Cooler than you (a post about a specific movie...)

I can’t believe it took me four months to figure this out but baby, you’re wrong and here’s the lowdown:
It’s not Brokeback Mountain you dummy!

It’s Before Sunset!


On Adam & Eve and the fall of man; also about Holden Caulfield and thunderbirds. Mostly about this girl named P****, though

In native North-American mythology lightning flashes from the eyes of these really big, Roc-like birds every time they wink their eyes. The birds- thunderbirds- are sort of like agents of the Great Spirit upon creation.

And then I'm at this hot-dog place near my home a few evenings ago...
But ah, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I had been thinking of this specific girl I’d known since I was seven, see, for a couple of weeks now, even though I really hadn’t heard of her ever since I kinda screwed things up back in ’99. She sort of had this mild crush on me ever since ’87 (!) but I never really gave it much thought. I was, after all & as usual, too busy being myself to care about anything else.
Thing is, I sort of met her once again once High School was through and we’d both come to São Paulo. We met for the last time in ’99 and she was dating this friend of a good friend of mine. I told my friend, “I’m going after this girl, see,” and he said, “Dude, don’t you know she’s going out with Ivan?”- I said, “Like I cared” and went to talk to him.
My friend ended up feeling guilty about the whole thing, so he told his friend about what I was trying to do and his friend was all, “I’m gonna bust up his ass” and stuff. To which I replied, “Like I cared.”
Needless to say there was no ass-busting that day, but I also never got even close to getting the girl.

So back to the other night at the hot-dog place- She’s there, out of the blue, and for no specific reason whatsoever I’d been thinking of her for the past two weeks, trying to come up with a plan in order to find her, maybe the Internet…?
And then she’s standing behind me, really, like lightning, as if the Thunderbird had just blinked…

I once said that, given enough time and a decent word processor I would end writing about everyone I ever knew and I really wish this post would be about P**** exclusively and not about my own dysfunctional ramblings.

What baffles me the most about this girl is that I’m not able to glimpse the tiniest bit of darkness when I look at her. Into her.
Every time I look at someone I automatically look for his/her rotten core and 99% of the time it’s there, shining in ebony for anyone to see. But this girl, P****, she doesn’t have it and her smile is just ghost-white, the color of honesty.

Do you even remember what honesty looks like?
It looks like the color of her smile at this pool-party at Andrea’s back in 1994 and P**** kept trying so hard to push me into the pool, clothes on and everything. I came this close to kissing her that afternoon, only I didn’t.
We were fourteen years old.

Have you ever sold you soul, L****?
It works like this: You can get anything you want, period. Tricky bit is, you have to really want it or otherwise you don’t have a chance in hell of getting it.

So she’s there standing in line behind me at the hot-dog place and the way she’s smiling back at me reminds me not of Nietzsche and his "abyss gazes also" line, not really, but more of Adam and Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost; the fall of man after attaining the forbidden knowledge of good & evil from the tree & its fruit and so on, and I’m thinking that maybe the whole “fall of man” thing should not be taken under a theological light but more of a coming-of-age aspect to it, kind of like The Catcher in the Rye: Adam eats from the apple and knows stuff. He’s thus banished from Paradise. He’s thus become Holden Caulfield (for chrissakes, etc).

I’m thinking maybe I’m still such a sweet kid in her eyes but I have grown up to become a cynical asshole in mine. I’m thinking that going through all the bad stuff after High School was definitely uncalled for and despite coming up for air a lot smarter afterwards, is knowledge of good & evil worth getting kicked out of Paradise for?

Jesus Christ, L****… all the drama-queen routine for one lousy apple, you know?

The worst part is, if given the chance of going home I would simply give it a half-smirk and say, “Hell, no.”
The worst part is, simply put, I don’t regret anything I might’ve done despite its toll upon my not living in the “garden of earthly delights” anymore and all that crap.

Maybe I do regret not kissing her by the swimming pool back in that sunny Saturday in ’94, but that’s all.

