Thursday, July 31, 2003

Farewell, Aubergine

July's nearly done and — for me, anyway — so is London. I have only one day left with the people in my program, one day in the fanciest places I have ever lived, one day with free internet access, one day in the country that gave the world Jack the Ripper, Johnny Rotten, and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Then Kristen and I leave England, leave Uncle Andy, leave the beaten prostitute district and see the other side of the water. London’s nearly done and I think I’ll miss it.

I will miss Hyde Park Gate despite its dated plumbing fixtures. No, more than dated: radiocarbon-dated. I will miss its proximity to Hyde Park, an expanse of green and brown and blue that the residents of London and their dogs enjoy proudly and every day. I will miss the creaking floors. I will the Dutch embassy and the neverending line of people in the visa application line. (Do that many people want to smoke hash?) I will miss our group’s shared delusion that nasty lurksex toxified the couch in the living room.

I will miss the group.

I will miss Ben’s disinterested stoicism. But I will miss the harem, too. I will miss Chelese and Megan and Apryll-with-a-“y” and Lily whose last name was Field which made her a compound noun. I will miss Melinda/Matilda’s conviction that despite her tiny stature, she can still fit a soul in there. I will miss Tracy’s iconic double ponytail — surely not pigtails. I will miss Shannon’s indomitable optimism I will miss Jihan’s dedicated liberalism. I will miss Kristy’s ready-to-explode nymphomania and Molly’s inky blackness — an entity which only Shannon’s cheerfulness could survive — and Shawna’s drunken inability to hold her loosemeat sandwich. I’ll miss the whole group, excluding the bleeding red thing.

I’ll miss Airplane Window.

Farewell Waitrose. Farewell maple yogurt — no, yoghurt. Farewell lamb and mint-flavored potato chips and physalis and locally brewed Guinness and Tango and — fucking hell! — Cadbury’s creme eggs 365 days a year!

I’ll miss frontal nudity on basic cable after midnight.

Riding subways in other cities won’t have the same Canterbury Tales-like procession that I watched everyday. Chasing pigeons won’t be the same. I can go to other Italian restaurants. Shit — I can go to Italy! But never again will Princess Diana’s favorite one be around the corner. I know I'm never going to be able to bidet my troubles away. Besides, I’m just getting used to colour and honour and programme and those fucking two pence-pieces.

I’m honestly going to miss London. Farewell, aubergine.

It’s the end of July — only two months of summer left. Happily, I can answer the question that has dogged me since college started: where do I go from here? Easy. Munich.

ADDENDUM: I have an unanswered question after all: Who the fuck is Armitage Shanks and why is his name on my toilet?

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

T

Letter of the week: "T." If Mrs. Dalloway has taught me nothing else, Fortnum and Mason are gods among men, and my homeland should promptly adopt the sugar-coated extra meal known as "tea." Nine cups without a psychotic episode: the Royal Blend.

No longer shooting merely myself in the foot without any foresight, I'm kicking the Koopa shell without heed of what unseen, reflective blocks and pipes await it in the screens beyond.

A doubly perplexing email from Jill:
Hey - I just found out there is a gay bar in the Castro call the "Twin Peaks Tavern." No info yet whether or not it is based on the show.

Jill

Cloud Nine

"I am being perfectly calm. I am just outspoken. If it comes to being killed, I will take it as calmly as anyone."
— Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Hell's Bells and All's Well

A conclusion worthy of ending on:
Do not despair — many are happy much of the time; more eat than starve, more are healthy than sick, more curable than dying; not so many dying as dead; and one of the thieves was saved. Hell's bells and all's well — half the world is at peace with itself, and so is the other half. Vast areas are unpolluted; millions of children grow up without suffering deprivation, and millions, while deprived, grow up without suffering cruelties, and millions, while deprived and cruelly treated, nonetheless grow up. No laughter is sad and many tears are joyful. At the graveside the undertaker doffs his top hat and impregnated the prettiest mourner.
— Tom Stoppard, Jumpers

Monday, July 28, 2003

Lyle and Linda Lurker

So I have this idea for a new sitcom. It's called "Meet the Lurkers." It's about Lyle and Linda Lurker, the creepy couple I now live with. Living with Lyle, an inconsiderate, hairy, and apparently hemophiliac hobbit of a roommate was bad enough. In fact, it was worse than Greg, Kaspar, or Drunko. But now the missus is here too. For an extended visit. In my room. Replete with kissing.

