Sunday, May 18, 2008

Successfully negotiating the killing floor.

I work with the illustrious Miss Lesley Arfin and today in fact was at work filling in for her usual shift when the hilarious happened. A young fellow walked into the store. He came in solo, an enthusiastic kid, tall and skinny with a slight regional accept, which region was difficult to pin-down. He made a beeline for the acid-washed mens jeans and I assisted him with sizes. He came out of the fitting room and grabbed one of Brendan's t-shirts to try on with it. He engaged me in conversation about the tshirt for a moment before nervously asking me, "Does Lesley Arfin work here?"

I told him indeed she did but she was out sick today and that I was covering for her. I asked him if he knew her and he said, "No, I'm just a fan."

"A fan? How did you know she worked here?"

He looked embarassed, as if I'd accused him of being a creeper (which I guess I slightly was, but only because it was funny and he was so non-creepy.) "Some Canadian friends of mine were shopping in here yesterday and told me she was working here."

He went on to gush about how funny she was, how cute she was, what an amazing writer she was, how cute she was, how great her book was, how perceptive she was, and again, how cute she was. I of course agreed with him on all those points because she is indeed all those things.

Turns out Lesley's 21 year old fan is from Philly but has lived in Ontario for the past 10 years and currently is a seasonal employee at a gold mine in Canada (yeah, what? gold mines in Canada?) He is a huge Vice junkie and recent college grad. I should have taken a picture of him wearing the acid washed jeans and pink tie-dyed tiger shirt he wore out. I love talking to kids five years younger than me. It's not that big of a difference but they have a lot less world-weariness. They aren't bitter yet, they still have an attitude of freedom when encountering the world which is something I lost long ago and am trying to regain. (Except for kids born and raised in NYC, they are world-weary assholes by the time they are 12.)

I realize that I have gotten lazy and jaded. And it bums me out. But there is nothing worse than being bummed out about being jaded. That's like the ultimate double bummer. It's basically realizing you've become an asshole and then doing nothing to remedy it. So I am trying not to be bummed, but instead trying to be excited about something, anything, everything. It's hard to become excited again when you are used to neogiating life as survival. Still, I think the enjoyment instinct is still there, although less successfully employed than it once was.

I feel as though my generation of New Yorkers has built a culture of negation. Our creative expression is making fun. I've written about this a lot, that sort of Vice mentality that even Vice tried to break away from (and oh did it's fanbase whine and moan.) Talking to this kid today about the new music movement helmed by bands like Matt and Kim and the Deathset (musically not always my cup of tea but undeniably energetic) that's based on a common infectious enthusiasm by those on stage. Strange that it's a rarity to encounter a band that actually seems stoked to be playing for your. The sense of privilege is mutal; they seem privileged to play for you and you feel privileged to be in the audience. Smiling onstage, should that be so rare? I mean, I understand that smiles don't have a place in all music, in fact most of the music I listen to. My primary expectation from a doom metal band is not affability, but still, it is nice to see people genuinely enjoying themselves while entertaining you and that's what this whole party punk + keyboards scene is all about.

I don't want my life to be dictated by cultural forces that are essentially negative. Vice has always seemed like Maxim for Discord fans, the post-punk (as in post-an individual's indentifying as-punk) lowest common denominator. Every attempt at serious discussion is thwarted by the readership as "lame" or "faggy" and you know how excited these dudes are to use the word faggy and know they won't be scolded.

It's hard to find people these days who will admit that something is amazing or...sigh "awesome" that isn't directly related to their own reality. We only champion the works of our friends and contemporaries. Our realm is exclusive and tiny even though we live in this massive city. We get stoked on things in our immediate reality while exploration (aside from the art of the google image search) is a dying art.

I want out. Not of this city. But out of this mindset. And I think I found a way, but I'll tell you more about that later.

1 comment:

see more said...

i ended up on your blog through lex. your writing is great.