Tuesday, June 29, 2004



I met Pam on the corner of 31st and Union (700 W), circa 10 PM last night, after walking down Archer to Chinatown, sitting for an hour, rereading Urbàntasm, sipping Green Tea and Hong Kong coffee, and chewing Pork and Shrimp Dumpling Soup, on the way home.

She caught my glance as I walked along, and said, "Got a bit to read?" My pile was one-hundred pages thick.

She sat on the steps of a derelict business and smoked her cigarette.

She seemed vaguely Appalahian, but pure Bridgeport as well.

I told her I was a writer.

She told me about her son, how I'd finished law school and joined a law firm at which he made $150 (thousand) a year. he left.

"'It's not worth the money,' he says," she said.

He went down south and took up teaching law in grad school. Some sort of MA/PhD arrangement.

I told her I was just trying to get by until I had something published.

She offered some words of encouragement, flicked her cigarette halfway across the street, and asked me what my name was, so she'd know what to look for in bookstores.

I said, "Connor Coyne. And you are...?"

"Pam," she said.

We shook hands, and she walked off east.

I walked west, toward the illuminated ruin of Halsted, and on along 31st, a spectacular street, all bricks and greenery, florists and bleached tenements, until it reached the canal and Archer.

And then I walked the rest of the way home.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Free Booze / T-Shirts?


Time's almost up, kids.

You've got until 11:59:59 Wednesday to email me a 1-2 page essay on the superiority of ninjas or pirates.

The price is good: an appropriate T-Shirt or fifth of fine rum/sake.

~ Connor

Briefly low-key


I hope to post the photos of my nightwalk tonight. I've got them transfered to disk, so it should be relatively simple.

Thursday was my last day at work. It went well; I stayed until 10 PM, to make it a 40-hour week. Even so, I did not make as much progess as I had hoped, but then during the week my attention had continually been diverted from the filing by the purge. The filing suffered in the end.

Lola picked me out a beautiful lemon cream cake, and every signed a beautiful card of Buckingham fountain.

The next morning, I went to the Hyde Park borders, and researched grad schools. I realized I should've begun my "process" in February. Now I have to enroll for the GRE right away, and forge ahead in my search. *Sigh*.

One grad school.
One wedding.
One year.

On Saturday, I met early with Elisabeth and we went to Kopi Cafe and made plans for Occlusion. They will be exciting. You will see...
We then met Jessica, Meridith, and Matt day at Fahrenheit 9/11.
That night I got a little tipsy and fired off several emails to Micahel Moore.

On Sunday, I walked down to the Point, read, and got incredibly sunburned. I walked to the Medici for a late breakfast, visited with Jessica, went to church, and went back to Jessica's again to watch The Silence of the Lambs for the first time ever.

I enjoyed it very much, but it didn't frighten me, which was a bit of a surprise and a disappointment.

I returned to McKinley Park, and here I am now, nursing my burning back and Being Productive.

~ Connor

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11: Deep Water


"...it may be that the confusions trailing Mr. Moore's narrative are what make "Fahrenheit 9/11" an authentic and indispensable document of its time."
- A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"At its best, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is an impressionist burlesque of contemporary American politics that culminates in a somber lament for lives lost in Iraq."
- Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

"...few films can claim to reflect as potently this tumultuous, polarizing American age."
- Ed Bradley, The Flint Journal

* * * * *


And there you have it: the one common point of reference between the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Let me make this clear: Fahrenheit 9/11 told me absolutely nothing I hadn't heard before. It only educated me in the sense of a few clarifications, and even those I must reexamine and cross-examine before I accept them without reservation.

It has nothing to do with suspecting Michael Moore of falsehood.
It, rather, is an impulse to follow my father's advice to "scrutinize arguments with which you agree."
And I agree with Moore's argument almost whole-heartedly.

* * * * *


The movie educated me very little.

It moved me greatly.

Not the score. The score was often irritating. It weakened Moore's argument.

Not Moore's occasional antics and moralizing. That weakened his argument as well.


Indifference that canot be feigned.
Grief that cannot be feigned.
That moved me.

* * * * *


On the way out, I commented that I enjoyed the movie, and Elisabeth answered "I don't think of it as enjoying it, but as a tool."

As a tool for the left, for the democrats, for the anti-Bush league, the film is valuable.
It also leaves some things to be desired.

On the one hand, most of Moore's facts and many of his assertions are well-substantiated by multiple sources.
The film's most galvanizing moments are straight from the source itself: the conduct of our elected officials, the thoughts and feelings of soldiers of the field, Iraqi civilians, and families on the homefront.
Fence-sitters who sit through to the end may be compelled to reexamine their past support or complicity towards Bush and the war.

