Category Archives: Randomity

2016 Memories, Item the First: Walking Absurdity

2016, as everyone is already perfectly aware, has done its level best to suck. And, more often than not, it has succeeded. With style–2016, I’ll give you that. You certainly kicked ass. Just not the awesome way (usually). The really sucky way (mostly).

While wandering around spending far too much on gifts in the vague hope of bringing smiles and joy to people I care about (consumerism FTW!), I suddenly and for no reason I’ve been able to discern remembered the absurd beginning to my year. I decided in the 5.40839 seconds that followed that what I really needed to do was to write about all the ways in which 2016 dabbled in the brilliantly weird.

img_4072My year began, though this is not the story that came to mind, at a Motley Crue show. Their “last.” I believe they ended right at or very nearly at midnight, so I began the year covered in a shit ton of red, white and black confetti. It was fun. I had assumed that it would take until, roughly, dawn to get back to Huntington from downtown LA, and I was more than a bit surprised to find myself alone on the 405.

The entire way.

img_4096I slept for a spell and then my year really started: on my pier, coffee in hand, watching the surfers take on early morning flat waters.

With a pelican.

So, 2016 started with a fair amount of absurd, probably the most stunning of which was the 405.

But nothing about January 1 indicated–though the close proximity of the bird and the 35 minute drive from LA to Huntington Beach should have been clues–suggested the absurdity of what I would find myself doing a few weeks later, when I was in far different weather, far from CA, and in a city with no open coffee shops.

It was hell. Or DC, whichever you prefer.

Some of you may recall the Snowmaggendon of 2016 shutting Washington DC down for several days. I certainly do, since I was stuck there until the airports reopened. I think that amounted to an additional 3 days, but I can’t remember at the moment. In any event, it was actually at least a month.

Because, no coffee. Well, that’s not strictly true, the baristas in my hotel couldn’t leave any more than the rest of us, so the hotel put them up for the nights and they kept us in coffee so long as they could. I thanked them profusely every time they forked over a cup.img_4166

Now, me in blizzard conditions–or snow of any sort, for that matter–is absurd. I’ll go to great lengths to avoid it. Like moving to coastal CA. Worked like a charm. But, blizzard conditions and snow it was last January. The snow began shortly after we arrived–I believe on Wednesday–I got to watch the blizzard conditions out my hotel window, but I quickly started to go stir crazy and went for a walk.

I had no idea what this “whiteout condition” thing of which some of you people speak was, but I do now. I find the choice to live somewhere that does that to be suspect. Those who live out there likely find my choice to go for a walk in blizzard conditions to be even more suspect. And you would be right. Can we all just be thankful for a moment that I had appropriate (mostly) outerwear with me?

And this, my friends, is not the absurd part.

img_4239No, the absurd part came one fine morning after the worst of the weather was gone but before the snow started to melt. Everything was still quite closed (including Arlington National Cemetery, as I would find out when a nice soldier informed me at the top of her lungs).  It was a lovely day with a bright blue sky, and I had nothing to do. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run the 13 miles I’d scheduled for that day, since I didn’t trust myself to stay upright on the snow-ice-stuff while running.

img_4213Instead, I went for what would turn out to be a 14 mile walk. In the snow. I was, for some reason, hell-bent on getting my 13 miles that day. Only, while I know DC fairly well and can navigate on foot, there were two pressing problems. One, the snow obscured enough stuff to make navigation a tad less simple. And, two, the snow was pretty freaking deep.

It started very well. That would be my knee below the snow line, if anyone is wondering. This is pretty indicative of the whole 5 or so hours I spent trekking through the snow in denim and leather boots. I fell several times and had to backtrack or outright change my intended route  because of snow making places impassable. Or, you know, not–and plowing right on through the snow that was up to my hips. Because, why the hell not.

At no point in this adventure that wrapped around the White House (twice), the Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and King monuments, hopped down to the nearly hidden Vietnam Memorial Wall, wandered out to Arlington and back (rather more quickly), and walked up to the Capitol Building, did it occur to me that I didn’t really have to do this. On the one hand, it was fun–I never get to do anything of this sort. On the other, it was miserable. I was cold, wet, covered in ice and snow, and, well, cold.