I shudder.

"Fuck God and all his shitty little angels!" — a quote from tonight’s play that I’m too Catholic to say myself. You’d think a play about he court politics of Louis XIV would be high drama enough, but those fucking lurkers have driven the entire group to gossip like bored housewives. Call me fucking Mabel. Apricots, oranges, and cauliflower.

I thought of a name for my column for next year: "Artful Dodging." It's from Oliver Twist. The Artful Dodger is the boy who seduces Oliver into a life of crime and dresses like a grown man — ostensibly, someone whose premature maturity generates comical situations. He's bad but lovably funny, so he gets away with stuff. Maybe it smacks of literary snobbishness, but it’s not like that wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate either. I considered playing on the word "dodgy," but I think "Artful Dodging" sounds better. And of all places, I got this epiphany not from reading Oliver Twist itself, which I didn't like, but from reading a biography on Alan Moore.

The Changing of the Guard kind of blew. I'm all for ritual and ceremony. Fuck, like I said, I've Catholic. But it's not so cool when you gotta stand alongside representatives of every nation on unforgiving cement for more than an hour. "Girl in pink! Please get off the fence!... Girl in red! Could you please get off the fence!... Girl in mauve...." The marching band was pretty good. Is it me, or did they play "Sound of the Swinging Symbol"?

If I had the offer to live at Buckingham Palace, I think I'd pass.

Speaking of old things, Bob Hope died today at the age of 400. Now who shall regale the nation with golf jokes at the president’s expense? In fact, a lot of people have died since I went all British. Barry White, Drewfish, ol' Bobby Hope, and those incorrigible Hussein brothers. Some good, some bad.

The Lamnt

ToniTheTigerSX: my fuckin lttr that coms aftr f dosnt flippin work.
ToniTheTigerSX: this sOOKs.
kidicarus222: you should spell more creatively
ToniTheTigerSX: i could try.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Hex Me, Vex Me

I'm not as smart as I thought I was.

See, there's this commercial for Axe Body Deodorant. The first one — not the one with the hot Axe Body Deodorant girl, the one with the guy who puts Axe on in the elevator, only to have the subsequent guy — who's far dorkier — get mauled by some babe who mistakes the lingering, atmospheric musk for the dork's. Anyway, the whole ad — the type of film, the oddly grainy color, the clothes, the outta-the-80s background music — all smack of a European production, much like the way Mentos ads do. Or so I thought.

I get to England and find that Axe doesn't exist here. Instead, they call the same product, but called "Lynx Body Deodorant." (Apparently, words with an "x" in them are cool. . . Rex, vex, hex, fox, lox, Courtney Cox, x-ray, axis, Matix, Matrix, Hexas. Maybe there's something to that. Xanax and Xerox must be the coolest brand names in existence.) But the commercial I saw very clearly shows the bottle with the Axe label I have come to know and love — present variety of choice: Voodoo. Thus, the ad is far from European. Instead, it's just American and lame.

So what must I learn from this little exercise? Aside from deduction that Axe, in its early state, had way low production values, I know now that I should not convince myself of things I am not sure to be true.

And I have too much idle braintime. Call me Mr. X.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Roberta Flack

Meg's response to my email, in which I explained how weird it is that we were thinking about each other during roughly the same period.
It is weird, I guess we just have a "special" connection. That's a joke, I'm not trying to get weird. Anyway, your online journal is kinda neat. Weird, but neat. You're a good writer, funny. Um, I am good. Still with the guy, still working-same ol' same ol'. My life is pretty damn boring right now. Sounds like you are having a good time. This is off the subject, but did you ever get your wisdom teeth out? I really don't know what else to write, so instead of making you read words that don't matter...

Keep in touch
- Meg

Stay tuned for Part Three.