All that said, Moore is most vulnerable where credibility is concerned. A blockbuster-worthy musical score, jokes and humerous juxtapositions, and occasional leaps of interpretation all raise doubts about Moore as a critical observer. This will not sit well with an already-skeptical audience.

Moore has made no secret of his hope that this film will help push the election toward Kerry.
To this end he has exercised more restraint than usual... but even so, I wonder if he exercised enough.

* * * * *


The film is nevertheless genius, and probably in a way that Moore did not intend or predict.

This has occured to me gradually since I saw it, but I think I am finally able to express what I'm thinking.

The Flint Journal, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, all in their different takes on Fahrenheit 9/11 draw their attention to a permeating sense of confusion, contradiction, and turmoil. Moreover, they state that this sense is somehow reflective of our nation's present dilemma.

And here is where Fahrenheit 9/11, taken as one whole beast will be felt most powerfully.
This is not the craftily-edited attack of Roger and Me, nor is it the carefully deployed argument outlined in Bowling for Colubine. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a Frankenstein that somehow escaped its creator's control and exerts a broader and deeper power than a simple indictment of the Bush administration.

If I seem to move by dramatic flair, let me outline what I'm thinking:

Michael Moore conceived this project as an attack on the Bush administration based on its most prominent and controversial arc: the leadup to 9/11 and its fallout through to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Moore has also conceived this project for mainstream consumption; he's not happy with disenfranchised autoworkers or Naderites anymore. He wants fence-sitters to vote against Bush.

But mainstream America won't sit through a four hour documentary on anything.
A four hour documentary would be barely adequate to make the argument he wants to make.

His narrative sequence seems to clearly set up a cause-and-effect relationship between events.
But he cannot develop the connections in the time he has allotted himself. Furthermore, he cannot separate his own emotion from the charges he is making.
So we are, in the end, possibly convinced that the Bush administration was motivated by greed, that our government has behaved with incompetence and irresponsibility, and that the burden has been shouldered by innocent Americans and Iraqis.

Everything else is up for grabs.

Fahrenheit 9/11 leaves us stranded at a point of doubt, uncertainty, and shifting points of reference.
There is no place to stop and take root.
How, after all, are we able to verify anything, when our government, our media, and our oldest political traditions are all revealed at their most flawed and problematic?
How deep is the water in which we swim?
Have we any way of knowing, treading water out here alone?

Inasmuch as the scattered doubt inflicted upon the Bush administration is damaging, I think this movie may well achieve its intended effect.

But the sense of inertia and confusion, I think, is not a deliberate vehicle.
At some point Michael Moore stopped designing a film and the film structured itself.

How can we trust?

Who needn't we doubt?

It's what we've been worried about all along.

In the (paraphrased) words of one anonymous man in Fahrenheit 9/11: "You can't trust anyone you don't know... actaully, you can't even trust anyone you do know."

~ Connor

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Michael Moore: Temperature Rising





I don't believe in judging something prematurely, or rather, I think judgment should be restrained in proportion to firsthand knowledge.
Still, so many issues of importance to me are brought to bear in both this particular film and in Michael Moore's career as a whole.

Let me summarize my take on Moore so far.

Flint made his career. Even though his projects have each been more successful than the last, it was Roger and Me that "launched" him. It also made him despised by not only conservatives, but most of Flint's socially conservative Democrats.
As Andrew Heller beautifully states: "it could be that he's not even aware that half the people around here resent the psychological and economic impact "Roger & Me" has had. (It's an arguable point: Did the movie in part cause GM - which certainly is capable of corporate resentment - to move more jobs out of town and fewer in?)"

As a senior in high school, Moore was described to me as a deceptive, manipulative, self-serving ego-maniac (with little justification for such pride) who dumped on one of America's third-world cities; his own city, profited from it, and flew to greener pastures. Gee... kind of like GM.
And as a senior in high school, I more-or-less hated the man and his movie before I had seen either.

Roger and Me is beyond manipulative and biased; it is often incorrect and occasionally flagrantly deceptive. Events are depicted out-of-context and sometimes years out of order... the layoffs Moore examines were spread out over a decade, not three years... many of the failed initiatives and civic projects were conceived, funded, and even executed prior to major GM withdrawal. This is all true.

After seeing the damn film five times in four years, however, I began to see another side. I began to make concessions that didn't forgive its faults, but mitigated them. His inexperience and lack of mature collaboration, his limited resources, and his lack of formal training all played a part. However, one concession trumped the others: the film's intended scale.

