My theory of seamless love

My theory of seamless love

“There’s making love, there’s sex, and then there’s fucking.” I forget who said that to me when I was young and impressionable, but it made sense at the time.

Making love was what people in “The English Patient” did. It was very serious and probably set to violins.

Sex was what people did when they had to hurry up and go to work but still felt like getting bent over the breakfast table/bending someone over a breakfast table. Or else sex was for when you’d been up all night drinking cheap beer and having the same pointless “Terminator” vs. “Terminator 2” argument (don’t doubt me, the answer is always “Terminator 2”) and needed to achieve an orgasm just so the evening wasn’t entirely a waste. It was utilitarian, though satisfying.

Fucking was pure joy. Fucking was – “We just came back from a party and I have now removed my dress in the elevator and discarded it on the landing and who gives a shit what the neighbors will think when they find it in the morning, because you need to hurry up and fuck me now.” Fucking was something to brag to friends about when they decided to give you a hard time – “Please go ahead and continue laughing at me now that I’ve managed to spill a second mimosa on my dress in the middle of what was supposed to be a classy brunch – at least I’m hungover after a wild night with someone who’s, like, seven years younger.” But it had nothing to do with love – even if it happened in the course of a committed relationship. It couldn’t really be meaningful, because meaning would weigh down the experience and hence make it impure. Continue reading “My theory of seamless love”

“Do Marines like cake?” “Does God have a butt?” Conversations with a five-year-old

“Do Marines like cake?” “Does God have a butt?” Conversations with a five-year-old

“Mommy, you’re a hippo.”
“I’m a what?! Why?!”
“You’re a mommy hippo. Because I want to be a baby hippo.”
“Oh.”
“I’m a baby hippo, but I’m also Denzel.”
“So like a baby hippo whose name is Denzel?”
“No, sometimes I’m a baby hippo, other times I’m Denzel.”
“OK.”
“Mommy, you’re also a baby strawberry.”
“WHY AM I A BABY STRAWBERRY?”
“Because it sounds nice. Daddy is a watermelon.”
“OK.”

***

“Are Marines allowed to ride in elevators by themselves?”
“Yes.”
“Do they have guns?”
“Yes.”
“And unicorns?”
“What?”
“They wear unicorns?”
“Uniforms!”
“Mommy, you’re laughing too hard. You’ll pee yourself if you don’t stop.”
“Says the kid who accuses Marines of wearing unicorns.”
“Do Marines have to eat dinner?”
“Yes.”
“What if they don’t like their dinner?”
“I’m pretty sure they just buck up and eat it anyway?”
“So they don’t cry?”
“Not over stupid stuff like dinner.”
“What do Marines cry about?”
“Serious stuff. Probably.”
“Like when people die?”
“Like when people die.”
“Does everyone die?”
“Eventually, yes.”
“Do Marines like cake?”
“Of course they do.”  Continue reading ““Do Marines like cake?” “Does God have a butt?” Conversations with a five-year-old”

Laura Palmer and the end of the world: news of note from me

Laura Palmer and the end of the world: news of note from me

It’s Independence Day, and I am sad to be so far away from home. Instead of whining about it, though, I’d like to present you with a round-up of the interesting things I’ve done lately and which you might have missed (especially if you don’t follow my Twitter):

For example, I recently looked at the legacy of Twin Peaks in the post-Soviet world (did you know? The original show had a cult following there in the 1990s) and discussed it with Marco Werman on PRI’s The World.

I have to add that I feel like we’re really lucky that David Lynch was not interested in pandering to nostalgia when he set out to make Twin Peaks: The Return. Will hopefully be able to devote more writing to that this summer – particularly since for years I’ve been able to observe how turning nostalgia into yet another natural resource has made much of mainstream Russian culture into something sadly provincial.

Speaking of non-provincial Russian culture, however, I have also written about Andrei Zvyagintsev’s new film, Loveless, which recently premiered in Cannes. Loveless is fantastic and, I think, ultimately a much angrier movie than Zvyagintsev’s Oscar-nominated Leviathan. It’s the anger that appeals to me greatly.

