Instead of hacking there for another two hours, I paid the bill and drove downtown. I wasn't looking for anything in particular. So I walked out onto Pacific Avenue, and joined the end of a big line.
Turned out to be a midnight showing of Clerks. I don't know why it garnered a full house, but every seat was taken. The high-school and college crowd was refreshingly noisy and crude. Jealous indie filmmakers bag on Kevin Smith a lot more than he deserves. Yes, it's true that his movies don't contain characters so much as conflicting points of view in human form, but he always packs the dialogue in.
Afterwards, I drove to the workplace, by the harbor. I set some file transfers up and went for a walk in my hiking boots. I was so inspired that I came back and grabbed the camera.
You know the problem with working your ass off until you retire? It's that when you're young, your mind is more fluid. As the years pass, that mental core solidifies. All you remember is the work. When you're done, you go on vacation and do a thousand things ... and when you get back home, all you remember is the work.
Nothing sticks, that's the problem.
Sometimes life feels like an endless series of things to be responsible for. Whether it's a gas bill or a stag party. Or keeping your edge. Luckily, we have a degree of choice when we make our own list.
I took a banana with me, the last of my work food supplies. I had just finished reading a chapter in Fast Food Nation about the flavor industry, and was remembering the quote, "Natural flavors, are just artificial flavors produced by obsolete procedures." The instant I peeled the banana I could smell it, even in cold ocean wind. I used to eat a candy called 'Laffy Taffy' that came in banana flavor. The smell was a precise match, though no actual bananas were involved at any point in the production of 'Laffy Taffy'. Just a long, complex list of chemical names. How interesting.
I wonder if the people who work in the plant come home every day smelling like bananas.
Hrrrm, there it is again. Being in a band called the 'Braindead Monkeys' has brought up the topic of monkeys a lot in my mind. A lot of our shortcomings and conflicts are much easier to understand this way. Just push all of our irrational behavior into a pile and stick a banner on top: "Monkey Things."
On my walk back to the office I listened to the final chapters of Founding Brothers, by Joseph J Ellis, on the iPod. The present and past conflicts of this country are now in better focus for me, especially the church/state separation, and the slavery issue. Now that I know more about the personal views and attitude of George Washington, I can understand why he is so celebrated -- and why, without that one man, there would be no United States at all. I highly recommend this book.
Have you ever stopped to marvel at the fact that you can get in your car and drive from one end of this country to the other, and pass through a dozen states that you have never been in before, and not be a foreigner in any of them? That you can fly from Oregon to Florida on a single ticket, with only a state ID card, and the same currency? Or that Texas and California are each as powerful as a hundred different countries, yet their peoples would consider an armed conflict unthinkable?
Not just an accident.
I used to have this subtle misconception that people were dumber in the old days, just because they didn't have all this cool technology to mess with. But it's actually easier to survive now than it was before. So our average IQ has not risen - but dropped. Consider the situation of a 1760's era man with an IQ of 200. What can he do? Perhaps ... become a statesman? Well, there's no precedent for it. Political sovereignty was the birthright of kings and the social elite, not geniuses. Hmm, but if he joins a revolution...
Uh anyway, that's been what's on my mind the last few days.