I like to talk to cashiers.  To be honest, I like to flirt with cashiers.  I think it’s very important when you meet people to think to yourself, “I could end up dating this person, or at least we could be friends.”  It reminds you of the humanity of everyone you meet.  So many people have very limited spheres of sociality, and these are often kept separate: work-friends, school-friends, friends-from-home, my friend’s friend.  Like friendship needs an excuse, a raison d-etre.  Seriously: “Oh I just met my girlfriend in line at the grocery store.”  Why doesn’t that happen?  It’s just another symptom of the lonely mass man.  That’s why I think it’s important to flirt with cashiers.

One time I was checking out of a Whole Foods, and I kinda scoff/ feel nauseous at a rack of CD soundtracks to the movie version of Les Miserables in the impulse purchase section.  That movie was so bad.  It just injects non-sensical pathos into every situation.  Characters decide to die arbitrarily, but their entire life was arbitrary.  The events of that movie posit themselves as sad, but they never had any connection to reality.  They existed in complete isolation and their dissipation is appropriately inconsequential.  The tears stand alone, signifying nothing.  This is the current state of our society: humans separate from emotions; emotions separate from humans.  We pay eight dollars a ticket to re-acquaint, but are only given the semblance of our old friend.  We leave alone, maybe with an inkling of having been cheated.

It’s also worth mentioning that they switch the theme of the musical from “revolution! Economic equality!  The tragedy of poverty!” to “Forget about the poor – they’ll inherit the Earth!  Economic equality in heaven!  In the meantime: check this bourgie wedding.”  Seriously, we still revert to Christianity to justify the social situation?  Maybe just to justify the money spent on that movie.  The number of ways this film mocks its audience turns my stomach.  I shouldn’t go on.  I just wanted to justify my distaste.  But if you do watch that movie again, try to notice the arbitrary deaths, the arbitrary drama, the disgusting class bias, the selective revival of one of Christianity’s more destructive tenets.

The only point is that I kinda scoffed at the CD rack.  The cashier catches (I almost wrote “cashes!”) my scoff and initiates a conversation.

“Just reacting to the Les Miserables CDs,” I tell her.  I did not know her taste, and did not want to offend.

“Oh?  I heard it was good.”

I hesitate, eventually express non-committal disacquiescence.

“Yea, that’s the sense I got.  The trailer just took the most famous song and put it against high-capital emotion in period attire.  Didn’t get a sense of the ruckus or the righteousness that I like in the musical.”

And so I’m kinda caught off guard: “Yeah, to be honest, it was really bad.  I just didn’t want to pass judgment on your acquaintances.”

“No, no!  You shouldn’t worry if you don’t like that movie.”  And she talks about how people often have bad taste, which is true, but more becoming when spoken than when written.

But I’m about finished bagging my groceries, and so I check over my receipt real quick, just holding it deftly between my nails, and head out.  I regretted not taking the extra step, asking for her number (“Maybe we can watch a good movie sometime?”).  But I was glad for the exchange, and I think I can learn from this regret, and will be ready to ask the next cool and pretty cashier I talk to for her number.  I think it’d kinda surprise them, probably in a good way, because I doubt many customers think of socializing with cashiers.

There really are a lot of cool cashiers.  I would love to date one of them.  If I were dating a cashier, I would walk around, and know that most of the people I see, who I think that many people hardly notice, could be my friends, or maybe they are already like my very short-term friends.  And that would be very nice.  The only thing is that, the cashiers, their systems are probably so rife with BPA, because they handle receipt paper all the time, that there will probably be a high rate of birth defects among their children.  So I could never marry a cashier.


the second-rate cell phone

I grew up with a second-rate cell phone.  When I over-scrolled, while absentmindedly surveying my contacts or my miscellany, the scroll bar would halt at the end of the list with a dull thump.  On other phones, there is a satisfying spring into the ether before the scroll bar recoils back to its bottom-most position.  Later, when I played catch with my peers, I could only grasp awkwardly at the ball as it approached me.  I would position my hand before the ball and close my fingers as contact was made, but, more often than not, the ball would simply bounce from my palm.  “Give with it,” they would say, “go with its movement,” but this did not come naturally to me.

My second-rate phone could only hold about two hundred songs.  I listened to these often; I did not want to bring attention to my second-rate phone, but the two hundred songs would quickly become grossly over-played.  It was inconvenient to change the songs on the phone, and I did so less and less often as time passed.  My mind, which I feel was naturally adventuresome and inquisitive, became accustomed to repetition.  Music which once invited excited immersion became a thin screen over which I glided uncaringly.  Later, I lost touch with my peers, whose activities often seemed to ask too much from me.  I found myself increasingly put off by tasks that were not matters of simple muscle-memory.  Now I am most comfortable when an activity is defined by constant petty distractions, such that the distractions became the actual focus of attention, although focus isn’t really the right word.

