Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hip Hop Shows and My Fake Death

One of my editors just asked me if I had any interest in reviewing the Anger Management Tour, this giant production starring Eminem, 50 Cent, the Game, Lil John and some other rappers. To sweeten me up, she wrote, "I really want to get a smart woman's perspective on this." But I wasn't fooled. There are few things worse than the idea of driving myself to some corporate-sponsored (Staples! Tweeter Center! And now Hyundai!!?) mega-stadium in San Bernardino with bad sound design, paying $8 for crappy watery Miller Lite in cups, and consigning myself to some 7 hours of bass and unintelligible rapping (re: bad sound design). Nevermind the 3 hours it will take to get out of the parking lot. Plus, the last time I went to a hip hop show, it was LAME, the worst.

It was a De La Soul show in 2000, Chicago, at that one theater with the really nice black leather seats and tables. I went with a coworker of mine from the newspaper I used to work at. Me and J were excited about the show, both of us being De La fans, but it was clear to me from the crowd as soon as we got in that some sort of Golden Age of Hip Hop had passed between the last time I'd been to a hip hop show and this De La show. Many of the women were giving me dirty looks, like "What up, white girl?" and no one was really dressed cool or edgy, like the hip hop kids you see on the subway in NY. They just looked tired in their saggy pants and Kangol caps (or precursor Kangol caps) and nudey suede Timberlands. And the vibe was just bad, sour and deflated. Nevertheless, J and I took our seats and watched the show.

De La sucked. Just plain sucked. Around 2000, they decided they had to become "hard" to stay in the game. Bad move. The whole appeal of DLS was that they were NOT hard, they were playful and smart. I understand they wanted to distance themselves from that whole "hip-hop hippies" tag that had plagued them since the mid-90s but the worst thing you can do is give creedence to a dumb misconception like that. Which is what they did by running a million miles from it straight into clich├ęd "pop a cap in yo' ass" territory. Anyway, this isn't a review. There's actually a story here...

After a while, J and I were bored and started drinking and doing shots, etc. J went off to the bathroom and some other guy sat down with me at the table. He was totally not my type--really big, not fat, but just really tall and thick, with a dumb plaid shirt and gold bracelets and crap. Besides even if he was cute, I was married by then anyway and while I sometimes flirt with strange boys just to amuse myself, I would not have with this dude. Big guys scare me. [Quick aside: I was talking to my friend, who I'll call Lady J, the other day and both of us realized that we're only attracted to guys who are near our height, not more than 4 or so inches taller (and definitely not shorter). I've always known that about myself, but I'd never really verbalized it before.]

But this guy was on the make. At first, he tried to be subtle about it, saying he came over "just to talk," but as soon as J came back from the bathroom, he was like, "Is this your boyfriend?" With no attempt to sound convincing, I replied, "yeah." I could see that J was like, Oh, Fuck. He'd always been a chicken-shit and he was scared Big Dude was going to kill him in order to win my hand or something, I don't know. But I knew that Big Dude wasn't the violent type, just lonely.

BD then said, "Well, if you're a couple, then kiss."
I said: "We're not into PDA." Which no one says over the age of 16.
He said: "Then I don't believe you."

I then blew J a kiss and he grabbed it out of the air and pocketed it. We started laughing really hard because it was just such a ridiculous thing to do in the moment and the Big Dude was kind of mad, but he still didn't go away. Nowadays when I get hit on by a guy, I just tell him I'm taken, not interested, etc. in a very direct way, but back then, I think I was more like a cat with a mouse. I realize now it's not nice to screw with people like that, but what can I say? A few drinks and shots, and I can occasionally get a little cruel. Anyway... Then he started asking us questions and he found out I worked as an editor at a newspaper. His eyes lit up. He had a new angle: "Oh, my friends have a hip hop band. Can I send you their CD?"

I asked him some questons about his friend's band and it became clear to me that they probably didn't exist. But whatever, he wouldn't leave, so I gave him my card. No big deal, I used to give out my work cards all the time. I had voicemail and email so no harm, right?

