly face with it. HUSBAND: Asides which, ai have a very compassionate nature an don't like the sound a other people's bones snappin'. WIFE: He's afraid o' losin his medical license. COUPLE: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! DRUNK: Ye'll lose more thin that when oi'm done with ye. HUSBAND: Yes, ai'll lose ah bit o'dignity. WIFE: But that's jest by association. HUSBAND: An anyway, ai'd rather watch ye trip on yer way out the door, ye snackered-up fekwit. COUPLE: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! ANNOUNCER: Arriving... Red Cow Station.
(The Drunk gets off the train, looking over his shoulder for them to follow. The Couple stay on. The doors close and I watch the Drunk stare longingly into the window as the tram pulls away from the station.
The Couple are now open-eyed and silent, heads bobbing, as if idling, waiting for the next victim to swim into their territory. Nothing more is said, just me, them, a few other midnight souls and the clatter of the car.
I get off at Saggart Station, walk back to the hotel and feel the urge to write all this down.)
October 22, 2014
On the Eve of my birthday:
I used to be the youngest person in the room. Now I'm usually the oldest by at least a decade - and even the people who are ten years younger than me are really too old to be in that room.
I can't believe how old I am - and I'm not going to pretend to be happy about it or accepting of it. Why should I be? And don't start with that "beats the alternative LOL" - I mean, come ON. Are you implying that death sucks even worse than ageing? And I'm supposed to take comfort in that?! And how do you even KNOW that? I mean, Jesus, at least write a book or make a documentary if you have some inside scoop.
My eyes look like they just went shopping and picked up some bags; there are now lines on my face which do not seem to have design, direction nor purpose; my hair is a robin's nest of fine strands sparsely arranged around a giant peach colored egg. I barely recognize myself when I look in the mirror - but in a perverse act of kindness, God has also blurred my vision so the image isn't quite so terrible. Others are forced to see it, however, even if I don't.
I don't want to join AARP and drink Ensure. I don't want to say "heh heh" and wink at people. I despise gardening, pastels, wisdom and serenity. I don't want to wake up at 5:00 in the morning just because the sunrise is so beautiful. No! I am too full of bile and fire for all that.
I would much rather stay up until 3:00, drink lots of Pepsi Max and yell at the moon. I would rather go places where I should not go and walk into tunnels without knowing where they lead and do all kinds of things people do just for kicks in their 20s until I'm in my 90s. Until I need a respirator. Yes! I will rage, rage against the dying of the light, even if that light is on a very slow dimmer.
That said, this is going to be a year of changes; at least, it looks that way now. I'm terrified and exhilarated. And stressed. So, huzza.
Thanks for reading.
October 8, 2014
The lunar eclipse at 3:15AM
1. How much more three dimensional the unlit moon seems. 2. How it's actually more beige than blood red, but no less terrifying. 3. How the dim traces of color don't stay put, but morph and crawl around the edges of the disk, like glowing orange around the sides of an ember. 4. How though the noise from the street was the same when the last sliver of light disappeared from its circle, there was in the four people stationed in front of my building – me, a woman in a felt hat, a security guard and a man with a long cigarette – an understanding of a Sudden Great Quiet. 5. How in this event the constituents remain physically intact and unaltered, but by an act of positioning everything changes. Same moon, same earth, same sun – it's only the relationship between them that causes the moon's surface temperature to plummet and its luminous day to be surprised by the sudden intrusion of night. 6. How I could place myself differently in relation to everything around me and it might have the same effect. 7. How within seconds of it becoming so dark you miss its brightness. 8. How the entire sky around it seems speckled with red – and even though you know it must be your eyes playing tricks with you, and, man, how tired you are... it sure does seem red. 9. How I, you, Indonesians, Iranians, the French and the Pacific Ocean, the Rocky Mountains and Asia and Europe and Antarctica and the polar ice cap and the deep crust, mantle and inner core have all conspired for one hour to prank our sidekick by casting this giant shadow. 10. How even after the moon moves through it and we can't see it, the shadow – and with it our collective effort - remains.
