I've been thinking a lot about what to say to my brother this year. "Thank you for your service"? (Over text message because he never picks up his phone, which I try not to take personally?)
I want to acknowledge what he did, or what was done to him, or what he was made to do, without turning it into some kind of ra ra ra you mess with the bull now feel the horns an eye for an eye etc etc. There isn't a flag hanging outside my house or a yellow ribbon decal stuck on the back of my car, and I doubt I'll be watching the parade. In fact I'll probably be at the Genius Bar requesting a repair of the iPhone I accidentally smashed to bits in a parking lot. I suppose it's appropriate: he'll think of the friends he lost in combat and I'll think of the $110 I lost because I dropped something. My life is easy and his is immeasurably difficult. I know, we all have our struggles and demons. But there are orders of magnitude separating us.
Cracked glass triggers a memory: he punches through the picture of his Recruit Training Battalion that my father had framed for him as a surprise one New Year's eve. That's how he felt about being a marine. Victimized by his own decision, maybe. Enraged at himself. We all hated that anger at the time, but now I think it was a symbol of strength and willfulness, a sign that he refused to be broken down and rebuilt in someone else's protagonistic image.
When my brother was about to enlist a friend of ours said something like "this isn't fucking Braveheart." My brother looked to me to sort out his confusion. My parents called me l'avvocato, the lawyer, because I always took his side, pled his case. I told him to join.
My Aunt scoured the internet for news of my brother's location, which we didn't ever know, while he was away. One day she came upon a picture, marines dug into the side of a road, armed to the teeth. She zoomed in. There was our name on the back of a helmet. I wrote over it but it still shows through.
I'm sorry for everything that you've lost, I want to say. Not thank you, or way to go, or job well done. And I want to say that I am sorry for every selfish part of myself, that is like every selfish part of every other person, that means there need to be jobs like the one you made yourself do. And I'm sorry for being ungrateful and naive and wishing that job away when I'm supposed to be celebrating it.
I thought it would be clever to say hello with a recent performance picture, taken by a student who was gracious enough to travel from Princeton to Long Island City to watch my Queens New Music Festival set.
There's video from that performance on my news and, um, video pages. Right now it's just "Blip-hop," but I'll have the longer piece (The Exchange) up pretty soon as well. Also, "Blip-hop" is likely not the real name of the song. Maybe "Things As They Are"? Because "Blip-hop" is kind of tech-y, and was devised before I wrote any words. Which I did on an airplane on the way to Seattle.
It's good to blog again! It's been quite awhile since I really said anything on my other blog,called Thank You Campaign, about to be buried. I'm sad/happy about that. A closing of a door, a new beginning, nostalgia for the idea that the whole crew would work together somehow, that I could instigate some giant collective enterprise. Now I fly solo. Except for everybody else.
The big question is whether blogging will replace 750 words. Which is a great idea, and which I have been doing, and which you should do, too. The other big question is whether I will really return to blogging at all. The first time it felt like there was just so much to say, with my brother being in a war, my family divided over it, my head in turmoil. I needed a valve. I don't feel the same imperative to write now, but maybe just setting out a few things every now and again will be helpful or entertaining or meaningful to someone, sometime. We'll just have to see.
The Aphex rerelease (Selected Ambient Works 2) has been spinning and spinning over here. I'm sorry to have missed it the first time around, but grateful to be getting to know it now. Don't tell my students, or bosses, that I linked to Wikipedia.
Good things are happening over here. Making records, writing the SoSI piece, getting ready for Wassaic, reengaging the old manuscript. And saying these things out loud, so to speak, committing them to print, so to speak.