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hello. - PLEASED WITH DISEASE

About hello.

Previous Entry hello. Jun. 13th, 2006 @ 01:53 pm Next Entry
rheostat001 invited me in. this is probably fairly crap. but i'm just getting back on this bike. no more apologies


In 1983, Meyer Lansky, Tennessee Williams, and Buckminster Fuller died. The Dodge Caravan hit showrooms. Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and Return of the Jedi was in theaters. Also, I was born and the world was going right to hell like it was going to the grocery store--it seemed straight-up natural. By 1989, Salman Rushdie had a price on his head, the Exxon Valdez sank, and my parents were divorced--Mom and I were in Atlanta, my Dad and sister in North Carolina.

In 2006, the year that Bradbury, Heinlein and company had us exploring Mars, I was twenty two and trying to be a reasonable, real person. More specifically, I was sitting on the floor of a craftsman bungalow in Savannah drinking warm PBR from a can, holding a girl with nine piercings and a predilection for the Sex Pistols. It wasn’t intergalactic exploration, but I was four weeks off of a breakup; she was four days out of the same and in seemed right. It is amazing what a haircut, a thunderstorm, and a working knowledge of Shakespeare can, quite literally, put in your lap. But I’m getting ahead of myself and will come back to that story.

Meanwhile there were people roaming about my house. Two Asian art students: the guy had never gotten laid (that was my best friend’s project for the summer); the girl had such an easy time of it that she could give a damn. Various and sundry Savannahians in various stages of being Done for the night and a multiplicity of cultural and clique disguises lounged on my furniture. Scanning the rooms from my floor I saw kids with long dreds and sandals, one still hung up on grunge and Kurt worship, a fistful of folks in the corner tripping out on some miracle chemical that comes in a tiny pill, all of them wearing more or less the same clothes: stylishly ripped jeans, tee shirts with scarcely disguised sexual references or pre-faded slogans. In another corner, not talking to anybody was a rookery of damp train-hoppers. As long as they stayed still, they were fine by me. My best friend and roommate, who I haven’t seen in anything but solid colored shirts, cargo pants and flip-flops (regardless of season and weather) in the last four years bounced around cooking giant juicy feisty burgers with lots of cheese. It was my house first but it was Mike’s party. Well, at least I could relax—Mike would keep a good eye on those traveler kids and nothing important would be missing in the morning.

Apparently the lesson most of us had learned was that doing reasonably well in school, not getting arrested for anything serious, and attending college would get you more or less where you wanted to be: provided you wanted to be drinking beer and bourbon, smoking pot, and planning bullshit art, political, and adventurous projects that had no chance of being remembered the next day. All this was ours. Wood floors, loud music, beautiful girls. In addition I had a steady cool job, a summer serious job, impending graduation and the lingering worry that the one thing my generation is proving it has a real talent for is fucking it all up.

This is an account of us. The story is of our important moments, which are not the events our dear parents planned and filmed for us. There are precious few of those here—no weddings, few birthdays, only a couple of graduations. Few of us know the words to Auld Lang Syne, and only the real oddballs care that we don’t.

This focuses more on the things we remember, half-forget, and outright make up. Know that it all happens mostly at night; in back fields, at house parties, on the hoods of cars looking out at the lake. It is beer cans, bowl packs, and raw clutching inexperienced sex. This is altogether fitting and proper. After all, which is more important—that we passed the SAT or that we passed it in spite of the half bottle of whiskey consumed the night before? This is why we think we’re immortal, by the way: we get away with everything. Now imagine if we actually tried.

If the above seems trite and clichéd, that’s probably true too. It’s another thing we do well. Who are We? We don’t know yet. They keep trying to name us: Generation Millennial, Y, Next, the Fucking Pepsi Generation. None of it works. We aren’t lost, we aren’t beat, we sure ain’t the greatest or the best and brightest. So call us Generation Take, Generation Apathy, Generation Couch, Bong, or Boredom. We are the children of Joe Camel and Big Bird. We have the greatest set-up of all time but the best we’ve done so far is ape the cool of the last generations.

This story is more specifically concerned with a triad of friends. You already know us—three guys joined at the hip, our names flowed into one another through most of high school and the years since: DanMike’n’James. For now, know us as The Criminal, The Professional, and The Fuck-Up, like cards in a twenty-first century tarot deck. Just know also, that at this point—a house party at the end of the semester—I am no longer sure which one of us is which. It used to be fairly clear and simple.

“Motherfuck!”
The above interjection was preceded by a crash as James, who had been whipping CDs in and out of the player for the last hour, lost his grip on the Seagram’s bottle he’d been slugging off of for the last two hours. His expression was enough to suggest that his anger was focused on the loss of a usable quantity of alcohol, not the mess he’d just created. The following interjection is concerned with James’ discovery that shards of the bottle had sliced his foot down the inside.
“Oh shit. Fucking Christ on a Fucking Bike! Dan, you got band-aids?”