What most critics of Roger and Me failed to consider was that it was never intended for a national audience. Roger and Me, while he certainly drove it as far as it would go, was filmed primarily to galvanize and unify progressive unionists (a dying breed) in Michigan. This audience would've been familiar with the liberties Moore was taking... they would've felt the emotional punch his rhetorics inspire, but attached relatively little importance to when AutoWorld was built, or what Anita Bryant really thought about homosexuals.

This fact alone, I believe, forgives much of Roger and Me.

I still dislike the film.
I am convinced it has injured Flint in both tangible and intangible ways.
I am also convinced its flaws were more a product of error than malice.

Bowling for Columbine struck me with another truth about Moore's career. His maturation and precision as a documentarian must be accelerated by his growing popularity.

I commented in an email today: 'While many people seized upon the credibility problems for Bowling for Columbine, I was thinking, "wow, this is such an improvement over Roger and Me. It's much more objective and balanced."'

The fact that so much of his audience that had accepted Roger and Me unconditionally objected to comparative trifles (eg. the presentation of homicide statistics as raw numbers and not per capita) astounded me. I realized not only that Flint was truly disenfranchised and in cultural isolation, but more importantly, that people tend to observe both politics and history globally, not locally.

My sense (and hope) is that Moore realizes this as well. A subject of national prominence may attract more attention, but with more attention comes additional scrutiny.
In the last year-and-a-half (ever since that weird oscar acceptance speech) he's been more serious, direct, and rigorous than I've ever seen him.

Fahrenheit 9/11 might not disappoint me in this regard.

A New York Times article on the subject reads: "He also hired outside fact-checkers, led by a former general counsel of The New Yorker and a veteran member of that magazine's legendary fact-checking team, to vet the film. And he is threatening to go one step further, saying he has consulted with lawyers who can bring defamation suits against anyone who maligns the film or damages his reputation."

So what are my feelings on Fahrenheit 9/11 going in?

I have high hopes.

And what are my feelings for Michael Moore?

He means well.
He's gotten a lot better.
Some day I'd like to meet the most fascinating personality to make it big from my home shithole.

Anything else?


Moore's critics have a tendency to, as Moore himself has said, not see the forest for the trees.

This makes sense; his critics have always been at their strongest there. It's easy to argue that some one is devious, is manipulative, plays to the lowest common denominator... is fat. We've mastered this by the age of eight... it's a capable defense that we can always fall back upon, and Moore makes himself vulnerable.

The challenge I'd give to my conservative friends, and the challenge I'd give to myself in 12th grade is this:


Did Bush and his administration deceive us?
Did they deceive us?
Did they deceive us?
Did they deceive us?

That is the more important question.

One that affects us far more than whether or not this one filmmaker happens to be an asshole.

~ Connor

While you're waiting


I got this from Embeth.

If I were a month, I would be: April
If I were a time of day, I would be: Twilight
If I were a planet, I would be: Neptune
If I were a sea animal, I would be: Sea Anemone
If I were a direction, I would be: East
If I were a piece of furniture, I would be: A hammock
If I were a sin, I would be: Blasphemy
If I were a historical figure, I would be: Andy Kaufman, Antonin Artaud, or Paul of Tarsus
If I were a stone, I would be: Pumice
If I were a tree, I would be: A willow, ash, or linden
If I were a bird, I would be: Blue Jay
If I were a tool, I would be: An inclined plane. No. Just kidding. A crobar.
If I were a flower, I would be: Lilacs
If I were a kind of weather, I would be: Thunderstorm
If I were a mythical creature, I would be: Cherubim... but only if I got to be like Progonoskes. Failing that, an elf, high fantasy style.
If I were a musical instrument, I would be: Bongo drum.
If I were an animal, I would be: A squirrel monkey
If I were a color, I would be: Violet
If I were an emotion, I would be: Passion
If I were a vegetable, I would be: Mushroom. Oops. I mean a tomato. Oops. A radish?
If I were a sound, I would be: Distortion
If I were a car, I would be: A 1990 Red Saturn SL
If I were a movie, I would be directed by: P.T. Anderson
If I were a book, I would be written by: Zora Neale Hurston
If I were a place, I would be: Flint
If I were a material, I would be: Cotton
If I were a taste, I would be: Coffee
If I were a scent, I would be: Musk
If I were a religion, I would be: The Universal church
If I were a word, I would be: Occlusion
If I were an object, I would be: A medium-sized branch.
If I were a body part, I would be: Eye.
If I were a facial expression, I would be: Sigh.
If I were a subject in school, I would be: A History of Western Civilization (3 quarters).
If I were a comic book character, I would be: Raphael (the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle).
If I were a shape, I would be: Tessaract
If I were a number, I would be: 8

Take this yourself.

