Years ago, we were smoking outside of a punk collective house.
In those days we discussed ‘possibility’ all the time, and this particular time was no different. We had been spending our time doing ‘possible’ things. Organizing, protesting, distributing literature, having weird-as-shit polyamorous relationships. Someone suggested that these activities were substitutes for the impossible things we ‘truly desired’ (I know, right?). It was true: none of us wanted the tedium of activism at all. What we wanted was to blow holes in the walls of prisons, to unlock grocery stores, to writhe in orgies by the hundreds, to disarm the police, to throw politicians into the back of vans and drive off of bridges into lakes. To be warlords or whatever. These were the impossible things for which our day-to-day activisms played surrogate.
This conversation may sound naïve and stupid now, but it represents an important moment in our lives. Once you realize that your desires are impossible, an obvious dilemma presents itself … either:
You pursue your desires knowing that they are impossible, like some kind of priest or terminal workaholic or … (what’s the word for suicide bomber that isn’t weird to say on the internet?) or;
You decide ‘not to waste your time on the unrealistic’. Shortly thereafter, you realize that you can never do what you want to do and that your life is just full of the shit you’re doing instead. Then finally: “Given that I won’t be doing what I want, what should I do?”
In both cases, the distinction between activism and careerism becomes imperceptible. People who choose the first option … at least in the interesting circles … end up imprisoned, ruined, or killed. Those who sit in prison, or are ruined for life, or bleed out on the battlefield … they are our gladiators. They pay the ultimate price so that we will always have something to argue about at dinner parties, or share on Facebook.
The rest of us, like it or not, have made the second choice.
the older I get, the more I understand squidwards anger
You either die Spongebob, or live long enough to see yourself become Squidward.
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I discovered that if Mountain Goats songs teach you anything, it’s not pessimism or bitterness or melodrama; it’s loyalty. Not to the people you’ve loved, exactly, but to the fact that you did love them. Maybe you don’t anymore, but that doesn’t invalidate the choices you made when you did. If you listen to enough Mountain Goats songs you learn that there is a kind of dignity in honoring feelings you no longer have. John Darnielle’s people fall out of love, yes, but they never forget that they were in it.
Which is, I suppose, why people love the Mountain Goats so shamelessly. That’s a feeling, after all, and we honor it, along with the sadness that made it possible. If we are very lucky, we grow out of that sadness eventually. But the songs remain, along with our Pavlovian responses to them, as relics of former selves that—as John Darnielle is constantly reminding us—we need to respect.
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Years later… I saw onscreen that Bernice had been spraygunned in a raid on a Gardeners safe house. This was after the Gardeners had been outlawed. Though being outlawed wouldn’t have stopped Bernice; she was a person with the courage of her convictions. I had to admire her for that - for the convictions, and also for the courage - because I never really felt I had either one.
There was a close-up of her dead face, looking more gentle and peaceful than I’d ever seen her look in life. Maybe that was the real Bernice, I thought - kind and innocent. Maybe she was truly like that inside, and all the fighting we used to do and all her sharp and unpleasant edges - that was her way of struggling to get out of the hard skin she’d grown all over herself like a beetle shell. But no matter how she hit out and raged, she’d been stuck in there. The thought made me feel so sorry for her that I cried.
I said maybe I was too sad for the job: didn’t they want a more upbeat personality in the their girls? But Mordis smiled with his shiny ant-black eyes and said, as if he was patting me: “Ren. Ren. Everyone’s too sad for everything.”
Laura ordered a margarita, then sometimes turned her head 90 degrees, to her right, to stare outside - at the sidewalk, or the quiet street - with a self-consciously worried expression, seeming disorientated and shy in a distinct, uncommon manner indicating to Paul an underlying sensation of “total yet failing” (as opposed to most people’s “partial and successful”) effort, in terms of the social interaction but, it would often affectingly seem, also generally, in terms of existing. Paul had gradually recognized this demeanor, the past few years, as characteristic, to some degree, of every person, maybe since middle school, with whom he’d been able to form a friendship or enter a relationship (or, it sometimes seemed, earnestly interact and not feel alienated or insane).
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Beware of words. Be careful what you write. Leave no trails.
This is what the Gardeners taught us, when I was a child among them. They told us to depend on memory, because nothing written down could be relied on. The Spirit travels from mouth to mouth, not from thing to thing: books could be burnt, paper crumble away, computers could be destroyed. Only the Spirit lives forever, and the Spirit isn’t a thing.
As for writing, it was dangerous, said the Adams and the Eves, because your enemies could trace you through it, and hunt you down, and use your words to condemn you.
There is No Such Thing as a Pleasant Surprise (by wackystuff)
Top-notch nonchalant expression there.
Source: Flickr / wackystuff
I’d heard the 33rpm version that’s been going around for a ccouple years, but this mix, (from a 1981 radio show?!) meshes it with a sped up version so that Parton is singing a duet with herself, alternating verses in a really jarring and wonderfully disconcerting technically incompetent mess. It’s not as consistent as the 33rpm version. But this is the kind of remix I like. Messy and beautiful.
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