“A blood black nothingness began to spin.
Began to spin.
Let’s move on to system. System.
Feel that in your body. The system.
What does it feel like to be part of the system. System.
Is there anything in your body that wants to resist the system? System.
Do you get pleasure out of being a part of the system? System.
Have they created you to be a part of the system? System.
Is there security in being a part of the system? System.
Is there a sound that comes with the system? System.
We’re going to go on. Cells.
They were all put together at a time. Cells.
Millions and billions of them. Cells.
Were you ever arrested? Cells.
Did you spend much time in the cell? Cells.
Have you ever been in an instituion? Cells.
Do they keep you in a cell? Cells.
When you’re not performing your duties do they keep you in a little box? Cells.
What’s it like to hold the hand of someone you love? Interlinked.
Do they teach you how to feel finger to finger? Interlinked.
Do you long for having your heart interlinked? Interlinked.
Do you dream about being interlinked?
Have they left a place for you where you can dream? Interlinked.
What’s it like to hold your child in your arms? Interlinked.
What’s it like to play with your dog? Interlinked.
Do you feel that there’s a part of you that’s missing? Interlinked.
Do you like to connect to things? Interlinked.
What happens when that linkage is broken? Interlinked.
Have they let you feel heartbreak? Interlinked.
Did you buy a present for the person you love? Within cells interlinked.
Why don’t you say that three times? Within cells interlinked. Within cells interlinked. Within cells interlinked.
Where do you go when you go within? Within.
Has anyone ever locked you out of a room? Within.
Where do you go to when you go within? Within.
Where is the place in the world you feel the safest? Within.
Do you have a heart? Within.
Did you pick asparagus stems?
What comes from something else? Stem.
Have you been to the source of a river? Stem.
When’s the first time you gave a flower to a girl? Stem.
What did she look like? Stem.
Is it a slang word for people’s legs? Stem.
Have you planeted things in the ground? Stem.
Have you ever been in a legal battle? Stem.
Within one stem.
Is that an old fashioned word? Dreadfully.
Did you ever want to live in the nineteenth century? Dreadfully.
What’s it like to be filled with dread? Dreadfully.
Do you think you could find out all the answers to all the questions? Dreadfully.
How good are your eyes? Distinct.
Do you have a particular personality? Distinct.
What separates somebody from somebody else? Distinct.
Who do you admire most in the world? Distinct.
What was your most shameful moment? Distinct.
Were you afraid of the dark whan you were little? Dark.
What’s it like to hide under a bed? Dark.
Did they keep you in a drawer when they were building you? Dark?
Was it dark in there? Dark.
Do you have dark thoughts? Dark?
Did they program you to have dark thoughts? Dark?
Do you think it’s some kind of corruption these dark thoughts? Dark.
Maybe it’s a spot of rust or something? Dark.
Who’s the darkest person you know? Dark.
What is it like when someone gives you the silent treatment. Dark.
Who did you get your darkness from? Dark.
Against the dark.
What kind of power do you have against the dark. Against the dark.
Do you think there is such a thing as evil? Against the dark.
Do you think you can protect people against the dark. Against the dark.
Why are these things happening? Against the dark.
Do you prefer the day or the night? Against the dark.
When is the last time you saw a starry sky? Against the dark.
What’s your favorite part of the moon? Against the dark.
Have you seen the Trevi fountain in Rome? Fountain.
Have you ever seen the fountain in Lincoln center? Fountain.
Have you seen fountains out in the wild? Fountain.
What’s it like when you have an orgasm. Fountain.
Have you read the Fountainhead? Fountain.
Is it pure white? White Fountain.
Is that a metaphor? White Fountain.
How did the white Fountain make you feel? White Fountain.
A tall white fountain played.
When you were little did you ever fall into a Fountain? A Tall White Fountain.
Do you like fire, earth, air or water. A Tall White Fountain.
Do you like skipping around in the water? A Tall White Fountain.
A blood black nothingness.
A system of cells.
Within cells interlinked.
Within one stem.
And dreadfully distinct.
Against the dark.
A tall white fountain played.”
You can never go home again is, conceptually, something that I think about a lot. I moved to Philadelphia in August of 1999, sight unseen, and began setting up a life away from everything and everyone I had ever known. I was 25 at the time- which seems like a lifetime ago- and the me who followed some damn-fool notion to move 1,054 miles northeast has aged and greyed and despite superficial resemblances is little more than memories and old photographs tucked into honest to god photo albums in my closets.
A few weeks ago I challenged Thomas Wolfe’s edict and went home again; another trip down South to reconnect with old friends, visit the P5 and to record a few oral histories for my various archival projects, some of which may never end up publicly shared but were, at least, captured for posterity. It’s always so weird going ‘home’- the South in general is pleasantly and endearingly weird and the longer I live up North the weirder and more magical the South seems when I find myself visiting. I had very little time to think about the differences with almost every waking moment spoken for between recording the interviews, meeting up with loved ones and doing my best to process everything.
One of my histories was with a retired body pierced named Mike Natali; formerly of the Silver Anchor and Bravo! Body Jewelry companies and a pretty influential part of my mid/late teens and early 20s. I hadn’t seen Mike in almost two decades, but after a few minutes in his Tampa apartment we found ourselves easing back into the old days via stories from our shared relationship with Jack Yount and the ‘middle school’ era of the western piercing scene; it was really the first time I’ve done an oral history with someone who’s history was so closely intwined with mine and I admit that I lost any level of distance or objectivity when we were talking about long forgotten memories. I was lucky to be able to see Mike twice in four days and was joined on the second visit by our old (mutual) friend Nolan who was kind enough to snap some photos of Mike and I after lunch. Seeing the photo (left) I can’t’ help but notice how much I’ve aged since the last time we were together.
