It’s strange when you stumble upon something–a book, a movie, a person, idea–and it changes your whole concept of the world. It happened to me just now when I watched this PBS Frontline profile of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. I simply did not know that he existed. And now that I know he exists, it seems he doesn’t exist–his whereabouts have been unknown since April 3rd, with most people suspecting that the Chinese authorities are detaining him.
Below is an installation he did of 9000 children’s backpacks, a response to the children who died in poorly constructed government schools in the Sichuan province earthquake in 2008. The backpacks spell out a sentence that a mother told Ai about her daughter: “She lived happily for seven years in the world.”
What the PBS profile really gets across is that Ai puts his life in danger doing provocative, controversial things. He doesn’t mind risking his life to try to fight unjust things. At the end of the profile, the filmmaker asks Ai, “Do you ever examine yourself to say, why is it that you are so fearless compared to other people?” And he says, “I’m so fearful, that’s not fearless. I’m more fearful than other people maybe. I act more brave because I know the danger is really there. If you don’t act, the danger becomes stronger.”
I’ve got this new project. It’s about Kevin Bacon, and me, and my life. It’s about finding the purpose of my life in 90 days. It’s about how Kevin Bacon doesn’t relate to that at all, except that he’s a celebrity and therefore has all the answers to life’s big questions. It’s a satire. But it’s also my life. So it’s serious.
That’s where I’ll mostly be until July 4th. Come see me there! HelpMeBacon.com
Small moments make me happy. Like the other day when it was 4pm and I hadn’t left the house yet, so decided to walk to the corner to put a Netflix in the mailbox. Just to get out. Just to be able to say, “Yeah, I got out today.” And on the way back, I saw a man drop a one dollar bill, so I said, “You dropped a dollar!” As he picked it up, he said, “Oh, I appreciate that. That’s gonna be my lucky lottery dollar.” And I thought, wow. If I hadn’t left the house, that man would have lost that dollar forever. Someone else would be in possession of that dollar. Thank God I exist. Thank God I make such an impact on the world.
Small moments make me incredibly sad, too. Friday night I saw a one-man performance in Brooklyn. It was really good. It’s about AIDS and being about the same age as AIDS and it’s profound and funny and deeply personal and contemplative. I greatly enjoyed being in the audience. The show wasn’t even the thing that made me incredibly sad, though. It was when I got lost in Brooklyn after the show. I hate having to ask for directions. I hate not doing it all on my own. But finally I saw a woman who looked like she wouldn’t judge me for needing directions at 10pm in Brooklyn, but when I said Excuse me, she just looked at me and shook her head and kept walking. So I called after her, in this sad, little girl voice, “Do you know where the closest subway is?” She didn’t pause, she didn’t call back, she didn’t do anything. She’s so jaded by life and the city and life in this city that it’s safe for her to assume that everyone wants to harm her or take her money. She can no longer be bothered. I can’t really blame her. But it still made me cry. (Though maybe it was also a delayed release of emotion about the AIDS epidemic.)
I guess the thing about small things is who’s to say they’re small. Who’s to say that small things are not sometimes the biggest things. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t cry over spilt milk. I don’t know. In my experience, if I’m crying after spilling the milk, it’s usually because that small tragedy brings into focus all the bigger tragedies I’m dealing (or not dealing) with. Sometimes the biggest stuff is too big to wrap our heads around. You need to lose a dollar to even realize…fuck. If I don’t get a job soon I’m going to have to beg on the streets. You need to have one small shot of liquor too many to realize I have a big problem.
What am I getting at. Mmmh. You know, someone wise probably said, “Life is nothing but small things.” Or, “Sweat only in moderation.” I saw men on the street make a cardboard sign that said, “We want money for beer.” I saw a man in the subway holding a sign that said, “Unemployed college grad, cum laude, #Not Winning.” And I thought, you referenced a Charlie Sheen catch phrase and Twitter hash tags on your cardboard sign. That’s an odd choice for a cardboard sign.
I don’t think I’ll make a point. Maybe I already made one. I’m not sure. But the library closes in 30 minutes and I need to apply for some jobs before then…
Posted in America, Celebrities, Culture, Life, Thoughts, Writing
Tagged AIDS, brooklyn, charlie sheen, dan fishback, money, thirtynothing, winning