The next day, starting pretty early, Big Dude started calling. He called once. Left a message. He called twice. Left another message. He called another time. Hung up on the VM. Called another time. Hung up. And this was all before lunch. I was pissed and a little freaked out.

As I was walking back in from lunch, C, the receptionist, looked exasperated and said, "Your friend won't stop calling! He's on Line 2 right now!" C was the most awesome receptionist ever. He was super fashionable and spoke in this low, droll voice, smoked lots of cigs and read good books. I told him to tell Big Dude that I had gotten in a car accident while out to lunch and that I was in the hospital. "Tell him, " I said, "that I might not make it."

C was like, OK. In fact, he barely batted an eyelash. He got on the line and said: "Hi, yes, Margaret Louise has been in a terrible car accident. She's in the hospital and it's not looking good." Pause. "We're all rooting for her." Pause. "Oh, you'd like to leave another voicemail? OK, I'll transfer you."

He hung up the line and we both burst into laughter. "Oh my God," C said. "You have to tell me what he says on that VM." I ran back to my desk and listened. Big Dude said nothing of my car accident or critical condition. Just more shit about getting together for a drink, etc., going to see his friend's band. How insensitive.

But he never called again. Ever since then, my enthusiasm for hip hop has only gone downhill. I still like it but not like I used to, not at all.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Too early for Hitler

It's really hard to watch "Shoah" at 9 in the morning. That's what S had me do today. She wanted me to transcribe a letter that someone reads from a man who was told about the camps by an "eye-witness" who escaped. "Shoah," if you don't know, is Hebrew for annihilation and is about, of course, the Holocaust. The whole thing is 9 hours (!) long but we only watched about 20 minutes on one of the four tapes. Anyway, I felt strange as I wrote out this letter on blank typing paper with a ballpoint pen. Suddenly, this poor man, his words were being filtered through my handwriting. It was unnerving in some way, as if by writing his letter in my own hand, I was obscuring his history. His last line is, "Creator of the universe, help us!"

Later, we did research on her computer and read about the German composer Wagner, whom Hitler loved (but not as much as Beethoven). He wasn't around during Hitler's time, but Wagner was a huge antisemite who wrote a book about how the Jews were degrading music. S wanted to know more about musicians who were heralded by Hitler and those who were banned, so we read about Jewish musicians who were forced to leave in 1933, and people like Strauss who wrote several compositions for the Third Reich. At different points in my reading, both S and I got teary. It doesn't matter how many times I've heard these kind of stories about the Holocaust, they still affect me, and leave me dumbfounded.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Should I Quit This Job Because I Am A Starfruit?

PART ONE: Before I get to the job dilemma, let me talk about last night's Memorial Day dinner party. It was an extremely enjoyable time, punctuated by many games, and being a game geek (any game except Monopoly brings out the hyperactive, hypercompetitive 12 year old in me, which I find fun to connect with every now and again), I was really in heaven. We played Mafia and no one got in any vicious fights and then we played some parlor game that was called "Jenny Hodges' Game" after a woman we've all gone to school with for the past couple of years. Anyway, the rules of Jenny's game is that one person leaves the room, and while they're gone, the rest of the room chooses someone whom everyone knows (including the person who left the room). Then, the room calls back in the person who left and the person who left has to then guess who the chosen person is by asking questions like, "If this person was a designer shoe, what would it look like?" Or, "If this person was a color, what color?" Etc, you get the point. Anyway, my main dude D (known as the Mayor to some) left the room and the room, all girls at this point, decided it would be fun to make ME the chosen person. (Yes, it's fair game to pick someone in the room, but let's admit that this is TOTALLY the kind of thing a roomful of women would do, you know, just to see if he REALLY knows his special Margaret Louise.)

So, D leaves, comes back to a roomful of goofily grinning women and asks:
If this person was a fruit, what kind?

The ladies eventually settled on a starfruit, though there were a few votes for mango and kiwi. All agreed I was "something tropical."

D: Ok (confused). If this person were an instrument, what kind?

