Monday, February 28, 2005

Get Excited About Octopi

Within the pages of Lisa Crystal Carver's incomparably passionate and fantastic Rollerderby lie many hilarious and shocking secrets, but the greatest one of all is the secret to life itself.

Carver says, and I am paraphrasing here from memory, that the whole point inf life is to be excited. Like, the kind of excited where you just can't shut up about something, where it filters into your dreams to the point where you think you're dreaming but you're actually just lying awake thinking about whatever it is that gets you excited.

People keep asking me "so, what's your blog about?" Until now, I've said something like "well, it's politics, and sometimes it's rock music, or travel stories, or stuff from my friend the prison history teacher, you know, just whatever." But now I've got some sort of sloppy focus. This blog is about things that are (or were) Carver's type of exciting.

The giant octopus at the National Zoo had my synapses humming at high symphony this weekend. The zoo is right down the street, so twice this weekend I rolled out of my apartment with a championship hangover to watch this fantastic sensual beast do his thing. This 25-ish pound invertebrate spends about 23 hours a day all balled up in the corner of his tank like this here:

self portrait with giant octopus
That's me in the reflection...

However, the zoo conducts public feedings daily at 11 AM and 3 PM and I just knew that ball of suckers was going to erupt off the tank wall into an explosive psychedelic ballet. It was all I could talk about Saturday night and the first thing on my mind Sunday morning. And man, that thing did not disappoint...

You might be able to see the feedings on the webcam here, but I have also made my own film of this undulating muscular mollusk that you can see here.

You should know that unless you are looking at the webcam during or shortly after feeding time, it is stunningly boring. My film, on the other hand, features a soundtrack by Ween, and totally rocks.

When the volunteer dropped a crab into the water, the beast slithered off of the wall and tranformed itself into a living parachute, enveloping the crustacean and pinning it to the wall of the tank. The octopus's head grew all sorts of spiky ridges and his entire body changed colors to reflect his gustatory excitement. Underneath this living parachute, hundreds of suction cups busily rotated the crab's body as the beast's powerful beak nibbled meat out of every tiny crevice in that crab's crispy hide. Here's a closeup:


This is a better photo of the octupus's underside in that it is of a more professional quality, but a worse photo because I did not take it myself. It's by Jesse Cohen...
giant octopus

You absolutely cannot watch this creature move and maintain any adult sense of detachment or cynicism. It was all I could do not to knock all the little kids at the tank aside like a bunch of whimpering bowling pins and just flatten my nose against the tank wall myself.

This creature moves with involuntary dignified grace, like eight cats' tails attached to an extremely intelligent head. According to zoo staff, octopi are extremely curious, playful, and intelligent. Octopi are the intellectual colossi of the order mollusca, in that they can actually learn from another creature's experience. One zoo volunteer told me that an octopus with no experience opening a jar can actually watch another octopus open a jar, and then do it himself.

Here is a portrait of the serene creature, heading up to his corner of the tank to munch on that crab...

Lisa Carver is right. Just writing about the experience has got me all charged up, and I am constantly checking another window with the Zoo's webcam for any activity. Even though it's impossible to sustain excited wonderment at a stretch, the pursuit of those jaw-dropping moments is what makes life worth living. I'm sitting here in my office in the middle of cold, grey D.C. and an impending snowstorm feeling warm and alive. I'm thrilled to know that raw beauty in action is right down the street...not just because the zoo is next door, but because life is thrilling once you start paying attention.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Just As The Doctor Ordered

In case you don't read anything online but And I Am Not Lying, For Real...

Hunter S. Thompson may have planned his suicide, according to a family spokesperson. He will be "buried" by having his remains blasted from a cannon and strewn across the sky in a tremendous fireball in accordance with his last wishes.

What an incredible final stunt...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Best Way To Heal America Is To Offend EVERYBODY

The phrase "dysfunctional love-hate" accurately describes both my relationship with Vice Magazine and the magazine itself. I've got to hand it to them, though--they're freaking hilarious, and they rip into every belief with equal rancor.

One thing's guaranteed, though: regardless of party affiliation, this month's Do's and Don'ts column is as pants-wettingly hilarious as it is unsafe for work. Make sure you're a) at home or b) blessed with a cool boss, and c)not reading with stuff in your mouth. It's totally gonna end up on your keyboard.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Viruses on Blogspot?

