Saturday, July 27, 2013

The New (York) Normative?

It's always jarring to return to New York from ... anywhere, really.  But especially from a comparatively Kleinstadt like Munich.

So the assault on the senses and momentary culture shock of landing at JFK, battling horrific traffic, crossing into Manhattan, then not being able to turn left down Broadway ... let alone new bike lanes, Citi Bike banks ... the city's new fire truck siren / alarm sound, which seems to be this mournful death wail (far from the happy little WOOO-WHOOOO-WHOOOO we all used to sing out, running about being "fire trucks" or "police cars" as children) (or yesterday, if you're me) ... becomes doubled.  It's a particularly American racing around / going nowhere.  The loud quiet loud of a nest of ants, which can only be found in the grungy noise sounds of a truly American nightmare city.

I'm walking through this mess the other day, and I overhear the following conversation ... two young ladies walking somewhere around me:

"Josh says it's just that she hasn't found the right cock yet."

"Wow.  That makes me feel like I like Josh a whole lot less.  It's heteronormative, oppressive and ..."

"I know.  I know."

Strangely, the most off-putting thing to me -- the part of the conversation which actually made me wince and cluck and pick up my pace -- was not the ridiculously expressed umbrage of the second speaker.  But I found that the most offensive thing to me, was the way that the first speaker, an otherwise lovely young woman (with a perfectly formed ass, I might add - which is why I started eavesdropping in the first place!) so casually, loudly uttered the word "cock" ... and actually inserted (*ahem*) this word into her conversation.

Now I'm no prude when it comes to doing, being; to using colorful language to inject my point (*ahem*) ... or re-create, or establish, a particularly Not Safe for Work (NSFW) world or environment.

But I don't speak that way.  I would never walk down the street with a friend, surrounded by tourists, their families and children, and declare loudly (and "heteronormatively"), "Why, she just hasn't found the right cock yet."

I wouldn't relate to a buddy, in public, "She had the fattest pussy I have ever been a part of."  I would never (to this day) tell my parents on a crowded sidewalk, window shopping:  "Yo, I want that fuckin' T-shirt, yo!"  If me or my brother had ever piped up that way, anywhere in public, my mom would have blushed and covered her mouth like Austin Powers ... then my dad would have hauled off and smacked us across ours.

My brother has written of the need (for him) to "live nebulously" - Society's crassness, vulgarity, (un)"reality" and growing disregard for privacy and private moments, enough to send him off into the night, on the back of a silver black phantom bike, a la Meat Loaf in 1979.  I, on the other hand, long ago resigned myself to a George Moore world view:
"Humanity is a pigsty, where liars, hypocrites and the obscene in spirit congregate."
This acknowledgment keeps me sane - in the face of Benghazi, Amanda Bynes, Edward Snowden and Anthony's Weiner ... not to mention all of the innocent talentless, hopefully talented ... overhyped "music" and "entertainment" ... and Baby Boo Boo (or whatever its name is).

It also keeps me from blowing my brains out whenever I'm back in a new New York City transformed into a highway rest stop - full of IHOPs and Slurpees and Kmarts and bike paths, and pedestrian areas of picnic/park benches, and nobody smoking or watching porn (except Anthony's Weiner) ... but the lovely young ladies all swearing away.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ultimate Pointless

"Destiny is what you are supposed to do in life.  Fate is what kicks you in the ass to make you do it." - Henry Miller
I've been snapping photos for decades.  I've been told (and I know) that I've "got a good eye".  Not to sound immodest, but if there are abilities I possess in which I have complete and utter confidence -- that is, in myself when I'm capably putting them to use -- these would be seeing (perception) ... followed by conceiving (conception), vocabulary/word flow and driving and/or sense of direction.

These are my skill sets.

For one reason or another, I haven't earned vast sums of money with any of them.  A little bit here and there; I've been lucky enough to sell a photo or two ... I've been paid as a delivery driver (bread, flowers, newspapers, musical instruments) ... I've directed plays and designed lighting and websites .. I've written web content, ad copy and had stories published.  But I have never had time to pursue my skill sets as anything other than passionate diversions:  I love to drive, and will travel by highway whenever it's not completely impractical; I love taking photos, composing images, painting pictures with words and rhythm ...

But I've yet to be free enough not to do these things free.

Could I have obtained a commercial driver's license at some point and enjoyed the freedom and responsibility of being a long haul truck driver, say, or a Greyhound bus driver?  Should I have dove into the grind, chasing agents and publishers or crafting the new Great American Novel?  Should I step up my photo game - invest in some gear and finally amp up my tools to match my "good eye"?

Yes, probably Yes and most Definitely, I believe are the answers.

But then there is the daunting, overwhelming Social Army:  the Facebookers, the hardcore 'Tumblrs', the bloggers, the i-news reporters, the You Tubers and Vimeo-ists ... Each with a squadron of "fans" and followers "liking" their largely mediocre output, and piping in with valueless comments and feedback.  "Great work!", "Nice!", "Love this!" are the constructive offerings ... while negative Two Cents from the peanut gallerists, on the other hand, can go on for paragraphs.  People seem to invest real time and thought, know exactly how, and are able to put into words, what they DON'T "like" ... but you'll be hard-pressed to find, anywhere online, a positive, well-written or thoughtful REASON to "like" something.

"See what your friends like!" Facebook and Google+ command ... and you all just do.

This, to me, is amazing.  I understand 'mob think' and 'herd mentality' ... brainwashing, laziness and the basic human need for appreciation.