Big Noisy Caterpillar

Things that are on the tube:
  • Absolutely no garbage cans
  • Loud Americans
  • Locals giving dirty looks to loud Americans
  • A very particular smell of combined B.O. I have dubbed "the Euro cologne"
  • A random shoe
  • A boyfriend and girlfriend making out even though they totally look like brother and sister from the same freaky albino family
  • A man who looked like BOB
  • Hairy moles (not the burrowing kind)
  • Hispanic people with British accents (weird!)
  • Germs, I’d imagine
  • Abundant bad haircuts
  • Posters advertising the seventh season of “Buffy” on DVD
  • A single exposed breast
  • Somebody with an accordion
  • The aforementioned man who looked like a male Mimi Bobek
  • Thankfully, no ghosts
Odd how some of my clearest London memories are set in the tube.

A Thought on the Sidewalk

Best name for a Sudanese restaurant: Suddenly Sudan

Camden

Camden rocked thirty years ago, when it was the center of the astral plane of cool, and it rocks today, mostly, if not with a lot more people trying to steal my valuable money through trinkets and t-shirts. I bought the t-shirts anyway. Now I can proudly wear the White Stripes, Joy Division, or the frontmost alien from Space Invaders proudly. I can't express how glad I am for passing up the Stonehenge/Bath/Oxford all-day, wake up-at-five-in-the-morning supertour. Camden made me just as happy, only without buses. The trek beyond the comfy confines of Zone One was well worth it and replete with pink and blue mohawked heads. Enough of this faux-hawk shit.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Neon Yellow Journalism

Reminding me of the world of difference between British, one-step-above-Weekly World News tabloid journalism and its American counterpart, the headline for the story containing the photos of the assuredly dead Uday and Qudsay Hussein: "REST IN PIECES"

Sometimes You Get What You Need

So freaking weird. Not a day after I post that entry in which I talked about missing Meg, she emailed me.
I don't know if you even check this mail, but...I just wanted to send you a belated birthday wish. I hope you had a good one and I hope you are having fun abroad. London, right? Anyway -- just wanted to say happy birthday, ol' pal.

- Meg
Nice, but so freaking weird.
[ link: the foreshadowing ]

Sweet Home Stratford-Upon-Avon

While reading the plaque next to a particularly ugly Roy Lichtenstein sculpture during my six hour stay at the modern art holy of holies, the Tate Modern, I finally learned the difference between Benday dots and bindi dots. Benday dots are the little dots of color used in print, like in the newspaper or comic books. I kind of don’t think they use them anymore, but they’re the little specks of red and yellow that they’d use to make really garish oranges. Bindi dots, however, are the third eye symbols that Hindu women wear on their foreheads.

And that’s not the only gift the Tate Modern bestowed upon me. I picked up a pocket-sized book detailing the career of David Lynch. Aside from joyously drawing long forgotten friends like Maddy Ferguson, the Lady in the Radiator, and mean Mr. Eddie to the forefront of my mind. I learned that Lynch himself didn’t start into art until his twenties. He did painting, then some moving mechanical sculpture, and then got into animation and film from there. This means that with hard work, dedication, and development of what raw skill I think I might have, I could actually have a chance at this shit. If Jessica can hold Conan O’Brien up as her career template and Debbie Salt can hold up Gale Weathers, then I could use David Lynch for mine. Maybe. Or him and Conan.

It turns out that I probably don’t have jaundice.

Breaking all rules of the strict code of conduct to which I hold myself, I went out last night to a club. I hate clubs. I hate dancing. And I genuinely loathe dancing to shitty club music. Nonetheless, I had a good time without getting all that wasted. Granted, I ingested two substances that the United States government would have forbidden — (one) guarana, which wired me like a Double Shot Extra Tall Super Espresso Hyperspasm, and (two) absinthe, which didn’t make me see green fairies but did make the night a good one. But I actually enjoyed the clubbing experience. I think the company was good. Shannon and Tracy are good dancers, or at least Ben says they are. Personally, I can’t tell. It looks like everybody’s making it up to me. But when we weren’t protecting the girls from the pouncing cocks of sweaty Anglotrash, we had fun. They played “Sweet Home Alabama.” Do the Britons even know what Alabama is?

I’ve got to say goodbye to all these people in one week. I’ll be leaving them for touring the continent with Kristen and company — including Spain, where the BBC says they’ve been having terrorist bombings in touristy areas. But it will be a sad end to my little "Real World"-esque vacation. Of course, that’s not to say that college life up until this point has ever lacked the qualities of the "Real World." Or even the real world, for that matter.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Cough Drops

Something I said that I was proud of:

Hayley (a girl in my program with a bad cough): Cough drops don't work.
Me: Are you putting them in your mouth?

