Monday, July 16, 2007

"the future" demonstrated poor performance in round one, but seems to have made a pretty solid recovery since.

two trains and a bus later, i was on the side of the highway in the outskirts of madrid. unfortunately, the highway itself has no shoulder and no exits. the service road has exits, but they are very small, and it seems that all of the traffic on the service road is local. i walked around 12 miles looking for a good spot, and the best i could do was a gas station. every trucker i asked - and they were few and far between - was not going much outside of madrid. had i the patience, i probably would have gotten a ride eventually, but given that i had a plane ticket out of barcelona in 4 days, i figured i might as well cut my losses and take a bus, because i'd hate to waste the time i could be in barcelona on the side of the highway in madrid just because i was stubborn. oh yeah, the signs on the bus stops said that it was in the high 40s celsius, which is above 110 farenheit. it didnt seem quite that hot (maybe the bus station thermometers are too close to black metal strucutres and err a couple of degrees high or something) but it was hot enough that when i put on a light-colored long sleeved shirt i felt cooler than having the sun directly on me. and there was no shade.

so i got back into the city around 7, feeling sheepish, and got a 7:50 bus to barcelona. i watched angels in the outfield dubbed and was pretty proud to unerstand most of it, and got to barcelona around 4. julio came to meet me and walk me back to his place, and the next morning we took his scooter to the skate/nike store where he works. chad got there around 1 in the afternoon. so far: parc güell (the unfinished gaudi housing developement), the beach, lots of the closer on dvd, walking around, fantastic vegan food, good people, hanging out, and fucking transformers, which was awesome. today chad and i are going to find some more gaudi stuff while julio is at work, and then i think we might be going... out. to a club or something. we'll see.

Friday, July 13, 2007

this is a quick one: took my last final (ever), turned 22, said goodbye to a lot of people i'll never talk to again (and a few who i hopefully will), stayed up too late with a friend, packed up, checked my email, and wrote this entry. im going to hop on a metro train to the highway, and hopefully be in barcelona before sundown (sundown here is at around 10:30, so if it takes long than that ill be sorta pissed). the future: barcelona, rome, prague, home (DC), home (brooklyn), work, debt, no more school, new roommates, and...? see you there.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

after getting locked out of paris and sleeping for the better part of an afternoon, stephanie and i got indian food and then walked around old madrid for a few hours. around midnight she decided that it was bedtime and that there was no way she was going to see 28 weeks later with me because she would not be able to sleep all night. so i went alone. in retrospect, maybe not the greatest idea, given how i tend to deal with scary movies. i would have been better off in a living room with someone willing to cuddle during the scary parts, and in the middle of the afternoon, than in a theater by myself at 12:30. but i had heard such good things about it that i was determined.

i dont remember being horrified to nearly that extent by the first one, although maybe its just been a while since i first saw it, but more than being scared the way scream did when i was a little kid (which was mostly about just thinking something was going to jump out at me from spaces that where sometimes so small as to make such a thing physically impossible), i was deeply shaken. when the movie got out at 2:30, i decided to ride my bike around old madrid for a while because i wasnt tired yet (having woken up at 5 in the evening). i have these in-ear headphones that block out most outside noise if the volume is turned up enough, so i put on godspeed you black emperor! and took off. the movie had me in a rather surreal mood to begin with, and biking around a city that is full of people (contrary to popular myth, new york is more like the city that doesnt sleep all that much, but on the weekends, madrid truly never sleeps) without being able to hear them only exacerbated it. in a good way though. with in-ear headphones on you can hear yourself breathing through your own head rather than through the air outside (like with earplugs), and it sounds the way peoples' breathing in movies sounds when they are running for their lives. i biked to the top of a very large hill behind a cathedral that overlooks what im told used to be the royal hunting grounds but is now just a part of the city. the hill is steep enough that it might be technically a cliff, and at the top of it is a parking lot with no lights, so it's quite a view. eventually i got bored, biked home, and spent 3 hours lying awake in bed, less scared than expected i to be but certainly feeling pensive. i had that feeling of intense emotion of some indeterminable type, and the presence of many important thoughts that were just below the surface of my consciousness. its a feeling of being very emotionally and intellectually intense but without the emotional and intellectual content. the last time i felt that way was in amarillo, texas, last summer. i didnt do a very good job of explaining it then, and i dont think i am this time either.

the whole evening i also had that in-a-movie feeling. since moving to new york, i finally gave up the romantic idea that interesting things just happen to you, the way they do in the movies. new york city is a place where you expect fate to be lying in wait around every corner, but it isnt. around every corner is just more road, and more life, the same as the one you just came down. if you want something interesting to happen, you have to make it happen. i know that sounds more like a motivational speech than a lament, but for me, that realization was one of the most disillusioning ones ive ever had to face.

my life isnt, by most traditional accounts, boring; touring in a punk band, working as a messenger in new york, living in a loft in bushwick, traveling europe solo, these things sound to some people like adventures. but the thing is that every step of the way, i had to make it happen myself, which takes all of the adventure out of it. adventure is what happens when you arent expecting it. it surprises you, and even if its mundane, the novelty is what makes it adventure. take wandering around an unknown city. if you get bored and take a train to a place you've never been and wander around, its just sort of whatever. but if you accidentally get off on the wrong stop and wander around because you have to, thats adventure. for so long i was waiting for interesting stuff to just happen to me like it does in the movies. turn the corner and bam! theres a natural disaster that forces the hero out of you, or the weirdo with the idea that changes your life, or the girl of your dreams. but if you turn a corner in new york, its just the same people. everywhere you go its just the same people. faux-hawks, crew cuts and euro-mullets, its the same fucking people. but that night, after the movie, i was expecting something to just happen. that was the kind of mood i was in. i thought i was going to get hit by a car, see an alien land or a bomb go off, get shot at, or fall in love. nothing would have surprised me because i was expecting to be suprised. by the time i woke up the next morning, it was gone.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

something strikes me as being somewhat comical about a 22-year-old who has just finished college (and i allow myself to cheat on that point a little due to the fact that on thursday afternoon, after my spanish final, both of those things will be recently true of me) writing a livejournal entry about the catcher in the rye, but i didn't read it in high school, so here i am. i decided recently that trying to force myself to read the brothers karamozov so as to better myself intellectually (and to give myself credibility when quoting the famous proto-existentialist line that says something to the effect of "if god is dead anything is permitted", varying somewhat with the translation) and in reality getting nowhere (im on page 80-something out of nearly 1000 after almost 2 weeks) is less productive than reading less ambitious books that i will actually finish. i've been trying to catch up on the classics that i skipped over so i bought a copy of the catcher in the rye yesterday afternoon and read it yesterday evening in a little over 2 hours.

i've been thinking lately about the mixed messages that a traditional american upbringing sends us (share and cooperate like a good kindergartener, but remember that the greatest good comes to the socieity in which each of its members acts strictly according to his rationally conceived self-interest), particularly in the form of literature. i bought a copy of to kill a mockingbird some weeks ago for the 13-year-old that i tutor (for the absurd hourly pay of 12€) because it was one of my favorite books when i was little younger (i think) than him. it turned out to be too hard for him - his english is a little worse than my spanish - and yesterday, after several hours of staring at the ceiling so as to avoid another dry dostoevskian sentence, i picked it up and read it cover to cover in one fairly long sitting. i still love it. certain parts made me hopeful (no small feat, as some of you may know), certain parts made me furious, and during certain parts i could hear my mom doing the voices, with their alabama drawls, and feel lucy curled up next to me on the couch (see my previous entry about the lost feeling of home), and i nearly cried. one line, however, caught my attention for the first time: "the one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." it made me think about the way that our culture's heros, the atticus finchs, are honored for denying the status quo in the face of tremendous popular opposition, but i find that when i defend animal rights activists who use extra-legal tactics i'm compared with abortion clinic-bombing christians and reminded that change comes from letter-writing, ANSWER marches, and, above all, voting. of course atticus finch, the law-abiding citizen that he is, fights his battle in the coutroom, but our founding fathers weren't afraid to shed a little blood, and harriet tubman does not appear to have been too concerned with what the then current administration and police force considered property. which founding father said the famous thing about refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots? jefferson? i have no idea.

