Monday, September 9, 2013
In the midst of the new American depression/recession, whatever you want to call it, I think many of us have “turned on” the focus to our interpersonal relationships and “turned off” the cable news, a destructive temporary brain pacifier that runs short quickly. Instead, we’re left looking at ourselves and relationships, are they strategic marriages? Financial convenience? The impending fear of loneliness? Do I need a new girl to answer my problems; am I a relic living in the past? These heavy themes are present in an insanely quick read that is rich in detail. The type of phone conversation you disconnect on, when your significant other comes in the room because you don’t want them to know what you’re talking about and who you’re talking about it with.
Regardless of politics and new taxes, we still have our everyday survival and human needs bullshit to contend with usually in a not so tidy format. Strangers scream and acquaintances bleed their emotions. We don’t feel like talking, we don’t want to chit chat, and we seek solitude because the noises of anxiety in these unreliable times are so goddamn deafening. Essington’s character study of the older man with the younger woman is poetic, haunting, and sub textual vampire tale. Older women will say as their “man” grows older they will inevitably seek a younger woman, but I always wondered if the catch was that the woman making this statement was at one time herself the 24 year old seeking the older man as a pacifier for the lack of wisdom found in her peer group at that time. I guess that doesn’t apply to all, but I was pretty damn clueless at 24 and had nothing to offer except napalm, venom, and a one night stand.
Authors Michael Essington and David Gurz examine this spectrum of complexities in relationships with a study of failure, lack of satisfaction with life in their unique chapbook. “Street Lamp” is a split endeavor by both authors (limited edition in its printing run for you collectors out there). Essington is an L.A. staple is his signature writing style of adding warmth to sometimes cold and difficult topics, while emotionally connecting with his readers. David Gurz, from Pennsylvania, paints a scenario and dilemma within relationships of obsessions both mental and chemical. Those of us who grew up immersed in punk culture can relate to the “like-minded” girlfriend, who has the same reliance on “old” music and perceived “life changing” punk events of the past only available anymore through mind altering substances.
Those old punk zines and records seem to be replaced by deadlier vices in the future as we we slowly forget what types of freedom we were seeking in the first place. Having grown up in Harrisburg, PA myself, I remember these types of girlfriend conversations and realized the only way to avoid the certain “local” death (by knowing the same people for way too long) of that state was to get the fuck out, anyway I could. Which would become a 5 year process of me apartment hopping, going homeless, and eventually landing on the shores of California, due to blindfolded risk taking.
Maybe the past is better for some, when the future is uncertain, but it also makes for a pretty boring existence in my opinion. Both authors offer an array of erratic sparks to ignite introspection of what makes us tick anymore, if anything at all. Instead of burning it all down, without including ourselves in the fire, we just live in a loop that will eventually drive us insane. I get annoyed too, with the solutions out there consisting of rehab, therapy, spirituality, and blah blah blah. A healthy ego and sense of self give us an exit but there’s only room for one. A conundrum? Not if you have the fearlessness to not care what others think, moving forward without looking back. Trust me, you don’t have to turn around, because those unpleasant tasting memories will cling to your subconscious like Krazy glue. I’ll leave you with a reading by Michael Essignton and link to this compelling book, while it lasts.
-Kevin McGovern, Fear & Loathing LB (new issue online)
Under a Broken Street Lamp