But Not Schwinn

While I was walking to class this morning, my mind spinning with Meg and Tom Stoppard, I realized a lot of words for bad things begin with the letters s-c-h: schmuck, schpilkis, schlong… Kristi said there’s this German word schatz that means “dear,” so maybe this is just me.

The keyboards here blow. Where the @ should be, there’s a £ and the $ is moved one over and where the “ is there’s the @. There now, that seems suitably British.

Baker Street

I knew I missed home when I up woke up this morning missing Meg Ryan — the girl I took to Winter Ball and liked somewhat, not the movie star. I don’t know what subconscious impulse drew her to the forefront of my mind, but she was the first thing there when I opened my eyes.

She lives in Atascadero now. That’s less an hour’s drive from Isla Vista. I should go see her when I get back. I wonder if she’s still with that guy.

Good ol' Meg.

It bothers me just a little that the kids in my program have such a different perception of contemporary culture as I do. I guess people in Santa Barbara see a different side of stuff as kids in Davis, but as usual I assume I’m the one who has the problem and what I like is some weird little divergence from normal culture. Megan — not the one I took to Winter Ball or the one from the movies — tried to classify my style as “scrubby, preppy.” Eh? As much as I shy from group affiliations, my look, my actions, my taste in all things artistic most surely fall into that post-alt catch-all called “indie,” a stupid name for sure, and a subculture I seriously doubt anybody on this program would recognize.

Jessica would recognize it. When I think about her all I forget all about Megan — any of them. I wonder what she’s doing now. Didn’t she say she’d be local around now? I wonder if she realized I stole the Goldfrapp and Kings of Leon CDs from her office.

Shit. This couldn’t have less to do with London.

Of course, no matter how much of the countryside I see, this whole trip is totally more about me than it is about England. Should it be odd that I have trouble logging anything relevant in such a dynamic period in my life? Maybe the novelty’s worn off, which would be good in some ways. The mulleted but oddly attractive French woman who works at CafĂ© Deco recognizes me in the morning and I don’t even have to ask for what I want — croissant aux apricot — before she fetches me one. And it now seems perfectly logical to see the titles of songs my parents listened to as the destinations of buses.

A place that seemed as far away as China or the moon is now painfully near.
Winding your way down on Baker Street,
Light in your head and dead on your feet.
Well, another crazy day,
You’ll drink the night away
And forget about everything.

This city desert makes you feel so cold,
It’s got so many people but it’s got no soul,
And it’s taken you so long
to find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything.

You used to think that it was so easy,
You used to say that it was so easy,
But you’re tryin’, you’re tryin’ now.
Another year and then you’d be happy,
Just one more year and then you’d be happy,
But you’re cryin’, you’re cryin’ now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

To the Honorable Mr. Tate

Graham Sutherland's art inspires me; Francis Bacon's drives me to seek counseling.

Ghosts of Shakespeare

I had an odd dream.

I’m late to the tube station and dash onto a train and sit down, and as it begins to speed down the track I realize that everybody in it is dead. Not like rotting or see-thru or anything, but wearing white and looking the ghosts did in Richard III. The train’s moving really fast and it’s not stopping at the stations, which just go whizzing by. I’m starting to wig out and the ghosts are noticing, which freaks me out even more. I go through the emergency door to the car behind me — something I could never do in real life, because it’s way to dangerous and I’m a wuss — and pretty soon I get to the back and there’s nowhere to go and those creepy ghosts are still coming.

Nate, Stan and Drewfish

n8rs81: i saw stan lee
n8rs81: his voice is so freakin’ cool
kidicarus222: sweet
kidicarus222: so did i
n8rs81: did he talk to you
n8rs81: he talked to me
kidicarus222: what'd he say?
n8rs81: just something about thanks for being a fan
n8rs81: cause i told him i liked his stuff
kidicarus222: "i didn't think they let fags in here"?
n8rs81: no
n8rs81: they do
n8rs81: i wrote you about sailor moon and spider-man
kidicarus222: and he said, "thanks, queerbait"
n8rs81: no
n8rs81: stan lee can't do that
n8rs81: he's a small guy
kidicarus222: he can't what? mock you publicly?
kidicarus222: i think he could
kidicarus222: i would let him
kidicarus222: when you saw him did he say "excelsior"?
n8rs81: nope

