Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Cryin' All the Time"

Last Friday I was enjoying another lovely dinner with a charming fellow, when I began telling him a story.  A friend of mine from college lost her brother just before Christmas.  I was explaining how many parallels there are between her family and mine.  She is the oldest of three, the only girl, there's a bit of an age gap between her and the boys, it was her youngest brother who died.  I don't actually know the specifics of what killed him, but my impression is a life-long (oh, how horrible that terms sounds now) struggle with drugs and alcohol played a role.  At dinner, I wondered aloud if that might add a bit of rage to the grief.  Does one end up feeling like the loved one valued his life and the love of his family and friends so little that he was willing to court death?  Does one end up feeling angry at the loved one, like he acted selfishly? 

I know how addictions work; people addicted to booze, pills or cigarettes are rarely consciously trying to kill themselves.  I know too that suicides are usually a result of a despair so unrelenting and overwhelming that the loved one isn't thinking clearly on any level.  I'm not saying rage would be a reasonable reaction (like so much of this experience is reasonable).  Still, I couldn't help but wonder if I would feel some significant rage at James, had he died this way.  Hell, for a few days after his death, I realized I'd been hoping that we'd learn the driver of the cement truck was being charged with vehicular homicide or some such, as if a conviction for murder would somehow make the loss of my baby brother easier to take.    

Thinking about my friend and her family, about James, about all the people I know who died too young, I got rather worked up.  For the first time in a while I found it hard to talk, or hold back the tears.  For reasons that seemed clear at the time, I launched into a tirade against various players on the world stage. 

"FUCK George Bush," I announced, just a teensy bit too loudly.  "I don't want to hear ONE WORD from him about how much he suffers when soldiers come home in body bags!  And Fuck Al Qaeda too!  Fuck the jihadis!  Fuck ANYONE who holds his own life and the lives of others so cheap he is willing to cause this grief for oil and money and greed and all sorts of bullshit reasons hiding behind words like honor and patriotism and religious devotion and national security.  Fuck them!  Fuck them all!" 

My dinner companion reacted to this disturbing display with admirable grace.  He held my hand, let me take the last of his Pinot Noir, and said the one thing that a raving lunatic like me could handle at that point. 

"All I can do is listen." 

A bit later I went to the bathroom to pull myself together.  This particular restaurant has a music theme, so all the single-seater bathrooms have the names of pop icons on the doors.  I went into the Elvis room, where I found a life-sized mosaic of him on one wall, and his voice playing over a private sound system.  As luck would have it, he was singing In the Ghetto.  It was near the end, right as the child in the story, now an angry and armed young man, is gunned down in the street. 

"And his mama cried." 

"Are you fucking KIDDING ME?" I asked the room at large.  "In the Ghetto?  We couldn't pull out Love Me Tender or Blue Suede Shoes or, I don't know, Viva Las Vegas maybe?  Old swivel-hipped, eye-liner-wearing sexy Elvis, we couldn't have that guy singing for the three fucking minutes I was going to be in this room?  "AND HIS FREAKIN' MAMA CRIED"? 

After a few more minutes of nose-blowing, inarticulate ranting, crying and a bit of (perhaps slightly hysterical) laughing, I calmed down.  I hoped that the thick bathroom door, combined with the (loud) piped Elvis, the different (loud) piped music in the restaurant, and hell, the different soundtracks coming from each of the other bathrooms all had muffled the whack-job in the Elvis room sufficiently.  Of course this is New York City.  People ignore crazy folks all the time.  It's what we do.  I do it almost every day. 

Again to his credit, my mellow dinner companion, bless him, hadn't taken advantage of my absence to make good his escape.  He's a good guy. 

This is the second time my brother has given me the experience of laughing and crying at the same time. It really is an odd sensation.  Before we left the restaurant, I stopped by the bathroom to blow my nose one more time.  Fearing what I might hear in the Dolly, Cher, or Barbra rooms, I went back to Elvis.  I figured the chances were good In the Ghetto wouldn't be back on. 