…What was that again?
Oh, sure. Of course she’s got a boyfriend now. Geez it took you this long to ask me that?

You know me, man: Whenever I get all emotional and stuff and begin throwing JD Salinger and John Milton in the same sentence it’s because I’m kind of pissed that they’ve got boyfriends and their boyfriends usually look like total morons to me…

Hey I’m that shallow, what can I do…
Blame it on the Kali Yuga and the color TV, really.


On nightmares, mostly. And Steve Ditko comics characters. Also a little about High School, College, books, Shakespeare plays, etc

I woke up the other day in the middle of the night, I was sweating like hell and I’d just come back from this awful dream, this recurring nightmare which happens say once every couple of months.
It starts out differently, every time but ends exactly in the same manner: Turns out I’ve missed concluding this subject or another in College and I haven’t really graduated, so I’ll just have to go back to school once again to finish it.
It’s been, I dunno, two years after I’ve gotten out of that hellhole and I’m still getting the bad dreams.

I’m never going back to College regardless of what people say, period. The nightmares alone are making me crazy.

A few days later I was in the mood for something sweet, some dessert to fend off the vodka-and-OJ I’d had at dinner but I didn’t really have anything at home. Since I wasn’t in the mood to walk the two blocks down to the supermarket I had to make do with whatever it was I could find available to me then & there: Hence, two bananas and some low-fat yogurt.
I sliced the bananas and poured the yogurt over them, what a no-brainer, and as I did that I realized the patterns the yogurt formed over the bananas were very similar to the rather surreal, Roger Corman-esque etchings and decorations that 1960s comics artist Steve Ditko would draw in his Spider-Man and Dr. Strange stories.

Dr. Strange fought this Ditko-created supernatural bad guy in their first mutual appearance back in ’63— an evil dream king by the name of Nightmare— whom Ditko aptly portrayed as riding an eerie white mare with its eyes glowing red like fiery embers.

Comics might have ruined my education and if you are to go along Dr. Fredrick Wertham’s babbling comics ended up ruining the education of the entire post-war planet Earth or something like that. One thing comics affected, for sure, was my perception of the plays of William Shakespeare.
Now, first of all I only got into Shakespeare because of comics: James Robinson & Tony Harris’s Starman got me into Oscar Wilde and I dunno, maybe Truman Capote as well, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman got me into Shakespeare.

Thing is, though, that whenever I’m reading Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream I think of Puck not as some character out of Sandman, but looking very similar to Steve Ditko’s Nightmare villain from the old 1960s Dr. Strange series: You know, emaciated fellow clad in emerald leotards, pointy ears, impish complexion, etc.

If I’d stuck with the trash they told me to read in High School my knowledge of books… well, of the world in general… would pretty much amount to, Gee I wonder what crazy plot Dan Brown’s cooking up for his next bestseller!
I probably wasted High School away with either the Flash or Justice League tucked under my desk; those gave way to more sophisticated stuff like Starman or Preacher or Sandman, and then on to well, The Picture of Dorian Gray and etc.

Funny thing is, because of that College became such a nightmare to me a few years later, which goes to prove my hypothesis that only morons need formal education when it comes down to the sheer act of Reading.
People with at least half a brain will work just fine with mere pointers, else it’s all boiling down to the Da Vinci Code.


Excerpt from a comic book (Batman the philosopher)

"What's that, Commissioner? A caveman-- sheathed in ice-- flying over the city? We'll be there right away!"

Detective Comics #337
by Gardner Fox, obviously a little past his bedtime


Coming of age, Pt.IV

I woke up the other day with this specific Miami Vice episode in my mind. I think it’s from its last season, was it in 1988 or 1989 by the way? I think it was 1989 but anyway.

