Archive for August, 2010

8:14 (62)

Posted in eight fourteen on August 30, 2010 by darryl zero

I had a conversation with my roommate today, several, really, mostly having to do with what’s going on in our brains and hearts and lives, and–like most of our conversations along these lines–it ended with the same kind of “well, I don’t know” kind of answer.

I wish I had the mental means to adequately describe what’s going on inside my head right now, and has been for a while, but I just can’t. My inability to focus is back, coupled with an apathy that can only mean the school year’s about to begin and I’m upset that I haven’t found something else to do with my life. Looking at the extra money I’ll be picking up months from now isn’t really the best way to go through life, especially when said money’s likely not going to go to what I want it to go to.

Had a brief text exchange with Eli today. I so very much want for Like Fireflies to come back together to do something, but I’m worried it’s not, either because I’m to busy, or Eli, or Jason, and it’s been hard enough to find drummers that it’s almost not worth the effort. Actually, that’s a lie; when we’re on, we’re on, so really finding someone to complete the equation is all we really need to get going again. I’ve been playing the telecaster again lately, mostly in the hope that putting some kind of energy out there will somehow call the various parts into combining back into a whole. Really, though, I know it all comes down to willingness to figure out time in our complicated schedules.

There is the issue of the new debate team I seem to have inherited–oh, I haven’t mentioned that, have I?–but that’s just one more thing that I’m running out of time to procrastinate on. I’m actually excited to work with the kids, but the excitement so far has been tempered by my terror at it turning out as disastrous as the last time I was a head coach.

I need to talk to Cori, I need to talk to Allison, I need to talk to Langley, I need to talk to Amber, I need to talk to [insert the name of friend who has enabled me to continue escaping from responsibility], I don’t fucking know what I need right now, to be honest.

God, that feels so fucked-up to say, but it’s true. I have no fucking clue what I need.

I feel alone today.

Time’s up.

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8:14 (61)

Posted in eight fourteen, emo on August 26, 2010 by darryl zero

[Freestyle:]

I’ve come to find I’m losing my faith in observation, a tragedy of the highest order because, without it, I am little more than a random streams of words and thoughts that don’t amount to much, rent gets paid from a hustle just like everything else and I was never very good at that, the only thing I know is sincerity and its easier counterpart and I’ve had way too many problems balancing the two. I think I gravitate toward sugar because of this, some voice in the back of my brain repeating “it’s the only fuel for the brain” over and over and over and every hiccup between then adds another wrinkle, if superstition holds true I’m transplanting those wrinkles from my cortices to my face, and the words–oh, the words–that would come from that tragedy would be perfect and memorable if I could just remember them myself. I want to tell you “it’s telling” but the only thing it illuminates is my inability to let myself shine.

A stumbling thought only travels as far as its originator’s tongue, I want to say I invented that but I probably stole it from someone, I come from a stolen culture in a generation that borrows from just about everything because its predecessors left them with nothing but a propensity for self-worship and an un-payable debt. I used to speak in rhyme, or verse, or at least call what I created “poetry” and let it stand in opposition to what other people called art, but then I realized I lost whatever grasp I had of beauty and understanding the very second I claimed to be seeking it, the word someone better than I once bestowed upon me was “solipsist” but I can’t count that high anymore, all I can do is just focus on getting through every day, that’s all I do, if you want to be honest, is focus on getting through every day without anyone fucking bothering me, and it the fact that it never happens just makes all the little, bothersome voices SO MUCH MORE FUCKING INFURIATING, if I may be so honest I’m just angry, so angry, so angry and void of optimism that any pretense to the contrary takes the energy from my core-of-being, and I’m left as a husk.

Time’s up

8:14 (60)

Posted in eight fourteen on August 24, 2010 by darryl zero

Thoughts on True Blood: (HERE BE SPOILERS)

1) I’m furious that they’re actually doing something with Jason, finally, that they ought to have done five episodes ago. Rather than fucking around with him, well, fucking around, they should have focused on his compulsion to protect, and his failure to do so in some cases. His character arc makes perfect sense right now, it just seems like lazy writing to have brought it in so late in this season (and the series overall). Characters with no purpose result in scripts with no purpose; it’s a shame it took the writers of the show this long to figure it out with him.

