I found this poem today, while doing some work. It is by an awesome poet named Jorie Graham and it is entitled "Prayer." I love, the more I read it, the second half. There is a power behind it and the uncertainty yet falling into knowingness at the end... yeah... I hope Ya'll enjoy. I wish my poems were as good as this...
Jorie Graham -- "Prayer"
Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by
minutest fractions the water's downdrafts and upswirls, the
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into
itself (it has those layers) a real current though mostly
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
motion that forces change--
this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by
each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,
also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something
at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through
in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is
what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen
now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only
something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.
A friend--we'll call her Princess, as opposed to a) her real name, b) a nickname or c) remaining anonymous (I only say this now because the name will pop up here and there, princess is a friend of mine who I can talk writing with, not some stripper, or anything lascivious like that. See look, bonus points for reading and keeping up. Go you.)-- told me to write about air in my next post. She was tired of reading food, and anyway, she said, the tone was whiny. I thought she was a little crazy and a little stupid--air? really? just talk about air?--until I got to thinking about it. Air. Air air air. We breathe it, we cough it, we choke on it, we blow it, we suck it, we whistle it, we do so many things with air. All that crap, though, would make me sound like some pretentious little dick if I talked about it. I'm not trying to go cosmic here, I don't want to. If my ideas ever become to highfalutin, I am almost certain I'd run full force into a sharp object at heart-height.
There are two kinds of air I love. I absolutely would, if they were physical beings, have sex with them. The first is winter air. At home in Jersey (and anywhere it gets really cold. Really,this feeling is only intensified where the air is... fresher than in Jersey), when it gets colder, the air gets crisper. At dusk, right as the sun is going down and right before the temperature plummets there is that short time where you can still see your breath--thick and slow moving like cigar smoke--but you can still feel your face. Sucking the air in deep, all the way to the diaphragm it chills then stings your insides. What feels like an icicle from your throat to your stomach stays there until you exhale and watch the breath wisp away. I love that air. I love that crisp feeling. I love it even more in the morning when, right after you wake up, walking outside for the mail or the paper you can stretch, inhale, and become awakened( get awoken? become awake?) instantly. It is a jolt. And I like jolts.
The second kind of air isn't air I should love. This is a dirty, hot, heavy secret relationship fit only for back alleys and two-dollar whorehouses. I love city air. Let me be more clear, I love New York City air, and the air in the subways and on the PATH, the air that goes between Jersey and the City. I was immersed in that air every day for four years on the PATh twice a day to get to and from my high school. Hot and heavy and slightly saline--whether from the sweat of thousands of immigrant workers, or the dollar peanuts, or other viscous substances emitted by whoever--the first thing that comes to mind when I think about it now, six hundred miles away, are the toxic bright yellow lines on dead gray concrete. That, and steam. The air, even inside the PATH where they pump AC, is steamy and heavy. It sits on your shoulders like a conscience, reminding you that the City is what it is--dirty but full of everything, anything you can think of. But then what is that? A whiff of flowers or something. Perfume. Cologne. Whatever. Something new to the mix, strangling that scent that hangs in the air, another reminder that things are changing. Slowly. The perfume stays for a few moments then goes, but comes back when another tourist boards. Slightly omnipresent, like a ghost, in and out. I don't like the perfumed air. I love the stale, muggy air. It reminds me of day trips to the city--the American Museum of Natural History, the Intrepid, Radio City. It reminds me of high school--all those days dressed in khaki and dress shirts, watching as vagrants begged four feet away, hoping that they wouldn't come close enough that I'd have to interact. Then there is always that burst, that new cologne, a tourist in a cowboy hat or an I <3 New York shirt, forcing their way into a seat, oblivious of the old black grandmother, two grandkids in tow that couldn't make it fast enough from the platform.
I read a lot. I go through books like addicts go through crack. Sometimes, if the book is good enough, I get the same feelings, cause I'm weird like that. Anyway, this is sort of for my own purposes as much as everyone else's (So I don't forget) Here are 10 books I feel should be read by everyone.
(In no order of awesomeness)
1. Anthony Bourdain -- A Cook's Tour [it is a kick in the nuts to the food writing world. just read it]
2. Dave Eggers -- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius [this guy is cocky, yet he can write. A memoir about him. The title doesn't lie... I hated this at first then went back and loved it.]
3. Chuck Palahniuk -- Invisible Monsters [He's fucked up. Who doesn't like fucked up these days?]
4. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. -- Slaughterhouse V, Cat's Cradle, Slapstick [I can't pick one. He's the best writer of the 20th century. Suck it, Hemingway.]
