I don't do drugs, I wasn't drinking. Just, walking along the fringe of the fringe, on the south side of Union Square Park, I wasn't paying attention and suddenly, my right foot found itself not finding sidewalk.
Instead, to my surprise and embarrassment, I found myself stumbling off the curb.
In slow motion, I lurched like a grazing animal, suddenly on all fours... then on my side (Tuck and roll, I recall very clearly thinking. Tuck and roll!).
As I'm getting up from 14th Street, looking around to make sure no one's pointing and laughing, a 20-something shambles past and asks, "You alright, man?"
I leap to my feet (or tell myself that I do... Actually, I get up in reverse slow-motion, sadly paused on the grazing animal frame), and mumble, "Fine, I'm fine. No idea how that happened."
The 20-something's no longer even around - having perfunctorily asked the old man who fell down in front of him if he was okay, but then hurriedly shambling off on his way.
The fact that the old man (me!) was able to "leap to his feet" (in his mind, at least), as opposed to continuing to lay on his back in the street like a testudine, provides no comfort. The old man was mortified, feeling his years.
All of that notwithstanding, however -- and despite a black smudge on one knee of a new pair of slacks! -- I felt worse for the shambling 20-something.
As he shambled off there, presumably to get back on Facebook, I thought of the void that he found himself in: the creative cypher of his generation... the utter lack of creative anything. The cutting and pasting, sharing and "adding", the mash-ups, re-blogging and "liking" without knowing why, or at all.
The propagation of mediocrity... the computer-made images, sounds and graphics, the "music" unwritten by human beings... or written once, but co-opted, "remixed" now by people with exaggerated senses of Self; or self-esteems poking their heads out like flowers (or testudines)... reminding themselves feverishly that they CAN:
They CAN draw. They CAN paint. They CAN dance and make music... They ARE artists, producers, DJs and filmmakers.
They DO exist... but on the backs and shoulders of technology; or the original work of others that they feel entitled, and are openly encouraged, to "share". Today, everything is "open source", like an urban dictionary or Wikipedia... ripe to be right-clicked, picked apart, distributed and contributed to, mainly because it CAN be.
But wait. It's not yours. So really, you CAN'T.
Thick-thighed specimen! Irish step-dancing like Riverdance... sweating and not keeping up with yourself: yes, you CAN dance. By all means, you should knock yourself out! You're allowed.
But you shouldn't. 'Cause really, you CAN'T.
So I lay there... just, not getting up from 14th Street.
From the fringe of the fringe south of Union Square Park, on my back in the dark, I retain no illusions: pushing fifty and virulently anti-Facebook - unwilling to embrace fully the winds of social media change... having stumbled and fallen with nothing and no one to blame but myself... with only original thoughts, words and images... I am the biggest shambling loser.
Thinking it over, I realized with some surprise that laying down and actually playing dead is not something that would have even crossed my mind. Instead, faced with the choice between fight or flight, the nuance of feigning capitulation (sleep, death) as a means of escape would have escaped me ... leaving my only option to be literal escape from the animal's paws and jaws.
I would've run like hell! And probably not gotten very far - or gotten myself stuck in a tree, which is a lesson of my youth I do seem to remember, when and if ever being chased by an animal. First, there is "don't run" (which I guess could be interpreted or translated to "play dead", come to think of it) ... but failing that, the advice I remember is: run up a tree. Someone told me that once, I'm pretty sure of it. But bears climb trees (don't they?), or at least shake them ...
Another recent incident to 'shake my tree' involves the late night (early morning) abduction of Alex Band, lead singer of The Calling - a group that has not been on my radar since I snapped off the car radio in disgust about 10 years ago, when that song came on for the zillionth time ... But what made the whole thing particularly jarring to me -- apart from this snark-fail attempt at trivializing the incident:
...Good writing, man! And I feel your empathy as a "reporter" (and human being).
