Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Going To The Movies Alone

I went to the movies by myself last night.

Why? I have no idea. It was like a social experiment or something.

I decided that I wanted to see Pirates Of The Carribean: On Stranger Tides on the big screen and I figured most of my friends had already seen it. Instead of making a round of calls and figuring out the details with people, I thought maybe I would go for an adventure and see it by myself. I was quite curious actually. The idea of seeing a movie alone intrigued me.

And so, almost immediately after starting up the car, I thought about bailing. I mean, shit, I was about to cross over to the other side, to the land of dudes who see movies alone.

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with going to the movies alone," my dad told me.

"I've never done it. In my entire life, I've never done it," my mom added with a note of jock 'tude in her voice.

Then, I thought about it and realized that I hadn't really ever done it either. I remember I went to the movies alone once in high school because I was writing a movie review for the school paper and I took it way too seriously (I had a notepad in the dark theater, as if I could see what I was writing...and I was probably just drawing boobs anyway). Also, while in high school, I used to sit in on a film course at Chapman University because they showed old movies and my friends weren't really interested in them. I'm not sure if that really counts, since it was a classroom and I think the teacher thought I was one of his students. Actually, he probably thought I was flunking the fuck out, since I was only there half the time, but I think he assumed I was a student nonetheless.

Upon arriving to Cinema City, I emptied half my bag of candy into some cough drop box I had lying around my car. The bag of candy was too big to fit in my pocket and I thought, "It's hard to think of a lamer situation to run into somebody you know than arguing with some teenage movie theater employee about sneaking candy into a movie I'm obviously attending by myself."

After I considered that thought, things went pretty sketchy in my head. Holy shit, I wondered, what if I run into someone I know?

So, as I crossed the parking lot, I began to feel like I was attending some kind of school dance alone, which seems silly. I watch a stupid amount of movies by myself (granted, I'm in my bedroom at the time) and I love going to movie theaters. But, for some reason, I've fully accepted the weird stigma that I have to see a movie with someone. But why? We just sit in the dark and stare ahead at the screen in silence anyway.

Maybe it's just like why I don't really travel alone. I essentially want someone I can turn to and yell things at when I'm excited.

Regardless, I came up with back stories.

If I ran into someone I knew, I'd tell them, "Oh, I was supposed to meet my friend here, but something came up and he isn't going to make it. I figured I was already here, so I might as well see the movie."

If I had to explain myself to someone I didn't know, I'd tell them, "Oh, I'm a big fancy lead singer of a big fancy band on a big fancy tour and we had some time to kill and I didn't really feel like doing a bunch of coke, so I came here to see a movie while I'm in town for the night."

If I was forced to come up with a name for that ridiculous latter story, it would've been something pathetically obvious: "Oh me, my name's Jim Jimmerton St. Claire Cloud McFunrocker. I sing for a band called...Jimmy Jim Jim And The Parking Lot Cars."

I either lie really, really well or really, really poorly. It's tremendously hit-and-miss.

Anyway, once inside the theater, I decided, "Man, I am going to treat the hell out of myself." So I bought a big stupid drink and a big stupid popcorn and I had a big stupid smile on my face the whole time. I doused my popcorn in butter and salt ("doused" is not an exaggeration). This was thrilling, as I don't always get to do this. If I'm at the movies with a friend, one of us will buy the candy and one of us will buy the popcorn, so we can share (and not everyone loves butter and salt as I do). Then, every time I go to the movies with a girl, she tells me not to pour on the butter and salt because it's bad for me, and I think, "Bitch, maybe I want diabetes." But it never comes out like that. Instead, it comes out like, "Bitch, maybe I want you to get diabetes."

Movie popcorn brings out the worst in me.

So, then, when I reached the 17-year-old girl at the booth, I had to set my poison of a popcorn bucket down, so I could hand her my ticket, because my hands were full of all this food nonsense, like I was preparing to see the original Star Wars back in the 70s, as if this was supposed to be some life-changing event I was about to have at the movies ("Jesus, this tall drink of idiot water loves movies. Motherfucker's probably going to start telling me movie trivia and how historically inaccurate these Pirates films are," I assume she thought to herself). Even then, as she handed me back my ticket and we simply stared at each other awkwardly, just the look (I may have very well imagined) she gave me nearly brought out my story about being the lead singer of Jimmy St. Jim And The Who Fucking Cares or whatever from some East Coast city I'd make up like Moviepostercarpetville, Pennsylvania.

Clearly, going to the movies alone was messing up my brain in a big way.

Finally, I sat down in my theater seat and the trailers started. And, every time I crinkled the plastic that surrounded my precious Sour Patch Kids in between trailers, I felt like everyone was looking at me and thinking, "Is that poor societal defunct alone? Is he going to want some of my Whoppers? I'll be goddamned if he does. Honey, should I set my purse on the floor or do you think he could still reach for it? Oh, I hope he doesn't scoot next to us and do something weird."

This all makes sense to me, as it was a small theater and I was the only one there with the seat next to them filled with the makings of a dirty food bomb.