this may appear half-baked and i suppose it is; i've only recently begun to think about some of these things and i haven't the head for facts, quotes, and dates. the point is that i wholeheartedly agree with the above quote (the one about majority rule, not the one about the tree of liberty) and in some ways, i dont mind the comparison to the fanatical right-wing christians because they believe so strongly in their principles that they are willing to do what they feel is necessary to see them put into practice, and damn the state that moves too slowly (or in the opposite direction). of course, i disagree with their principles and would rather bomb the churches themselves that spawn such ideals, but such, i suppose is the dialectic (i know that philosophy major was good for something!). no government, i've heard it said, can give you liberty (was that a famous anarchist writer or a punk band?), and no state that operates within the boundaries of this culture will ever give liberty to animals or the earth.

when i read animal farm in 7th grade, the overt message that we were to absorb was dictatorship=bad, but the implication hidden carelessly just below the surface of the curriculum was, "thank god our government is nothing like that" (thank him figuratively and literally, of course, as we are one nation under Him, having the life choked out of us slowly by the pillow that He has been holding over our faces for some thousand years now, sighing about what embarrassments we all are). somehow i doubt orwell would be too stoked about the state of things (pun intended), the same orwell who wrote, "every line of serious work i have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalinarianism and for democratic socialism as i understand it." no to put words in his mouth, God rest his soul, but i doubt that the same man who appears to have sided most strongly with the anarchists during the spanish civil war (the revolutionary socialists being a close second), understood "democractic socialism" to mean clintonian liberalism with a solid welfare system and high OSHA standards for the wage-slaves (not to suggest, dad, that these things arent good, just that they arent nearly good enough).

it seems like the only people who remember these books after graduating from high school are the english teachers, who, in my experience, tend to be an apolitical lot (not to mention beaten into submission by the hollow curriculums of no child left behind), and they often leave out that lee, orwell, and salinger might have been trying to make a fucking point. as with anything subversive, the powers that be have pulled off the time-honored "if you can't beat 'em, assimilate 'em" approach that reduced the entire black liberation movement, of which pacifism and civil rights were only a part, to the face of an uncontroversial martyr who had such a nice dream that one time, and which we celebrate once a year by congratulating ourselves on what a fine job we've done setting things right. luckily someone offed him before he had a chance to be disappointed by the ongoing, deliberate, urban racial segregation that the "success" of the 60s either failed to prevent or, depending on whom you ask, encouraged (this is a subject about which i know only a little, so if my timeline is off, forgive me, for i believe that the spirit of my criticism is valid), all of which resulted in the current state of affairs which most liberals seem to regard as basically a damn shame and some fucking worthless academics like samuel huntington have the nerve to blame on the defeatist, blame-shifting "political culture" of blacks in the contemporary urban ghetto.

the slave-owners got one thing right: the blacks were and are much like animals, as are all of us, white and otherwise, because we fucking are animals. of all the trite explanations i've heard for what seperates us from the rest of them (we learn from our mistakes? i call bullshit!), one of the few compelling accounts i've heard is that we apparently have the capacity to wreak obscene amounts of destruction upon the planet and everything else living on it, and, what's more, to rationalize it. lions, presumably, do not feel the stabs of a guilty conscience when they kill and eat their prey, yet the same people who are so proud of their consciences that tell them that there is something deeply wrong about taking food from a multinational corporation, nay, are ethically offended by it, will defend a system which, among other things, results in beagles being tortured in order to ensure the safety of consumer cosmetic products. you want an indictment of the way things are? i dont need theory: fuck the nation, fuck peter singer, fuck emma goldman for that matter. i contend that any cultural and philosophical framework that defends the rights and properties of these and other torturers against the peaceful (in the long and rich history of the ALF and ELF no human or animal has been harmed in the course of an action, yet they are the #1 domestic terrorism threat according to the FBI) liberators of these animals - many of whom are currently serving sentences of several years or more federal prisons - is FUCKED, right to its rotten idealogical core, QED! so head earnestly for the polls, and if you so much as even think about a molotov cocktail, you are as bad as the abortion clinic-bombers. well, than so i am.

now, a word of indemnification: many intelligent folks whose hearts, i believe, are in the right places (or close to them), have challenged my more militant sentiments on purely tactical grounds. i believe that there is a serious debate to be had about the usefulness of various forms of activism and resistance, and though it is probably obvious on which side i ultimately rest my convictions, i do believe that there are good points to be made by both sides. this... whatever this is, however, is not concerned with practical concerns, but with the ethics themselves of thinking outside of the traditional means of attempting to work for chance, thinking outside of the law (which is, according to the ideology underlying many of my politics, part of the problem itself).

"let the fires of justice burn away this plague" - 7 generations

Saturday, July 7, 2007

i tried to go to paris this morning, but to no avail. i took a nap and got up at 3am, took a bus to where i thought i could catch the bus to the airport, and was wrong. walked a couple of miles, found the bus to the airport, got on. turns out that it drops you off in the same neighborhood as the airport, but not at the terminal. followed a group of dutch travelers from the bus stop to the airport, getting to the checkin counter 3 minutes before they closed. got my boarding pass, feeling a little smug, and discovered that the plane was delayed and they were promising more information in an hour. fell asleep on the floor with one earphone in listening to the movielife. 6:30am: expected departure time 1pm. fuck that. i was only going to be there for a day anyway, and i dont fancy spending 7 more hours in the airport. they are refunding the money to my credit card, and i went home and went back to bed.
cooked some good pasta sauce from scratch, spent the day in bed listening to music and thinking. im meeting a friend for dinner in 15 and maybe seeing 28 weeks later. i guess ill have to go to paris next time im in europe.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

the show in hengelo was fucking amazing. it was a tiny club, capacity supposedly 125 but maybe twice the size of CCAS, and not even totally full. the first three bands were european youth crew hardcore, and not bad. the carry on cover was a bit chilly (has it been long enough? i dont think quite yet). eye of judgment played second to last and fucking rocked. they are so heavy and played pretty tight, plus they rock the over-the-top XVX. "I'm not saying we're better than you/I'm saying you're worse than us/Your lack of discipline/Is a disgrace to humankind". wow. then, earth crisis. holy shit. earth crisis playing on a stage about 2 feet high in front of maybe 60 kids, the majority of whom knew most of the words to at least the hits. highlights included the most ridiculous sing-along to firestorm ive ever seen, finally getting to see ultramilitance played live (karl dedicated it to me because i asked them to play it before the set, but i was much more excited about the fact that they played it than the shout-out), and mike raio dancing with his arm in a sling. it was crazy seeing them play on such a small stage, with so much of the right kind of energy in the room, and karl is not afraid to share the mic. jake, i wish you were there. the dutch are a tall people. seriously, everyone at the show was at least 6´2". the disadvantage was that i couldnt see the band if there was a single person in front of me; the advantage was that if i wanted to climb up on top of the crowd there was always a huge dude there to help me up.

after the show we got an international xvx crew to push the van up to speed so we could pop the clutch, and josh dropped gijs, satina and me off at gijs' friend's house in arnhem. the next morning the three of us walked to the train station, blah blah blah, and i was back in madrid. oh yeah, but the fuckers at the airport security checkpoint didnt let me bring my peanut butter (which is impossible to find in spain) or vegan nutella (which is hard to find almost anywhere) with me. its solid fucking food, but apparently it counts as a "gel" and could be a bomb. what the fuck ever. i was so blown, because i was really looking forward to eating that stuff when i got back. oh well, que pasó pasó.