~ Connor

21 miles... walked.


Partial victory. Partial failure.
A riot's desolation.
A blocked-off path between cliffs.
Confusion and frustration.

I'll blog on this later today... with photos, I hope.

~ Connor

Wednesday, June 23, 2004



THE YEAR of the BOSSY BIG TOE ends on July 3rd, 2003.

1. EMINEM: My Dad’s Gone Crazy

Last year the Solsticewalk happened later than intended. I’d been so tired and running around. Of course, I suppose this year’s exactly the same, but my will's strengthened by the divine button placed on my belly.

If the walk was belated, it was also ambitious and brilliant as the glorious mysteries. I walked around Flint, by which I mean I WALKED AROUND FLINT. Thirty five odd miles, circling the perimeter. It took fifteen hours, including the two hour break… 4 PM to 7 AM… beginning at my house at Maryland on Flint’s Eastside, crossing to Bray and Richfield, then north to Carpenter, and there a situation in which I could’ve literally been shot, and then west to Clio, then south and all windy to the Atlas as the last vestiges of twilight faltered and it started to rain. Two hours later I reemerged into the cloudy starlight, and made my way through the golf course, had my run in with the police, followed Hemphill and Atherton through to Center and wandered north through the morning twilight to Bray and Richfield, and my feet screamed at me and pretended to bleed.

Elisabeth burned me the Eminem Show, and I listened to this song over and over on that trip. I was listening to it in the Swartz Creek Golf Course, walking near the point at which I was dumped over eight years. A skunk tried to spray me, but I peeled away in time.

I slept all day, of course. Jessica was gone, visiting her family in Ohio. I was alone and it was the 4th of July. I felt the wind coming off of the porch.

That night, Angelo’s was busiest ever, with fights in the parking lot all night and prostitutes, drug dealers, college kids, bums, and autoworkers stumbling drunk around the place all night. Dishes dishes all night, and my apron was stained. The air was wet. Sticky and humid. The glow of Kessels across the street. The sound of drag races. The winking lights up Franklin. My god, this is the most beautiful fucking city in the world.

2 EMINEM: Let’s Get Down to Bizness

Same album.

The interstice: Fleas invade our apartment. I dust with the powder landlord Dave gave me. This infuriates the fleas and they rise like a wave from the carpet and try to devour me. But my brother pulls up and picks me up at 2 AM.

Jessica gets home. Colin is coming. We’re planning a U of C style scavenger hunt. For Flint. But we don’t have time because we have to deal with the fucking fleas. We bomb the place and kill the little bastards. We stay the first night at my parents. We make a list that week. Colin and I plot out a road trip to Ann Arbor, to Hell, to Tecumseh, Michigan. We find the Hidden Lake gardens southeast of Jackson. But nobody signs up for our scavenger hunt, so we spent those last nights watching the Adventures of Pete and Pete instead.

I have one day. I go to church or something. Or one of those Flint festivals. Then I walk in a hurry to Hal Lawson’s funeral (rest his soul) at the UU Church. Then K-Mart. I buy cool kids clothes. You know: K-Mart. Then Borders. I drink coffee until seven. I read all the plays by Lee Blessing, since he will be the playwright I am working with. By “working with” I mean getting coffee for and sharpening pencils for. On the way back, the sunset behind me paints the Miller Road slikrout all California and shit.

I run into a girl named Beatrice, who’s here from Newark selling magazines with some sketchy outfit. I run into her because she is walking the wrong way on Miller road. I’m to help her find Court and Center, because her ride stood her up. I am unflinchingly honest with her: Detroit IS a city, and Flint IS just as bad if Newark. Is it worse? Well, if you really want to split hairs, it is, actually. But I don’t think splitting hairs serves any purpose. Misery is misery, and poverty is misery, and misery is… well, you get the picture. She says, of *course* Newark is worse than Flint. I say, you haven’t seen the North End, have you? You haven’t seen Eastside? Follow me north from Court. I’ll show you Mabel and Minnesota. I’ll show you Lewis and Olive. But she gets picked up, after downing a public beer with me across the street from the market my parents used to shop for groceries at (now a Family Video). And I go home, and am happy to see Jessica. Our house is a mess.