March 20, 2014
I'm in the Westfield Mall walking past the skin cream store - at least that's what I think it is because there's a 26 year old guy in sunglasses with a silvery tube in his hand standing just outside the doorway and he says, "Excuse me, sir, can I ask you a question?" which is by now a terrible opening for a sales pitch since we've all already heard it and know it and no, you can't ask me a question, I'm going to continue forward without breaking momentum or even pretending to recognize your existence but as I turn my face away from him to demonstrate my resolve a bee flies into my eye - right into it -and I try to get it out by shaking my head which I do so hard my neck pops, loudly, and by the time my hands have reached my face the bee is gone and I'm screaming. I think I gave myself whiplash. I turn to the sales guy who has backed off a few steps into the store. I wonder for a second if there's a baseball bat under the counter and he's about to make a dash for it - he has that kind of energy in his face. What a perfect ending that would be for me - a guy wanted to sell me something so I ignored him, a bee flew into my eye, I began to convulse and was subsequently beaten to death. So I ran. Like a little girl I ran until I got around the corner where he couldn't see me. And now my neck hurts and I'm scared to walk past that store again. And I still don't want to answer his questions.
February 3, 2014
I had just watched a play directed by and starring a bunch of people I know and admire. I was in the alley behind the theatre waiting to congratulate everybody and Philip Seymour Hoffman was standing there right next to me, also waiting. I knew he was a private guy (or he seemed that way) so out of respect I made up my mind to say nothing. We stood there for about five minutes and suddenly he thrust his hand at me and said "Phil." I introduced myself and talked to him about a mutual friend of ours for the next ten minutes. It was an extemely normal, almost banal conversation. On the way home I tried to reconcile the insistently unpretentious and friendly person I had just met with Truman Capote and Allen in Happiness and Jon Savage and Andy in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. I couldn't. How could one person be so many people?
The stain of death is, of course, permanent, and the way he died changes our perception of who he was. But it's important to remember that he was fully, wholly, convincingly and completely many people, and that somehow all of those people were also him, and that he shared everything onscreen without vanity or obfuscation. The addiction he suffered from was part of it - but just one part.
What a loss his family and close friends must feel. And what a loss to the rest of us, who will miss the anticipation we felt when his name appeared in the program or in the opening credits.
So unbelievably sad.
October 21, 2013
There's no sense in hiding my age, since the IMDB is bafflingly intransigent about posting ages (shouldn't SAG, who used to forbid prospective employers from inquiring as to an actor's specific age due to the limiting effect is might have on, say, casting, say something about all that?)
Anyway, I'm old. Hi. I'm old. Just practicing. Would you like some vanilla ice cream? Heh heh heh.
As of midnight, I get one more full day to identify myself with a prime number until 2019. In the ínterim, I may take advantage of the multiples. Many of my childhood heroes use walkers to get around. Many don't get around at all.
If you're invincible, beautiful and feelin' 22 and you happen to be reading this, be warned: there will come a time when you realize most of the people with whom you live, play and work are much younger than you. For me that time came about ten years ago.
But there's also a salve - a communal awareness of the inevitability and slow encroachment of time, space, Ensure and colostomy bags. And as a result of that awareness, you may remain fixed stubbornly in Spring relative to some secret convenant of fear - people will always tell you "[INSERT AGE]? That's not old at all. That's YOUNG." We've all agreed to lie.
And the moment you stop listening to the lie and realize how young you really are, you're not young any more. Not by a long stretch.
Here's the thing: I feel 13. I think I have some kind of body-age dysmorphia. I look at my reflection in shop windows and my reaction is almost always, "Oh, dear God, no!"
Does anyone else feel this? I could be forgiven for interpreting through Facebook the world as a blithe, pleasant and self-accepting place. You know, like San Francisco. Or most of Canada.
Maybe that's why I'm writing this: because now matter how surrounded by love I am, part of me is not self-accepting. Part of me is slipping down the greasy runway and into the sea. Because aging is like going through your profile pictures: no one seems to do it as much as you do.
Gratitude helps. I try, but don't always succeed, to appear grateful. The shame of it is, I actually am deeply grateful for everything. I just clam up too much to tell anyone. Will you tell them for me? No, never mind, not your problem, of course, sorry. Thanks, though.
Anyway, there it is: another ring in the trunk. And I still feel as though I'm just beginning - not just my career, but, like, everything. That's probably not the best place to be at my age - all fresh-faced and bug-eyed, obliviously stretching my limbs at the starting line while the perceived majority have completed several laps... but it's where I am.
So, okay, let's stamp this number on the side of the plane which I'm certain someday will finally leave the ground. Yeah. Yep. Sure.
Thanks for reading.