I am totally lifting this post from Metafilter, just to help get the awareness out.

It may be possible to pick up a virus via blogspot blogs. You're all safe from me, but have a read of these links: 1, 2, 3, and discussion here.

Ten-second Cliffs Notes: stay away from that "Next Blog" button on the upper right...

Monday, February 21, 2005

Rest In Peace, Doctor Gonzo

From the Denver Post:

Hunter S. Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Woody Creek on Sunday night. He was 67.

Rest In Peace, Doctor Gonzo
this photo comes from the Denver Post as well...

I think about Hunter S. Thompson every day. I don't know him personally, but my concept of him speaks to me out loud. Whenever I'm tired and I want to sleepwalk through my own life, Hunter S. Thompson' blows some smoke in my ear and growls "get moving, you lazy little bastard."

Thompson was a hissing, spitting cobra to the life's mongoose of mediocrity--sometimes the mongoose attacked, but he always bit back like a motherfucker. His sad and sudden death leaves a terrifying vacuum in the annals of American discourse. At a time when relentless charismatic status quo-style mediocrity has the hearts and minds of the American public thumping in its greedy fists, we need a loud, profane voice to stab it to death...or at least ventilate some steam out of its suit.

Although I am not sure if he ever said it publicly, the blogging phenomenon must have tickled him to no end. Blogs are nothing more than pure Gonzo journalism at its finest: raw, ripped straight from the fingers of the writer and seared across public consciousness in a matter of seconds. The actual reality of a slavering pack of hungry journalistic pirahna-dogs, set to tear down any and all half-truths and phonies deeply rooted in any establishment anywhere...he must have seen some sort of beauty in that.

I learned to appreciate whiskey long before I could drink it, thanks to Thompson. Through Thompson's tremendous and prolific career I took my first baby steps towards throwing myself into any and all experiences I could find, and I learned to trust my guts with my writing through Thompson's ballsy prose. He might have had substance abuse problems and an ego bigger than a Colorado snowfall, but Doctor Gonzo had brass cojones the size of watermelons channeling straight through his heart and onto the page. To read any of his pages is to know the power of balls and soul working in tandem and at maximum efficiency.

Reading between Thompson's brilliant lines paints a different portrait, however. You'll see real paranoia, terror, and a fragile, nervous personality frayed by life lived too hard and too long on the fringes of sanity. Hunter S. Thompson is an exciting anti-hero in print, but the man behind the legend must have felt crushingly lonely, sad, and alienated from everyone on earth.

I'm going to part here with a bit of wisdom from Thompson's pages, but not from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas...let the "mainstream" media quote that to death all week. This passage from a letter to a friend in 1958, crystallizes what it is about Thompson that resonates most deeply within me:

"...a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choices made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and the see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life.

But you say, 'I don't know where to look; I don't know what to look for.' And there's the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don't know--is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice...

There is more to it than that-- no one HAS to do something he doesn't want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that's what you end up doing, by all means convince youself that you HAD to do it. You'll have lots of company."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Two Links Related Only In That They Are Creepy

I always saw Marcus Gilmore in the boys' room in middle school, and almost never anywhere else. He was always dreamily gazing out the bathroom window, one foot resting on a pipe as he allowed the breeze to gently ruffle his mullet. We might have had gym class together, but barely knew one another. Sometimes I wonder what he got up to since high school.

I found out, and it wasn't through, either.

Terminators are real, real cool in the movies. In real life, maybe not.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Related to Clarence

What Clarence tells me is presented as an entertaining form of the gospel truth. What is not specifically reality as we know it is nevertheless "the realness," and carries serious weight in my book.

Ghetto Life, Part 1

We had just gotten a new couch from the thrift store, a real one that you could sit on like a grownup instead of lying on the mattress on the floor in front of the television set. It was a gorgeous spring day in Richmond’s early March, sort of like Nature’s teaser trailer for the full-on blockbuster spring due in about a month’s time. The sun was shining and our mattress-couch was in the alley for good. Everything felt great and it was time to party—we put the word out and threw a party that very night.

