Thursday, December 19, 2013

An open letter to a website I'll no longer be reading

This morning as I drank my coffee, went one celebrity sex worker story over the line. Rather than doing something useful with my time, I wrote them a Facebook message I'm sure some intern will be forced to read.

It's kind of sad that I have been reading Salon every day since I learned that there was an internet and I could go on the computer and read things that interested me. Things like intelligent reviews of movies, music, and books and articles highlighting progressive politics.
But for some time now, that has been far from what Salon is, and I will no longer be clicking every day. I'm sure I will be in to take a peek once in a while, old habits do die hard, but I can no longer take the constant stream of sex worker, penis size, and affair articles. You can dress them up in the thin veneer of pseudo-academia or ape the memoir-obsessed culture we've become, but it's still little better than a gussied-up version of HuffPo's slideshows filled with celebrity side-boob shots.
Even the political coverage has become increasingly hysterical over the years. You realize that 95 percent of the people who read your site are on your side politically, right? Constantly highlighting the worst of the worst that the political right has to offer while offering few solutions or even pretending that there may be Republicans who don't burn babies does little to further any kind of reasonable debate in Washington or anywhere else.
So thanks for 15 or so years of internet fun and education, at least for many of those years, but it's time for me to conveniently lose my bookmark to your website. I get the feeling I'm not the only one.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Camping with American Literature 101

I have the feeling I may have told this tale, or part of this tale in some other forum before. A seven second search of my blog assures me that it wasn't here. Good enough for me ...

There are several ways I actively deal with having the melancholy or the ill humours (one of those ways is to refer to depression by its 19th century English monikers), and one of the most effective ways is by re-reading, at a minimum, the opening chapter of Moby Dick. Sometimes I keep going, knocking off as many of the early chapters in a single sitting as I can. It may not have the restorative powers of heading out to sea itself, but it is close.

Overall, I've read the book as a whole at least four times. It is my favorite book. A classic of American literature. Frankly, I don't care to analyze what it's all about and what it means. That's one of the benefits of no longer being in college. Whales. I just like it, like a lot, okay?

But that wasn't always the case.

Let's say I was less than impressed the first time I was introduced to Moby Dick in American Lit 101. God lord, the thing is long. And boring. There must have been about 177 pages on the proper selection of a harpoon barb. The friggin' whale doesn't even eat anyone until the last couple of chapters. Where the hell are Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider when you need them.

I was somewhere around the 87th page of the paragraph about everything blubber had been used for since the beginning of the time when I packed my paperback copy of Moby Dick in my bag as Randy and I took off for a weekend camping trip to New Hampshire. Now camping wasn't exactly a regular thing for us, but about once per summer, we would take whatever VW bus/camper/hippiemobile Randy may have owned at the time, took it into the woods. Maybe went for a hike, maybe drank beer, mostly slept in the back of whatever vintage VW transport Randy owned at the time.

This particular trip we figured a campfire might be something that would fit in with the whole camping motif. We had matches. I'm assuming we had something wooden and loglike to burn. The only thing we didn't have was something paper or kindling like to get from the match to the loglike things.

But luckily, I had my paperback copy of Melville's classic meditation on society and nature, or whatever the hell I thought it was about at the time. Friggin' whale hadn't even done anything yet. Great white whale my ass. Anyways, we discovered that cheap paperback copies of American Lit 101 texts are excellent firestarters.

Luckily, the 700 pages of Moby Dick were enough to get a roaring fire started. We danced around the fire like drunken Queequegs and Starbucks and didn't have to endanger the copy of Last of Mohicans I had stashed somewhere under my grateful dead tie-dye.

All these years later, I've obviously come around on Melville, slowed down to reflect on the larger story and style without caring that it takes a good 113 chapters to ramp up to anything that could reasonably described as Die Hard on a Whaling Ship.

And I think we would have been better off burning the tie dye and Last of the Mohicans.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

West of Buffalo

In a previous blog post:

I chronicled the courtship of a not-so-young man and beautiful Colombian woman by way of California who lived out the plot of one of those Ethan Hawke-Julie Delpy movies during a day in the Hub. At least I assume it was kind of like one of those movies, even though the last Ethan Hawke movie I saw was Training Day. It really wasn't like Training Day, unless you consider me to have the smoldering sexuality of Denzel Washington on top of the puppy dog eyes of Ethan Hawke. And with less shooting of gang members.