Getting old has been on my mind a lot lately; schtick mostly but also the reality of the process that seems to be going faster than it did when I was in my twenties; how time seems to be speeding up as my life finally settles into the adventure that I share with Julia as my wife and the other half of my heart; the fancy dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant with sport coat and tie and a bundle of pre-date jitters that seems like it was only yesterday is almost three years past, following her down the red hallway at her old apartment, nervous that she wouldn’t like me now a story from long ago. It’s weird and comforting and amazing that every day we spend together- rushing around the Magic Kingdom making sure that we get to ride all of the rides on our incredibly detailed itinerary, sitting on the bed watching SVU with Mr. Bailey Papers and telling each other about our day… even the quiet moments become nodal points for a future treasured memory.
I think it’s natural to have those reality check moments about getting older; remembering all of the experiences that have brought me to where I am now and applying them to how I want the second half of this amazing, surreal and adventurous life to be.
Today has been an oddly sentimental day for me. Good sentiment; not melancholic but my brain keeps directing me back to friends and loved ones that aren’t around anymore. It’s inspired more smiles than anything.
memores acti prudentes futuri
A few updates ago I went off on a tirade about the lack of video stores in Philadelphia (and much of America, I’m sure) and how we have less options these days than we did five, ten years ago. Luckily for us, Philadelphia at least has Exhumed Films. I’ve been going to their shows off and on since I moved to Philly; sometimes in New Jersey, sometimes in the city proper- wherever they have a location. They’re a group of movie fans who screen rare 35mm prints of cult, horror and exploitation films, sort of like a less commercial Alamo Draft House save that they don’t have their own location. It’s moved around quite a bit and most recently has a home at the International House on Chestnut Street.
My schedule these days means that I miss most of their offerings, but when things line up I always try to make screenings, even if I’ve never heard of the movie being shown. Last night the boys hosted REMOTE CONTROL; a little seen 1988 horror flick from by BLUE SUNSHINE director Jeff Lieberman starring Kevin Dillion, Deborah Goodrich and Jennifer Tilly. Best of all, Jeff was on hand to introduce the movie, show a 16mm print of his first short, an ironically trippy antidrug PSA called RINGERS. The turnout was good; I always want to see more people at these screenings but there were at least 100 in attendance, so that was pretty rad. It’s always good to see these movies with a full and appreciative audience. Having seen ONLY GOD FORGIVES in San Diego with a packed house of people who didn’t realize they were seeing a weirdo art film a few weeks ago.. I really appreciate an audience that knows what it’s getting into. Jeff stuck around for a Q&A after the movie but I had to jet; missed out on that as well as picking up a poster/print for the screening. I always do that. I swear I’m going to start biking there with a poster tube in my bag.. I missed out on the TCM2 print a few months ago for the same reason. One day I’ll learn.
But all that aside.. it was a great night. The film was appropriately cheesy and worth seeing. I love when they do movies on my free nights. I was sad not to see my friend and fellow cult film nerd Rob at the showing, but as luck would have it, I randomly ran into him today and we had an in-depth movie nerd sidewalk conversation that ranged from old work stuff (Apparently Dave Clark, the biggest douchebag I met in all my years at Amazon- bigger than Paul Lysko, Jenna Owens or Fern) just shared the stage with President Obama in some Amazon PR crap. We had a lot of sport with that, then moved on to discussing 1980s porn, cut scenes, the death of the video store culture… all the stuff that makes life worth living. Rob and I have this weird friendship where we see each other in random spots. Been that way since we worked together and has continued the three plus years I’ve been out of the DFC.
So much nerdery.
Otherwise it’s a nice slow day. Haircut, finally. Gym time. Playing mediator between Bailey and
Mervin as they both fought to use me as a pillow. Built a bicycle for Julia and then m
ore Game of Thrones reading and gearing up for movie night with Erin at 7pm. Full day so far and it feels like it’s just starting.
In two days I turn 39.
I’m in travel planning overload, Internet.
I’ve been searching flights for my San Diego > San Francisco trip and am pretty surprised by the costs. I just paid $101 to go from Philly to Austin Texas, but the cheapest flight I’ve found from SD to SF is $117. Such is life; I probably should have booked earlier, so I’ll take what I get. I’m getting super excited for the trip; Three days in San Diego and two in San Francisco. Pushead Collector buddies, tattoo buddies and adventures. Can’t really ask for more than that so I won’t complain too much when I book the ticket tomorrow. I think I have most of the lodging situations worked out for both legs of the trip and soon I’ll start looking into public transport options- San Diego Airport to the city, etc. Usually I’m much more ‘seat of my pants’ than this, but I’m trying to be an adult about it and have all of my ducks in a row before I get out there to hopefully thwart any last minute chaos.
Girlfriend | Good Friend | Best Friend
Non-travel related, things have been coming up Aces in my life lately. I feel like the last year of therapy and working on myself has really paid off; my relationship with Julia is amazing. Lessons I learned the hard way are coming easy now; hard conversations are a breeze since we’re working with mutual respect and understanding. I’m really lucky to have the life I have. Even had a bit of a milestone the other day- Julia met my good friend (and former girlfriend) Natalie and they got along swimmingly. I’ve never really been able to stay friends with an ex before much less introduce them to a current love, so this was kind of new territory for me but it worked out just fine. I keep deviling the recently blonde Natalie about my fear and dislike of change, but if change means that I can keep up a friendship with her, I’m all for it.
Other than that I’ve been keeping pretty low-key of late. Saving money for the trips has kept me pretty boring. Movies, hangouts with Julia, movies with Erin, walks with Bailey. I have the life I want right now. Stable and fun with little bits of travel, adventure and chaos.
Photos: Hex Sign (inset: Julia, Natalie and Erin)