5. Augusten Burroughs -- Running With Scissors [If you've seen the movie, forget it. The book far outpaces in fucked-upitude and heartbreaking comedy]
6. TC Boyle -- Tooth and Claw [This is a collection of short stories that all made me want the story to continue. Every one. That's something]
7. Steve Almond -- Candyfreak [A memoir about candy. No, a hilarious memoir about candy. Speaking of, where's that Snickers...]
8. Alex Haley -- Roots [Yes, I'm talking about the classic epic of slavery. Read it, you'll be a better person.]
9. John Grogan -- Marley and Me [I know, I know, it was an Oprah book and on God knows how many other book lists. But I am a dog person. If you are, read it. It captures the essence of dog.]
10. David Morrell -- Creepers [This is a thriller novel. In terms of suspense, one of the best I've read, unlike that shitty King stuff...Boy I'd like to kick him in the shins.]
I am currently reading another David Morrell book, and have books by Chuck Klosterman up after that. I've heard he's good.
I was a vegetarian once before. When I was eight. Or maybe it was ten. Either way, I was too young to know what the hell I was doing. I was doing it to be different. Mr. Meat-and-Potatoes loved steak. I, knowing I did not want to be like my father from a young age, did not want to like steak. I refused to eat it. I'm sure I made up some inane excuses to go along with my denials of the tender-cooked cow, too.
I didn't eat steak, I was a rebel. I was breaking down walls left and right. Child prodigy who would be the first vegetarian in the family. Until my mom would serve shrimp. Or even chicken. But only sometimes chicken, if it wasn't with the typical salt-pepper-paprika seasoning she would put on it. If I saw it coming out of the over, I had new religious concerns to fear for, I couldn't eat that meat, it'd be breaking a law. Mind you, I was raised a Catholic, both my parents were Catholic, and it was no where near Lent. I wasn't such a fan of pork either, so I did everything in my power to ignore the meat on the table. By the grace of God my parents did not make me sit at the table and finish every meal or resort to locking me in a cage with the foods I did not like. Although it might have been fun to sit in a cage. Maybe.
I didn't just not eat meat though, oh no, I hated other foods too. The super villain of the non-meat foods was stuffing. Stoffer's instant stuffing, an amalgam og dehydrated bread and God knows what else, was on my hit list also. My older sister loved it. And my dad ate it too. Naturally, this someone translated into I will never eat this food. If I was smart (I wasn't), I could've cited the fact that it was fake, that it wasn't homemade like my mom made every thanksgiving, christmas and easter. If I was smart I would've played to my mom's vanity, using the position of loved son to gently bring her to my side to see, hey, it's okay if my dear, darling son doesn't want to eat the food I slaved over. He has moral objections to the meat and doesn't believe in processed foods. Boy, he sure is a smart little kid. No such luck. Instead, from what I can remember, many meals were spent sitting at the kitchen table, my arms crossed in front of me, pouting. I'd push the vegetables or whatever was on my plate around a little bit, audibly and over-dramatically sigh, and go back to pouting. If I were my father, I would've reached across the table and slapped me. Luckily, though, no such thing ever materialized.
I didn't understand vegetarianism then. I had no idea about the production of meat--the trip from cramped pasture to slaughterhouse to market to table-- and I wouldn't have cared had I known. I know now exactly what goes on and it doesn't bother me in the least. As a child I was weird, to say the least, and the thought of blood and gore, like in any young boy who is even only slightly right in his mind, would only evoke the words "awesome" and "cool" from my mouth. Blood and gore are fine as an eight-year-old when it is far off, distant and untouchable. Foreign to my eyes. Sure, I had seen people reduced to a few teeth and a shoelace in action movies, but that was the movies. From a young age my dad, after any movie would look over at me, curled up onto myself, eyes wide, and say, "It's all fake, you know. That is just ketchup and right after it happens the director calls cut and everyone goes to get a cup of coffee." Not until much later did I make the connection between ketchup that I would use to create mass lava flows on my french fries with and the fake movie blood my dad had said was a tomato-based product. Blood. Ketchup. Eat. Vampire!
Why couldn't I have made that connection before? It would've been so awesome to be a vampire, or to at least say I was sort of a vampire for sort of eating blood that may have been ketchup used as blood in a movie one time across the country in Hollywood. Okay, looking at that now it looks inane and I feel dumber for typing it, but, I am confident that my eight-year-old brain would've thought that. I was that dumb.
(I would write more, i would, but I completely lost myself and don't feel like getting sorted out right now. More later)
I've realized I only listen to a few select CDs when i write. For some reason, I can listen but not. Zone out enough but still realize what music is on and bop along... there's some good stuff on the list so I thought, why not.