I am on a plane. I fly from Flint to Minneapolis, and then on to L.A. Hallie picks me up in the airport. I call Michigan on the way to Ojai. It is raining in Michigan, but the sky is cloudless above me.
After the first day I have ditched shyness. We get trashed every night and talk about politics PASSIONATELY. And there are all sorts of theater people there. I am a divine lit asst. and whatnot, among the ranks of eager but inexperienced kids. Nobody can get coffee or sharpen pencils like me. I ring the bell during the staged reading. And whatnot. I make friends. Most of them don’t manage to keep in touch, but it’s not like I’m so hot myself.

One day I have an incredible hangover that is larger than the Hulk.

One day I develop a growing respect for a kid that initially irritated me.

One day I hang out at the pool party and feel very awkward because, let’s face it, you *can* be extroverted and not a people person. It’s not that I don’t feel clumsy and incompetant around absolutely anyone. It’s that I’ve got this confessional spirit that never lets me shut up.

“Let’s get down to bizness.
I don’t got no time to play around, what is this?
Must be a circus in town to shut the shit down, all these clowns,
can I get a witness?”

Hallie and I listened to that song on the way to Ojai.

Later she drove me to L.A. after the conference, and treated me to dinner, and lent me a bunch of books. I slept on her couch, and the next morning, she drove me to the airport. I flew back to Minneapolis. And on to Flint. Jessica had gotten her car. And her hair cut. She met me at the aeroport.

3. PEARL JAM Oceans

I don’t know that I specifically listened to this song during the latter half of July and early August, but I’m sure Jess did.
She got her job at Spencer Gifts.

I started getting tired of mine at Angelo’s.

My work ethic didn’t flag however; I liberated myself with libations, and everyone liked me there, except for Chuck, the onion slicer, who hated me.
I washed dishes, threw away boxes, mopped the floor, and put up with peoples’ shit.
I saw tattoos and listened to James Brown, to Outkast, to Smashing Pumpkins.

During the days when I didn’t have to worry about my miserable job (that paid less than minimum wage because the owner is running a wage racket that seems simply obnoxious until you realize the true intent is him not having to disclose his real earnings to the government as taxable income, because we have to pay $3 cash per shift in order to receive our paychecks; make no mistake, Angelo’s is as evil as WalMart, but simply on a much, much smaller scale) I walked to the Public Library and wrote Urbàntasm on the front poch while it rained a few feet away. I sipped rum and tried to persuade Sean and Mark to sign on to CP2 for the Nocturnal, which was going to be the most incredible show I’d ever directed, and saw Candide with Jess and Bree at FYT.

We also went out for coneys one night, far to the north of Flint, and then drove around when we got back, and I showed her Mott Park, and then on our way home, we saw what we took for a human body lying in Lewis Blvd. Three blocks from our house. We drove home and called 911. We never found out what the real situation was.

But another time we went out for midnight coneys in Davison, and nothing happened.

We read Madeleine L’Engle to each other.

The week before my last weekend at Angelo’s I went to the Flint Jazz Festival and basked all day long in the honeyed tones rolling up the dun baked concrete steps at Riverbank park. I looked across at the cheerful ruins of the Durant. Now I’m just tracing my keyboard with my eyes shut, because I don’t know what to say about that.

Jess and I went to Laser Metal at the planetarium.

I went to the Unitarian church every week in the morning and St. John Vianny at night.

I met with Lisa Friedman at the Good Beans café and told her I had converted to Catholicism.

I’d go to Baker library with my mom and work on my open diary and so on. My webpages. Look for jobs. Look at colleges. Order graduate information for schools I’d put off for another year. Why would they accept me anyway? Sometimes I’d walk there and walk back. I walked downtown a lot. I walked everywhere a lot.

On my last night at Angelo’s, I kind of slacked off, having reached the pinnacle of dishwashingness the weekend prior by actually cleaning the whole area. I took a long break and walked south to those couple of blocks around Franklin and Lafayette, Hastings and Commonwealth , Tuscola and Glendale, where straight paths curve deceptively and the golden lamps hung in doorways strike aluminum siding like an amber blessing; lambs' blood upon the fucking doorpost. I almost wept. This must be why I chose this song. This must be why. I’d been there. And now I’d been there again.

Back at the ShitHole, I sat in Lloyd’s van while he floated, and he told me stories of his encounters with ghosts. I alluded to St. Joseph’s. And I went home, again, in the purple twilight. August was getting on. It was getting light later and later, and was almost still hazy, like the morning when I watched the firefighters put out a house on Jane walking home, or like the morning when that kid from Angelo’s gave me a ride home.

I’ve forgotten most of their names; kind of sad.

