Saturday, December 21, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis

Last night, I did some Christmas shopping, bought some gifts for my family at the Strand. The woman who hired me there a decade or so ago helped bag my purchases. I had been in this city for a couple weeks then and was overwhelmed by everything. My friend Jamie told me to come apply with her there. I got hired, she didn't. I stayed at the fair too long - story of my life, I know - worked there for about two years. This woman terrified me the entire time I worked there. There was a whole mythology about her life and her romances that everyone traded in the aisles as they hid from her glare. We made her this rich villain who was intent on crushing our spirits and destroying the bookstore.

She had no clue who I was, just some customer. Despite this, I was on edge again, as if she had spotted me hiding in the stacks reading a book again. But then I realized that she actually cares about books and about this great bookstore, that otherwise she would not be helping bag books in a Santa hat, pointing out to me that one of my books was autographed.

I stopped at Best Buy on my way back to Brooklyn, bought the Beyonce album because I wanted to watch the videos on my DVD player, on a big screen, and am not technologically sophisticated enough to figure out how to make that happen from my phone. I had another great moment at a cash register.

The lady ringing me up was so excited that I was purchasing the Beyonce album. I told her I already had it on iTunes but wanted the album, and she told me she definitely bought both versions, that she loves Beyonce. She started singing "Drunk in Love." I told her my favorite video was "Mine." She told me how she thinks Lady Gaga is in the "Haunted" video. She told me to watch it closely and let her know what I think. The cashier next to her started talking about her favorite songs and the three of us were squealing about song titles and favorite lines. It was a beautiful moment that really furthered what I am believing about this album, that this a large pop moment that we haven't seen in a really long time. This is some Michael Jackson "Thriller" shit happening - the broad level of shared excitement across races, age groups, everyone. We are glued to our screens, marveling at these videos, at these songs, at this massive project none of us saw coming.

I had a tentative date a couple nights ago to get high and watch Beyonce videos with this guy who charmed me by asking if I wanted to do these things. He said he was doing laundry and would text me when he was done. He did not. He did again start talking to me on Scruff today, wanting to meet up. I told him I had plans this weekend now.

I got stoned by myself last night and watched these videos again. They are so great and work so well together. I particularly can't get enough of "Ghost" and "Mine," both directed by Pierre Debusschere. The editing of these videos is so musical, so perfectly timed to the beat of the songs.

The repeated sample playing on the main titles screen woke me up this morning, me having fallen asleep sometime in the midst of this delirious pop vision.

I ate some food, drank some coffee, showered, and then headed off to watch Inside Llewyn Davis. It wasn't everything I hoped. My expectations from the Coen Brothers are probably impossibly high, but it was still a very good movie - just not what I had been expecting. But I do live in a cesspool of assholes who roll their eyes at sincerity - that much is true, Joel and Ethan.

I had a shot of espresso at Eataly, enjoying the mobbed scene there, and then went to the gym where I ran and ran for much longer than I ever do. There was a rerun of some boxing matches on one of the channels. I watched people punch each other, rooted for particular people. This, people ducking punches, landing punches, clear winners and losers, kept me on my treadmill, running and running, thoughts of winning, vague thoughts with no clear thing taking the place of a KO, that this, men, fit men, trying to hit other men, other fit men, in the head kept me running, running, wanting to win.

And I am not sure I am. I probably need to define what these terms are. In the steam room, I jerked off with a, what through steam seemed, sexy man. He had his feet planted on a towel. I kept glancing down at them, their shape perfect. I wanted to put them in my mouth, to admire their proportion, to worship order. He asked me if I wanted to head to the showers.

Um, I don't think so, I said. I am real awkward at times. My fantasies are best enabled when vague, obscured by steam and undefined terms. Make it real, clear the steam, and watch me back away.

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