September 22, 2007

What I did on my Summer vacation... part 1

This month is back to school time all across the U.S., and despite having been out of school for several years, the circadian September - August rhythm still holds sway in my life. Summers are for slacking, the Fall is for action, activity, motion, getting things done.

While this past summer hasn't been nearly as eventful as last summer (thankfully) I have had some adventures that due to timing, discretion, or disinclination I haven't written about, so I thought I'd do an end of summer wrap-up; clear the decks, so to speak, of the news you haven't yet heard about.

There's was a world premiere of a movie at Radio City Music Hall, which was less fun than you'd think it might be. A couple of stars were there, sure, and I appreciated the opportunity to see a movie at Radio City, which feels like a wonderful "old timey-New York City" thing to do. Walking out of the movie I happened to catch a woman with extraordinary breasts and was remarking to my friend how she looked like Ice T's wife when my friend jabs me with his elbow and whispers, pointing to the guy behind her "That's Ice T!" and sure enough it was.

The last time I was that close to Ice T was 15 years ago in Hadley, Massachusetts during a concert of his. He flubbed a couple of words during a song, and the crowd boo'ed a little bit. "Fuck you!" he shouted out to us, laughing. "I've got 200 mother-fucking songs, you try and remember all the words!" He also has said one of the funniest things on TV, during an episode of Law and Order. When he and Richard Belzer were confronting a gangster, the gangster asked Ice T "Who's that guy" gesturing to Richard Belzer. "That's my Jew" was Ice T's reply. Now, no one who has ever seen him act will mistake Ice T for someone with any skill or artistry in the craft, but his delivery of this line was so fricking brilliant, embodied such a world of African-American/Jewish relations and experience... Well, I was jealous of Richard Belzer that day, let me tell you.

And if that wasn't enough, Ice T''s Original Gangster album is one of the five greatest rap albums of all time, and he was one of the first rappers to come out as... well, if not supportive of homosexuality, at least indifferent. "She wanna be lez, he wanna be gay? Well that's your business, I'm straight, so nigga have it your way..." My point being, I'm an Ice T fan. Not so much that I'd bug the man while he was trying to get out of a crowded theater, but it was exciting none the less.

And the movie was pretty exciting as well - the latest Die Hard. A real solid action flick, though like many recent films the entire premise was based on a lack of even a rudimentary understanding of Information Technology and computer networking, and the plot expects that its viewers are equally unburdened by knowledge in that arena. The absurdity of Hollywood's repeating impression of both the supremacy of computer networks to control our lives, as well as the extraordinarily well-funded and implemented consipiracies that with a few flicks of a few switches can take control of them, continues to baffle me. It's insidious, in that it simultaneously inspires an unwarranted fear of technology as well as false impression of our government's competence. As someone who has more than a passing familiarity with the topic, I assure you that the reality is that our networks are neither that vast, nor that well-organized, connected, and maintained by anyone.

It plays into the "this is something you don't understand and so should be afraid of, but we understand it, so relax and let us take care of things" marketing that many forces in our lives, including our current executive administration, try to encourage. The end result is we're left with yet another low-level background fear, a constant thrumming of danger in our lives, which we're willing to abrogate all responsibility for. "Protect us, and we'll let you!" becomes the refrain, from the terrified masses cowering in the face of the magic that has befuddled them.

Yet the truth is the average sixth grader - in fact, even the below-average sixth grader - has more accurate and complete knowledge of science, medicine, and the world around them than 98% of the human beings who have ever lived. Aristotle, for all his genius, didn't know most of the facts that our children take for granted. We live in an era of unbridled technological riches, which is the result of an embrace of science, a willingness to face into the great unknown future into which we're hurtling, and accept what comes. The absurd fear-mongering of movies like The Net, and this Die Hard, while taking liberties with the truth to tell a story do everyone a disservice by presenting something in a horribly distorted light, yet in such a way as many folks will never recognize the difference between their false-reality, and the actual one.

Some other things I've done -

Earlier this summer I took a "Play" course, a one-day class given by a group here in NYC that focuses on the games we play in life, the overt and subtle rules we expect others to play by, and how we can interrupt their games. One of the exercises was a quick "first impression" snapshot of each person in the class. We stood up in front of them after only fifteen minutes of interaction, and each person wrote up a quick snyopsis of the games they thought we were playing. We were given these cards at the end of the day, to do with what we will.

Consistently my cards came back with "I'm smart and perceptive so you'll like me" and "I'm smart and aloof so you can't touch me" and similar. One of my favorite came from a woman I had been flirting with, who wrote "look at how non-threatening I am, I won't hurt you (yet)" which was shockingly prescient. The class was a lot of fun, though I don't know that I actually learned anything or got anything out of it. It was a pleasant way to pass a day though, and I look forward to more courses with them.

I've spent some time this summer actively seeking out emotionally connected people. Earlier this year I read a fabulous book titled A General Theory of Love which describes what happens in the body when we fall in love - the physical manifestations, how it actually happens. One of the interesting points in the book had to do with the search and experience for love having to do with what we learned as children, what strikes us as familiar or alien in terms of how people express themselves to one another.

Often when an infant falls down, it will look to others to determine whether it should cry or laugh, to help it gauge what it has experienced as severe or inconsequential. From our earliest days we learn how to interact with the world around us from the people and culture we were borne into. While I've inherited countless extraordinary talents from my family and culture, I don't think I ever learned some key lessons regarding romantic attachments. Having been more or less a hermit for much of my adult life, I'm theorizing that I lack some of those fundamentals, which has resulted in my reactions to my romantic experiences being so confusing to those hapless unfortunates who have wanted to marry me.

By spending time with folks who are comfortable and open with their emotional sides I hope to gain some better sense of how to enjoy mine. And if nothing else, I get a whole new appreciation for "energetic healing" which is apparently something hippies like to do when they aren't doing yoga or tie-dying things. So far, so good!

And lastly for this installment, for years I've had "learn how to play poker" on my to-do list, and earlier this summer I began paying $60 a week for poker lessons. At least, at the end of the day, that's what's happened... Poker Object-lessons, I suppose it would be more accurate to say. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm getting better and better at it. I can tell because last time I played I only lost 57 dollars... Come on, Aces! Daddy needs an iphone...

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