So I watched the movie, got up when it finished and left in silence. I'd like to see any pirate film on the big screen, but, honestly, it felt like I could've easily watched something at home instead. That's what I realized as I crossed the stale pink, red and yellow colors of the lobby. I realized that movies aren't all that cool by yourself.

You should be dissecting that shit on the way home! Did I get to tell anyone that I thought the movie was mediocre? Did I get to tell anyone that I thought the movie was obnoxious, silly and a big letdown? Did I get to tell anyone how hot I thought the mermaid was? Did I get to tell anyone all the crazy things I would do to that mermaid? Did I get to ask everyone what that actress's name was, just so I could watch three or four friends pull out their iPhones and tell me at the same time? No! So, guess what? I had to do that google her myself once I got home and I found out her name is Astrid Berges-Frisbey. Fucking...a Spanish-French actress with a last name that's pronounced "frisbee?" Hell yes. I love frisbees. Sign me the fuck up, lady, and let's go see your movies together, because I am straight up done seeing that shit by myself.

Romantic Rights, Live on Conan

Hey, remember when Death From Above 1979 played on Late Night With Conan O'Brien and it was just, like, the best? If you forgot why it was so awesome, wait for 2:30 in the video below:

On a related note, I feel like "Romantic Rights" was playing at every party I went to the summer of 2005. Shit, whenever that song comes on, I still want to get hectic.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New York City: After

I've been to a lot of big cities in my time. I've been to London, Paris, Madrid, Dublin, Vienna, Sydney, Melbourne, Tangier, Lucern, Munich, Vancouver, Boston, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Nashville, Denver, Washington, DC, et cetera and New York City is the only one to ever overwhelm the hell outta me.

As James and I talked in the Kristen's living room on our last night in New York (James on the couch and me on an air mattress), we had a long conversation that included some of the most articulate things either of us have ever said about traveling. We came to the realization that New York City was the undefeatable giant (not all that surprising, but, hey, we thought of ourselves as a disaster strike team). When we went to Portland, we felt like we were louder and crazier than the city itself. With NYC, we talked a big game and feel disgustingly short. We were intimidated, tense and, in the end, put through the ringer.

However, I say this as we were unversed and arrogant when we showed up in JFK airport. We may not have been the conquerors we set out to be, but New York City was a gigantic monster that glowed and sang for us. It was tremendous. It was fun, hectic and downright spectacular. I loved it. I finally saw the city and it was more than I anticipated.

I wish I could tell you what he and I said while we laid there in the dark, hearing the muffled sounds of honks and shouts. But I can't. We came to the city laughing and shooting our mouths off and we returned with severed nerves. Our entire systems were only able to hold our muscles together by the end. So, instead of a thoughtful piece on what New York City is, I am only able to manage some fractured thoughts about the Big Apple and my tiny experience eating it.

Some quick thoughts on the place:

- Whenever New York City did something that surprised him, James would thin his eyes, smile and say, "Well played, New York." I'd say that phrase became the catch phrase of the trip.

- The cabs were clean and strangers were kind and helpful. Maybe things have changed or you have to be there long enough to really see the city's dirty secrets.

- I went to the top of the Empire State Building and the buildings went on forever. I mean, I could see badlands of New Jersey and what comes beyond Brooklyn, but, for the most part, it just looked like some futuristic landscape of tall buildings. It was unreal. New York City is like old Rome if they had focused more on tourism instead of conquests (you know, if they had just abandoned east, west, north and south to only go up instead).

- I smoked a cigarette by myself on a fire escape in New York watching traffic. I think, at the age of 16, that's all I would've needed to consider myself a success.

- Growing up, I thought of movies about New York as somewhat of a bad influence. Sure, there were a lot of pretty moments about extraordinary love and healthy marriages in the Big Apple. But, for the most part, I feel like my parents implied that I shouldn't smoke my lungs dead, shouldn't drown my liver and shouldn't sleep with women only to leave in the middle of the night like a whisper...and then it was always New York City who kind of said, "Hey, what if you did all those things in abundance instead?" That doesn't reflect my trip or my lifestyle, by the way. It's just sort of how I imagine everyone lived there when I was a teenager.

- I want somebody to get really high and go to the American Natural History Museum, so they can tell James and I if it's as cool as we both assumed it would be.

- The only time New York City shook my heart was when I saw the minature Statue of Liberty at the 9/11 Memorial covered in firefighter badges and notes to loved ones that disappeared. I felt a wave vibrate through my entire system.

- I see the influence of New York in everything now, from Regina Spektor songs to the Grand Theft Auto games.

- You can be happy in that city for free very easily. Well, ok, maybe the price of an ice cream cone. There was one point when I was eating an ice cream cone on a Brooklyn dock, looking at the city skyline in the mid-afternoon summer sun, and all I could think of was what I was looking at. I had a hard time coming up with where I lived or when I was leaving or what exactly I do for a living. All I could think of was ice cream and the New York City skyline. It filled my entire brain.

