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Posts Tagged ‘Superior Carnivale Forty’

|| April 14, 2011 || 11:25 pm || Comments (17) ||

I can’t figure Schmutzie out. My daughter’s best friend is named Pooks (iunno. don’t even ask.) and I generally like his take on things, so I asked him what I should say about someone that I admire like crazy but can’t seem to get a solid bead on, who is very witty and well-written and has stellar taste in shoes. Pooks said to me, sage thing that he is, “You’re making this way too hard. Just tell her you think she’s boss as fuck.”  I wanted to say, “Pooks, you are a wise motherfucker,” but –as hard as it is to believe– even I have a (shakily-drawn, shallow) line, so I said, “Thank you for your insight, Pooks. Are you staying for dinner?”

Pee ess….Schmutzie is boss as fuck, you got that?

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Look, sometimes you ask for things, not knowing what you’ll really get. But you’re bold and you ask and no matter what turns up, at least you’re guaranteed a surprise, at least you you showed the temerity to open your mouth and speak.

That’s kind of what I did with this birthday carnival for myself. I asked people to compose something. It was awkward, so awkward, because e-mail after e-mail had all these lovely things about me when I was expecting a story or poem or song about who-knows-what. Some of them were so kind that I cringed when I posted them, sure that someone out there was rolling their eyes, going all, “WHAT A VAIN, VAIIIIIN JACKASS.” But I did it anyway, because they were so generous as to honor my request, and because one of my personal philosophies says to honor what is written. And then it struck me that I’m willing to hear bad things about myself, so I should be willing to hear good, as well. I’ve been robbing myself of that for a long time.

If you’re new around here, I’d like to say this to you:

Hello. I’m Jett. My life is a lot of things; it is overwhelming, fulfilling, stuffed to the seams, comfortable, colorful, taxing….but above and beyond any of those things, it’s fun. It’s a grand parade shot through with mournful alleys. I’ll try to sing so that the best of all of it manages to bounce off the clouds and rain delight onto your head.

If you’re old around here, I’d like to say this to you:

Hi there. You are so dear to me. I hope I’ve soaked your head in delight more times than you are able to count.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

The carnival’s over, kids. Grab hands and walk home together. I hope you won a prize. Give a word of greeting before you go.

|| April 14, 2011 || 5:13 am || Comments (4) ||

Do you know TwoBusy? He is my Very Good Friend and he can write like the bottom is falling out and he might not ever get to write another word….then he does it again and another again after that.  He also once told me that he couldn’t hear me talking nonsense to him because the strippers on his solid gold yacht (“What? It does too float!”) were DANCING TOO LOUDLY. We have come up with a present war that we call ‘GIFTPOCALYPSE!!!1!!eleventy!!1!’

Well, of course he’s my friend. Are you thick or something?

The term “punk rock” has been co-opted and perverted so many times, it’s hard to pin down exactly what it means. For a lot of folks, it’s a kind of music they can’t really describe other than in vague terms of sloppiness and anger and tempo and “y’know… like Green Day or something. Like that Time of Your Life song — I loved that! It was my prom song!” And then they start singing the chorus to you and you find yourself torn between wanting to yell at them to stop or simply walking away.

For others, it’s an image replete with giant (often multi-hued) Mohawks and cheeks and ears pierced with safety pins and old and torn leather jackets and sweaty mosh pits with bodies crushing and colliding in tiny, filthy clubs and the implication of unfocused rage searching for a target and the perceived threat that rage generates (despite the fact that a significant percentage of people fitting that description are, in fact, among the more gentle and thoughtful creatures you’ll ever encounter). See that photo there to the left, of Tank Girl in all her ferocious glory? That’s the general
idea, and to those for whom the status quo of minivans and Pleasant Valley Sundays are the defining qualities of safe and familiar reality, it can be a threatening thing.

And then there’s Jett. She’s a wife, and mother to several. She’s a respected professional and colleague. She’s a proud Alabaman (is that the right term?
Alabamite? Alabaster? Alabamination?) with a deep and passionate faith in God and in the goodness of her fellow man. And she is the most punk rock person I’ve ever known.

