Tuesday, August 9, 2016

#famous

Instead of "writing," from now on, I'm going to dedicate my creative energy to social media. I have a lot to say on facebook.com. I'm not sure why people call it "facebook" and leave out the "dot com" part. The "dot com" part seems pretty essential to finding it on the world wide web.

You may not be familiar with facebook DOT COM. It is a web page where someone can create a page all about himself. Or herself. You can actually make a bunch of pages about yourself or someone else or whoever (or an event or something you like, you really should check it out). Then, once you have a page about yourself, you can do useful things like post pictures and stuff, or you can just write something you want everyone who is your friend (on facebook DOT COM, not in real life) to read. For example, you could write, "I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton." And people can write comments on what you wrote. Like someone might say, "I'm not." See?

Also, you can share links. So, after I write this post, I'm going to share a link to it on facebook DOT COM.

What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. I have way too much writing talent to be wasting it on books and plays and failed screenplays about black people. I would rather spend my time using my words to write messages to people, preferably a lot of people at the same time. Like this:

HI EVERYONE

Anyone who comes to this website can read that.

I'm also going to create the most interesting texts. Those are messages, but for just one person at a time. (usually, if you send it to more than one person at a time people get mad at you). I am going to text things like "How are things" and "I have my hand on your butt." (as you can see, sometimes I will sext. That means to text but about sex. Usually it means to text about sex with someone you are or want to have sex with.)

 Who would like to be the recipient of my first text? Or my facebook DOT COM friend? Follow me! Follow me! I have so much to show you. Ready to text here! Ready to fire away! Just let me know you want one, and I'll send it right out to space so it can rocket back down to your smartphone.

Let the writing career begin. Ready when you are!

PS I am also very good at filling in timesheets and writing my name and information on legal documents. If you or someone you know would like to pay me to do those things, I will accept no less that $15 an hour. #Awriterhastomakealiving.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Men Only

When you’re eleven and want to disappear in a puff of smoke, the best thing to do is ask around school. You’ll find that only one kid in your fifth grade class knows how to do it. It’s Max.

You’ll have an initial conversation with Max about smoke, smoking, and smoke bombs. You’ll realize in that microchat that Max has something you don’t. It’s not knowledge, although Max definitely knows where to buy things you haven’t even heard of. It’s not strength, although Max takes Tae Kwon Do and has the jumpkick to prove it. And it’s not anything ethical or spiritual; neither you nor Max have given much thought or development to your reverent side at this point in your life.

Whatever Max has—and there’s no fifth grade word for it—it rubs off on you. Soon, he becomes your mentor. He shares with you his physical strength; you do push-ups and sit-ups together. He teaches you courage; you jump off of rooves together. He teaches you to smoke, and how to play King of the Hill, and that fighting trick where you put your leg behind the other guy’s leg and then awkwa-grapple him into tripping backwards. Max turns you into the fifth grade equivalent of a badass. Max turns you into a man.

You and Max scope out turf. You choose a part of the playground to be yours. It’s literally a pile of dirt over by the swings or whatever. A pile of dirt. But it’s yours. One day, you see another young man playing there. You don’t know him. He doesn’t know you. But you know that’s your pile of dirt. You do the awkwa-grapple thing. The kid skins not only his knee but his face. The kid starts to cry. You win. Pile of dirt defended. Manhood defended.

Your punishment is severe. In addition to having your parents called, your job is to go up to the nurse’s office, look that young man in the eye, and apologize to him. Gross. Apologies. Crying. Weakness. Gross. You feel absolutely terrible. It occurs to you then that the you who threw this young man to the ground was never you. You realize that you don’t know you. Then you start to realize some other things, too.

First, you realize that Max’s smoke bombs come mail-order from the back of Boys’ Life magazine. Then, it occurs to you that when you’re “hiding in plain sight,” everyone can see you; they just don’t care that you’re there. And those cigarettes you’re smoking? With open eyes, you see that they’re napkins rolled up and taped into nerd-cylinders.

Your insights fundamentally alter your relationship with your sensei. Suddenly, his way of teaching you to always be on guard by hitting you when you aren’t paying attention—it feels more like bullying. His way of getting you to jump off a roof by calling you a pussy if you don’t—feels like false bravado. And his Tae Kwon Do training that never taught him the best form of self-defense—not to get in a fight in the first place—well, it doesn’t seem like your sensei was there that day.  

In Middle School, Max no longer part of your life, you’ll reflect on your training: how did the dude seem so big so long? How did he remain your Rufio, an artificial man in a world of authentic boys? How is it he got to call the shots for the better part of a school year when you had a perfectly good mind and heart of your own?