This time the song was Hound DogMuch better. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google Ap Tweet; An Exploration

Here's my most recent attempt at video production with Sam, the new camera. As I say in my notes on Youtube, this is what happens when you give a chimp a camera. For the record, I do know that the research tool is spelled 'google' while the enormous number is spelled 'googol.' This isn't an educational video. Well, you may learn more about me than you planned, but you knew the risks when you started reading blogs.

I do not mean to make light of people who suffer from Tourette's, by the way. The fact is, sometimes words do get away from me.

For reasons I have yet to ascertain, the text function on this blog has been acting wonky for the last several posts; no wraparound function, and my control over the font size is mercurial at best. Is this because of the video embedding, you suppose?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Random Snapshots

No particular reason, really.  Not even sure why they're in this combo.  Above is Williamsburg, Brooklyn, sometime last Spring (I think). You can see another version of this shot over at Queer New York. To the left is a terrarium I made a year ago.  Below is a shot from Central Park, in the Ramble by the Great Pond,  last Autumn.  I had a great walk today as well.  What I didn't have is my camera.  Maybe that's why I'm posting these now, substitution.  I love the Winter, even if these shots suggest I'm pining for other seasons.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tree Trimming at Laceyland

Another modest endeavor. My learning curve seems to be going the wrong way. Whatever.

Here's a glimpse of my beautiful family, and what my sister calls "the proto-crypto-dream house 
in which I grew up."
Having this haven, and these people in my life does my soul all kinds of good. I'm a lucky man.

We miss thee, James.

Christmas with Fang

This is my first attempt at a video; I shot and EDITED it with my little Samsung.  It's the video equivalent of a six year old making something with yarn, glitter and pipe cleaners, and like that six year old, I am unspeakably pleased with myself for having managed it.  What's more I did it without gluing pipe cleaners to my head, covering myself with glitter or injuring myself with scissors.  For the record, it's impossible to use glitter and not end up covered with it.  It also never leaves your house. 

Anyway, not only did I collect the images and footage, I managed to combine them with basic transitions that I think were the same ones George Lucas used in the first Star Wars trilogy.  Then with the help of friend Melissa I was able to convert the avi footage to something that Youtube was actually willing to accept AND I already had an identity there ready to be used for this stuff...

So, for a techno-chimp like myself, this 2 minute venture marks all SORTS of little victories.  UnSPEAKABLY pleased with myself.  Seriously.  Yay, yet another way for me to fritter away my life on the internet!  I still don't twitter, but I'm happy to fritter.

[Later: now I've even been able to embed this puppy right in the blog, instead of making you follow a link.  I'm burning up here, Baby!]

It will probably come as no surprise that my video maiden voyage is of Fang.  Sadly this footage doesn't let you see her run full out.  To get her going in the big joyous figure eights that make my heart sing loudest, I usually have to chase her, or get her to chase me for a while, but that was a little tricky with a camera in front of my face.  I did attempt it in the second bit of video, and managed it a bit without falling down, breaking the camera, or my face, but it still didn't get her going.  I'll have to get someone else to record it next time, I guess, and I'll just do the romping part.  When I go after her, I make a weird whooshing sound with my voice.  I never noticed that before making this tape.  I haven't the slightest idea why, but I can't imagine NOT doing it either.  Maybe it's a way of letting her know I'm playing as I bear down on her.  Like she couldn't figure that out on her own.  

Okay, Patrick needs to get out of the house.  Get a life, that kind of thing.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

High School Reunion, or "Patrick is a Great Big 'Mo"

To steal a hilarious line from friend Marta, 'I have TOTALLY drunk the Facebook Kool Aid.'  Maybe I'm not playing any of the games, and my green patch is pretty neglected at this point (do they start taking rain forest acreage away if you drop the ball with that?) but I can easily lose hours, days at a time there if I'm not careful.  And as a freelancer I have to be my own cranky boss about time-wasting.  You know all those chores, errands and responsibilities you feel guilty for neglecting when you've been on the idiot box for too long? Well, now add to that list 1) get a job and 2) get a life, and you see why I should probably be a bit more rigorous than I have thus far been about the Facebook action. 

Huh, that sounds a little dirty, doesn't it.  Facebook action.  I may have just found the title for this baby. 

Saturday, January 02, 2010