By Jeff Walsh
I have a friend and former teacher that I see whenever I go home to visit and, even without much warning, we'll end up sitting at a corner table at a casino bar, order some drinks, and settle in.
It's become pretty routine that we're going to catch up on things, have some deep conversation, and just enjoy each other's company for a few hours. And, no matter how long it's been since we last got together, the connections flood back and you realize the special bonds that people share.
When I got my review copy of Brent Hartinger's The Elephant of Surprise, I was a bit apprehensive. How long ago did I read the last book? How did it end? And, since this is the fourth book in the Geography Club series that began a decade ago, how did we get here?
I didn't need to worry. First of all, Hartinger does a quick summary at the beginning of the book. But as you start reading the names, and how the characters interact, it all starts coming back to you. Maybe not every plot point of all three books, but the bonds between the characters, the little quirky details, and the comfort of being on a journey with these friends again.
Another new social media experience I had tonight is seeing a friend tagged in a lot of photos and such on my Facebook ticker, and when I finally clicking through to see what kind of trouble he was out getting himself into, I learned that all of the tags were, sadly, eulogies...
I knew William Brandon Lacy Campos from around when I first started Oasis in 1995, and he would submit columns every month in his early activist days in the mid-to-late 90s. We never became great friends then, but I always stayed aware of what he was up to.
When we were both in the Bay Area and later NYC, we made a lot of casual plans that fell through, as you do, finally seeing The Kinsey Sicks at the Highline a few months back. But with Facebook, we thrived. Every day, we traded torrents of bitchy over-the-top remarks. I'd say something culturally insensitive. He'd threaten to slap be back to slavery. I'd ask if I could pick what kind of plantation I wanted to own, and on and on.
The subtext was always playful, though, and I enjoyed being connected with him as often as we were through our conversations. I mean, why spend time making fun of people you don't care about?! So, our physical interactions were incredibly low, but after more than two decades of being aware of someone, there remains that connection.
By Jeff Walsh
Anthony Lee Medina first caught my attention when he nearly fell on me during the Spring Awakening tour in San Francisco. I was seated onstage, and he took an impressive spill during 'Bitch of Living,' that only seemed to energize him more for the song.
I'm never quite sure what it is about seeing certain performers in a show, and you follow them after that show, but I've always kept up with Anthony (Facebook helps there).
Of course, since that time in 2008, I spent much of the time erroneously thinking Anthony was straight and not Oasis material, a notion that was quickly dispelled upon seeing his solo show, Anthony Lee Medina - About Me, after moving to NYC.
Now, Anthony is starting a new part of his career, as he raises the money to put out his first collection of songs, The Ladybug Articles, later this year. Most of the songs are inspired by his ongoing tumultuous relationship with a guy he is still in love with.
We met during the recent heatwave at Otarian, a vegetarian restaurant he turned me onto in the city, and we talked. A lot. Here's what we had to say:
New age music has been greatly inspiring me. I've been playing ultra chill new age guitar, hooked up to Ableton and ran through delay, reverb, resonation, etc. and it's really changed my perspective on everything, and made me much more relaxed. I highly recommend getting into this music or playing it.
Thank you, Devin Townsend, for making the album Ghost. Also, does anyone here know any music similar to this?
Daddy was a very smart man with horrible decision making skills. My melancholy and not so fortunate story starts with a man who brought me into this world seven years before he decided it was time to say goodbye to the air that travelled through his damaged lungs. My father was a foster home, lost cause, individual set between metal bars. An alcoholic. And addict. Whatever the twisted, mangled, frayed, and shattered label may have been, to me he was my father. Daddy heard the voices; he starred down the un-seeable with this quickly fading sanity. ..
I think I swallowed your name that night in the bar.
I think you infected my veins while the music was
raging some 90s rock song and nobody was
paying attention to us as we ran to the back
room of this exile for tar-winged children.
And boy, now you're starving for some
sort of distraction in button-down lust;
a porn star type in DKNY jeans.
But I'm not one of those underground souls,
looking to lose consciousness
in pretty lashes and money-grabbing directors.
Honey, you can take a cab home because
I'm only here for the bottled-up affection
you said would never be mine
I definitely wish I had ended my speech with that, haha.
So, I graduated! Everything went surprisingly well. (The hat and I were absolutely not friends, though. It messed up my hair so much.) Giving the salutatory speech was beyond nervewracking, though. When I got onstage and looked out into the audience, for some reason, I thought this girl in the very back was FCG, so it freaked me out big time. I later discovered that the girl was not, in fact, FCG, but I couldn't tell that from the stage. (It was possible that she could've been there. She's apparently still friends with IG.) Despite my nerves, I actually gave the speech with minimal problems. I messed up once because I started reading the wrong line, but it was only a little mistake, so it wasn't that big a deal. And I didn't trip going up the steps or walking across the stage!
A lot of the other girls cried, but I didn't. I'm so glad to get out of there. I can't even begin to put the feeling into words.
We've had another spat over high school. I want to take Italian and move back to Italy to home school, and spend my days wandering those deliciously silent streets of Venice. But Mom purses her lips and says that she won't "narrow my horizons" like that, that I'll get a better degree if I stay here. She says I have to see the "light at the end of the tunnel." I can see a light alright, but I might have to walk into it before the four years are up. She keeps talking about rights of passage and persevering. I just don't know if I can survive this.
*I've been reading Judy Shepard's book "The Meaning of Matthew" about her son who was murdered in 1998. I wanted to write a poem about who Matthew was as a person, not just the headline story. The title was taken from Lady Gaga's cover of "Imagine" by John Lennon.*
The state melted into a pool
of cerulean in your eyes,
Wyoming tinted your hair
a cowboy prairie blond and
stained your boyish lips
with a wanderlust grin.
Matthew, you've grown
older by now but some
things never change like how
the Curious Unknown
still sparkles in your dreams,
the sticker lights of Laramie.
A few days ago I went with my father to pick up some speakers he had bought, and I fell asleep in the car on the way home. When I went to get out the door I saw a crane fly right next to where my face was, at most a couple of inches away. The next day I was walking my dog and the same crane fly flew right in front of me. The day after that (yesterday) it was in my room, flying around me. And just now it was outside my window, trying to get in my room. What the fuck is this?