“I Met God, She’s Black”

(Written in a hurry after seeing Chioke Nassor’s instagram)

When the world saw God, and saw that she was a black female, it definitely fucked everything up. People couldn’t even focus on the fact that we had seen a physical manifestation of a supreme being, all the talk was just about how she was a girl and she was black.

People were embarrassed. Rich white men in suits would walk down 6th avenue in New York, clearly preoccupied. We fucked up, they thought. We fucked up BIG. WE are the weird ones, and we had no idea.  They felt like apologizing but couldn’t because they wanted to apologize not for things they had said but for a posture they had held, for assumptions they had made about talent and power without even articulating.

And then to make it even MORE screwed up, all God wanted to talk about was how much she loved white dudes! She couldn’t get enough of them, thought they were just the best. I’d say she favored them in her discourse. “White dudes are awesome,” she said. “They are smart and great and I think they are terrific.”

She wanted to meet all of them. She’d call out — her voice booming from the sky so that everyone on Earth could hear her — for “Martin Beles” — and Martin would just stay in his house and pretend not to hear. The conversation was going to be too awkward, and he was dodging it. “Come out, Martin,” God said. “I want to see you! You are the coolest. I like how much you are into you music. Come out and tell me about Phil Collins.” But Martin just read his newspaper and didn’t come out.

No laws were changed but suddenly black women were in power everywhere. I don’t even remember any announcements in the Wall Street Journal — just all of a sudden most CEOs were black women.

God was against this! She wasn’t everyone treated equally. “Don’t just promote every black woman because I’m black and a woman, that’s crazy,” she said. But people did it anyway. They felt dumb NOT doing it. God was in charge! How could we not put into power the people who looked most like God. Even God did not have enough influence to prevent it.

My Own Private Snopes

I want snopes.com to be a person, and I want that person to be my constant companion. I want her to know everything so I can learn the truth of things without agenda.

“Snopes,” I’ll say. “You remember how BP screwed up their deep drilling in the Gulf and unleashed all that oil onto the shores of North America?”

“Of course,” Snopes would answer.

“Well, I was always scared to ask this, but… is there really that much oil down there? Isn’t that good news? I mean, hasn’t America always been scared of running out of oil, or being dependent on unstable nations from the Middle East for oil? I ask this because: why would we stop drilling? I know I sound naive — set me straight..”

“Oh, well this is very easy to explain,” Snopes would say and she would just tell me what I should know. And she wouldn’t be angrily pro-environmental or angrily anti-corporate, nor would she be wearing blinders on purpose to the evil consequences of oil companies chasing profits, nor would she be in denial of our need to get off of fossil fuels.

But she’d just tell me, the same way she tells me when a certain quote really is by Kurt Vonnegut or isn’t.

“Thank you, Snopes,” I’d say. “Would you like some gelato?”

“Yes I would,” she’s said. And we’d have an espresso and gelato and talk about which newspaper has the best app.

Running

Trying to run most days. I go for 2 miles which is enough to make me sweat solidly. Though on a few days I’ll run with Ashley Hale, who is a for-real athlete and on those days I go for 3 miles and am completely spent.

For the 2 mile solo runs, I stick to my neighborhood. My neighborhood is on the face of a mountain (the same mountain that holds Griffith Park). So I start with a very steep hill until I reach the horizontal streets that cut back and forth and are relatively level. The houses are fancy and rich. The sidewalks are made of substantial blocks. There are sturdy old trees that provide shade and the sweet smelling purple Jarcaranda trees. I listen to either a smattering of pop songs (lately it’s been Prince’s 1999; before that Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA) or a Yale Open Courses podcast (currently working through the History of the New Testament).

For the 3 mile runs, Ashley and I meet in Griffith Park near the carousel and run on a combination of bike paths and the cement path along I-5. For some reason on these I forgo my normal listening and instead pick a Spotify playlist whose songs have beats-per-minute that are set to encourage me to run a 9 minute mile. But Ashley runs fast so it’s more like an 8 minute mile, which is a pace that ruins me. I picture my lungs like wet half-inflated balloons trying desperately to collect more and more air. A film of sweat covers me. When we stop I feel great.

East of Eden

I’m reading East of Eden and it’s so good.

But, I mean, of course it is. It’s routinely named as one of the best American novels ever produced.

Still, I’m always surprised to find out a classic is accessible and great.

Some men are friends with the whole world in their hearts, and there are others that hate themselves and spread their hatred around like butter on hot bread.”

 

Besting Technology

While driving, I plug my iPhone into my car stereo so that the music comes out the car’s speaker.

I also use the iPhone app Waze for a GPS.

The voice from Waze seemed four times as loud as my music.

I pulled over, fiddled with settings, found an internal volume setting in Waze and turned it down, then resumed driving.

The Waze voice was now comparable to the music’s volume.

Defeating technology. Did Lewis and Clark feel as triumphant when they finally saw the Pacific Ocean? I doubt it.