Her hair is neither green nor carved into strange and evocative patterns that might raise the eyebrow of those who pass by her on a daily basis. Her eyes are neither wild nor smeared with Siouxsie makeup, but rather stunningly clear and piercing, betraying little but the fierce intellect and curiosity that lies behind them.

It’s not about what you see.

There’s an uncaged passion and joy in Jett that is a wonder to behold — a refusal to compromise her beliefs in what is good and right and possible, in the world or in those who fill it, that defies the easy cynicism of our age (not that I’d, uh, know anything about that) by fearlessly assuming the most contradictory perspective imaginable: that it is our purpose and our responsibility to act kindly to one another. That it is our prerogative and our God-given task to exercise free will by questioning authority wielded for the sake of authority. That it is our most fundamental nature as free-roaming creatures of instinct and emotion to explore our world, to find beauty in the strangest and most unexpected places, and to plunge into darkness and feel our way, inch by painful inch, back toward the light — or even the promise of light.

Tell me that’s not radical. Tell me that you don’t see how her hyperarticulate nature – as a talker, as a writer, as a thinker and friend – isn’t an expression of this radicalism. Tell me you don’t take all of this in and find yourself bewildered and struck with wonder, stunned to silence and left a little bit inspired. I don’t know; maybe you can. I can’t.

Happy Birthday, Jett.

|| April 12, 2011 || 10:22 am || Comments (3) ||

Do you guys know Troutie? She is utterly charming and writes like a dream and I have no idea what she is talking about: We ARE friends. There are so many things about her that I love, but what I love most is that she has a big heart for loving and big eyes for seeing and a big smile for welcoming.

Like a lot of other people who are all “hi! How are ya?? You look great!” online, I am afraid of real-life humans. Put me in a room with a good internet connection all by myself and I am the friendliest, most outgoing person you’ll ever (not) meet. But in person? I’m the one hiding in the bathroom. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s that I’m scared of you.

In the course of sitting on my couch completely alone watching the world go by, I sometimes meet someone – an invisible someone – who makes everything different. I watch for a while in the least-creepy-way possible. I listen. And then I cannot resist it anymore and I hear myself say “will you be my friend?” in the smallest voice I can manage. I then look at my shoes and pretend that squeak was the wind.

Jett, will you be my friend?

I only know you through twitter and our blogs and Polite Fictions, bless its heart, but I feel like I have found a real-life friend in you. You make me want to answer my phone or go to a conference or party in the woods of Alabama, just to hear your voice.

Which is not to say we are kindred spirits, twins separated at birth, long lost sides of the same coin. Oh mercy, no. You are brave and brazen and strong. You are outspoken, declaring what must be declared. I… am not. We don’t even look the teensiest, weensiest bit alike.

But thanks to this village that is the internet, we can hear each other without one of us hiding in the bathroom. We can see ourselves in each others words. I can’t tell you how often I read what you’ve written and said “yes, exactly” to myself.

You are part of a tribe I’ve always admired from afar: People Who Speak Up For Themselves. But that’s not all. You speak up for others.

I would love to be part of your tribe, but since that does not seem to be my lot this time around, I will be the squeak in the wind, reminding you you’re doing it right. Because you are.

Happy Birthday, Jett. The world is a better place with you in it.

|| April 10, 2011 || 11:54 pm || Comments (3) ||

Every now and then I will hit publish on a post and think, ‘If a new reader comes in on this one they will pronounce me insane and never come back.’  Which, you know, is okay because I’m not real concerned with courting a narrow-minded audience. Jason showed up on one of those days, a day where I posited that my son may just one day write about the nuttiness of his cracked Southern momma. Jason and I have our share of disparate beliefs. We have remarkably similar personalities, temperaments, senses of humor. I always come back to this: Jason, on one of my most brokenly confessional posts, didn’t squint or flinch or judge when he spoke up to tell me he was here. I have mad respect for that fool and his big ole heart.