Heavy debate ensued. A said definitely something bad-ass, like a guitar Joan Jett would use. L said yeah, but crossed with a violin. Definitely a violin. G said what about an electric fretless violin used by a jam band? (I contend with any description of me using the words "jam band" but I like the spirit of a fretless violin... wait, do they have frets?) M said "A lot of cymbals." Huh?

D: (really really clueless) Ok, if this person were a state, which one?

Now, I really hated this question because most everyone knows I'm from Chicago, and I've been thinking lately I shouldn't talk about Chi anymore because some of my friends, esp. the people who I went to school with, I think they think I'm obsessed with the place because I bring it up a lot, but ONLY as a visual and geographical cue. Anyway, I've been feeling like it's time to can the Chi talk but this game made me POSITIVE I should shut the *f* up.

L said with tired determination (maybe even a touch of pity?), Oh, Illinois. N said, Illinois? No, what about Paris, I know it's not a state but... G said, yeah, I'd go with Copenhagen, if we're talking cities. The fact that N & G said this helped a lot but the damage was done. Illinois was agreed upon, though reluctantly by some. I held my head in my hands.

D was still confused. He asked if it was a friend of ours. Laughter ensued, mainly because the friend he named also shares a name with another person who'd been at the party earlier and who is, let's just say, decidedly not like me.

You're supposed to get only 3 questions but another was permitted.

D: If this person was a movie star, or actor, who?

Redeemed! The ladies said perfectly nice and flattering things like Claire Danes and Rosemary's Baby-era Mia Farrow. (I have short hair right now, otherwise I don't really look like Mia F. though I have heard the CD thing a couple of times.) Better than Janeane Garafolo whom one of my old coworkers said I resembled, blech! She's funny but not really cute, I don't think.

ANYWAYYYYYYY.... D finally guessed correctly, to which all us ladies clapped like the sly chimpanzees we are. And I think he was a tiny bit embarrassed about the whole thing, though he denied it.

PART TWO: So, this fucking job....

A few months ago, I was working at this vintage clothing store, and I was decently happy there. Everyone I worked with was nice, though the boss is a little wiggy but nothing catastrophic. I've certainly had waaaaayyyy worse, like the boss who referred to black people as "chocolates," and the boss who once hid an apron of my own money from me (long story, ask House of Dum). So, even though the job was OK, I quit because I got a bunch of writing assignments and I thought to myself, I want to write for a living, not sell clothes, right? Well then, quit.

So I did.

And then a week later, I get this call from a woman about a Craigslist Ad I applied to months ago for a writer's assistant. She asks me to meet her on a Sunday morning so we can talk about the job. I agree because I'm curious. Who's this writer? Maybe it'll be someone amazing. Maybe the job will be fascinating and open some doors and blah, blah.

Saturday night comes around, the night before the interview, and I embark on what I think will be an average, reasonably calm night of drinking with friends. By 3am the night has revealed its true colors--turns out we're all on a one-way street towards Drunkenpartyallnightville. Six or so of us are sitting around my kitchen table, crowded with beers, and we're smoking in the house (I don't allow smoking inside--we got a balcony--till I'm ripped to the tits, so, clearly, my tits were officially ripped.) The whole table is laughing uproariously every three minutes, the way drunk people do. Someone says one thing, and THE TABLE ROARS! Someone says something else and THE TABLE IS IN STITCHES! And while I recognize in the moment that we're all just drunk, and nothing said is as funny as we're all making it, it still feels good, excellent, to just laugh with abandon, a fun way of shooting the whole world the middle finger. People don't leave till 5am. In my bed, with dawn cresting and birds hopping from branch to branch outside my window, I curl up and think, I'm FUCKED.

Next thing I know, it's 10:23am. My interview is in ten minutes--seven, actually. Across town.

I fly out of bed. I examine myself in the bathroom, swearing, freaked, OH shit, OH shit, Oh shit. I have a slightly burst blood vessel beneath my rheumy looking eyes. My face looks melted, everything sagging downwards like some basset hound. My mouth tastes like the floor of a forest after a fire; my hair gives off the stench of American Spirits while my skin emits a toxic load of alcohol.