Only the underemployed can put on a party like that one. We had liquor and mixers in the kitchen, beer on the porch of the house next door and over thousand dollars worth of vintage vinyl sitting in stacks on the floor. About sixteen million people trod a shambling parade through the living room, tracking a sticky mix of spilled liquor and paint chips and splinters from our rotting front porch across our forest-green Astroturf carpet. People were abusing the inflatable furniture like mad, having ninja fights with the inflatable couch and the chair as weapons.

This one enterprising young bozo just climbed in and out of the front window all night instead of using the door. While I sort of respected his initiative, I can’t say I was completely in support of the practice, either. I certainly wasn’t the first person on the scene with a band-aid when he cut his hand on the rusty nail sticking out of the windowsill. Eric and I had seen it there for months and never cut ourselves when we broke in with credit cards after locking ourselves out.

We had to go see to a situation in the street after more than one guest complained that some dude was repeatedly body-slamming a pit bull in the road. I watched from the front porch as a typical Richmond dude (tattoos, wallet chain, cargo pants) sat on the curb working his way through a box of beers. All of a sudden a pit bull sped out of the darkness like a hair-covered bowling ball and head-butted the box, sending beers flying all over the street. The dog grabbing an errant beer between his teeth, clenching so hard his head-muscles bulged like golf balls as he shook the beer like a freshly caught rabbit. Naturally, the shaking caused huge jets of beery foam to spray all over bystanders and straight down the beast’s throat.

Before I could pick my jaw up off the porch, the beer’s owner (and presumably the dog’s as well) scrambled up out from under a car, shouting, “Motherfucker I TOLD you to leave my beer alone!” and picked the thing up over his head with BOTH hands and threw it across the street...just as the partygoers reported.

It was, without a doubt, one of the stupidest scary scenes I have ever witnessed. I still can’t tell if it is more stupid for a human to attack a sober pit bull with his bare hands or a drunken one. You be the judge.

We threatened to call the cops on our own party until that clown left, dogless. Nobody knows where the dog went.

Somebody put the Monks on the turntable real real loud, and you could hear manic shouts, banjo strumming out the windows and circus keyboards down the street. From out in the darkness, I could hear someone go “aw, NAW, you white people cannot put that shit on for a motherfuckin’ party, man…” It was 3 a.m. and the last of the partygoers were leaving.

A black man in his fifties came in, reeking of liquor, urine and mud. He wore a filthy fringe jacket, baggy jeans and had dreadlocks streaked with mud and grey hair. We couldn’t very well say “uh, everyone gets to be here but that dude with the dog and you,” but he bore watching. He went STRAIGHT for the records and proceeded to drop the best mix of funk and soul I have ever heard, even though half the collection was mine. When he saw the Rick James record, he lost his mind, thumping his cane and howling.

He played the whole album twice, dancing ecstatically, oblivious to everyone else leaving around him. By four a.m. it was just me, Eric, and Willie in the living room, dancing to Rick James’s Ghetto Life. We must have heard that song ten times that night.

It was 3 am when Willie came into out lives to flex music control, and six months before we were rid of him. During that period I heard Ghetto Life about fifty times a week…no exaggeration. He may have been incorrigible, demanding, and insane, but Willie changed something in Eric and me forever. It was at least a year before I could listen to Rick James without my blood boiling, but now whenever I hear him, I think of that old guy dancing on my porch or shouting “white honky faggot,” (Willie’s little pet name for me) through the window, and I smile.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Now and Then

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art has this really cool exhibit (online only) called NOW THEN. It features the work of a bunch of contemporary comics artists now, juxtaposed against drawings the made at the age of 12. Very cool. This link, like so many of my others, via Metafilter.

Poster and Graffiti

I found this poster and accompanying graffiti in the Columbia Heights Metro Station Sunday night, and posted it here bright and early Tuesday morning.

I've been trying to do a bit of research online to support my fundamental belief that the concept of "protecting marriage and families" from homosexuality is completely ludicrous--but I'm drowning in so much radical right hate speech and pink flag waving that I'm just going to have to flag it.

Suffice it to say that that billboard in the Metro was hilarious. Not as hilarious as the poster for Cats that I saw in the New York City Subway, where some bored geniuses had sculpted 3-d genitalia for all the cats on the poster out of chewing gum. But you don't always have your camera, do you.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine Wheatstraw

My friend Andrew (aka DJ PantyRaid) sent me this--Happy Valentine's Day.


