Counter Culture

Because I don’t really like or understand the whole idea of a blog  I’d like to start an anti-blog blog, or a cyber counter cultural space. First whoever thought of the name? As a writer with a keen ear for the sounds of language I can’t help thinking of smog, log, fog, nog (like in egg nog), frog, And of course dog which is the reverse of god.  It makes me want to write an absurdist play about the thickness of the London smog that I learned about in high school when I was learning English in my native Romania. Those textbooks always talked about the smog in London, how thick and bad it was. And then out of the once thick London smog comes a bouncing frog carrying a log and fully drunk on eggnog, chasing a dog. The frog drowned in the thick bog. I think the play needs an epilogue. It’s a Dickensian play with slums and smog.

These are some questions that come to mind: Have any blogs so far changed someone’s life? Are they public diaries? Do they tell so called  real stories? Are they like personal columns of a personal newspaper?  Are they our modern society’s screeching scream of loneliness and desperation, our desire to be heard amidst the deafening noises and clatter and chatter and clamor of our world? Can a blog be a call to silence? Will blogs float in the universe among galaxies even when our planet is long gone?

Here is what I will not do: I will not talk about my feelings. I will not share personal events. I will not make sweeping comments about the world and philosophies of life. And this is not a journal. And it is not my therapy or a cyber venue for venting about how bad things are out there in the world.

Can a blog be made to sound like silence? A white on white sign like Mallarme’s poem Le Cygne – “Le vierge, le vivace, le bel aujourd’hui.” And then there is my other favorite line by Mallarme  “Helas la chair est triste et j’ai lu tous les livres.” Would Mallarme write a blog? I think he’d rather drown in the bog.

And  then some images and ideas that haunt me. For instance the homeless. I’d like to evoke an image of the homeless in Vancouver. Before I visited Vancouver this winter everybody told me: Oh Vancouver is great, fabulous, so beautiful, so chic, so cultural and so cutting edge, blah, blah.  Nobody said anything about the homeless. More than I had seen in any other Western city throughout my travels I was welcomed by homeless everywhere. And when I say “welcomed” I don’t mean it sarcastically. I was really welcomed because I looked them straight in the eyes whether I stopped to give them a Canadian dollar or not. Some didn’t care for American dollars at all. Amidst multimillion dollar condominiums, houses, everything multimillion, you suddenly see a stretch of sidewalk where people without a home lie, sleep, eat from other people’s leftovers and garbage. The passers bye  pretend to not see them or that they are insignificant.  Apparently Wednesday is their free day at the community center where they get free  shots if they are users, food and shelter, some medical attention. Wednesday is a good day for the homeless in Vancouver.

Homeless in Vancouver - what the tourist guides won't show you.
Homeless in Vancouver – what the tourist guides won’t show you.

I was afraid every day I would be homeless during my first year in America. I’m in my 31st year in America and I’m still afraid of that. I take the line by Oedipus to heart: “Do not consider yourself a happy man until you have lived the last day of your life.” And I also take it with a grain of salt because on some days I’m dying to consider myself a happy person. Funny thing that Oedipus became homeless too. He wandered the earth with a cane and his eyes gouged out, searching for some kind of redemption.  I don’t think he ever found it: The redemption I mean..

I have had some interesting conversations with homeless people across North America and Gypsies in Europe. Mostly Romanian Gypsies or Roma.  You out there who walk the wealthy streets of the world, try it too. Have a conversation with a homeless person! See what they like, what they dream, how they got to make that leap from living in a home to living in the street. If you’re a writer you might write a story about a homeless person that will bring you money and fame so you can travel to sunny places with no homeless people. You out there,  “Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!” Are you there, there, there? Or have you drowned in a bog under the London smog?

I want to make theater with homeless people like my friend Norma did. When I make a lot of  money selling my new novel Country of Red Azaleas and when I can leave the academic world which has become as cold and corporate as any corporate world out there, and when I can be my own boss and not have to work with colleagues in an office, I want to make street theater with people who live in the street. Just like that. The homeless need theater and bread, good coffee and music, someone to listen to their story and an art gallery to exhibit their drawings.  I dream of a colorful commune made by the homeless, a colorful neighborhood where the homeless make a home with theater, bread and coffee. I know it’s a skimpy diet and if any are gluten intolerant like I am, that could be a problem.  Never mind, we can make corn bread without any wheat. We can eat potatoes and berries, corn and salsa, dance the tango and the samba. And have a theater festival in the street. My little southern rich town with no street life and bearded men with confederate flags littering our streets every year on jackson lee day, desperately needs a theater festival of the homeless. I used to see a couple of them on our clean quaint streets, maybe Vietnam vets forgotten by the state: one carried a boom box around like the man in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. I sort of miss him, it was nice to have some of this much priced deafening southern silence broken up by the homeless man’s boombox.

And have I told you I live in a small semi southern university town with very nice people who all say hello in the street and then comment on your foreign accent or colorful clothes? My favorite place is the women’s locker room at the community pool where naked women of all ages and sizes talk about everything. We all have our little habits and recognize each other’s voices, swim bags and naked bodies. It’s comforting and makes you feel like you have a home. And nobody asks me about my accent in the women’s locker room of our community pool. It’s all about Eve.

Have I broken any of my own rules for the anti-blog blog? Probably so. It’s hard to keep a vow of silence and only Mallarme could make silence with words.

More to come about my street theater utopia  “Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!” (Au Lecteur by Charles Baudelaire in case you were wondering).

I’m almost starting to enjoy writing in this cyber space. Don’t ever call me a blogger though.

vancouver museum of modern art
Favorite Spot in Vancouver – Postmodern Conceptual Art at the Museum of Modern Art

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