Monday, July 2, 2007

after antwerp, we drove to amsterdam to stay at the apartment of a vacationing friend of theirs named john. he lives above the healthfood store where he and gijs work. this store sells vegan smoked gouda. holy shit. it is made by the same brand that makes the mozzarella used by the vegan pizza pace in budapest which im told has the best vegan cheese pizza in the world. i dont think ill have a chance to check it out this time around, so i guess ill just have to come back to europe some time.
on friday, the show was in east germany and we didnt feel like making the drive, so we hung out in amsterdam. we ate maoz falafel, which is extremely mediocre, and i had hot chocolate which was fantastic. it rained on and off all day and was probably in the high 50s. apparently summer has not yet hit northern europe. right before it started to rain hard, we saw a belligerently drunk street magician. in the 45 minutes that we watched him try to draw a crowd large enough to actually start his show, we saw him do one coin trick (his french drop wasnt bad and drunkenness did not seem to impair his sleight of hand abilities), one cigarette trick, light a torch and then leave it on the ground until it burned out, try to light it again later and fail, spin a bullship around his head for a total of maybe 10 minutes (stumbling occasionally), and try to crack it twice successfully and once unsuccessfully. he spent most of the in between time muttering to himself, telling the same jokes over and over (to two guys walking together: "so when did you two get back together"), telling people to come up to the edge of his "stage" or fuck off, and calling random walkers-by "homos" and "dickheads". he eventually gave up, packed up his box, and went with a friend to get dinner at the marriot, without ever starting his routine. we were all laughing nonstop, and mike raio and i were particularly amused. it might have been the funniest thing ive ever seen, although im sure my retelling of it is unconvincing.
friday was randy's birthday, so once gijs got off work, we all ("we" at this point including 4 americans, one roman, one brazillian, two austrians, and gijs and his partner satina from holland) had dinner at a chain japanese place called wagamamas. it was the best meal id had in weeks, and i was so hungry that i ate one and a half entrees, two appetizers, and a bowl of rice, for a grand total of 20€. it wasnt cheap, but it was worth it.
randy, mike, and kelly were fixated on going clubbing, kelly reminding me that i promised her that some day i would and randy pulling the youll-ruin-my-birthday-if-you-dont card. i relented but when we got back to the van and discovered that it wouldnt start, i was relieved to be off the hook. we walked back 3 miles or so to john's and went to bed.
the next morning, some of us took a cab back to the van to meet the dutch equivalent of AAA, which satina had called pretending to be john's girlfriend (who was on vacation with him). in holland, they try to actually fix your car instead of just towing it, which is nice. the guy took a look and determined that it was the starter, so we got all set to push while he pulled with his little mini-minivan so that gijs could pop the clutch once we got up to speed. it worked, but in the process mike got his arm slammed in the door, and then it stalled. the repair guy called reinforcements, and this guy that i call the all-purpose dutchman showed up on a motorcycle (wearing fully terminator-esque futuristic motorcycle gear). he hit the starter with a pipe and make the van turn on, and then looked at mike raios arm and pronounced it broken. we were in awe, and i was temped to ask if he could help me with applied differential calculus or my plumbing, since i was convinced that he was the guy to call for just about anything. 4 hours of mike sitting in a hospital later, it turned out that he was wrong and mike's arm wasnt broken.

that brings me to saturday late afternoon, and i think ill pause here to reflect on some things that ive been thinking about since i got back.
first of all, i think that, as is the case with so many things, balance is important when it comes to addressing the issues that i was talking about before, RE: making connections with civilians/muggles/rando comandos (for the last term i credit katy otto). im often afraid of culturally ghetto-izing myself by spending too much time around people that i agree with. i dont like to take for granted that im right about everything or spend too much time nerding out about the handful of subjects that interest my peers, but too long away from people like that and i get very lonely. this weekend was good, and now im ready to spend the next two weeks around people that have no idea what "queer" means, why anyone would choose not to drink, or that there might be (notice my use of the word "might" as a hedge; im not trying to say that i know the right answers either) fatal problems with capitalism, patriarchy, industrial civilization, or what have you. some day, maybe ill commit fully to radical ideologies and the lifestyles they entail, get a throat tattoo (i really want one but am clearly not, at this point, ready to commit to looking like a weirdo to 99% of people, including potential employers/girlfriends, and bumming out my mom), and embrace the fact that i really only belong with a small group of people, or, on the other hand, nihilism could win out, and i might find myself living a comfortable materialistic life, eating brie, and reminiscing about my "anarchist vegan straightedge phase". right now, im stuck in between commitment and doubt, so ill keep trying to find the right balance to maintain my sanity (which sometimes feels like a much more pressing concern than figuring out The Answer anyway).

on that note, i had a really long conversation with kelly about the need for connection. some people can be not only happy but even productive on their own, while some dont have the temperament for solitude. i chose to come to madrid partially because i wanted to force solitude upon myself, without the distractions of television or the internet (at least, not at home), so i could catch up on my reading and learn to sink or swim - emotionally - on my own. sometimes i think im too dependent on my friends to feel ok, and sometimes i think that they arent even really enough, but maybe just enough to not totally lose it. i need to either find whatever it is that feels like its missing, or learn to accept that it doesnt exist and figure out how to go from there. so far, it hasnt worked, but talking to kelly gave me a lot to think about in terms of what friends can offer, the need for intimate contact ("intimate" not to be conflated with "sexual"), and a whole slew of related subjects. ill probably be thinking about some of this stuff for weeks.

gmap pedometer of my trip

the points are just the cities where i stopped, not the actual locations within the cities. i also skipped utrecht, NL, where i transferred trains en route from arnhem to eindhoven.

Friday, June 29, 2007

i left school early on wednesday, and stopped at caprabo to pick up some apples, crackers, and a bar of chocolate. had i know that my next actual meal was going to be at 2am, i would have stocked up a little more. i got to the airport a little late and was worried about missing my flight. turns out that i was fine, because not only did i board 10 minutes before it was supposed to leave, but it ended up getting delayed. the shuttle bus from the airport in munich to the train station also turned out to be an hour longer than i thought, and then because i got to the train station so late, i missed all of the express rush hour trains and had to take a train to schweinfurt with an hour long layover in some city that starts with "w". i finally got to schweinfurt at 11:30, after 11 hours of travel. i had of course missed the show, but i didnt really care, because im here more for the company than the music. and what a relief the company was/is. being around friends for the first time in a month feels so good. we somehow arranged to be able to sleep upstairs in the backstage area with a carload of swedes. we walked upstairs into the kitchen, where earth crisis' leftover food was sitting out. the walls were covered with tags from mostly US bands that had being touring through there since as early as 98, including madball, agnostic front, the bouncing souls, boysetsfire, and hundreds of others. there were a lot of pictures of penises and really inane things written on the walls. im not sure why, but for some reason i expected a little more maturity from musicians mostly in their late 20s and early 30s. randy tagged "gather attrition invisible tour 2k7" and we decided to play our mp3s through the van stereo outside of the shows.
the next morning we drove to antwerp. it took about 7 hours and i spent most of the ride talking to kelly and randy. it felt good to talk to someone that makes me feel understood, and not just because we have a lot of politics in common. we got to antwerp and mike only had 2 people on the guest list, so we hung outside of the venue for a while while mike went and talked to bands, and eventually we got scott vogel to throw 3 more of us on the guest list because he knows kelly. the rest we just snuck in by reusing wrist bands. terror in europe is pretty insane. there were like 800 people at the show and people went nuts. earth crisis, on the other hand, only managed to motivate about 30 people to sing along and another 20 to dance. a third or maybe even half of the show left after terror. despite the lousy fan reaction (which i guess makes sense, because the broke up 6 years ago which means that anyone that saw them the first time around is probably at least 20 by now, and the majority of hardcore kids are younger than 20) they played really well and i had a good time.