August 9, 2013 As we know, down the block near the corner of Broadway and 4th, a ficus tree grows on the side of a building. It flourishes there and no one can find its roots. It has claimed the south wall; it raises its arms and proclaims how easily what could never be may be replaced by what is. The owners have speculated that somehow the watering system of the building is nourishing the tree, but the tree also nourishes the building, injects it with nature, and reminds it of the raw energy from which it came. The thought of your face clings to me and your roots are spreading within my walls. I may never find them but they are part of me now and they nourish me. I will wear you wherever I go.
July 31, 2013
HE: What's the problem, exactly? ME: I already told you guys the problem. HE: You did? ME: Yeah, I was here two days ago and the doctor asked me to come back. HE: Which doctor? ME: Um... I can't remember? HE: Was he blonde? ME: Not particularly. HE: Okay... ME: He might have had blonde highlights... HE: So he had mostly dark hair. ME: Yeah. I mean, no, it wasn't dark, dark. It was kind if brown... HE: Okay, so brown and curly. ME: It was too close to his head to tell if it was curly. HE: So what did he look like exactly? ME: I don't know, he was kind of just a guy. HE: Ah. Must have been Dr. Brennan. What did he see you for? ME: I've been having headaches and neckaches on the right side and tingling in my arm. HE: How would you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten? ME: My neck pain? HE: Just overall. ME: Including, like, the pain of just existing? HE: Yes. ME: Eight. HE: Okay. Eight. What did Dr. Brennan tell you? ME: He took x-rays. HE: Okay, I'll pull those up for you and have Dr. Millbank look at them. One minute.
He exits, leaves the door open and steps across the hall to the x-ray room. He shuffles around for a while, then leaves.
Minutes pass. There's a Soviet era Polish movie poster of Brian De Palma's Obsession on the wall. Because of state restrictions, a lot of these Polish designers never saw the movies they had to make the posters for - the designs are based solely on the film titles. This one depicts the silhouette of a man in fragments.
Across the hall a doctor whom I've never seen before steps into the x-ray room and looks at the images of my upper skeleton. He pauses, then says, "WHOA! Oh, man! OUCH!"
It seems some of my cervical vertebrae have decided to rebel against the tyrannical conformist societal expectations of "correct" spinal alignment. Why should a neck be forced to support a head? What if, instead of living in the shadow of a chin, a neck decides to strike out on its own and pursue other ambitions - like performance art, or challenging insurance companies, or, say, causing extreme pain? I'd nod in approval if I could do so without wincing.
May 4, 2013
MONITOR: Okay, and and let's hear one more round of applause for the author. (Scant applause) MONITOR: Now, I'd like to open it up and see if there are any questions. Yes, you, in the silk shirt? SILK SHIRT: This was terrific. AUTHOR: Thank you. SILK SHIRT: No, really, I loved it. That whole thing where he's yelling at the storm? That was amazing. AUTHOR: Thanks. Do you have any questions? SILK SHIRT: No, I just loved it. AUTHOR: Well, thank you. MONITOR: Okay, great. Um... you? No, with the flaxen hair? FLAXEN HAIR: Oh, hi. Yeah, I had a problem with him yelling at the storm, actually. MONITOR: Really? FLAXEN HAIR: Yeah, why is he asking the winds to blow when they're blowing already? AUTHOR: Well, it's kind of a conjuring. FLAXEN HAIR: Yeah, but he's just a human, right? AUTHOR: Right... FLAXEN HAIR: I mean, he's a king and everything, but he's a human. AUTHOR: Yeah. FLAXEN HAIR: He's not a witch. AUTHOR: No. FLAXEN HAIR: So, what's the point of him trying to do all these things to change nature? AUTHOR: Well, I don't think he knows his limitations. FLAXEN HAIR: So he thinks he's a witch? I just thought it was confusing. You didn't set it up. And the little guy with the floppy hat? MONITOR: The Fool? FLAXEN HAIR: Is that what he was? I didn't understand what he was saying half the time. MONITOR: Interesting. How many people didn't understand what The Fool was saying? (Almost everyone raises their hand.) MONITOR: And how many people were bothered by that? (Half of the hands go down.) MONITOR: All right, so, the storm and the fool, not for everybody. AUTHOR: Mmm. MONITOR: So... um, yes, you, in the doublet. DOUBLET: Yeah, brilliant. The whole thing with the niece dying at the end... AUTHOR: Niece? MONITOR: Daughter, you mean? DOUBLET: The girl. The one who gets sent away. MONITOR: She's his daughter. DOUBLET: Oh, right. MONITOR: That's the whole... he has three daughters and she's one of them. DOUBLET: Okay, well, there you go. I was really moved when she died. AUTHOR: Thank you. DOUBLET: Just moved to tears. AUTHOR: Thanks. DOUBLET: I didn't get one thing, though: you have a line somewhere in the middle about a snake's tooth... AUTHOR: "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child"? DOUBLET: Yeah, that's it. That didn't make sense to me. AUTHOR: What didn't- DOUBLET: Well, it's just that the way it reads now, it sounds like having a thankless child makes you sharper than a serpent's tooth. It should say "How sharper than a serpent's tooth IS a wicked child's scorn." Or maybe, even "How much more painful than a serpent's tooth's bite is the scorn of a thankless child." MONITOR: That doesn't scan, though. DOUBLET: Yeah, well, you're the writer. You can fix it.