2) You can call me an evil man if you want, but I’m really fucking sick and tired of the writers of the show trying to mine Tara’s penchant for stupid behavior as an excuse for her relentless self-martyrdom. I suppose she’s a stupid enough character that her blaming Bill for all the shit she went through with Franklin is plausible–but I’m still irritated by it, and not particularly sympathetic toward her. Throughout the entire run of the series, Tara’s done stupid thing after stupid thing, aligning herself with causes and people that every other character could see as being dangerous and stupid, but in her haste to do her own thing, she charges headlong into the abyss. Her whole situation with Franklin I find really insulting; she wouldn’t have ended up in her situation had she simply a) not involved herself with Franklin in the first place, b) not fucked him, c) closed the door the second she saw he was behind it, and/or d) realized she couldn’t just rely on Bill to bail her out when he was surrounded and outnumbered by vampires clearly more powerful than he.

3) I don’t mind the “Sookie As Fairy” thing, since it’s directly from the books, but Faeries are cool characters until you make them fucking stupid. Claudine’s introduction was über-lame; her meeting with Bill was a bit more interesting, but that’s it.

4) Lafayette’s turning out to have the most interesting character arc, and that’s fine, but could we stop with all the space-filling bullshit and actually get down to a plot development?

5) Everything I said about Lafayette, double it for Eric. Eric’s plot development this season has proceeded exactly like a handjob: great idea, promising beginning, endless repetition of the same bullshit with no real payoff, leading the recipient to realize the whole idea may be completely contingent upon anticipation of a climax that may or may not actually occur.

Time’s up.

idle thoughts (reprise)

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2010 by darryl zero

It seems that all my blog posts these days are about the various intricacies of being one-who-works-where-people-disrobe, but it’s been a bit more visible in my life lately (for reasons I can’t even begin to explain here), so there you have it.

I stood in line at The Fresh Pot on Hawthorne, trying to decide whether or not to go back and buy that copy of Drink Play F@#k, when I ran into one of the dancers I worked with on Saturday (the one who stripped to “The Everlasting Gaze”). As is normally the case when I meet someone on the street I’m used to seeing in low light, heavy makeup, and some state of undress, there was that moment of uncertainty–is it who I think it is? If so, is it cool for me to say hi–and, if that proves to be true, what do I say after that? Being new to “the industry,” I’m always trying really hard to assess what people’s boundaries are, reticent to cross them because of the highly sensitive nature of what they do. Fortunately, she solved my moral dilemma by smiling an enormous smile that echoed the one on her face when we chatted about music.

I bought her coffee, and we ended up sitting down and talking for what ended up being about an hour, mostly about the dynamics of coming to the Northwest from a completely different place. As it turns out, she was from the Midwest, and had a relative who’d gone to Iowa State; surprisingly, the link occupied precious little space in the conversation. Instead, we mostly talked about what I suspect most people around our age talk about in this part of the country, the mounting difficulties intrinsic to being an adult, not the least of which being employment (or the lack thereof) and a need to continue or finish education. I found her interest in Portland refreshing: it reminded me in many ways of when I came to this town for the first time, but slightly different. She didn’t see Portland as this Mecca of all things weird and profound, as I did when I was, admittedly, just a teenage boy; she seemed to look at it as just another step on a journey, which is kind of how I’ve grown to see it after repeated failure. I envied her ability to see this town more for what it is without having to live here long enough to hate it.

Probably the most telling part about her in the conversation, one of the more delightful things I don’t get very much from people out here, was her eyes. She looked right at me when she spoke, a not uncommon practice, but unlike the people here who look at you but don’t seem to really see anything other than a cross-section of their own needs and desires, she seemed to be legitimately invested in the conversation. It was the kind of look you get from small-town people who grow up learning the importance of knowing people because fresh personalities are scarce, but have since moved to cities and lived in them long enough to have been burnt by people’s stupid bullshit; I’m doing a shit job of describing it, I know, but I think Midwesterners will know what I’m talking about: that look that says I am here, and you are here, and there’s something similar about the both of us, and that’s a pretty fucking cool thing to find in such an alien place. It’s the kind of conversation I don’t see strangers have much anymore, at least not without anything on the line.