 "Pedestrian Image", ©Jeff Glovsky

I guess my question is, if everyone is an artist -- a writer, photographer, DJ, musician ... "creatavist" -- then what's the point?  Where does one begin to stand out and become noticed?  Beyond this, where are the 215,000 notes on my own photo blog??  I've yet to receive more than six notes or likes on any image I've posted or shared anywhere!

Though to be honest,  I would much rather cultivate a dedicated follower or two, providing encouragement of value by showing discernment and regular, qualified attention to my work, than a herd of strangers posting, "So cool!".

This, to me, is the ultimate pointlessness.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Public Solitude

There's a little place I go to have breakfast each morning.  Like religion, at 6am I'm there, and like clockwork, I order the same daily bread and coffee.  Everything else in my life can be chaos, but this breakfast time -- "hour of the pearl" as JS called it ... "interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself" -- is sacrosanct.

In New York, just before loud hordes shatter each day, and in Munich, before tourists pour onto the canvas -- and in any place I find myself with a café or diner open early enough -- I avail myself of public solitude.  Yet even when the loud hordes come, and the tourists pour forth, there is nothing as disturbing to my thoughts and balance, as the girls from South Africa who've been joining me lately ...

Sitting a few tables away, they'd first joined me for breakfast having arrived on an overnight flight, apparently.  They were chatting in their distinctive weird accents, about how their hotel wasn't ready yet ... the smoothness of their flight and landing, their overpriced, high speed cab ride into the city center, etc., etc.  All of the usual traveler noise, excitedly making this small talk between them ... counting their new currency coins and comparing breakfast selections and flavors to what they knew and were used to.  Etc., etc.

And this was all fine.  I liked hearing them, and enjoyed not being the only one in the café for a change.  Although once, in Zurich, I staked out my breakfast nook, and soon found to my chagrin that I would be sharing my hours of the pearl in Switzerland with Guenther, a "real" writer ... who would already be there at six each morning, occasionally drunk from the night before, dressed like Tom Wolfe, ein Traum in Weiß, and demanding the waiters bring him pencils.

Like some Hemingway asshole, Guenther would make these belligerent demands without saying "please", and get all pissed if one of his subjects dismayed him.  One day, a waiter brought Guenther a little box of colored pencils, saying something like, 'to encourage your artistic side, guter Herr'.  I don't know if the waiter was trying to be cute, or if he'd developed a sort of bemused, grudging respect for "the artist" and was attempting sincerity ... but in any case, old Guenther got heated!  Yelling "Ich brauche nur eine!" and proclaiming himself a WRITER, not some "Schwuchtel Künstler", he proceeded to carry on until the "Hund" of a poor waiter found him only one pencil, and not a colored one.

I was thinking of this the other day when the South African girls first joined me for breakfast.  I wondered what they thought of me, sitting there with my legs crossed, reading out loud to myself as I'm writing ... "Ich brauche nur eine!", I felt like shouting, as both of them sat down, at six in the morning, at a table near mine in the empty café.

Then they began nattering and chatting excitedly ... distinctive weird accents reviewing their travel, and outlining upcoming plans for their stay.  This was the first day, when they arrived.

And it was fine.

But now they're coming in each morning, and sitting and eating and sipping beside me completely in silence ... Ignoring not only myself -- the only other patron in our Hour of the Pearl café -- but also each other, preferring instead to be fully engaged by their electronic devices (a little netbook style laptop for one, a stylish smart phone for the other) ... on which they poke and tap feverishly, while sitting and eating and sipping beside me, wholly oblivious to their surroundings ... to each other, to me, to the new country they're visiting ... Heidegger's thoughts on "idle talk" and "passing the word along" ...

Unaware, or not really caring too much, about the nothingness that surrounds us all, instead sadly -- disturbingly -- contributing to it.
"Hole in the Atmosphere", ©Jeff Glovsky

* * *

Friday, July 5, 2013

... the Pursuit of Avoiding Destruction

Clause 39 of the Magna Carta of 1215
39. No freeman shall be captured or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or IN ANY WAY DESTROYED, nor will we go against him or send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land (emphases mine).
This is not lawful.

It is a disgusting invitation to breach the concept and inherent right of Due Process, introduced by the Magna Carta and later adopted and embedded into the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights ... and far too many people are too quick to accept that invitation, DESTROYING the names and reputations of too many.
This, this and too many other name and shame, review / complain websites, are questionable:  while not overtly inciting cries of victimization, nor blatantly inviting defamation and libel, they nonetheless are a playground for the easily ruffled, themselves badly behaved - the terrible tenants, the bad travelers, the trouble seekers and the litigation addicts can all plunk down at the end of a stay, a trip or a stressful day, and relieve themselves by loudly and publicly dumping all over the things, people, businesses they feel slighted by ... "sharing" their (perceived) grievances, and inaccurately or prematurely "warning" others that they might also feel inconvenienced and should therefore "beware", "run", "avoid", "stay away", yada yada.
"I don't make any decisions about who to hire without going to Angie's List first."
Well this, quite frankly, is just sad.
But it's the ugly and unregulated yelping and voicing of one-sided opinion ... this unmoderated, INTENTIONAL harm to, and DESTRUCTION of, others ... which is a travesty; and it's a direct assault on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as celebrated in the Declaration of Independence.
Had our Founding Fathers been able to snipe, gripe, attack, complain, deride, belittle and defame each other publicly, impatiently and instantly, ignoring instead of implementing Due Process -- airing their frustrations out on Ye Olde Rip-off Report, let's say, or Betsy's List -- we can only assume that U.S. History would have been a much different place.
Happy 4th of July, America!