You know, when I started thinking this through, I was thinking about it as an absurdity that 2016 thrust upon me. But, in writing this out, it’s an absurdity I thrust myself into that happened to be in the year we should consider never speaking of again. And, indeed, every other example probably fits that description.

I’m beginning to suspect that wandering with the absurd was a coping mechanism.








The Future in Falafel

Working on a post about Suicidal Tendencies and the wonder of Mike Muir, but I have to ask this first.  When did this wonder of wonder happen at rock shows?   I can’t say I’ve ever actually enjoyed eating at such an event, but this falafel and veggie wrap was DIVINE.  And not just because I was hungry post-pit.

Strikes me as a good sign, you know?

Truthfully, I shouldn’t really attempt to comment on food at shows (festival or otherwise), since it is entirely possible that this is the first such show that I have ever attempted to eat at–or given myself the time to walk away from the crowd and chaos to eat.  Imagine that–substance over stimulation. I’ve seen what backstage food can amount to–and rider requests demands really can be things of wonder. Though, especially in the age of the internetz, how much of that is meant just to spin up the fanbase is anyone’s guess…Red Vines, indeed, sir. Indeed.

My next festival is Mayhem, later this month.  I’m having a very difficult time imagining the breadth of cuisine availability that was at Orion, and I’m not sure I am prepared to commit to trying concert food just because it’s there (in fact, that seems sort of dangerous).   The lineup is sufficiently old school to suggest greater possibilities: Slayer, Anthrax, & Motörhead, in addition to Slipknot.  They will be joined by a host of others bands, many of whom will no doubt be on the “young and hungry band on a dollar a day” meal plan (ah, summer festivals).

I’d technically be behind in doing a rock show food summer showcase in any case, since I did not eat at the casino in CT, where I caught A7X before Orion (a show that, weirdly, probably saved my job, as I was in the one place that neither my mouth nor my reactions could get me in trouble during the phone conference–phone was on mute, and yelling might have gotten me booted, so I was as professional as was required to ensure that I got to see my band, rather than, say, actually professional on the matter).  And the casino had Krispy Kreme, so that set a pretty unique bar right there, along with the Swarovski shop that (while also selling wholly inedible items) just sort of freaked me out.

But, summer rock show food could totally be an adventure.


Mo and Me

I’d like to introduce y’all to someone.  The fabulous fellow at left right left(who needs to know left from right?) is one of my rescue boys, Mo.  He came to us

Why, yes, I am the cutest cat in the world. Thanks for noticing.

after a rather unfortunate encounter with a car; he was taken by the local police to the vet we take the big guy to and, well, Mo just happened to come home with me one afternoon about 5 years ago (the vet just may have suggested that my penchant for wacko cats would be helpful).  Mo is a Bengal cat–his nickname is short for Mowgli.  He’s of the brown spotted tabby variety, and he does possess the beautiful golden glitter in his fur that the breed is known for.  Has a terribly charming pumpkin-orange belly, too.  And he’s lovely, lovely, lovely.

Being a Bengal, Mo “should” conform to the following description:

Whether they are fishing in the aquarium or playing in their water-bowls, fetching balls for their families, taking walks on a leash or climbing to the top of the highest cupboards, Bengals are constantly on the move and are perfect for anyone who wants to interact and play with their cat daily.

This is not Mo.  Mo, in fact, is none of these, save for “cat.” Mo is, as the saying goes, just FINE: fucked up, insecure, neurotic, emotional.  Also wildly high-strung.  Of all four of my current animals (and the three that preceded these), I probably identify most readily with Mo.  One gets the feeling that Mo would be who Mo is, regardless of his experiences.

