Friday, August 27, 2010

I got the AIDS down in A-frica*

Well, this is exciting. Last night was my friend Toby’s birthday and we celebrated by getting him totally loaded and full of high spirits before eventually leaving him to carouse with the five most famous budget discount whores that Chicago has to offer: Betty, Starlene, Jo, Dennis and Gary.
We started off huffing a little gold paint out at the dumpster behind the Sherwyn Williams, then we went down to the park district where we snuck into the ladies’ room and hid beneath the toilet tanks so we could catch glimpses of big anonymous round asses sitting down to pee (and sometimes poo, unfortunately). After a brief scuffle and a little running we reconvened at the bar in Clark St. Hot Dogs and had a couple of quick cocktails and corn dogs before heading down to Steamworks where we farted our way through a little “towelboy for an hour” roleplaying.
THEN we went back to Clark Street Dog where we met up with our wives who had already been hanging out with Dennis and Gary. At that point, someone pulled out a bag of yellow powder, a razorblade and a lightbulb and we went under the train tracks behind Redmonds and got Gary so high that he decided to call up Starlene, who just got out of jail Wednesday morning. We met them over at the dumpsters down at the Wilson redline stop.
At that point things get a little blurry, but I remember Jo and Dennis pulling off Toby’s jockstrap/leather vest right there between the station and the garbage while Starlene and Dennis and Gary managed to squeeze a few whippits out of a discarded carton of old reddi whips.
Yeah, it was a pretty good night, all things considered. And now Toby is old. If he’s still alive, that is. Good times.

So, I’ve got a buddy named Nick who shot this incredibly upbeat popcorn flick of a movie about AIDS nurses in Malawi. It’s a documentary and Nick spent, I don’t know, like 2 years there filming these women and among the many brutal realities that his film touches on, probably the most shocking (and I think pretty ancillary [yet sort of unintended] to the main thrust of the film [these women are saints, this place is totally fucked up, these hospitals are like dumps for still twitching corpses, nobody cares, holy jesus god! Someone do something!]) is the notion that out there on the mean streets of Malawi, life is just cheap. It’s just not a big deal when people die because everyone is so familiar with death that it’s not even remotely a shocker.

This comes out the best in a rather calm and otherwise fairly standard follow up interview near the end of the film when Nick returns to see how his subjects have been doing since principal filming wrapped and the main woman in the movie informs him in a rather matter-of-fact way that her young toddler son, who is in a lot of the movie, is now dead. She’s not stoked about it, but she says it more like she’s saying ‘I got a flat tire yesterday’ than “the love of my life died.” It’s a pretty quick moment in a completely heavy film, but it was the most haunting part for me.

It’s one of those moments that make you realize how full of shit we all are, not as westerners, but as a complete race, this woman included; or more to the point, how we’re all so cerebrally autonomous that we can only relate to our individual life experiences and the potential consequences and how completely freaked out we’d be. I’m not really saying this very well, so let me try it again:
When I was a kid, I was absolutely terrified that my mom would find out if I ditched school or blew off band practice and got high or had a girl in my room or snuck out or anything like that. It didn’t alter my behavior at all, but the notion of being caught was a fate worse than death. I can vividly recall a cop holding me face down in the street outside a bar that served underaged kids when I was seventeen and being more terrified that this would wind up with my mom finding out than me in some sort of jail.
Of course this is ridiculous. There is no situation now where I’d rather go to jail than have my mom find out that I’d done something wrong, but those were my parameters as a kid, and as such, that was the limit of my stress and that’s fine. That’s the way it was.

Likewise today I know people who don’t bat an eye about going BACK to jail and other (very different) people who have full blown panic attacks about fucking up a conference call with the NYC office.
Hell, there are people who KILL THEMSELVES because their standard of living is threatened by losing their job or a big debt or sudden market crash. And then there are people who lose children that discuss it pragmatically as though they’re discussing a dinner that didn’t turn out as well as it could have.

So, what I’m getting at is not that we’re a bunch of babies over here and need to sack up. That’s stupid. I’m just pointing out what so many of us already know, that individual stress and worry and sorrow is so different for everyone, in a large part dictated by what’s come before in one’s life and one person’s dead pet is another’s dead kid is another’s broken watch is another’s missed appointment and in every case, those feelings are justified and normal and not worthy of reproach. It’s just how shit is.
What a world we live in.

I’m going to the zoo.


Jack Dalton said...

What's the doc called?

Donnie said...

toto - haha

Ryan said...

I just read through the comments from yesterday and man KennyG is a boner.

Anonymous said...

i swear my name has nothing to do wih that shitty band.

In fact my real name is Rodrigo.
(a lot better right? right????!!)

toto is a nickname for a meticulously crafted envi... whatever.

Sean said...

that line "all things considered" reminded me of that sick Mad Conductor song...

Trusty Chords said...