More Nate: an email I received from him regarding the eternal departure of my beloved Drewfish, who shall no longer dart to the surface of his bowl, plunge back to the blue marbles on the bottom, then return to the surface for no reason:
To Drew House Pope (or the guardian of Drewfish the fish):

It is at this time I regret to inform you that your fish has gone to join his creator. Now, I know that these are hard times and everyone in this country seems to be losing fish, but let me assure you that your loss is not, in any way, less important the loss of the most rare tropical fish. Your fish served his country well, and even when faced with death he never left his post in his house. He was recently given beautiful service where the friends of Drewfish attended. He was truly loved by all that came into contact with him and will be remembered well by everyone. Our deepest sympathies to you and yours at this time.

Sincerely
Nathan, House Elder

Elbow Celebration

Insults I have endured thus far:
  • “Eat cunt!” (yelled at me by a young British lad from the window of a white limousine near Picadilly Circus)
  • “Wait in line like the rest of us, you tossers!” (or something thereabouts, yelled at me and Ben by some British douche bag who thought Ben and I were cutting in line when we weren’t, the douche bag)
  • “Boisterous, loud Americans” (a label we unjustly earned on the tube from some German-speaking douche bags who didn’t realize our program’s mole, the German-born Antonia/Tracy could understand everything they said)
“Oh, we’re from California.” — a rejection to the guy at the info desk of the museum of natural history in response to his offer of an earthquake simulator. He understood.

“Elbows are so bomb!” — something somebody actually said.

“Regina,” the Latin for queen, pronounced by our British tour guide to rhyme with “vagina.” I noticed. I laughed. No one else did.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

The Adventure of the Links

Normally, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed attending a sporting event at which the spectators exert themselves more than the athletes and a steady offshore wind blows dirty particles into every orifice of one’s body, causing black dust to replace snot at the effluent collected in tissues from the nose — literally. I went to the British Open in Sandwich, a city in Kent where they do not, apparently, sell sandwiches. I saw Tiger and Vijay and Greg “The Frightened Little Girl” Norman.

But none of those guys won. Some publicity-challenged guy named Ben Curtis won instead, but maybe he’ll be a household name someday.

In any case, I left dirty, tired, a bit shaken in the wake of a vicious hangover, but wanting to try golf again. Golf — a funny-sounding word, and a sport that I have primarily experienced in recent years solely through "Happy Gilmore" and the Mario Bros. version of it, where you can tee-off as a talking mushroom man. British fairways are way skinnier than the ones in the states, which makes everyone play that much shittier. The greens are also brown, disappointingly. I know golf courses are a frivolous expenditure of valuable water, but a lusciously verdant, finely mowed golf course is a sight to behold to men and non-environmental studies majors. And California is a desert, technically, but fuck — you’d think they could maintain green greens in a county where it rains every week. But no. Ben — the roommate, not the British Open champion — had a good time, and I enjoyed a Sunday without the nattering that’s been ringing in my ears, God bless them anyway.

Aside from the intense sensation of filth on the train ride home — a feeling I got from both the accumulated golf course sediment all over my body and the obnoxious, Euro-vague couple sitting directly next to me on a nearly empty train, cuddling and babbling in a language Ben thinks was some kind of English — I liked it.

Bret Easton Ellis rules me, and fuck if he doesn’t know Catholics.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

But Do They Have Blanche Deveraux?

I've found a new existence, an alternative to aimless websurfing while waiting for my laundry. Guess the Dictator or Sitcom Character has Janie Powell!

