Archive for November, 2008

I Don’t Wanna Lose from ben smith on Vimeo.

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I find it amusing that I have reached a point in my life where the act of list making grows ever more appealing. and while this does certainly include the obvious and slightly mundane composition of what I will call the “practical list” (groceries, utilities, purchases, the to-do), there is something more—and something greater—at play here.


as it were, the revolution (for me, for now) will be listed.


          scranton, PA

          dry clothes on a freshly dried body

          piano lessons

          the prime meridian

          adirondack chairs

(from a requested and entirely random list)


but why lists? and why now? and what? and when? and where? and for what?

there is the numbered list, the bulleted list, the point-by-point list, the traditional list; there are indexes, glossaries, bibliographies, reference lists. there are lists within lists. lists within lists within lists. (dare I go on?)


there is the Bucket List… oh, bucket list!


1. witness something truly magestical (who defines this?)

2. help a complete stranger for the common good (well, okay)

3. laugh till I cry (um, yeah; no need to shoot for the stars every time, right?)

4. drive a shelby mustang (never!)

5. kiss the most beautiful girl in the world (a google search reveals this to be a complicated goal)

6. get a tatoo (age before beauty? anyone?)

7. skydiving (oh, but you might die!)

8. visit stonehenge (seriously?)

9. spend a week at louvre (give me tourism or give me death)

10. see Rome (see 8, 9)

11. see the pyramids (this is getting silly; and, come on! get specific, bucket! there are pyramids in Egypt, pyramids in Mexico; see also Greece, India; even France has a pyramid)

12. get back in touch (??? hard to see how they got from Stonehenge to here)


and within each of these tentative structures, there is endless room for interpretation, variations, diversions. there is room to breathe. with the “list,” I will structure the random, I will add order to my chaos (yes, chaos!).


there are instruments to learn;

languages to speak;

words to write;

ideas to reject;

plants to water.

my basement will be made up of zones.

there are watering holes to frequent;

films to deconstruct;

books to physically disassemble and reassemble;

conversations to record and re-edit;

jokes to tell;

roasts to attend;

memories to resurface.

there are bad band names to think up;

songs to write;

historical subjects to cover;

book shelves to run fingers over.

there are reasons for this.


you will change me in myriad ways. I will change you. that’s how we’ll move forward; a slow and gradual challenge; a constant and happy struggle. we will swim.


let there be lists. no syntax; no coherence. lists.


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insert thug.
insert thug.

unanswered questions for an unscheduled, unplanned, unobvious, and unethused interview. artwork to come.


– describe for me your condition as you left the party that night to relieve yourself. what had you consumed? how were you feeling? where was your mind? was this a happy pee? a bored pee? a sad pee? were you looking forward to returning to the party, or was this actually a welcome respite?

– so you’re peeing. it’s going well, i presume. no stagefright, etc. i want details now. how does this go down? who approaches you? how many of them are there? what are they wearing? describe their voices. their tone. their overall mood. menacing? nervous? giddy? where do you think they were coming from, without taking too much poetic license (we’ll get into that in a bit)?

– now i want to know what’s going through your mind…. get really elaborate here. your emotional reaction is what? fear? amusement? distress? anger? a combination of any of these. what occurs to you as this all begins? is the encounter symbolic in any way for you? of your night? your present life? your surroundings? what does it say to you at that moment. where are you when all of this is happening?

– right. more details now. just spell it out for me. what happens? what do they say? what do you say? a dialogue…. get it down. step-by-step until you’re removed from the situation.

– obviously, now, i’d like a rundown of the rest of your night. how do you react afterward? where are you? do you forget about it? does it quietly haunt you? nag you? irritate you? depress you? do you have another drink? do you have many more drinks? tell me how the night ends for you.

– re: the kids; what do you think they were up to? was this out of boredom? was it territorial? did race/class/status have anything to do with it? did they say anything that led you to believe there was more than just basic teenage angst being acted out here? what do you think they did afterward? where did their night go from there? and, be imaginative here, where do you think they are today?

– it’s years later. how do you look back on your reaction to all of this? how do you feel about it today?

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big league chew

Nick Lowe chews gum; DO YOU?

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Where my pants at?