I throw on a dress, apply foundation, mascara and tear out the door. I am now 15 minutes late for this interview and I haven't even gotten in my car. I stand in the outside hallway of my building, the Hollywood sign visible but mostly obscured by smog, and I leave a message in a calm but raspy-morning voice for S, the woman whom I'm supposed to meet. I say, "Hi, S? This is Margaret Louise, we had an interview set up for 10:30am and I just want to let you know that I'm running late. I got into a minor car accident on Melrose and we're exchanging insurance information. Everybody is fine. See you in a moment." I hang up. For a moment, I think. Should I just not go to this interview? Too late. I've already left this wacko message, now I gotta go live up to it.

I interview with S, who asks nothing about the message or the car accident until the end of the interview. She says, So what happened with your car? I say, Oh, not much. No real damage on my car, but the other person's car was damaged and she was upset about it. S says, Oh. And there's this moment where we both know without a shred of doubt that I am a complete liar. But then she also says, So when can you start?

I've been working for S ever since, three days a week, four hours each day. It's not a lot of hours, clearly, but it's smack dab in the middle of the day and that's what is messing me up. 11am-3pm is when I need to work, not be typing in a novel for some Luddite. Allow me to explain further:

S has written a few nonfiction books, but this is her first novel. But here's the problem for S: she's around 60 and she doesn't type. By way of explanation, she once offered, There's something about my brain that doesn't allow me to learn how to type. I don't know what's wrong with me, and I don't want to know.

Um, OK. So she hires lackeys like me to listen to her write the novel outloud and type what she says into the computer. I agreed to do it because I thought it was interesting and it is. She often stands up and physically acts out scenes while she writes them. Like, she'll pantomime combing her hair and will say, "Lucille brushed her blond hair back into a ponytail," or whatever. It's inspiring to watch. It's also been encouraging for me to observe another person write a novel. Watching S get frustrated sometimes, but still get her work done reminds me that everyone suffers and gets annoyed while writing, but that's no reason to quit.

So, there's pluses about this job, for sure, but there are a few minuses. One, she's kind of a nutcase. Totally functioning and smart, but just kind of a pill. For instance, when she doesn't want to answer her business phone (she runs a photo archive business), she answers it but pinches her nose shut as a way to disguise her voice. You've not lived until you've seen a 60-year-old woman talk to another business person while pinching her nose and saying things in a highly nasal voice, things like, "No, S isn't available right now. No, this isn't S. Call back tomorrow." Click. I mean, WTF?

She's also the messiest eater I've ever fucking seen. And I used to serve frat boys burritos at 3am in Missouri. She's so messy she literally gets lettuce caught in her hair, dressing dripping down her chin. All her clothes are stained because she flings food around like a 3-year-old as she "eats." Have I mentioned that one of my pet peeves is people who eat with their mouths open? This is above and beyond a little flapjaw.

And finally, she's rather selfish and always changing my shifts at the last moment, or asking if I'll work extra days. I always have the option of saying no, and she's pretty reasonable about not pushing me to do anything I don't want to do, but I have to admit just being asked kind of stresses me out, especially since I've told her repeatedly I have my own freelance career that demands a lot of my time. And that leads to another problem. Every minute I spend dicking around with S, I could be using to get more freelance work, which is more lucrative, and personally, emotionally rewarding.

But, the job itself is cool. I get to do things like research carnies on Coney Island, and I get paid for it (though not much).

