Saturday, July 16, 2005

just the footnotes

[there are many ways to write a self-portrait, no?]

(1) Grass Jelly Drink (very green and with strange chunks of something) was found next to Pennywart Drink in the cooler at the end of the "Fish in Jars" aisle in the grocery next to "Restaurant" - no other sign [behind the Shell Station, a cog in the multi-trillion dollar, multi-national Royal Dutch oil conglomerate despite the pretty yellow sign, corner of Douglas Avenue, which becomes Ottawa Beach Road and takes you to the State Park and of course Lake Michigan, and River Avenue, 49424]

(2) Though I'm a fan of "my new coffee shop" Buzz, I was initially confused by the sign, assuming it to be a drug store or a place with alarm clocks for sale. I had to drive up to it and look in the window to figure it out. "Oh, they're going to sell coffee," I said. "Oh my God, you weren't kidding," my companion said, "you actually couldn't figure it out." Later the owner asked, "didn't the next line of the sign, 'coffee and espresso bar,' give you a hint?" Obviously not. I only read segments usually. I am easily confused. Until I was 27 I thought "The Hospital for Joint Diseases" in New York City treated people with two diseases at at a time. [various random memory twitches]

(3) Dyslexia: probably a genetically based disorder related to inconsistent comprehension of symbolic language, especially written alphabets, which, I will argue, are not necessarily better than hieroglyphics or pictograms. You can find the genetic marker for dyslexia by looking for the node facing the wrong way on the double-helix of your DNA. [a Newsweek story from maybe three years ago twisted by an unlinked perceptual disorder]

(4) I'm relatively physically coordinated but still fall down a lot, mostly I suppose as a result of not particularly paying attention, or more specifically, not paying much attention to the things that might cause one to fall due to paying attention to too many other things. I lived in an apartment once on the second and third floors of an old house. The stairs to the third floor, where the bedroom was, had been attic stairs in original intention and were very steep. Every single morning, except three, I would fall down those stairs. The woman in my life at that point kept complaining of repetitive dreams of loud crashes. She never once got up to see if I was alright. Usually I was alright, though I had vast bruises on my body for two straight years. [ADHD being a fascinating issue, no?]

(5) Capitalism doesn't equal freedom. Christianity isn't morally superior to other religions. US Republicans are not more patriotic than US Democrats. There are other countries that do things very differently than America and they are not necessarily (allow me to emphasize this) worse places to live. Being poor does not represent a moral failing. Being rich does not make you a better or more deserving person. If you say people need to "succeed on their merits" and also claim that "inherited wealth and position are ok," I think that you're a hypocrite making excuses for your own greed. I think flat tax rates are stupid and that all fines should be based on ability to pay. I think we need fewer laws. Just a few basic rules that we can actually enforce consistently. I think most of what every US state legislature does is complete nonsense and I'm offended that I'm expected to pay these idiots for more than twelve days a year. I'll give the US Congress the same time limits until they prove they can do something useful, starting with impeachments and providing Americans with National Health Insurance. I think the US President is a liar and a really, really bad person who represents all that is wrong with the way people succeed in capitalist America. [My basic political thought, 101, except "all fines should be based on ability to pay" which is actually from the pilot of The Andy Griffith Show, which was really an episode of Make Room for Daddy.]

(6) Education in the United States is bad and is generally getting worse, but two things are terrible: First, the No Child Left Behind concept which is based in the idea that every kid learns at exactly the same rate and that every student needs to learn the same things. That's not just anti-kid, it's anti-human. Second, middle school. Middle school is universally awful and needs (as New York City has decided) to be replaced with smaller K-8 elementaries. Either that or we just take all 12-14 year olds and send them out into the field to experiment with alcohol, sex, drugs, and music. Let them get it out of their system. Then pull them back for high school after it's all cleared through. You may find that a strange thought, but then I'm the guy who told a caller asking for a donation to MADD, "Sorry, I'm a member of the opposing organization." "Opposing organization?" she asked nervously. "Fagot," I said, "Fathers for A GOod Time." [a range of odd experiences and odd thoughts]

(7) Mental stability is a fragile thing. At least for some of us. I drift back and forth between accepting that fragility as interesting and even valuable in many ways, and raging against the unfairness of the genetics/experience combination that leaves me perpetually uncomfortable. But, ya know, if you're still reading, there must be something intriguing in the view from this edge. I've gotten by - barely I'll admit - on that fact for years. [Information sheets provided with psychotropic medications have not contributed, except the one that was forced to admit that one subject patient was "struck by a bus," which is one ugly side effect when you think about it.]

(8) Many jobs held, including delivery boy (drug store and Kosher butcher, two different positions), department store stock clerk, lifeguard, urban park ranger, graphic artist a few times, paramedic, police officer, college admissions aide, college instructor, substitute teacher, newspaper reporter, newspaper page designer, soccer coach, computer network developer, web site developer, on the staff of a homeless support mission, carpenter, house designer, illustrator, assistive technology specialist. I've never fished for a living, never driven a Greyhound Bus, never sold my sperm. When I tried to join the Navy out of high school they looked at my transcript and laughed at me. I list these all as "valuable experiences," and I'm sure they are. Though potential employers are often confused. [my resume plus certain memories]

(9) My mother did not sing me to sleep with White Room from Cream's Wheels of Fire album, though I have chosen to remember that. I'm not sure my mother ever got me to sleep. I have never slept through the night in my life. When my son was born my mother was angry that he began sleeping almost immediately. [parental revenge thwarted by the wackiness of genetics]

(10) One way or the other a book written by me will be published by the end of 2006. There are now almost three, and shouldn't somebody buy them? Well, I need to say that. I expect that when that occurs all of you will buy it, read it, and promote it. Whichever one it is, I swear, it will be entertaining. Really. [the theory that we need to provide self-affirmation, especially those of us who are clinically depressed]

© 2004-2005 by Ira Socol_____________________________________


homer said...

J.G. Ballard wrote a whole story composed of footnotes. As might be expected, I can't remember what it's about, but that it's composed entirely of footnotes.

Man. We need to have a beer sometime.

B$ said...

What is the book called? I'll buy it. I need a good read

newspell said...

this is exactly what i have been missing!

it's good to be back, my friend.

Adriana Bliss said...

While the message in your piece is completely different, I'm reminded of Nabokov's "Pale Fire" where the heart of the book lies in the footnotes to the epic poem by the fictional John Shade.

I love this.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I'll buy that book, Ira, and read it and promote it. For now, the footnotes are great.

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