But apart from that, what gave me pause was that this slice of life also happened in Michigan - this time in the lower ("mitten") part of the state, not too far out of Flint, but in relative darkness, en route to the Canadian border. In other words, peace of night, middle of nowhere - a climate / environment I know well, and a circumstance with which I'm also familiar: specifically, a late night walk from hotel to convenience store while on tour or traveling; and in general, walking alone through peace of night and middle of nowhere.
It could've been me! I scream again ... on any number of occasions when, while walking "safely" outside of New York City, it would occur to me that if vans pulled up, bears showed up, axe-wielding creatures leapt out of dark woods ... there'd be no deli to run into, no taxi to hail ...
No one to hear me scream when I'm bleeding.
There's an "element of danger outside of Manhattan" a childhood friend said to me once when visiting from the Midwest - a remark he made in passing while I was conducting a tour of my ex-girlfriends' houses, driving him around through these late night, bridge-shadow neighborhoods in Queens, the Bronx and northern New Jersey ... pointing out to him my own personal landmarks and milestones since leaving the hometown we'd shared.
... That particular night, I guess I kidnapped my friend. A fellow Wisconsinite, like
before imprudent detours created a nightmare and I headed south, life and name tumbling after ... before all that, there was Redemption (sort of) ...
This is not the poem:
Sundays, I work on my SEO.
Unlike, for example, mylucky bro, I can't while away lazy weekends chasing trout ... I'm damaged goods.
My name and reputation online were shattered in 2010, and re-battered early in 2013 through a run-in with misguided, unreasonable fortune ...
What can I say, that I haven't already said or written?
I'm not perfect.
(Note if you will, the roll of toilet paper reflected in the sunglasses I'm wearing, in this otherwise fine "selfie".)
My best efforts sometimes get blown back, and repeat on me like an offensive belch, so I end up defensively childish-sounding ... or trashed online for a few more years. I haven't been able to shake the shit of my first page of Google search results.
But when that comes to pass, as it almost has, and there's no longer arm's reach ammunition ... In other words, when the Ripoff Report hovering around #5 of Google search results, on the first page, for the name "Jeff Glovsky" -- which is my name, mydamaged reputation -- becomes "buried" (because egregiously, shittily, sickly, destructively, it never will go away or be taken down) ... When there's no longer bile in plain sight to blow back at me ... defamatory names or libelous qualities which aren't existent, to try to ascribe to me (though you might not know, having not ever met me) ...
In light of the Edward Snowden revelations, which ended up forcing the hand of President Obama and the NSA (indeed, "a victory of sorts" for Snowden) -- and in fact, because of the acknowledgment and now, legitimization, of the government's dumpster diving on not only American but global citizens -- there should no longer be any expectation, reasonable or otherwise, of privacy in human existence.
We have crossed that bridge, and there is no looking back. Data mining, marketing "preferences", "targeted" advertising being "served" ... cameras everywhere (and in every hand): mounted on dashboards, hanging from street lamps, hidden in ceilings, hats and eyeglasses ... capturing, then "sharing", our every pain, our every shame, our every vainglory, assigning blame ...
In many ways, we've become a much better, cleaner, safer, more responsible world: all performing as model citizens now, caring Samaritanism, the norm - No longer every man, woman and child a solo act, but performing with our best stage voices and collective foot forward, because all of us know that the cameras are on.
Perhaps the most discernible difference between our world pre-1984 and now, is that in today's world -- our world of the hard sell; of crass and obnoxiously mass consumerism ... a world where Christmas "season" begins after Labor Day and "Back to School" is already being shoved down our throats in July (mere weeks after the kids are set free from one school year, they're told to start saving and spending for next!) -- it's not surprising to see every website I visit demanding I "join" it; or being instructed on every website to "follow", "share", "like" (or see what my "friends" like) ... or "log in using Facebook" or some other "service" ...
We don't care what you use to log in, just LOG IN. So we can mine your data, target your preferences and know where you go online, what you do, so that in the end, we know what to do with you!