May 3, 2013
11:15 PM - I walk out of the laundry room and almost open the door on two sisters. The shorter one looks at at me and screams. Then she sees the box of Purex in my arms. "Oh," she says, "You scared me. I didn't know what you were doing coming out of there ." They walk down a series of twists and turns in this labyrinthian building; I follow about ten paces behind. I can tell they're a little nervous, especially when they reach the last door on the right - the one before mine - where the hall ends. So. We're next-door neighbors. I slip my key in the door. The tall one says: "Is that you playing the piano?" "Oh," I say, "Yes. Sorry." "No," she says, "it's beautiful. We like it when you play. We want you to play." I walk inside, set the box of detergent on the kitchen counter and stand there for a moment. I wonder if either of them has any idea what that meant to me.
December 12, 2012
To Whomever is Still Out There,
I'm not sure exactly how, but I have managed to survive. The end came swiftly - no super-volcanic explosion, no giant rock glowing in the sky - just a quiet blip as we slept. When I awoke, it was apparent everywhere how forcibly and cruelly the Prophecy had been fulfilled.
It has only been a matter of hours, but already I am struggling to adjust to this strange alteration of reality; the post-apocalyptic landscape is a place of extreme violence, insatiable greed and unchecked ambition. People everywhere carry huge guns - sometimes into schools. Any attempt to restrain the use of lawless force is met with extreme hostility from survivors who fear oppression beyond rational bounds. There are a select few who try to maintain the appearance of order, but fail because they cannot see past their own primal urges and will not compromise. Hatred and bigotry loom large - in the apparent interest of propagating the species certain forms of love are not tolerated. There are also rituals conducted in which political figures are condemned in effigy. Worst of all are the zombies who seem entirely unaffected by the storm of chaos and destruction which surrounds them - instead of revolting against the evils which threaten their existence, they idle down the streets of the ruins of our cities, headphones plugged into their ears, corn dogs and 38 oz. Big Freezes in their fists, seeking objects to consume: shoes they can't afford, bad movies, flat screen TVs...
Oh, wait a minute...
November 30, 2012
Assumptions are dangerous, but right now they're all I have, so here goes:
I'm going to assume that you woke up around 9:00 this morning. I'm going to assume that you showered, fed your eight cats, then went to your kitchen and discovered you were out of soy milk.
I'm now going to assume that you got into your Accura SUV (that's not an assumption, actually, since it's right here in front of me) and that you decided to get on Olympic and head west for the Santa Monica Starbucks, because it's so much nicer than the Larchmont Starbucks.
I'm not going to make any assumptions about why you chose the left lane; it defies empathy and imagination.
So, there you were, no deadline, nothing pressing, no place you had to be other than in the left lane of a very busy street people use to get to their appointments and jobs, checking out your makeup at stop signals, Pink blasting through the dashboard... when something unspeakable happened.
Water began to fall from the sky.
I don't mean just a little water in one place, like in the shower, I mean it was coming from everywhere. You looked to your left and to your right and there it was: tiny droplets of water, like the kind you see on Evian bottles if you place them on a hot rock in Runyon Canyon - only these drops were floating down all by themselves, making the sheer black of your Accura hood appear dapply.
So you panicked.
To control your panic, you inhaled through your nose and out through your mouth like you learned in that Yoga class you audited seven months ago but didn't actually attend because it wasn't near a Starbucks, and, as the oxygen filled up your lungs, you made a decision.