A few months ago, we moved into a big house in a gated community. The house is spacious and new and nothing like us. We’re filling the place up, a chair here, a small table there, but even so there are echo chambers, beige subcaverns where conversations flutter like bats. It’s a giant house, and although we are usually not assholes, it seems a place that would attract those predisposed to assholiness. It’s pretty and perfect. We’re usually not. The house yawns for order, for the Unused, for the Pottery Barn Catalog.

We received a bunch of housewarming gifts. One particular gift came in a box that was raggedly delightful, a box that looked like it had been used before, battle-tested, well-traveled. It was taped up in a no-bullshit manner: you shall not pass, O Postal Worker trying to get a piece of whatever the parcel contained. You know the person that sent the box as Jett Superior, who is very much a real life person (we know her real name, and no, we ain’t tellin’), although if William Faulkner wrote Japanese manga she’d be a perfect heroine. Inside the box: a bunch of white candlesticks. Candlesticks, it is known, make a good gift. This was not a set. Sets are fascist. Sets are easy. This was a motley band of candlesticks, of various shapes and sizes, no two alike, a Chaucerian group making that long pilgrimage from Alabama to the west coast. They were anathaema to the teachings of The Catalogs. They made perfect sense. The candlesticks were our favorite gift.

|| April 8, 2011 || 6:46 am || Comments (5) ||

(we here at Superior Industries had some ‘technical glitches’ night before last, so the Carnivale is a day tardy. apologies!)

Okay, so. I don’t know how or through whom Deb Rox found me. I would consider the details unimportant if I weren’t so blown the fuck away by her on the fair regular. You know those women whose abilities and sensibilities and gifts and depth are too much for words, so you just resort to, ‘Maaaan, she’s somethin‘.’? Yeah buddy, that’s Deb. She is wise and generous and totally, totally cool….but the kind of cool that says, “C’mere kid, you can try on my leather jacket.’

Jett Superior was on my mind this weekend.  I caught the news of her birthday love letter fest just as I was leaving on a short trip to the Bay Area. Then her “I’m off to Doo-Nanny” tweets deja vued through my stream, and I had to tell myself I haven’t actually ever doo-nannied myself, I only know of it through her, through the Superior Stream. And that kickass marathon post from last year. Which reminded me of her old site design, you know the red one with those righteous buttons on the right?

I’ve rediscovered Alphabet Junkie two or three times during Jett’s Internet reign, this last time after discovering her on Twitter…when? Maybe a year and a half ago? It’s all this blur of knowing and not knowing, this digital helix of experiences not quite shared.

I have a vision in my head of Jett in a motorized cupcake. I have this idea of her soldering broken things. I have this concept of her with mad eyes lasering out a text message.  I have no awareness of the way she displaces the molecules of a room she moves through, but I know some of her words and some of her spirit and I’ve seen a bit of her character at work in complicated situations. Sometimes she confuses me, sometimes she’s clear as fire. I really don’t know how I know her or how much of her I know.  I like her.

So I thought about her on and off again in San Francisco because of her birthday email. Because she was at Doo-Nanny. I made a pilgrimage to City Lights Books, because that’s what I one of the things I like to do, make pilgrimages to run my fingernail in the crack between the walls to Shakespeare & Co., to steal Devil’s Ivy clippings from Hemingway’s house in Key West. Jett Superior lassoes writerly people, makes reverent space for their words and encourages them to talk as the ink dries in the corners of their lips, irreverently poking holes in the blue spit bubbles that form. I really like that about her.

I sat in the poetry room upstairs in City Lights and then plucked a few lonely staples out of the wall on the stairwell down. I walked through Chinatown and ended up sitting with my book in St. Mary’s Square. I read this:

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…” — Jack Kerouac, On the Road

That made a hell of a lot of sense to me, about Jett and about a few other things. “Commonplace things” are the most tempting of memes. The forms of social media cry for replication of the commonest of games. But we know this about Jett: for all we don’t know, we do know that girlfriend don’t play.

So of course I like her. She’s absolutely one of the mad ones. She certainly doesn’t yawn. And those roman candles this chick’s got–no one has to share a room with her to see them in all of their explosive glory.  I can hear the wicks spit and cackle – see the blooming lights doubling over on themselves – from way over here.