- There is such a crazy amount of attractive women in that city. Kristen told me that the ratio of women to men there is 3 to 1. There were a lot of moments where a hot girl passed us and I'd turn to Kristen and say, "3 to 1? Are you kidding me?"

- Also, from what I hear, I don't know how most male graduates of NYU don't die of STDs by their 30s.

- In a way, New York City is like Disneyland for adults. It's so perfectly organized and each of its five lands have some wonderful sights and rides. Everything seems so rehersed and experienced.

- My brain broke several times on the trip. It just became too difficult to really take in and keep my sanity. It was like visiting a holy city. Gods must have built this place, I thought at one point; it would've taken mankind thousands of years to do this. At its worst, New York City is one big tribute to man's ability to simply exist. At its best, it's anything you want it to be.

- If I lived in New York, I'd like to make it a hobby to bet on kids' tug-o-wars in Battery Park.

- Much of my previous knowledge of New York City comes almost entirely from movies and television shows. I realized this as I recognized much of Central Park from shitty romantic comedies. In fact, most of the time I was there, I had the distinct feeling I was walking around a film set.

- When I was atop the Empire State Building, I watched individuals walking the sidewalk by themselves 86 stories below me and all I could think was, "How the hell can anyone move here and think they're going to become somebody important or famous?"

-When I finally got home and had dinner with my family, there was a brief pause in conversation and I looked out the open top half of our Dutch door. I saw nothing and I heard nothing, and it was something. After three days of noise in the city, even while sleeping, it became a powerful sensation to acknowledge the quiet of the suburbs. In fact, it's one of the only times I truly thought of silence as deafening.

- Coming home from New York City was like dating a hot celebrity for a while and then realizing you're more fond of the girl-next-door type. Sure, I'd love to go to big Hollywood parties and talk up famous people, but I'd ultimately be more excited about taking it easy, cooking dinner and staying in to watch violent interracial porn with my old lady (hey, I don't want to get too boring).

- James was the perfect traveling companion and adventurer, and Kristen was the perfect hostess and guide. I had a lovely time. Well played, New York.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New York City: Before

I leave for New York City tonight to see it for the first time and I feel like I'm revisiting a beautiful lucid dream I had as a kid. Can you feel nostalgia for a place you've never been before?

Well, I tell ya, I've got six hours, a few pints and a Hemingway book to kill at the airport while I come up with an answer.

Goodbye, West Coast.

Monday, June 13, 2011

All My Friends

I can't see how you can go for a night drive by yourself, listen to LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" and not have a strange moment of reflecting upon your entire life up until you started the car and put on the song.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"all i ask"

"all i ask"
written after a perfect evening by jake kilroy.

if i could just laugh with friends in candlelight,
telling the world's oldest joke,
one that grew in the very roots of this country,
the long arms of the trees that grew our food,
in the fields that buried our acres of dead,
just near the river that bathed our christs,
and emptied into the sea that gave us freedom,
back when we tipped hats that we wore,
during an era that never saw the end,
while the kids heard the folklore mystics,
of the sort that smoked long wooden pipes,
for they were the chants and the choruses,
found in the songs about absences and embraces,
remembered as the only true words said,
when we watched boats and trains leave us,
or the nights we starved ourselves thin,
as much of our hunger was for dreams and loves,
spread through us and woven into our bones,
twisted like ivy up and down our columns,
since we are mostly just empty palaces anyway,
treacherous as court jesters in a mutiny,
sacrificed as the one long poem of defeat,
colored spectacularly as a renaissance,
twirled into space by the demigods in rags,
sickened by their own heretic spells,
parched from the desert angels of yore,
horrified that the water will not clean,
blessed as the careless aches of man,
stranded to be the first cough of breath,
hailed as our god's last word on earth,
broken as an empty promise to time,
counted as seven days of waiting for light,
loved as words swept into an old vase,
seen as the quiet dance of ballroom grace,
written as the garden path whisper sonnets,
bagged as fireflies and fairies here to astonish,
captured as the rumors and splinters of age,
discovered to be the shifting world asunder,
because this is how it always has to be,
perfect in its escape and nothing without its heart,
so is everything, so is everything, so is everything,
i swear i wouldn't ask for a grand death,

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"two lovers in your heart"

"two lovers in your heart"
written sleepily after a spell by jake kilroy.

sometimes, there are two lovers in your heart.
sometimes, they're the acrobats of the bed.
sometimes, they read the newspaper together.
sometimes, they rub their feet and that's enough.

and then comes the sweaty nights when the radio breaks
and only plays the songs they never want to hear
and they fight until they swallow their own throat
and they cough up bits of their insides from screaming
and they can't stop crying until they're dizzy.

maybe they still talk in their sleep.
maybe they want to hear more.
maybe they think out loud then.
maybe that's why they love.
maybe that's why anyone does.

so they'll cook each other breakfast in bed.
so they'll kiss the other cheek when it's turned.
so they'll laugh the hardest after grieving.
so they'll read their letters to each other.
they can be so perfect, truly, finally.

or be sick to their stomach forever.

whatever you want love to be,
it will,
whether you have it or not.