“working hard on walking out / my shoes keep sticking to the ground / my clothes won’t let me close the door / my trousers seem to love your floor”


if some strange force (and what force would that be? and who’s?) were to compel you to open up my closet this afternoon, you would find the following:

– unmatched sock pile
– college diplomas, numbering two…. to be burned, maybe?
– enema kit
– a single tie, and an unused belt
– a basketball
– backup rain gear
– the requisite shirts, etc.
– alternately, 5 or 6 pairs of jeans… each subject to varying degrees of use, abuse, disinterest, and so on

the list could go on, but you’ll figure that out when you peek (and, again, why are you peeking?).
in any case, it is the last denim-y item here that interests me today. see, because today is Thursday. and because of various scheduling conveniences, Thursday is the day that I stop at buffalo exchange after work. which is where I continue my intensely frustrating and tedious quest for new clothing. buffalo exchange, as it were, is your basic consignment/thrift store, and as these things go, it’s pretty mediocre.
and the staff, bless ‘em, say things like, “hey! awesome shirt!” or, “can’t beat that!” when you approach them at the register (which, naturally, would be all fine and good—perhaps encouraging—save for the fact that they’re so obviously not sincere about it; it’s a three-button navy oxford shirt, afterall. and you’re wearing a striped serape and feather fedora; what am I to you?)
but this is portland, and for lack of a beacon’s closet (hey brooklyn!), it’ll have to do.

anyhow, re: denim… what gives? who needs so much of this shit?
seriously. I’ve been to almost every thrift store in town and it’s everywhere. endlessly so. and I’ve had enough of it. that’s right, thrift store. I’m talkin’ to you. you with your rack-upon-rack of trendy fades, ripped knees, button flys. you with your size 40 waist / 26 length.
I’m over you.

here’s a few things I know about denim:
oh, you’re wearing jeans? what? me too! oh… and you? jeans? well, I’ll be. I’m also wearing jeans. oh, not you, too! and so on and so on.
are you getting this? you have jeans, I have jeans, we have jeans. there’s nothing new here.

and, still. so here we are. my legs need pants. ain’t no two ways about it.
and while I certainly have room in my heart for the right pair of jeans, the rest of me yearns for more… more fabric. more soft cotton. more poly blends. more NOT denim.
at present, I have one single pair of lonely pants. and they are fading quickly. and they weren’t that super to begin with. I’m up against the wall here. and while I can certainly see the end for these pants, I’m nowhere near seeing a beginning for new ones.
and this is distressing. what do I do when all of my pants are gone?
(answer: wear jeans….)

now here’s the rub:
pants are out there. I’ve seen them. my housemate wears them. my friend scott wears them (exclusively… and they’re all fantastic). where are they finding them? I’ve asked around. it doesn’t help. scott’s a magician… finds them in free piles, garbage bins, Goodwills.
this is incomprehensible to me. I’ve been looking for years now, and what do I have?
the pants people are better than me… that much I know. and until I can share in the pants love, I’ll never be even half the man I aim to be. and that’s a shame. ‘cause I aim high.

so, yeah. tonight. thrift store. what awaits?
surely more jeans. surely more denim. surely more awful pants that wouldn’t fit any kind of body shape that I have ever seen, or even have thought to exist. seriously, how does a consignment store end up purchasing clothing with these sizes? how can someone so, well… big … be so short? and how can they wear such terrible jeans anyhow?

right. getting carried away. something needs to be done. that much is certain.
what to do?
really, what to do? I’m asking.
I’ve been at this a long time. I’m still wearing denim.

but I have a dream… a vision. of a world with pants. and me in it.

in pants.

in my mind, i am sporting a perfect pair. and, really, it’s not asking so much… i don’t need sequins, stripes, pleats, secret pockets, pouches, bold colors. i’m not reinventing the wheel here. at some point in time, at some places in the world, there were/are people in pants. sign me up.

so, then. tonight I will boldly march into buffalo exchange and head straight for the racks. I will wince at the sight of endless denim and I will dig. I will shift hangers, I will dodge fellow disappointed shoppers. I will frown at the mobs waiting in line to sell yet more denim, more fades, more rips. I will expect, well, pants.


A Better World.

A Better World.

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