And since that time, I'm sure most of you who come here by the way of the Facebook are just thrilled to itty bitty pieces by the cutesie wutsie banter and smoldering cyber glances between myself and previously mentioned beautiful Miss Leslie. I kind of apologize for that without really apologizing. After all, it is a huge jump to take for the former kid who used to cover up his bedroom walls with the largest Joy Division posters he could find. Like, Love Will Tear Us Apart, man.

But between that magical day and the current state of jetting back and forth from coast to coast and plans of a future with something more, there were the bittersweet couple of days, when mostly I was thinking -

Wow, and

What the hell is going to happen next?

That Sunday when I drove Leslie to Logan Airport, after passing Tewksbury, and getting the requisite giggles over seeing the word Tewksbury, I was kind of quiet. Not shocking, really, for anyone who knows me, but this was a different quiet. Mostly, my quiet comes from a place where my  mind just kind of hums along, nothing to see here. This time my mind was buzzing, driving over the Zakim Bridge, holding Leslie's hand as I pretty much had been doing for the past four days, not wanting to let go, but knowing the airport was coming closer and closer. The one damn day I actually wanted there to be traffic in the city and I was zipping along with hardly another car in site.

Feeling a little twitch in the back of my throat, a little moistness in the corner of my eyes. Couple words kept repeating in my head, louder and louder.

Stay. Don't Go. Come Back. Come Live Here.

I knew Leslie had fallen in love with Boston. As for what she felt for me, well, it seemed a little nuts but I thought I had an idea.

But sometimes my nobility gets the best of me. I couldn't shout it. Leslie has a life 3,000 miles away, I thought, family, a job, 3000 miles away. We talked about meeting in Las Vegas. Her coming back. Me visiting there.

I didn't know what to think.

I've never been further west than Buffalo.

I know people travel all over the country all the time like it's no big deal. But that's never been me. For over 40 years, the thought of even visiting the west coast seemed only slightly less realistic than taking a covered wagon to the Moon.

Almost at the airport, I mutter something like, "well, you know, we had the most wonderful, magical long weekend ever, we will always have that." Because we did, and I had no idea when it would ever happen again. Later, I found out the Leslie thought this might have been something I said because I didn't have that much of an intention of seeing her anytime soon.

That's not what I meant at all.

We get to the airport, I pull up to the curb and I help Leslie get out her bag (still amazed she made it to Boston with only one bag and two pairs of shoes, I was warned to never expect this again). I hug her on the sidewalk, I give it everything I have. For the first time, I think she can tell the silence isn't because I'm looking to dump her off to head home so I can get home and watch the ballgame. Tears come. I choke up. Her eyes start to leak. I hold her tighter.

I think she starts to get it. I leave, she texts that she is crying as I am on the road. Apparently they are playing Danny Boy in the airport. What the hell kind of a sick sadist plays Danny Boy as people are leaving loved ones at the airport. Remind me to write a strongly worded letter to the Airport Authority.

I get home. Through the magic of science, Leslie and I Facebook message during her entire flight home. god, I missed her already. There are seeds of her wanting to be here, like to live and such. I would like that too, I think, but don't let it sink in that it could be a thing that really happens.

The next day, Leslie is back at work. She tells me it is on. Before talking to anyone else (sorry Breton family) she tells me it is on. She is in love with Boston. This is where she is meant to be. And I am in Boston. Or close enough for 3,000 miles away.

I want this, but tell her to make sure she thinks this through, her job, her family, her friends, etc. Sometimes I tend to be noble in spite of what I really want. And what I really want is Leslie next to me.

And then things start to happen. I know there are still more things that have to happen, but a dream starts to resemble something more like a plan. Leslie is coming for New Year's. It still seems far away.
Then one day I discover I will be going to California. On a plane, not a covered moon wagon.

I've never been further west than Buffalo.

Thursday, that changes.