Well, I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
And my car’s out back if you’re ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door’s open but the ride ain’t free
And I know you’re lonely for words that I ain’t spoken
But tonight we’ll be free, all the promises’ll be broken
—-Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road
Take me down little Susie, take me down
I know you think you’re the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave
—-Rolling Stones, Dead Flowers
“A refurbished Star Wars is on somewhere or everywhere. I have no intention of revisiting any galaxy. I shrivel inside each time it is mentioned. Twenty years ago, when the film was first shown, it had a freshness, also a sense of moral good and fun. Then I began to be uneasy at the influence it might be having. The first bad penny dropped in San Francisco when a sweet-faced boy of twelve told me proudly that he had seen Star Wars over a hundred times. His elegant mother nodded with approval. Looking into the boy’s eyes I thought I detected little star-shells of madness beginning to form and I guessed that one day they would explode.
‘I would love you to do something for me,’ I said.
‘Anything! Anything!’ the boy said rapturously.
‘You won’t like what I’m going to ask you to do,’ I said.
‘Anything, sir, anything!’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘do you think you could promise never to see Star Wars again?’
He burst into tears. His mother drew herself up to an immense height. ‘What a dreadful thing to say to a child!’ she barked, and dragged the poor kid away. Maybe she was right but I just hope the lad, now in his thirties, is not living in a fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities.”
― Alec Guinness, A Positively Final Appearance
Oblique Strategy: Not building a wall but making a brick
The whole family is now here, one son in from New Orleans, his cat ensconced in one bedroom, the other son from Houston, his black Labrador retriever settled into another.
Our Ring smart doorbell makes our cellphones tinkle in a delightful way every time the delivery man brings another present, the new Internet of Things Santa Claus.
We were up at eight; I had to drag myself – feet hurting, mind reeling – from bed; to see a morning showing of The Last Jedi at the local Alamo Drafthouse (the best place in the world to see a movie). I love the no talking/no texting or you will be thrown out policy. I love the fact that at nine in the morning they will bring a milkshake with alcohol in it to your seat. I love the stuff they put on the screen before the movie.
(on this snippet – if you get the joke “A talent agent is sitting in his office, a family walks in…” you should be ashamed of yourself)
I liked the film a lot better than I was expecting.
There is something wonderfully odd about seeing a movie early in the morning, other than the discount tickets. I’m so used to going at night – to emerge to sunlight and the realization that you still have another day to live – is almost wonderful.
“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”
― Hunter S. Thompson
Oblique Strategy: Intentions -nobility of -humility of -credibility of
Is there anything cooler than a good street musician? Unexpected notes floating on an evening breeze, like angel trumpets and devil trombones. The air is transformed into something superior, lighter, art becomes part of the fabric of the world, like it should.
Is there anything more annoying than a bad street musician? A strolling violin player in an Italian restaurant – you want to hear what your companion is saying, you must pay the guy to go away. Headache – inducing cacophony at a train stop, you are trapped until your transport arrives. The talent-less kid that drags his instrument case somewhere that he shouldn’t.
Which is one and which is the other? It’s more up to you than to the strummer.
“I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
Oblique Strategy: A line has two sides
I rarely remember my dreams. When I am able to grasp the wispy end of something as I’m waking up it is always some form of daily frustration, like my car won’t start or my key won’t fit. I guess that’s why I can’t remember my dreams – they are simply more boring versions of my daily life.
This morning, though, as I crawled out of bed, I remembered. I was hitchhiking through Japan with two other people, a young couple. Why we were three was hazy, though there seemed an adequate explanation somewhere. At the time of the dream we were wading through a rice paddy, each clutching a train ticket. The tickets were paper and plastic, white and bright yellow, and valuable.
Ahead, rising out of the rice, was a track on a levee and a simple station. The biggest passenger train in the world was stopped there, vibrating and smoking. As we approached, it blew its whistle and slowly pulled off, just as we arrived. I was frustrated at the fact we had missed the train, and clutched at my ticket in frustration.
A minute later, we realized that this massive transportation system was too large for one single train, and a second, identical one came huffing into the station. Suddenly elated, I had my ticket stamped and boarded the nearest car. My two companions followed close behind me.
The rest of the dream consisted of me exploring the various cars up and down the line. They were laid out in a linear cornucopia of delights, each car more opulent and fascinating than the one before.
My alarm went off – time to get up and go to work. I hit snooze to see if I could drop off again and visit a car or two more, but the train had sped off to somewhere unknown.
“The voice says, maybe you don’t go to hell for the things you do. Maybe you go to hell for the things you don’t do. The things you don’t finish.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby
Oblique Strategy: Always first steps
It’s tough being a carhop. You have to remember what car has what order. You have to be able to skate balancing a tray groaning with food and milkshakes. You have to be able to hook in onto the window… just right. You have to endure and handle the nuts and assholes.
The hours are long and the tips are small.
Poor Ethel. The only good thing about being a carhop is that at the end of the day you get to go home. But she doesn’t. She has to stand there, looking as beautiful as ever.
Is beauty its own reward? You exist mainly in the foggy yet electric haloed memories of teenagers long grown old and gray. Is it worth the effort to represent an age long gone by – an era of rollerskates and rootbeer in this age of smartphones and Spice?
Is there an app for that?
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Oblique Strategy: Work at a different speed
I was driving up to McKinney for a photowalk, taking the route up the eastern side of the city. There were a couple of interesting looking taquerias, a line of small-time used-car dealers, and some place, little more than a shack, with a peeling sign that read:
Now, I know about a weekend fishing trip and how those things go together… this is Texas… but still….