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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

June diary entry



i

Earplugs are silver-tipped, just as the street listener said my violin bow should be.
Familiarity, that overactive gland, is reliably embarrassing.
I get caught staring – I utter transparent pick-up lines, am wrong about what they mean.
Our paradox: loneliness propels us into the void.
Sound bounces from the single wall of the blindness chamber and makes such a racket you see images, films, a diaspora of big-screen television sets, a civilization of mongrel and bastard illusions, some familiar to Orlando under her oak tree.
As for the others - how do we endure them?
“You look so familiar – did you go to Yale with Heather?”
That woman looks like she stepped out of Women’s Wear Daily fashion ad, circa 1958. She overshares with her beautician. Her clothes match the purple of her color-coded LIFE section header in USA Today. She looks like she just smelled shit. She always does. Age has such a sly sense of humor.
“Not if you moisturize,” as Eric Glaser would say, or did.
Miss Kansas 1951 doesn’t realize I’ve been staring at her the last several minutes. Am I invisible? If I were invisible, what would I look like? “The people are my people” said the Duke.
Who are my people? Not Miss Kansas, not the gruff looking fallen hippie scrawling intently in his own notebook (a kindred spirit among the not-my-people), not the hyperactive Filipino kids, not anyone reading USA Today, not the cute guy whose sleeping head is lolling around in a calm surf, not any of these people chained to their laptops, tuning out the void –
My sense of humor: a flashpoint tonight, earlier, a spur of insecurity. I tell myself: you honor your instincts by taming them. I respond: what a risible lie!
My flight is delayed; the silver has fallen from my ears.


ii

A marching band infiltrates the house party. In the kitchen, I dance with my fingers in my ears while the neighbors call the cops.

Itamar, Portia, Hysterika, Suzan Revah, Michael Smith, Joanna, Metal Patricia, Sister Mae Joy B. in full regalia, Bryan Harrelson. Are these my people? I have Williams Syndrome, I am always happy to see everyone. Jupiter fixes me with a cold correction – the evil eye! I like being popular but I’ve learned to live with this other thing. At 38 I have so much experience – with drunkenness and sobriety, freedom and captivity, love and the void. James urges moderation. Aretha advises: “Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.” Celebrating the vaudevillian, e.e.c. extolled that imprecision that creates movement. Mr. In-Between dozes in an airport lounge: his head bobs and jerks in slow-motion. He is the only fuckable person in Terminal 1.

Jason Fleetwood-Bolt, Jon Bentley – Boy Bar. Dolores Park at 4 a.m. – my congeniality falters when I make a nasty remark about the Bar on Castro. My parting shot, directed at Itamar, comes off wrong - one too many jokes about catching his cold. My sense of humor is a cause for concern. A friend gets laid with a 19 year-old Puerto Rican boy (“Is this going to hurt?”) and has no complaints about the evening. I make some vaguely off-color jokes to middle-aged Midwestern ladies and they seem to love me. Am I endearing only to them and offensive and obscure to everyone else? Women’s Wear Daily is waiting for her row to be called. My row is next. I smell shit.


iii

Deterioration, wear & tear. Weird weather and the relief we get from disasters. A Politico blogger thanks me for pointing out his loath/loathe confusion. Colors of the Celestial City. Honey, that’s really colorful – paint hits the canvas as though applied with the tip of a lightning bolt. Is color more like God or orgasm? From the invisible island we watched the planes line up to land - three slowly falling planets, ablaze, endless renewal.

I could not rouse my sense of humor (that problem child) to defend against the depredations of the talkative New Age Faerie, his endless assault on Big Topics with the weaponry of small thoughts. Now I know that the sun needs our love, needs to be loved and – oh, let that stand for the whole depressing gospel, told in European accents and punctuated by trills of the tongue and other sound effects and frequent references to Buddhism, or Hinduism – wait, which is which? Either one will do, just remember that the sun is counting on your saving it a space in the void, where we can all wait holding hands until it inhales, puffs out its belly and fries us to a nice ghost of ash. My coordinates: row 11, seat F. Will anyone watch this planet rise? I ring the call button. Bring me trombones, the bass drum, the exotic dancer.

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.

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