Faking the Voice

I’m not very special, but I hope to be one day.

Hunter S. Thompson was special. Ian McKellen is special. People that devote a lifetime to their work (and even lose that life for it) are amazing individuals. They deserve to be noticed, heard, and even praised. What have I done? I write in a blog seen by, tops, a thousand people. I write stories people don’t see. Does this make me amazing? Hardly. Should I ever take it as far as I’d like, perhaps. But that’s quite a long way off.

It’s that sort of knowledge that I hope to see out of the actors I meet, the dancers, musicians… there’s no denying they are talented… sometimes. Just because they’re in a play doesn’t make them a Broadway-worthy name. There are a lot of very gifted people there, though, and I respect them. Not all of them are egotistical, it’s only just enough to make you cringe.

You want to chase a dream, and that’s wonderful! Give everything you’ve got and run for it. But it’s not cute even in the greatest of stars to be a total dick, no matter what kind of draw you have. So when it’s a kid in an acting class sauntering up and treating everyone around them like an abused dog, there’s no way to take them seriously.

For real, bro.

There are others I’ve met in various situations (I hang out at coffee shops, where everyone is a future artist/writer) that seem to take on their air of importance before anyone even knows they exist. Do I know talented writers with aspirations? Oh, yes, and many other kinds of artists. They’re wonderful people with amazing works that ought to be seen. Then there are the others, the ones that magically haven’t written a word or painted one canvas, but damn it, that’s part of the process. You just don’t get it, man. Don’t tell me nobody gets it. Even serial killers will have some crazy guy “get” them. No, I get it. You need an excuse to wear a cool hat and smoke while brooding without ever holding down a job. HOW YOU GET SO COOL BRO?

Also, poets. Dear god, poets. Some are truly master wordsmiths. Some… look, I’ll reproduce your work right now.

She looked upon my suffering, unending and pure

I gazed into her empty soul

There was a moment of utter void until, I demurred 

“Did you replace the toilet paper roll?”

Now I’m a fuckin’ poet! Suck it, Robert Frost. Emily Dickenson. E. E. Cummings fuck it, I’ll say the Vogons, because the ones up there were actually good.

To my friends that neglect normalcy, forgo lives, stay up all night working on that piece or that put themselves on the line for a craft, good for you. Again– I stress this. There are millions of beautifully talented people out there, and I’m so glad to know many. Hell, there are folks I know where I just don’t get their work, but it’s theirs, and I respect that. It’s those bastards that don’t do a anything at all who ruin it for the rest of us legitimately trying to be heard. You’re faking it for an image you don’t even deserve, one that people don’t even like too much.

I want to believe that the truly talented will someday be noticed for what they are and worked for. It’s a nice idea, but with so many in existence it is even harder to be seen waving your arms above the crowd. It takes a true dedication to your work, and utter belief in yourself that you can get there.

To that dude three tables away from me at Starbucks rambling on about that screenplay he’ll totally write (if you’d send me some cash, ma, c’mon! I’m an artist!)  I kindly refer you to this bag of dicks you can enjoy eating.

I made this handy image on my phone, if you didn't know what a bag of dicks looks like.


I am a failure and I don’t finish stuff, yeah!

"But how many times can you really be tricked by ladyboy before it's gay?"

So, I have the short story completed… in writing, in a notebook. Work has held me off from actually making sense of my scribblings (I’m sure I can post it up as-is, but that would be… concerning. Most margins contain doodles of dicks with hats) and I’m still stuck on some article stuff for the magazine. So what I’m saying here is that fuck you, I will get back to that thing later. I didn’t mean that fuck you. I really like you.

In the meantime, here are some random photographs, punctuated with odd things I heard at work recently. There’s no end to weird crap to be overheard backstage, especially when dancers are involved. For example: There is an interpretive dance about the plight of sex-slave children. … Yeah. That.

So! Have some pictures.

"I'm kinda sad today. I feel like my dancing isn't... heavy. Y'know?"

"I need to really feel like you're owned by that pimp. Make me feel it."

"Someone left poop paper in the bathroom."

"Everyone is walking around like it's 'Free Anal Rape' day. See? That guy? He's walking funny too. What the hell?"

It also occurs to me to tell you about the homeless, urine-soaked man with the twitch that was at my bus stop today. Upon my arrival, he started cackling and (presumably) adding to his urine aroma. I didn’t really want to deal with that so early in the morning, but I doubt he wanted to deal with himself either. Sadly, this bus runs every forty minutes, and I had just missed the last one. He’s taking up the whole bench– which is fine, I didn’t want to sit next to the guy anyway. He flailed a lot, and it’s a rude day when you’re slapped by big hands that have been playing in pee.

So UrineMan starts to stare. I don’t think he’s so much staring at me as he is through my very bowels, because his gaze was centered somewhere around my small intestine. He started digging in his bag, which I was terrified contained the last public transportation victim of the day, but no. It contained, of all things, a pack of pornographic playing cards. Alright, I can deal with that. A guy needs to see some boob in the morning. I do every day for free, so why can’t he? Thankfully, the bus arrived shortly thereafter, because I didn’t really want to witness his intent with those… especially since he resumed staring at my digestive system. The combination of pornography and my poop area wasn’t something I wanted to entertain at 7:30am. Actually, I usually don’t at any given time if it also involves urine and men with muscle spasms.

