« on: March 09, 2013, 07:13:28 am »
You know, Professor Clark (can I call you Tony? Thatís how you always sign your emails, and I suppose that weíre close enough in age that it doesnít matter), itís impossible for me to give you a proper, academic response to Sonnyís Blues. Iíll at least give you this as a hook, though. There are a number of reasons why I canít do it, other than in this format.
The first thing is, this is my first semester back in college in about three years. In the meantime, and largely, even before, Iíve largely wasted my time. I am 31 years old, unmarried, underemployed, undereducated, underpaid and undersatisfied. But I havenít been nearly as bad as Mike. No, in the meantime I got involved with this group of memetic subversives that have been around since the beatnik days. So, Iím used to ranting. Iím ranting to you right now, for a grade. Even if you give me a high F, at least itís better than zero.
Itís hard to tell whatís under the surface sometimes, Tony, but sometimes the surface is all that you can go with. For instance, I walked into class sleep-deprived, after a show, unshowered, with my girlfriendís bass (note, I always wanted to be a bassist but ended up a guitarist, and I met her because she was and is my bassist in other contexts. Go figure). You asked about my guitar. I told you it was a bass. But the thing is, you were correct. I am primarily a guitarist. I always happened to be a guitarist and always happened to be someone who wanted to play bass. I never chose to be a guitarist. Anyway, what instrument I played at said gig is irrelevant. The guitar and the bass give me different types of satisfaction. And anyway, Mike was the guitarist. I was going to be the bassist and the singer. Mike was going to play guitar. You (at least) seemed to assume, that I was a musician, and that my topic here would take a largely musical tone. You were wrong and right, simultaneously.
Hereís the funny thing about Sonnyís Blues, Tony. The two most obvious themes are music and heroin. And after that, the idea that you are obligated to your relative in some way. Now, I didnít want to address music, or heroin. Those two are two obvious. What the hell else do I have? I do one and shun the other. The man who has perhaps been closer to me than any other, hasÖ Been let out. For a couple of hours. It was torture on Mary, because Mary had her own, very legitimate reasons, to be beyond ambivalent. Mary is my favorite cousin now. Mary and I understand each other, more than I and her brother Mike do. When she didnít come to the funeral, I understood.
Ö.Mike and I were always going to be together. Forever. Mike and I were Mike and Kevin, Kevin and Mike. Mike is my maternal cousin. Mike and I were going to go places. We were going to be rock stars. I was going to play bass and sing. He was going to play guitar. He started taking heroin young. And I wish I never read this story.
Mikeís in rehab now, and I donít mind telling you that Iím crying my fucking eyes out. And Iím crying because he chose to go there. Finally. The worst part was though, he has limited visitation. Heís now becoming aware of how divorced he is from us. Nanaís death wasÖ I hope it doesnít bother him. Iím going to leave you off soon, Tony, because I hate Sonnyís Blueís and never want to talk about it again if I can help it. Itís all a little too close to home, except for the Black Harlem thing. I feel like I have to side with someone, either Sonny or the Narrator, and I canít. I canít understand the ďGonna shoot up because music hurtsĒ musician thing (Load of bollocks by the way. If it hurts anything other than your fingers or other people, you need to stop playing immediately). I canít understand the, ďwell what are you going to do with your life thing.Ē I canít understand people who give up.
But most importantly I canít understand Mike. Not because I donít get him. I donít get his choices. I donít get why you would ever want to shoot shit into you via needle. On the other hand, I am a smoker. Mike and I are both hard leftists. Weíre both musicians with similar tastes. But heís the whole reason why music means nothing to me in this paper, even though music, to me, is food.
The last time I saw Mike in person, is when my now ex-girlfriend was trying to boot him out and he kept adding vodka to his coffee. That was a long time ago. I hope to see Mike at hisÖ completely different self in about a year. Perhaps, after he gets dental insurance, because, well, because, he made his, otherwise pacifist and physically weaker, cousin want to beat the shit out of him.