Monday, June 25, 2007

so there is another person here to whom i can vent. she doesnt drink and had a straightedge roommate at BU, so she gets the whole straightedge thing. i also checked my biblical facts against her knowledge - she is jewish - and in that passage in leviticus the orders are seperated by some other things. ok, so its not in the same breath. i think my point probably still stands.

so this weekend i did basically nothing. on friday night i saw pirates of the carribean 3, which was not very good and didnt make that much sense because i never saw the second one, and saturday i saw shrek 3. during the day, i read. i read terry goodkind's new sword of truth book, which came out last summer in hardback but i was too cheap to buy it, and homage to cataluña, which intensified my interest in both history in general, and, particularly, reading about revolutionary moments in history, eg. the spanish civil war, the russian revolution, etc. i remember reading a novelized version of a tv show called the young indiana jones chronicles when i was much younger, and in one of them he is hanging out in moscow during the revolution and spends time with bolsheviks, menshaviks, and people of all sorts of affiliations. i found it fascinating at the time to read about a moment when divergent ideologies had a chance of shaping the politics of a nation. and imagining anarchists practically running a city as large as barcelona, even for only a few months, is quite a trip. yesterday i read michael chabon's new novel, the yiddish policeman's union, which was quite good. some people have heard me remark lately that i would like to be a writer but lack the skill to produce anything creative. if i could write fiction, i would want it to be a combination of chabon's style and camus'; as bleak and philosophical as camus but with chabon's grasp of character and sense of humor.

ive started to try to tackle the brothers karamosov, but its slow going so far. im about 50 pages in and so far its basically a prologue to stuff actually happening and characters being developed. if the whole thing is this detatched and perfunctory, i wont make it into the three-digit page numbers. why do the people with the best ideas so often write the most boring crap? im not far enough into dostoyevsky to say if this is the case for him, but it certainly is with a good chunk of the philosophy i had to read in college. by the way, im really enjoying talking about college in the past tense. nevermind that im technically not done until 3 weeks from now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

on monday i was sitting outside at the patio with a bunch of kids, and somehow the conversation landed on craigslist sex-work, which several of my friends have done. the unanimous opinion of the table was that if a straight guy was paid to have a man go down on him, he probably wouldnt be able to finish, because of some kind of mental block. first of all, given that i have friends who have done this who qualify as something like straight, i know that isnt what happens. but regardless, to whatever extent that is true, its obvious to me that that is a socialized reaction; that straight men, even progressive straight men, are repulsed by the idea of another man's lips, hands, or naked body, appear to me to have their basis solely in culture. "yeah, im all for gay marriage, but i would never kiss a man, because that would be disgusting". im not saying that every man is actually attracted to other men, but how much grosser would that really be than kissing a women that you werent attracted to? its kind of frustrating for me to be in this summer camp bubble of people that have had no exposure to the ideas that compose the shared framework of most of the people i interact with. when i try to explain that many if not most of my friends are queer (according to some sense of the word, myself included, although i hesitate to self-identify as such because i dont want to appear to minimize someone else's empowerment), 9 times out of ten i get "wait, so he's bi?". or when i try to explain why i dont drink - which i hate doing and only do when people ask and then get offended that i dont want to tell them - if im in the mood to give them a more complete answer (ive taken to just saying that i dont like it, to avoid frustrating conversations), the part about how i perceive a relationship between drinking culture and certain abusive or dominant elements of our culture at large, people have no idea what im talking about. disagree with me, fine. debate me even. at this point, i almost miss being told that im offensively coopting someone else's struggle, because that rebuke contains the implicit message that my attempts to understand gender dynamics are aknowledged and understood. well, almost. and when it comes to sex work, forget it. i cant understand how the same people who participate in a culture that commodifies sex, replaces intimacy with conquest and domination, and in which all of the rules magically disappear after one drink, can really think that a consensual (or at least, as consensual as is possible when there is money involved) interactions with a sex worker can be unethical and disgusting. how can people take themselves seriously when clinging to puritannical moral systems so selectively? is like the passage in leviticus, in which god condemns men who lie with other men. he also condemns eating shellfish and wearing clothing made of mixed fabrics in the same breath, but you dont see too many protests that lobster and cotton-poly blends are responsible for 9/11. in this respect, my roommate, inti, is a godsend. he is a sex and gender studies major, and the only person in this program to whom i can vent.

this is not meant to be an indictment of drinking. i gave up that fight a long time ago. but my frustration with the college culture of drinking knows no bounds.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

ok, time to play catch-up. luckily, my memory is bad enough that i've already forgotten most of what i did last week, so ill just cover the highlights.

cordoba was much less interesting than grenada. the hotel was also not as fancy, but the tradeoff was that it had a pool. then the trade-back-off was that the pool wasnt heated and as soon as we got to cordoba it dipped by about 5 degrees (celsius). i and about 4 others went for it, spent a few minutes trying to fool ourselves into thinking that we were having fun, and then eventually gave up because it was freakin cold. i think jason was in the longest, for a total of maybe an hour.

dave and i decided to go for a walk to find food, and it turns out that the neighborhood in which we stayed is pretty dead. eventually we found a mall - thats right, an actual mall in spain - with a grocery store. we sat on the patio until about 1am eating sandwhiches that either consisted of brie, ham, and avocado or just avocado and salt, and argued about right-wing fiscal policy. it was probably the most good-natured political debate ive had in years, which is especially suprising given that, despite being socially progressive, he is a pretty hardcore neo-classical capitalist (or is it neo-liberal? von mises/FA Hayek? someone help me out).

the next morning we got up early to visit another mosque, this one gigantic, arcaded, and containing within it a cathedral that was build hundreds of years later by a king, i believe charles I, who didnt want to destroy the mosque because it was pretty. i guess he was happy to just kick out all of the people that might have used it.

we then walked around the old jewish quarter, which was small and kind of depressing, compared to the resplendence of the catholic and even islamic artifacts. but anyone that knows anything about history will not be suprised. i got lost, sat on a bench for an hour thinking, wandered around, and ended up eating burger kind fries for lunch because it was the only thing i could find that was vegan and not an overpriced salad without dressing.

on monday i went to the local velodrome with juan and his/my new friend pedro. a velodrome, for those who dont know, is a track for bike racing. it is relatively short and has very steep banked turns. it was a fucking blast. pedro won the first few races when we were just messing around because he has thighs like an iron man triathalete and a higher gear ration than juan or me. however, once we started taking it a little bit more seriously, i won the last three in a row by drafting off of him until the last bank, and sprinting down it to overtake him. each time i was able to hold onto my lead just long enough to finish first. now i see why all of my friends in new york are so into this shit.

sometime early last week, i finished the wind-up bird chronicle. the first half was probably the best book ive ever read, but then, about five minutes after i told dave that so far, it was the best book i'd ever read, murakami did that thing that i sort of hate where writers start skipping around with their chronology, and i lose my grip on the character. it lost a little bit of its mystery and cohesiveness, and by the end, i was re-attatched to the fate of the protagonist but a. not quite as fiercely as before and b. the end made only a litle bit of sense. im still not really sure what happened, or what about half of the charaters and sub-plots had to do with anything else, although im suspicious that it is something. still one of the better books i've read, probably better than kafka on the shore, and mom, i recommend reading it.

a few days later i finished love in the time of cholera. i had mixed feelings. marquez is a genius of description, very lighthearted with a good sense of humor, but i think his characters are weak, and seemingly deliberately so. i remember having a similar feeling about chronicle of a death foretold. it wasnt until the very end that any of that characters started to really take shape, and even then, only fermina daza and not the supposed protagonist, although the line is a bit blurry. still, it was a nice book with a very sweet ending, and had it been a little shorter, i think i would have been entirely content without there being any characters.