Andrew also teaches children claymation, and the results are incredible. For a real treat, go to Andrew's site, click "download movies," and check 'em out. They're all great, but the last two are accidentally psychedelic.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Frozen Bullies Just Lying in the Road

A couple of nights ago, one of Tash's coworkers threatened to bludgeon her with the telephone. Not in the flirtatious "nah-I-was-just-playin'" faux violence that restaurant staff everywhere engage in to while away a slow night. Apparently he wrapped the phone cord from the hostess stand around his hand and lunged at her with the handset held high, backing Tash into a tiny corner. She was hiding and then in like a second he just burst into maniacal laughter, trying to play like it was all a joke.

As the boyfriend, I really felt that something had to be done. What, I had no idea.

As mentioned before, I get a lot of mileage out of my size, so much that I haven't been in a fight since middle school. Nevertheless, I leapt onto my bike and hit the pavement. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just up and punch somebody in their face. Now that the door was wide open, I wasn't so sure I wanted to go through.

The temperature dropped about thirty degrees in as many minutes that night. Two rats lay dead in the street with no visible trauma to their nasty little bodies. It was as though they thought they had the go-ahead to get out and advance their nasty little rat causes around, to go ahead and jump in the trash and spread some serious disease...but the cold snap stopped them in their tracks.

An avalanche of ass-kicking fantasies quickly filled those two rat-sized holes in my train of thought. I caught myself hoping that the offending waiter would be standing outside with a cigarette and I could somehow use the downhill momentum from by bike to just leap right over the handlebars, using my body like a missile. I think I got that idea from a Wolverine comic book, and it seemed to work pretty well for him.

As I crested the hill near my house, I realized that I had no idea what to do. I figured the situation was one of two things:

1) This waiter was completely psychotic and while he was willing to threaten a girl with a telephone when nobody was looking, he really wanted a guy a bit bigger than him to tangle with, maybe to stick with a homemade knife.

2) He was just another adult bully who would strike when conditions were just right, but quickly revert to scurrying around in the shadows when somebody called him out.

I sort of knew this guy. If Gollum from Lord of the Rings could speak Hindi, you'd about have him. As my bike raced towards the restaurant, wind roaring in my frozen ears, both alternatives flickered in my mind,


sort of like that.

Man, I didn't wanna get into it with this guy...I could feel my role in the situation being reduced down to that of a predictable player in a lame movie, as the great big boyfriend that's gonna come and blow a bunch of hot air real hard. Meanwhile, Tash was still at work dealing with her crappy job and this creep.

I just charged into the restaurant, asked her if she was okay and if I needed to go have a word with him. I did.

I sat at the bar, shaking inside while I waited for it all to happen. Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder and when I turned around I got blasted with the most aggressive bootlicking I've ever had in my life.

He grabbed my hand and furiously pumped it up and down, going "sorry, I am so sorry, you know me and you know how sorry that I am, I don't know what came over me and I was just kidding around and she went crazy and took it wrong," and that last bit is what really pissed me off.

I dropped my other hand on his shoulder and said "man, I think we both know exactly what happened, and I think we both know whose side I'm on here. I think you know how I feel about it, too. We're on the verge of having a serious problem here."

He assured me that he had already been fired. Good. It's tough when you're an illegal alien and you have a job--because no matter how crappy it is, you really don't want to get fired. That seemed an apt enough punishment.

"Well, I'm sorry you lost your job, man, and best of luck to you. But I'm really sorry you're the kind of person that gets himself fired by threatening girls when nobody's looking." He scurried off.

Tash and I walked home, exhilarated from all the confrontation. We laughed too long and too loud about bullies over some beers at the pub down the street. We toasted to bullies, and how they usually get what's coming to them without anyone having to go too far out of their way to deliver karma's punishment.

The next time someone treats you that wrong, bullies you and has you sputtering with rage, think of those rats. They came from a filth-encrusted sewer to enjoy spreading misery for a moment or two...then froze to death right there in the street. I think of the people that have done me wrong in the recent past, and I think of what miserable little creeps they are, bullies whose only true joy can come from offloading their ambient misery. And from now on, before I ball up my fist and hand that wrong back, I'm going to try and remind myself that the temperature's dropping and those nasty little rats are on their way out....