Of course, my REAL big news is that The Fox Head Barks Facing Seaward, my newest short story, was published in Strange Horizons last month. I’ve had a love affair with Strange Horizons since college, and I’m really glad that it was this story in particular that has found a home there. Fox Head works as a kind of protracted echo of this earlier story, but it’s also its own thing.

Over at the Anti-Nihilist Institute, I’ve had some strong words for fake Russia experts. And the Woke Vets series has continued, with me interviewing Tim Hardin, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan (where he served as a USASOC soldier), on everything from civilian casualties to the importance of free public education.

In Politico, I discussed the recent French election in light of Russian meddling (would not have personally gone with that headline either, but I guess winning is in the eye of the beholder). I think this piece of mine on BNE actually nicely balances out the Politico one – by pointing out that Putin is not some superhuman Bond villain (though he’d like you to believe that).

Finally, I was recently on the Power Vertical with Brian Whitmore and Mark Galeotti. We started out discussing the dueling messages of the Kremlin and the Russian opposition, and wound up discussing Pornhub and the importance of political sex appeal, which is what happens when you have me on your podcast.

Walking back from the Lower East Side on a hot night

Walking back from the Lower East Side on a hot night

Walking back from the Lower East Side on a hot night, the stores have reverted to their true selves – which is to say that they are mirages now again, fragile beneath the great emptiness yawning over the streets, insides scooped out of illusion. Bars disgorge the happy and drunk and the unhappy and drunk and those who can’t make up their minds. I can’t see the stars, but the sky is dark with the knowledge of them.

You’re walking me home and I’m thinking that love doesn’t know when to quit. Love is not people. People quit every time. People roll their suitcases down the sidewalk and are swallowed up by “around the corner,” by “in the distance,” not to mention “time.” People close doors behind them. People fly in airplanes, telling the flight attendant that they want another little bottle of bad red wine, instead of telling her the truth, which is that the world is splitting wide open like a wound on either side of the airplane, the wings are scraping tissue and drawing blood, and does she know that you can quit but love doesn’t come with that option.

My feet hurt. The reality of the body has a way of intruding on historic occasions. My feet hurt but I’m telling them to suck it up. Don’t fail me now, feet. Don’t make me get into a cab.

The buildings here are superimposed on reality, on immigrants, the Lenape, settlers, glaciers, Pangea, broken before it was broken, like everything that lives in the world. I like to think that you and I will also haunt these streets, because I’m vain, and because of the way you look right now, like the light isn’t falling on you as much as it is dancing around you, like it knows things about you that I thought I knew alone. Continue reading “Walking back from the Lower East Side on a hot night”

Dress Like Water

Dress Like Water

Mr. Hodges says that not enough people come to see him and that those people who don’t should get their hides ready for a slow roast in hell. The nurse says he’s rude to put it like that, but Mr. Hodges argues that dying men don’t need manners. What can you even say to that?

I guess the fact that I come over reminds Mr. Hodges of how Billy isn’t coming over. When I say that Billy’s not around, people’s facial expressions turn complicated, and they say things like, “So he took off? He snapped?” They say it like they’ve been waiting for him to do it for a long time.

The truth is, Billy is in Louisville, he has a job and a house with a big yard, and his wife is already pregnant with their second child. Billy is solid – not snapping, breaking, cracking, or otherwise disintegrating. He just doesn’t want to see his dad. Or else he wants to see him, but feels like he can’t. He won’t say either way.

So it’s been pointed out to me that I’m not necessarily the one Mr. Hodges wants to see, but the old man’s grip on reality isn’t as tight as it used to be, so certain things he can let slide. There is also the fact that Mr. Hodges says that “a good-looking woman who knows Billy” has been to see him.

“She’s a sly one,” Mr. Hodges murmurs, eyes closed, facing the wall. “Slinks around everywhere. Her dresses look like water. I like her.”

The woman sounds awfully like the bitch Billy left me for. I’m not staking her out – but I’m staking her out.  Continue reading “Dress Like Water”