Tuesday, June 30, 2009

His departure

I was up on a ladder, fixing one of our new ceiling fans, when my girl came home. She called out to me, and i told her i was in the bureau.

"Is it true that Michael Jackson died?"

My gut sank. I hadn't heard this.

"Nah, no. It's Farrah Fawcett you're thinking of."

Satisfied with my response, she went into the bathroom to change out of her street gear. I, however, wasn't satisfied. That nausea weighing down my stomach remained. I climbed off the ladder and turned on the computer. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it.

"Baby! You were right! He's dead..."

Over the course of the next 72 hours, i listened to as much of his music and watched as many of his videos as i possibly could. When i walked around my neighborhood, on every street and avenue, his songs poured out of the open windows of passing cars and steamy apartments. Even when i woke up the morning after his death was announced, i still couldn't (nor did i want to) believe it.

I can't speak to Michael Jackson's impact on other people. Even in my own home, my girl's experience with him was different due to her being several years my junior. She couldn't anticipate the amount of grieving i would need to do. In truth, neither could i. There was never a moment where i thought: "What will it be like when Michael Jackson dies?" I was unprepared for the profound impact his passing had upon me.

Some of you might be asking why i felt such a crater from the force of this man's death announcement. In an earlier post, i described how i revisited his video for "Thriller" over and over in my youth. I obsessed over the "cat creature" transformation sequence, catching as many views of it as possible (eventually, i snagged a sloppy transfer of it to VHS, slipping this cassette in my VCR to watch this every few days). I got such a high from watching his incredibly famous face submit to this intense transfiguration, overtaken by the entire beastly character molded over his features. I didn't partake of many illicit substances in my youth, nor did i need to. Simply witnessing a physical metamorphosis like this delivered a euphoria that sank deep into my mental fissures faster than anything else.

In many ways, his music made up the soundtrack of my youth. I owned every single one of his albums (some multiple copies of each as i wore them out from listening to them so many times). I even remember the stores i bought each of them at, including the weather on that day. However, i can't claim to have the same attachment others had to this musician. I never attended any of his concerts, and if i ever had, i wouldn't have been one of the fans screaming their heads off. My fascination was, as far as i can tell, uniquely and quietly mine.

We've all seen how his appearance changed dramatically over the years as a result of dermatologic treatments and plastic surgery. I, however, was not one of the many critics of his pursuit to alter his appearance. I was fascinated by it, and completely comprehended. You can hear it in his words in that Thriller behind the scenes vignette. He thrived on transformation. And for someone who sought perfection in his musical craft, i understand how with unlimited funds he would tinker endlessly. I say this with all seriousness, that when i listened to his music or watched his videos, i viewed him as a kindred spirit, an ally - and yes - a friend.

It's this fact that brought clarity to my mourning. I've since found other like-minded souls (i count most of you who visit amongst that collection), but he was essentially the first. His departure will continue to affect me, but to attain a sense of peace, i've been re-listening to his music and reminiscing about moments where i solidified parts of my identity through a Michael Jackson experience.

One of my favorites: Captain EO

Already a gigantic fan by the time this project was released at Disneyland (also a place i was immensely obsessed about), i couldn't wait to sit in the Magic Eye Theatre and witness the spectacle in 3-D. I remember standing in the winding, serpentine line watching the monitors show the "Making of Captain EO" video when the image of the evil villainess of this romp popped up on the screen.

The confluence of my personal stimuli at that moment was almost too overwhelming: Michael Jackson, Disneyland, prosthetic makeup, and viciously curved, long talons. How humiliated was i to be standing in that line with a pubescent signal of my arousal poking through my shorts. I couldn't get into that dark theatre fast enough (luckily i had a small backpack i could use to conceal my erection). Of course, i was delighted to see that the evil queen (ironically named "Supreme Leader") got a good amount of screentime as the filmmakers made good use of the 3-D technology by sending her clicking, ebony claws out towards our supplanted bodies. In the end, Michael's music transformed everyone in the dingy palace from industrial mongoloids to technicolor flashdancers. I was mildly disappointed with the dispatch of the wicked temptress, having always held a morbid attraction to the heavily made-up goth/dark girl, but nonetheless quite pleased with the experience.

Watching it these many years later, i can see it for its cheesy, overly simple and sentimental ontology but do not appreciate it any less. It played a part as did the rest of this man's creative output into the formation of the man you've come to know as Deity. I, for one, will truly miss him.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meditation: Body in Parts

The individual components of our anatomy define both who we are and also how we experience as well as impact the world.

Your feet. Your roots. They keep you planted on the ground, connected to the Earth. Along with your legs, they make up the majority of your height which alone serves as a powerful indicator of how you are perceived. They perform the Lord's share of your locomotion, carving out the paths and vectors that deliver every experience possible. However, this isn't just a trajectory that brings you in contact with events, it is an object itself, a creation of its own. This is your legacy, your footprints. These limbs define the how and where of your life, and they offer a physical statement to others of your precedence, your existence and a materialized representation of you.

Your hands are sensitive. They perform the physical dialogue your vision wished it could. You greet others with your hands, a touch, a hug, a handshake. You declare your civility with these flippers. They are also the most valuable tool in your chest, as a result, you develop an intimacy with them unlike any other companion in your life. Think of your hands, and you immediately think of you. Look at them - always present before you. When you cannot see them, you still feel them, but you long for their return. In darkness, they are your eyes. Were you to look at yourself in a mirror (where light can be reflected), you will find that looking at your hands in the reflection is a similar experience to looking at the reflection of your eyes. They are known to you, as you are known to them. Your hands prove the reality in the fiction your eyes perceive.

