Monday, January 21, 2008

And The Oscar Goes To...

Hello. Wow. For some reason, standing here tonight before you, under the harsh glare of these stage lights, I now suddenly want to talk about my life these days. My hum-drum daily routines. About observing the old rotting rainwet wood of ruined houses, warped and peeling paint, the burgundy flakes chipping off and washing down the sidewalk, if there really were a sidewalk, if the world truly does exist, because sometimes when I’m walking, say on a pluvial Monday afternoon of umbrellas and tenebrous skies and the mooing of fog horns calling out their sad and stentorian cries, and almost getting run over by large trucks while I’m crossing the street on a green light, sometimes I look down and there is really no street there under my shoes, no plashing tap of my feet there at all, just the smoky distance of time padding in the mush of a vacuum where nothing can ever occur, and I am kind of free there for the timeless moment, which really is no moment because to have a moment of any substance you must also have time, and there is no time, just a slight budding hunch of something without substance or form creeping along the darkest borders of consciousness, like the feeble cloudy semblance of emotional transmogrifications and other piecemeal ideas of happening, things that always seem right on the cusp of happening, but never do. I stare at stop signs, the water dripping down the loudly red aluminum of their crisp and sharp flat faces and plopping slowly onto the ground, the steely glinting ways of their poles stuck like stakes into the concrete, creating gloomy shadows that look like popsicle sticks with circles of paper cut-out heads on their tops slanting and distorted by the angle of the light shaping them, stop signs that don’t work as cars slow down some and then keep going. I sit in not-so-sad cafes without ballads or music of any sort playing, watching distressed and harried faces hurrying by with purpose and a disquieting speciousness, in relentless pursuit of numismatic and unattainable things, bleary transitory and meaningless compensations for getting through another day, wearing shop-worn expressions of stale tremulous defeat, a fa├žade of content masquerading as liveliness in the atmosphere’s distillation of consumerism-as-culture shrouding these timid souls trapped in the cages of their myopia, duped into a perceived uniqueness where all change just makes them more the same. I am embarrassed of my ineffectual and inefficient modes of communication, the dry well of my personal lexicon unable to sustain even the most meager conversation. So I sit in parks, uncomfortably aloof on sodden benches of despair. I watch people walking their dogs. I see old men in tatterdemalion suits of ancient styles wander by unaware, lost in the bare rooms of gutted mansions where their memories used to live, throwing crumbs to pigeons, shifty anachronisms weighted down by senility and the desuetude of their senescence, their lapels holding the wilted remains of dead roses. I close my eyes and smile. I feel the rain start up again. It collects in the depressions of my face, gathers and forms tiny pools in the corners of my eyes and runs down my cheeks in wild rivulets like tears. It is soothing and all is right with the world. As I stand here before you, holding this oddly shaped, tin and copper statuette of gold-plated britannium standing on a black metal base, this brave and fastidious looking knight rendered in Art Deco style and holding this toy-soldier crusader’s sword, standing on a nickel-sized reel of film. As I stand here at this podium, giving this impromptu and unexpected speech, my voice filling up space into the farthest recesses and great caverns of this auditorium, a winner, though maybe to some an undeserved one, of this award of merit, I can’t think of a damn thing to say. Not because I am incapable of making speeches, and thanking people, and feeling grateful and all that other sentimental and namby-pamby jibber jabber. But because I have seen long faces with even longer scars of memories staring off into emptiness not two inches from my own face on crowded subway trains, because I have been abused by venomous tongues of insidious and malicious intent, because I could sell this award back to The Academy for a buck, because I have shopped in supermarkets at 3 a.m. and have seen those who stumble by lost in darkness under bright lights, and because I have lived as a human being in this frenzied world of consumerism, of consume or be consumed, of inveterate desiring and constant, one-after-the-other ephemeral gratifications, of unreal expectations and expensive clothes and insipid entertainment and self-centered egoism and, yes, I admit also, sad-eyed mules of men, and the pipe-dreamed hallucinations of grandeur by a deluded populace raised on television and high-fructose corn syrup. I have lived with the sad sound of waves crashing fecklessly against both sides of an oblivious continent for too long. And now I am tired. Good night.