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this modern life

Hello I’m here

It’s been nearly a year since I discovered the Forty Days of Dating project and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve still only read up to Day 21. In my defense I kinda don’t want to get to the end too soon; it’s a fascinating experiment made even more beautiful by the presentation, and a good reminder that Life needs to be not only a series of Emersonian experiments but a series of finished projects as well.

Like cakes in rain

Jesus, there are lots of little funny things. I can’t even remember half of them. That’s what happens to a life, though, isn’t it. The little ornate things drizzle away, like cakes in rain, while the big blocky stuff is left to stand in for a lifetime of minutiae. Sad and beautiful.
former San Francisco Film Society Executive Director Graham Leggat

Yeah, it’s kinda like that. Best of 2012 list coming soon.

List – Top 5 Desert References

I’m headed to Black Rock City for the weekend.  It sounds like something out of a videogame but for the uninitiated (a group to which I suppose I still belong) it means I’m going to Burning Man.  It also means subsisting in the open Nevada desert for more than a couple days.  In honor of these terrifying conditions, I present to you a list of my Top 5 Desert Pop Culture References that I will take with me to BRC:

5. The English Patient — An epically long and (curiously) epically lauded movie about some dude who gets his face burned off in the desert.  Overall I remember feeling pretty lukewarm about this movie — didn’t love it as much as the critics, didn’t detest it as much as Elaine Benes — but the sheer length of time it took to watch burned lasting images of desert sandstorms and Kristin Scott Thomas into my mind forever.

4. “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)”, The Simpsons — In this classic episode Homer finds himself hallucinating in the desert after eating a lethal pepper at a chili cook-off.  This may have genuinely been my first clue to comprehending the subversive potential of mind-altering substances; personally I’m thinking heatstroke might have the same effect.

3. Star Wars — Who could forget the desert planet of Tatooine, with its Jawas, Sand People and double sunsets?  Given the propensity for kooky costumes at Burning Man, I fully expect every camp to look something like Mos Eisley.

2. Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — Thompson’s classic travelogue of Vegas and the surrounding Nevada desert, ostensibly reported entirely from an altered state of mind.  I think it’s going to be pretty difficult not to channel Thompson’s prose (or Johnny Depp’s narration) during all the madness I expect to see this weekend.

1. Frank Herbert’s Dune — I have to confess that I haven’t actually finished this book.  But from the bits that I read last year I understood quite viscerally what it meant to be on a desert planet where any exposure to the elements could spell immediate death.  People going outside on Arrakis have to wear special suits just to harvest their sweat, for Pete’s sake.  And let’s not get started about the giant sand worms.  Here’s hoping BRC isn’t anything at all like Arrakis, but if it is, I feel a little more prepared for it.

I feel certain I’ve missed some other glaringly obvious ones (Wrath of Khan was #6 if you’re curious, though I don’t even remember if there truly was a desert), but that’s all I’ve got right now.  Did I mention that at night the desert is supposed to turn to Hoth-like temperatures?

See you on the other side

I’m headed to Black Rock City for the weekend.  It sounds like something out of a videogame but for the uninitiated (a group in which I suppose I should still count myself) it means I’m going to Burning Man.  It also means subsisting in the open Nevada desert for more than a couple days.  In honor of these terrifying conditions, I present to you a list of my Top 5 Desert Pop Culture References that I will take with me to BRC:
5. The English Patient – An epically long and (curiously) epically lauded movie involving some dude who gets his face burned off in the desert.  Overall I remember feeling pretty lukewarm about this movie – didn’t love it as much as the critics, didn’t detest it as much as Elaine Bettis – but the sheer length of time it took to watch burned lasting images of desert sandstorms and Kristin Scott Thomas into my mind forever.
4. The Simpsons – In this classic episode Homer finds himself hallucinating in the desert after eating a lethal pepper at a chili cook-off.  This may have genuinely been my first clue to comprehending the subversive potential of mind-altering substances; personally I’m thinking heatstroke might have the same effect.
3. Star Wars – Who could forget the desert planet of Tatooine, with its Jawas, Sandmen and double sunsets?  Given the propensity for kooky costumes at Burning Man, I fully expect every camp to look something like Mos Eisley.
2. Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – H.S.’s classic travelogue of Vegas and the surrounding Nevada desert, ostensibly reported entirely from an altered state of mind.  I think it’s going to be pretty difficult not to channel Thompson’s prose (or Johnny Depp’s narration) during all the madness I expect to see this weekend.
1. Frank Herbert’s Dune – I have to confess that I haven’t actually finished this book.  But from the bits that I did read last year I understood quite viscerally what it meant to be on a desert planet where any exposure to the elements could spell immediate death.  People going outside have to wear special suits just to harvest their sweat, for Pete’s sake.  And let’s not get started about the giant sand worms.  Here’s hoping BRC isn’t anything at all like XXX, but if it is, I feel a little more prepared for it.
I feel certain I’ve missed some other glaringly obvious ones (Wrath of Khan was #6 if you’re curious, though I don’t even remember if there truly was a desert), but that’s all I’ve got right now.  See you on the other side

The moment – 8/28/10: Madison

the key to good digital photos: take as many as possible

There was a Cheez-It toast. The University of Wisconsin band showed up on the dance floor. Way, way too much alcohol was consumed. And yes, the groom’s perennial staple of “Bust a Move” was performed (pictured).

Post reception there was ample time to sample a bit more of Madison’s late night bar scene, not to mention a midnight snack or two. My last glimpse of the bride and groom was the two of them, separated from their celebratory herd, giggling like madmen with each other as they cavorted down the streets of Madison — off into the night, off into their new lives of epic private adventure.

Congrats, Whazzmaster and Spacebee.

If only I could reboot my mechanical heart

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood — it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘Too late.’ There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect.”
– MLK

I also learned on this trip that I continue to grow & love you more

While on the train a couple weeks ago I found these words written in feminine script on the back of a discarded receipt from Miami International:

I also learned on this trip that I continue to grow & love you more.

This line has stuck with me for so many reasons.  Consider:

  1. I’m a huge believer in personal growth.
  2. I believe in the power of travel to bring perspective to life.
  3. I love people who take the time to document their learnings from a trip.
  4. The “also” implies that this was just one of a set of revelations.
  5. “Grow” comes before “love”.
  6. It’s just a great melodic sentence — it sounds just like a Miranda July title.

Who were these words directed to?  A lover?  A god?  A city?  The writer herself?  Maybe all of the above.  And as I flew back in to San Francisco Sunday night and reflected on the recent brush with death, the ridiculously beautiful friends and all the incredible work that lies ahead of us, I recalled this note and found myself thinking, “Yeah, it’s kinda like that.”