Monday, March 30, 2009
Feedback informs me that I’m getting a little bit dreary lately. To combat this impulse, I am at this very moment doing a complicated and joyous dance of West African origin, which in days gone by might have brought forth a god. Since We the People are without gods despite devoting an inordinate amount of our time trying to carve our Republic which may or may not be alive into the Procrustean form desired by those who want gods in the Congress, no gods are forthcoming as a result of my dance. But something else might arrive, equally mysterious and irrelevant to your daily lives and loves. I am going to tell you who I am. My name is Travis Kellerman. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and I came to LA to go to grad school in 2007. Look where it got me. I watched things come apart, and other things come together, and you know what? I decided to do this. I have a master’s degree. What kind of master? Doesn’t matter. And fuck this, it’s all a lie. I couldn’t tell you who I am anymore, I don’t know, I’ve been Walt Dangerfield and Walt Dangerfield is all I want to be. I never even heard of anyone named Travis Kellerman. I’ve never been to Pennsylvania. Although I would go if I got the chance. I hear it’s nice, a little warmer than it used to be so it’s kind of like Georgia now sometimes, only you can still see snow. I’d love to see snow. Is there…oh. News! News saves me from my own self-involvement! Oh. My. God. Are you shitting me? Ladies and gentlemen, Martin Kindred--
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Carl Marks is having the last laugh from his dialectical hereafter. He kicks the buyout program into the public-awareness stratosphere after a career lionizing the people who tried to engineer a better world by killing off a whole bunch of the disagreeable people cluttering it up, and then the buyout program goes down in flames because the people running it turned out to be a bunch of the most conscienceless motherfuckers you ever did see. Ideals, man. Fuck ’em. I never had any. If I, Walt Dangerfield, ever espoused ideals, I was kidding. K-I-D-D-I-N-G. The whole thing goes up in smoke, and up in smoke is where it should be. I mean, we live in a world where species that might have cured cancer by virtue of their dermal secretion are driven to extinction because somebody thought it might be a good idea to build houses in a swamp at the base of a mountain range. If the houses get buried in a mudslide, you know what? This is what you get for not wanting to cure cancer. This is what you get for thinking on a human scale. As human beings, it’s our responsibility to think beyond the human scale. When we don’t, you get guys like Carl Marks. I was watching the movie that made him again last night, The Assassination of Leon Trotsky, and the thing that got me was not De Niro’s performance as Stalin—which is better than Goulet’s but never would have worked in Koba!—and it wasn’t the fucking deranged pathos of Trotsky dying by the icepick after a life devoted to the idea of a vanguard revolution. It was the idea of a vanguard revolution, a group that sees farther and knows better than everyone else. There’s your kernel of why no human system ever works. Communism looked for equality, but people aren’t the same. Capitalism rewards success, but not everyone has the tools to be successful. So what do we do? Theorize? Fuck that. We make movies, we get away with what we can. We are kind to the people around us. Any more than that you can’t expect from a human being. I believe, without reason or justification, that when he had the axe in his head Trotsky knew this. Carl Marks didn’t. I won’t watch his movies anymore.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Hey, you know, it’s a relief to be talking about something other than this whole Laskowski cop-killer fake drama. Here’s the other thing I think is interesting. I remember, a while back although I haven’t pulled the file because listening to my own voice is like being dead, talking about Othello. The thing about Othello is that you have an idealist and a cynic, plus racial tension and frustrated love, or lust anyway. I said something about Iago, and you know who Iago is? Right now I’m thinking Curt Laskowski is Iago. Once he had beliefs, then he lived, and then he found that the beliefs didn’t survive the living. So he had either belief or life, and what kind of choice is that? But there’s a middle ground. It involves a little self-deception, but we all know how to do that. You convince yourself that satisfying your basest impulses, to fuck and kill and avenge, is actually a way of expressing your belief. I think Curt Laskowski knew this a long time ago, but didn’t let himself know that he knew it until his back was against the wall. But here’s what I’d want to tell him: Your back was always against the wall. You’re born with your back against the wall, and you live with your back against the wall, and if you ever get your back away from the wall it’s because you drop your principles and fight. I can’t blame him for that. I can blame him for what he did, but no. I’m not going to judge him for why. Fuck, I said I wasn’t going to be talking about Laskowski, and then there I go talking about Laskowski. I can’t wait to talk about the Dodgers again. Who lost last night, 6-4.