Yes, there are two competing theories to what drove Mo to take a leap in front of a moving car.  Mo may be one of the fleet of feral cats in this community–he has a notched ear, which is typical of the ferals who were caught and released after neutering (which would certainly explain some of his…resistance to humans).  It is entirely possible (likely, even) that Mo was abused during the first two years of his life, before he came to us via our awesome vet.  Mo cares not one whit for men nor small kids.  He’s not keen on women, either.  In fact, he seems to be altogether misanthropic.  He is, however, very fond of other cats, and he does allow me the opportunity to pet him at dinner time. He even seems to appreciate it.  He also allows me to hold him in order to trim his nails, so he probably doesn’t totally hate me; he might even trust me a tad.

But, again, one gets the feeling that Mo would be high-strung irrespective of his history.  High-strung and Mo appear, indeed, to be synonymous.  And boy do I understand that on a deeply personal level.  All the therapy in the world isn’t going to change that for either of us.

He does have the marvelous benefit of being far cuter in his high-strungness than I.

Dear Nikki

I’ve not been around as much as I’d like.  No particularly good reason, just brain swimming, I think.  Occasional bouts of way too much too-much-time-spent in the old noggin, but otherwise generally making it through.  And, boy, the recovery reading.  It feels much more significant than grad school, but, man, does it ever feel like grad school sometimes.  I was hunting for my copy of the Tao Te Ching yesterday as a part of my reading and wondering why I’d never gotten around to getting the Tao of Pooh, so, yes, very much like graduate school in hunting for references and wondering how I made it so far without reading THAT (whatever THAT might have been at the particular moment**).   One day at a time, folks.  One day at a time.

Mired as I am in the readings for my particular, hmmm…. philosophical group, I wanted to spend a few moments on an open letter that has been batting about in my head for a week or so.  It’s only nominally related to the recovery readings (and mostly because the two exist in my head), but I’d like to try to get the letter out of my head and into print.  So, here goes.  An open letter to Sixx.

Dear Nikki:

I appreciate that you apologized for the rape remark, and I’m particularly glad that a friend pointed out that you did, since I don’t follow you on Facebook, only Twitter.  I’m glad you rethought your position, based on the reactions of people–and, as you put it, “people you respect” in particular.  Whoever those people are, would you please extend my gratitude to them?

That said, I wanted to unpack the comment you made on Twitter (and, I assume, elsewhere), because, well, you and I share experience in a particular philosophical (oh, okay, fine.  Spiritual) mode and tradition that asks of us to consider only doing the next right thing.  And putting this in print feels like the next right thing, even if the outcomes belong exclusively to a power far greater than me.

And, too, “Oh My God” is on your album, so, yeah, you get it.  You get that the world can be a better place. And if “Oh My God” and “Skin” can be there, and you can humble yourself to ask forgiveness, then, well, I have some hope in the matter.

My first reaction, upon reading your tweet about raping Santiago, was irritation, though not exactly the irritation the offhand use of the word rape normally inspires in me.  More of a, really?  That was the best metaphor you could come up with?  Nikki, I’ve been listening to your songs for, oh hell, 25 or so years; you came up with better metaphors in the WORST of your hazes. Which is not to suggest that your current way of life automatically makes you a better, more creative person, but there you go; I was annoyed, in part, because you were so very pedestrian.


But consider what you wrote for a moment (yes, you apologized, and I hope you’ve already heard this.  Irrespective, it needs to be said).  “Rape Santiago” suggests, though I don’t think you meant for this implication to be part of what you were saying (which is another reason rape was not the appropriate term), that you expected the concertgoers to be unwilling participants.  Which seems…odd.  Yes, odd, at best, given that it seems safe to assume that most everyone there is wanting to see Motley do your thing.

Also, you know the nice thing about concerts, as opposed to rapes?  You can walk away pretty fucking easily.   Also, for the love of HP, please tell me you didn’t mean anything like a Luke and Laura storyline.  *shudder*

Now, as with other terms in the English language, rape has a number of meanings, one of which, yes, is “to delight or rapture,” though, so far as I can tell, that particular usage died off somewhere in the 1850s (and likely before as the previous such usage was over a century prior), so I’m thinking that’s not really what you were going for (it’s worth noting that even the OED calls this usage obscure).  “Rape” can also refer to “carrying off (a person) by force,” which really doesn’t seem to fit, or “to plunder or despoil,” which, again, doesn’t strike me as the mood you were going for.  And certainly, current usage doesn’t have that particular suggestion, even if the Cleavland Plain Dealer as late as 1994 would care to suggest that rape is “To take or seize (something) by force” (in this case, it apparently referred to a fire: “To think you can have your happiness raped away by three kids playing with matches.”  I think, had I read that particular remark at the time, I’d have been equally irritated).