It dawned on me while I was entering the bus to work… no matter where I am, at what time, or for whatever reason… there will always be someone nearby ready to excrete on me. And that just plain makes me feel special.

Part two of four.

I managed to stumble into another drove of those protesting kids. I got their ideas, their ideals, and their complaints. Sort of. It made sense to me that yeah, we’re being fucked. I get it. But these kids, they survives 9/11, recessions, daddy’s trust fund imploding, media and social barrages and utter failure of the system just so they can stand up against a monster they have no business fighting. They keep taking, and if you don’t give to ‘em, they fight you and expect nothing less than utter support.
This city was full of trash, though. The ground ran slick with despair. Garbage mixed with oil and mud seeped from every alley, maybe even the blood of some unfortunate. It was all here, and I figured I was ready for it. My smaller town didn’t compare, even though we had our own problems.

There was a glimmer of something I had never experienced here, something I couldn’t quite put a finger on. I could almost sense desperation, but that wasn’t right either. These kids gave me a muddled view of it all, and I was trying to extract myself as carefully as I could. I could write ballads about their faked misfortunes.
I had my own problems to deal with. Of course, every homeless shelter was packed with these guys. It didn’t make sense to me– they had homes, parents, probably even cozy apartments. I guess if you’re gonna fight, you have to play the part. By now I had found a little job sweeping up some animal shelter, full of the real victims of society. They couldn’t do anything for the situation they were in at all, and that to me was more tragic than a kid with an iPod wanting more cash.

I was told by some folks not to go out at night alone, especially looking like I do. But, as always, the night screamed at me. I couldn’t resist experiencing such horror and solitude, and I heard the darkness beckoning to me… as always, I fell for it. I was telling my own story to myself on this journey, so I never turned down a chance to throw in some excitement.

I liked to walk alone at night, really. People would usually see a guy like me wandering along and just leave me be. If I was brave enough to do it, I was obviously that which they feared. Worked out in my favor. Sure, some rat-faced bastards tried to prove themselves on me, but I’m no fighter. I’m just in it for the ride.
So, sometime after midnight I heard this girl. She was laughing like a hyena at this late-night cafe place, surrounded by a group of apes in polo shirts. I stopped and watched her for a while– overdone in every way, including her emotions– and wondered what she thought of herself. Did she know she was a fake? Does she even give a damn? After one of the thick-necked jackoffs saw me, I kept walking. If there’s anything to incite a riot in a group of guys like that, it’s glancing at the goods. She’d be railed by no less than three of them by the end of the night, I could guarantee it.

This is where things went a little haywire. I was kind of hoping to just turn around and go back to my filthy little cot next to the fat guy with a drinking problem, but nah. They closed up doors  at one am, and I didn’t think I’d make it back in time. Especially after the black kid with a gun shoved me deep into the recesses of an alleyway, about to make my walk go from a surreal daydream to a nightmare.

My own challenge, part one.

I’ve decided to challenge myself to write a short story, over the course of a few days, to see how well I can wrap it up. Figured it wouldn’t hurt to toss it on here, for the hell of it. Hope it doesn’t suck.

Many years back, when I was a bit younger, I found myself in a strange position. I could go on as usual men did at the time– find a decent job, a more decent wife, and live in the American dream.  Or I could do what I had always wanted… what that was, I hadn’t quite figured out yet. That never mattered to me, though. I just knew my ideas were not that of my fellow man. So while most guys were busy in their early years chasing tail and hunting for the good old dollar, but I spent mine dreaming. I dreamed of a life that I couldn’t even fully imagine, one where I was king of my own destiny. This is how it began and ended, and why I think you need to know.I supposed that now is a good time to note that I not only found this strange life, but is well beyond anything anyone could have expected at all.
There was no great hurrah surrounding it all. I just woke up one day and decided, oh, this is the idea… I get it now. So I left the girl I had promised to marry one day, (she ought to have known better, to be honest) ditched the petty job and shitty apartment. I took off down the road with little more than a pack of smokes and some cash I had saved by not bothering with the expenses most guys craved– loose girls, heavy drugs and expensive liquor. There was plenty of time for that sort of thing later on, I figured, well after I had the rest all sorted out. I never really did get it sorted out, but who cares.

It’s not romantic to wander off as a vagabond, despite what the books tell you. It’s dirty and cruel, rendering you no more than a hobo with a selfish cause. People will look further down on you than you ever thought possible, I found. You’re below most street urchins– at least they got there by some sad circumstance. Tell a guy you need a buck because you’re on a journey and well… doesn’t go over quite as smoothly. They whisper that you’re a nutbag, and possibly rightfully so.