Friday, March 27, 2009
So what do you think about the Dodgers? Looks like one of those ninety-win, almost-make-the-playoffs kind of seasons to me. I would almost prefer incompetence, since then I wouldn’t have to spend all of this time believing, and agonizing over the possibility of being disappointed. My grandfather once told me that sports could teach you something about being a man. I believed it. In some ways, I still do, but I don’t know what it is to be a man when I can opt the other way if I’m willing to undergo a minor surgery and take some pills. I don’t know what it is to be a man when I never played sports. I don’t know what it is to be a man when I can go in the VR and be a woman if I want, or a dog, or Diogenes the Cynic. I almost wish that the cops weren’t going to kill Curt Laskowski, because I’d like to go into the VR and be him, just to see what it is that made him do what he did. How can you rationally analyze the circumstances of your life and conclude that randomly killing a cop at a demonstration is okay, is the thing that you must do? You can’t. Not rationally. So the answer is that rationality isn’t the answer, which brings me right back to the Dodgers. Rationally I know they will crush my hopes. But every April, and even every August when things are still marginally possible, those hopes spring up again. Hope is a fucking dandelion. A cynical, Diogenes dandelion. It challenges us to live up to ourselves.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
You pour yourself into something. Doesn’t matter what it is. You pour yourself into it because at one point you think it’s important. Then maybe you figure out that it isn’t important, but by then you’ve invested too much, and the investment is important even if the thing you’ve invested in isn’t anymore. Is that too general? I will specify. Once I believed that I had something to say about life and politics and art and culture and all of this other shit that somehow is critically important even though you can go days without thinking about it. So I started talking to anyone who would listen, because I needed people to listen. Then I realized that I was doing it for myself, to be listened to, instead for other people because I thought I was saying something they needed to hear. That’s a tough pill to swallow, and a hard trip to take. Out on the other side of it, I said to myself, you know what? Keep talking. That’s all you have, the talking. The listening doesn’t matter. You talk into the void, because it’s all a void, and instead of knowing someone is listening, you trust your sanity and your worth and your life to the possibility that someone might listen. And you know what? That’s enough. The possibility is enough. Once there might have been certainty, but now the possibility has to be enough.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Manhunt. Who doesn’t love a good manhunt? I’m thinking all the way back to John Wilkes Booth, Pretty Boy Floyd...now the hunt is on for Curt Laskowski, and the rest of the world stops. It’s an excuse to talk about something that isn’t happening but will be interesting when it does, except that when it does the story will be over. Ain’t that a bitch? And it’s an excuse to devote bandwidth to something other than all that depressing shit coming out of the Dust Bowl II, and the water sloshing over the Gulf Coast, and the crushing of the movements in the desert Southwest. I mean, who wants to talk about real intractable problems like the insufficiency of currency in a truly globalized and truly virtual market, when you can talk about whether the LAPD had flushed Curt Laskowski out of the Wi-Free in Koreatown? Hell, I don’t. Believe me, I love the trivial, the exploitative, the voyeuristic and the reprehensible. Every once in a while I lose track of myself and talk about something relevant, but that isn’t me. I don’t give a shit about the Issues of the Day, or the Problems of Civilization and Humankind. I can’t. Because I can’t fix it, I don’t know the people who can, and all I can do is take care of the people near and dear to me. If I am kind to people I meet on the corner, if I love and am loved, if I teach my children and minister to my elders, the rest of the world can burn.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I am frenetic. I am the screaming id that wants to kill anything it can’t fuck and fuck anything it can’t kill. I am the monkey let out of the Skinner box. I am the college kid who was home-schooled and finds himself at UCLA. The universe is too big, the pleasures too many and various, the time I lost too much ever to make up and my hunger to make it up therefore too great ever to sate. I am the wendigo, cast out for crimes against the tribe and transformed into a monster with a heart of ice who must eat and eat and never be full. I am appetite. I am wishing, in short, that I had been in the heart of the maelstrom out at Yucaipa. Everett Shankly I could not give a shit about. You kill five people, you get what’s coming to you. But to be in the mob, to be free…I’ve got a VR rig in my head, and there I’m seeing the muzzle flashes. There I’m hearing the thwop of the helicopter rotors, there I’m weeping with tear gas and ducking my head when the batons come down, and you know what? Because it didn’t really happen, I love it. I’m proud of myself for imagining it. I wasn’t there, but I wanted to have been there, and this fake courage feels to me like the real thing. Man, I didn’t know until just now what an asshole I was.