No, I’d like to believe (see remarks on your songs above), that you meant to suggest something about the power of your concerts, and while rape is certainly a matter of power (rather than sex), the term is not appropriate to what you meant (I hope) to convey.  I’d assume, at least you expect that concertgoers want to be there with you–want to share in what you are giving away.

That’s not rape.

You know it, I know it, and can we agree that the world might be a marginally better place if we didn’t conflate the joy of a concert experience with rape?

Oh my God, I’m so ashamed, /When we try to close our eyes and make this go away.

Yeah, that.

Our shared philosophy also reminds me to say thank you.  Thank you for your willingness to listen when a group of indeterminate size and voice spoke out to you.  Thank you for not closing your eyes and hoping it would go away.  And, as ever, thank you for your willingness to share parts of yourself with us all.



* Note: We’ll leave aside that 3, yes, 3 different hits came to this blog yesterday for “Pete Loran’s wrist.”  I have no idea.  Clearly a joke needs to be made, though.

* Bonus note:  I read Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men last week, at the behest of TG, who read it for class.  While I still have no particular love for the author, this novel is an excellent example of a THAT.

Because I Love You…

…and because I am not presently in the headspace necessary to form a coherent post. We are home safely now.  My mother-in-law died last Wednesday–I am grateful beyond measure that her physical suffering is done, grateful we could all be there for the funeral, and grateful that I could be fully present during this time for G.  He deserves at least that.  I admit, though, that I am completely sapped right now–I haven’t felt this level of insanity in months…way too much time in my own head and trying to exert control over situations–it was, admittedly, good to feel competent at something for  a while, even something so simple as driving or making decisions so G could just grieve.  But, yeah, also grateful beyond measure that I could go to a meeting tonight.

But, in an effort to get out of my head and because these made me giggle uncontrollably, I share some of the searches that brought folks to this blog this week:

  • cult value (someone is reading Benjamin, yes?)
  • nashville “english professor”+geek (no, but I can get you one from Athens)
  • pynchon gravity’s first chapter (I feel like I should find this person and apologize)
  • And, my favorite…behold:
    Boys of My Misspent Youth

    Boys of My Misspent Youth

    trixter fanfiction

  • (I am now almost curious enough to drop that into a search engine to see what happens. Yet, not…oh, I do fear discovering what OTPs lurk in such a fandom)
    Do enjoy those lovelies, please.

Running Lessons

I had intended for this post to be something radically other than what it is, which is as much testament to my unwillingness to just let things be as anything else.  I thought I’d be announcing the successful completion of a marathon.

It’s 10:56 am on Sunday, March 20.  I should be 4 hours into a marathon right now–and heading toward the end.  Since I am not so talented as to be typing while running, clearly one of three things has occurred:  I finished WAY faster than any one of us could imagine me having done, I started and did not finish (or, rather, finished unexpectedly early), or I didn’t start.

Good job if you picked door three for the reality of the situation on this lovely morning.  I withdrew from the race on Saturday morning, when we got the phone call that G’s mom went into hospice care.  I couldn’t risk being unavailable mentally, physically, etc. when the next call comes–and let us agree that marathons tend to take the wind out of the sails for a while.  So, we wait. No call yet, but I’m sure we’ll be making the drive this week.  I covet your thoughts and prayers on behalf of G and his family.  While this is not a surprise by any means, it has the qualities of feeling so very sudden.

I’m disappointed, of course, even as much as I know that it was the right thing to do.   For today, I’m practicing just being with my disappointment but not focusing on it.  My attention is for G, who, you might imagine, is in far worse shape than mere disappointment.  My legs and running brain, on the other hand, are just confused–trying to figure out why I am being so nice to them today.