Monday, February 07, 2005

Rah Bras Equipment Stolen

The Rah Bras are fellow former Richmonders, and some of the simultaneously silliest and hardest-rockin' bands you could ever hope to see. They're also good friends of mine.

I saw them open for Fugazi once...a real highlight of the show included the double-male partial striptease with accompanying Prince-like music and erotic use of a vacuum cleaner hose.

Clearly this is a band that has already achieved greatness, and is destined for it on a grander scale. Unfortunately, they will have to achieve this greatness later, rather than sooner, as someone broke into their van in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn this weekend and stole ALL of their equipment.

Here's a list of what's missing:

Epiphone Viola Bass (SN: 97110449)
Epiphone Viola Case
Gator 8 Space Rack Mount Case
SWR Megoliath 8 x 10 Bass Cabinet
SWR Mo Bass Head w/ EFX
Digitech Whammy4 Pedal
Zoom 506 Pedal
Digitech RP-7 Pedal (SN: 11280)
Boss Noise Suppressor
Moxley AB Switch
Korg Poly 800 Keyboard
Calzone 4 Space Rack Case
Waldorf Micro Q Rack Synth
Midiman USB Midisport 2x2 MIDI Interface
Alesis Andromeda A6
Kurzweil K2V6
Roland MC 505
Roland SPD 20 Drum Pad
Carvin Keyboard Amp
2 Calzone Keyboard Flight Cases ("Rah Bras" on the side)
Blue Pearl Export Drum Set
2 legged High Hat Stand
14in Pearl Deep Maple Snare
Double Kick Pedal
2 Digitech Vocal EFX Pedals

If anyone comes across this stuff in NYC or wherever, please contact them at If you are the sort of person that makes donations to bands in need, click here to help. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 04, 2005


I was just checking my traffic and stats--Somebody in Iran is repeatedly entering the term "downloading sexual clips" into Yahoo's search page, and then being linked directly to my blog.


While Life Might Be Tough Right Now, Everything's Going To Be Alright

By my senior year in college, I had learned a thing or two that a lot of my peers hadn't. For instance, when the entire perceivable world around you aligns itself into one big pulsing rhythm, the trees waving in synch with little girls skipping rope and all the dogs on the street start leaping like trained dancers, watch out--the land beyond is trying to tell you something.

In the time-span of one half of a footstep, just the time it took for my foot to leave the pavement, arc through the air and return, I saw something that would change my life forever.

I saw another world with inhabitants very like and very unlike humans, all at once. They looked just like people from the outside, but all had a long, thick and sensitive tendril sprouting from their solar plexus. This tendril made these beings more and less human than anything we on earth have got going.

Both muscular and highly sensitive, this appendage looked like nothing so much a giant tongue. A thin, odorless, colorless secretion covered these appendages, probably to conduct the mild electric current coursing through them. This electricity is not unlike the electric organ in a shark's spine that enables it to sense potential prey in distress from miles away. If you as an earth-born human were to shake hands with this tendril, you'd feel a slight electrical tingle, like sticking your tongue on a nine volt battery.

These tendrils communicated distress but also hope, fear, love and the deepest understanding of unity, peace and contentment. They did this when unfurled and laid over top of another tendril, joining two (or three or four) souls in this incredible communion that absolutely dwarfs anything the human orgasm has ever accomplished. As my foot cruised through the air in that tremendous footstep, I came to understand that caressing tendrils felt like one's first kiss, a good workout followed by a hot shower, a mother's hug, grandmother's cooking, smelling snow in the air and standing up on a surfboard for the first time. Touching tendrils with another being proved right down to one's very atoms that while life might be tough now, everything was going to be all right.

In the eyes of God, it was perfectly acceptable and even encouraged that all people would caress tendrils whenever they felt up to it. There were no taboos placed on it. Mothers could touch tendrils with their sons, priests and nuns could wrap tendrils and great big burly guys that did things like kill and lift heavy objects could totally commingle their souls and it didn't bother the creator of this universe one tiny bit.