thursday night i went out to dinner with a friend of a friend, who, unlike the friend, is not a vegan straightedge hardcore kid but an air force pilot ex-hardcore kid. he was really nice and i had a good time, although i got a little tired of the conspiratorial bro-talk about that girl in that restaurant or whatever.

friday night was my first european alleycat. i followed juan and pedro and got third out of maybe 10 or 15. it was really short, basically a downtown sprint, and ended in the police chasing us with sirens on for going the wrong way. we lost them in the crowd of people in plaza mayor, though i did spend the rest of the night flinching at every flashbulb because the tattoo on my leg is pretty damn identifiable.

afterward we stood on the street in lavapies drinking beer or lemonade. i ended up talking a lot of the time to a spanish kid that was raised in australia and therefore speaks english. he is an ex-messenger turned boiler room stock trader (im not really sure what that means, but i know its not exactly legal) who is currently about to make an extra hundred K with some not so legal stuff involving diamonds. he does about a bag of coke a day and talks like it.

saturday night i went out to dinner with a friend and had a fabulous time. it was the first real vegan meal ive eaten in weeks, and despite the 20€ price tag i was stoked. we walked around for a while, met up with some other people, saw oceans 13 in english (i tried to read the spanish subtitles), and then walked in the rain for hours to get home. the metro is closed after 1:30 (at this point its about 2:30) and i am too cheap for a cab, so i convinced her and the guy we were with at that point to walk home a couple of miles away in the rain. it took about an hour, and i had fun. it took me another 45 minutes of walking about half an hour on a bus to get home.

on sunday i listened to music, took a walk, and read. all day.

yesterday i went to my first day of my new job tutoring spanish kids in english. ive thought of myself for years as someone who doesnt really like young kids. i never know how to talk to them, because i had a hard time wrapping my mind around someone not being intellectually capable to have a normal conversation with me, and i also dont like how rowdy they tend to be in groups. boy was i wrong. the two boys, 13 and 14, are totally sweet, good-mannered, and attentive. but the real treat turned out to be the 6-year-old girl, clara. she is the sweetest, most shy little thing ive ever met, and i want to adopt her and take her home and spend all day every day saying the names of colors and writing them in cursive with her. i very quickly caught on to how you need to talk to a 6-year-old, and i made up a game wherein we count to three in english together and then say a word, such as "yellow", that she is too shy to say to me by herself. i cant wait to go back this afternoon. and im also getting paid 12€ an hour (which is about $16) for this. what a deal.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

the bus ride from madrid to grenada is around 5 or 6 hours and there was some kind of weird rule that we couldnt use the bathroom on the bus because the trip wasnt long enough, so i spent a good chunk of the ride being extremely thirsty and not drinking anything, because, as those of you who know me are probably aware, i have a bladder like a 3 year old. we stopped once at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere for 40 minutes, and i got offered all kinds of plant-based table scraps from people who had just discovered that i am vegan. we got to the hotel, and inti and i went up to our room. i felt like an imposter, because it was hands down the nicest hotel room into which i´d ever set foot. or wait, did we go straight to the alhambra? maybe we did that first. no, thats right, we dropped off our stuff and then went to the alhambra. it was stunning. it turns out that i love arab architecture from the middle ages; the materials and designs are simple but somehow breath-taking. if im ever rich, ill have a courtyard built in my home like that one, because i swear it was the most peaceful place on earth.

our guided tour was only of the alhambra, so after it was over, we wandered around the other sites in a pack. i ditched the pack on the tower in the... shit. the something that starts with "a" and is across a courtyard from the alhambra. whatever. i was sick of being around people, and i had a hunch that the gardens of the generalife (i know what you´re thinking, its pronounced ghen-eh-rhal-LEE-fay) would be better experienced in relative solitude. i was right. turns out that the gardens are even more peaceful than the courtyard at the alhambra, and since i wasnt with a group, i managed to avoid seeing or hearing humans for stretches of up to 5 minutes at a time. i spent the latter half of my walk fantasizing about building a commune designed after the generalife in which talking was restricted to certain areas. yeah, when im a millionaire.

i found falafel on my walk back to the hotel, and while i was eating it, spotted the first south-indian restaurant i´ve seen in spain. i made a mental note of its location and promised myself that i´d return when i got hungry again. i spent a while reading, took a long shower, and then tried to walk back to the indian place. i got lost, realized that i had forgotten my map, wandered around a bit, then came back to the hotel and made a PB&J (bringing a loaf of bread and jars of PB and J turned out to be a very smart move). after "dinner", i went to a friend´s hotel room and sat in her bed reading while she watched a movie on her ipod. as far as i know, she was the only other person in the hotel that didnt go out that night. her friends kept telling her that she was missing out on the experience of grenada and that shed never have this chance again unless she came back. she replied that she didnt think that getting drunk at a club full of dancing tourists was really essential to the experience, and i think somewhere a straightedge band got its wings when she said that.

the next day we went to some old cathedrals and talked about gothic architecture. i was fascinated, since i never took art history, but i wont repeat the lecture.

the next stop was the alcazín (i probably misspelled that), the arab neighborhood in the hills across from the alhambra. of course it stopped being an arab neighborhood after 1492, but apparently it is starting to be repopulated. the tour ended at a little park with a great view of the city, where seemingly homeless men played beautiful classical spanish guitar for change, and stray dogs wandered around stealing hearts - including mine. there was this one dog... he was seriously the sweetest thing i´ve ever seen (except you, scout, you know you´re the only girl for me!). he was very mellow but a face-licker which gets me every time. unfortunately, he didnt try to follow me home.

we ate lunch at a super fancy restaurant in the hills. they made me a special salad without the cheese (delicious) and a plate of grilled marinated veggies (even delicious-er), and everyone else complained that there was too much fat in their steak.

next time: córdoba, el velodromo, and concluding thoughts on haruki murakami´s the wind-up bird chronicle

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

in case you were in suspense, i did not get a job as a messenger here. im only in town for 6 weeks and i speak very little spanish. plus there are only 20 messengers in this town, so even if i was better qualified, the likelihood of there being an opening would be low.

so back to... where was i, sunday?
in the morning i walked to school to use the computers, but it was closed, so i walked back. i spent about 5 hours reading, and then went down to lavapiés to meet up with juan.
juan is a messenger here that i met while he was living in new york for three months and working there. he was following me during the haloween alleycat and we started talking. fast forward 8 months and im living in his city. given that the only other people i know here are nyu students, and im not going to learn to speak spanish by hanging out with them, it seemed like a good idea to get in touch.
i met him at his house, where, not for the first time, i had to explain that i dont drink without looking like i was refusing an offer to hang out. we sat on his deck and i drank pineapple juice while he drank beer and smoked cigarettes. you know that part of hanging out with a relatively new friend when you dont really know what to talk about? well its even harder in spanish. but i managed to deal with it. after a while we went with his girlfriend to a falafel shop so i could eat, and then to a bar where i had another pineapple juice and he had more beers.
i asked him to accompany me to the welding shop the next day to translate, and not only did he say yes but he lent me his spare bike to use in the meantime. it felt good to ride again.
monday was the first day of class. its long - 4 hours - but not that difficult. so far we have just been reviewing, but i already feel like my spanish is better than a good portion of the class, so i dont expect to struggle. plus, no one else (to my knowledge) has a madrileño friend to practice with. at least not yet.
after class i wrote my last entry, but had to leave in a hurry to meet juan at work.

after leaving his work, we biked back to my place to get my bike. we went to the welder, who said that his son, the one who did the welding, wouldnt be back until later or possibly tomorrow. he also said it would probable cost 15€. we went to a bar. more pineapple juice and beer. we nerded out about bike parts. ah, the universal language of bike nerddom! he knows a guy that is selling some old italian stuff and might have some cheap cinelli track drops for me. it then occurred to me that i could buy a regular seat collar from the bike shop and use that to keep my seatpost in place until i took care of the welding. that solution was perfectly serviceable and cheaper. plus i didnt have to wait.