So the sequence starts out very silently with the camera panning out to some not really hectic, classic Miami Beach setting under daylight and the Don Johnson character is walking down the street and he’s lost his memory, see, but he’s slowly remembering who he is and he’s been thinking he’s a hitman for the mob ever since last season but it’s not so cliché as it seems; it’s Miami Vice after all and Miami Vice was a very classy TV show.
So, he enters the Police precinct very matter-of-factly and- it’s all very silent until this point- and his former friends, the cops, are just thunderstruck to see the wanted bad guy, the traitor, just popping in their midst like that. They all raise their guns and stuff, and you just feel like the Don Johnson character has just come home, he’s finally remembered who he is.

Anyway, the truly wonderful bit in that sequence is that it’s completely dialogue-less save for Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up playing in the background and the whole thing is just chillingly amazing, artistic in a late-1980s, MTV-generation sort-of way.

Those people manning the dictionaries, well they should just come up with a word meaning, ”To feel like a last-season, Armani-wearing Sonny Crockett walking down that Miami Beach street back in ’89 under the early morning sun, heading home at long last.”


Coming of age, Pt.III

The year before they taught us to add and to subtract was our last year at kindergarten and they’d make us do this really awful thing, or activity as they called all their Third Reich pedagogical rulings, and it involved a piece of cloth I think a flannel or something and also some knitting needles and the mimeographed drawing of a duck we’d poorly color in green or blue crayons or something.
The whole idea was for us to place the drawing of the duck over the flannel on the table, the cloth acting out as a buffer against the hardwood surface, and us kids would have to pluck out the duck itself free from the rest of the paper by doing tiny wholes with the knitting needles around its edges.

They called it puncture-whatever and I hated it because I really hated coloring ducks with blue crayons, also I’d rather be talking about who was cooler in the A-Team instead: Hannibal or Murdock though most of the kids, well they just loved Mr. T themselves back in those days.


Coming of age, Pt.II

It’s early 1998 and I’ve just turned eighteen years old.

We’re both just fresh out of High School and I’m coming with this idea how to get into this specific girl’s pants and this time it just gotta work. I’m sitting on the carpet in my bedroom at my parents’, it’s about three in the afternoon- a Friday- and I have the air-conditioner working at full speed. I’ve got the girl on the phone with me and she’s sort of saying No, she doesn’t really feel like coming over tonight to see this movie I rented on video, thank you, but I’m pretty sure she’ll end up giving in, I mean eventually anyway.
There are old, assorted Lego building blocks scattered all around me for no good reason whatsoever and as I’m insisting with her I make a mental note to disappear with all of these silly toys.
Plan B is getting my father’s car and taking her to that fancy new Italian restaurant by the edge of the city though it’s probably going to be harder to drive her anywhere else afterwards save for the ride back to her mother’s.

Unbeknownst to myself at the time I’m still a couple of years from unfastening her bra on the couch at her father’s after we’ve put her little brother to sleep and F**** keeps calling me on my cell phone and I keep telling her I’m on a barbecue at K****’s; but this girl, see, she’s so hotter than F****, she’s one of the hottest girls I’ve been with (present company excluded, of course) but still it’s going to be well worth the wait.

It’s the last week of vacations and we’re both due back in school since neither of us actually managed to get into College straight away.
My first breakdown happens in between those years, some time around 1999.


Coming of age, Pt.I

Friday, two weeks ago

I’m standing by the band as they’re setting up the stage and I’m thinking that all things considered, life’s pretty much come down to washing the Plax away from my mouth with Draft beer.
It’s Friday night and I’m meeting with this old friend of mine from back in High School and I’m at this rock bar and they have an actual archery range on ground level and for some reason loud music and stale beer do seem to go along with bows and arrows tonight. If that’s what “primeval soup” has come to, then Jesus Christ, let all of our tomorrows drench in booze.
Guy arrives and tells me we should move downstairs and farther from the band because it’s just too loud and he wants to talk to me, that we haven’t seen each other in years and etc. I crack some decades-old joke which ends up in my asking him if he’s turned gay as the punchline. He says Gosh no; I thank god it’s true. We’re both staring at this drop-dead little redheaded girl playing Robin Hood or Lady Marion or whatever nearby but neither of us actually do anything. Of course the kid did score with the prettiest girls back in the day.
He then tells me later that night it was fun and we should definitely do this more often. I shrug and for no good reason I say No, I don’t really think so, then take a cab home.

