Every situation has its set of perfections. Arete—excellence— as the Greeks called it. An optimization of parameters. It is a set of perfections because it will flower differently depending on the style of personality perfecting it. No situation, though, is without these transformative possibilities; especially if you define your liberties positively as “what you do against and with limitations.” Or by determining liberty in relative measure to limitations. Even Death Row has its field of possibilities, its horizon of action, usually literary. Death Row just requires an extraordinarily resourceful hand to uncover new paths and games, to forge weird new liberties, to carry out a fruitful possibility analysis… However dismal the results might be (I’m thinking of the “button game” played by prisoners in dark solitary confinement cells, to keep their personalities whole).
Waiting rooms, laundromats, reststops: these are fields of almost pure potentiality, traditionally squandered. They have their reasons-for-existence: to wait, to wash reds with white socks, to cure munchies and road hypnosis. But really, in unwritten meaning, they are places of suspended animation. I’d go so far as to say that ninety percent of all laundromats are really havens from the flow of Time, from the passage of decades. Look for yourself. Plush peagreen carpets. Wood paneling. Sunbleached signs and soap dispensers with clowns on them. What the hell? Rows of machines that together form an “uncarved block of Pure Being.” Open twenty four seven and screaming for a new perfection.
But I’ll return to these locales later. For now I want to think about a much more perplexing, multifarious location: New York City, somewhere that has always frustrated the shit out of me. A place that, from prima facie expectations, from the glossy posters and invites, should really deliver, should practically transform itself, but usually always ends in anticlimax and restlessness. I am doing something wrong, picking the metropolis up by the wrong handle. I had two recent episodes in the city last week.
The first was the Deitch Art Parade, which had the same unbearable, forced Bacchanale environment as Burning Man, only instead of riding away in madmaxed deathvehicles, had everyone gathered in Soho for cocktails. What could I have against this? Nothing really except that too much creativity always make my eustacian tubes start to hurt (“creativity” here being pure expression that manages to dodge both form and content, idea and craft, and makes straight for the splatters and nudity).
It wasn’t actually so bad, kid of funny actually, following the Dazzle Dancers and acting like brats on local news with the Dearraindrop kids, who had invited me to ride on their golfcart in the parade. I was just unsatisfied and undernourished. We did meet three young skaters that skitched alongside us and pop balloons. They introduced themselves as the “Fart Doctors.” This enriched me a bit. As did Joe’s tantrum when our stageshow was cancelled for noise complaints. He had us set up by the bathrooms and blare our nonsense through stereosystems. We just crapped around for about twenty minutes, before guards unplugged us.
A little while later, on the Chinatown express back, I made internal promise was sealed: not to return to New York for a justifiable length of time. A month maybe. Until a real reason came along. Two days later, I broek my promise and returned to Manhattan, this time consciously anticipating and embracing the Anticlimax.
We were riding up for a cd release party for Devendra Banhart, somewhere in Alphabet City. Jonny had gotten an invite, which was then extended to all his friends. It sounded alright enough; which is requisite for any trek to New York City. But I knew– we all knew– that it was just a ringer. Jonny felt the need to apologize ahead of time.
We reassured him: we came up here knowing full-well the inescapable suckiness we were sure to encounter at any Manhattan cocktail party.
We landed in Manhattan. We ambled around. Made the obligatory visit to Punjabi. Called Hanna from Littlecakes. Waited a little longer. Got coffee. Waited. Sat outside of a laundromat just blocks from the release party locale. Still too early. Waited some more. Expressed regret. Played with sticks. Called cellphones. Walked around a grocery store.
Is it eight yet? Do you want to try? The sooner we go, the sooner we can leave…. We found the place and approached the doorman. We weren’t on the list. Big surprise. “No Jonny Spritzer on the list.” What the hell. Now Jonny would have to track down Devendra. His taxi would be arriving soon. Perfected anticlimax: sitting outside of a bar, waiting to see D’Angelo Reinhart.
If it had ended there; so would my relationship with New York. I would have been able to make a cold, surgical cut. Then and there. Never again. But we were then kindly admitted, served chilly glasses of sangria, and left to stare around in tiki torch light. Just enough to quell me.
Though now what? Let’s adopt a methodology and see it through. Perform a minor possibility analysis. Solve the situation effectively, and arrive at an optimization of parameters, a perfect reconfiguration of the physis.
We balanced everything– our calm demeanors, the distanced on-lookers, the mood– and arrived at a solution.
We stripped down to our tighty-whities and sunglasses, and struck classical, homoerotic poses for the next two hours.
It was stupid and perfect. Flexing our biceps and butt muscles beside promoters discussing their latest gigs. Most people were not into it; even the ones who presumed we had been hired to pose. But we certainly amused ourselves.