The top of your spine spoonfeeds you the answer. You recall. Ah! Yes! There was the thing—the thing Max had that fifth graders (and adults) don’t have a word for. Today, you’ll find it hiding in plain sight in the thesaurus, chilling invisibly near words like “confidence” and “assertiveness.” It’s buried in power philosophies and innocent clichés that talk about “being present” and “showing up.” What Max had was . . . wait for it.

He was there. It’s that simple. Max took up the space everyone else was willing to relinquish.

He’s still doing it today. Max is staking out turf, calling meetings at flagpoles in Rogers Park complete with secret passwords and intimidation tactics. He’s standing on stage at iO turning some female scene partner into a housewife or a whore. He’s designing public bulletins and health care policy, making sure we all know that we all don’t need to worry about the Zika virus. Max is on the rampage, y’all. We just may not notice it, because we probably don’t take him too seriously. Wait. Some of us notice it and take it seriously—those of us who are women.

Okay, gentlemen. Bring it in. (Ladies, please kindly allow us some space. We have to huddle. It’s what men do.) Everyone here? Good. Listen. Here’s the gameplan. Look out across the field. See the other team? Max’s. Millions of them. The game? Manhood. Manliness. Masculinity. The rules? That’s what we have to decide. That’s why we’re here. Who here has an opinion on what it means to be a man?

Nobody? Anybody? Listen, fellahs. Someone’s going to take up space out here, and if it’s not us, it’s going to be them. What’s that, Number 14? You think the women of the world need our support? That we should be including them in this conversation? Get out of my face. That’s ridiculous. Women are fine. They’ve heard enough from us. They’ve been putting up with our shit for centuries. Right now, we’re talking about us. Who are we? Anybody?

Let’s start simple. Are we the kind of men who will allow masculinity to be defined by misogynists? No? Are we the kind of men who will allow the role models our fathers and grandfathers created for us—you know, the men who fought in just wars and provided for entire families—to be openly mocked, shamed, and trivialized? No! Are we the kind of men who will be awkwa-grappled into surrendering our turf to people who are morally inferior to us? NO!?

Well, game on, then. Women, you can come back now. I have good news for you:

We men, the real ones, decided long ago that we aren't interested in being idiots or assholes. We don't want to own your bodies. We don't want to harm your bodies. We don't want to oppress your minds. We don't support an uneven playing field when it comes to health, sex, work, respect, or any of the other areas in which you are commonly oppressed and belittled. That's not the good news.

The good news is that we decided--just now in our huddle--not to be quiet about it anymore. (Right, gentlemen?) See, most of us are taught to just abide by the fuckfarts of the world, to bite our tongues and spend time around people we like and respect, to live our own lives and go about our own business. ‘Just don’t be that way,’ we’re told. Well, we in our huddle just called bullshit. We in our huddle just decided that being a good person is not enough, that passive support is not enough, that not being Max is not enough. Furthermore, we in our huddle just decided that we don't want to be reactive anymore. This is our gender, too, and our timidity has been the strength of Max's everywhere.

Instead,we're going to be men of action. We're going to go out and be policy-makers. Educators. Writers. Funny comedians and talented improvisers. We're going to be bosses and office managers and flight attendants and sports stars and fathers and partners and friends. And when we see some phony who doesn't get what it is to be a man, we're going to stand up, not one at a time, but in droves, and teach him. In doing all of this, we're going to create an entire culture based on what it is to be a real man, and we're going to let the fake men try to live in it.

Gents, I'll repeat: reacting is not enough. 

Yes. The Kings of Cock cancelled their meeting when everyone threw a fit. They retreated back into the internet. We won; they lost. But these boys were just a distraction. Look at all the facets of misogyny that haven't retreated, haven't even been asked to. (Do I need to name them? If you're not familiar, ask any female friend what one day in her life is like. She'll tell you that Return of Kings is the least of her worries, and she'll be happy to provide you specific reasons why.) Regardless of whether any particular group will be meeting in our streets and near our homes on Saturday night, please don’t forget that what they represent remains “out there” in ways we all see every day, and wherever the Max's are allowed to take action, they are also allowed to shape the definition of our gender and our world.

So bid them farewell and laugh at them if you want, and flick them off as they go. Good riddance, Max. Good riddance, Return of Kings. While we’re at it, good riddance to rapists, misogynists, egoists, narcissists, abusers, haters, terrorists, Rush Limbaughs; to the Señor Ceréns of El Salvador and the John Belushis of SNL. Thank you all for yielding, ultimately, to the glacial wall of progress. We love it when you lose. We love to celebrate your disappearance.

