Americans, unhappily, have the most remarkable ability to alchemize all bitter truths into an innocuous but piquant confection and to transform their moral contradictions, or public discussion of such contradictions, into a proud decoration, such as are given for heroism on the field of battle. — James Baldwin, “Many Thousands Gone”
You’re inside a dark cave in search of evil’s soul, but in order to reach it you’re forced to drink a potion that reveals your worst memories, failures, habits, personality traits, it slowly but surely drives you insane, there’s a voice coming from somewhere egging you onward and you can’t say no even as you want desperately to stop, it’s like a disease inside you, you’re overwhelmed with the “feels” and the “this” and the “tho, “and when you finish it turns out you were mistaken all along, the real evil is somewhere else and all your struggle has been for nothing, but you still die. Twitter is a Horcrux.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Great movie, but there are whole chunks that go by where no dialogue is spoken, where chimps grunt and sign and emote like modern day Ewoks. (Done way better, but still.) I was riding on post-festival fumes and struggled to stay awake, but instead forced myself into a fugue state where nothing registered and had to ask my friend what happened when the lights went up. (Time elapsed: ~10 minutes)
Godzilla: Filled with action scenes that serve no real purpose: You know the handsome young hero’s not really going to die in the middle of this monster fight, because that’s not how it works. Went to sleep in the middle of loud noises; woke up in the middle of loud noises. (Time elapsed: 5 minutes)
Tiny Furniture: Forced myself to fall asleep out of protest at having paid to see this. Alas, woken up by dialogue. (Time elapsed: 30 seconds?)
The Golden Compass: Unconscionably stoned for this adaptation of one of my favorite children’s novels, because that seemed like the proper move. I went to sleep when a polar bear was speaking and woke up to Daniel Craig staring icily into the distance five seconds before the credits rolled. I don’t know why my friend didn’t wake me up, but as he told me, I didn’t miss a lot. (Time elapsed: 45 minutes)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: The most unpleasant theater-going experience of my adult life. I just tried to forget it was happening. (Time elapsed: ~20 minutes, spread throughout the movie)
The Italian Job: Was burned out when the movie began, and calculated that a quick nap during the opening montages would give me enough energy to make it through the rest. I was right. (Time elapsed: ~3 minutes)
Lincoln: I don’t know what scenes I missed, but it seems impossible that I stayed awake for the full three hours. (Time elapsed: 5, 10, 15 minutes? Who knows?)
just, lol (via David Grossman)
Up on ‘The Nib’ now: Hart Island Hallelujah
Wherein we pay a visit to some forgotten New Yorkers.
I did not: They were Northside boys and I was a proud Payton guy. Also, they were a few years behind me so our social paths never intersected.
During the festival the singer of Smith Westerns, who I interviewed last summer, recognized me walking around and stopped to say hey. I noticed the color of his hair was different, and so of course the first thing I said was, “Wow, you literally dyed it blonde!”
This is the Chicago skyline shown from the bridge that overlooks the lagoon inside the Lincoln Park Zoo, which K and I walked through to reach Lake Michigan because it was only 3:30 and we were still wired from the perfect backyard party we’d just left. (All our friends were there, the alcohol was free, the rap music was loud and relevant.) After starting down Armitage from my mom’s house, we encountered a group of drunks who were loudly discussing something that ended when one of them pulled off his boat shoes and whipped them across the street. “You a Sperry man?” he asked me as we slipped past. “There’s a free pair over there.” At Armitage and Wells, a man thought we were trying to poach his cab as we waited at the light until we assured him him we weren’t. We didn’t see anyone for another thirty minutes, making our way through the zoo, over the bridge, through nearly pitch dark passages overgrown with foliage and tasteful architecture, checking behind us every few seconds to make sure we weren’t being followed. I hadn’t been to the lake in years but was guided by instinct, certain that if we walked out of this staircase and cut through that park, we’d eventually find the bridge to take us over Lakeshore Drive to the beach, which we did. On the sand, we took our shoes off and waded into the water, where we were greeted with darkness only broken by the stars. Standing at the edge of my favorite city I felt like I could’ve stayed awake forever, but after a few minutes of not talking we put our shoes back on, found the path back into civilization, hailed cabs, and went to sleep.
Every time I’m back in Chicago, I remember it’s the best American city.