Office Decorations

I´ve been waiting for a tenure contract before decorating my office at work.  But I´m tired of looking at naked walls.  So I placed a couple of orders, and will post pictures once I get everything and hung it all.

Here´s what I ordered:

1.  A framed photo of Abraham Lincoln, the most important American of the 19th century.

2.  A framed photo of Jackie Robinson stealing home.  Jackie is the second most important American of the 20th century.

3.  A Tijuana original portrait on black velvet of the most important American of the 20th century:  Elvis.

4.  A life-sized standup poster of Marilyn Monroe.  I´m not sure if she´s all that important, but she sure was beautiful.

And here´s what concerns me:  are all the department feminists going to think I´m a sexist for having Marilyn in my office?  See, I´m not really sure what sexism is anymore, so I´m kind of unsure.

jj

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Computer Woes…

So I decide to start blogging again, and my home PC decided to give up the ghost.  We´d been expecting it for a while; anytime anyone tried to do anything that required any processor effort had to put up with frequent crashes.  Very frequent.

So last Friday it decided it was time to die.

I went to the school and borrowed a notebook from the library.  That´s what I´m using to type this right now.  So Billy and I spent the weekend browsing computers, and I finally decided to place an order with Dell.  My PC in my office at work is a Dell, and it just seems so much more substantial than the cheap piece of shit that just died after only four years of use.

And for once in my life, I managed to get over my cheap-skatedness.  I struggled and struggled and suffered and struggled, then finally said, “What the hell!” and ordered a nice machine:  Intel quad core with a 24″ LED monitor.

In the back of my mind was this:  Diablo 3 will be released in May.

So there you go.  There you have it.  I´m a Diablo whore.

jj

Tattoos, Banjos, Philosophy, and Elvis

I have wanted a tattoo for several years. At least since they’ve become popular, that is. I can’t say that I was one of those people who wanted tattoos before tattoos were cool. In fact, twenty years ago my ex-wife got a tattoo, and I took it as a sign that she had lost her mind somehow. So she was one of those who got a tattoo before tattoos were cool—back when tattoos were for bikers and biker chicks, porno stars, and rockers and punkers.

But the thing is, deep down, deep beneath my bow-tied philosopher image, I am a rocker. That’s how I’ve always seen myself. I’m not a philosopher, but an artist who loves philosophy because philosophy is the greatest aesthetic experience. But who am I as an artist? Dunno. But somehow it’s connected with rock and roll, even when I play the banjo.

I once told a friend that I personally play the banjo as a “fuck you!” instrument. She didn’t understand. For me, the banjo is a statement of my individuality. Same with wearing bow ties. Wearing a bow tie also says, “fuck you!”, because it spits on conventionality. And rock and roll—at it’s very core (and this is what ELVIS gave to all of us as the greatest gift of the twentieth century)—is “fuck you!” music. It is the “fuck you!” music.

What do I mean by that?

Compare rock and roll to, say, country music. Country music is about the vicissitudes of life: about love and lost love, dreams and lost dreams, life and death and trucks and dogs and good times and bad, and so on. Country music suffers and contemplates. That’s why it’s music for adults—and even people who grew up with rock and roll often gravitate to country as they get older.

But rock and roll says, “get up and MOVE!” It’s that moment in “Milkcow Blues Boogie” when Elvis says, “Let’s get real, real gone for a change!” That moment—to me—is the very moment of the birth of the rock and roll era. Yes, let’s get gone. Let’s throw out convention. Let’s have sex and get drunk and get into fights and have some more sex and LIVE LIFE LARGE! You don’t like it? Fuck you! Rock and roll is born in that moment of denying the suffering and contemplation of life, and choosing to live life instead. Stop thinking about it. Stop suffering.

(I could digress and talk about what was somehow so very wrong about the Sex Pistol’s style of punk, but I’ll save that for another day.)

Last summer I played my banjo for the departmental picnic.

Here’s a picture:

 

 

I played some old-timey clawhammer music. I played “Tammy’s in Love”. But—wanting to live life large and to yell “fuck you!” in my own personal way—I played my banjo version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”. I’m not sure whether anyone liked it. I’m not sure whether anyone even really listened. I didn’t care.

My only regret is that my arms were un-tattooed.

See, that’s what it’s about. What should have happened is this: when I took off my blue blazer, khaki trousers, oxford shirt and bow tie and put on my Carlsbad Caverns T-shirt, jeans, and hiking boots and strapped on my banjo, that audience should have seen tattoos. Because what I was really doing was dropping the disguise, ripping off the uniform, exposing myself. That is the “fuck you!” moment of rock and roll. It’s the moment of risking exposure to say, “I’m me: deal with it. Or don’t. Whatever. I’m having fun right now.”

Now that tattoos have become popular, I suppose they don’t make quite the same statement they used to. But at the bare minimum they say at least this: I’m thinking of right now rather than what I’ll look like when I’m 80. They say, in essence, “I’m me: deal with it. Or don’t. Whatever. I’m having fun right now.” And regardless of their popularity, they remain quite rare among the professors and students in the humanities in Germany, so had I sported a few tattoos that night people certainly would have noticed.

So a couple of weeks ago I went to a tattoo parlor and made appointments to get my first tattoos. If I can stand the pain, I’m planning to get at least four or five.

And those few people who read my blog will know what those tattoos mean.

jj

PS. I might as well put a link here for Milkcow Blues Boogie:

Cancer

Everyone knows that cancer sucks.

But most think that it sucks to have it.  I’m sure it does.

My sister was diagnosed with cancer last October (or the end of September; I’m not sure).

She lives a continent away, and I haven’t had a close relationship with her since I moved to Germany; but still, it shook me to the core to hear the news.  It still does.  Closeness—whether geographically or emotionally—has nothing to do with it.  I love my sister.  Period.  And now someone I love is traveling the road towards death.  She could be saved by chemo or a miracle.  That’d be way cool.  Still, that road is a lonely one.

And as was the case with Simone, I just don’t know how to act.  I’m smart enough to know that I can’t really understand how the person I love is feeling.  And I’m also smart enough to know that what I say or how I say it might not hit the right spot, emotionally.

So mostly I keep quiet.

It’s a horrible feeling.  What I’d really like to do is just speak to my sister about everything else on my mind—you know, just ignore the illness.  I could use my sisters right now.  But one of them is on that lonely road, and the other—naturally—is trying to help the other sister.

She started her own blog on CaringBridge, and writes beautifully and candidly about what her road is like.

So I thought that maybe I should write again.  About my own road.

I’m still not committed.  We’ll see.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll write about tattoos.

jj

Could it be that I’ll blog again?

Dunno.

There were several reasons that I stopped blogging.

First, I got involved in Internet forums, and I found that “conversation” was better than simply posting my thoughts and wondering whether anyone ever read them.

Second, my parents hinted that they read this blog.  I never expected that.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.  But now I’m thinking, “OK, I’ll keep that in mind.”

Third, at some point I got a real job, with real students, and I pointed them to this blog as an example of how I write.  Once I did that, it would certainly create a problem if I continued to write on the same level about my personal life.  It’s none of their business, and I thought it would be indiscrete to continue to blog in the same manner as before.

That said, there is a LOT on my mind, and a lot to write about which wouldn’t necessarily be indiscrete.

So maybe, just maybe I’ll start back.  We’ll see.

jj