Go ahead, "opt out" (if you can find how to do it) - it doesn't matter: we still know you've visited youporn before coming here, and we appreciate your business! Or "Yay" ... or "Let's have some milk with those cookies" (or "Don't be evil") ...
See what we did there? We just allayed your valid concerns about privacy with a cute little word thing, and lulled you into a soft zone of comfort. Dropped a roofie in your browser refreshment, so now you'll give it up to us.
In the real world, offline, the identity of rape victims is shielded. In the privacy-sucking world of the wide web, there's no such protection. We're all exposed, subject to further penetration and perpetual abuse.
But wait ... It's consensual. We're giving it up, and giving in. There's no such thing as consensual rape (Is there??) ... In the real world, offline, it may be poor form to blame the victim. But for most of us, online, we ask to be raped.
"Thanx to all the cats ... in our brotherhood." - Boris Koslov
I was digging around some old notebooks the other day, looking for a phone number I knew I'd scrawled - an old (212) number from 'back in the day', before telephone land lines (or spiral notebooks, for that matter) became obsolete ... and I was struck by what a fan I'd been.
In learning the craft of writing, and of becoming (more or less) myself, I seem to have tuned into a few of the biggies ... certain manna, and ticks and inflections of theirs, picked up by my young and thirsty antennae, all bursting with needing to take it all in.
All words and text below are mine (by Jeff Glovsky), as they were written -- sometimes thirty (!) years ago -- in the (sometimes overtly) sampled stylings of ...
John Lennon: Taking a might bath arggh, wee Bob? I'll go ant pack me baggies!
Crucifix Jemina crossed me off the sidewalk. Didn't have a leg to stand on anymore.
This city, even under the weight of fat tourists, reeks of thirty years ago: all the noise and crime and ghetto-blasting; drugs, ill-tempered ugliness ... Its beauty become horrible, its awfulness old hat.
New York now is dozens of little acceptances, all at once working to keep you down. You're not a success, for one example -- or even taken seriously -- if you're not shelling monthly, say, two thousand for your hellhole.
It's Tuesday, 10:15am ... What job to go, to do all day? Resumés - Too many in the past too many each weeks. Yet the phone's as sick and dead as soul. Now she won't call.
There's been Steinbeck and Steely Dan, Dylan and Ginsberg, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain ... and, when needing to take Mathers into my own hands ... a little Eminem even enters my prose mix. I've got a work-in-progress with a title Charlie Mingus might be proud of, and I reference Mingus (Mingus, Mingus) often ...
All of these influences have shaped and informed not only my writing, but my disposition as well. While certainly not "sunny" overall, I can make (and sometimes take!) a joke, and efface myself on a regular basis; overall, though my life has sucked at times, it's a blessing to be in for an eighty year plan - which, if I ever do happen to become "sunny" (or in the parlance of DeathClock.com algorithmics, "optimistic"), might convert to 90+.
Thus simply, if not moronically, assured, I was strolling through Greenwich Village last night and I ran into a bass player I've known for the past ten years. Boris is a valued member of the New York-based Mingus bands, all of the various configurations officially sanctioned by Sue Mingus, the Yoko Ono of Jazz (in a good way) ... in addition to playing out with his own groups and projects.
As we were chatting and catching up (I'd been a sound engineer for the Mingus Big Band), a woman came up to us and asked if we knew where Beyoncé was playing. Totally rando (as the kids say) - having nothing to do actually with what the jazz bass player and I were discussing ... nor with the jazz bassist or myself at all. Beyoncé and her (substantial) slice of the music universe light years beyond and away from the both of us, it was nonetheless common ground for the woman to approach, introduce herself and begin sharing her own dreams and small histories in entertainment ... Connecting in a way that only artists know how, because like attracts like, but we're all attuned: to different stations, perhaps, but all with thirsty antennae and the radio on ...