Friday, May 09, 2008

a greenwich village original

After an evening in NYU's library, writing and studying, I went for a beer at the Belgian beer bar, a place I frequented during my Village days.  It hasn't changed though everything else has.  I felt out of place in the library, I don't recall during my time there as an undergrad seeing that many people there.  What is more striking is that everyone now has laptops and cellphones with them, something we never had.  I wondered if the students are better off with these gadgets.  Are they brighter, more loved, more equipped to take on the world than my generation?

I doubt it.  And then I wondered what a waste all that plastic and metal is if its not making smarter, better people out of it.  Its just an add on, a tool, but the essence of brilliance comes from somewhere else.  

It reminded me of my religious studies professor, back when I was 18 and fresh, who felt the same way about Microsoft word.  People expected the word processor to produce greater quantities of brilliance when all it did was produce greater mediocrity, the great novels came out at the same rate as before.  The same is true with the digital camera revolution, or blogs even.  There is a democratization of the media and higher access but quality is the same.  Fundamentally these tools don't help us become brilliant, they just make life easier for already brilliant people to be brilliant.  

Why is that?  What is it that makes for great students, great art?

I still believe its books, specifically literature.  

I sat there with my fancy 8 dollar beer and pondered what I am sure most people alone drinking ponder:  is this all there is?  There has to be something more, my mind said.  There has to be some meaning, some structure to all this jumbled madness.  Does it only have meaning if my mind makes it so?  What is the independent nature of the world without my mind looking, interpreting, making sense of it all?    

I get those moments where I feel like I am waiting to die.  As if my entire life is one big preparation for death, when everything will be clear, or perhaps it will be too late.  I do everything I can in my life to not die with any regret.  There is nothing I want to leave undone, no desire left unexpressed.  

I finished my beer, unable to even flirt with the bartender.  I walked over to Joe's pizza and asked for a slice of pizza and then went to my version of sunday church, the movies at film forum.  And like always I came out happier, elated, marveling at the exquisite detail of a great film from 1971, "Sunday Bloody Sunday".  It meandered just enough and took risks without falling apart because it moved with such confidence.  I don't know if movies can be made in similar spirit now.  Everyone wants you to quickly get to the point.  But there was a time when the narrative held, and waited while the story took turns for aesthetic pleasure, or to go deeper into some sub-conscious yearning.  

I like the film forum, its a salvation of sorts, but I will say the people who go there are all the NYU film student types with their panama hats, big plastic glasses, tight jeans.  Fucking homosexuals.  

On the way back I picked up a copy of the village voice and was appalled at how bad its gotten.  What the fuck is going on?  Did someone die there?  Too many commas, too much nonsense, a complete waste of time.  Or maybe I am getting old, I don't know, thankfully the Times is still alive and with it and makes me smile from time to time, especially because I know they have developed a love affair with Queens.  You can just tell.  

if you haven't read it already check out the article on Flushing:


We will always have Queens.  Not Paris, Queens, the times they are a changin and I am glad I am livin in it with you somewhere there reading this sweet heart.  WE will always have Queens and that seven train.  Fuck the village, the future is Jackson Heights.  

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