Red House Painters - Have You Forgotten
“That's what hell will be like, small chat to the babbling of Lethe about the good old days when we wished we were dead.”
Yesterday afternoon, I did a freaky backbend over the back of my couch and got stuck all akimbo, kind of flailing to fall and failing, trying to stand back up but suspended upside-down, blood rushing to my head, white socks and pajama pants stuck straight in the air. I can’t remember another time I’ve actually been stuck and unable to move, outside of getting a CAT scan or something. I’m getting old and shit. It’s alright, there are worse things, and it happens to everybody.
Shut out what they say, cuz your friends are fucked up anyway.
There’s this song, “Have you Forgotten” by the Red House Painters. Sometimes it’s the only song I can listen to. It’s the saddest song in the world. Especially now, since my memory is starting to go. I can’t remember whom I told what, when. I can’t remember what you said to me yesterday. This is an especially bad thing for me, because, as a condition of hating it when people find me boring, I make easily the worst conversational decisions of anyone I know. Ain’t I wacky?! Ain’t you entertained?! I’ve never had total recall or anything, but I really do try to keep track of what I’ve said, as a matter of self-preservation. It’s a big part of my ability to overcome my morally lax shit-talking – being able to convince people that either I didn’t mean what they think I meant, or that I also said something to contradict or efface myself, because, you know, I contain multitudes and all that.
And when they come around, somehow they feel up and you feel down.
But that doesn't matter, really. If I'm making a bad impression, at least I'm making an impression. What's way worse is that, I can't remember what everything used to be like, when every day wasn't the same, when every day was unique, no matter how dissimilar.
Nobody's nice. When you're older your heart turns to ice.
When I was a little boy (“When I was a little boy,” he said), my dad used to put me to bed to music that he thought would soothe me. He would tuck me in and go over to my newfangled Compact Disc Player and slide in a Mozart concerto, or a pensive Miles Davis slow-burner, or a Steely Dan album. I hated it, every day. I would lay there feeling like the music was crawling on me with a needle-leg for every note, a hard black thoracic segment for every bar. I was overwhelmed by its complexity, and the longer it went on, the more scared I got. My dad probably slinked off upstairs, delighted with himself for being such a capable patrician of a father, steeping my subconscious in life’s finer consumables even as he helped me drift off and drink from Lethe. In the mornings, I would listen to Peter, Paul & Mary or an early Beatles record just to get realigned by the simplicity and purity of it – the lack of mechanism and scheming and overdetermination and, maybe more than anything, the sense that it didn’t sound so impossible. Sometimes I would stay up until I knew he was asleep, sneak over the the receiver, turn off the cd, and dial up to Top 40 radio, listen, as corny as it sounds, to Enigma's "Return to Innocence," or Paula Abdul, or Michael Jackson. I would stay up all night listening to Dr. Demento, and Art Bell's talk show about Roswell and space aliens and government coverups, and the blows real people had been dealt from on high by the Illuminati, the conspirators, the bad men in black suits. Just as long as it wasn't Amadeus. I don’t know, but I couldn’t stand music that sounded like it wasn’t made by people. Not because I didn’t like machines – maybe I just didn’t want to be raised by them. No matter what they say about his emotion, his fiery passion, I will always believe that if ever a man had the mind of a machine, it’s Mozart. Ever since, I’ve always felt a little bit of, I don't know, a spinal slither when I listen to cool jazz or baroque classical or that kind of sheen-pop that sounds like brushed metal feels to touch, because I remember them in that room with me while I tried to sleep.
When we were kids, we hated things our sisters did. Backyard summer pools, and Christmases were beautiful.
One night, a friend of mine picked up a 38 year old woman at a blues club and went with her back to her hotel at the airport. She changed into a “pink little number” in the bathroom. When they were finished, she turned on the radio and tuned it between stations. When he asked what she was doing, she said, “It’s white noise. I need it to sleep.”
Have you forgotten how to love yourself?
Over the last year, I’ve developed a pretty acute taste for Ambien. When you take it, you start to feel sleepy, but you also start to feel a little bit euphoric. The harder you fight to stay awake, the more euphoric you get. The longer you don’t sleep even though you have to, the more the drug rewards you with cartoony hallucinations and phantasmagoric perceptions, like you’re stuck in a Tilt-a-Whirl filled with Jello or something. It’s not an enhancement-drug like alcohol or weed. It’s a all-or-nothing. I’ve made some pretty horrible mistakes on Ambien.
That's when friends were nice; to think of them just makes you feel nice.
It seems like everybody’s got a drug of choice, even if it’s just his or her own endorphins, adrenaline, testosterone or estrogen. I never got into Vicodin recreationally, even when I had a lot of it, because although it changed the way I saw the world, it didn’t bring it any more in line with the way I wish it was. I hate sleeping, and I hate eating, and I hate worrying, and I hate being careful, and I don’t have to do any of them when I’m on Ambien, because when you fall asleep, it’s not like falling asleep – it’s like disappearing. I wonder if it’s what other people feel like when they sleep, just kind of melting and reconstituting, like rebooting a computer. No pillow-punching, no angst, no arduous and spontaneous reminisces of past shame. Just wake, then sleep. Just disappear. But then, you always reappear, and that can be pretty great. After all, the song after “Have You Forgotten” on my itunes playlist is Redman’s remake of “Rapper’s Delight.” Sometimes, it’s impossible not to smile.
This young reporter I did adore,
I start rockin through this rhyme like I never did before.
She said damn fly guy I'm in love with you.
Said that casanova legend must have been true.
I said by the way baby what's your name?
She said I go by the name of Lois Lane.
And you could be my boyfriend, you truly can,
Just let me cut my boyfriend called Superman.
I said he's a fairy, I do suppose,
Flyin through the air in pantyhose.
He may be very sexy or even cute
But he look like a sucka in a blue & red suit
Said I need a man who got finesse,
and his whole name across his chest.
He may be able to fly all through the night
But he can't rock a party through the early light.
He can't satisfy you with his little worm,
But I can bust you out with my Supersperm.
I go do it - I go do it - I go do it - do it - do it.
Redman, EMPD, Keith Murray - Rapper's Delight
Red House Painters - Have You Forgotten