Names are important. Always have been. Always will be.
I’ve hated the name StereoTyping for a long time. When I started this blog, I envisioned a music blog – in the style of Nialler 9, egoeccentric or Off Her Rocker – and so the name StereoTyping was entirely appropriate. And, I thought, rather witty. You listen to music on a stereo and I was going to be typing about. StereoTyping. See? Hilarious.
But the idea of this blog quickly changed and for a long time the name hasn’t fit. I’m not saying all the problems with this blog – the inconsistencies, the absence of new posts for weeks at a time – are directly down to the blog but I realised it plays a significant part. It embarrasses me and so I’m embarrassed by the blog itself, discouraging me from writing in it. Then when I do get around to writing something, it’s very often a self-indulgent, introspective rant about the nature of the blog. And I’ve had enough.
It’s time for a fresh start, a blank slate with a better name where I can do what I want without feeling like certain topics or themes don’t “fit”.
So from now on, you’ll find me here – I Bought A Little City.
Will I post more regularly now? I hope so. I like to think so. I have ideas to keep it going and I feel good about it. So we’ll see.
By the way, the name is a short-story written by Donald Barthelme. It’s not the greastest the story I’ve ever read (though it is pretty good) but there’s just something about that sentence that is just so pretty to me; perfect in it’s simplicity.
They had – in all the wisdom of a D’Unbelievables commit-TEE – hired the wedding planner to do the job. To festoon the park in lights and glitter, to construct a family-friendly winter wonderland in a park normally populated by emos and winos.
It should have come as little surprise then, having seen his television show, that it would become a hellish Disney meets Vegas version of Christmas. The pathway is lit by garish purple fairy lights – hundreds of them – casting an unhealthy glow on everyone walking through. Small elf houses litter the park as post-boxes for Santa while – inexplicably – Peter Pan and Tinkerbell run around entertaining (but usually scaring) children. Apparently they work for Santa, though I don’t remember that ever being mentioned in the book. Perhaps all the Santa costumes had already been hired. A machine, only barely hidden in the bare branches of one of the thin trees, sprays foam in a poor attempt at snow. But worst of all, speakers hanging from every tree blast out a playlist of only three songs on repeat. They sound as if they’ve been lifted from sub-Disney animated movies, sickeningly saccharine and bland in their Americanism. Only one is an actual Christmas song – a chipmunks (honest to god) and girl version of ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’. The other two are simply vapid songs about being nice. Or something. One can’t help but wonder what Christmas is like in his house.
I’ve barely taken my jacket off when she approaches. I know she’s drunk before she even speaks; her sleepy blink and unsteadiness are dead giveaways. She shyly apologises for embarrassing herself at the Saul Williams gig, only glancing at my face a few times while fixing her unfocused gaze somewhere around my chest. For a moment, I have no idea what she was talking about before dimly remembering her telling me – drunk then too – that she always saw me around town. I do now what I did then and shake my head – smiling – and gesture that it’s fine. But she reiterates her apology. Several times. I grow insistent, ensuring her that she didn’t embarrass herself and everything is good. Eventually, she seems satisfied with her apology and my acceptance, but still she stands there. She looks me up and down. Her eyes are a very pretty blue, surrounded by dark eyeliner. Her face is young and delicate but dulled by the alcohol. Her hair is a long shock of black wavy hair, but one part of it – on her left side – is bleached yellow. My friends behind her are sniggering into their drinks as I stand, trapped.
Surrounded by quiet terraced houses on an empty square, the old tall bell tower of Red Abbey shelters the Holy Family. The sight can catch you unawares as you turn the corner, walking home in the small hours. The square is dark, deserted and enclosed by sleep, but there stand a couple, caged and floodlit, staring at the baby with their ragged robes quivering in a breeze.
Up close, Joseph’s hand is too big and his face has begun to peel. So too has Mary’s. Jesus stares out into the night, with big black empty eyes and a serene look on his face. He actually looks sinister and unsettling. They’re joined by sheep, with sprayed-white hay for wool and shapeless papier-mache heads. One stands on stool legs, the others lie – legless – in the hay and on the stone floor.
I have no compulsion to pray; those beliefs left a long time ago. But I think about the story of that family and wonder about the people who made this simple, stark nativity. I’m jolted from my thoughts by a drunk group behind me, laughing and singing, their voices echoing sharply around the cold square. I tighten my scarf and walk away.
For the last two months I’ve been reading ‘American Psycho‘ by Brett Easton Ellis. It doesn’t usually take me this long to get through a book but I tend to have to stop for a while every time the character takes another girl home, slices up her sexual organs, chainsaws her in half and has sex with her entrails. I’m a bit of a wuss that way. In between those scenes, the book is fantastic – the character of Bateman is hugely compelling and the world Ellis has created is both alien and familiar, attractive and repulsive. In the morally ambiguous, superficial and self-centred society Bateman inhabits, it’s no wonder he acts the way he does.
But, when I started reading it, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it all felt very familiar; as if I had read it before even though I knew I hadn’t. It wasn’t until maybe 60 pages in that I realised that Paul Howard had lifted the style of the book and applied it to Ross O’Carroll-Kelly. It made perfect sense: both worlds share that shallow, label-obsessed materialism. But for the next 50 pages, I couldn’t shake the image of Bateman just being Ross in a suit and living in late-80’s New York. Very distracting.
I always feel I should apologise when I haven’t been blogging in a while, but to the few who read this regularly, I doubt it bothers them that much. But the guilt remains, so to no one in particular – I apologise.
I suppose it boils down to not having much to say lately and being too lazy to come up with anything. I’ve also been pretty bad with keeping in contact with people these days, even for me. I suppose it’s some general malaise that I’m doing my best to shake out of now. So this week I have emails and texts to send and social networking sites to update and a personal aim of 5 blogposts by next Sunday.
Oh, Mr. Empty-promises-to-myself, you are so easy to make.
I haven’t written here in a little while. I’ve been a little distracted from the blog lately by other activities and I’ve been investing my writing energy in a little project that I hope will come to fruition soon. I’ll tell you about that when the time is right. But that’s not what is important right now.
I’ve spent tonight in a small living room with 17 other people, watching CNN and waiting for what we wanted to hear. Unfortunately, I was in the taxi home when the channels called it but I raced upstairs, disturbing my parents sleep to see the reaction of a nation. I have hoped for this moment for well over a year and I’m so giddy now that it’s come. Read more…