Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How do you define love?

I have been thinking about this question since it was asked, something like two weeks, and I cannot come up with a good answer, one that either encompasses all my feelings about love or one that's sufficiently glib and humorous. So, I don't know.

I'm tempted to say that I don't define love, I just let it be, but that's a bit too flip and a bit of a cop out. Love is serious and shouldn't be passed over lightly. I could list things I love, I suppose, but that still wouldn't cover everything nor would it give a working definition. I can't think of anything better, though.

I love Momma. I love the "Anvil Chorus" from Il Trovatore. I love a good burrito. I love Golden Harvest kung fu movies. I love learning something I didn't know previously. I love to laugh. I love my friends even if I don't talk to them for years at a time. I love Hank Williams Jr.'s version of "Honky Tonkin'" that's on his MGM boxset. I love cool, sunny days when I don't have to work. I love listening to the rain. I love being part of a good groove. I love being stoned and sitting at the back of a big auditorium, as high up as possible, listening to an orchestra play. I love beagles. I love seeing my friends happy.

Are we talking romantic love? I don't think I can help you there, then. Twice in my life I've told women I loved them and I really meant it at the time, but hoo boy, am I glad both of them felt they had better things to do. I know people, friends and family, in love and I'm sure of it as I'm sure my hair's read, and I love seeing that. I just have absolutely no idea how it works.

So, I guess I don't define love. Maybe it's like what Justice Potter said about pornography, I can't define love but I know it when I see it. Sorry to whomever asked the question, but that's the best I can do.

Ask me anything

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Be mine? Why?

 Okay, kids, serious question time.

 Does anyone actually like Valentine's Day? I mean, besides greeting card companies and florists, to derail any smarty pants.

 Now, granted, I'm not a big holiday guy in general. I never cared much for dressing up in any form or fashion, I don't understand why a special day or season is required so one can be nice to folks, and I'm not particularly religious or into any other form of idolatry. I've long been of the firm opinion that the universe doesn't give a damn what importance we mere mortals assign to a particular diurnal period and I've never been one for ritual.

 That being said, I do dig that many folks really get into different holidays for different reasons. Religious observations,  personal days, and government holidays, humans as a group really seem to like the idea of picking out certain days and deciding to make a huge deal out of them. Right now, out my window, a greater-than-average number of drunken yay-hoos are raising hell in celebration of Mardi Gras. Athens makes a big deal out of Halloween, and Savannah goes absolutely insane on St. Patrick's Day. Furthermore, I've known way too many people, family members included, who get full of the milk of human kindness come Christmastime to complete disregard that otherwise irritating time of the year.

 Before calenders, clocks and the myriad other ways we yoke ourselves to modern life, humans used to use those special days to mark the never-ending turn of life. People were married at harvest or a child's birth was marked from the Solstice for thousands of years. We're used to the idea, in other words.

 But Valentine's Day? From what I can tell, the only people who really look forward to it are those looking to make a buck off it. Sure, some folks will use any excuse to party, but does anyone get pumped up about Valentine's the first of February or get wistful for dead flowers when the 14th rolls around? From what I can tell, people either tolerate it, hate it, or they're "past it" in some form or fashion. In one of those long-running excuses to not think hard that make sometimes ashamed of my Y chromosome, guys worldwide are letting themselves be portrayed in such a manner that they begrudgingly do something nice for the person who regularly touches their individual penises in hopes said person will keep doing so. Admittedly, my experience with "normal relationships" is spotty, both as a participant and observer, but that seems to be how "normal relationships" are supposed to work. An exageration, true, but this clip from Family Guy isn't far off the mark.

 On the other hand, there are those who think the opposite. Valentine's isn't so much hated as it's held in contempt, the overt commercialization of love, romance and caring is enough to turn most folks right off of it. Even if they haven't put as much thought into it as all that, seems like the great majority is past Valentine's Day by the time they hit drinking age. Some are obnoxious about it, like them that brag about not watching television, but that's pretty rare. Sure, couples might use it as an excuse to go out to eat or do something nice for the beloved, but even then it's just an excuse, not the reason.

 And of course, Feb. 14 is flat loathed by millions of single folks and not a few attached souls, I'd wager. Being single, and worse being alone, is tough enough without having to see red satin hearts, rapidly decaying flowers and ridiculously expensive pieces of knickknackery on billboards and in advertisements at every turn. It's like being repeatedly smacked with a big cartoon mallet marked "LOSER" and even knowing that there are other poor, lonely bastards out there - some even in relationships and getting candy - doesn't help much. It's not surprising bitterness boils up.

 But does anyone really like Valentine's Day for the day itself? I'm not advocating anything nor do am I really concerned about how big a nothing it is. I'm just curious. You never hear anyone say "Oh boy, can't wait until Valentine's Day" and it just struck me as curious. I do, however, think it says a lot about modern relationships in our culture - whatever the hell that means - when the day dedicated to love and romance and relationships and commitment is at best comically tolerated and at worst hated with the heat of a million dying suns.

