Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sensitive Sweater

You want sensitive? Well you are going to get sensitive. We are going to do a little diving into the vault today to pull out some ruminations of mine all all things artistic and sensitive. Maybe this picture above is too much of an inside joke with people I spent my freshman and sophmore years with in college. Perhaps this next picture might do a little more for you in the way of sensitive:

In any event, in order to make up for the lack of Puddles of My Podcast and other tremendous new material for you this week, I, like all good sitcoms and other column journalists, must provide you with something that may be a little older, but can be construed as something new.  This little excerpt I am going to foist on you comes from middle/late October of 2007, when I was rambling around Europe on my own and listening to a lot of the Replacements and sifting through the aftermath of my own college graduation - among other things.  This excerpt is basically a recap of an ill-fated trip I had to Pescara in Italy as I was making my way to Rome, where I would then fly to Athens and then fly back to Madrid before returning to America in November.  In any event, you may deem this too personal, too hard to read.  Well, that's too bad.  Tolstoy did it to his wife and if he were alive today he would do it to his blog too.  So without further ado, here is some Puddles of My Seoul:



Pescara.  Well it was basically a failure.  The ride down was long and beautiful.  A grey and rainy day in the Italian countryside.  I felt very at ease during the initial ride.  The farms and the life called out to me in the hills and at some moments I felt as if everything in the world was going to be alright.   I was not riding a train from Albany to New York or from Stony Brook to Penn Station, I was riding along the Adriatic Coast of Italy.  A thing I had dreamed about and romanticized for so long.  But now I was doing it.  I was in between the sea and the mountains.  I saw the towns pass by.  I heard the sing-song language and saw the beautiful girls. I thought about Raphael, Dante, Leonardo, Petrarch all of the great ones that had come before me.  The simple and delicious ways of life they had cooked up – the spread of the vernacular away from Latin.  It was a beautiful ride and moment in my life.  I felt at peace with all of the problems and anxieties that have and will surround me.  On this train ride I really felt far from everything.  I was completely obscured by the countryside and the riding rails and the lonesome traveller between one town with one main road and another town with one main road.

Things grew a little more sinister as the ride wore on (almost eight hours) and this strange old man paced up and down my car just staring at people.  He infuriated me.  I thought he was trying to rob me or rape this woman when she got off the train. So I stared him down as we rode. Luckily, a kind Italian woman picked up on this as well and became as aware as I was.  The man got off and I don’t think anything happened to the woman.

But I got to Pescara and it was cold, it was damp and it was strange.  I got a cab and couldn’t talk with the driver.  He got mad, but we found my place on a quaint, quiet sidestreet on the hill above town.  The woman there was nice but I couldn’t speak with her either.  We bumbled our way to an understanding. Luckily, the main proprietess showed herself and spoke some English with me.  I went for a walk in the dark and the rain died down and it wasn’t so bad except I wanted to get some wine to drink but everything was closed.  I found one caffe open and they had drinks and cold paninis.  I didn’t feel like buying single drinks so I settled for a panino con frittata e asparagaci.  It was good and I couldn’t help thinking of my deceased grandfather as I ate it walking back to my place in the mist.  I think because something about the whole situation was sensible, and that’s what his legacy to me is supposed to be.  That’s what people tell me anyway.

So I got back and read more of my beloved Ulysses and left the strange Italian television playing.  It was full of funny soap operas, American music, futbol highlights and women.  I fell asleep to the sound of the couple next door watching television.  Asleep at 10:30 for the first time I can remember.

This morning the dog next door was barking and they were doing winter construction on houses nearby.  I took an awkward shower in the bathroom soaking the whole floor.  I noticed that I have lost a good amount of weight in the past two weeks so I feel OK with a red face and a "beard."  A cold might be coming on but I will fight it with oranges and alcohol.  It was raining again so I decided I’d have to get out of Pescara and head to Rome a night early so that on Wednesday I can have a full day to really explore everything.  But before I left I had to get some groceries so I walked through the cold and damp streets blowing smoke, feeling strange not to feel this first cold in America where I romanticize it so much.  "Everyone goes home in October."  Pescara seemed odd.  It appears to be a booming summer city that just shuts down in the fall and winter.  Everything seemed dreary, but there were palm trees and bright colored houses and apartments.  I suppose maybe I needed more time to wander around and find things.  There were plenty of delicious looking and smelling patiscerias and pastacerias, pizzerias, gelaterias.  The bread looked amazing, but I figured I’d just wait until Rome when there is a better chance of the person behind the counter meeting me halfway.  I walked to the Adriatic and there were two dark looking blonde men sitting on rocks and there was garbage littered along the shorelines.  People have to live everyday, even in your romanticized visions.  That just goes to show you.  But the avenue along the sea was beautiful and the waves of that sea itself  looked fine and inviting and I could picture Greece in the distance where I will be on Friday afternoon.  Pescara by the sea reminds me of Queens, the Rockaways, of Coney Island, or Montauk in the winter.  Cold, drawn-out, with one eye cocked looking at you from delicious darkness you don’t know the half of.  That’s certainly what the train station is saying to me right now anyway.