we rode to a neighborhood in central madrid where are the young people hang out (up until now i had been wondering where the nikes where hiding). we found an italian place that would make pizza without cheese, and sat in a plaza eating and drinking... pineapple juice and beer. i swear the guy drinks like 15 beers a day - yesterday he drank about 7 over the course of about 5 hours) - and never gets even the slightest bit drunk.

i biked home, which felt fucking great, and finished what is the what. after an hour or so of feeling nihilistic and hopeless (the picture that eggars paints of humanity and civilization is not a positive one), i ate some food, took a shower, clipped my toenails and flossed. i sat back down at my desk wearing a bathrobe and realized that even though nothing matters and all of life is suffering, its not really so bad. then i did my spanish homework.

after class today, i walked with an nyu kid to a retrospective of the photographer sebastiao salgado´s work in africa, which, coincidentally, included a lot of photos of the dinka tribe, a member of which is the main character in what is the what. my mind is still spinning with questions about eurocentrism, paternalism/cultural relativism, and human "rights". im also very new at trying to appreciate visual arts, and im not yet very good at appreciating or criticizing documentary photography. if i have any great epiphanies later today, ill be sure to let you know.

in two hours i have to meet nyu for a mandatory visit to the prado. i think that until then ill sit on the patio and read.

Monday, June 4, 2007

it appears that computer access will be somewhat sporadic in the coming months. the nyu computer lab closes early and is closed all day sunday, and ill be damned if im going to pay to write in this thing. thursday evening we had a walking tour of madrid, and afterward i ended up at a cafe with my new roommate, inti, and two other nyu kids. they had beers, i just sat. like most nyu kids ive ever met, most of the 66 kids in my program want to spend their time here "partying", think that being vegan is insane, are pre-med or business majors or are liberals majoring in humanities, and dont know anything about any of my interests or hobbies. that being said, they are mostly decent, reasonably intelligent people that i think i will enjoy taking classes with. this is an exercise in diplomacy for me, and so far i think ive done pretty well at not being an elitist prick.

on friday, we had orientation. it involved fewer ice-breakers than i expected (there were none). its kind of a blur by now. in the evening, we had a tour of the old stuff in madrid, which was quite interesting. i wish i had taken history classes, because it turns out that its something in which i am very interested. i guess ill just have to read actual books after i finish school. after the tour, i went to a turkish place and had this thing that they called a vegetarian pizza. it was sort of like a falafel burrito and was the first real meal id eaten, not counting the beans and rice that ive been cooking for myself.

the book stores here close really early, and on thursday and friday i was finished late enough with nyu activities that i didnt make it. i spend a couple of hours friday night working on a letter, and went to bed early.

on saturday, we had a day trip to segovia. segovia is fucking gorgeous, as are the castle and cathedral contained therein. more tours, more hanging out with nyu kids, and more allergies. for lunch, i split off from the group, because just about everyone wanted to eat the traditional segovian suckling pig at really expensive restaurants. i found a bar and got a lettuce, tomato, and asparagus sandwhich which tasted like nothing. the girl working at the bar was cute, but i didnt feel up to the challenge of flirting in spanish, so i started wandering to kill time until we were suppose to meet back up. i ran into another nyu kid who told me that there was a modern art museum nearby, so i checked it out. i still dont really get art, but some of it was cool, especially a piece which consisted of little kids´ stickers arranged to form letters which spelled "i love making cutting edge art". har har. after the museum i decided that i might as well brush up on my spanish, plus you only live once, so i went back to the bar, this time with another kid, to get some juice and talk to the waitress. i understood about 75% of what she said, including that she was from valencia but spending her summer in segovia, where there is nothing to do but hang out and drink (shocking), that valencia has beautiful beaches that i should check out if i have a chance, and that my spanish is good enough, albeit barely so, to have a conversation with a stranger, crack a couple of jokes, and give her my number. she blushed, but i dont expect a call, given that segovia is over an hour away from madrid.

we got back to madrid just in time to buy some books. the selection of books in english is rather small and they arent cheap. i bought 4 books for about $70: what is the what, by dave eggars; love in the time of cholera; something by margaret atwood (someone suggested that i read her books but i dont know anything else about her), and the windup bird chronicles by haruki murakami (im sure i just butchered the spelling of his name). i figured that with so much free time and so few distractions, i would be able to break into the classic literature that ive skipped over and dont have the attention span to read when there are alternatives, but gabriel garcia marquez was pretty much the only author i could find. they also had dostoyevsky, but not the brotheres karamozov, which is the one i wanted to read.

more beans and rice for dinner.

i need to go meet juan at his job and see if they have a position for an experienced messenger who does not know the city, speaks poor spanish, and is only free monday-thursday after 1:30. it seems unlikely, but this place is more expensive than i expected, so i could use the extra money. the rest of the weekend and day one of class later.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

a little before noon (your time) on tuesday, i hopped on my bike, carrying nothing but a backpack full of clothing and an ipod. as it turns out, clothing + ipod + random odds and ends = a relatively heavy backpack. im not talking copy-box-heavy, just kind of heavy for a 20-mile ride (ben, if you are reading this, which you probably arent because you dont have a livejournal, you are goddamn crazy to plan on riding across country without paniers because a 20lb bag starts to feel like 100lbs after about an hour of riding). after getting confused in rock creek park, back-tracking a ways, walking my bike up tilden and then riding the rest of the way to reagan national, my back hurt but i felt good. i figured that if i was going to be in an airplane for the next forever or so, a bike ride there wouldnt kill me. then things started to go wrong, as they often due for people whose attitudes about travel are as lax as mine tends to be. normally, i hate being rude to people in the service industry, but when the baggage people told me that i couldnt bring my bike on the plane without a box (which the website specifically said i could do, so long as the pedals were removed and the handlebars turned sideways), i had to make a bit of a fuss, and eventually they relented.

i enjoyed stranger than fiction, wrote a little, and slept.

at a little after 7am (my time), i got off the plane in madrid barajas, and began wandering around the airport looking for the metro. the next thing that went wrong was that i was told i could only bring my bike on the metro on weekends and holidays. ill be damned if was going to shell out for a taxi, so i started riding. i ended up on a highway where bikes were clearly not allowed, so i asked directions at a gas station. several gas stations later, i was on the main road towards town. i noticed that when i put my seat post back in after lending my bike to alexia it was still a little low, so i stopped and adjusted it. upon tightening the seat collar, it snapped. i spent the next couple of hours getting lost in a foreign city with no map (the streetwise madrid map that i bought at borders turned out to be useless because it only included the touristy downtown area) with the seat on my bike all of the way down, killing my knees, and a now even heavier backpack. but the weather was damn nice, so i wasnt too bummed.

then the atm wouldnt let me take out any more money. i called the bank less than a week ago to tell them that i would be in europe, and they still fucking cut off my account after i withdrew 20 euro for food. oh yeah, and i was supposed to give my landlord cash upon arrival. luckily, she was very friendly and didnt mind waiting until i straighened things out to get the money. i did the following things that day: bike (uncomfortably) to where there was supposed to be a bank of america a few miles away (there wasnt), bike another few miles to where the guy at the first wrong location said there was one (there wasnt), bike back toward my new place, take a detour to find a bike shop i was told about (coulnt find it), bought food (shitty selection but dirt cheap prices), nap for 3 hours, read the stranger cover to cover (looking back, i should have brought something else to read, but it was the only thing i had with me), eat, take the metro downtown, wander around, and pay 2.50 for a fucking soda so that id have an excuse to sit at a table outdoors at 12:30am.

now im at the computer lab at nyu. no one is here because the program coordinators are at the airport picking up the people that are arriving today.

to do:
-find bike shop
-borrow american cell phone and call bank of america, probably be rude to service worker again
-eat something
-find bookstore that sells american books and purchase new dave eggars novelç