Puff.   

But men: here’s the real question we better be asking ourselves. What do we do with the space left behind when these assholes finally shut up? Now that the flagpole stands unguarded, will we quietly allow a deluded silence to still the public domain? Or will we charge in, voices strong, and loudly claim our turf?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Picture the Clarion Inn in Ronkonkoma, Long Island, New York . . . Now Picture Yourself Leaving


1. There are no refrigerators in the room.  



2. The microwave at the communal Microwave Station is an odd, Frankenstein's monster of a machine.  The glass turntable was clearly pilfered from a different, larger microwave.



3. Rooms 141 - 168 are in the same direction as Rooms 143-175.



4. The pool is cool.



5. They take all comers.



6. The complimentary laundry service is  not complimentary.



7. The breakfast buffet offers near-limitless combinations of brown and yellow.



Thursday, February 5, 2015

White Heat

Write what you know.

Write about what makes you angry.  

Well, okay.  Here goes.

1) Doors that are heavy and close on their own. 

I am an adult.  I am capable of closing a door behind me.  I don't need you, oh apartment building administrators (et al), to rig it so that as soon as I stop pushing on the thing with all my might, it snapdragons back at me like a venus fly trap, closing with a "thud" or a "bang" or a "slam," usually on my rear bike derailer*.  I understand security, but I'd also like to be able to buy groceries and move things in and out of my home.

Furthermore, every door should be open-able with one hand.  If I put the proper key into a door lock and turn it, I should gain access through that door.  Anything that requires me to use two hands - whether it be to push or, worse, to manipulate two handles at once - should be illegal.  

It's kind of like that part in The Last Crusade, where the penitent man shall pass?  The penitent man kneels before God - sure.  But did you notice the vertical blade that followed right on the heels of the two horizontal ones that are avoided through "penitence?"  Penitence is only the first step.  Then, you have to roll, jump, and whip just so to stop the gears before you're decapitated, regardless of your knowledge of the Old Testament.

Kneeling should be enough.  Stop making doors that resist their primary purpose - to open.

This makes me so angry.  

2) Standing in front of empty seats on public transit.

So you don't want to sit next to a stranger.  Fine.  Totally up to you.  But don't turn your back (figuratively) on an empty seat just so you can stand right in front of the damn thing, facing (literally) the abandoned possibility of sitting.  If you're afraid of other people, that's your business, but unless you're playing in the NBA, nobody benefits from you using your entitled ass to prevent people from getting where they want to go (in this case, sitting).

Move.

3) Poor snow etiquette.  

Today, I could have legally inherited three dozen milk crates, four dozen buckets, some basic patio furniture, and a trash can or two.  Nothing unusual there.  But apparently I am unaware of the true value of a parking spot, because I could also have inherited a nice wooden barstool, a baby pool, some shelving, and a stroller.  A stroller.  Doesn't your child need that?  If not, doesn't somebody's child need that?  Also, didn't that cost you over $100?

Also, chairs, buckets, milk crates etc are for the purpose of marking a spot that you personally dug out for a short duration of time while the streets and sidewalks remain unshoveled.  A week after the blizzard, you might be getting just a little possessive of that particular piece of pavement.

Also, who are the dicks going around claiming spots they didn't dig out as their own?  Let me give those dicks some advice.  Hey dicks: Moses didn't dig out that parking spot.  Someone else did.  And they didn't piss in it when they left because they are part of a community, and they're trusting that other people are too, and that we're all working together to get through adverse conditions.  By claiming that spot as your own when you leave it, you are pushing us closer to a society ruled by Jeb Bush and measles.

It's not yours.  Don't pretend it is.

5) Who's proofreading this shit?.

Look - nobody's perfect.  We all make mistakes.  And nobody needs to be perfect, especially when it comes to language, grammar, and punctuation.  We'll probably figure out what you mean.  But there's a huge gap between not being perfect and completely not giving a shit.

For example, here's a sign from the House on the Rock in Wisconsin:


I get what you mean, but I'm gonna take as much care not to climb on those rocks as you did in spraying punctuation all over that wooden post.

Also, if you're in the business of something intellectual -- like for example, you want me to use your lawyering service -- maybe spell words correctly and avoid comma splices, apostrophe s's to pluralize, and confusing sentences like this one.

How did I do?

--------

* Expensive!

