It’s no surprise that my neglect of this blog coincided with perhaps the most delightful, galvanizing epiphany of my life. A single conversation with a friend crystallized years of personal soul-searching and advice from others. I’ve felt great ever since, which creates two problems for this blog: first, the entire foundation of this blog is rooted in the paralyzing anxiety and fear that has driven me to a heady combination of inaction and overthinking; second, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve lost interest to proving anything to anyone, including myself. I know my value; I know what I’m capable of accomplishing—and what I need to do to achieve my goals—and I have no particular interest in either lording my accomplishments over others or of begging for their attention.
It occurred to me, when I remembered I had a blog and tried to figure out what I ought to write about, that that’s what this place has really been to me: a place to prove to anyone who will listen that I’m smarter, funnier, more talented, and more worthwhile than everyone else. That hasn’t exactly paid dividends, although I took some solace in the implied knowledge that Diablo Cody did not like what I wrote about her stupid movies.
None of that matters anymore. This was a place for me to feel strong instead of weak, valuable instead of worthless, brilliant instead of ign’ant, articulate instead of a stammering goofball. I controlled this depiction of my life because I had no control over my actual life. For instance, it’s exceptionally easy to remove past evidence of relationships gone awry from my blog. It’s much more difficult to remove their imprint from my actual life, and in the absence of genuine control over my thoughts and feelings, I came here to edit my life into what I wanted it to be. My entire blogging life—perhaps my entire nonfiction writing life—can be summed up in the brilliant matching scenes in Being John Malkovich, in which Craig Schwartz—puppeteer—plays out his fantasy declaration of love to Maxine using his puppets, followed immediately by his real-life declaration. With that control, Craig is who he wants to be, and Maxine is who he wants her to be; in reality, he can’t express himself clearly, and she’s a brick wall of indifference and low-key hostility.
I discovered that a recurring theme runs through the majority of my “serious” work. Much like Cecilia, the tragic heroine of The Purple Rose of Cairo, my characters often have to choose between actual reality and the delusional reality—fantasy—they’ve created for themselves. I didn’t realize this was a reflection of my own personality; mostly, I just thought delusional people were funny. But, in my own way, I was kind of one of them. Reality isn’t always fun, it isn’t always easy, but it’s all we have. Pretending otherwise just prolongs the inevitable, and often worsens it.
All that said, I’m reshaping this blog. If I bother to continue posting at all, I will mostly be sharing the things I’m currently appreciating in my life. I may also write more about writing and movies, if I have anything to say. I feel no real compulsion to do any of that, other than the basic joy of talking about things I love, so it would not surprise me terribly if this is the final new post in a long, long time.
Here are a few things along those lines:
- The Ettes—I “discovered” this awesome punk band through The Best Show on WFMU. I don’t always agree with Tom Scharpling’s musical tastes—he’s much punkier than I am—but The Ettes is the best band I’ve heard in a very long time: great, unique sound; delightfully poppy songs; spectacular lyrics; and Coco Hames’s tough-but-coquettish vocals. Good times!
- Crazy Foreign DVDs—Two of the best films I saw during my brief reign over The Parallax Review were Golden Slumber and Love Streams. The latter, a powerfully upsetting film about addiction, has been out of print in the U.S. for decades, probably the result of a lawsuit disputing who actually owns the rights. The former is a Japanese conspiracy thriller/comedy/romance/drama that, as far as I know, never got theatrical distribution in the U.S. But some dinky importer finally put out a region-1 DVD with English subtitles! And I found a Spanish copy of Love Streams with an English audio track! And I have a shady Philips DVD player that will play any region, PAL or NTSC! Take that, American distributors!
- Cop Land—Mostly known as “that movie where Sylvester Stallone is all quiet and shy and shit,” this film is inexplicably neglected in the list of great crime dramas. In addition to boasting the most recognizable ensemble in the history of time—Stallone leads a cast that includes Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert Patrick, Anabella Sciorra, John Spencer, Cathy Moriarty, Michael Rapaport, Janeane Garofalo, and my favorite “Hey! It’s That Guy,” Noah Emmerich—it tells a grim, gritty story about a group of dirty NYPD cops who wreak havoc in their small New Jersey town. Exceptionally well-made and surprisingly heartfelt, it kinda ruled.
The director, James Mangold, is probably best known for his worst movie, Walk the Line—yeah, yeah; it’s fine, but it’s a biopic, so it’s inherently flawed—Mangold has had a surprising career owing to his refusal to be pigeonholed. He has directed the following films: Heavy; Cop Land; Girl, Interrupted; Kate and Leopold; Identity; Walk the Line; the 3:10 to Yuma remake; and Knight and Day. And he’s directing the next X-Men movie. Fo’ reals. Based on his films, Mangold might have the same number of personalities as Pruitt Taylor Vince in Identity (spoiler alert!).
- Juliana Hatfield—A perennial favorite, as anyone who has ever seen this blog already knows. I spin There’s Always Another Girl on a daily basis, to say nothing of the other songs popping up when I shuffle. Over the long weekend, it was my great pleasure to spend a delightful half hour talking to her about movies, music, her book, books in general, my failed attempt at homemade s’mores, and other assorted bullshit. It went better than the Skypetastrophe, and that has everything in the world to do with my mental state. Instead of fretting and fearing how she’d react to me, I was just myself. And guess what? We’re kinda simpatico, which kinda makes sense considering how her music affects me. We’re not hair-braiding BFFs, but trust me, we will be. High five if you’re reading this, Juliana. I’ll bring the ponytail holders!
I’ve gone back and published all the old stuff, instead of meting it all out on a weekly basis. The original publishing dates are restored, and that’s about that.