That’s how it works on this salon called Internet, I think. Writers and readers figure eight around each other. Manuscripts pile up, are shredded to make hamster nests. We bite into each others tails. We move from the garden into the alley, transplanting the clippings we stole from each other. Who knows why we are drawn to one or another, or what will come of it all. You wish strangers well, hello and farewell, every time they tweet.

What’s cool is that I’ve been to Doo-Nanny, last year and last weekend, with this fierce friend of mine who came with me to San Francisco last weekend–you should meet her, she’s this exceptionally fine writer, with a rad blog–and each trip was fucking amazing.

Happy Birthday, little Jett.


|| April 5, 2011 || 9:06 am || Comments (7) ||

Oh y’all. Sometime a while back I was reading the comments on a friend’s site (the post was a screed about  the lack of blowjobs in modern society or something) and in those comments was a short, patient and to the point blurb. Said blurb communicated, in essence, that ‘Hey, it’s totally worth the time and the effort to wipe instead of shake after you go pee, because that makes your penis more palatable to a woman. Also? Manscape it up a little, der.’  The poster’s name was every bit as fanciful and intriguing as his advice: It was Mayopie. Right there in those comments I declared him my Internet Boyfriend and have loved him ever since. He’s hilarious (but like this: HILAAAARIOUS) and passionate and really kind-hearted. Mayopie has a temper that is amazing to behold, and we all know I love a good righteous lather. He can string together words in a way that causes a confused puppy tilt to grace your head, because you’re all, ‘We were just talking about chainsaws and now we’re at Baryshnikov and holy shit, it all makes sense.’

I’m kind of stupid.  I have this problem where I fantasize about how cool it would be to have certain things and then I find a way to have them. In the last twenty years, I’ve owned 37 cars, 8 motorcycles (have 2 now), several boats (3, 2 are tiny) and a couple of utility trailers. In other words, I’ve spent every dime I’ve ever made on stuff I’ve gotten rid of shortly after I received it, have very few things left and have even less money. But when you and I are driving down the road together and you say, “Those are cool cars,” I can probably say, “Yeah, I had one of those.”

Please don’t mistake this for bragging. I am a moron. I bought an El Camino once, parked it, a mouse moved in and I gave it to him. “Ralph’s El Camino” became its name, before it was towed away by a guy who said he could sell it for me and I never heard from him again. This is not the stuff of bragging, but more of hanging your head in pitiful shame. But then…

I hopped on craigslist the other day as I often do, again, because I am born from dimness. I don’t have much money nowadays, but what I do have I still like to spend frivolously on things I don’t need but have always wanted. My thinking is usually quite rational. If I had to put it into words, I’d say it’s something like, “I want that. La la la la… gonna buy that thing…. La la la la.”

And there she was. A vision, really.  A beacon of desire.  Exactly what I’ve wanted FOREVER and have never been able to find. Something I probably won’t use at all, but something I will always think about using. Something that the idea of having is actually way cooler than having.

When I saw the price, I thought it was a misprint. I thought there was no way it was still available, as I know values there disappear quickly. But the ad had only been up for ten minutes and I gave it a shot.

A few minutes later, I was driving to the middle of nowhere to pick up my 1966 Mini Travel Trailer. Can I get an AHHHH YEAHHHHH? (Deep voice, please.) Yeah.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly as advertised. Leaking, missing about 6 windows, ceiling coming down… all after having been told on the phone it didn’t leak at all. Well, this isn’t the first time I’ve showed up, felt that I’ve been completely mislead, stood there looking angry and defiant then bought it anyway.

Normally when I buy something, I call all my friends and family and let them know. I can usually hear their eyes rolling over the phone. Kind of a swishy sound. But this time, they all seemed excited. It was weird. This one seemed different.

In the last year I’ve made a lot of changes. I made a major career change and now I write, restore and sell antiques and have started doing a lot of things I never thought I could do before. One of those things is now replacing glass and leak-proofing camper ceilings. Can I get an AHHHH YEAHHH? Yeah.