The screen of my second-rate phone was pressure sensitive, instead of heat sensitive.  My fingernails were longer than those of my peers, because I needed them to navigate the lists and menus of my phone.  While my peers swept their fingertips across their larger, heat-sensitive touch screens, I became accustomed to sliding my nails across the awkward display of my touch screen.  Later, when I became involved with girls, I would brush my uncomfortably long fingernails across the surfaces of their skin.  I pressed minute loops against clefts of flesh, but all the girls I met were accustomed to fingertips accustomed to larger, heat-sensitive surfaces.  They all seemed put off, except one, whose first love was also accustomed to brushing with his fingernails.  She saw a little bit of him in me, and she did not mind the way I passed my fingernails over her.  She did not mind either that I was awkward and afraid, and now we live together.

So things turned out okay, but what still bothers me is that I’ll never know if all this is actually because of the phone, because the phone was also very exact in its dealings.  When the phone gave me directions, it would calculate the way to be taken by the relative length and expected traffic of each route, given the time of day and the streets to be taken.  Marginal adjustments were made for left turns against traffic, the timing of long red lights, and other things which I did not understand.  My phone took other parameters from me, such as the relative undesirabilities of traffic and tolls.  In this way, it was able to account for my mood.  From these variables my phone was always able to decide for me my best route.   By the time I got my second phone, I was thoroughly convinced that most anything could be definitively computed from its smallest constitutive variables.


My post grad plan is to make a fake documentary called “Petnapping: the most adorable crime”, comprised of a series of staged pet thefts (mostly dogs and cats) and interviews with the owners and perpetrators.  Most of the scenes are of crimes of passion (citizen turned thief by these vampiresses of cuteness), and thereby raise the question: if something so wholesome as falling in love with a dog can turn a man into a criminal, ought we re-evaluate this category?

But in one scene, the crime is pre-meditated and wholly unsympathetic: a man kidnaps a wealthy person’s dog and holds it for ransom.  He threatens to feed the dog one square of chocolate every hour until the ransom is paid.  The original owner, distraught at the very prospect of a poisoned pup, scrambles to pay the ransom, but encounters a series of obstacles beyond their control.  The ransomer is going through with his plan; shots of the dog eagerly lapping up chocolate squares are cut against the owner’s distraught face. Four chocolate squares in, the dog is getting visibly sick, but it is still eagerly lapping up the chocolate squares, blithely gobbling its doom; but, cut to the ransomer’s face: he is in pain.  He can not keep up his plan; he has fallen in love.  He cancels the ransom, but cannot bring himself to return the dog (he would never be able to see it again), and, in a panic, flees to Canada with his best friend (the dog). The scene ends, but the question remains: Is this his redemption?  If so, why does our society demand his effective banishment?

The film will probably include the following monologue:

See the tragic irony with like cats and stuff, is that the type of person I think who’s probably most eager to pet them, is also probably the most attuned to when the cat or whatever doesn’t want to be petted.  So let’s just say I’m that type of person.  Travelling in foreign countries is hard for me, because I feel, as a tourist, like I shouldn’t just pet people’s dogs.  And I’m in a foreign country, everything’s already so strange, I feel like I should be careful, like I probably shouldn’t pet strays either, but sometimes I do, but like I don’t know the status of rabies vaccinations wherever I am.  I would look that up beforehand, but whenever I sit down at the computer to do so, I just think, “no, c’mon John, you can refrain from petting stray dogs while you’re in Prussia for like two goddamn weeks,”  And so I refrain, because I think it’ll be good for my willpower, and, while I think it’s generally endearing to be really eager to pet cute animals, it would maybe be a little trying, for like a potential life partner, maybe, if I literally couldn’t refrain from doing so.  So I end up not looking up the rabies status in Prussia before I go there, and it kills me.  It just kills me.