-ive only been asked to repeat myself once and the only person that has offered to speak english to me was the woman at nyu. my spanish must be pretty ok. nevermind that i only understand about 1/3-1/2 of what they say to me.
-nice weather
-nuria is really nice and i think she´s funny, although its always hard to tell in a foreign language.
-no jet lag

Sunday, April 15, 2007

so we hung out at josh's place for a while, waiting for sasha and violet to get back, because they had left bags there when they went somewhere else for the weekend. eventually they showed up, we hung out some more, and then we decided to go eat at some jewish pizza place that is apparently amazing. unfortunately, it was close. and so were the next 4 places we went. seriously. so after about 3 hours and maybe 6 different busses, we found a place that was open, and had the most amazing pizza, pasta, and bruschetta ive ever had. italian tomatoes make american tomatoes taste like cardboard, and the fresh local olive oil was incredible. i had a pizza and split bruschetta with josh, for about 7 euro, which is less than $9, and you dont need to tip here. during the 3-hour oddessey, we happaned across such landmarks as the forum and cat sanctuary. we didnt stop because we were hungry and on a mission, but it was kind of neat to be walking around in a city that is sort of like new york meets southern california, only the cars are smaller and people speak italian, and to run across famous old stuff as though it doesnt mean anything. probably because josh and evelyn are basically the same as the people i hang out with at home, and because sasha and violet are the people i hang out with at home, and because we were searching for vegan food at 9pm, it didnt really feel like i was traveling europe so much as just hanging out. but hanging out - oh wait - near the forum, which is like, a bajillion years old and people fly from all over the world just to look at it. after dinner we came back to josh's and watched second season friends dvds from midnight until 6 when everyone fell asleep.

we woke up at about 3, which infuriated cindy when i told her (her point is that i spent 1/4 of a day, which is 1/12 of my time in rome, watching friends, and then slept in too late to go sight-seeing, and shes not so wrong, but as i explained, it was bonding time with my new friends). i went with josh and evelyn to the print shop where he makes to kill merch and then we drove to central rome to get more food. for 1.4 euro, we got these delicious fried chick pea patties on rolls which were delicious and filling and fucking cheap. then we got soy gelato, which we also did the night before after dinner, though i forgot to mention it. then josh dropped me off at piazza di popoli where i met cindy. we walked to the spanish steps, then in the general direction of the trevi fountain. cindy got confused, and had to look at a map, which she was embarassed about, and then asked for directions. it turned out that we were about 2 blocks away. on the way there, we stopped at a stand where i bought two scarves for 5 euro each, and at this place called zara's, which is like a higher quality, sweatshop free h&m thats all over italy. i didnt buy anything, but if i needed nice looking jackets or clothing to wear when i dress up i might have. then we took a bus back to her neighborhood, got indian food with her friend sarah, and hung out at the bus stop until my bus came. taking the bus back involved transfering, and in rome, there is no indication of which stop you are at, so i had to keep watching the signs outside until i thought i was at the right place. i wasnt. more wandering. then i caught another bus back to josh's, where we ate more pasta and watched more friends. this time, however, until 4, which is a slightly more reasonable hour for bed.

this morning i got up around 1. we hung out at home for a while, then drove into central rome for food. we made it to the jewish pizza place that we tried to go to the day before, which was open this time. and delicious. after lunch, i walked to the coliseum to meet cindy. we walked around outside of the coliseum, which i was too cheap to pay 10 euro to go inside, and then attempted to go into the forum which is free, but closed. i need to work on this whole leaving-the-house-at-3pm thing. but hey, when in rome... we ended up just walking around some more in vatican city, buying dior knock-off glasses for 5 euro, getting food, sitting in a cafe (where cindy had espresso and i didnt get anything), and talking for a few hours. then we hung out at the bus stop for a while, and eventually i actually got on the bus. it was really nice just to hang out with her and talk. then i fucked up transfering busses again, and wandered around. when i got back to josh's we had some food and threw friends on the tv. after a while, we broke out the tattoo machine. josh's friend has a machine that he left with josh, so josh has been doing some tattoos on himself. we decided to do tattoos of each others' bands. he did an attrition lyric on his knee and i got "mosh to kill" on my ankle in cursive (his band is called to kill, and mosh to kill is what they put on their shirts). it turns out that i am as shitty a tattoo artist as i always assumed i would be, because i have a very unsteady hand. my tattoo looks terrible, but whatever, its only permanent. then josh did "god free" on her ankle with an upside down cross in the middle. now we are watching more friends, and i have to leave in 4 hours to catch my plane. that is, if the strike at fiumicino airport is over. see you soon... maybe? or maybe ill be staying on josh's flood for another few days, doing more shitty tattoos on myself. well, maybe that would be a lousy idea. anyway, here are some pictures. sorry, i dont remember how to do an lj-cut without using the client that i use at home, so they are going to just have to take up space all over your friends page. ok, nevermind, i just realized that id have to import the pictures and then re-save them in a smaller file size and that would take forever and i dont feel like doing it. ill put some on my myspace, and leave the tattoo pics for when i get home.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

i got to the airport 2 and a half hours before my flight. i didnt have to wait in any lines, so i just sat around at the terminal for 2 hours. this happens everytime i fly: i show up really early to be on the safe side and get through security in like 5 minutes. its not that i dont believe that sometimes you really have to wait that long, its just that i never seem to need to. so the flight was boring. i slept most of the way, and ate the food i brought because i hadnt ordered vegan food ahead of time. i got to fiumicino outside of rome and wandered around the airport trying to find the train station (note: wandering will be a continual theme here). everyone at the airport probably spoke english, but i hate feeling like a tourist so i tried to avoid talking to people as much as possible. i figure that if i act confident enough, people will assume im a local (especially since ive been told that i look italian). eventually i found the train to termini station, where i did some more wandering. 45 minutes later, i was on the 36 bus to piazza sempione. then more wandering. josh told me to call him when i got to the bus station near his house, but i couldnt find a phone. once you get that far out of central rome, people dont speak english, and all i know in italian is please and thank you. i found a public phone but i couldnt figure out how to use it, so i asked a cab driver for directions, and sort of understood his response. then i wandered some more. i looked up "how do i get to" in a phrase book, but despite the fact that josh says my pronounciation is good no one that i asked seemed to know what the hell i was asking. it turns out that his street is really small and no one knew about it. eventually, however, i found josh's apartment. so that takes care of the first 5 hours i spent in rome. all in all, wandering around in rome when its 65 degrees is not a bad way to spend the afternoon. im sick of typing, so im going to go eat (which is apparently all romans do) and watch friends with evelyn, josh's girlfriend (which is apparently all josh and evelyn do). ciao.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

this morning, in the minutes before waking up, i was dreaming. i dont remember what i dreamt before i started to wake up, but i remember that as i started to wake up, i was still dreaming. in the brief moments in between beginning to wake up and being fully awake, i thought i was waking up somewhere else. i forgot where i was, and my first thought upon becoming conscious was that i was in my bed in my parents' house. i could feel the sun hitting the side of my face the way it always did coming from my window, and i could see the reflection of it on the polished hardwood floors. i smiled and started to open my eyes. then i became confused. i didnt know where i was, but something didnt sound right. then it all came back at once: new york, college, growing up, living in bushwick, the thesis that im working on. my smile fell. for a brief instant, still not entirely awake and aware, i felt heartbroken. then i work up the rest of the way and resumed my real life. the feeling of heartbreak is just a memory, having been replaced by a dull melancholy, an existential funk.

this has happened so many times since i left home for the first time. its not quite a dream, but im not quite awake, either. its somewhere in between. its like living in a memory.

in that moment that im waking up in my old bed, all of the problems, stresses, and doubts are gone. its saturday morning, and im looking forward to the day. but its not saturday and they arent gone. its monday, thursday, sunday, or even saturday, but not the one that i think it is. and they arent gone, just hiding. its not even a real memory, my life was never that simple. its revisionist history to think that there was a time of innocence before i started to have real problems. its always been something. but that is the feeling of home. comfort, safety, familiarity. i miss it and im not sure if ive ever even felt it. i mean, i know ive felt it, for moments, maybe even periods of time long enough to be aware of it, but there was never a part of my life that was always like that. ive been trying so hard to find it for so long. ive looked in other cities, in music, in other people. and ive touched it in all of those things. there have been moments when i was singing or playing drums, biking around manhattan, or waking up next to someone. but they fade.

when i woke up this morning i just wanted to go home. to my parent's house. i wanted to fall asleep in that bed like i used to, and to wake up knowing that id spend the whole day with people that i cared about. but i cant. even if i go home to visit, the people that made that place feel like home are in connecticut, new york, oregon... they've grown and changed and so have i. sometimes i wonder if i still need them like i used to. or, i wonder if i still need the same thing, but they arent it anymore.

