Sunday, February 26, 2006

Six Degrees of Saturation

Once again, I am pissed.

I just found a new Schizophelia on eBay. At first, when I saw that others were copying my name, I was flattered. I'm tired of it now. I want to kick each and every one of them in the cooter. Except maybe that one who pierces her nethers and eats babies, I kind of like her. But on eBay?? That's not me, guys. First off, I'd never invent a pseudonym like this and then use it to buy used sundries and haberdashery. I certainly wouldn't use it to send hugs and kisses to anyone in a public forum. Girls, if you're going to be lovey dovey about life, can't you call yourself something less...awesome?

This is frustrating. And it's hard to be nice about it. But try I must. But before that, I must confess that after years of trying to extricate myself from people who seek to co-opt my identity at any price, I would love it grandly if others could go out and you know, experience life instead of making it up or better yet, stealing a piece of mine.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Junky Trouble

JT LeRoy is not a male junky ho, nor is James Frey a recovering ex-con whose teen drama led to a stint in the hoosegow and a miraculous recovery from addiction. What? You mean they lied to us about their junky pasts?? I’m so…not surprised. But why exactly does a person write a “memoir” that proves to be a total falsehood instead of just writing a work of fiction and calling it like it is? Smart people write books, call ‘em fiction and coyly hint that there might be some truth to them, thus creating a mystique and therefore, a following of curious lifestyle onlookers. Stupid people on the other hand, write books, call ‘em autobiographies and forget that along the way, their stupid, lying asses have left behind a trail of people who can’t stand them and would be more than happy to call them out if they happen to be foolish enough to publish their lies and call them truth. Or better yet, have left behind a paper trail (or lack of one, in Frey's case) which disproves all their tear-stained stories and just pisses people off.

Here's the thing: most people who live the lives that LeRoy and Frey made up aren’t necessarily going to be heard. They’re either dead or in prison. Addiction…is Plato’s cave for poor people.

The truth is just too damned honest. It’s dirty and full of flies and grit and smog. The “happy ending” doesn’t just fade in after a montage, but evolves after years and years and years of sewing and knitting back together a life that was so damaged so early that the person just wanted to throw it back.

Lives rarely just stop sucking unless someone works long and hard to make them stop sucking, which means that some small part of you must remain unbroken enough to have the will to even begin such a monumental effort. That in itself is rare for anyone, let alone those who were born into poverty and abuse. If your atrophied sense of self preservation can keep you afloat long enough, (i.e., if you aren’t totally useless after years of being someone else’s punching bag/fuck toy), you must then build a raft amid freezing, rushing water using broken twigs that happen to float past you here and there. Then you must climb on, but beware of all of the people who want to pull you back down off of your half-assed, hoopty raft that is busy engaging in its own brutal struggle just to support your heavy, heavy psyche. You’ll recognize the hands of the people who are pulling at your limbs because they were probably your best friends at some point. Trust me when I say they’ll drag you down with smiles on their faces and promises of loyalty and puppies made of candy. If by some crazy twist of fate you’re able to get away from the grasping claws of your former associates, you’ll have to (for the rest of your life) walk on a river bank that is covered in slippery mud, forcing yourself not to look back and instead, looking from side to side and ahead all at the same time to make sure you don’t fall down while you’re trying to move forward. If you fuck up once, just once, you will have to start this process over and you will have lost faith in your ability to do it again and to keep doing it once you've gone through the larval stage, leaving you once again, fucked. You'll need to possess a strong will, a great deal of self-awareness (a realistic assessment of how much you rock and how much you suck), and an ability to survive completely and utterly alone on top of the will to stop slipping into the much-easier haze of drug abuse or in my case, insanity. Now, you’ve got that done, yes? Ok, now go write a book and get it published with the grand connections and amazing education you’ve obtained while being a junky. K?

I’m not usually one to place a shocking story into a diatribe because it smacks of grandstanding…but I think this one applies and it always bugs me when I hear people talk about their horrid childhoods which lead to their horrid acts as adults, knowing for a fact that they’re making up stories (if you ever hear the words “recovered memories”, run for cover my friends) because they are just too damned lazy and far too dubious of character to earn any real accolades.

My childhood friend Tracey was found face down in the desert last year with a cardboard box only partially covering her body. The last time I saw her, she was dressed up like a Fairy for Halloween. And this is what I see laying there in the Mojave. An 11 year old with broken cardboard wings and dirty pink chiffon, track marks covering her mottled arms and her stripper’s thong wrapped around her neck where the murderer (who is still at large; no one cares about junky prostitutes) left it. I picture him dragging her out there and pulling that piece of cardboard only halfway over her body, scratching his ass and walking away, muttering, "Aw, fuck it." She never had anything better than a half-assed piece of corrugated cardboard life anyway. Why bother allowing her an ounce of dignity now?

This is how most of the people from my neighborhood ended their lives or ended the lives of others. This is the movie I saw again and again growing up at the Plato Matinee for poor kids. These are the lives that junkys lead and this is not an uncommon event. You won’t see it on Oprah. You’ll see “recovered memories”, James Frey, and many other examples of people who are so boring that they lie or co-opt the experiences of others, but you won’t see anyone from my neighborhood.

And I fucking wish I was lying.

For a much more empathetic view of literary hustling, I suggest Stephen Beachy's article in New York Magazine. He has a different perspective than the one above and it is a lovely read.