Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Night on the Street

I fell down the other night.

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!).

Then flat on my back in Union Square.

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.

I'm the one keeping me down for the count.