I walked back to the main road and saw a nice-looking husky behind a gate.  He seemed very friendly.  Drizzle was falling as I climbed the railroad steps and went back up the hill.  I stopped at a grocery and got myself due meles, two oranges, prosciutto, two loaves of hard good bread and some cheap coffee biscotti, which are delicious.  I went back to the room, packed up, had an orange, spat up some phlegm and locked up. I climbed the spiral staircase to the roof apartment and knocked.  A kind older woman answered.  I was expecting the woman from the night before, but I wasn’t flustered. I spoke to her in broken Italian and gave her my money for the night.  She was making sauce and my God did it smell absolutely delicious.  I only wondered how she was doing it.  Was there pork in there?  Had to be.  But what kind? Rib? Butt? Neck? Shoulder? Not loin.  I don’t eat my pasta but I can smell and taste a good sauce.

So Pescara was a failure.  I think it was good for me. I wanted to fall on my knees at the waves of the Adriatic and scream out to the Lord and to my ancestry in a truly ancient and dramatic way.  I wanted to bring Earth back for my grandmother to throw on her coffin.  But what is all that?  Meaning and symbols.  My grandmother was born in Manhattan.  As the train rode over th Adriatic yesterday, I looked over the tumultuous waves and I felt excitement and I felt horror.  In my mind, I though, “what more do you want from me?  What more can I do?  What am I supposed to do?”  These questions in my mind are always addressed to God, but they needn’t be.  They can be addressed to the world itself, this hunk of earth and lava that burns in space. What does it want from us with its waves and distance? Does it want anything? What are we suppsed to do in a world of such evil and goodness? Where kids light homeless men on fire, but where people on a train rush to the rescue of an old man who stoops to fall.  The communal hand.  This is a strange and beautiful place and I don’t know what I believe.  Do we  believe in a God? My aesthetic beliefs would say that the way to look at the world is that a God set it in motion, but left it to spin and ride on its own, he is paring his nails in the distance on the outside of whatever realm this is.  Some think that hand has longer nails and it constantly molding and prodding. Still other say, why a hand at all? Why not just a chance collision of atoms, and each day us a collision of atoms in a universe of colliding atoms.  Would that be wrong? I don’t think so.  I don’t think any of those is wrong or right, whichever one fits your purpose or your view on the world is your entitlement.  People have gotten mad at me for looking for meaning and symbols in this world, as if there were some artistic deity.  Well I’m done looking for symbols and meaning.  Not because of them, because even with those symbols and meaning what would it all mean?  Nothing.  What you have is yourself, that’s all you’ve got in this spiritually broke world where everyone is hiding and forgetting themselves deep inside, dying in the middle of life and becoming deeply afraid of ghosts or anniversaries in the way that Derrida thinks of it, re-encountering yourself or your non-self, your non-history (Zizek) that never existed.  Those signifiers, those moments I put memory on or in, come to nothing. Even in me, they are a momentary lift to a passing sun that WILL melt my wings.  Its all up to you, what you do in a moment and not its meaning.  I suppose I learned that from this trip.  But I don’t want to learn anything from this trip.  This trip will have no meaning.  It will be a trip through atoms and space in a world part of a universe of atoms in space.  I will return to my home and start again.  Venture out to more anniversaries, ghosts and non-selfs all of which mean nothing.  I will leave everything behind me and move forward into a world, which means nothing, but simply is in its existence.  Like I have been for millions of years in this world without end, Catholic boy Amen.


Whew! How is that for sensitivity.  In order to lighten the mood a little bit, let's take a quick look at what used to be my "Favorite Movies" section of Facebook, circa January 2007:

Little Big League, Jack (the story of Michael Gaudino starring Robin Williams) Cant Hardly Wait, Waiting to Exhale, About A Boy, 3 (Dale Earnhardt Movie), Waking Up Tavis, Major League 2, Airborne, Jurassic Park, Once Upon a Time in the West,  Pizza My Heart, Hot to Trot, Stella Comedy DVD,  Master, Dolemite 2: The Human Tornado, Furious Cow starring Al Pacino, Fractureface Hill (Gay Samurai Movie)

If those puns and slurs don't take the sensitivity out of you, I don't know what will.  Tomorrow, you can expect another installment of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt and then on Friday a recap of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Take care my Puddlers and be sure to stay out of those sensitive streets tonight.


Due to Ken Griffey Jr.'s retirement, tomorrow's blog post will be absolutely dedicated to him and his impact on me as an athlete.  Now, you have something to look forward to and make up for today's post. 

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