I started a new project. It has consumed me... Eaten me whole. It has taken on a life of its own, and now I have this living thing in my grasp, and I am trying like hell to not squeeze too tightly. It twists and turns and dives of its own volition. It's a helluva ride. I have been going back to Bukowski quite a bit for inspiration. This poem in particular has been resonating:
I was sitting on the couch, laptop on lap, struggling with a graphic I have neither the skill nor the software to create. I had a random playlist cranked through the TV, and a Sex Pistols song came on. The screen saver is set to show album covers. I looked up, and this is what I saw...
I loved those album covers and posters. Seven million years ago, when I was in high school, we had to have a separate spiral notebook for each class. A thick one. One of those hefty, inch, inch and a half thick, bad boys. At the start of the school year I would decorate the front of each notebook in what I called, "Sex Pistol Style". I'd go through my mom's magazines and cut out letters that spelled out the name of each class and glue them to the notebook covers. Then I would raid the art department at school and splatter paint across the top of them.
I wish I had kept those things. By the end of the year, when all of the paper had been torn out, and all that was left were the ratty covers... They were amazing.
I threw them away in a moment of Joy Division inspired teen angst.
I regret it to this day.
Something amazing is happening right now in Iran, and you need to pay attention. Chances are pretty good that part of your world view is cock-eyed, askew, and kerfunckled (Yes, "kerfunckled" is so a word. It means exactly what you think it means.)
What do you think would happen if you bought a one way ticket to Iran, and just showed up? Do you think they would put you in jail? Do you think they would deport you? Do you think they might lock you in a little room and in-terror-gate you? Well, you are wrong. Here is what happened in 2012 when the Yomadic did just that:
"... the friendly Iranian officials at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran asked me a few questions, typical of any airport anywhere, they efficiently processed my application, stamped my passport with an Iranian visa-on-arrival, welcomed me to their country, smiled, and let me in. I walked out of the airport, leaving behind one of my many preconceptions about Iran."
It seems that the reality of Iran is a little different than the whole "axis of evil" thing we have been led to believe in. Click on that picture of the fake KFC at the top of the page. Read the article. The Yomadic has gone back to Iran again, and you can follow his adventures via Twitter and Instagram. Pay attention, and let your world view get blown out of the water.
I have an friend who is married to an Iranian national. I don't know him very well. Usually, when we are together, we just sit and watch the kids play. When we talk about Iran, we don't talk about war. We don't talk about oil. We don't talk about politics. We don't talk about religion. We aren't avoiding the subjects, they just never come up. He is too busy talking about the architecture, and the restaurants, and the public art and his friends, and the parties. He is not from the Iran that lives in your brain.
Oh wait... One more thing before I turn you loose. What do you think would happen if you were an Iranian and you bought a one way ticket to the United States? What do you think would happen to you when you showed up here?
Today, the zero of you that read this are going to humor me while I ramble on about one of my heroes. The one and only Thomas Ruggles Pynchon. (Seriously... I have no idea where this is going. Initiate ramble... NOW.)
What I do for a living, I do with words. I'm a hack, but I'm a hack that loves his tools. I have an affection for them. I appreciate it when language is used effectively. It doesn't matter to me if the words are spoken, written, sung or read... I love 'em.
Thomas Pynchon is a kung-fu grand master word slinger. He is as good as it gets. His name belongs alongside the greats. Hemingway, Murakami, Gibson, Le Guin, Neruda... In his own way, he is every bit as powerful as anyone who has ever picked up a pen.
So, now there is this...
It is based on what is far and away Pynchon's most accessible novel, Inherent Vice. It's a great read. Seriously, if you haven't read it yet, do so. Not only is Pynchon a savant level wordsmith, but he is also funny as hell. His sense of humor isn't for everyone. It is sharp. Razor sharp. Think Bill Hicks... Or Richard Pryor. Seriously.
Imagine your favorite funny man on stage. Now imagine said funny man walking off stage and out into the audience. One hand holds the mic, and the other...
A three foot machete.
He's killing it.
Joke after joke, punctuated with wild and unpredictable swings of that fucking machete. The audience is terrified... But they can't leave because they are laughing too hard.
That's Pynchon. He's dangerous. He sucks you in with his pretty words, and guts you before you know what's happening.
The movie? I haven't seen it. I'm sure it will be great. Paul Thomas Anderson is more than suited to the task. As an aside, in my brain? When I first read the book? I had Jeff Bridges pictured as Doc, and Benicio Del Toro as Sauncho. One out of two ain't bad.
I wonder if Pynchon, the most infamous recluse since Salinger, will go see it? Honestly? How could he not? Given... I am thinking like me... the hack... not like a future Nobel Prize winner. I would be there opening day. Hiding in the back row. Hoping the movie rocked. Hoping people loved it.
Pynchon? Who knows. The closest thing to a public appearance that the guy has done was a spot on the Simpson's...
Gather round kiddies. I'm gonna tell ya a story. Once upon a time there were two men. These men did something wonderful.
Are doing, actually. Right now. As you read these words.
Magic is happening in Yosemite Valley. I say magic because what these two men are doing?
It is impossible.
They are attempting to free climb the Dawn Wall.
Somehow. Someway. Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are figuring out a way to do the impossible. In this very moment, they are as alive as any two humans have ever been. They are living on the very edge of human possibility and potential.
They are burning.
They aren't torches, or bonfires, or headlamps. They are volcanoes, and they are erupting in front of our eyes.
And it is glorious.
I am an above average climbing fan with below average talent. I spend my summers with my two boys "playing" on the rocks and in the trees of Northern Arizona. I have climbed my whole life. Anything and everything I could find. Trees, balconies, the underside of stairways. I built my boys a climbing wall in the back yard. We play on it 300+ days a year. Climbing is inside, outside and all around me...
...and I can't even begin to imagine what Tommy and Kevin are going through right now.
I don't know know how to describe this adventure with words. I can't find anything to compare it with. It's harder than Everest. It's harder than racing the Tour de France. People climb Everest and race the Tour every year. Sure, it is a challenge. Sure, it is beyond my capabilities. But what is happening on the Dawn Wall right now is not only the stuff of legends, it is the stuff of the imagination. Caldwell and Jorgeson are doing something that no one has ever done before, and they are doing it 1500 feet above the ground.
You can do like me and live vicariously through them by following along via their social media accounts. They have mini solar chargers and surprisingly good cell phone service up there!
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