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Friend Who Is a Dog

I hesitate to endorse other bloggers, lest it redirect traffic* from my blog to other, less valuable parts of the internet.  However, given the near limitless number of views this blog now gets from "like"-rs and the fact that, as we say down home, "they ain't goin' nowhere," I've decided that it's time for me to share the wealth and give my very first shout out to another internet Dickens.

Y'all, check out 10,000 Puppies.  It's written by my friend who is a dog.

Here is a quick sample from his blog to whet your appetite:

[/

I don't know what he's trying to say exactly, except maybe "Let me go and throw me my ball.  I don't want to put my paws on your keyboard."

Genius.


----
* I think Kubrick would have put Soderburgh to shame.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Guess That's Why They Call Back the Blues

The blues sneak up on you.  They're subtle.  They catch you by surprise.  One day you're happy, the next day you're blue - or being considered for it, anyway.

Yesterday, I auditioned for a show I never intended to be part of.  See me?  I'm the one slightly off camera, near the feet of the guy in the Pink Floyd shirt.  Yep!  That's me.  See* what I'm doing?  I'm masking myself.  That's what blue men do.  

See, I know a little about it.  After that video was taken, around 1:30 pm, I was taken into the back room and given an interview in which I learned a little bit^ about what it is to be a blue man.  Then, I was put on hold for another hour.  Then, I was taken out of the theater and over to a church a few blocks away, where I was seen by four men.  They asked me to look at them.  They made me walk and imagine.  They made me drum.  Then, they made me go home.

Then they made me come back.

Isn't this a thrilling narrative?

Today, I saw those men again.  Again they made me walk.  They made me look.  They made me imagine.  Then, they made me go home.  Again.**  This time, I stayed home.  

All of this is to say that I got past the first two cuts on the way to being a blue man.  That's not really very far, but it's far enough to get someone's hopes up, and to (ready for it?) cut when things don't work out.  

So now I am indeed a blue man, because I didn't get something I never wanted.  See what I mean about the blues?  Sneaky. Subtle.  Surprising.  

If you don't know what I mean, look in my eyes.  See it?  No?  Well, look in some other guy's eyes who got further in the process.  You'll probably see it there.  

-----
* No.  Clearly, you don't.
^ By "little bit" I mean "nothing."
** You can never go home again.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

There's a Monster in the Middle of My Book

WHAT DID THAT SAY?  In the blog title, what did it say?  Did that say there is a monster in the middle of a book?

What book is this?

Off Track you say?  (Boy, I am tired of hearing about that book!)

Shhhh.  Listen, I have an idea.  If you do not turn any pages, we will never get to the end of Off Track.  So maybe it is best that you do not even start to read it.  If you start to read it, you may start to enjoy it, and if you start to enjoy it, you may want to keep reading it, and if you keep reading it, you may get to the middle.  And if you get to the middle . . .

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  You just downloaded a copy of Off Track!  DON'T YOU KNOW THERE IS A MONSTER IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT BOOK?

I am going to make this hard for you.  I am going to charge you zero dollars.  That way, you are guaranteed to think the book is cheap and uninteresting, and you will never actually start to read it.

NOW WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  You just started reading a copy of Off Track!  Don't you know that it is like a pamphlet or an advertisement or a tract that a religious person might leave on your car?  It is worthless!  WORTHLESS!

Maybe you do not understand.  You see, turning pages will bring you closer to the end of Off Track, and you do not want to go there, because somewhere around the middle, you will find a monster!  Have I not made that clear?

Okay, how can I stop you from doing this page turning thing?  You have made it through the first four chapters of Off Track.  That is moving you closer to the middle, which is where the MONSTER is.  You had better stop enjoying yourself soon, or find some other reason to put the book down.  Because you are getting WAY TOO CLOSE to the monster for my liking.

WILL YOU PLEASE STOP TURNING PAGES?  If you keep turning pages, I will be forced to make a chapter near the middle VERY, VERY BORING.  And then you will HAVE to stop reading.

The next chapter is going to be very, very boring.  I'm warning you.

Okay, now you have really gone off into cuckoo land.  You are writing me to tell me how much you are enjoying the book, which I repeat has a MONSTER inside AND which I made VERY VERY BORING in one place to slow you down.  

Did you know that you are very determined?   

Oh no.  Please stop now.  You are getting frighteningly close to the monster in the middle of the book.  You are even donating a small sum of dollars to help make the book a fancy ebook, and also to benefit local community organizations, which means even more people might read this book and be subjected to the MONSTER.

Oh, please, please, please STOP.

. . .

Hello?

Oh no.  Oh no, oh no!

. . .

Oh no.