Three days later, all windows have been replaced. The ceiling and moldy insulation have been removed. The rotted girders have been replaced and the leaky roof sealed. What’s left is merely cosmetic and can be completed for a cost of about $50.00-$100.00, including curtains, cushions, etc. Add a coat of baby blue paint and in a couple of weeks you’ll see a fully restored, leak proof vintage mini camper that will sit unused in my driveway.

If there’s a point to all of this, it’s this: I popped on twitter and saw Jett talking to someone else about some kind of festival happening in… Alabama, I think? Not too far away, and though “festival” denotes the congregation of more people than me and one other person, Jett said I should go and I considered it. And ever since, when I look at “Sweetness” (that’s the camper’s name), I think how cool it would be to be chilling out with Jett at a festival, hanging inside my camper and her saying, “We should go probably go outside,” and me saying, “Yeah. Probably. You go ahead. I just have to pee,” then locking the door behind her.

Jett is one of my favorite people. You can just tell when someone’s genuine and not trying to manipulate your perception of their character. With Jett, you get what you see, and what you see is a person with a golden heart. For me, she’s been a source of great wisdom and when she asked for a birthday post, I jumped on it. Because not only do I want her to have the best birthday ever, I want her and everyone to know that I think the world of her.

Happy Birthday, Jett. I hope you get everything you’ve ever wanted.

|| April 4, 2011 || 5:07 am || Comments (2) ||

Christopher is this really amazing guy. He’s been around these parts a long damn time, and I keep expecting him to tire of my nonsense and wander away. I like him a very lot. I respect him.  Chris is crazy-intelligent, both from a brain standpoint and a heart standpoint. He is a complete dear. We are going to eat pastries on a sidewalk together someday, and point out important landmarks to one another.

The Internet is a very strange technology. We blame it for the detachment and impersonality that it spawns, and with good reason.  But it is also a space we travel that is frictionless until you bump into a reason to stop scanning and start really looking.  It was when I came across Jett and her tales of the Superior clan that I slowed down – hung around really – and began to read this beautiful (and funny) prose and some incandescent poems that she produced on a regular basis.

I should say that I teach political theory. It is a field punctuated by very difficult books.  As part of the work I do with students to prepare them for this kind of tough reading, I assign them poems.  This is my excuse for indulging in one of the great loves of my life. Folks don’t read enough poetry these days, although they do profess love for lyrics in their favorite songs and commit many of these songs to memory.  In this, poetry is alive and well.

When I first came across Jett, she was in school. Some of her writing was done on the fly in the cafeteria or Student Union building, I think. A lot of us are forced to write on the fly, but very few of us can pull it off with the aplomb and verve.  Well, Jett can, and has continued to do so through the years. The intimacy she shares with the language is something to behold and to be envied.  There is no barrier between her considerably pure soul and the words she uses to express herself.  She is a fountain of creativity in this respect.  Here she is in the confessional mode in a poem titled “There are Forevers”:

I am a burden more to myself

Detonated at a word, a scent

Left picking shards from my clumsy heart

Afraid the crystal would simply shatter.

These are the words of life itself – the embodiment of the vibrant matter that shimmers in us all.  But it takes a special person to notice and bring it to the surface.  I know I feel alive and grateful for the life I have when I read Jett.  Her writing has become dear to me.  It is nourishment from a most creative soul that lives to share bits of herself with others.

And so she shares tales of her children, of her husband, her working life of clients/patients, her childhood, her mother, and especially her stories from the road.  Jett cannot help but to make sacred the profane. She is incapable of writing a dull line. Inanimate objects take on life when she words them. All this is a feat, I say.  I have learned not to cross her:

You traveled down the hall, trailing words behind you
And I hesitated, lost in the picture of me
Flinging a heavy volume in the direction of your head.
It was a dictionary:
I wanted to give the words back, but
With heavily-compounded interest

And so I took one on the noggin and it continues to do me good. I wish I had the talent to return the favor with a combination of words that would leave you, my friend, breathless thanks to the new way to see yourself they would afford.  “Why I am saintly,” you would say.  I lack the talent, sadly, and so I hope you will accept a simple thanks on this celebration of your fortieth year.  I am so grateful to you for all your words, and for your friendship too.  Beannacht! (Blessing in Irish) May you know happiness and health and music all your days.