I joked with G yesterday that HP* was trying to tell me to knock the marathon crap off, as this makes the third I’ve had to pull out of**–and only one of those three (the second time) was directly because of injury–and it wasn’t completely running related.  But, when I reflect more carefully, I tend to get marathon-crazy–obsessed with them in ways that I don’t obsess over shorter races (even half marys) to the point of planning to run while injured in the case of the first cancellation.  I finally withdrew because of unrelated-to-running factors, but I really shouldn’t have been considering the race at all since my foot was in far worse shape than I was then willing to admit.  The second race went to the dogs, or, rather, a dog–specifically the pit bull that decided to use the beagle and I as chew toys.  Three factors conspired: the rabies vaccinations wiped me out for a month, I was (and still am) nervous about running in the dark because of the attack, and my drinking was getting worse.  Did I acknowledge the last of these at the time–no, not really, and I wonder if maybe HP didn’t put a dog in my way to force me to stand down and quit trying to avoid the obvious (it was in my head at the time that if I could train for and run a marathon and drink then I didn’t really have a problem.  Laughter is perfectly acceptable).  And now this.  I detoxed twice during the training for this marathon, so I can’t really say my training was…optimal.  Unlike the Seattle mary, I was not 100% sure I could finish this time (though, some of that was the staying-in-my-own-headspace problem–letting the descriptions of the course get to me).  But, I was prepared and excited.

I’m not so deluded as to believe that the events of the weekend are about me, and I was mostly joking about HP (mostly), but, hey, even I can take a Mack-truck-size hint.  I am probably guilty of storytelling at this point–that is, constructing a story to make sense of a reality I simply need to shut up and exist in–but, delusions and humor aside, again being forced to stop trying to be in control and to overdo it, which is absolutely a hallmark of my addict-brain, makes me think there is something I need to pay heed to.  That marathon training, having three times now been associated with some kind of attempt to get and/or stay sober (and, in the fourth case, prove sobriety was unnecessary), may not be so good for me at present.  I use it in delusional and unhealthy ways–rather than running for the sake of running, I involve myself in an intense training that allows me to shut out other duties and reality itself (or, rather, to pretend that I can do that).  So, perhaps no more marathon training for a while; let my head get healthy with the steps of the program instead of my body getting healthy with the steps of the training (not that I’ll stop running.  That would be stupid).  I seem to be able to get to and complete half-marys and shorter, so I may stick to them.  They are certainly more humane for all involved.

*Er, Higher Power, not Harry Potter, for those unfamiliar with my silly abbreviations.

**I did go to Atlanta, wander the expo, and pick up my shirt, though.  Damn thing is YELLOW, which should make me immensely visible as I take a jog this afternoon.  Seriously, I feel like an Easter egg in this thing.

A Few of My Favorite Things

I suspect yesterday’s “Postsuburban Youth” post and several of the next few posts should be gathered under the title “things I don’t normally do.”  Or, at the very least, “random shit intended to make me write.”  This list comes from a friend who has worked through the same list already, calling it, in her case “This I Love.”  So, ten works of art that Kitsch loves, not in any particular order.  I’m glad I went back to her original post and got the correct phrasing (works of art) because “thing” was what was coming to mind and it was waaaaay too broad and I kept wanting to include people (who aren’t things, but…eh).  These pieces have shaped and molded and, on occasion, broken me in ways I can only imagine managing to capture here.

So, in no particular order other than “hey this fits on a page.”  It should be of no surprise to anyone who knows me personally or through this blog that I am obsessed with words–both the content and the organization of sound (which is part of the other obsession with music), so it follows much of this list is a celebration of art through word and sound. (Edited to add: forgot to say 1-5 is below, 6-10 will follow, since this was getting a touch long)

1.  “Die gerade Linie ist Gottlos…”