I hadn’t been out tripping balls on the high of escapism for long when I met Paul, this fucked up kid that was wandering the country for kicks too. He had other plans, though, big ones that would never work out. Paul said he was out to screw the government, trying to put it back in the hands of the people. “I’m out to save the world from themselves,” he’d scream. “The American people don’t have a clue what’s going on around them, and I wanna change that.” When he offered to travel with me, I declined. I didn’t need that kind of rhetoric blinding my own tasks ahead of me. Last I saw of him he had donned a ski mask and was probably about to get shot. Kids and Utopian dreams are a ruinous mix.

I had passed over the state line when I got my first whiff of law enforcement. Some fat cop with a grudge decided I would be a good choice for his ego to smack around, so right into a cell I went for loitering. The pigs took my smokes and what little cash I had left, leaving me unable to make so much as a phone call. I didn’t expect much from these guys, so I shut my mouth and waited a couple of days until they gave up and let me go. I had to hitch a ride to a bigger town to find some side work, since they had basically robbed me blind. Can’t win against the cops, though. At least they didn’t beat me senseless. That came much later, and it wasn’t the law doing the roughing.

So here I was, shoveling shit for some pocket change. Nothing special, just cleaning up around a restaurant for some old weirdo with a strange, almost sentient hairpiece. I swear that thing spoke to me, asking for freedom to join his squirrel brothers again. It was an odd week, but I managed to get through it. I took off once I had enough money to float me through a few more cities. Still that voice in my head raged on, “Go get it.” I still had no idea what I was chasing, but it was leaving me exhausted and broken. Homeless folks tried to rob me, the regular sheep tried to pretend I didn’t exist. My shoes had worn through and my clothes looked like shit. I was nearing hopelessness when things got a million times worse.

Arguing into the void.

"These are the fucks I give about your lack of information."

Due to the current state of affairs around this place, a lot of debates and political discussions have bloomed (or festered) around the local haunts. Often enough I’ll hear some wonderful ideas, but sometimes there’s a moment that makes everyone stare in bewilderment. It’s at a time like this when I just want to cover the offending party with a blanket and hope they forget where they were, perhaps have a nice nap.

A good debate can be a wonderful way to hear differing viewpoints, and perhaps enrich your own or theirs. It’s always helpful, if you have a very strong stance on an issue, to ensure that you’re open to discussion or the ideas of others. If you don’t, you’ll end up looking like a rigid prick.

So you have a strong opinion and you’d like to share that with the world. Awesome! People like a strong willed individual that will stand up for themselves. That does not extend to a person that is adverse to accept anything else, even facts. Especially one that will refuse to even look into it.

Let’s take politics. Yeah, touchy damn subject. But if you’d like to express an opinion on it, knowing both sides to your argument is the best way to make a valid, intelligent point. Saying “Obama took my job and is a Muslim that watches my wife undress at night” better have some really good evidence to back it up. Stating that something has never occurred in history before, shortly before admitting you’ve never checked the history of it– then refusing to ever do so– is not the ticket to credibility. It’s a ticket to filthy, filthy communism, or something.

It’s like sitting down with an oncologist and insisting to him you can beat cancer with more cigarettes because uncle Frank smoked when he had cancer, and he totally lived. Maybe it was gas, not cancer, but that’s not the point. You’ll be fine. Maybe you read about it somewhere or heard it on the radio. Point is, it’s true, man, so shut up.

I once knew a wonderful teacher with wonderful ideas, and we had a lovely argument about a particular psychological study. In the end, after some very heated arm waving and a pack of smoked cigarettes, we realized we were basically arguing the same side. This is where wording is terribly important, and one double-negative can make everyone have a case of confused brain. I’ve seen this happen a lot, too, and I love being there to watch it happen. People get so wrapped up in the idea that the other person is wrong that they miss the point entirely.

I will never run around pretending to know everything. I’ll freely admit when I don’t, and ask for details so I can understand. Some folks try to argue with a half-formed idea, and get completely mixed up in the end. Solidity of thought is a key, so if you want to fight about a particular subject, know everything you can. 

Still valid.

“I read one article about the LHC and I think we’re going to die in a wormhole by 2012 ’cause time travelers.”vs.

“I was reading about the myriad of experiments conducted at the LHC and think…” blah blah science.

And yes, it’s true that a lot can be conjecture and theory. That’s fine too! But present it as such. If there are limited facts on a subject, just admit it. It’s alright, nobody will judge you. The theoretical existence of something is perfectly awesome for discussion. Hell, the panda was once a mystical creature, purely theoretical, and now look at them… not having sex in zoos. Cool.

Rationality is golden. It’s the difference between sounding like someone with a solid opinion based on good sources versus a raving lunatic. Christians are nice people, but once they go to an extreme there’s little to say to them. Same goes for atheists, conspiracy theorists, protesters and all the other well-known opinionated types. Being open to ideas and intelligent thought will take you very far. Of course, having a strong set of beliefs isn’t a bad thing. Believe in God? Good for you. Believe in evolution? Good! But dismissing everything else because nobody else can possibly be right about anything is a good way to be dismissed yourself. The more you do it, the less people will listen. Present yourself in a thoughtful, researched manner and you’ve got a good chance of being heard.