January 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” a man in black armor, holding an automatic rifle is saying to a terrified child, whose family members the man and his partners have just killed. The child is impelled to howl out in shock and fear at the once-familiar and beloved bodies lying on the cement floor, an instinct which if followed will only further imperil the child, breaking the unknown rules of this large man speaking in a strange language. There are three audiences for this man’s words: the child, who will obviously not be okay; the armed man, who wants his incantation to show there is a way to kill a child’s family and have it be okay; and a group of people watching this scene in a movie theater, who may have arrived there presuming to better understand events that, in all likelihood, were uninteresting to them while still in the present tense. I was on a date.
September 21, 2013 § Leave a comment
EVERYTHING becomes problematic when you think for too long. Escapism is the relief from being conscious in an inescapably problematic reality. It transforms the Gordian knot of reality into a dramatic bow that can be undone with a gentle pull. I had no sense for that kind of escapism as a child. It wasn’t a transportation to another place or a simplification of anything, but instead added a new piece of furniture to my psychic landscape, a new perch to stare out the window from.
March 21, 2013 § 4 Comments
As videogame rhetoric continues its intellectual promiscuity, many of the culture’s pettiest affects persist inside the husk of objective-seeming argument. There is special and hypocritical nastiness given to war shooters like Call of Duty, which many categorize as a sub-genre of “dudebro” adventurism, stories told about men so masculine their gender needs repeating. I too have indulged in this loose and prejudicial stereotyping, subheading a criticism of Gears of War 2 as “The Broman cometh.” I hoped the contrast of lowbrow social stereotype with a callback to early 20th Century melodrama would capture the tonal disparity of that game, serious as a sandbag in one scene, and thoughtlessly savage in another. But these words have become so imbued with negative social coding that, like the empty signifiers of hippy, douche, hipster, and nerd, they mean nothing now, vessels meant only to carry aggression, directed toward a demographic that the writer presumes most of her readers will dislike.
March 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
“There is a conspiracy of indifference against me, and I can’t take it,” Jon-Jon Goulian writes of his classmates’ failure to react when, in 1985, he attended prom in women’s clothing. During the following two decades Goulian won notoriety among New York party hoppers as a fabulous recluse, a man of intelligence and Ivy League credentials who nonetheless insisted on earning a salary by babysitting for $12 an hour. This grandson of political philosopher Sidney Hook, and one-time assistant to The New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers, declined, at every major stage in his life, to build upward. Instead, he sublet a portion of a room in the Lower East Side, and chose to live a neurotically abstemious life while finding succor in four-inch heels and belly shirts.
December 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
As a baby I used to scream when black people held me. This was awkward for my parents because we lived in Tanzania and the number of proximate black people with an interest in holding me was high. I can imagine them handing me over to their friends and neighbors who’d thought to come by with felicitations for the newest addition to the family, wondering whether or not I would convulse in a spasm of racism when delivered into the onyx arms of neighborliness.
August 4, 2011 § 13 Comments
I wanted a map. The only unmet desire I had from my warped old clamshell cell phone was access to a map. For this desire I had a perfectly symmetrical argument: I will never again be lost. No more will I get off the subway and not know which way is North, nor realize I’ve forgotten to write down the address of a party or meeting room. No more will I stare at the dumb faces of buildings, trying to match their bricked frames and shaded windows with an arrangement of numbers and letters, whose only real order lies in some old civic planner’s papers, which even she’s forgotten by the time I’m trying to find the outlines of her work in the gloaming streets of outer Queens.
March 22, 2011 § 2 Comments
I get nervous jaywalking in Washington D.C. As I was trying to navigate the streets between the Judiciary Square Metro Stop and the U.S. Supreme Court–a convoluted dual grid of square city blocks and diagonal gashes that cut across the city—I felt a fear that the last two years of life in New York have numbed. There is no such thing as jaywalking in New York.