4. OUTKAST Rosa Parks

To backtrack a moment, for my birthday, Jess made us a picnic lunch, and we got in the car and drove out to Stepping Stone falls and watched the water as we ate. There was a wedding nearby.

My mom took us to see Pirates of the Caribbean a number of times. She liked that movie, and would take us to see it at Cinema Hollywood up by Saginaw.

My brother had the car, and when we needed a ride, he’d supply “the Cody Cab.”

I memorized that whole stretch of Coldwater through Beecher; Dort through Northeast Flint. That was how we got from my parents' to ours'.

Back to the Flint Jazz. I did go to church that Sunday, in spite of being exhausted from work the previous night. (When I worked at Angelo’s I worked dishwashing weekend night shift; 9 PM - 6 AM. For $5/hour - $3 graft). (It’s despicable to graft from single mothers earning minimum wage… which wasn’t me… but *was* practically everyone else working there. I’m just saying is all... asshole).

To backtrack even further a moment, when there was the Great Blackout that summer, sometime early August, the electricity in most of Flint stayed on (though not at the Kessel’s) but because Flint gets its water from Detroit, our water supply was contaminated. For some reason, that night was one of the busiest at Angelo’s and we bought hundreds and hundreds of cans of pop.

God damn I hated that fucking job.
But at least it meant something; unlike the job I have now.

But to skip briefly forward, at the Flint Jazz fest, I went to church after one act, before meeting Jess (and Ken) at the next. On the way I was walking through Carriage Town by Atwood, and I talked to a man visiting from metro Detroit, and this was the song I listened to).

5. OUTKAST Mainstream

At the end of August, I’d quit my job at Angelo’s.

I worked on Urbàntasm a lot, but I also left the house and wandered far and wide. Sometimes, I’d have Jess drive me out to Miller road with her, and I’d sit in Borders or Halo Burger, reading all about Flint and Chicago. I longed for Chicago. I longed for Flint. Why must I be such a demented person when it comes to place?

I spent a lot of time at the Good beans Café. I really liked Ken. He is probably one of my favorite people living in Flint these days. I attended Good Stock and talked to Kate Nicolai, and Greg’s girlfriend, Liz. I’d hoped we’d correspond, but we did not. She helped me with German poets for the fatal three chapters of Urbàntasm, which I’d started working on.

On September 11th, I held a reading of Urbàntasm at the café.

And then I made up my mind to photo document Flint. I captured sights from most of the city in 500+ photos. I captured the Eastside, the North End, Downtown, and the Westside. I didn’t get the South Side. Maybe sometime soon? Fuck it all fuck it all fuck it all fuck it all fuck it all! It was all blue and cloudy. Why must I be stuck here? Why must I be a twenty-six year old starving nothing that's going to decompose eventually anyway? I just want to render beautiful thoughts into beautiful words conjuring beautiful images to be imagined by beautiful people. Is that too fucking much to ask? Of course! It’s a fucking ego. If I’ve got such a fucking ego, why do I feel so genuinely shitty about myself and everything I do most of the time?

I miss Flint, too.

If it wasn’t for Jessica, I’d go back right this moment, and be even a bigger better nothing.

But I took many pictures of Flint that month, I did. It was one of the most bittersweet weeks I can remember, putting so many miles on my shoes that my feets screamed in that beautiful, that cooling, that sighing breeze.

We were running out of time. That summer.

6. THE DOORS Light my Fire

We moved out. The summer had ended.

I’d thought of saving money by staying in Flint a few extra months and being a sub teacher for the schools. But the schools didn’t want me to sub.
I was happy to be going with Jessica. I was going to look for an apartment in the Irish neighborhood of Bridgeport. That was exciting to me. But I generally hated the thought of going back to Chicago.

When Mr. J arrived, we took him to Bubba’s steakhouse.

We packed up the next day and they left.

I had the car. My parents were gone doing a brother or a sister thing.

I was all alone.

I cleared out the rest of the house. Met with Dave. Gave the keys. Got the deposit. He liked us. We were good tenants. I miss that shitty little house.

The night before Mr. J had come, we met with the Galeas and the Crawfords… the kids that is… kids being relative of course… Victor who I’d known forever and ran into that summer waling about the Quilts at the Crossroads at the butt end of August, and Sam and Michael, then Sarah and Lindsay. Three boys and two girls. We tried unsuccessfully to D&D, but ended up eating pizza and drinking 40s, and talking deep, and then they left, and Jess and I were sad.

So two days later I was running errands, like getting a renewed drivers license (which I promptly lost) and supplies at Family Dollar in Hallwood plaza, because I knew the same dumb shit would be more expensive in Chicago. And I listened to the organ solo from this song and decided I wanted to use it in Urbàntasm.