Augh, anyway, you've got enough information to advise me. I call out to the blog world: Show Me Your Wisdom!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I care about you, despite my blogging record

Fuck, man, I've been crazy-busy. I have so totally neglected this thing. Whatever doubts I had about blogging and the blogosphere, it feels worse to start one and then drop it One should not be half-assed if one can avoid it. Right now on the TV I'm watching (on mute) Meg Ryan so obviously dry-hump Mark Rufallo. I find Mark such a tantalizing yummy thing to think about, but Meg Ryan is ruining it with all her lip-quivering. I've never seen an actress do so much acting through just her lips. It's like some director once told her she has a cute mouth and now she can't stop moving the thing around all the time, pucking, pouting, biting the lower, etc.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I've Had A Weird Week (In No Order At All)

1) I only have one wisdom tooth, I'm 29, and two weeks ago it started moving. Out of nowhere, it exerted pressure on my jaw, a pressure that felt like a spoon wedged between two of my molars. A large Turkish man named Dr. Beni removed the tooth last Friday with a ballpeen and hammer. He shattered the tooth, which was attached to my jawbone, after he had shot me up with TONS O' NOVACAINE. Right before he shattered it, he said, "Are you ready to party?" in his Turkish accent, and then laughed, low and sleazy. Later on, after the removal, his cel phone rang and he had one of those musical rings that was all Turkish-disco and shit. Yeah. He seemed really embarrassed when it rang, and his eyes darted back at me as he turned it off. But the thing was, I already could tell he does coke and dances to bad music. I could tell by his arm hair and bad back-alley-Rolex-ripoff wristwatch.

2) Tuesday night I went to this networking party. I've been to one of these things before in Chicago but never in LA. Basically, it's this society for writers/journalists and they host get-togethers every few months or so. All the journos gather and bitch about how little money they make, how no one lets them write their big dream opus about Band X or Politician A or Social Phenomenon B and this is supposed to show how vapid the media industry is. And the media industry is vapid, but not for these reasons. Anyway, this party was kind of pathetic--did I say that already? I met the lowliest bunch of freelance writers, including one dude who lied to me about who published his novel. "Oh, Random House published it." Turns out dude self-published it. Nothing wrong with that, but why lie about it? Now it makes *everything* he told me suspicious, including his little story about being hired at a bigshot music mag and then laid off two weeks later. "Oh well," he sighed, brushing aside his too-long bangs, "they wouldn't have let me publish what i wanted anyway."

3) At this same party, towards the end, I decided to sit down with an intense-looking bunch of people just for the hell of it. Thing is, at these parties, no one is supposed to know each other, and blind networking/socializing is encouraged. So I was following directions. But the moment I sat down at this table, I felt like "Uh-oh." I clearly was the nerd sitting down at the cheerleaders table. One chick, the Sally alpha-female of the crew, immediately gave me this look like "Whatthefuck?" But I ignored that and turned on the best of my Margaret Louise charms. Soon enough, I had half the table on my side, while Sally and her friend continued to give me the cold shoulder. I got drunker, and so did two other guys sitting with me. By the end of the night, it was me, these two guys and a bunch of half-drunken glasses of wine. One of the guys, Stephen, drank all of everyone's dregs. The bar decided to close the back patio and kicked us out. I asked Stephen, "Hey, do you want to go to the beach?"

4) To the right of me is the dead ring of the Santa Monica ferris wheel, with only a thread of lights blinking in the dark. In front, the Pacific, mounting and roaring, lapping at my toes. To the left, a swooping crescent of maligned Los Angeles shapes--houses and palm trees and myriad hotels. Stephen has already waded in, and he's pretty far out there, so far that his head is only a bobbing sphere of black curls. I'm wearing a dress and black tights, but I run in anyway, screaming and laughing, loudly not only because I'm excited but because it's comforting to hear myself, to have my voice as some sort of center in the dark blurriness of the beach. The water is cold and delicious, and the smell of salt and strangers' garbage wafts up and pinches my nose, stings my eyes. And then the surf overtakes me and for a second I'm very scared, as I always am when the first wave hits me. I'm not a good swimmer but my legs kick up anyway and make the appropriate shapes in the water. I forget everything, including Stephen's name. When I loose track of him, I yell out, "Hey!" and then struggle to remember who the hell he is.

5) I ate chicken at the Burritto King that was suspiciously pink. Like, fucking carnation pink. Wha??