Friday, January 12, 2007

so we picked up a hitchhiker. he was probably in his mid 50's. i think he just goes from town to town working at bars until he feels like moving on, like a christian jack kerouac thats not as smart. after we dropped him off, we saw a beagle on the side of I-65 outside of decatur, alabama. we turned around and pulled over, and three of us got out of the van and tried to go get it. it took us about 15 minutes to get close enough to touch her, because she kept barking and running a few feet back whenever we got within 50 feet. finally she lay down and let me go up to her and pet her. we carried her back into the van and started driving again. she had a collar with the name "gulley" and a phone number, so we called. it turned out that she was a run-away hunting dog and they didnt even seem to care, so we decided to call them back and tell them that she escaped when we pulled over. we felt vindicated when the owner said that she didnt care because they got a good year of hunting out of her and they were probably going to just let her loose anyway.
we drove the rest of the way to nashville, but we werent able to get on the show, so we hung out at danny's friend's house and made buttons out of random things we cut out of magazines. then we drove to bowling green to stay with nathan's friend. i like to town there; it has a cute town square and an organic fair trade coffee shop with delicious soy chai latte.
on to lexington. dirty punk house, rad kids. the kids there are sort of like hardcore kids that found crimethinc. or something, but totally legit. we played a rad show at an infoshop to a small but very appreciative audience, and then drove to louisville.
we built a fire and stayed up late playing uno and "never have i ever". the next day ben and i checked out the local skatepark and it was totally awesome. it was a free outdoor concrete park with lights at night. we both wanted to go back after the show, but it rained.
the show was ok, i liked the space and there were a few really cool kids there, including the ones that we stayed with.
we also got into a fight, which was about the most fun id had in years. this mall-metalcore band that played was drunk and acting shitty, and lee put a kingdom sticker on the back of one of their cabs when the house lights went out so they could do their light show. later on when we were packing up, one of them told davin that the person who did it had to come outside and apologize for being disrespectful or they were going to fight us. i mean, of all of the reasons to get mad at a show, a fuckign sticker. they peeled it off and it didnt leave a mark. shit, attrition and kingdom have done way worse to each other just about every night. i went outside with a big group kids and saw the singer of their band in a shouting match with ben. the details arent important, but it ended with ben telling him to go home, him telling ben to make him, and ben saying ok and laying him out with one punch. he could have said it to just about anybody else (if he told me, i would have walked away), but he picked the wrong guy. then everyone jumped on everyone else... it wasnt a big fight and it was over quickly. no one really got hurt. it was just plain fun, like a brawl in a saloon. i think we're going to put a sticker on the dudes car on the way out of town.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

after gainesville we played pensacola at this club called sluggos, which is a bar/vegan restaurant/hardcore club, and we had rad $1 burritos. the local band that we played with was a bunch of kids that recently moved from the dominican republic and played amazing fast angry punk. they threw tortillas at the crowd and talked about the way that multinational corporations have a monopoly on the world's supply of food and about the drug war. that night we stayed with our new friend ryan, who is totally awesome. hes an older vegan straightedge dude that apparently used to live in richmond and we played an epic 4-hour game of uno.
baton rouge sucked. some kid said that we were gay because we talked too much, which pretty much characterizes the experience.
we drove to new orleans to stay the night, where we played scrabble, watched hgtv, and stayed up late telling ghost stories and talking like a middle school sleepover party. the last of us to go to sleep were mikey, davin, shiela (kingdom's roadie with a wicked new england accent) and me, around 6:30am. the bands had some much needed bonding time together. i feel like if you go on tour with a band and dont become good friends with them by the end, you've done something wrong.
the next day we spent 4 hours trying to eat and it was really irritating. we walked miles down the road that we were staying on trying to find a place to get vegan po boys but everything was closed, so we drove downtown. we parked on burbon street next to about 30 topless bars and wandered around into the french quarter where, around 4:30pm, we found a middle eastern place with mediocre falafel.
the new orleans show was rad; we played at a collective art/punk space and ate the most amazing vegan chocolate cake (thanks jen!) and vegan gumbo, which i've never had before. the last band, we need to talk, was badass. also, this guy called jesse camp who i apparently should have recognize was there heckling, drinking, and loved our band. he was visiting from new york and promised to come to the show at my house in brooklyn. we took a group shot with all of the bands and jesse.
that night we stayed at the same house and again stayed up late talking about anarchist politics and sexism in the hardcore scene.
on an hour of sleep, i woke up at 6:30 to drive 9 hours to nashville, which was the first drive that really felt like being on tour, because we were in the van so long that i stopped caring.

in my next entry: attrition picks up a hitchhiker and steals a beagle. to be continued...

Friday, January 5, 2007

charlotte, charleston, daytona, gainesville. we've only played one show since i last wrote, but we've been skipping from town to town. nothing interesting to write about. just hanging out, seeing old friends, eating vegan pizza on the beach, and driving. this tour has been much slower than last one, with more time to hang out and more asking the question, "so what do you guys want to do?", which we didnt really have time to do last time. the frenzied pace combined with the newness of it all made for an experience that was too much for me to keep up with, but this time it feels different.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

so its day 4, our first day off. like last time, i had pretty low expectations about a lot of these shows, and each time ive been completely wrong. we were 4 hours late leaving for richmond, but it turned out that the permanent, army of fun, how we are, blacklisted show that we wanted to go to started late and the first band was going on right when we got there. lee and i watched the first band, the name of which i cant remember, and permanent, while the rest of the dudes made themselves sick eating at panda veg. then we got a call that we were wanted at the house where we were playing. 4 hours later, it was finally time to play in a beer and mud soaked basement. my shoes and drum rug will never look/smell the same. still, we played pretty well, and people were into it. we got some donations from the door and sold a few things, so we still had enough to pay for gas. house show in greensboro on new years: rad younger vegan straightedge kids played political hardcore, lots of root beer, and the first new years that i actually enjoyed in a long while. charlotte suprised the hell out of me, because we were expecting the house show to be full of conservative hardcore kids, but it turns out that people were really into what we had to say, picked up a lot of zines from our distro, bought merch, and actually moved around for our set. also, it was the first show in a big enough space that people were really moving around for kingdom, and i had a great time.
we were worried about having to pay for gas out of pocket to get down to daytona because we were only playing 2 free shows on the way down and had 2 shows cancelled, but it turns out that we are doing really well.
there is something relaxing and theraputic about sleeping in the back of a moving van. the motion of the van calms me, and the knowledge that with each second im putting more distance between myself and the last place i was is meditative.
unfortunately, i still have a thesis hanging over my head, and reading that i should be doing. man do i not want to worry about that shit. i want to stay on tour. i wonder, however, if i will eventually catch up with myself, because as fun as this is, i think part of the allure is that everything changes so fast that i dont have time to feel stagnant and bored. as quick fixes go, this one is pretty rad.