UCSBblingbling: damn, they got it right that i was Pinochet
kidicarus222: they have every sitcom character
kidicarus222: like
kidicarus222: EVERY
kidicarus222: it's weird
UCSBblingbling: i am going to try to be very obscure
UCSBblingbling: well not so obscure
UCSBblingbling: but lets see Blanche from Golden Girls
kidicarus222: they have iola from mama's family
UCSBblingbling: omg
UCSBblingbling: they got it
UCSBblingbling: that is disgusting
UCSBblingbling: ah HA
UCSBblingbling: i will get them
kidicarus222: they had janie
kidicarus222: lisa's little friend from the simpsons
kidicarus222: who doesn't talk or do anything
kidicarus222: what are you gonna get them with?
UCSBblingbling: oh
UCSBblingbling: my
UCSBblingbling: fucking god
kidicarus222: what!?
UCSBblingbling: they got Joseph Desmond Mobutu
kidicarus222: well no shit

Friday, July 18, 2003

London Calling

I just realized the Clash t-shirt Jill and Monique got me when they were in London has made a return trip to its motherland.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Cross-Cultural Connenctions

[ number one ]
I live between the Dutch Embassy and the Algerian Embassy. Menacing fences spiked with delicately crafted iron enclose the haven of those from the Hague. The entrance is an electronically operated gate prevents further access; if you don’t know the code, some kind Dutchman inside must buzz you in. As I walked by the Algerian Embassy one hot July afternoon, however, I noticed that aside from the lack of any type of anti-intruder barriers, the door was wide open and propped so with a chair.

I must therefore conclude that criminals of all types are trying to sneak into the Netherlands to steal its vast supplies of hash and tulips. Conversely, no one gives a damn about Algeria or whether anyone enters this pitiful nation illegally.
[ number two ]
Among the many suits of armor on display in the White Tower at the Tower of London is one of authentic samurai armor donated to one of the Jameses by a the Tokugawa Shogunate. The gift exchanged hands centuries before I would have imagined such trade would have occurred, as England and Japan literally lie on opposite ends of the then-known world.

I must therefore conclude that the astronomically wealthy drift towards each other no matter what the geographic disparity.
[ number three ]
The unexpected heat and humidity that the July England sky rains down on us hapless Americans force my bedroom windows to stay open all day. As such, I am privy to the endless, endless tittering of the Frenchman whose fashionable balcony overlooks the same space as I do. I speak not a lick of French, so I must simply endure the foo-foo-foo of this unintelligible Frogspeak until the wee hours of the morning, as if I were being held captive in the audience of a haughty French sitcom.

I must therefore conclude that my French neighbors suck.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Breath of the Marbol

I know it’s high culture and historically significant and all that, but walking through gallery after gallery of nobility portraits is like flipping through some yearbook from London Aristocrat High, circa the sixteenth century. How can I expected to feign interest when even the portraits look bored? Then again, any museum that houses the likenesses of Samuel Pepys and David Bowie or Queen Elizabeth and Twiggy can’t be all that bad.

Everything in England smells like grandpa breath.

The Digits, London-Style

Compute this:
  • Days I’ve been in London: 14
  • Days before I leave for the continent: 17
  • Days until I fly home: 49
  • Pairs of boxers I brought: 8
  • Bare minimum times remaining I must do laundry: 6 (if my math checks out)
  • Other students in my program: 20
  • Other students from UCSB: 0
  • Other non-UC Davis students: 7
  • Davis students who brought their pet cow as a carry-on: 0
  • Female students: 17
  • People I share a room with: 2
  • People I knew I didn’t like right off: 1
  • People who are treading on thin ice: 3
  • People in sororities: 4
  • People who were cheerleaders in high school: 4
  • People who are in sororities and were cheerleaders in high school: 2
  • People who look like Jonna: 1
  • People who have told me I look like or remind them of somebody else: 5
  • People who asked me if I surf: 3
  • Times I was mistaken for a local until I opened my mouth: 2
  • Times I’ve traveled beyond Zone One: 1
  • Museums I’ve seen: 7 (Museum of London, the Tate Modern, the Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert, the London Museum of Natural History, and the Tower of London)
  • Museums I will yet see: at least 2 (National War Museum, Museum of Design)
  • Movies watched on British TV: One (Girls in Prison, starring Anne Heche and some chick from Mulholland Drive... Quite sapphic.)
  • Fish and chips eaten: 5
  • Guinesses downed: 7
  • Rolls of film completed: 5 (three 36-exposure, 2 twenty-four)

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Gloucester Station

We stand without speaking, just like the locals, just like good Americans. Clacking and roaring like a roller coaster.

Bump. Sway. Fluorescent flickering.

The whizzing black interrupted by the occasional beer-yellow safety light slows to a halt, and the scenery changes to the station: more fluorescent lights, flooding the sterile tile platform like the set of some urban movie.