That's all for now...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

An encounter with The Chick from American Beauty

I was sitting in this coffee shop/wine bar around the corner from studio 1021, writing in my journal and rereading Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. This winebar/coffee place called The Banquette is nothing special but I like it because you can work in there for hours and no one cares. They also have nice soups, like squash and lentil, though the lentil soup that day was kinda greasy.
So I'm sitting there, writing, and in walks that chick from American Beauty, Mena Suvari. I couldn't think of her name at the time, so I said to myself, "There's that chick from American Beauty." She was with this older guy, older like maybe late 30s/early 40s, not very attractive, with fine brown hair that was slightly curly at the ends like a baby's. He was dressed like this character on Deadwood, the priest who eventually goes insane and is mercy-killed by Swearengen. That is to say that this man was wearing a dark cloakish type of thing and the kind of rugged, oil-cloth boots you should only wear on a field frequented by horses. I remembered then that my friend Tony, who worked as a waiter in WeHo, had waited once on Mena Suvari and her husband, who is some successful producer or another (I realize I could verify this with imdb.com but that would take the fun out of it), and Tony said that Mena was nice but that he'd found her husband creepy. Apparently he was fully and frothily delighting in the fact that he's married to a young, beautiful Hollywood starlet. Tony is gay and so wasn't affected by what this guy probably imagined to be deep dark pangs of jealousy, but bad taste is offensive, no matter what.
But I didn't think about that showboating when I saw Mena; I only remembered that detail much later. What I remembered was Tony saying she's married to a not-that-good-looking producer dude. So, seeing this guy flapping around in his cloak, protectively shielding Ms. Suvari from the cruel eyes of The Banquette, I wondered: Is this The Guy? I didn't stare too long at Mena, just long enough to take in her heavily made-up face (lots of foundation), her turquoise sweater and white, long coat which was pretty and looked expensive in a handmade-by-some-unknown-but soon-to-be-hot-designer-fresh-out-of-fashion-school kind of way. I continued to scrawl in my notebook, as if about something all-consuming, but really I was writing something like "that chick from American Beauty just came in and her husband (?) is with her and..."
As I wrote that, I listened as Mena, in a high voice, uncomfortably asked if the sandwiches could be made with wheat bread instead of panini. Like I said, The Banquette is nothing special, just one of those coffee shops with a few grills for making sandwiches... so the waitress explains that panini is all they have, and then there's some back-and-forthing I don't quite catch because of a loud espresso machine, but somewhere in there, I hear the waitress defensively explain that the sandwiches would be "ice-cold" if made with anything other than panini bread. I honestly have no idea what the fuck she was talking about at that point, but I felt sorry for her that she was obviously being questioned so heavily by Mena and her baby-haired cloaked friend/husband person that, backed into a corner like a terrified feline, she had resorted to a crazed line of no-logic, you know, the old "ice-cold sandwiches" defense. Does it get any thinner than that?
Anyway, Mena and baby-cloak man decided to take their business elsewhere. They walked out of The Banquette and into Pete's, the real restaurant right across the lobby (both are located at the bottom of an office building). I kept on writing and maybe a moment or two passed and then, spaced out, I looked up, expecting to take in the ordinary scenery of The Banquette as it had been pre-Mena. But I looked up and BAM! Not an eyeful of garlic, but something more unexpected: Mena was back! And for whatever reason she was staring dead at me when I looked up. She did not have a friendly expression. Her mouth was set tightly, her cheekbones drawn in and her eyebrows were mashed down. We locked eyes. And because her expression was hostile, even if it was in a distracted, bland kind of way, I returned something that probably didn't look so friendly either. Then, when I realized what was happening, I broke the eye contact.
Isn't it weird that Mena and I gave each other rude looks? Why did she give me a rude look anyway? I wasn't doin nuttin! Speculations welcome...

