Lately, new forces are dominating my down-time. Things I haven't yet been able to control. For the moment, I hope, a thickening social itinerary and television have outpaced quietude and inspiration. I barely have time to look at my cats, or get them drunk and steal their best ideas. I've become so restless, so busy that I often have to split a single act of masturbation in two separate sessions. (sometimes three.)
I've been catching video burn between reading some really unsatisfying fiction. (damn you, eggers! why am i so quick to drink your kool-aid when the tin drum continues to haunt me from my book shelves, bullied and wedged between robert mckee's story and chicken soup for incurable racists?) Then I turn to my TV, and it shows me 24 and , Julien, Donkey-Boy and How High. Rare TV has even made its way into my home. The Conan O'Brien/Robert Smigel pilot for "Lookwell" (starring adam west); The Gong Show Movie (yes, movie); the Werner Herzog documentary concerning my favorite late-night evangelist/lunatic, Dr. Gene Scott. I like to be shown things. I'm not complaining.
Today I decided, by any means necessary, this would all change. I watched a segment of "The Other Half", a morning show starring a panel of men, but still very clearly for pill-popping, stretch-pantsing, unemployed women. I was led to this segment via a link on cockybastard.com, a site I promised God I would never stop reading, for reasons strictly between us. In the segment, people with long hair were getting it DRASTICALLY cut.
Like many things on morning television, the segment really went nowhere but here's what surprised me. If you were to watch this segment - or any segment on "The Other Half" - without sound, you would lose none of its meaning. Isn't that odd? I mean, it's ostensibly a talk show. But I had it muted for nearly the entire video and I followed it just fine.
In fact, when I did put the volume back on, it only became more confusing. Listening to the banter of the hosts - Dick Clark, the Partridge Family drug addict with a classic rock DJ voice, that dude who kept calling the other dude "preppy" on "Saved by the Bell", and some quiet guy with muscles who is probably supposed to make the audience think about fucking - was sincerely no different than listen to caged lab monkeys shriek. The hosts were prancing around the stage, swinging around the recently cut hair locks of their special guests, and only occasionally forming actual phrases. Sometimes you'd catch snatches of subjects and/or verbs, like "Look at me!" or "That' something else!" or "He's a live one!!" or "Just like Dachau!!" But mostly it was just a series of unfinished interjections, gutteral sounds, and intense sonic noise designed to move the show along. The producers probably have a rule hanging in the conference room on a plaque or carved into some polished granite, and placed on the desk: SILENCE MEANS DEATH. One of the interns (a Wellesley graduate?), would love to point out the ironic similarity to the AIDS activism slogan, but she keeps quiet and tries not to flinch when Dick Clark throws open packets of half-and-half at her head. In six months she'll turn her back on this horror show forever, and be well on her way to infiltrating the entertainment industry's power structure, producing shows of her own. Shows with SMART women talking about IMPORTANT things. Her only rule, on a future slab of granite she only imagines today: "FUCK THOSE 'RULES' BITCHES." She'll create something powerful and unique. A SPONTANEOUS, UNREHEARSED talk show? What about it? Guests being real! All! The! Time! Why hasn't anyone thought of that, she wonders as a packet of Equal hits her on the cheek, and sprays its contents across the bridge of her nose.
But I digress. I'm polishing my own clean granite slab, sending it to the engraver, so I can worship my own rule: LESS LIQUOR, MORE PROTEIN. LESS DIGITAL, MORE ANALOG. LESS ANGRY, MORE SEXY. It's going to be a big, heavy stone.