Mothers and Mentors
Jon Iverson once commented that my writing was of an intellectual sort. Misunderstanding him, perhaps only slightly, I disagreed. I've never thought of myself as an intellectual, I thought. Emotional, yes. But, intellectual?
Now, however, I think I see a little bit better.
As I write this, I've become suddenly aware that the words are taking me into suites I meant not to visit. I'll go along, however, maybe to find that special magical connection or some fine tweak.
For the moment, following the words like following the sound of music around the Alexis Villas, I'll say this: there isn't necessarily a direct relationship between the intellectual and the profound. Profound, I am not.
Even a little bit deep? Not so much.
However, I am something of a thoughtful fuck. I have a certain kind of emotional intelligence. I'm a sensitive dude; no secret there. I spend a good amount of energy each day holding back a flood of silly tears, choking on a torrent of mad laughter, or simply dying to confess my love.
I want to punch walls, hold hands, squeeze tits. I want to fill rooms with chandelier-shattering high-end wail and drop floors with thick low-end boom. I want to wrap myself like a string of golden lights around the tallest electrostatic speaker and shoot off into the cobalt blue sky like a giant Les Paul. I want to sing and scream like a billion bells and whistles all crying at once, stealing your money and making you love me. Sometimes, I'd like to be outrageous, obnoxious, and irresistible like a deck of playing cards covered in porn and scattered all along Paradise Road. Other times, I'd rather be small, quiet, and alone; a little boy drowning in an enormous orange beanbag. Most of the time, these days, I just want to be wherever it is that you are, following your blue eyes, keeping time with your smile.
At the moment, I'm at McCarran Airport, sitting against an enormous plane of glass, planes of the other sort taxiing in behind me. The sun is scattered across my skin and is breaking off into a million different directions. Behind a silver wall, leap the warbling sounds of slot machines, buzzers and zings. A couple to my left sit closely, whispering to one another, sharing a newspaper. On the ceiling are a hundred fluorescent fingertips, like silent sunrays, holding everything together and emitting a certain deliberate energy into the room. They are punctuated by more slot machines, as if slot machines were the center of the universe. Or, at least, the center of Las Vegas.
Now finally now I am overflowing with thoughts. None too deep, none too profound. But thoughts, nevertheless. I can hardly keep up. Wes mentioned that, when asked his impressions of the show during one of many late dinners, he had no adequate response. He had been too busy working covering the events, taking notes, and shaking hands to process an opinion. Perhaps I suffered a bit of that, too. Jon mentioned that, for every good show the Grateful Dead played, there were at least two or three dreadful shows. But it was the process, you see. It was that moment when all things collided, like a bunch of lightning fingertips in the center of the room that crazy moment when the guitar riff shot directly into the middle of your brain that moment was all that mattered, that moment was worth your money, worth all of the horrible shows. And, so, it's as much, or more, about the process as it is about the product; the journey as much as the destination. And do I even ever really want to get to the destination? No. Not if it means the end of learning, the end of growing even if it means the end of making mistakes. No.
But what do I know? I'm still trying to figure myself out. For awhile, there, at CES, I felt very much out of place. But, I wasn't out of place, at all. I was just in a slightly different place. Working things out.
At one point, towards the end of the show, Ken Kessler came up to me wrapped in wind, vibrating in vinyl, and holding closely to a rolling suitcase filled tight with the stories of 400 trade shows. He asked me: "So, Stephen, anything here change your life?"
My face went blank and white, I'm sure. "Change my life?" I repeated, adding only the question mark to the end. "No. At least, I don't think so. Maybe I just haven't realized it yet."