(Not) A Review of The Merchant of Venice

Go see it, or don’t. Live your life. I’ve been living mine over here and frankly, it’s alright if I die tonight. I’ve seen enough to be bored by living and if it passes me by just one more time I’ll be just fine. It played on broadway, starring a famous person. Nothing matters unless you’re famous, or talented or beautiful or rich or powerful but what does that matter to me? All the millions in your bank are not as important to me as the $380 I paid to behold the spectacle of St. Alberto Pacinoni as the Blind Venetian. That was reason enough to be excited to see the show. I bought tickets and started planning a romantic date night with the wife.

The wife, who, for the week prior, challenged me to an epic transnational trauma cleanse, a pentathalon of sulking, screaming, smoking, drinking, and another-thing-ing. She was a champion in all such events, a test of every learned defense, redlining emotional resources across the board of benevolent directors known as my conscience. 

During a lull in the fracas, while the ingenue and her six pack of tall boys took several hours recess in our one bathroom, I stepped out for a walk around the block, blurring out my thoughts with the electric techno tourist mob of Times Square, shuffling past the theaters proclaiming the greatest shows ever witnessed, promising heart-pounding exhilaration and the time of your life. I scowled. Billy Joe, you’ve come a Longview from the Dookie days. 

As the quintessential American Idiot, on my way back to workshop the tour-de-force audience participation performance piece unfolding on an ikea carpet eighteen stories above these storied stages, I stopped under the makeshift umbrella of a marquee just around the corner from Studio Apartment Arena. 

I took out a brown satchel of tobacco, selected a wad of fragrant brown shreds and tamped them into the paper, placed a white filter tip a little bit off to the side, gently rolled thumbs against forefingers until the cylinder appeared, ran the tip of my tongue over the glue strip, pushed the filter flush with the roll, letting it hang from the precarious precipice of my lip as I tilted my head to the side to avoid a butane-torch beard fire or a seared schnozz. The invisible flame clicked on and I saw AL PACINO in glowing red. 

Something to look forward to, I thought. Wait, what day is it? 

I knew what fucking day it was. I knew before I opened the ticket confirmation email that I had flagged, or double checked the calendar app. I knew from the reminders I had ignored while embroiled in the aforementioned top-floor tomfoolery. I had to prove it to myself, I couldn’t believe it until I saw it. Was it distrust? Was it that I just missed the money? Was I angry over a petty loss or furious over the foregone failure of my future family?

Our godfather which art on broadway, dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Sicut in Carlito et terror. Lesson learned forever: don’t be shy, or locked. After all, nobody owes you a goddamn ounce of their skin, let alone a pound, and you don’t owe by the same token, no matter how much you think you need them, if this prayer means anything. Each play will have its run and fun, but with some productions the best seat in the house is out on the sidewalk, in my humble opinion.

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Inflammatory Questions

Is it that Braindead suggests politics are a pathology? And how does an adorkable waitress use Tide Pods to tidy up her cluttered, empty life? Is the lie the only way to tell the truth? Can only song say what the heart thinks? Do you just need a man to fumigate your brain, or as comic relief or a tool to grip? Some parasitic ideas are you sick? What’s eating your brain today, and why can’t you just say it? Who can we get to fix all this? Who says success is anything but what you think it is for you? And what the fuck do you know anyway?

Why are children making eyes at one another when they’re making glittery balls of foam to represent the solar system? Are kids with iPhones, programming android apps at school, really going to be taught by a grown adult who thinks it worth the precious youth they can’t get back again?

Have you ever been told you that you’re fuckable? Oh but what was the context? Have you been subjected to the force of the stranger, the other, the alter ego, the doppelgänger, the drifter, the shape shifter, sidestepper, blindsider, backbiter, mad-faced doubletalker? Have you played the part in some off broadway production? Oh haven’t you gone off on someone?

The thing is, if you ask what’s on my mind, why you don’t you take the time to listen? That’s not your mission, huh? You’re here for some grander purpose? Somehow in the blizzard of suffering we’re all weathering, do you think you don’t deserve it? And what if you do deserve? So what? Well if life doesn’t matter now, will it ever? Did life ever matter? Or is life the water being pushed by the wind? What is the wind, the invisible force which moves us, the pneumatic thrust? Is truth incendiary now? Is there justice now, if our mode of justice serves to rust us, corrode our trust? Which lives matter?

Can you ethically support murder? Does it feel better to justify a murder, or to murder someone else for committing the murder and call it justice? Why are some beatings assault and some fantasies rape? When you were a kid and you got tagged, did you say it doesn’t count?  Do your tinted shades and tinted windows shade the world from your brilliance or you from their ignorance? Is death the penalty for disobedience, or the worthiest opponent to the futile charge of being alive? Do you order your brothers and sisters over the throw pillow trenches to soak up the couch fort’s machine-gun fire? Can you lose all the battles but still win the war? Is a mob more moral than man alone?

The sacrifice you made; was it enough? Did it glorify god? Who was pleased by your deeds? If you glorify and give pleasure to yourself, do you sit upon your own throne? Do you climb upon your own cross? Do you give so others gain? Do you move amongst the masses, setting their tongues to flickering flames of ancient names? Who do you inspire by setting a tree on fire?

How to feel better about your mistakes, today!

Fix them!

👌

Just kidding. You can’t, and you never will.

😧

That said, it could have been so much worse. Every mistake is a Wikipedia entry. You can edit it to suit your short term motivations but scrupulous and admirable individuals will spot it like a Canal Street Guchi or Parada. Learn from the mistakes of your younger self. You’ll find a direct approach to wisdom through humility.

If anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen or says “Here’s the reason why…” doesn’t approximate a semblance of an authority on why anything at all has happened, or from what impenetrable dark comes the whole of our experiences in a continual present, and into what inscrutable darkness of the eternal future does your nowness evaporate?

I don’t know, maybe. We’ll see, or won’t we? Shake the magic 8-ball inside the inky mind. That’s all anyone has to offer, a tired old trick a last dollar winning scratch off jackpot of another scratch off ticket. Everyone can play the numbers maybe win a bit, by bit and byte and batch and buy a try again a whole life later. Maybe sooner, stay tuned, keep this channel up and over.

Flower Node

A slow flame

The flower in bloom

How long is the coastline

How ruffled the petals

In the origami timeline 

of networked plant mind

Unfolding consciousness 

Awareness to full earth

Bespoke in framed time

Thought pollinating sine

Ringed oscillations moire

Waves etch membranes

In universal binary

Growing deeper into center

Pushing for escape velocity

Orthogonal perspectives 

Glacial frieze of flow a whole

Hyperbole in symmetry