Yeah, but the Virtual Visor shit was pretty dumb too.

It's A-me, Martucci said...

Dunno. I get the vibe virtual's schtick is intended to alienate lotsa folks (folks with shithole vocabularies, folks that still find family guy funny, the worse folks to exist, etc), which of course makes it better. Solid subversive trolling. Course he (it?) may have just incepted my opinion with...

type said...

are you bartending at Risque tonight?

kennyg said...

Alright, hopefully I'm not digging myself any deeper by doing this, but I'd like to apologize for being a "boner" last night. It was a rough night for me anyway...
And, at first I was a little disgruntled to find that people were siding with limited nobility even after (I felt) he crossed the line by bringing my future step son into the equation, but the "hips don't lie" thing has been cracking me the fuck up. Hah.
Anyway, in an attempt to dig UP: my bad niggaz.
Aw gross. There's a Shake Weight commercial on right now, and there's GUYS using it. Hah. It's actually pretty funny now. This guy was all intense, and then he finished his "workout" and he looked really relieved, like he had a sense of accomplishment.
Ok, anyway. I doubt I'll be posting anymore comments in the Sock Drawer. It's really lost its way. What happened to the love?

Jules said...

Living in Africa (South Africa) to be exact, and having been through a bit of Europe and interacted with westerners of varying ilks, I can attest to a sort of "geographical desensitization".

Of course we're all swayed by our own perception of life, which is in itself skewered by personal life experiences (a neurotic white kid from the burbs here will definitely have a different barometer as to what he deems fucked up in comparison to a kid out of an informal settlement who will have to be as hard as nails just to survive). Life is subjective is what I'm saying here, I guess.

Returning to my original point, when checking out the various news outlets over here I can, generally without fail, be assured I'll catch something related to a brutal murder/rape/(insert violent crime of your preference here). Reading stories about women having multiple boiling kettles of water dumped on them (and subsequently dying from wounds incurred)...and then reading something equally brutal the following day is eventually going to have a desensitizing affect (I don't care how empathetic of an individual you are, it's an unavoidable built in coping mechanism). Likewise HIV/AIDS related stories (and there are many) become less and less bleak the more you are exposed to them (coping mechanism, remember).

As a side node, I'm painting a pretty depressing picture for a country that hosted a (mostly) incident free soccer world cup, but I can assure you we (as one of the emerging countries within the continent) have our share of fucked up shit going down (although I guess to Malawians we must appear like some kind of promised land) - it just tends to go down in areas white kids from the burbs and tourists from the states alike don't tend to frequent.

Sean said...

Tonight some of my friends dragged me to some bar here at University of Illinois. Being stuck in Champaign (cornfield central, USA), there's pretty much nothing to do for fun except drink (as is the case/excuse for many colleges, I assume).

Long story short, I find myself trying to drunkenly navigate past all the bros and beer sluts when I see a sight for sore eyes, an optical oasis, if you will...

There, walking towards me, is a guy my age wearing none other than a Cobra Skulls t-shirt!

"Holy fucking shit! Finally someone that isn't obsessed with the latest Ke$ha single!" I thought to myself, which translated to a slurred "Heyyyy nice shirt! I love that band, they're sickkkk!"

Looking confused, the kid glances down at his shirt, then back up at me. He replies: "What? A band? I got this shirt of ebay... I figured it was some sort of motorcycle gang or line of affliction or something... damn..." and then continues to gyrate/fist-pump his way past me towards the "dance floor."

I don't know what's worse, the fact that this kid thought Cobra Skulls was some sort of "tough guy" bro-attire, or that he was one of the only people I've seen wearing a punk band t-shirt around campus.

What a weird fucking night.

Banana@1000MPH said...

fuck, what has this world come to when it is no longer safe to talk to people wearing Cobra Skulls shirts.

Sean said...

i know, right?

He seemed so disappointed and angry that it was a band t-shirt...

It was a sick shirt too... it had the cobra logo with like... lightning bolts in the background. Truly ridiculous, yet awesome at the same time.

Virtual Visor (Mesmerizer) said...

Trusty Chords - I incepted your decision to present yourself to the blogger world with a username that may have passed muster as late as spring of 2004 when "Rainbow sandal-clad, Subway sammich'-luvin, straight-laced UF student otherwise unfamiliar with Gainesville/punk scene inexplicably-hugely-into-Hot-Water-Music fever" was at its initial peak--but now just seems forced and contrived amidst all the post-resurrection second wave hoopla--using a meticulously crafted, carefully monitored dreamscape environment. You fucking dum dum.

Julene Horowitz said...

This can only make me ask: is there anything that can phase a woman (or an entire country's population) that is so well acquainted with death & true poverty?

What's your friend's documentary called? I want to see it, even if I'll suffer from a bout of first-world guilt afterward that I will remedy by running on a treadmill & questioning my worth if I don't volunteer in a third-world place at least once in my life.