You decided to slow down.
You were already going 20mph in a 35mph zone, but those signs say nothing about how to handle emergencies, and you decided you could, since, after all, aside from your date with the Pro Tennis Instructor who keeps IMing you on eHarmony, your entire day was pretty much free. So 20 mph became 10 mph and now the water felt less threatening since absolutely no one was in front of you.
So, here's my problem.
I realize I've assumed a few things, and maybe some of them are wrong, but, see, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and I have a UPS truck riding my blind spot on the right and I'm late - not to Starbucks - but to a place I'm actually supposed to be. And you have chosen, despite being far enough in front to move over, to stay in the left lane and to exercise your understandable caution, since water, though vaguely familiar, is a very frightening substance.
But your fear is costing me time, money, and, sorry to say it, sanity.
I hope this doesn't offend you - as I realize it may be difficult to hear being, as it is, encrypted in a deceptively chaotic series of honks and screams. Please know that I care deeply about you and I want you to be well.
And drive safely!
September 6, 2012
The baffling, chronically repeating patterns of hope and disappointment, success and failure, love and despair you experience are not the results of weakness or futility or an inability to learn, but of the brain's endless war with the heart. If the brain wins: You'll be sane, but you won't be inspired. You'll be secure, but you won't know freedom. You'll be confident, but you'll forget how to dare. If the heart wins: You'll know ecstasy, but you'll also know starvation. You'll be open, but you're likely to be crushed. You'll feel, but you won't have the means to express it. The struggle you're experiencing is the same struggle that has defined our species' artistic and spiritual growth throughout its history. Either fan the flames of war or spend the rest of your life in a state of blissful regret. If you do choose to continue, own the choice, don't question it, and fight, because fighting is also living, and living is, after all, in and of itself, an act of creation.
September 3, 2012
There's a degree of flexibility and understanding I have to exercise in the making and fulfillment of promises to myself - but here are some things I hope never to do, no matter what: 1.) Wear lounge pants in public or man sandals in an eating establishment. 2.) Go "Mmmmmmm" at a particularly profound moment in a film or play. 3.) Pretend to write in a Coffee Bean while tweeting/web surfing/leering at women. 4.) When confronted with the name of a celebrity I happen to know in a conversation, say, "Oh, [nickname the other person didn't know the celebrity had] - he's/she's SUCH an asshole/mensch/dear, etc.." 5.) Use the words "delightful," "indeed" or "shan't" without irony in any context. 6.) Add an "ate" to the end of "orient" or "converse." 7.) Breathe through my nose into a microphone. 8.) Say "now that's what I'm talkin' about!" or "Fuck, yeah!" during sex. 9.) Use the phrase "tool around" to mean "travel" in a sentence about my car, e.g., "I thought we could tool around Malibu in my Miata." 10.) Flirt openly with a cashier while others are waiting in line. 11.) Deliberately hurt anyone for any reason. 12.) Unwrap and suck open-mouthed on any kind of candy in any public setting. 13.) Pretend that I understand what makes something beautiful. 14.) Discuss TV show characters as if they're actual living human beings. 15.) Knowingly say "We shall see." when feeling threatened. 16.) Change in order to convince someone to love me. 17.) Forget what I was going to say. 18.) What was it? 19.) Oh, yeah! Ask someone to change so that I may love them. 20.) Just be an all-around dickhead in general. 21.) Write pointless, overly revealing posts that don't know when to stop. 22.) Cease making sense at the end of the posts. 23.) Penguins, marigolds, la la la, Sam, you're in the butter.
August 25, 2012
There are certain people who will always try to stop you. They will tell you that your ideas don't work, they will question and criticize your idiosyncrasies, they will even go so far as to make fun of you. Only rarely are they motivated by maliciousness; like everyone else, they simply want something - and it's up to you to consider why in this instance they want you to stop. Something you have threatens the very narrow vision of the world they have - and it's important to them that they take your gift away. You must not listen to such people, you must not argue with them, you must continue to create and grow- because the sadness you experience after listening isn't yours - it's theirs. It has nothing to do with you.
August 9, 2012
Why do we get over people? Shouldn't we get through them, instead? Why do you get through a divorce and you get through a terrible car accident and you get through a period of dire financial instability, but you have to get over someone who says no to being your date at the Hi Teen Carnival? And why are you going to the Hi Teen Carnival? You're 46, for God's sake. (Disclosure: This post is in very poor taste and does not reflect, nor is representative of the views or opinions of its author or its author's affiliates.)