But the reason I bring all this up, is that, like I said, the type of person who’s most eager to pet cute animals, is generally more likely to be aware of when the animal doesn’t want to be petted.  That’s not quite what I said, I guess.  I revised the formulation somewhat.  It’s more scientific, a little more sure of itself.  It’s hard to get 100% behind a statement like that right when you say it, I think.  It’s reassuring to see that I haven’t abandoned my formulation after a paragraph’s consideration.  It’s just that, nothing’s so frustrating for me, than seeing someone, who I don’t really know, because most of my good friends don’t do this, although my sister does, which really drives me pretty crazy.  It drives me crazy.  Just the way she was picking up her friend’s new kitten the other day, she would scoop it up, her palm on its belly, and then, with her other hand, she’d pull back its skin, as if the kitten needed a facelift (it was only two months old!), so the ears would be pressed down, and its eyes became little diagonal slits, and the kitten was so scared.  Kittens are simply not that OK with being held, and if you come across a kitten that does want to be held, that is a blessing, people, and it really just ruins this, I think, to just hold a terrified kitten against its will.  Like, seriously, how cute is that really?  This kitten is literally trembling with fear, pressed into this like gross caricature of human comfort, and its bearer is projecting onto the kitten this neurotic fantasy, it is neurotic, of a return to infancy, to the warmth of your mother’s breast.  But I’ve got news for you people: that is not what it means to be an infant kitten.  That’s why I always pick kittens up by the scruff of the neck.  That’s how they’re comfortable.  They let their muscles relax, and God knows they deserve it, these animals are always on the prowl, they’re just little spring-traps waiting to go off, and I think it’s just so nice to see them relax, but meanwhile, my goddamn friend, or like my sister, will go off on me with this completely ridiculous anthropocentric rant like “oh my God, how can you hold the cat like that,” as if these self-assured brats never stopped to consider that not every mammal goes through an identical infancy.  Although I guess my sister can at least get behind a statement when she says it.

But anyway, I made this joke, which I think was kinda subversive, and actually really socially responsible, to be honest, kind of about taking the whole “cuddling an animal against its will” thing to its logical extreme.  Well it all started one night at my friend’s house when I was sitting on the couch with my friend’s dog, this hilarious old bloodhound, and it was so sleepy and cute, and its head lay by my legs, and it seemed to be enjoying my petting it, but I guess I was a little greedy, to be honest, and I just really wanted it to lay its head on my thigh while it was falling asleep, but of course that’s ridiculous, because I would probably want to get up before the dog did, like it wasn’t even my couch, and I can’t sleep sitting up, and like, presumably the dog didn’t have that kind of foresight, and it still didn’t put its head on my thigh to fall asleep, so it clearly didn’t want to.  And I was just sitting on the couch and all my friends were in this room and I couldn’t say anything because all I wanted, it took all my will, not to like pick up this dog’s head in my hand and scooch my thigh underneath.  It was so hard for me, and I just started thinking, “what if I did it, what if I was that type of person who would selfishly cuddle this dog while it was trying to sleep, with absolutely no regard for the animal’s welfare?”  But of course I’m not, like I’ve seen my sister sit next to dogs and unless like she’s doing her performance, “Oh look how much I like cute animals,” it’s like the dog’s not even there, but it was so hard for me, sitting next to this dog, who wanted to cuddle, I think, but not as much as I would’ve liked it to, and, as I said, I thought about taking that vein of selfishness to its logical extreme, and I just started making these jokes, and also I was a little drunk at the time, but I said, “What if I just took a needle, and I sewed this dog onto my thigh while it was asleep, and I sewed like three cats onto my arm and I sewed rabbits onto my back and my torso, so I would always just be cuddling like ten cute animals?”

It was really embarrassing for me, because that’s not who I am.  I realized I just said it because I was mad at my sister, but she wasn’t even there, and she wouldn’t even have got it if she were there, and all of the people there just said that that was disgusting and that I shouldn’t say that, except one girl, who I think I’m in love with, who laughed so hard.  She couldn’t stop laughing I think because she got my joke.

I’m sorry, I just wrote this because I thought it might be good for people to think about what it means to really love cute animals, and of course there’s also quite a bit to be said about socializing animals, or getting them used to your touch, in order to develop a truly close companionship, but I also just wrote this to explain that joke I guess, I really just wanted to do that, to clarify that when I’m saying “I want to sew this dog into my arm,” I’m really saying “look at all of you, you self-assured ear-nuzzlers, so certain that this dog is desiring of your attention, look at your loose translations of cross-specie affection, dispensed without a moment’s consideration, without even a notion that the dog may prefer its face the way its skin falls naturally,” but of course maybe it doesn’t, because our dog’s always happier to see her than me.

la monte young’s well-tuned piano

I’ve gotten pretty into contemporary classical/minimalist music lately, which sounds kinda nerdy / possibly a shallow affectation, but hopefully dedicated followers of the blog will be swayed by the barrages of staggered loops and unconventional tunings i’ll offer. This first video files definitively under the latter characterization. It’s an improvisation on a piano tuned in 2nds instead of 5ths, I think is how you say it.  I don’t actually know music theory.


My first post is already digressive!?
I can’t bring myself to publish prior witticisms without acknowledging the self-indulgence of the act –
I go for originality and self-criticism, but sometimes these are mutually exclusive?
In any case, this video inspired both Klaus Nomi and Rita from arrested development (no souce). Italian cultural elites snarkily embrace disco in lamentation of the coming capitalist technocracy. Thirty years later, the approximation to pop remains striking, although the ironic (and musical) elements have tragically faded.

(My digression ended just as it was getting interestingg… ought it continue? txt yr vote)