Did I? I couldn’t think what with one thing and another: blood-alcohol content, this chick’s lips behind my ear, Mike unflappably collecting glass shards and wiping up bourbon. I fixed on a reel of duct tape on the kitchen table. I only had to get partway up to snag it with my fingertips.
“James! Heads up, bud.” And I whipped the tape at him. It caught him above the right eye.
“Fuck, man.”

“Yeh. Sorry,” I laughed, got the rest of the way up, reached down and pulled Maggie up off the floor. We walked through the kitchen to the back stoop while James crouched on the floor wrapping tape around his foot. One of the hippie-style boys got off the couch and approached the stereo and stack of loose CDs. As we went out the door, there was more of James’ soundtrack:
“No. In fact, hell no. No Marley for at least forty-five minutes. I already played the fucking Grateful Dead for you, right now we’re listening to the Ramones, probably Gorillaz next, but if you don’t shut the fuck up, I’ll put Swordfishtrombones on loop for the rest of the night. What? Aw, man kiss my—“
The door shut.

“Is he always like that?”
“More or less. James cares about appropriate party music maybe too much.” She was trying to find her cigarettes.
“I got it.” I pulled out my pack, separated two smokes, got mine set and held the other one up to her, resting the filter on her lower lip. She gripped it and I lit hers, then mine. It’s really dark in my back yard. The motion-floodlight hasn’t worked since I moved in almost a year ago and my landlords are such a pain in the ass to deal with that it won’t be fixed. So we were just two shapes with little red fireflies in front of our faces, while the wind pushed rain against the pile of Goodwill cruisers and scattered name brand bikes along the fence and shook pecans out of my backdoor-neighbor’s trees.

It is important to note at this point that this was all accidental.
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From:rheostat001
Date:June 14th, 2006 01:04 am (UTC)
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i like what you have... a couple things...

1. Rather than, 'In 1983, Meyer Lansky, Tennessee Williams, and Buckminster Fuller died. The Dodge Caravan hit showrooms. Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and Return of the Jedi was in theaters. Also, I was born and the world was going right to hell like it was going to the grocery store--it seemed straight-up natural'... I would swap the second sentence around some... Something like...

'In 1983, Meyer Lansky, Tennessee Williams, and Buckminster Fuller died. The Dodge Caravan hit showrooms. Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and Return of the Jedi was in theaters. The world was going right to hell like it was going to the grocery store. Also, I was born--it seemed straight-up natural."

2. Careful of telling us rather than showing us... there are quite a few times you show us what's going on, then tell us how to feel about it (having trouble remembering exactly where). Trust your audience.

3. careful of tense. early on, it seems like you're looking back on these events, but in the last paragraph, you jump to present...

4. be very, very careful. you're skating between greatness and cliche... also, be careful when writing autobiography as fiction. it can bite you in the ass...

but, for serious, i like what you have. keep it up.
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From:timpressionist
Date:June 14th, 2006 01:19 am (UTC)
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my hopes for this:
1 true to our gen, regardless of how useless i think we are, it's time to start trying to tell our story. maybe it will even make us slightly less useless.

2 as it grows, it will become less autobiographic.
when it's a full draft (or at least a very big draft) i'll be able to pull myself out, while leaving a type of self in it.

thanks for your comments, i think the best is "skating between greatness and cliche" which is maybe the shortest way of defining what I want to get at.
things your thoughts would help with:
this is going to have to be big. i need to figure out how to structure the piece as i work without killing it.
it needs out of first person, at least most of the way through. i know it needs to happen. finding the way is going to be tough.
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From:rheostat001
Date:June 14th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC)
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i guess my thing is... i don't think we're so useless. i see kids doing really amazing things everyday. things from bicycle advocacy to trying to get a pool built in Reynolds Town to writing stories, drawing comics and knitting AK-47s (my personal fav. i love her)... so when i see something about how useless we are... ehn, i try not to abreact, but... *shrug*... so maybe you should back off the abstract over-arching statements and focus on the people in the story... just my own preference... looking forward to more.
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From:rheostat001
Date:June 14th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC)
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oops, i'm sorry. she's crocheting an AK. my bad.
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From:timpressionist
Date:June 14th, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC)
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edited on that thing last night, getting it out of first person, and a lot of things (mostly me spouting theory) no longer fit. so they're being removed, saved, and will probably reappear at some point, but not as narrator.
i guess useless is the wrong word...but we do seem to lack follow-through. it's not that the part of our people that you and I are associated with isn't trying-it's that set in context of our gen as a whole, we're the minority. it feels like we're throwing very small rocks in a very large pool.
you are probably right-my little spiel is probably more accurate for a section of us than as over arching Blah. I'll send you the edits when the piece has healed and grown.
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From:rheostat001
Date:June 14th, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
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ehn. spoiled kids are spoiled kids and always have been. fuck the useless twats. they'll go the way of their parents and their parents before them... I know the majority of us aren't doing anything spectacular, but neither did the majority before them. we're just too young to be nostalgic about the little bit we've done...

have i already mentioned that i can't wait to see more?
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