a writer's journal - politics, music, american culture, esoteric aspects of life, and stories


I hear you, I see you, I love you, shut up, go away

Music is so casual. Books are so uptight, they say, "start at the beginning please," they don't make any sense unless you give them some time. Books are squareish, records are round - and doesn't that say it all?

Throwing on an old friend record like a sweater, you don't have to think about her, she's just there with you, filling that cool space with warm gentle memory-thrum. Or go to the store and pick up someone new, judge her by her cover: you can do that with records. A casual contact. Once in a while it breeds something deeper. Hard to express to other people in your life just what get from her.

Books you might come back to again and again, too. But them you less party with than revere. You spin records, books you cradle. And it's so rare anyway, to connect like that with a book. The worst is when you go looking for a book you loved once and realize she's idiotic. Fills you with disgust - "what did I ever see in you?" You want it out of sight. But a record you once had fun with, no matter how naive or goofy, or just plain dumb, you can go back to. That's so casual.

You treat books casual and you'll regret it. Leave'm splayed on the floor and they'll pretty soon go to pieces on you, making a mess. You might find a lost dusty page that belonged to her under your dresser when you move, and it won't make any sense on its own but it's a scathing reproach for that very senselessness. And don't let them get wet, their words run together when they're full of tears, they get sticky, heavy, moldy, ugh... Best to put them back on the shelf carefully. Keep the writings on the wall. Titles out so others, visitors, can see. How should you stack them? By size I suppose.

Records too though, you mistreat them more. You dump shit all over them without hardly realizing you're doing it. You give them scars, make them jumpy. They might even refuse to play with you. You've got more though. "Fine" you think, "I'll play one of the others." You toss her to your left, on a chair or bed or table or floor, out of the way, turn away.

Actually, you think, you should throw her out completely.

And sometimes you look at 'em all, and think, "I wish I didn't have any of you anymore, I wish I had a completely different horde. How, in God's name, did I end up with you all?" (Like they're your children. Running around, giving you no peace. But they're not your kids, where do they come from? From love made somewhere else. The ones much younger than you are especially baffling.) Whichever one's making noise at that moment, you start mocking it, mimicking it with a screechy voice.

Records, you listen to though. You listen without even thinking about it. You don't really listen to books. You just sit there with them, quietly. Aw, you know you love to listen to them make that same old noise. Peel the shirt off one more time and give it a go. Ok, now, back in the stack - you blow some dust off, wipe with your cuff. We like that damage on the records if it isn't too serious, after all, it's personal; we caused it, we can live with it.

I wish I loved books like I love records. Hell, I wish I loved womankind like I love records and even books. Squareish women, round women. Racy or enigmatic in appearance. Casual ones, serious ones. Splayed on the floor, or up on the shelf, or spinning in place. Pleasure, pleasure, life is about pleasure, isn't it? A record won't tell you, a book will; but you won't listen. A women might tell me, a bookish woman. I need a musical companion, I think. I want to hear someone new tonight, I want to get lost tonight for hours on end inside a good one, actually I want one of my old favorites tickling my ear while I get lost inside a new one, experience both at the same time; I think I want to go all the way through three of 'em, one right after the other, until I can hardly see straight and my body aches and my head's practically spinning, and all the while I want that old favorite I've had around for years, just tickling my ear gently, not distracting me, but keeping things lively.

Do they creak when you open them up? Or make a whooshing noise when you pop them out of their packaging? How long has it been..? Oh, I know what satisfies me. Macking on a few interesting ones at the Goodwill, walking out to the car with an armful, blowing all my money on them. It's art, hey; I'm a cultured dude. I've had so many, though. Some of my friends think I'm obsessed, or it's a crutch, a way of avoiding real contact, they think I think just in terms of quantity too. It isn't like that, they're all special to me. Ok, well, some are more special than others.

I might pass some on to my little brother or even my parents. I love it when my friends like the ones I'm really into, to. I let everyone borrow. I pick and choose through my friends', see what they got.

I wish I could remember the first ones, recall that feeling. It was pretty pedestrian, actually. In my twenties it was the most important thing, it was all-consuming. It was all I talked about, too. Discussing the complicated ones with my friends, pointing out serious flaws maybe. That queasy cheated feeling of I loved that one before she was everyone else's darling. Cherishing those laugh-out-loud moments when you're alone with one in your bedroom. Up all night, every night.

Nowadays I'm not so driven. It's still important, sure, but I don't let them interfere with my life. They don't change me as much, I don't so often imagine there's a deep affinity where there isn't - and there almost never is - and I definitely have trouble warming up to the new ones, and devoting enough time to them; I almost never bother to let them finish.
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