Yes. Yes. I’ve been quiet here again. I’m balancing a very complex schedule at the moment and have to dedicate at least some of my time to tutoring a couple dozen of The Uj’s English 1C students. 7 weeks in and I’m still not quite sure I’m the best choice to be instructing anyone else on academic writing. And then there’s also the one character trait that’s survived every permutation of my existence: that nagging urge I get to skip, like Dorothy, in the opposite direction of anything and everything I commit myself to. I still have Megan breathing down my neck, making sure I do the things I promised her I’d do, and this means I’ve managed to actually write in a somewhat professional capacity lately. I’ve delivered the first drafts of a short story and a script over the first two months of 2011. Meg called the former “a very pretty girl in a very ugly dress”, and I’m inclined to think the same of the latter project, but that’s what first drafts are all about.
Up until this point, my life has been a series of first drafts, so I’ve been able to get away with a lot of really bad behaviour, poor excuses and not much to show for it except maybe enough perspective to photo-bomb a sunset over the Indian Ocean.
So what am I saying exactly? I’m saying I haven’t been writing here again because I’ve been busy writing elsewhere, but also for other vaguer reasons that speak to my character. It used to be something would rile me up enough that I’d sit and think about it for a few hours, then sit down and write some grandiose interpretation of whatever it was down. This means that almost every bit of blogging I’ve done over the last few years has been a review about something simple (a music festival, a movie, a song, whatever) as it pertains to my evolving perspectives on God, religion, The Universe, romance, Love, girls, boys and The Man.
Last Saturday I went to Ramfest, didn’t really enjoy it and sat down to review it. But I couldn’t type up how I felt about Ramfest without getting into a broader rant about Jo’burg events, local music and scene kids. I’ve been looking at all this information for quite a while, and now I was trying to process it all through one failed day festival that I didn’t expect to enjoy much anyway (But I tried. Oh God, did I try).
Here’s my real Ramfest quote: “So that was Ramfest, huh? The double whammy of SA sound engineers and limp crowds strike again.”
Welsh rock band Funeral For A Friend, who played at the event, have a song with the lyric “This situation isn’t getting any better” in it.
Jess Grobler said: “Proper limp crowds!!”
Anne Putter said: “Extremely sucky Ramfest! Puke!”
Adam Fairall said: “Its a poorly organised event! Shame on the lame!”
And who are those people? Who gives a fuck? If their names were on the back of a novel with a newspaper’s name that you may’ve heard in a movie once, you’d probably smile, nod and buy the book. This despite the absolutely atrocious jacket design that looks like it was put together in an afternoon by a dude with a pirated copy of Photoshop and a cell phone camera. Take a deep breath, because I’m about to go further off the reservation into the land of novels and their cover designs. About a month ago (I can remember because it syncs up with my now-monthly regretful sexual escapade – guys this month maybe?) I was at an Exclusive Books cheap-cheap sale. This is one of those things they set up in 10 minutes by whipping out some tables and then just pouring wall to wall poor sellers and old stock onto them. Everything was marked down, and the selling price was half off that, so I didn’t hesitate to buy a single book that I’ve since misplaced somewhere in my labyrinthine room. How often do you go into book stores? Because when I do find myself trapped again inside the walls of a shopping mall, I usually end up at either the book stores, the coffee shops or the Look & Listen (because I enjoy self-flagellation mainly). Anyway, I go into book stores without any intention of buying anything, but with my eyes wide open, hoping that something will jump out at me and sell itself based solely on the cover. I know books are more than just their covers, and that unlike most of what I’ve read in the last 5 years, there won’t pictures inside rendered by talented Brazilian twins, but I do feel that there’s a certain art to making a good cover. It’s not the sort of design that applies to an album cover or a dvd box; it’s entirely it’s own little branch of the design world that I imagine is reserved for guys who moonlight (or sunlight, really) as PAs but really, really just want to be novelists themselves. Or publicists. Do people aspire to be publicists?
I suppose if I got to be like Robert Downey, Jr. in “Wonder Boys”, just about to be fired, incredibly good looking for my age, rugged but intellectual, and fucking young brooding liar geniuses in a pot-smoking college professor’s house… wait, Downey was his editor in that, wasn’t he? Not his publicist.
Wonder Boys, the movie, is based on a novel by Michael Chabon (this is as far as I can recall anyway). I’ve never read the book. I may never. I have read something else by Chabon. “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”, which is a fantastic novel that uses the backdrop of the emergence of the superhero genre into pop culture history in 1930s New York to tell a really, really good story about identity and our attempts to escape from the often horrible reality of our lives. Which is not to say that my life is horrible. I think everyone thinks at some point that they’re having the worst possible time that anyone could ever have. We’re like that. We don’t care what we’re attaching our emotion to, so long as we’re making a connection with something else out there; a greater sense of the parts of ourselves that we’re most comfortable with and maybe the parts of ourselves we want everyone else to see. We all want to be big and strong, brave and unwavering, witty and charming, beautiful and sexy, but most times we settle for engaging with some far removed version of that thing rather than the thing itself. Maybe we’re not trying hard enough.
Take me here, writing this when I could be writing something else, with maybe greater value for my career (what career?), my future, my life, or at least something that an audience might find worth reading. Something with a complete thought in it. But I didn’t feel like completing the thoughts just now because that would mean committing myself to any one of them when they’re all in there, in my head, shuffling about for some time in the sun.
I gave myself a 1000-word limit for this post that I knew I’d never be able to stick to. Congratulations if you stuck with it this far. You’re well past 1200 words into something that had no real purpose except for me to cleanse my mental palette. Back to reality now. Reality. What’s that, I wonder?