And then my father drove me to Chicago.

7. SMASHING PUMPKINS Glass and the Ghost Children

Now things are going to speed up a bit, and not really because I’m tired so much as because life became so much more frustrating and uninteresting.

I was having a miserable time recruiting for CP2, though I’d gotten a couple people. I’d gotten in a huge fight with Sean over the whole deal. I was back in HP and while I’d missed the 2nd Floor Coffee Shop, it didn’t feel right. It never did. Not the 2nd Floor Coffee Shop. But there.

I stepped back into my old temping job at NMFF, which I’ll bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch about. It was the responsible thing, though. I’ve been all about being responsible.

Every day I responsibly trekked north or south, to Rogers Park or to Bridgeport and went apartment hunting. I needed something cheap, because I had begun to formulate a purchase in my mind. I hadn’t decided yet on what, though. I didn’t raelly know. I found McKinley Park and found my little apartment. I’m as attached to this as I was the house on Maryland. And the landlord, Jerry, is really cool. But the price was the decision. $420 per month, with most utilities covered, and I’m right across Archer from the Orange line stop, a Unique thrift store, next door to a Los Comales, and down the street from the fabulous New Archview and the slightly less fabulous Huck Finns. I’m even in a stockyard neighborhood. They make gum here for Chrissakes.

On the night I moved in Mark came over to visit. It was nice to see him after so long, but he was already changed, and it was only going to get worse. Not better.

I remember very little about October other than being responsible, becoming obsessed with baseball because of the Cubs remarkable success and then even more remarkable failures, and finally, getting dressed up on Halloween to go to Mercedes party.

The song hasn’t even finished playing through once, so I guess I’ll dwell on October a little longer, though I’d really rather not.

I stayed with Kaury and Marina those first few days. I slept on the couch in the back and we hung out and watched tv. I was doing my languages for the twentieth time. I failed of course. But we sat up and talked and all the leaves started to change and clung to branches in the rain even though they‘d gone all yellow. I got a 30-day CTA pass so I could travel freely.

I was very frugal.

I went to St. Thomas and saw Tom. Tom will be one of my best friends always. I’ve known this.

“As she counted the spiders, as they crawled up inside her.”

It’s a better lyric than you think at first.

I was corresponding with Lisa often. I was trying so hard to make CP2 work… to get people for the Cenci. It was going to be spectacular. I struggled with Urbàntasm. Still stuck on those fatal chapters. I remember sitting in the barmy cool autum of the 2nd Floor Coffee Shop. Why does it feel like years and years ago?

8. RADIOHEAD Everything in its right Place
9. RADIOHEAD Pyramid Song

November was neat and clean. NaNoWrimo. I’d been gearing up for a full month posting on the boards and everything.
I knew what my story was going to be about.
It was about a serial killer in Flint.
It was based on my emotions in those lone, cloudy blue nights as I took pictures, only far more fierce and violent.
About that last night or two when I drove north on Ballanger in spitting rain and turned left onto Flushing. Pale lights.
It actually turned out.
If anything I have written manages to be published it will probably be this.

On the first night I went to the Chicago get together, and drank beer and talked to all those folks. Again, the whole “I am an awkward person” came up, though I did talk quite a bit with Matt Day, who I now know quite well. He was a Math major at the U of C (grad student) and was writing a novel about Death. I met other people too… a girl at the Med who was very interesting, but I didn’t see after that. I also corresponded with a San Diego girl named Sarah, but we stopped corresponding, and the last couple times I’ve written her, she hasn’t responded.

I also ran the first workshop for CP2. Despite the incompleteness of the cast, all seemed to be going well… “good thing” I thought. The preparation had been a bitch. Of the actors present that night, none would see the show through to the end. But I didn’t know that.

HYDE PARK! You are so old.
McKINLEY PARK! Why are you so quiet.

I did my laundry in the November or December snow and drew pictures because nothing is colder than all that naked and still industry.

I finished my novel. But I was going crazy.
December came.
I went home.

I went home for that tragic, wonderful, heartbreaking week.


The week before I went to go see Return of the King alone. I sat in the theater and was in awe but I was in awe alone.
The day before I held out because I still thought I could trick someone to go and see the movie with me, so instead I went to my place and got drunk and watched Romeo and Juliet three times in a row.

I remember the night before I threw a party, but Liz was the only person to attend. I’d been playing Castlevania on the SNES. And Liz came and we talked a long time. Then she left. And I finished playing Castlevania IV and went to bed for four hours.