August 5, 2012
You get stuck and you worry and you try different things and your worry becomes a kind of cruel desperation and then one day for no particular reason it pops into your head and you can't believe how simple it is and how you couldn't see it and it occurs to you that maybe success is as much about waiting as it is about work but sadly you aren't patient enough to give that idea any more thought and as you continue to work you find yourself longing for something else to torture you and to cling to like a rung on a very long ladder over a very steep incline and you wonder if maybe what you're addicted to is not the act of creating but the frustration and the struggle that comes with it.
August 3, 2012
No, I don't want to try your micro-massager. I don't care if it also builds muscles. Walk walk walk walk. Absolutely you may not ask me a question. Walk walk walk. No, I don't want to sample your damn fruit tea. Walk walk. Oh, come on, my skin is fine - that cream's not going to do anything. Walk walk walk. Dude, I don't have kids and I don't play with flying toys - not into it, sorry. Ugh! You guys are the new Moonies, aren't you? Walk walk walk. Lady, I don't need sunglasses. Yeah. Uh-huh. Well, if you think my face is so handsome, why would I cover it with your product? HA!! Walk. walk. Stop. Turn around. Walk. Walk. Okay, let me try a pair.
July 24, 2012
What in God's name makes some people so crazy about other people marrying the people they love? Why is it anyone else's business? Why is "judge not lest ye be judged" ignored, while an obscure item on a crazy list in Leviticus is treated as blanket permission to break the Golden Rule? And now this involves muppets and chicken sandwiches? Seriously?
We're still very young as an intelligent species - VERY young; there are fundamental forces and truths which we have not yet begun to even imagine - forget understand. Pretending otherwise is hubris. The one binding certainty of which we have some grasp - love - is powerful beyond our control, and can just as easily cause wars, sickness and death as it can light up the night sky, and neither you, me, nor anyone else we know is in a position to dictate its proclivities, to box it within certain parameters, or to deny it to anyone else.
July 20, 2012
(In reference to the Aurora, CO shootings)
Tere's something more sinister in all of this. When someone dyes his hair red and affects the same sort of mannerisms, which, when accompanied by acts of cinematic violence, make audiences whoop and high-five and teen-age kids shout awesome; and when he does what the two-dimensional characters do -because he's obviously unstable and raised in a society which lauds criminal behavior and fame; and when the media pivots its microphones and cameras towards his face and plasters it all over the internet; and when we watch the CGI re-enactments on CNN and FOX and try to imagine the terror of the event in the same way we imagine when we sit in a movie theatre; and when the crime transpires inside the palace of its inspiration; and when the anguish and the fear to which we are all addicted grow and cause a little surge of adrenaline; then we forget how stupid, small and sad senseless violence is, how banal it is, and how thuggishly destructive. And we focus on the victims only temporarily, because our conscience dictates us to do so - but staying with the despair of the victims' families and of the castrated dreams and hopes and the catastrophic loss is too unbearable, too tedious, too bleak, so we remember only the name of the perpetrator and the sensation he caused, and the rest is soon forgotten.
July 20, 2102
The weirdest part of the Sonny and Cher cover of "I Got You Babe" is the Renaissance flute that plays in the interstices. I think about some little minstrel with his kit and his dog dancing around their legs and blowing his flageolet as they sing.
June 13, 2012
The more I think, the less good at it I am. I think good thinking involves a kind of effortlessness that the act of thinking about thinking obviates. I may be wrong about this - but if I think about it, I can't tell. I think I'm right, but I'm only thinking. Therefore I am. Or maybe not. Tell me what you think and whether you think that I'm thinking too much and how you think I can stop.
June 12, 2012
My cat has learned that destroying things is a very good way to get me out of bed. I don't have much of a choice: I hear a loud crash in the living room - I can either lie there and hope it was nothing too expensive (which means no more sleep) or I can pull myself up, flick on the switch and admire his handiwork. I choose to admire rather than to punish, because anyone who's had a cat can tell you that invectives and castigation are reciprocated with a blank stare -- if there's a trace of emotion in it, it's the anticipation of being fed. If I don't reward his behavior, another crash will be coming - and I have to lie in the dark with my toes and teeth clenched, waiting.