To celebrate, I sang Genesis’ “Misunderstanding,” a song that is very solidly out of my already-shaky voice’s range.

 

To-Do List

Researching task / to-do list apps for the iPhone. I want something closer to a checklist than to a whole project management thing. Considering “any.do” although “wunderlist” has been suggested. I’m old school enough to still like “Remember the Milk.” And wasn’t “Things” all the rage for a while?

Separately, my cats want out of my room, then back in. What they really want is the door open so they can sit in the doorway. They are living metaphors for my own indecisiveness, plus shit and hair.

Hats

I am balding and live in a city where there is sun every day. So I have to wear a hat. But which kind? Baseball hats seem so mopey and middle-aged (I picture Paul Simon at a basketball game, or Ron Howard in some featurette about fire effects), those fisherman bucket hats seem retired and oblivious (Dick Cavett, Woody Allen), and any variety of fedoras is too deliberately stylish (director of a web series for a corporation’s branded content).

It’s like when I first went bald. I have to just accept that all the options are bad and just walk around like I’m completely comfortable with it.

Car Is Dirty

My car is dirty and I should get it washed. I realized it maybe a month ago. But I still haven’t done it. I’ve laid the groundwork to get it cleaned by asking friends where they get THEIR cars cleaned. I’ve thought about it. I’ve pictured what it’s going to be like while it’s happening. I’m going to go to a place that washes by hand. I’ll sit with my phone and read a book, or maybe play a flash game, or go through my email (which is largely about scheduling events, so I’ll be flipping to my calendar as well). Maybe I’ll just sit and enjoy the sun.

I have pictured all this but have not done it. When will it happen? Even I don’t know. I’m playing a game with myself. But at some point the right number of neurons will fire a certain way and I will just abruptly stop what I’m doing and I will go and get the car washed.

Other things in my brain that fall into this category: buying a bed frame, getting a hand mirror so I can cut my own hair, stretching in the morning, watching “The Long Goodbye,” writing a song, buying stationery.

It’s gonna be good! When it happens.

LA vs NYC

I moved to LA in the second week of January, about five months ago. Started about my second day here, I was asked to compare the two. “What’s different about living in LA?” I coached a group my first week here and after I was done someone asked me what the difference was between the NY and LA branches of UCB. I’d been here like three days!

It’s striking how much we need to compare things and to grade things and to evaulate things in order just to discuss them. I saw the Jim Jarmusch vampire film “Only Lovers Left Alive” a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. But as soon as I walked out I turned to my friend and started listing the ways that it fell short.

I heard myself start to do that and then I tried to discuss the movie without grading it, and it’s impossible. You want to compare it to other movies, to describe hypothetical examples of what it might have done differently. It’s really hard to discuss media with someone and not immediately diagnose it, as if you know anything! Which most of us don’t.

So: the urge to compare and label is a strong one. And certainly since I’ve moved here I’ve been asked a lot.

Five months isn’t a huge sample set but I’ll tell you what I notice the most: the main difference that I am aware of between LA and NYC is that you replace all of your time on the subway with time in the car. Everyone knows that’s a difference but I didn’t appreciate how much that changes my mindset. The subway is a tiring frustrating battle with weary and angry people in an underground sewer. The car is a privacy bath where I get to sing along to Huey Lewis. I think the lack of a subway (there is a subway, but no one uses it a LOT) and the presence of a car is far and away the single thing people talk about when they say (and they do say this) that “New York is just so much HARDER than LA.”

Also, since I generally lived so far from Manhattan that a day in NYC was a day like a refugee where I’m taking the angry underground train from thing to thing, and in between those things I’m hunting for crowded coffee shops to set up my laptop and get upset on social media.

That’s a big difference! Car vs. subway.

The other thing that stands out to me here is that all customer service people are a) friendly and b) bewildered by their cash registers. They smile, then look at their cash register and the smile melts away, their eyes widen, their head swivels about as they look for buttons before they yell in back “Elise? Where’s ‘coffee’ on this?”

There’s more space geographically out here, and somehow also, mentally. A lot of the angry juries in my head which used to tell me I should have written a novel by now have adjourned and vanished. I did not expect that.

UCB is great out here. It’s a smaller community, though the people in it seem very much like the people in NYC. The main difference here is the physical layout of the stage. Smaller stage out here with people RIGHT UP ON TOP OF YOU. You are VERY AWARE of the audience out here, whereas on the UCB Chelsea stage there’s a dark ocean between you and them, kind of.

Okay, that’s it. Hello! Hi.

Music in Common

With so many more paths of distribution because of the internet, is it harder for a band to gain a mass audience? yes, it  must right? And therefore is it harder for one band to be known by many people? Same point, so the answer must be yes. SO, and here is the part I’m curious about: is it harder for YOUNG PEOPLE these days to meet other YOUNG PEOPLE who like and know the same music? It must be so magical to meet someone who has filtered through the information storm and been struck by the same bolt of lightning? Right? Send all data related to this inquiry to my email address. Publish.