Damian Marley - Welcome to Jamrock
Ziggy Marley - Love is My Religion (This and the above are both awesome reggae, this album being more reggae oriented, the above being a little harder, more reggaeton/rap-ish)
Innerpartysystem - The Download EP (If you haven't heard these guys, check'em out. They are dance/techno/rock---Hellogoodbye meets Men, Women, and Children, but harder.)
The Starting Line - Say it Like You Mean it (One of the best pop punk albums ever. End of story)
Lazlo Bane - All the Time in the World (These guys do the theme from Scrubs. Also, they do some awesome other music.)
So there we go, the music I'm listening to when I'm trying to be a creative genius.
(I realize I have some information that concerns a time span after this, work with me here. Also, all of these posts will probably be wrong, I urge you to read anyway.)
[Sidebar: In an attempt to prove me wrong, a friend pointed out that not all meat came on bones. For example, KFC's Boneless Buffalo Whatever. I should have something witty to say here, about how I deftly pointed out that the meat originally came off of a bone--I hope--but no. I just told her she was wrong, reasserting that I am not the King of Quick Thinking.)
Criminals on death row don't have it this bad. At least after they get their last meal they don't have to worry about food anymore. Sizzle sizzle and off they go into sweet, sweet oblivion. Or hell. Or wherever they think they are off too. Sure, they die, but I mean, they shouldn't have gone on a twenty-day murder and rape spree that spanned the Greater (insert large city name) area.Ya win some, ya lose some and right now I'm on the losing end. I will not go down without a fight though. I will have my hands curled around something that was once alive until 11:59PM ET. Only then will I let go, probably crying hysterically, and try to move on. Like a baby's favorite toy, I can see it being pulled from my fingers by someone who I can only identify by his or her boots (think Nanny from Muppet Babies).
I decided to make my last supper last as long as possible. I would start in the morning, eat small meals throughout the day and culminate at 11:59. It would would be a smorgasbord of bovine, ovine, swinish, avian and piscine delight. And who knows, if I had a hot dog or Chinese food, there could be meats I had never though to eat before in there, too.(Raccoon anyone? A little bit of Moo Goo Gai Kitty, anyone?) I'm glad I won't know either, the only other words I can think of to describe animals would be feline and canine, after that, I'm lost. Raccoonine just doesn't sound right.
I started out at a New Jersey staple, the diner, for a nice big, cholesterol-shocked breakfast. I managed to have not just (pork?) sausage, but a couple of bacon strips and a few slices of taylor ham along with my eggs. Knowing I wouldn't be eating these things for a while made them more flavorful then ever before. It is like that last scoop of iced cream you get from your favorite place before it closes for the winter. As it melts in your mouth you finally take the time, after having mindlessly swallowed the treat all summer, to swish the cream around, feel the sugar as it coats your molars, realize the chunks of still partially-frozen fudge there as they knock against the roof of your mouth. You do this, eyes closed, perhaps, until you hear the plastic spoon scraping the bottom of the paper cup. The muted shh, shh, shh of your last bit of good iced cream for eight months. That was what it was like, but with ground up meat forced into intestinal casing. I was thinking in cliches while I ate, of Babe, of Wilbur from Charlotte'ss Web, of SpiderPig, even, while I ate.
Living in North Carolina, the home of some of the best Barbeque out there, giving up pig would be tough. Not being able to eat the tender, moist flesh roasted for hours in its own juices and specialy made sauce, then delicately pulled from its bone home, irked me. I hadn't been a real fan of barbeque at first--I grew up in New Jersey, a "barbeque" for us was Dad grilling hot dogs or maybe steaks during the summer, letting the smoke fill our porch and sting my eyes as I sat there, waiting for the occasional flare-up from below the food as a globule of fat would fall onto the charcoal and flames.
I learned, though. I learned fast that wasn't barbeque. Barbeque was taking a pig, forcefully pushing a hard metal pole through it end to end, and roasting that sucker till the flesh was the same color of a tomato and you could pick at it and get maximum return for little effort. Chopped or pulled, it doesn't matter now, just scoop some onto a plate and let me go at it. That thought, was one I had pondered long before finally deciding on doing this for the month. Living in NC and not eating the 'Cue would be like living on a houseboat and not eating fish. So abundant, yet so out of reach. I was beginning to see how horses in cartoons felt when people held carrots on strings in front of the horses' eyes. Those cruel, cruel bastards.
The bacon and taylor ham were equally more succulent than ever before. The eggs and potatoes and toast that came with it I could have cared less about. This wasn't about them, right now. This was mano-a(e?)-meato. My mother, looking at the pile of pink flesh in front of me just shook her head.