Saturday, two weeks ago

I’m walking by this very fancy street on Saturday morning and I suddenly stumble upon this cousin of mine and I show him my tattoo and he asks me to come over for a pizza later in the evening, which I promptly accept because to be completely honest with you I have absolutely nothing else to do for the rest of the day but drink vodka and orange juice while watching some movie or another on DVD.
So I get by his place and say Hi to his wife who’s a reporter or an editor at a very famous fashion magazine but I immediately sense something’s amiss because I see him kissing her on the cheek in a way that, well, not that it’s really strange but something doesn’t click. Or it does. And I ask them out of the blue if she’s expecting a baby or something and they ask me, duly dumbfounded, how the hell did I know that, that they haven’t told anybody else.
I just smile for about half a minute, a little proud of myself but actually damn prouder for them, and say congratulations.
It’s my first honest-to-god happy smile in (close to) a thousand years and I’m downright reeling for them.

Sunday, two weeks ago

On Sunday I get really drunk and nearly pass out watching old cartoons on TV then take a shower and head for the airport, suitcase in hand and the notebook in my backpack.
This is how I prepare this course I teach at work: I just don’t. I’m way too cool to prepare my classes beforehand; I enjoy doing the office-equivalent of parachute-jumping just because I can.

One week later…

Have you ever been down to C****, L****? C**** is f*cking amazing, I’d swear to god there’s about a restaurant and two bars per square inch and everybody drives big cars and the girls are nothing short of perfect. It makes me think that this is probably what California would look like if California were located on a third-world European nation or something. Does that make sense to you?
So we’re a few days into the week, I think it’s a Friday and we’re at this nightclub and they are playing Bangles and Bangles is followed by Midnight Oil, then Pet Shop Boys, Blondie, The Cure, and everything that’s really cool but short of Bruce Springsteen. I think I danced for like, four hours non-stop, then drank a lot of some really awful overpriced caipirinha which was way too sweet.
The next Saturday M**** which is this really cute girl from the local branch and her boyfriend take me to this restaurant that’s really high-class and stuff and we have pasta with shrimp and talk of mutual funds, the price of real state, and also of old 1980s boardgames and the silly stuff we did back in kindergarten and I’m thinking I’ve just met the first two really interesting people in a billion years.
Also, I finally found Streets of Fire on DVD.

Two weeks later…

Oh Monday and Tuesday pretty much boiled down to, Jesus f*cking Christ, I should be at this New Order concert back in São Paulo but for the oddest of reasons (which is work) I’m stuck at this god-forsaken port town (which is P****) and whistling Bizarre Love Triangle at every chance I get. This is what being an adult really feels like: No job means no money for the concert tickets while job means no time for the concert itself. But then I remember the DJ did play that very song twice on the nightclub a few nights before and everything is (half) cool again. Quoting from AC/DC: Come on, come on, do it for the money…
From Wednesday to the end of the week we headed down to I**** once more because, well, because a. It was close, b. We felt like going there and it’s our call, really, and c. There’s a lot of nasty stuff going on in there and sometimes we just got muscle ourselves into a situation, in the dead of the night. P**** sort of compared us to the Delta Force and I really laughed out loud with that one, but we did get into this big argument on Thursday but mostly because we’ve been traveling together for quite some time now and some cabana fever really shouldn’t be unexpected.
By Friday night I just missed my place, period.

One year later or a lot less

I have three weaknesses: Kryptonite, Heartbreak and Restlessness and the third one is sort of hovering above my head like some carrion bird from hell and I’m kinda… well, this job is so f*cking boring it’s amazing, all the gung-ho is gone, no jazz, nada. If not for the cool cool cool trips to cool cool cool places… And once that bit ends…

If you want me to be perfectly honest you I’m sort of tired of pretending to be someone I’m not: I should never be somebody’s role-model.
I am, after all, flawed.


