Who the hell was anyone when they were sixteen? Eighteen? Twenty?
Writing this book and uncovering myself and opening my former self up is something. Discovering the who I used to be and seeing how far I have grown/evolved/learned myself is something. Knowing how hard and how easy the road can be, knowing the road is easier when I don’t fight its curves and rises, knowing there is always another new me waiting to unzip itself out of the old me—that is the stuff I have always been waiting for.
I can see growth and understanding in words I no longer use. Words are bombs. Words are knives. Changing the words and removing the words and caressing the words helps. Fifteen year old me used to say words like “faggot” and “homo” and “pussy.” Fifteen year old me was afraid that if I didn’t say those words my friends wouldn’t think me one of them, one of a crew, one of a stew of hormones and stink and disillusion. Fifteen year old me said those words and cringed every time because even fifteen year old me knew those words were not my feelings, not my understanding, not my heart.
The 1980s were a fucking terrible time to be a teenager.
I think about Harry Crews all the time. The world he grew up in, the gnarled roots of it all. The way he spoke, the way he put words together in sentences that were like snapshots and incantations of the world reflected in his eyes. The way he moved in the world, Reclusive, yet affable and aware.
It’s not that I find people insufferable, it’s that I find their reluctance to let go and let the world show them to themselves insufferable. We’re living in this rapid-fire, all-inclusive, all-thoughts-should-be-shared kind of world right now. Everyone. And the hardest part for me is stuttering through all the chaff to find melodies that aren’t constructed for petting and reassuring. Nobody makes it through this life without some scars. Nobody makes it through this life without a broken heart. Nobody makes it through this life without disappointment and resentment and fears becoming realities.
Go join a cult. Leave everything behind and go join a cult and see yourself at your most empty and to-be-filled. Stop talking to everyone you know and only speak to people who have no idea what your life has been about. Go join a cult and connect with someone and follow them down as far as they go and take notes in your head and listen to the way the waves break and then ask yourself why you’re unhappy and when you let yourself down.
I like atheists who keep their mouths shut and I like Christians who show don’t tell and I like vegans who wear leather and I like carnies who smile at chickens and I like dogs who curl up with babies and I like cats when they are sleeping with a paw over an eye and I like athletes who raise up their teammates and I like salted caramel and I like the way smoke gets caught in half-light and I like poems that make me slump and clutch at a chair and I like torrential rain and I like the first cup of coffee and the last cup of coffee and I like the world and I am learning—oh, I am learning—to be thankful for a messy life I never asked for and I wish to everything I could plug a USB chord into the back on my head and show show show it all.
Oh boy. In this episode we hang out with the wonderful and kind Zachary Lipez, who has had words all over the internet in places like Hazlitt, Noisey, the revamped MySpace, The Talkhouse, and many others. Lipez is becoming one of the most well-enjoyed voices out there in the ones and zeros of music writing, and his background as former vocalist in the sadly defunct Freshkills informs that writing. We talk with Zack about how he ended up writing for Noisey, the art of criticism, Twitter activism, political correctness, Williamsburg then and now, the derogatory and unnecessary use of the word “hipster,” his new musical project Publicist UK, and so much more. Zack is one of the brightest and best we know. Check him out. We know you’ll dig him.
“ I believe in using words, not fists. I believe in my outrage knowing people are living in boxes on the street. I believe in honesty. I believe in a good time. I believe in good food. I believe in sex.
In this episode we talk with Dan Magers, author of PARTYKNIFE, a book of poems. We talk about anxiety, what went into building/producing/birthing PARTYKNIFE, running a small chapbook press, experimenting with forms, competitiveness, what got the juices flowing to inspire, and lots of other fun as hell stuff. Dan is a good dude and if you ever get that chance to see him read or talk with him, we suggest you do so.
In this episode we sit down with Leigh Stein, author of the novel The Fallback Plan, a book of poems, Dispatch From The Future, and co-host of the reading series[with Sasha Fletcher] The Book Report. We talked with Leigh about writing memoir, dealing with trauma/grief and how that affects the process of writing, her new venture calledBinderCon, standing up to online misogyny in the literary community, and a gang of other things–including Civil War reenactments. We can safely say this: Leigh is rad, and you should check out everything she does.
A shell a vessel to contain a series of sinews and organs and nerves and scars and fear and fluids and systems a dying thing a living thing a dying thing a cage a cage a cage a prison.
What is a body good for?
Fucking and fighting and seeing and moving and sweating and fucking and bleeding and eating and sleeping and carving and tasting and decaying and decaying and shriveling and growing and revolution.
What is a body trying to say when it is destroying itself?
You are not worthy of this vessel and you took this vessel for granted and this prison was necessary and you didn’t value it and now you will learn humility and now you will see the light dimming and feel the cells disintegrating and now you will know regret and blood and tears and time and that everything decays and everything ends.
I am fighting with my body while I fight with my spirit. This is something that maybe others do, but I am not sure because it isn’t something that people discuss often. My body is breaking down and aging and my mind is confused and my spirit is yelling FUCK THIS SHIT and trying to push through the walls. My body is in a revolution and refuses to listen to my spirit and this is a war and wars always have casualties and I don’t want to be a casualty and I don’t want to fight this way and I am troubled, oh, am I troubled.
This is only the tippy-tip, though.
There is more.
“From the discovery of that necessity which inevitably reduces man to nothing, we have shifted to the scornful contemplation of that nothing which is existence itself. Fear in the face of the absolute limit of death turns inward in a continuous irony; man disarms it in advance, making it an object of derision by giving it an everyday, tamed form, by constantly renewing it in the spectacle of life, by scattering it throughout the vices, the difficulties, and the absurdities of all men. Death’s annihilation is no longer anything because it was already everything, because life itself was only futility, vain words, a squabble of cap and bells. The head that will become a skull is already empty.”
—Michel Foucault, from Madness and Civilization
I am still angry about the event that occurred and the ripples it has caused inside of my body, inside of my spirit. Not about what someone else did or did not do. Not about what could have been done. Not about what others may think should have been done. I am angry because none of it matters until I do something. What matters the most is that I learn. Me. I.
I am learning that I have not spoken out enough. I am learning that I myself have not made others comfortable at times. I am learning that every day I do not speak out and speak to men who do these things and try to maybe shake something loose inside of them to get them to see what they are doing I am wasting time and time is finite. I am learning that who I have been has lead me to where I am and who I am now and my amends for those things is to open up all the way and speak out. Speaking out is the only way.
I cannot continue to support my own ideas and beliefs in silence. I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone else to do a thing. I cannot continue to listen to what amounts to hate speech and sit on my tongue. I cannot continue to witness misogyny and homophobia and transphobia and racism and classism and monstrous behavior without speaking. I cannot.
This is not a warning, this is a promise.
None of us asked to be born. We all deserve freedom.