I find myself making truly awkward small talk on purpose because I have learned over the years that there is a certain banter
Lighthearted topical and noncontroversial
that puts and keeps people at ease and I no longer give it much thought anymore since it just happens now
I hear myself and cringe at how insipid I sound to myself but it is the price I have chosen to pay to fit in and be regular folk sometimes like people are
Invisible and gray and according to systems and norms and the rules
I find I do it not for my ease but for the comfort of others so they do not have to try to figure me out on their own but I give simple cues and clues that mostly serve as a reflection
a chameleon holding a mirror to a mirror
Because they cannot figure me out because I am never going to allow it because I never want to be figured out by anyone without my explicit permission
I am a stingy gray shadow on an overcast day when nobody is watching
Yet a certain few will see through the knots and venture deeper against odds and shields and all manner of diversionary tactic and know the things I wanted them to know all along
Q: Dear Ty,
I recently noticed that the SNL skit with [sic] Garret Morris singing about killing all the whiteys he sees:
...sounds a lot like the original Captain America theme song:I don't think I can look at Captain America the same way again. What can I do to overcome this so I can once again enjoy watching Captain America fight evil?Sincerely,
–Disgruntled Avengers Fan
Ty: Hi. I know, it's been more than a year. But I maintain busy times.
Anyway, good question and an even better observation, DAF. Egads! You're right. There is enough of a melodic similarity between the Captain America cartoon theme and Garrett Morris' Saturday Night Live skit where he sings, Gonna Get Me a Shotgun, to make this appear to be more than a coincidence.
That SNL skit was aired on January 24, 1976. Captain America cartoon? 1966. Interesting. The sixes.
"When Captain America throws his mighty shield."
"I'm gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I see."
There is so much that can be said about this, but you asked a specific question. DAF, you want to know what can you do to overcome this melodic similarity so you can again enjoy watching Captain America fight evil. I guess you don't equate shotgun murdering white Americans with the good captain throwing his mighty shield around. You know, where, "All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield."
That's some serious hard core vigilante-dictator-USA-might-is-right Americanism there. The same sort of hard core vigilante-dictator-USA-might-is-right Americanism that brought us slavery, segregation, economic oppression, stop and frisk, and stand your ground. And not to mention the whole death penalty yes/abortion no, no means yes frat boy "there will never be a nigger at SAE" nonsense.
Sure, Garrett Morris and the SNL writers were trying to shock 1976 America into thinking along with some laughing, but there was thinking involved. Cerebral comedy. The Captain America stuff? Cartoonish propaganda (where the good captain is throwing his American might at these shadowy figures...).
Now I do not ever advocate shotgun murder of anyone. Never. I'm a peaceful guy. But I also don't advocate the murder of unarmed blacks by police and frightened gun fanatics. Throwing a shield at evil black shadows? Yeah, that's cool. For a cartoon.
What can you do to enjoy your cartoons again, DAF? Just enjoy your old cartoon with the knowledge that they're cartoons. It's not real. It's a TeeVee show that kind of shapes young minds into thinking America equals good and white America equals great. Have some cereal too. But, whenever you watch your cartoon, also think of slavery and oppression. Think of these folks too: [clicky]
People in 1976 totally got the humor of Garrett Morris' SNL song. Forty years later, not so much.
Just a guess.
My friend the author-with-an-agent said I should write
That the excerpt I read over coffee was beautiful
Of course I did my thing where I changed the subject
and said irreverent nonsense pointing needles elsewhere
My friend later brought it up again calling me out for
intentionally changing the station mid-song
Why? Continued unfazed by my sleight
From their perspective this made no sense at all
I said something about allies and patronage
And how my ultimate goal in art has always been to
reach what I can now call Audience Zero
where I can produce in purity and in peace
I discovered long ago that the jones
was driven by the processes and not by the outcomes
I learn as much from conceiving as I do from constructing
All work became complete in my head first
When finally nobody listens and nobody cares
When the voices within are the unedited broadcast production
I will know that I have followed my perfect instinct
I will know that I have spent a lifetime becoming a ghost
My name is Ty and I am fifty years old.*
I know fifty sounds really old and scary. But I am here to assure you that it is neither of those things if you don’t want it to be. I have felt pretty much the same since I was nineteen, specifically, but that is largely because I had to grow up quickly. It is amazing how the perception of time has accelerated. Remember when you were a child and the summer felt like The Odyssey? That doesn’t last. Context is your dear friend and your mortal enemy.
I am the very same person I’ve always been in many ways. At least since I can remember being me. Of course we are always in a state of constant change so it is just as accurate to say that I am as much the same now as I am totally different from who I was at, say, twenty-one. I remember being twenty-one and realizing that I had fulfilled a large chunk of my youthful dreams. I had to learn how to reinvent. And I believe I might be at another reinvention point now.
What’s different now than thirty? At thirty I felt complete but I had no idea that I wasn’t even close. At fifty I am finally settling into being a whole person (just as all the parts begin to fail). I am similarly feeling complete but now I know that I will never get close. Blessings and curses, Ignorance versus awareness.
Unfortunately, I cannot begin to forecast how I might feel at eighty. But, to be honest, I couldn’t and didn’t forecast how fifty might feel thirty years ago. Looking far ahead is not a pleasant thing to do anymore. Getting truly old, sickly, brittle, poor and vulnerable is terrifying. As I’ve learned from my elders, aging sucks. I think I have aches and pains now? I ain’t even begun to pay those dues. I think some young folks are sketchy now? I do not look forward to fearing them. I may have some plateau years ahead but it’s going to be more chutes than ladders soon enough.
But, fifty? Irrefutable cake walk from my perspective. My advice to you kids: enjoy yourselves. I know it sounds cliche as hell but, seriously, the ride will be over before you even realize it begun. Maybe this is more warning than advice, more “Ty talking to you in the future” style.
Customize everything. Optimize everything. Simplify everything.
It is the very same question
Posed over and over
About how to pull the
very next maneuver
History’s evidence clearly
dictates the careful approach
Time seems an ally
A non-depleting well of plenty
There’s something else
Something deeper and wider
than the invincibility of youth
When you can see it first appear
As sails on the horizon
You realize that time is a liar
who has always hated you
* Late October
I work harder than anyone would ever imagine
I am lazier than you think
My patience is dead shot
I am frighteningly intelligent
I am disciplined
I think I am better
I’ve heard it all before
All of it
So much of it I have heard before
Enough that all of it
good or bad
doesn't register anymore
Very few deeply know me
And I could hardly care about that
I know my role
I produced the character
I will direct it
I make everything better
I nudge and adjust
Only the best courses of action
I make it all up as I go
without regard to rules
I built this world
Own this level
Paid my taxes
I have opinions about everything
And share them sparingly
I have no qualms
I compete to win