"You're your father's son, that's for sure," she said. It stopped me for a moment. Despite the carnal mouth orgy I was planning on participating fully in today, I didn't, and couldn't do it every day. I had meat, yeah, but not piles of it at every meal. I treated it like other food. I had it in moderation. I know my dad is a meat and potatoes guy. Always was and will be until the day he dies, but I hoped that, in my absence, he would not do this regularly. All these meats together created a flatline waiting to happen. How could anyone eat this much unhealthy meat often. People did, I'm sure--just took platefuls of greasy, limp bacon at all you can eat buffets everyday, everywhere--but I just had to hope it wasn't my father. If it was, I thought, I'd have to start finding ways to sabotage the company we got our meat from. I'd prefer the breadwinner of my family alive for as long as possible--he was paying for part of my college, after all.
Having packed away enough for two heart attacks in one meal, I took a break. I was far from done, but I didn't want to get sick. Throwing up would just be a waste of time at this point. It was crunch time, overtime, sudden death.
I neglected to have a real meal for lunch. I was banking on having a nice steak at a fancy steakhouse for dinner. I'd take a full cow or a full pig, but living in the suburbs restricts the amount of livestock I see on a daily basis to, well, none. Instead, I'd order a large prime rib, pinkish-red in the middle, still able to bleed when press lightly with a fork. I could see myself looking at the baked potato in its foil cocoon and slapping it aside. I didn't need a baked potato, that was just room that could be devoted to meat. I wondered if they'd let me top the steak with another steak, like a garnish. Parsley? Hah. Parsley is for people who don't go to the dinner table and mean business. I meant business. To fill time before dinner, I coached my stomach, prepping it for the night ahead. Though the steak would be the main course, I had other food I needed to eat, too.
"You can do this, you've had big steaks before," I said repeatedly. My stomach remained silent. I figured it was just taking it all in, being stoic before the fight.
"You're a starved lion, take the meat for all its worth. Ingest and dissolve with your crazy acids, and then ingest some more." Silence again. This was good, my stomach was a good listener/learner.
"Just remember, steak is round one. The hardest round, yes, but still only round one. There are other animals out there too. Chickens. Fish. We need to conquer them all also."
It was around six and my father and I were on our way to TGI Fridays. It wasn't the elegant steak dinner I was envisioning--low light, dark wood tables, a large hunk of dead cow--but it would have to do.
"You know," he began, turning down the Doobie Brothers just enough to be heard. "I almost wish you wouldn't do this."
"Okay," I said. What was I supposed to say to that? Sure, Dad, I'll stop right now. He exercises control over me to a point. In the food world, a man who cannot keep up with his son in the eating department, one that won't even try, is not worthy of food-oriented respect. I was on a mission, here, and he wouldn't stop me.
"It isn't going to change how or what I eat."
There is was. The there-is-some-plot-against-my-diet-type line I had heard before. When I am home and I cook dinner, I have to be careful. I can't be creative, I can't add flare or even a little spice. Granted, my dad's stomach is weak and can't take heat, but he isn't willing to try things that aren't simple either. He thought I was doing this to try and change him. If I wanted to change him, I would just harass him into doing it. It wouldn't work, because he is stubborn and way on his way to being a crotchety old man, but that is how I would go about it. Clearly, he missed out on the part of my childhood and teenage years where I developed the same stubbornness that he has, the same ability to be a dick, basically (which was fostered not only by my father but the fact I went to an all guy's school, where it was learn to be a dick or drown in dick-related jokes and the shame of not knowing how to bully someone lesser than you around at any given time.)
"I'm not trying to change you, I know you won't," I said.
"Good." And that was that for mindless car chatter.
Even though I was hoping for a grand last meal, in a way Friday's was a comforting end. The food, while okay, isn't the best. It is at the same quality level of every chain restaurant out there. Good for mass appeal, but falling short on anything that can be considered gourmet. By going here instead of another place, I'd have my steak, but it wouldn't be a steak that I would dream about. I wouldn't see myself happily running through a field with it, dancing and partying with it. I'd eat it and that would be it. And, when the New York Strip I ordered came out, I could tell right away that was the kind of meal it was going to be. As my dad dug into his the baby back ribs he ordered, I scraped off the "Argentinean Rub" that came on the steak. Last time I checked, pesto with an additive to make it spicier was not Argentinean. I had no idea what all was in it, but it looked like ground up baby vomit, a brutal mix the color of a fresh asparagus and tar smoothie.
Despite ordering medium-rare, it came out closer to well done, sidewalk gray on the inside and tough between my teeth. This is not how I wanted to go out. I wanted blood to seep, meat to give like muscles getting a Swedish massage. This was chewing old Playdough. Coupled with instant mashed potatoes, the meal was fantastically plain. Being served in a cast iron skillet to "preserve the flavor" did nothing. All it translated to was that the steak was served on a black plate and not a white one.
