Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Route 378: Conway to Columbia, SC

I am on a break from New York this week, driving aimlessly through the South:

When I come back, don't be surprised if I am sporting a wig. And a gun.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Die Lust am Schreiben (an ode to shits and thrills)

You know how when you have a birthday you sometimes get all introspective and assess your life? Sometimes you feel proud of your accomplishments, sometimes you feel like a rapidly-wrinkling loser, and sometimes you---well, I--worry that decrepitude and the supposedly inevitable boredom lurk just around the corner. Actually, I don't worry about the aesthetic problems of aging so much as I am haunted by the thought that eventually life becomes a chore, or boring, or just predictable and mundane. I'm sure philosophers and humanists have pondered this problem quite extensively, but in all honesty, I have to admit that the idea never occurred to me until one day I was in a store, or listening to a radio station not of my choosing in some other location, and suddenly was struck by that lyric in John Cougar Mellencamp's Jack and Diane--you know, where he warbles "Oh yeahhhhh, life goes oooonnn, long after the thrill, of livin' is goooonnneee..."

I always wondered exactly when the thrill of living would go, or, perhaps more depressingly, if some people never have the thrill at all, either due to social and economic circumstances, or because they are just soulless drones (this thought just occurred to me after watching yet another episode of Make Me a Supermodel where all of the women present on the show speak in a creepy monotone and seem to have no interests outside of hairdos and talking smack about one another).

So, since I had this birthday, and was feeling a bit more lackluster than usual, I started worrying that perhaps I hit the wall o' no thrill. My birthday dinner didn't seem as tastebud-tingling as I'd hoped, my trip to see the latest Fatih Akin movie wasn't as transporting as I'd expected, and even buying my favorite cherry-almond cereal wasn't making me excited to wake up in the morning. Was this it? Was it over for me? Was the thrill really gone?

Well, whew, no. Things started to shift a bit when I made a spur-of-the-moment return visit to this little hole in the wall Afghani restaurant . Perhaps I shouldn't admit this, as it probably gives some embarrassing insight into my psycho-sexual development...but there is something really appealing to me about a bossy waiter. The guy who owns/runs this place isn't bossy so much as he is...commanding, like in this old school, you-are-going-to-eat-this-because-I-say-so kind of way. It is just a joy to see someone so at the top of his game, I guess--serving food with gusto, with humor, and just with the ability to be a mensch who don't take no shit.

Yeah, so Mr. Kebab guy put me in a better frame of mind...and then, only moments later...brace yourselves, dear readers:


I can't think of a celebrity sighting that could be more thrilling, really. I mean, can you? Mr. Waters has long been a personal hero, due to his amazingly warped aesthetic, his curmudgeonly love for the world, and his ability to make the allegedly "ugly" really quite beautiful. I just heart him, you know? So there, he was, coming down the stairs, pencil-thin moustache and--unless my memory deceives me--bright red pants, cell phone in hand, and looking really very dashing. I almost joyously blurted out, "Hi John Waters!" but then noticed that he actually looked a bit perturbed while examining his cell phone. Maybe he got an anger-inducing text message; that's my guess. Anyway, it was enough just to inhabit the same space for a second. Hopefully my admiration was palpable, even without words.

So, from there, after marching up the stairs totally gobsmacked, my fellow-Waters-sighter and I went to see The Slits. I have to say, the show was a little uneven...but who cared? First of all, they ended the show (or near-ended--my memory is foggy now) with the rousing anthem, Let's Do the Split (and I'll Shit on It). It was kind of like this:

only better. After hearing that intriguing accent, I did a little research on Ari-Up. I had always assumed she was a Londoner...and, yes, she lived there, and the original Slits were a London band. But my girl Ari? She's a German! Was there really any doubt?

Like anyone but a German could rock that outfit. Nein, glaub' ich!

Anyway, so, okay, commanding waiter, the sultan of shit/John Waters, and celebratory songs of shitting. Perhaps aging ain't so bad after all, eh?

Since then, things have been looking up. I made a weekend visit to an outer borough, which is always good for the soul, due to normal people locales like these:

as well as the unexpectedly Germanic offering in a local diner:

And today? Well, today I saw the fabulous Hanne Hukkelberg, whose music strangely made me feel like I should be frolicking along a Norwegian fjord, perhaps like this:

only in snow, and wearing some wacky Germanic outfit. I'll work on it.

In the meantime, I will revel in the mini-thrill of my new Lamy pen, gifted to me by my neighborhood pal, who read the tale of my nearly-lost Lamy pen with some alarm. Now I have a spare, she said.