Your mouth, opened or closed, is incredibly versatile. It is your spokesperson, both verbal and non-verbal. You can tell someone that you are happy with words or you can just smile (which actually is a more genuine indicator of how you are). Most energy to feed your body enters through this portal, the central repository for nutrients, which places the mouth at the top of the food chain - it feeds before anyone else. The Alpha gateway broadcasts your voice, the single denominator of your person. Someone can hear your voice without you present, and immediately receive an image of you (the slipperiest and yet most enigmatic part of you) in their mind. You sing songs, praise and erudition through this channel. Your mouth reacts to the world.

Your eyes are the first location anyone will seek in order to intuit your emotions. Your eyes hold a lofty and somewhat snobbishly dominant position in your appearance. They effectuate your experience, porting it to the here, now, real. Through them, all light must pass, otherwise fall under deep suspicion and scrutiny. They tell your mind a story of the world around you - listen to them preach the brightest shimmers to the darkest shadows. They are so powerful and fragile that they are the only thing you hide when you fall into slumber. Everything else remains revealed and exposed. You have a different experience, rather dramatic actually, when you use both as opposed to just one of them - the world moves from flat and narrow to alive and full of depth in complete visual binary stereo. Your eyes are greedy, striving to possess and consume an object, memorizing every fine microscopic detail. Images last in your mind long after the last savory taste of a 5-course meal expires from your palette.

Your ears are your sidekicks. They are perpendicular neighbors to your mighty eyes, pointing in complete right angles to your activity, behaviors and observations - never taking any of it on directly. Your ears deceptively lead you to believe they play a more active, engaged role in your experiences, but rather offer everything you do a crucial harmony. They are passive, the only passive appendage you have, not producing any single output. Strictly absorbing, taking in, standing by, your ears placate the more domineering parts. Despite this, your ears are not mere stepping stones to perception, but in fact the final statement. Once they contribute to the interaction, little can refute their authority.

Your genitalia prescribes the most wicked, torturous and explosive impact on your life, acting as the single most important and symbolic aspect of your body. Without it, you do not get to weigh in on the quality of the human race. They are your singularity, defining your biologic (which comes before your social and cultural) role. Uncontrollable appetites dictate their behavior that none of your other appendages can simulate. They are the greediest (yes, more than even then primordial mouth) of your fractionals, and if customs didn't prevail, you would use them far more than you do now. Due to this heavily-weighted limitation on their purpose, they cause the most vulnerability and struggle. We hide them. We ignore them. We chastise them. We're endlessly fascinated with them. We want to play with them. We want to play with others (we do not have this fixation to play with someone else's eyes, mouth, hands, feet). We drive towards their fulfillment, slowly, quickly, repeatedly, shamefully, boisterously, primally - at our peril, pleasure or pain. They are the only parts that can change shape (and must in order to accomplish their function) without any risk to you. They will come in far less contact with others than any of your other fixtures. They also act as the exit passage for your body's waste, yet, despite the importance of this function, it feels completely secondary. The word genitalia is imbued with erotic, sensual/sexual connotations, sought for by society to contradictorally reinforce and weaken the power they command over us. Your genitalia has been more responsible than anything else for your time spent at this site. The same exact goes for me.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Cherrypicker

The Cherrypicker-

He awoke, every morning, to the sounds of the roaring creek outside his window. The streaming waters rushed by with more volume at the beginning of the day, as if to wash away the previous one's ills and miscalculations. That this sound re-introduced him daily to the world imprinted on his thoughts and perceptions. Instead of gathering at a single point to observe then move on, his mind flowed constantly from one idea to the next. He didn't think much about the past or even the present. When in constant motion, neither exist. There is only before you, near you and under you. For most of us, the future seems abstract, as if we sometimes didn't expect it to happen. Not the case for him. He knew he would encounter the future because he existed right at its precipice, constantly speeding away from past events, heading, bobbing, swimming towards what lay ahead.

He took to his tasks with the same qualities. His calling was the thousands of cherry trees growing in the orchard just outside his door. He didn't see the empty pails waiting to be filled with the sweet, red morsels. Nor did he see trees teeming with ripe fruit, ready for his gathering. Instead, he saw only individual cherries popping from the tree into his hand. Each garnet, with its rosy skin and firm, yet curved rump received his undivided attention. His thumb would smooth over the shiny reddened surface, aware of the plumpness of its meat just beneath. After spending several seconds with each plucked cordial, bringing it to his nose where he ingested its delicious ripe perfume, he would carefully drop it into the wooden bucket hanging from his belt. He arose in the morning only for the purpose of receiving the visual kiss from each delectable cherry he selected. And so it went everyday, and everyday it went so.

Come Winter, his task changed from assembling to caretaking. Again, instead of the endless numbers of dormant trees, he saw only the cradles where the new fruit would blossom in the Spring. He pruned and groomed every branch and trunk, taking great care to remove any detritus that had amassed over the year, ensuring his longed for companions would have no obstacles to their bountiful arrival.

And yet, even though they were absent during the long, cold gray months, he steeled himself by visiting each and every blushing, burgundy buttocks in his mind, always with the understanding that they would return.

So it went everyday, and everyday it went so.