Having eaten meal number one, I had crossed off two meats from my list--I had consumed beef and pork already, leaving chicken and fish left for the rest of the night. I had four hours left before midnight and Zero hour.
I didn't have time to rest after dinner. I was running out of time. I decided my next stop would be sushi. The place in town I normally went to, a small shop seated amid a thai, chinese, and Asian "specialty" restaurant, as well as a number of other stores, had closed and reopened under another name, so I had wanted to check it out anyway. The place was empty when I walked in and I was greeted immediately by the hostess. Were they desperate for business or just very friendly? I couldn't tell. I ordered my sushi, surprising them, I think, with my use of the Japanese names for the fish instead of the English words printed on the menu.
Eel and Tuna, two of my favorites. I would've the individual pieces with fish on top, sashimi (I believe) but I was after quantity here, not quality or variety, and rolls with six pieces each were providing me with the quantity I needed. To complete the sushi portion of my last supper, they gave me some miso soup to accompany the fish. The sushi was okay, not the best but certainly not the worst (you need to go further inland for that. Being only a half hour from a port is good, compared to my school--three or so hours to the nearest beach area). The rice, still a little warm, heated the fish a little too much for my taste, but it was not a terrible detriment to the meal. On my way home, I almost passed completely by the McDonald's parking lot before abruptly flicking the turn signal, cutting in front of a fast approaching SUV and queuing up in the drive-thru lane. To complete my last supper, I needed fast food.
I don't care who says fast food is bad for you or that it is disgusting. Those are mostly the same people who point to Supersize Me and point as if that is the gospel on the subject. I calmly remind them he chose to do that. That he ate it three times every day. (In a way, I thought, I was like him, but better looking and less dumb. Slightly less dumb, at least...I wouldn't become obese no matter how hard I tried) If anyone did that willingly, they'd just be, for lack of any word to express the true idiocy of that, a fucking moron. As a treat though, or an occasional meal, no one can go wrong with a hot, cheap fast food meal.
There is absolutely nothing like a cheeseburger from McDonald's. Everything is so fake, so processed, that no amount of trying at home could ever recreate it. The one word that comes to mind is smooth. Almost everything about the standard cheeseburger is smooth. The pickles, sliced so thin they are translucent in the center are as smooth as a calm lake. The only change in texture is when the tongue goes from the main portion to the rind of the pickle, but even then, it goes from smooth to a more waxy smooth giving only slightly less then the inside. The cheese, probably the most process portion of the burger, barely melts on the burger. Again, a perfect surface for ice skating on, no chinks, no errors in production, every slice the same. Tasting of the same yellow American goodness. It envelopes our nation in its little 3 by 3 area--tons of products all put together to get one, generalized being. The ketchup and mustard provide the real flavor on the burger. The ketchup an artificial sweetener of sorts and the mustard giving a tiny little kick. The final part of the concoction, the most important part is the meat. Slightly bumpy and grilled and pressed into a circle the thickness of a matchbook, it comes nowhere close to resembling the animal it once came from. And I love that. I love the institutional floor color of the meat, somewhere between dirty and cloudy sky gray.
When asked a previous time about burgers and after having given my description, someone asked why I loved them.
"I just do." is what I came up with. The burger is so uniform with every other, so unchanging that it offers a spot of comfort.
"What about disease, or dirt, or rat feces?"
"Who cares," I respond. And who does? If you think about it, sure, it could be bad. Just don't think about it. Anthony Bourdain says in his book Kitchen Confidential that our bodies aren't temples. They are amusement parks and we need to have fun with them.
To round out my night, I finished with what I can remember as my first fast food, the almighty Chicken McNugget (Now all white meat!). Those little brown packages of (now) white meat and their crispy tan outsides are the first thing I remember about McDonalds. Sitting with my grandmother, she'd take the box of four out of my Happy Meal bag for me and let me dig in. I'd go for the toy first, of course, but soon after I would be delivered into a little dreamworld for a few minutes as I ate.
Everything, despite mixing sushi with fast food, when down like honey. I waited for repercussions--a quick run to the bathroom to deposit my last meats into the toilet--but no. Thank God it didn't happen. I still had an hour. One more hour of meat. And I couldn't do it. I couldn't eat any more. I was disappointed in myself. I had one more hour for meat and I couldn't force myself to ingest anything, not even a cheap hot dog or something from behind the counter at 7-11. As I stared at the little turning cylinders of meat, whatever kind it was, I frowned. This was it and I wasn't going out with a bang. I was running from the final charge. Was it a sign? Would it make it easier through the month?
Apparently not. I was just full. Five minutes after midnight, after a few deep belches and some pounding on my chest to get tiny burps out, I was hungry again and damnit, I wanted meat.
