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Notes From The Flip Side: 12.26.2004

"There is no such thing as a part-time partisan. Real partisans are partisans always and as long as they live. They put fallen governments back in power and overthrow governments that have just been put in power with the help of partisans. . Your incorrigible partisan, who undermines what he has just set up, is closest to the artist because he consistently rejects what he has just created."

Günter Grass

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Father Christmas ...

It never seems like the holiday season until I hear The Kinks' "Father Christmas." For some reason, the first time I hear it in any given year is always when the season really starts. I'm not really surprised - it's a story that sounds like it should be about me, if it isn't, particularly the lines "Just remember the kids who got nothing / When you're drinking down your wine." It's really difficult to understand how hard those lines hit home ...

After a few years of loss and loneliness and isolation, it's easy to start thinking that holidays are something other people do, that they are something that other people deserve and that other people get. While it's immensely tempting to use the second person here, I'll suck it up and say that there are times around the holiday when I know it's something for other people, that I'll always be outside looking in through a window whether I like it or not, and, furthermore, that I'm not even a factor in the holiday equation.

But there are lots of people who aren't factors in the holiday equations. I'm sure that there are others who don't fit into a department store television commercial celebrating the only god anyone seems to worship around this time of year. And then there are the kids who really won't get anything.

Something I've observed over the past several years is that, regardless of how much I may hurt, giving seems to make it a little bit easier - not giving in the sense of extravagantly throwing cash around, but trying to help people who are in a worse place than I am. In other words, recognizing that this isn't for me anyway and that I might, by dint of being an outsider, be able to yet do some good and help someone else feel better.

To translate even more plainly, I'm fucked but at least I can make sure that the person next to me isn't.

Somewhere along the line as I'm fighting off nervous breakdowns at the office and grocery store, and usually it's about the time I'm opening the trunk at some charitable organization or another and starting to carry bag after bag in, it starts getting a little easier. Not much, but just enough that maybe I can avoid drinking myself to sleep. Maybe it's just enough to keep me from curling up under the covers for hours without moving.

Usually, it's enough to put a smile on my face and make me feel a little bit better. If only for a little while.

And As Long As I'm At It ...

The best day I've had lately was spent totally alone. I wrote, I edited, I transcribed, I talked to friends via IM. I configured applications. I listened to records and took baths and read books. I microwaved macaroni and cheese dinners and drank IBC cream soda. And did I mention listening to records? Gunmoll damn near shredded the speakers in my headphones. I could have cared less that it was freezing outside; I didn't need to go out at all.

I didn't have to speak to anyone after noon. I spent most of it thinking about couples counseling because this is apparently the sort of shit that 30-something punks do when they're trying to grow up - when they are, in other words, realizing that there is a future, for better or worse, and that negating it does nothing. I'm trying to reconcile the responsibilities I have and that I've been given with the things I have left to do - all I know right now is that something will eventually give way. I want more than this - I want to be able to go out to bars and close them, I want to go to shows and leave all of my frustrations at the door and on the floor and walk back out into the cold night dripping sweat and blood. I'm trying to reconcile all of these things and I'm failing. I'm trying to reconcile my yearning to hop in a van and haul amps around with what I am doing.

I am being responsible and it feels like I'm being slowly strangled.

Really, what the fuck does it say that the best day I've had in months was spent apart from the people I'm supposed to care about most? What does it say that their absence coincided with the start of the most productive writing binge I've had this year? And what does it say about my position when I admit that I haven't felt this free and unencumbered in recent memory?

I thought all this shit was supposed to make me feel more free, more liberated, more supported. I didn't know - I never guessed - that it would make me more stressed, more tired, more exhausted and more bitter than I could have imagined.

What I'm beginning to realize is that these months have made me more tired than I ever could have dreamed, that the energy reserves I had are gone.

Sure, I'm self-absorbed. Sure, I put myself first a lot of the time - if I don't, I can't be there for anyone else when they need it. And sure, I'm pretty much a catastrophic 57-car pileup of a human being. But what I'm beginning to realize is that what I'm doing now isn't helping me at all and that I'm losing more than I can understand in the process. Of course, it really doesn't matter much because any way out of or through this involves loss - the difference is that there may yet be a way to find my out or through in which the losses eventually stop.

In Gunmoll's "Less Than You Hoped For," there's a line that always kills me - "I couldn't damn you to the life I'm dreaming of." The only problem is that I'd like to think that anyone would be lucky to have the kind of life I've had and want, answering to myself and accounting for my own mistakes. Even when I don't have all of Maslow's needs met, I feel actualized. The only problem is that almost everything seems to be holding me back from something - the next issue of the zine, the next update, the next show, the next moment, the next temporary autonomous zone.

Moreover, what does it mean when my lover comes back and, after several awkward hours, says almost the same things? Where do we go from both of us admitting that we don't know if we can salvage this, if we can pull it out of the flat spin in which we find ourselves ... or if we even want to? There was once something here that was good and there may yet be again, but in the meantime, there is merely uncertainty.

Off The Top Of My Head ...

  1. Goddamn New York's Administration for Children's Services (ACS) to hell. The BBC recently reported that HIV-positive foster children in the ACS system are being used as guinea pigs to test experimental and highly toxic medications manufactured by corporations such as Glaxo SmithKline without consent from their parents or guardians. For some reason, it bothers me that a civic agency charged with removing children from hostile, harmful situations to protect their welfare would subsequently use them as unwilling test subjects for medications that a visiting scholar at Berkeley described as lethal. You assholes were supposed to be protecting them. I want to see their heads roll. Literally. Bring out the guillotines and let's play a few rousing games of soccer in Central Park. And just so we're clear, this is not a matter of the so-called liberal media trying to destory the morals of America - FOXNews and the New York Post both reported it as well. Fucking hell.
  2. Hey everybody! That "caring fellow" (as Dubya calls him and since he's a compassionate conservative, he should know) Donald Rumsfeld has decided to start personally signing the condolence letters sent to families of soldiers killed in action after someone found out that a machine had been faking his signature! A son or daughter or friend or lover or husband or wife or father or mother gets killed while serving and you can't even pick up a fucking pen to sign the form letter? What a fucking asshole!
  3. I was never much of a Pantera fan, but fuck assholes who shoot musicians.
  4. And as long as I'm at it, fuck clothing companies that use part of the most boss idea for a shirt that I've had in ages.
  5. The Colonel is back. Finally. Two updates this past week.
  6. Merry Christmas to me - and all of us in the Nation. Varitek - the one essential component out of all of them - re-signed. If that doesn't mean anything to you, then you just don't know.

Now Playing:

Tara Jane O'Neil. Gunmoll. The Explosion. Paris Texas. Ted Leo. Andrew W.K.

Just Finished:

Thomas Frank and Dave Mulcahey, editors, "Boob Jubilee: The Cultural Politics Of The New Economy"

Now Reading:

Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"

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Last modified on Wednesday, March 26, 2008