I’ve been having a lot more of these encounters lately, which is good, because they’re the kinds of things I used to have all the time when I first started coming to this town. I’d like to think it means I’m reconnecting with some of the parts of my perception of life that existed before I turned into this self-martyring, perpetually grouchy cynic, but I’d be just as happy if it were just some weird, cosmic coincidence, one that I could simply shrug at and say, with all the sincerity I can muster: “That’s Portland.”

idle thoughts.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2010 by darryl zero

I tend not to work nights in which stripping is the primary attraction, so when I do, I find myself in the interesting situation of not having to do much of anything save for announce names, remind people to tip, and make sure the sound doesn’t sound too awful. I suppose that sounds a lot like the substance of my job on karaoke nights as well, and in a way it is, but there’s one element missing from non-karaoke nights that makes everything so much easier: the fact that absolutely nobody wants anything from me. Nobody except for the dancers, I suppose, but I’ve been very, very lucky to have worked nights with very easygoing ladies who either have their shit together or are pretty content to dance to whatever I play for them.

There’s only one problem with said ladies, though: I can never be sure they’re satisfied with what I’m playing. Of course, my logic dictates that any stripper worth their salt wouldn’t really care about what music was being played, provided it wasn’t driving customers away–but I’ve long learned that people aren’t really like me (nor should they be).

Last night, ever the radio geek, I managed to get one of the dancers to come over to the booth and asked her what her thing was, what she liked to dance to.

“I like to dance to rock,” she said, smiling idly in that way I’ve come to acknowledge strippers as smiling when they’re more-or-less completely indifferent to the insubstantial nature of the world around them and only paying enough attention to reply sensibly to something you’ve said. Rather than push the subject, I asked about a couple bands, and she replied noncommittally, only pointing out that she didn’t “dance to pop.”

Later, I was cueing up a Smashing Pumpkins song (“Zero,” a whimsical in-joke so “in” that it would only be funny to me) when she walked up to me, asking me if she could dance to “The Everlasting Gaze,” by “Queens of the Stone Age.” When I corrected her by pointing out it was, in fact, a Smashing Pumpkins song, she smiled a bit wider.

“Sorry,” she said, “I was thinking about Queens of the Stone Age when I asked you.”

Fortunately, I had it on my computer, so playing it was easily-accomplished.

One of my favorite dancers also worked last night, a lady from Northern Italy who’d previously endeared herself to me on a night in which she decided her last set was to consist of the Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck,” followed by Body Count’s “Cop Killer.” This time was more of the same, only I’d found it in my heart (if not brain) to acquire a bunch of albums by two bands she’d mentioned to me before as loving to dance to. Admittedly, I mostly like being thrust in musical directions by people, even if it’s music I only mildly appreciate (gutter punk, rockabilly, meringue, big-band jazz); if nothing else, the recontextualization of the music helps me appreciate it on a level I’d otherwise have ignored. Anyway, this particular lady, in what is perhaps a typically Italian way of doing things, responded to the songs I chose for her, moving with particular enthusiasm if she dug it. It’s nice to feel legitimately enthusiastic about stripping again; I’m so used to going to strip clubs for other reasons that the dancers were often a barely-visible footnote to whatever else I was doing.

8:14 (59)

Posted in eight fourteen on August 20, 2010 by darryl zero

I’m about to head out the door to a job interview today, one for a head Speech/Debate coaching position I read about not too long ago for which I applied mostly out of peer pressure (the head coach I worked with last year told me about it about twenty times before it was actually posted). I’m not really sure I want the job, even in the unlikely event it gets offered to me; it’s in one of the richiest of rich suburbs of Portland, making it not only prohibitively time-consuming and difficult to get to, but it also presents me with a host of cultural problems I’m not sure I’m willing to deal with anymore. The money’s good, though, especially for a part-time job I’d be spending a few days a week at, and the possibility of it opening the door to other jobs for me in the school district makes it at least worth an interview, so here I am, getting into my suit for the second time in three days, hoping Brie’s son didn’t track too many visible footprints on it because I can’t afford to have it dry-cleaned and it’s the only summer-weight suit I have.