July 12, 2012
Here's what I love about Art Walk in downtown LA: as with the theatre scene, it's possible with a little time, effort and money to display the work you've done privately in front of hundreds of people who will judge what you've done in a way that is entirely personal and based on its own merit. The result: a huge mess of an event, consisting mostly of terrible art, but free of the capricious tyranny of "legitimacy" and of the establishment, which is how it should be. The popularity of Art Walk demonstrates how LA perceives art differently than almost any other city - and the fact that it resembles the levelling, democratic paradigm of the internet shows that this uniqueness is also prescient.
Moments Later, July 12 2012
I realize there's a certain amount of irony in writing this after my last post. I was walking down Spring and 5th and was confronted with a line of cops in riot gear. Given the weird installations I've seen at Art Walk, I almost expected it was a flash mob and that they would start dancing to "Puttin' on the Ritz." I pulled out my iphone, which was on low battery and started filming. Someone told me that the occupy people had been writing in chalk on the street and this was the city's way of handling it. There were two helicopters swarming overhead - it all seemed a little extreme. My phone died, then suddenly the police charged at us. I'm not a member of Occupy - and I certainly wasn't there to violate any laws. I was carrying my kindle and an umbrella. That did not stop a cop from rushing at me. I ran, just avoiding one particularly aggressive cop, and looked to my left - another totally unarmed, non-protesting civilian was being beaten with a baton, apparently for the crime of not running fast enough. The police forced the crowd back, one block, then the next. Many people could not get into their homes. For the next hour and a half, I stood as close as I could to the cops, not because I'm a protester, but because this should not be America. I've read about police brutality with a healthy skepticism and I feel grateful to the majority of police who are doing their job keeping the rest of us safe. But this was something different entirely. By the time we were pushed back to Spring and 6th, a new group of cops came in brandishing long dark green rifles. You can't picture the absurdity of all of this - a bunch of stoned hipsters dancing around, playing with their iphones, wearing short-shorts, being confronted by a swarm of storm-trooperish helmeted warriors, as if they were rioters or terrorists. All for writing in chalk on the street? Couldn't they have simply pulled the people who were writing in chalk aside and said "don't do that?" I'm completely freaked out and will remain so for the rest of the night.
May 16, 2012
Tonight I stood outside for fifteen minutes listening to an apparently schizophrenic woman talking to her imaginary friends about how she and Brad Pitt are soulmates. As people walked around and away from her, I kept thinking how beautiful, hideous, manic, harrowing, scary and profound her delivery was. If she had been onstage, she'd have received a standing ovation. Theater is about placement; it's just a matter of centering and timing - and the madness we experience in great art is not so removed from everyday madness. The main difference is we get to take off the mask - and she's still out there somewhere, still talking. It also occurred to me how shallow I've been by shielding myself from the crazy, the lost, the hopeless, the indigent and how arrogant I've been to tell stories about them; how similar we all are, and how desperately we wish we weren't.
May 12, 2012
I spent the evening assisting the Westside Food Bank on their annual Letter Food Drive. We were on our way to one of the post offices where all the donated food was being kept. I asked the driver - also a volunteer, a banker, actually - how long he'd been working. Driver: Since about ten o clock. We went to pick up donations in Brentwood and Malibu, but there wasn't that much - just a few bins full. The place we're about to go to, though, blows everyone else out of the water. There's a crazy amount of donated items. Me: Where are we going? Driver: Inglewood. We spent the next hour and a half at the Bay City (next to Inglewood) Post Office loading huge crates of food onto the truck. Though each household was given two branded paper sacks to put items in, I noticed other kinds of bags - from which I deduced that people were donating more than was asked. So, the people who had plenty gave very little. And the people who had very little gave a lot. You know what's wrong with this country? That. You know what's right with this country? That.
April 18, 2012
Why do Saturn's rings, which are very old, appear pristine? Cassini discovered that the ancient rocks and bits of ice which constitute the rings are constantly colliding with each other and exposing new shiny surfaces. There's something to be learned from this: by smashing our own ideas, beliefs and assumptions together, we may also expose new surfaces and appear eternally young.
April 15, 2012
God, we take a lot for granted. I have no idea if stars actually exist - I've read about them, seen bright dots in the sky and pictures in books -- but the possibility exists that they're fictions born of hearsay, a faulty understanding of things or deliberately misleading information. It occurs to me that with increased intelligence comes great trust. If we're telling each other the truth about ideas most of us will actually never test or realize, it's kind of miraculous.