God may have wanted people to commune souls all the time, but the people that ran that planet had other ideas. In fact, the only thing more illegal than having this appendage in the first place was using it for its intended purpose. The planet was run by a faux democracy whose primary stated goals were productivity, industry and Getting Ahead. Communing souls was demonized because it just wasn't productive and it kept people from being scared of being late, getting fired, or not Getting Ahead. There was a clinic in most strip malls where people could go in and get these things removed right after they dropped off their dry cleaning and before they went grocery shopping.

Some poor souls actually had their tendrils removed, but most did not. When you made an appointment, the doctor took you into a tiny room and just taught you how to bind this glorious organ up very tightly so that nobody could tell that you had one under your shirt, unless that shirt fit really tightly. One of the other ways this planet differed from Earth is that there were, luckily, no tight-fitting bicycle shirts.

Even though using a god-given organ for the greatest communion of all was illegal, everyone, from the president right down to the people that worked at the gas chamber used their organs. It was all a secret, and everyone was in denial, conflicted and confused and thought that tomorrow would be the day they gave in and straightened up and really started to Get Ahead.

As my foot started to cruise downward towards the pavement, I saw two men, old, close friends, get very drunk in a bar together, They reminisced about old times and talked about the present--their jobs, their kids, their wives. One of them got drunk enough that he started absently rubbing at the binding to his tendril. A thought blossomed in the others' mind..."maybe he's got one of these things still, too!"

After last call, the two were urinating together in the alleyway--the second-closest communion that heterosexual men could have on this planet--when they decided to just go for it and commune right there, behind the dumpster. Right as they saw each other's fragile unique beauty and simultaneous membership in the broad spectrum of life, snipers from a passing helicopter picked them off in an alleyway like a bored redneck shooting rats at the dump.

This story, while true, and a little too much like Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, is nevertheless copyright Jeff Simmermon and if I see any derivatives of it out there, I will be seeing your sorry asses in court. You want a wild tale of the land beyond, you figure out a way to travel there your damned self.

I painted a representation of this experience for my one of my senior projects while completeing my art major that year. It was done in black and white enamela and whitewash on a large section of decaying backyard fence, the entire story hand-lettered along the side. Here's a photo of part of the painting:


This painting and one very similar hung side-by-side in a bar here in D.C. called the Common Share for several years. Hundreds of bicyclists and politically ambitious young drunks partied next to this thing for years. Then the bar changed ownership a few times and I left the country. Now the piece has vanished, and I have no idea where to find it.

If you have seen this in a friend's garage or basement, or even been at a party where this is hanging on the wall, please get in touch with me. I would love to see my old artwork again. It pleases me to no end that possibly thousands of strangers have sauced themselves up pretty heavily right nest to my hand-lettered true tale of a land beyond earth, and it is my sincerest hope that through the course of steady seeping osmosis this painting inspired these people to come a little closer than they would have and really rub souls, letting each other know that if not right this second, everything was going to be okay and no government could get in the way of that.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

State of the Union

If you're eagerly coming over her for State of the Union analysis, I might disappoint you. Check out this word parser from Bush'd past SOTU addreses,'s interesting to see a graphical representation of how many time he says "freedom," "hope," "social security," etc. Thanks to Wonkette for providing me with the link and hours of political/local entertainment.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Now That The Party Is Over

In the past 24 hours, more than 14,000 people have read the post about me and Tash's trip to the Iraqi Expat Polls, and the response has been nothing short of astounding. After Instapundit picked me up, I got a hit about every 2 seconds, for roughly 24 hours. Of those 14,000 people, roughly a hundred wrote me letters, which came every five minutes or so. Most of these letters were really heartfelt, well-thought out messages that helped restore my faith in conservatives in general, and internet users specifically.

A lot of people said that they'd bookmark this blog and come back regularly, which is amazing. It also creates a lot of pressure. See, last week I was just preaching to the choir and I could say pretty much any old thing I felt like. Now the pressure's on to be reasonable and intelligent.

It's really important to communicate across the boundaries in this divided nation, but it's really hard, too. It takes a lot of restraint and it's a serious responsibility. See, I have a lot of political opinions but I more than enjoy a bit of fecal humor. Does all this attention mean I have to let that go?