The last time I was head coach of a team, I was unexpectedly interviewed for and offered the job, so I’d already made other arrangements for that year (getting further into debt by taking post-baccalaureate classes in order to determine whether or not I could really go to grad school). Between working my bus-driving gig, coaching the team, taking twelve credits, and my karaoke shindig, I had a bit of a full schedule. To make matters worse, my car was dead for the better part of the first half of the season–getting everywhere on my bike was one of my more hilarious hassles. To the best of my recollection, I was also sleeping on my colleague’s couch, having no home of my own to speak of, so my plate was, to wit, full.

Unfortunately, confidentiality agreements preclude me from publishing some of the disastrous shit that went on that year, but suffice it to say that, after half a season of dealing with irrational egos, students accustomed to a completely lassiez-faire coaching environment, parents accustomed to giving their artifact children whatever they wanted, I knew I wanted nothing to do with the team afterward. I left swiftly, with minimal fanfare, and with the hope that I’d be moving back to Iowa or somewhere, anywhere, after the season was through.

Oops. At least the next year assistant-coaching was enough to remind me why I love coaching in the first place.

Time’s up.

8:14 (57)

Posted in eight fourteen, emo, film, music, nerdiness on August 13, 2010 by darryl zero

Feel free to label me a needless contrarian should you desire to, but I’ve always looked at some of the cultural trappings of mine and subsequent generations with the same kind of quizzical exasperation as demonstrated by those of generations before mine.

I’ve always been reluctant to embrace that which is notably popular and wide-reaching and label it “definitive” of a given category, which seems counterintuitive at first until you realize that one of the greatest losses of ages past is that only the pop-friendly stuff really had any sticking power, and that one of the best things about growing up in an age in which information, art and creativity are so freely (exploited) available is that the cultural aspects that we can only infer and conjecture about in generations past are now freely and easily chronicled today.

With all that said, I see things like the new Scott Pilgrim film and wince when people suggest it’s representative of a generational paradigm. Now granted, I haven’t seen the film, and my critique of its social implications and/or import is of an entirely aesthetic nature, but it seems to exemplify all the things about post-boomer culture that I find distasteful, the things that people seem to be convinced are the things that define so-called “Generation X” and its increasingly shortsighted, short-tempered, short-attention-spanned followers. It looks like, well, partly like a video game, but mostly like a cultural mash-up that’s really less of a cultural anything and more of a pastiche of superficial trappings of cultures cut-and-pasted together by a generation too lazy to be technical and instead relying upon talent.

[Time’s up, but I’m going to continue:]

I’d like to think that the film is much like its literary counterpart, a direct homage to a very idiosyncratic art form which is, in turn, a compartmentalized aspect of a very rigid, clearly-defined (almost to a fault) culture. I want to think that, mostly because I’m a literary critic and want it to conform to some paradigmatic rubric I can quantify and understand.

But actually, I’m afraid Scott Pilgrim the film truly does represent a culture captured onscreen, a culture of disparate influences collected under the auspices of inclusiveness and progressiveness but is, in actuality, the lazy hiccuping of generations that grew up with technological babysitters instead of active, functional parents. Even without having seen the film, I worry that the credibility that comes with the approval of those who catch the myriad in-jokes will somehow elevate it from the realm of kitsch to that of art in the minds of those that dictate history, because it will invariably have missed the point, just as the people who only dig Tarantino films for the violence, just as the people who mindlessly consume the insubstantial flash of Zack Snyder films, Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown novels, Adult Swim, etc. all miss the point.

Call me old-fashioned, call me needlessly linear, call me conservative, call me neurotic or cynical, but somewhere along the line, after endless jump-cuts, hyperactive camera angles, over-edited chapters, and über-compressed drum tracks, our generations have forgotten what those stylistic trappings were intended to subvert and redefine, that the experimental has always been meant to exist on the fringe of a culture, that, just as technique for technique’s sake results in a culture standing in place as time passes it by, style for the sake of style results in a culture with no legs on which to stand.