Monday, February 21, 2005

R.I.P. Hunter S. Thompson

I am not one of those rabid Hunter S. Thompson fans by any means. In fact, I've always found HST fans one of the more annoying varieties of writer-fans in existence. Almost always, the HST fan is a decently attractive white guy who's either physically in his mid-twenties, or spiritually/mentally/emotionally, forevermore, in his mid-twenties. Either way, he's typically 26, likes to drink and smoke a lot, likes to write about SHOCKING TOPICS like his masturbation habits or his abominable behavior with the female gender, and secretly prizes himself as being a very deep person because he occasionally spends an evening crying in bed, or he's scared of his father, or he actually actively regrets fucking over some poor virgin, etc. Anyway, he has feelings too! It goes without saying that lots of self-loathing is involved, and though he's never had a lost weekend in the desert with peyote, he sometimes tells strangers he has, and that it changed his life, man.

Yeah, you know one of these guys, or you've seen him walking down the streets of Wicker Park/Echo Park with a real sad-sack puss on for no fucking good reason, in his black t-shirt and headphones.

Anyway, I could rip on this type all day, but for all my cynicism, I'd be lying if I said I haven't been attracted to this type from time to time. It's hard, especially when you're physically/spiritually/mentally/emotionally in your mid-twenties, not to get caught up in this young man's particular vortex, as swollen with self-aggrandizement as it is. It's hard not to want to step into the center of it and see how much of it you can push away, if any.

That said, I still find the HST guy pretty annoying, right up there with rabid Tarantino fans circa 1995, and God Help Us All, fans of Ani DeFranco, anytime between 1994 and now. It's OK if you are a fan of either of those people--I liked Tarantino then and I generally do now--but I'm talking about worshipful, emulating, fan-people whose whole personalities get transfixed and then appropriated wholesale, entirely consumed by the 24/7 activity of LOVING AND BEING so-and-so. I'm talking about THOSE people. Like, don't even get me started on the guy I had in one of my writing classes at Columbia College who wrote a story about a jewelry heist and all the characters were named Mr. [fill in something wacky] and they all laid around discussing banalities till someone came in shooting a AK-47 to the strains of not kitschy-good classic rock, but this kid's awful, hapless and sickeningly unoriginal prose.

So when I read this morning that Hunter S. Thompson, at the age of 67, shot himself fatally with a shotgun and that his wonderfully named son Juan found him, I sighed a very complicated sigh. After I got over the simple, joyous fact that Hunter had a son named Juan (c'mon, it's so perfect! So West!), the reality of this suicide set in.

Not long ago, a month or so before the reelection, Thompson wrote a piece for Rolling Stone. It was nice to see his name in there--it had been a while. In junior high, when I first subscribed to RS, the two politcal writers who I remember most were Hunter S. and PJ O'Rourke. I would read their articles, but I was too young to catch a lot of the innuendo and the exact meaning of their contrary, spiky attitudes. As I got older, I think I understood Hunter much better, though I still found his trumpeting tiring, and almost always self-indulgent.

But here was this article before the election that was all about what an idiot Bush was/is and how America will surely send him packing. It was one of the most hopefully rowdy pieces of incendiary writing I'd read in a while. Thompson was so certain, so confident that America was better than this hack they'd barely elected last time, that his enthusiasm became a sort of emotional cornerstone in my own very resolute feelings that Bush's time had come. Though I don't recall articulating it to anyone, whenever I doubted that Kerry would win, Thompson's essay was on the short list of things I'd think about to comfort myself.

Turned out, obviously, that Thompson and I were wrong. Though in a way, I think we were both right, despite the statistics. The only thing that dragged us down was this small but sagging middle, this collective of people who didn't vote or didn't vote our way because, as the saying goes, you can't have a revolution on a full stomach.

Thompson is dead, but I'm glad that after years of reading him and disagreeing with him, after years of feeling like maybe he was even sexist or just a mega-asshole with no redeemable qualities, after years of rolling my eyes at his fan-boys and occasionally against my better judgement, kissing some of those fanboys, that the last thing I read by him before his death, I completely and happily ate up. I smeared it all over my spirit like some kind of salve. His essay wasn't just entertainment-- it was emotional fortitude. It's like Thompson and I held hands for one brief but important moment before all that self-loathing cut him off from this world, up and away from me and everyone else who loved him better and longer than I ever could.