Preaching to the converted allows a certain comfortable freedom. Before, I could just kinda shoot from the hip with a few cheap shots and inside jokes. Then the twenty to eighty liberals that actually read this thing would share a guffaw and get back to our whipped soy half-caf lattes and the serious business of undermining the institution of marriage.

Now I've got to use my brain and my heart IN TANDEM and it's tricky. It's all well and good to stand on a street corner and holler, but once people listen, it's human nature to make sure you can really get behind what you're shouting. I've had my ideas and the fallacies within them dissected and re-presented to me over and over the past few days, and it's pretty sobering.

But I really need to make something pretty clear here. Just because I took the trouble to seek my own truth and talk to some people who benefited from the war, thereby changing my own viewpoints...that doesn't mean I'm conservative now. I haven't broken through some shining gate and just up and joined another team--I've just opened my mind a bit and written about it. It's actually something I am trying to make a writing career from.

It's just that 13,800 of you haven't read my other stuff. Thinking for yourself doesn't mean you joined a particular group. It just means you're confident enough in your own perceptions that you can get outside them.

Because I describe myself as a liberal, a lot of people think that's a big deal. I think it's important that everyone remember that just because we agree on a few things it doesn't mean we agree about everything. All of the best, most moving letters I've received recently acknowledge this. However, the majority of the sites that picked my link up seemed to think that my essay was the equivalent of Darth Vader taking off his mask in Return of the Jedi.

On the flip side again, a man named Lt. Smash nearly moved me to tears yesterday with his emails. Read them here. I'd like to be friends with that guy.

A lot of people wrote to tell me that I sounded really young, and they, too were like me when they were my age...and once I was 45 or 50 or whatever, I'd be Republican too. Maybe so. Who knows. But goddamnit if I am going to join hand with someone who makes my entire belief structure sound like wetting the bed. I swear, nothing sucks like being patted on the back for openmindedness with one hand and patted on the head for being all cute and naive with the other.

According to the U.S. Census, 28,899,571 Americans were between 18 and 24 as of April, 2003. An additional 84,243,194 were between 25 and 44 at the same time. That's an awful lot of youthful idealism with the right to vote, and I think those numbers should be taken seriously.

Lest I devolve into a total snark, let me say a few other things, and I'm done:

1) I don't always blog about politics. There's travel writing, rock and roll, fine art and total weirdness on here as well. There's a guy named Clarence who is a history teacher at a Virginia Juvenile Facility that sends me stuff from time to time.

2) Just because the war in Iraq freed a lot of suffering people doesn't mean the way the administration went about starting the war and selling it to the people is right. Iraqis weeping and voting is tremendous and incredible, but it is not a mandate for the Bush administration to do any old fucked up thing it feels like doing.

3) I'll be watching the State of the Union tonight, and comments are sure to follow.

4) I want to go to the Walter Read hospital here in D.C, visit some soldiers and have a look at the domestic human cost of this war as well. Stick around.

5) I am really, deeply honored to have your attention, and I promise to try not to squander it. Again, I've been lucky enough to read a real outpouring of understanding and ideological generosity in the past few days, and it gives me hope that America is not as divided in black and white redstate bluestate areas, and that we can come back together. There's a lot of work ahead, but I'm thrilled that we might be doing it together.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

More to Come

Since my most recent post got linked to InstaPundit, traffic here has positively midnight last night I had nearly 10,000 visitors since 3 pm.

The comment section is packed with well-reasoned arguments and a lot of fruity reasoning. There's a lot of polarizing name-calling on there, and while I may have been guilty of it in the past, I don't really appreciate it now. Nobody does. That's what Jon Stewart was saying.

Many of you think I was a sign-toting protestor. I wasn't. My girlfriend and I marched in the protest parade because it was A) fun, and B) we were, and may still be, not that wild about Bush. But when we got to the end of the parade, we entered the inaugural festivities and watched quietly and the other side a chance.

I'm not switching sides, and you gleeful neo-cons can go ahead and stop rubbing your little hands because you think you've got a guy on the fence. I'm for doing your homework, listening to the humans behind the message, and thinking for myself, and I always have been.

But I digress. I have got to focus on my day job for a bit, but you best believe there is going to be a follow-up post responding to all this attention, and I am not lying. For real. Please tune back in.