In my shorts and a T-shirt, at the office, on a holiday

Two states, three cities in two weeks then back home on a Saturday and I’m feeling like a rockstar, only sans sunglasses (which I lost in ’98 and have been half-heartedly saying I oughtta buy a new pair ever since).

Also, today’s a local holiday here in São Paulo but we’re kicking off the project at P**** and C**** so what do you know, just you guess where I an right now, in my shorts and a T-shirt, after having breakfast at my place (at last!) and watching Zan and Jayna help out Superman finish off an evil space circus on Superfriends on TV.

I have been thinking about getting a second tattoo but Jesus Christ, my mother would probably throttle me if I did.
I mean, when I do.

Today’s tagline is,
Whoever thought of the Mastercard slogan sure as hell chose the wrong Yuga to use it.


Guitar solo, then out (spontaneous prose tryout #813)

Life itself suddenly hits and it feels like this totally endless guitar riff from some progressive rock band from the ‘70s maybe Pink Floyd or The Who and it makes me daydream of aircraft carriers, man because I’m thinking of old Cold War-era movies of those I dunno, say F-4 Phantoms taking off from automatic catapults somewhere in the Pacific and it’s so blue (never mind ‘em ruskies) you wish the plane would just plain ol’ get sidetracked from the rails and plunge deep into the ocean below- the perfect summer day back in High School, 11 o’clock in the morning, a Saturday by the pool maybe a barbecue too and everybody just came.

Here’s quoting from a Kurt Vonnegut novel once again- Busy, busy, busy- it’s Bokonism at its best and the universe seems so packed with its own grand designs for us, all grander than fire and the sun off your wet skin but I’m at such a loss with the metaphor because I’ve never seen your skin wet in the summer, under the sun, and I’m chalking it up to yet another one of those things that might’ve been perfect before Life cut in and as paradoxically as it sounds here’s that very same Life at it again but this time it’s like this amazing outflow of sheer momentum which keeps pushing me forward not walking but running a thousand miles in any given direction, riding shotgun with God himself and both of us have our arms up and we’re both shouting Go go go, ya babes! like we’re in some Kali Yuga roller coaster breaking free from the bellybutton of Creation towards higher skies.

Tomorrow beckons & eternity beckons, I’m thinking. It changes so much oh God it changes everything and I could never ever really imagine that one could be so utterly free, without a place in the world, with no direction home, because I’m here right now and I’m free-falling everywhere at once, man and ‘em girls are sooo good-looking I just wanna glide down the highway going nowhere special with my eyes closed under pitch-black UV-coated sunglasses just sitting back, and relaxing, either but or because I’m so goddamn tired of being this empty on the inside and I want to go home…

“Tricky bit is, son,” says God, “You don’t get to go home and you don’t get to live your life like everybody does with theirs. It’s all part of the deal.”
“Hey man I’m like, bummed out with this whole thing you know,” I tell him, not very eloquently.
He nods without smiling and says nothing, making sure the point is moot.

- - - - - - -
Off to visit two or three or our Southern agencies + back here in 2 weeks tops.


Excerpt from a song (so true…)

Running into the darkness
Some hurt bad some really dying
At night sometimes it seemed
You could hear the whole damn city crying
Blame it on the lies that killed us
Blame it on the truth that ran us down
You can blame it all on me Terry
It don't matter to me now
When the breakdown hit at midnight
There was nothing left to say
But I hated him
And I hated you when you went away

Laying here in the dark
You're like an angel on my chest
Just another tramp of hearts
Crying tears of faithlessness
Remember all the movies, Terry
We'd go see
Trying to learn to walk like the heroes
We thought we had to be
Well after all this time
To find we're just like all the rest
Stranded in the park
And forced to confess
To hiding on the backstreets
Hiding on the backstreets
Where we swore forever friends
On the backstreets until the end"

Bruce Springsteen