Because a bunch of posts in the next month will have to do with the vegetarian ordeal, I am going to title those all similarly for ease, in case you think it is pompous of me to laud myself for trying this, or whatever reason you have for not reading it.
any post that will be about the veg will be "Boneless Part XX: Subtitle"
[This post will be a little long, please read anyway]
And it could, if everything goes the way it is supposed to, kill me. Flat out, ashes to ashes six feet under kill me. For the month of February, I am giving up meat. I am going vegetarian in the interest of a) a greater good, b) a healthier body, c) so I can have something to write about, and d) so everyone can watch my slow and horrid breakdown via the aforementioned C. This will add much needed flair to what I feel can be boring, normal everyday conversations.
Person A: "Sam, how is the vegetarian thing going?"
Me: "Need...blood. Need...meat. Kill. Kill." (At that point I will begin clawing the face of the person who asks the question. Sure, I may end up hurting someone, or someone inflicting a serious beatdown on my own body, but in the interest of writing, that's a good thing, right? No pain no gain and other such maxims....
I need to clarify a few things first:
I) I love meat. Absolutely, hands down love it. A tender, magenta-tinted, melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon is in the top five of my favorite foods (Up there with a good bunch of Buffalo wings, a New York dirty water dog and anything involving melted cheese--fake or not. Though I may love trying odd or new things, I am a simple man when it comes to comfort food) The way the juice and blood seep out as you masticate that cow, is a glorious feeling. Screw the baked potato and eight other sides steakhouses give you, just give me more meat. I will also admit, gnawing on the bone for the marrow can also be fun. I see why dogs enjoy it. That salty, brown stuff with the texture of wet sand, aside from having protein, or whatever it has in it, is the treasure at the end of a rainbow. All of this hard bone and then soft, marrow-y goodness. I sound like a cannibal to some, sure, but to those who know what I'm talking about. Wish me the best.
Ia) I eat meat every day. On a college campus, this is slightly unavoidable. Wilted, brown lettuce thrown together with soggy croutons is not a salad. I will never, ever consider that a salad. Because of this, I am forced to ingest god knows what. "Meat" is all I'll say. Overcooked, undercooked, tough as concrete, soft and chewy like well-chewed gum, overly-salty, it doesn't matter to the folks who do our food(I won't name the company specifically, though many other colleges probably get food by them, they sure have left A__mark on the food services industry). Having a kitchen in my apartment does help, it allows me to experiment with stuff I can find in the grocery store.
II) I am not going vegan. That is just insane (too all those that read this who are vegan, I will say it. I think you are insane. Societies developed via agriculture AND pastoralism. That is, we raised MEAT and ATE it. If you think killing is wrong, let me try and put this into perspective. When he disinfect our hands, we kill bacteria. When we wash a potato off, we are killing minute whatever that live on it. It all comes down to kill or be killed. I will give you that the conditions that animals are kept in are not great, or even good or acceptable, but it still comes down to kill or be killed.) I will not eat the flesh of animals (pork, beef, chicken, lamb, fish, cat, dog, whatever). I will still eat products from animals, such as milk, cheese, eggs, etc. If I do not, I think I really would be capable of killing someone. Like those lions the Romans kept for sport, to kill gladiators. I'd be one of those lions--hollow-eyed and dizzy from lack of food, I will mercilessly beat someone with my bare hands. Once they are freely bleeding, I do not feel I would be above smearing it on and going Rambo on anyone else in the room. That is what a raw or vegan diet would do to me. And for me to do that to myself, well it is just plain silly.
In preparation for this adventure into the slightly insane, I spoke to a few friends who are vegetarian, as well as my parents, who always support me, no matter what inane goal I am trying to achieve (everything from learning to skateboard--failed, to playing hockey--cut on my birthday, to cooking--not failed, surprisingly, this one turned out okay, no deaths in 15 or so years). My friends, the vegetarians, warned me of the lack of anything remotely ingestible on campus. They eat what the dining hall serves, but alas, I have a sensitive palate. Eating there normally hurts both my stomach and my psyche. I die a little on the inside. For the amount of money I pay for school, you'd think food would be bearable, but that issue doesn't play in here. Anyway, the most helpful advice was concerning the end of the month. "At the end, be careful with eating meat. I'd get sick if I ate meat now," one said over pancakes at I-Hop. My head, barely working after a night of excess, struggled to understand this. Sick from meat. After a month? No. It couldn't be. She nodded, "Yeah, a month could do it if you don't eat any at all." Okay, so I was scared now. After being on the brink of a breakdown for a month I now can't eat meat right away after? I can't run to the nearest farm, wrangle a pig and engage in ritual sacrifice a-la some south american tribal society? Fuck. That just isn't fair. So, on top of the month, I will have to wait even longer to enjoy a good dead animal again.
