Friday, February 11, 2011
For years, I always assumed that the reason I didn't believe in God was that I lacked the capacity for belief, but I'm not sure if that's really the case. What I've come to suspect is that I lack the capacity for zealotry—because, if you believed, truly believed in an immortal and omnipotent being who existed before the dawn of time and who will exist forever, a being who exists outside the laws of space and time, who in fact is the creator of the laws of space and time, then how could you not be completely out of your mind? How could you not be one of those people standing on a street corner yelling at the passersby. How could you not be the sort of person who shoots abortion doctors or hijacks airplanes? How could the weight of something so immense, so beyond even the most extreme scope of the human imagination, not drive you completely insane?
Of course, the short answer is that it couldn't.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The other night I had a genuine Ghost World moment. I was on my way home from wherever, probably just driving around. I was listening to "Last Kind Word Blues" by Geeshie Wiley, a woman who is so mysterious no one even really knows the proper spelling of her name. She recorded this song and two others in 1930 and then more or less disappeared. It's a motherfucker of a song--it's dark and beautiful and almost impossibly otherworldly. When you listen to it you might as well be listening to a transmission from another planet. It's a haunting fragment from a place that no longer exists. It's a favorite of mine, and I doubt I will ever get to the bottom of it.
It was a nice warm night, late summer, and I had my windows down. I was sitting there in my car at a red light, across the street from the Circle K, and a blue Mustang convertible pulled up next to me. There were a couple of girls (women?) sitting in the car. I have no idea how old they were, but they were dressed like Leslie Mann in The 40 Year-Old Virgin, like women who were pretending they were still girls. When I sensed the car pulling up, I turned the radio down a bit as an act of, you know, simple human courtesy, which was something apparently lost on these two, as they continued to blast whatever the hell that Eminem/Rihanna song is called. The girl (woman?) sitting on the passenger side apparently noticed what I was listening to, because she asked the driver to turn down their music for a second. “listen to this,” I heard her say, indicating me. Eminem went momentarily quiet as they listened for my radio, paused for a moment, then started laughing.
The light turned green, Eminem roared back to prominence, and the three of us drove on into the night and the rest of our lives.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
My most vivid memory of him is when I went to take the ACT. I went along with my friend Robby, and this guy, the one who got blown up, went along with us to take it as well. The three of us, packed into the brand-new Mustang that Robby's parents had just bought (a horrendous idea, as Robby was a fucking insane driver--he was going 110 mph the entire way to and from the testing site, on a two-lane highway, in the rain), drove from the little town we lived in (population 925) to the slightly larger town of Magnolia, Arkansas (population 11,800) to take the test. I guess Heath had never been in such a large and exotic city before, because every time he saw a black person, he was happy to point out to us "there's a nigger," or "look at that nigger over there," or, while waiting for our food at a fast food place, "I hope these niggers don't fuck up our order."
When I found out about his getting blown up, I took a look at his Facebook page. There were an enormous amount of get-well messages, and I scrolled through probably thirty-five and counted only three that didn't include some variant of "we're praying for you" or "you're in our prayers" or something along those lines, which means, I guess, that if he dies, then they were just not very good at praying, and God hates them.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I spent the first twelve years of my life in Texas, and then another four years shortly after I graduated high school, going to what was technically a college, and living with my grandparents. Practically all of my extended family still lives there, and though I only moved about eighty miles away, it feels much farther in my mind, and I rarely go back. I doubt that anywhere I live will ever feel like home the same way it does when I take that left turn off Highway 155 onto the one-lane blacktop where I spent the majority of my earliest years. I left a lot of bones buried back there.
Guy Clark--seen above with his incredibly beautiful wife, Susanna--is from Texas. He’s one of those great Texas singer-songwriters you hear so much about, along with Steve Earle and Willis Alan Ramsey and of course Townes Van Zandt; he and Van Zandt were great friends, and while Clark is nowhere near as consistent as Townes, every now and then he would strike gold—“LA Freeway”, “The Randall Knife”, “Dublin Blues”, and, probably my favorite, “Desperados Waiting For A Train,” a song about the relationship between a young man and an older mentor figure—in this case the young man was Clark and the older was his grandmother’s boyfriend. It’s a beautiful song, and sad, and it tells the truth about how cruel time can be, its thousand little thefts that leave even the strongest of us with nothing. It tells the truth about what it’s like to love someone.
Funnily enough, the lyric I respond to most is the line about “them old men…playing/Moon and 42,” which are both domino games, and one of which, 42, was played by all the adults at every family event I can remember. Everyone would come to my grandparents’ and after whatever big holiday meal we would have, the shitty old card table would get broken out and the clack of dominoes would be inescapable for the next five or six hours. It’s honestly one of my favorite memories, and probably all the more precious to me because I never learned to play the game despite it being the background to literally a couple of hundred hours of my life: it’s just one of the countless regrets that pile themselves up on top of you when you think back to the people you knew and loved and all the things you could have done or said.
I could still learn to play, of course, but what would the point be? Anyone I would want to play with is long gone.