Stand up. Sit down. Shuffle around.

Now we’ve got a new group of friends on the journey home, but God forbid we try to talk to them. A youngish mother has youngish daughters — not twins, but dressed identically like she wishes they were. An old man stares at those girls and I don’t like the way he’s looking at him. In the car behind us, a man who looks like Mimi Bobeck reads the newest Harry Potter and occupies his seat like an overripe pear squished into a shotglass. The station starts inching away again, then runs, then blurs into that blackness that I don’t like.

No one’s sitting directly across from me, and I can see my reflection in the window, shadowed by the whole lot of nothing behind it. I would have never imagined Gloucester Station — one of those overlit tile platforms without garbage bins that I only began frequenting a week ago — would make feel like I was home, but it does. My feet hurt and I wish I was there now.

Friday, July 11, 2003

That Don't Impress Me Much, Either

Good God. This is the longest I've gone without seeing "The Simpsons" in my life. Shania Twain has a concert in Hyde Park tomorrow. Somehow, that doesn't impress me much as the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the adjacent Serpentine Galley.

Terry and Julie

Since I last wrote, I have stood in Waterloo Station, the iron horse stable so mellifluously heralded in the song by the Kinks.
Dirty old river
Must you keep rolling
Flowing into the night
People so busy
Mkes me feel dizzy
Taxi light shines so bright
But I don't need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise

Every day I look at the world from my window
But chilly, chilly is the evening time
Waterloo sunset's fine

Terry meets Julie
at Waterloo Station
Every Friday night
But I am so lazy
Don't want to wander
I stay at home at night
But I don't feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise

Every day I look at the world from my window
But chilly, chilly is the evening time
Waterloo sunset's fine

Millions of people
Swarming like flies
'Round Waterloo Underground
But Terry and Julie
cross over the river
Where they feel safe and sound
And the don't need no friends
As long as they gaze on Waterloo sunset
They are in paradise

Mind the gap.

The Tower of London World Tour

kidicarus222: hey
escalift: hey
kidicarus222: how's it going?
escalift: oh, you know. summer.
escalift: i'm eating a can of soup and some mint milanos.
escalift: thinking about reading something, maybe... probably won't
kidicarus222: i saw the tower of london today
escalift: hm
escalift: tower of london, you say?
kidicarus222: yes
escalift: is it on tour?
kidicarus222: no, it's in london
kidicarus222: where i am
escalift: oh, i get it
escalift: london
kidicarus222: right
escalift: are you in one of those 'internet cafes' the british so love?
kidicarus222: no, i'm in the computer lab in my building
kidicarus222: it's midnight, i think
escalift: you should really go to one of those internet cafes
kidicarus222: i dunno
kidicarus222: what time is it where you are?
escalift: 4:13
kidicarus222: then it's 12:13 here
escalift: fascinating

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Armitage Shanks

Just when I think it’s sunk in, I realize it hasn’t and I’m a stranger again.

The novelty of living in this old city never struck my mind more sensationally than when the spit flew from the mouth of an Shakespearean actress on landed on my forehead. The construction of the Globe affords me the privilege of groundlinghood — I’m standing with my stomach pressed against the stage, the cast of an all-female production of Richard III screaming, crying, and dueling no more than six inched from my awe-stricken face. The actress playing Richard defies the confines of gender with a malicious grin; the actress playing Anne, who would be pretty if she didn’t have the nose of the pigfaces from that “Eye of the Beholder” episode of the Twilight Zone, is the one whose saliva has splashed on my head. Her Anne is both dignified and pathetic. It was the second performance of a Shakespeare play at the reconstructed Globe within twenty-four hours, the previous being an all-male Richard II. I never thought I could like the history plays like this.

I live among the unnervingly wealthy here. The bitchy, British judge from American Idol shops at the grocery store we went to the first day. We saw him. The Dutch embassy is our next door neighbors. They’re nice people, I’m sure. Our front window looks out onto Hyde Park, a sprawling green better than any strip of brush we call a park in the States. Aside from the palace within the park, there’s a golden statue of Prince Albert — ahem — and the Serpentine Galley, which is presently featuring a show by Cindy Sherman.