Things weren't looking good. I wanted to drown myself in butter pecan syrup. Just keep chugging until an artery became fully blocked or I died from asphyxiation. Something, anything would be better than this meat thing I would be starting. The question "why?" sat and still sits tattooed on my mind. The best reason, and not even a really good one, is that I am a writer, and writers need to suffer to write well. Suffer will be an understatement. That reason, though paltry, is all I got. My father, when speaking on the matter, was no help either. He, the man of meat and potatoes every night, the man who taught me to be brave, to be assertive, to make my own decisions, was lacking in good advice.
"Well, you're on your own, kiddo."
I realize this is a really long entry. I am sorry. Instead of writing all of my events and goings on in a Word document, I am just going to post them here. This way I can get some feedback, whether derisive or supportive, and for some reason, I find it easier to type here than in a document. It may be the wide expanse of blank space that stares back in word, the forbidding nothingness I am expected to fill, but whatever the reason. it is going here. I will probably have other posts also, so check back anyway, if you don't want to watch my slow decline. If any vegetarians have any tips or good recipes, shoot them on over. Please. I am begging you.
I feel like an old, old man. In the past year I've only been to a handful of concerts. If this were four years ago, I would've gone to a handful in just a week or two. What happened? Where did all the good concerts go? Where did the music that made me want to go to concerts go? I wish I had a fucking clue.
This question has followed me around, shadowing me like a little leprechaun for a couple of months now, since way back in July when I saw Cartel in Atlantic City. I remember seeing Cartel years earlier at the small, now-closed Bloomfield Ave Cafe and Stage, a small venue that hosted countless local shows and a number of bigger ones before closing down because it was falling apart (holes in the walls, unstable columns and whatnot). When I saw them then, I was younger, probably sixteen or so, and around the average age. There weren't many older guys around. It didn't bother me then. I didn't even think about it.
Standing in line by myself this time around, waiting for the time to pass, I people watched. Teems--sixteen at the maximum--kept arriving in droves. I could imagine Explorers and Commanders and Caravans dropping off herds of high school freshmen and sophomores, maybe even younger, at the doors of Showboat Casino, where the venue is. Now, I'm not old (still just under the legal drinking age, but only barely) but I was older than the majority of the people there. Being taller than everyone around you doesn't help either. These concertgoers were more concerned with acne, gossip and next Monday's geometry test than the crap people older deal with--car insurance, the real world, jobs, whatever. There seemed to be fewer people my age, which became all the more apparent when, once inside. I could turn in a full 360 and see over everyone around me. The only thing that would mess with my gaze was the sparkle off numerous sets of braces. Now, granted, I could just have happened to go to a concert for midgets with dental problems, but I doubt it.
I will also agree that Cartel's music is more directed towards the radio-friendly, un-choosing bunch who like what they have to hear( though in this day and age that has more or less changed...thanks myspace...i think.) But Thursday? Thursday, my musical gods (yes, I am one of them, those obsessed with thursday come hell or high water, I don't care), have also somehow, without major radio play or videos on MTV or really caring about the limelight, have attracted a younger crowd. At this year's annual holiday show--the new year's eve spec-fucking-tacular--there were so many more people who only had permits or cinderella licenses than I would've expected. I was used to seeing older guys and girls, my age range at least, at Thursday shows. Older, also--the ones who saw Thursday all those years ago in New Brunswick, like many might have seen on Bastards of Young or Kill The House Lights. There were still so many people younger though, what happened? Am I just getting too old?
In terms of the music, there just isn't the same...quality, I feel, the same reason to go to concerts anymore. Four years ago bands didn't sign 360 degree record deals (or whatever Paramore did), they didn't whore themselves out to MTV (as much), and they rarely started a clothing line, open a store, start a record label to mass appeal, or anything else that's happened recently or semi-recently. I know, I know, "Sam, shuttup, you sound like an old crotchety jackoff." I realize this, I do. But I can't help it. The first Skate and Surf Festivals were around 20 bucks for Good Charlotte, New Found Glory, and other good bands. What is The Bamboozle now? Close to fifty? For one day? That is unfair. Unfair to the kids who have to work for the money at some sleezy ice cream parlour or boutique to be able to pay for the ticket to see all of their favorite bands. It was, I doubt, never just about the music, but since when has it become so so so econofocused? Is this a reflection of our society and things I don't want to get into? Maybe. But maybe, just maybe, isn't it possible that bands are just more focused on making money now? Making the music that will sell thousands of singles on itunes? When MP3.com first started, you could download countless songs from good bands, even on purevolume. Now I find myself hard pressed to snag a free download here or there.
