Travel back here to find solace, she says. This is a place to be cherished, visit when you feel the need to escape, make frequent visits in your mind… In the moment it seems so real, so genuine, so inspirational. These moments manufacture believers.

Really Real

"The habit of excessive novel-reading and theatre-going will produce true monsters in this line. The weeping of the Russian lady over the fictitious personages in the play, while her coachman is freezing to death on his seat outside is the sort of thing that everywhere happens on a less glaring scale." —William James
What a shame it is, the dimmed internal sensitivity to what’s really real. How embarrassing to recognize that a view isn’t a scene or a setting. What I see is living, but it suffers for not having been sold to me. The park isn’t meant to represent beauty or everyday life or passing clarity. It is all of those things, yet I take it to represent none of them. This is so boring because of what it’s not. It’s a moment so within reach that it doesn’t feel real. I can touch it, but by being achievable the moment becomes devalued relative to its fictional equivalent. The projection of reality and emotion and true holds more weight. The smile and the frown across the park are nothing compared to the billboard. The frustrated glare at the cellphone is nothing compared to the film. The writing isn’t valuable until it’s optioned by an investor.

Garth Brooks at Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert (Norman, OK)

Photos of Garth Brooks taken July 6, 2013 at the Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert in Norman, OK at the University of Oklahoma Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

United States of Sadness Patties

Fixing the tilted picture frame in my own life is hard enough most days. Add something like these NSA shenanigans to an outstanding litany of bullshit that includes self-sabotage, anxiety, fear, and depression, and it’s enough to make someone drink (if only it weren’t for the inconvenience of alcoholism, lurking in wait to ruin all the fun). Not that cell-phone monitoring is going to affect my life on the day-to-day, but that doesn’t mean the never ending news cycle’s constant depression parade isn’t enough to make me want to give up, walk over to McDonald’s and shovel a few more sadness-patties into my food hole. Some days I escape the Golden Arches’ reach, some days I don’t.

Killer Mike: They’re building less schools, they’re building more prisons. Bodies have to fill those prisons, those prisons become commerce and jobs for small towns in South Georgia. You become a commodity. I — my black body, as a young African American man, is a commodity to the prison industrial complex.

Sway: Is it getting to the point where El-P’s white body can be a part of that same process?

Killer Mike: Definitely! Poor white people… I just happen to represent the group they get first. So I have to, like, when I speak in terms of race I’m really speaking in terms of class, but I represent the group of men they come for first.

Sway: In the class. The social class.

Killer Mike: Yeah, so you have to be aware. So when I say ‘black’ I’m not just talkin’ about ‘Hey, it’s just black.’ No. They’re gonna come for poor Mexicans, poor whites, everybody eventually, but first in line, all them black boys? I need all them niggas in jail — know what I mean? — ’cause we need free labor.

El-P: And the scary thought is this… and you know you’re right, they’re gonna come for poor. But the scary part is that right now they’re just really busy making everyone poor.

The above is taken from an interview that Killer Mike and El-P did with Sway last year. Some people pay this sort of talk no mind and go about their daily routine as they would normally, while others resist through subversive demonstration or cling to sanity through humor. As comedian Junior Stopka tweeted yesterday, “Government definition of espionage: If you tell people we spy on people, you’re a spy.” I wish I had his finesse.

It’s hard not to read myself into Mike’s picture, but I’ll save you the myriad of “I’m just a useless cog in a broken machine” daydreams I’ve had, offering instead the same conclusion that seems to follow each: Yes, I’d like fries with that. Typically this stage in the process is greeted with near-immediate regret, only to be accompanied by a decreased sense of clarity, preventing me from seeing through my own immediate hurdles and leaving me far too self absorbed to concern myself with the possibility that my increasingly bloated social stratum might next up on the cultural chopping block. I may feel lonely, but in this, at least I’m not alone.