Hundertwasser, 1972 Munich Olympics

My blog subtitle references the above remark from Hundertwasser, whose works I first encountered in KunstHaus Wien in 2000, when I spent a summer living in a vet dorm in Vienna.*  The image at left is of his lithograph for the 1972 Munich Olympics.  His painting tends to leave me cold (except for the spirals)–I’m a fangirl of his art theory and his architecture, but this piece sat me down hard when I saw it.  I don’t know if I had been reading about the massacre (it’s entirely possible that I was, though I didn’t mention it in the diary), but I recall being heartbroken when I saw this–the hope and quelled by violence, maybe.  Whatever it was, it hit me hard enough that I completely rewrote my thesis, sitting right in the room with the picture (a good thing, since I was in Vienna to rewrite and recontextualize the bloody thing).  Something in the art and the violence that would necessarily become attached to it moved me–finally–and pushed me to rewrite the beast (successfully, I might add).  Also developed an idea for a book on opera on film apparently.  So glad to see I followed through.

2. The next should probably be filed under “goes without saying,” but I cannot

Duff McKagan, "Paradise City" video

understate how much Appetite for Destruction means to me now and how much it affected me when I heard it way back when.  I was hooked, horrified, amazed and wanted nothing more than to be Duff McKagan.  Well, and see the band live.  I knew it was radically other than what I had been listening to (save possibly for my then early forays into punk), and I knew if my mother heard the album I was done for.  It was, so far as my teen mind could tell, the epitome of what rock n’ roll was supposed to be doing.  Angry, aggressive, obnoxious, terrifying.  Also, excellent when played very loud.   The screen capture comes from the video that most astonishes me now (though not at the time)–“Welcome to the Jungle” is the song and video that grabbed me.  “Paradise City,” though is remarkable for what it says about the band and, more significantly, how it says it (I’ve written about this before).

3. I’m trying to recall the first time I saw body modification of the tattoo/piercing stripe, and I can’t.  It seems like it’s always been “there” (perhaps because my mother had my ears pierced when I was 9 month old or younger, when she grew tired of people asking if her cue-ball bald child was a boy or a girl.  Best part of the story:  the very next person exclaimed over how interesting it was to pierce the ears of a boy.  Serves mom right), and I was always wanting to be more of a part of that particular brand of art.  I can get sucked into studying a sleeve or a backpiece or an intricate piercing to the point of, I suspect, causing the wearer some concern.  A body that can be read–especially one where the stories are well-told, though frequently they require extensive footnotes–is a thing of beauty.**


Maria Callas as Tosca

I can’t pick a single opera–that I could pick a single rock album still feels false, even if I picked the absolute obvious one.  But, if I had to note an icon, it would be Maria Callas, and Tosca (for which she is dressed in the pic at left) would certainly be among those that slapped me across the face–to the point that it is one of the pieces I have a difficult time writing about.  Der Ring des Nibelungen is featured in my thesis on opera, violence, and politics, but Tosca I struggle to write about because musically it means so much to me.  Likewise with Callas–she astonishes me in her performances (especially, of course, the early ones).

5. I am a professor of English, so it seems reasonable to include fiction, though picking one that shaped and centered me is all but impossible.  Should it be Shelley’s Frankenstein or Goethe’s Faust or perhaps Beowulf, as each has had a significant and lasting impression on me?  Were I to look over my bookshelves,

Mda, Ways of Dying

what single one would I pick?  One that made a profound impression on me (and manages to weave music, visual art, literature, violence, and politics into one beautifully wrought novel) is Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying.  The particulars of his subject–South Africa during the period in which Apartheid is collapsing–are compelling enough, but the lilt of his tone and the dance of hope he generates in a place that should have been utterly barren of such.  The novel is simply lovely, even as much as it is heartbreaking.

*To get all this, I dug my trip diary, which begins with “I love New Jersey” (no, I don’t know why) and quickly turns to the hot guy who was in front of my in the check-in line for my flight to Amsterdam.  Apparently he was an “intelligent looking rocker type” (whatever-the-fuck that meant), and I was irritated that I was too much a coward to do anything like..oh..speak to him.  And I was wearing a fake wedding ring (I was single at the time), apparently to reduce the potential for…I have no idea.  I’d forgotten I’d done that.

**As I typed this, it dawned on me that all bodies can be read, just as all lives have a story to tell.  I suppose the difference I would draw is the investment in telling the stories on skin–in ink and metal (or wood or whatever).