The flatmates are good, certainly better than I expected from a school that admits cows into its undergraduate program. Some of them suck beyond the telling of it, but mostly I’m happy.

In the interest of conserving the flat’s most prized resource — toilet paper — I braved the bidet today. Webster defines “bidet” in a way that makes me smile: “a bathroom fixture used especially for bathing the external genitals and the posterior parts of the body.” Truthfully, I think the toilet’s little sister is a fixture made only for women. The male genitals hang in such a way as to be teased annoying by the bidet’s stream of water. While the stream does clean the desired parts, it strikes the seldom-stuck region to the rear of the nut sack in the process, causing an unpleasant slap-slap-slap that does not make me smile. I think Bidet Town is an area of the European lifestyle I will leave uncharted after all.

And most impressive above all these things: I learned how to use the tube without getting lost.

Where do I go from here?

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Them and Me

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't
I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't
I'm afraid of Americans

Sunday, July 06, 2003

LOOK RIGHT!

I am the passenger
And I ride and I ride
I ride through the city’s backsides
I see the stars come out of the sky
Yeah the bright and hollow sky
You know it looks so good tonight
I am the passenger
I stay under glass
I look through my window so bright
I see the stars come out tonight
I see the bright and hollow sky
Over the city’s ripped backsides
And everything looks good tonight
singing

Get into the car
We’ll be the passenger
We’ll ride through the city tonight
We’ll see the city’s ripped backside
We’ll see the bright and hollow sky
We’ll see the stars that shine so bright
Stars made for us tonight
Oh the passenger
Oh how he rides
Oh the passenger
He rides and he rides
He looks through his window
What does he see?
He sees the bright and hollow sky
He sees the stars come out tonight
He sees the city’s ripped backsides
He sees the winding ocean drive
And everything was made for you and me
All of it was made for you and me
‘Cause it just belongs to you and me
So let’s take a ride

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Somewhere Over Moose Jaw

Holy shit.

“My plane just landed in LONDON.” “I’m going through customs in LONDON.” “Uncle Andy’s picking me up in from Heathrow Airport in LONDON.” “I’m taking a bath in LONDON.” “I’m getting drunk with Kiwis at the decidedly American-Ozzie Outback Steakhouse… in LONDON!”

I’m fucking here. On a new continent, on a new country, in a new city, on my uncle’s laptop while he and his Polish girlfriend share his bedroom. Holy shit. I have to repeat it. I made it here on my own. I didn’t accidentally board a flight to Libya. I wasn’t deterred by being situated between a monolingual German frau and a narcoleptic British dowager on the flight. And I didn’t get spurned by the hateful customs agent at the airport.

Unsettling: Uncle Andy (my namesake), recalls that two nights ago, he returned home from a night’s work to discover a raped, beaten prostitute on the lawn in front of his Brixton apartment. I’m told the Jamaican population in Brixton is both “aggressive” yet “lazy” ¯ whether these labels arise from racism or experience, I have yet to discover. Yet I have already seen prostitutes walking knowingly down the sidewalk under the window of my bedroom. How decidedly un-Hollister and un-Isla Vista. I can’t wait to move into a place that has a shower instead of just a bath, the novelty of which wears off as soon as one realizes he is soaking in his own filth.

Somewhere over Moose Jaw, it hit me: I am making the biggest step forward of my life.

A lingering question: why did Uncle Andy’s flatmate Barry ask me what the age of consent for homosexual sex was in the United States?
People are strange, when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
People seem wicked, when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven, when you're down

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I Lied

So sue me.

kidicarus222: any other new neighbors?
n8rs81: the front one that i saw was cute but i don't know
n8rs81: there was something about her that wasn't right
kidicarus222: like... she had bloodstains all over her hatchet?
n8rs81: um...
n8rs81: no
kidicarus222: like what?
n8rs81: just the way she treated the gardener was kind of mean
kidicarus222: that all then?
n8rs81: ya
kidicarus222: hmm....
n8rs81: but i mean she walked in our backyard to get him so i went out to say hi right...
n8rs81: and she just kind of looks at me like why the hell are you talking to me
kidicarus222: you should have stolen her dirty hatchet
n8rs81: well i figure i have the axe
n8rs81: that should show her
kidicarus222: but if you stole hers, you'd have an axe and a hatchet
n8rs81: this is true