If reincarnation was possible, and it happened to you, what would be your next incarnation?

Up until a few days ago, I would've said one of my old man's walker hounds. They don't have to work or worry about where their food comes from, he was always fairly nice to them, and the only thing they like doing is chasing stuff. Otherwise, they just sort of sit around, eat, sleep and bark. I could do that.

Then I read this Faulkner quote: "If I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything." That sounds like a pretty sweet deal, too, frankly.

Whatever it would be, I wouldn't want to be reincarnated as anything sentient. One trip through this veil of tears has been quite enough, thank you. Which means, of course, I could come back as a Republican, but being that actively frightened and outraged all the time seems awfully tiring.

Ask me anything

Friday, February 12, 2010

Would you rather vacation at the beach or in the mountains?

Mountains. Redheaded, sunburn, no fun, yadda yadda.

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What's the nicest thing someone's ever done for you?

All my life people have done things that've stopped me in my tracks when I consider my unworthiness to have someone be that nice to me. As curmudgeonly and anti-social as I am, I've always had people who not only put up with my nonsense, but regularly let me know I mean something to them. I'd hate to single out just one, it seems so ungrateful. Therefore, I'll mention the latest thing that someone's doing for me that's stopped me right in my tracks.

I won't name names, but a friend of mine is painting me a picture. This friend is an heavy art lover and really knows her stuff, but by her own admission she doesn't do a whole lot of painting. She also knows that not only do I not know a good picture from a hole in the ground, but also that I'm not really one for decorating. Anyone who's ever been to any of my domiciles know that my aesthetic tastes run to rather spartan to say the least.

Still, she's painting me a picture just because she wants me to have one now that we're no longer in the same state. Honestly, I was at a loss for words when she told me she was and I still get a goofy grin when I think about it. Ain't that sweet?

Ask me anything

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who Dat, indeed

  The Saints have won the Super Bowl and New Orleans has lost its collective nut. Everywhere, complete strangers who'd just as likely as not have absolutely nothing to do with each other in the cold light of sobriety are hugging, slapping high fives, and generally proclaiming the Who Dat Nation's superiority over all.

  I went to a Super Bowl party at work and can't get across Bourbon. I've taken refuge in The Chart Room, a bar on Chartes with two dollar Abita and friendly shadows. A kid named Ben, a native no older than 25 and overcome with drunken emotion has spent the last ten minutes explaining why this game, this win means so much.

  After Katrina, the Saints almost gave New Orleans up to the swamps. So did everyone else, so who could blame them. But when the team came back and began to win - particularly the first win back in the Superdome against the Falcons - it was a sign, he said. It was a sign that said that neither the town nor the team was giving up. It was a sign that New Orleans could not only rebuild but be better than ever. "We're New Orleans," Ben tells me, "and we're not fucking around. Black, white, Asian, Latino, gay, straight, whatever. We're all one tonight."

  Well, maybe so. I'm not a native and still finding my way around spiritually, and being the eternal Outside, I really don't have a dog in this hunt. Still, there's something undeniable in the cold French Quarter air tonight. Maybe it's just besotted delirium mixed with the normal human yen for tribalism and such bullshit. Or maybe it is, ad Ben claims, a sign, a line drawn in the sand for all that doubted The Big Easy wouldn't rise again and be the best place in the world. Right now in this crowded bar full incredibly happy people, I'm inclined to agree.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Who's the most overrated musician?

They all are.

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Cats or Dogs?

I grew up around a big pack of walker hounds but I like both, frankly, my roommate's cat notwithstanding.

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What was the worst job you've ever had?

I worked at the local Wal-Mart for a summer. Not only did the experience turn me against the retail business and Corporate America for the rest of my life, it also undoubtedly added to my already heavy disdain for being part of any sort of team or doing anything that required wearing a uniform.

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What was your favorite movie as a child?

Star Wars.

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When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I honestly don't remember. I decided I wanted to be an opinion columnist when I was 11 or so, but before that, I don't think I wanted to be anything when I grew up. To be totally honest, the only reason I stuck with the writer thing for so long was that it was the only thing I ever did that I did well enough to get compliments from other folks.

Luckily, I've managed to avoid growing up in any real sense of the word, so there's no real regrets there.

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What's your favorite city?

New Orleans, of course.

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What kind of music can you just not stand to listen to?

Long as the song's in question got a good melody, is well crafted and competently executed, I'm pretty open. I find some stuff boring, like basically anything with "core" as a suffix, and frankly would rather hear a good singer like Sam Cooke or Irma Thomas than any indie rock whine, but I can put up with most anything. I don't care for atonal stuff or music that's intentionally bad in a "humorous" way, but that's about it.

Admittedly, I didn't always think this way but one does grow.

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