I realize I rambled. A Lot. I realize I may not have said much of anything. But I needed to get that out there. I know I'm not alone. We, the almost out of college and wondering about our lives are all in the same boat--half the bands we grew up listening to are gone--midtown,hidden in plain view, the movielife, etc. So what am I missing, folks? Where did the music go?
It seems at times I am one of only a handful of people in the entire US that still reads for pleasure. Let me clarify, actually. I read for books for pleasure that are not designated as book club choices by Oprah or ones that can be found in Barnes and Noble, their embossed covers shimmering under the ceiling lights. I read books, found in used book stores, hidden under piles of Kings and Koontzs and Pattersons and Alboms and Whothefuckcares.
At a liberal arts college, I am exposed to a slew of contemporary writers, writers that write for the sake of writing, for the love of the craft and not for the money, because there really is no money, especially when those that do read the books--the college creative writing professors and their students and those of similar ilk--find the books online or in used stores for discounted prices. These are the writers everyone should be reading, they capture everyday life in any number of ways, utterly new to our society. It keeps things interesting and when you try to talk to them, they talk back (whether it is an e-mail or when they show up as a visiting professor to give a reading, anything like that). That may not seem like much to anyone else, but imagine your favorite singer or guitar player taking a moment to say "Hey, keep it up." Same thing for writers and wannabe writers. These rock stars, though, at the end of the day go home to their wife or husband and kids, their teaching job, and bills that still need to be paid, not back on a tour bus for binge drinking and some action.
Back to the reading thing now, though. Am I wrong? Is a decent portion of the American public still reading? Are they finding deeper meaning in poems? In nonfiction essays and memoirs and travel writing? Or are they reading the next "suspenseful and scary" King "novel" or the next heart tugging Albom book? Or, option C, are they not reading at all? Does the public prefer to just watch television, or movies, and call it a day. Oh, does watching a movie based on a book count? Hardly. I can remember back to when the first Narnia movie came out. I had already read all the books as a kid, and was pleased by the movie. Walking out of the theater, some guy was questioning the fortitude of the movie--why didn't they explain where narnia came from, etc etc. He felt cheated. Needless to say, he didn't know there was a book before the Wardrobe one, that does explain everything. Okay, that may not be a good example. Let me try again. Under the Tuscan Sun or A Good Year. Do either of those sound familiar? They should. ABC family plays one constantly (or did) and the other was another big movie. Well, look at that, both were, in the travel writing world, huge books. Anyone know that? I doubt many did. Again, I feel I'm not getting across what I want. I'll try one last time. The Lord of the Rings. Three movies, three books. People who saw the movie and consider that that? Probably a lot more than who read those monstrous tomes of fiction. Hell, I didn't read them, but then again, I'm set in the Narnia camp, Tolkein can go to hell, good work or not.
I've gone the long way around the question. I had to get it out though, but please, someone tell me. Do people still read? Is wanting to be a writer (of any kind) pointless? An answer would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you do read a lot, or a little. What are some favorite books? I'm always in need of new material. Currently I am reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver...
This is going to be my attempt to be as active on this site as I can. This first post will be short-ish, I'm just using it as an introduction. Subsequent posts will have real material in them, thoughts and words and ideas that may, in some alternate universe, spark something in someone else's head. That is my hope.
My name is Sam, I live in Jersey and I go to school in North Carolina. I'm over halfway through college and at this point have begun fearing the end, fearing anything that may come after it. Being shot off into oblivion with a degree or two isn't a welcoming prospect. So for the time being, I'm living a happy life and hoping time will slow down somehow, even a little bit.
Aside from music, animals, food and books all rule my life. I work with dogs at animal shelters doing a variety of things. When I'm not there, I cook and gorge myself on whatever I can find--no food is too exotic. In fact, the weirder, the better, I feel. If it is weird, there's a better chance that it means I'll be somewhere not in the US. I've traveled before and have always found better, fresher food elsewhere, far from the stranglehold that fast food has on our lovely nation. We lack the fresh markets and culinary history of other places, even those that are younger than our own country. In my free time I also read, a lot. Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite writers, as well as many contemporary writers (ie my hero, Anthony Bourdain). Words and food are very similar to me. I attempt to ingest both, every time, with a vigor matched only by dogs in heat or the squirrel from Over The Hedge.
Music thumps along behind all of this, concerts were my life in high school and i still attempt to go to them whenever possible. If I'm in the kitchen I've got music blasting. It zones me, like I'm sure it does for so many others. Some of my posts may be about music, new stuff I like or whatever, and some may not. I write a lot so I've got a lot turtling around in my head, it will just be a matter of getting it all out in a way that doesn't resemble brain vomit. So, if this hasn't bored you to death, I hope to see y'all reading again.