The next day, I went downtown and took the train to Kalamazoo. My mom picked me up in snow and sun and we talked about the ring I was going to buy. At Thanksgiving, I’d told her all about my plans to propose. So it was new news but not incredibly new. We got home and went to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with a ton of friends at the Palace of Auburn Hills. They were okay, I guess. I was just happy to be home. I was happy about Christmas.

And the next day we went and picked out the ring and I put the first payment down.

Everything else blends together.

Like years past, I did most of my shopping on Christmas Eve, and got almost everyone music.
Like years past, I hung out with Sam nightly.
I do remember one night, early on, Sam and Caitlin and Cody and Mary and I went clubbing in Hamtramck. But it wasn’t the same as the year before when we went back to Jesse’s basement and dranks fifth of rum and discussed politics with her pit bulls.

Christmas itself was wonderful. It was spicy. It smelled good.

The next day we saw Lord of the Rings as a family.

I got very sick and was useless and sleeping most of the rest of my break.

And again, I went back to Chicago, and lived alone for several days. I cried when my sister and father drove off, into that cloudy bleak flat city. Leaving me behind. Early January.

But when Jessica got back to Chicago, I was happy again, and went out on a warmer Saturday morning and took dozens of pictures of my neighborhood.

10 R.E.M. E-Bow the Letter

Probably the only time a song from New Adventures in Hi-Fi makes it on my Summerseve list. It’s usually my least favorite R.E.M. album. Even after Roconstruction of the Fables.

I’m typing fast now.

I’m just trying to finish up.

To sleep, you know?

I’ve moved from coffee to rum coke.

3:20 AM.


One actor dropped out of CP2. She found me two others.
We had a successful blocking rehearsal, and then a retreat which, while it had the desired intensity, didn’t seem to cultivate the feelings of loyalty and excitement I had hoped. This was entirely my fault, or nearly entirely. See, I had placed too much faith in my own ability to motivate and improvise. This process had needed to be sculpted more. And I was also guilty of still putting too much time into Urbàntasm (same three fatal chapters) though both projects were being shortchanged at this point.

I should’ve known something was wrong when our group split in two during the last activity. Three members had to depart by the minute the retreat was supposed to end. The other two wanted to stay through the end of the activity, even though it involved a seven mile trek through windchills around zero desgrees. We made it to the John Hancock. We looked over the Westside, which looked about as cold and gray and cloudy as I was feeling.

And to make a long story short, the three actors who left early soon dropped out of the play.
The two that followed me to the tower stayed much longer.
Only Maggy would see the show through to completion.

I seriously considered dropping the show. But “I don’t have the right,” I thought, so I gave the actors the choice. They wanted a show. We talked. We voted. We chose The Hunter and the Bird by van Itallie and The Dumb Waiter, by Pinter. Cenci was gone forever.

There are times… I’ve never experienced a nervous breakdown, but there are times I’ve felt it perilously near. This has happened a lot this year and, since my return to Chicago since Christmas, with growing frequency.
I’m not such a sap to think that love always saves the day… or even often. But as personal calamity (being relative) after personal calamity (all things are relative) accumulated, I felt that she was the only thing… or rather, my anticipation of certain moments with her were the only thing that kept me grounded. I don’t know how I would’ve survived this year without her. I mean, I’m sure I *would’ve* survived. But I cannot imagine how.

That said, at the end of February we got into a major fight.


12. LUSH Scarlet

My music purchases of early February and the morning when I broke down listening to Janes Addiction were major turning points for me this year. It wsn’t that I lacked hope before, but for some reason, those events provided me with a sense of forward momentum for the first time since the end of summer.
Ironically, the most difficult moments of this year (as opposed to simple loneliness, homsickness, and hipsteresque ennui) were all to follow.
But they would’ve happened anyway, and momentum propelled me through those moments into something better.

What were they?

Well, first was three out of five actors dropping out of my doomed, cursed, hideous play, and having to salvage it. I already talked about that.

The second was a huge fight with both Jessica and our mutual friend Matt. The arguments were about different problems, but were sort of related through context. If that makes any sense. It was a very uncomfortable weekend, though I did get to see Gemma’s beautiful production of Under Milkwood.

Plowing on (I’m really movin’ now) March passed somewhat uneventfully.

13. RADIOHEAD Where I End and You Begin

April had drama I can’t talk about, except to say that it plumbed me like an angler seeking rusty treasure chest keys and thankfully failing miserably.

The Occlusiion Group was formed.
I Got Into my blog.

I have to wrap up this now, though. I’ve been meditative, so I know the last several months by heart, and anyway there here, they’re all here.

14. (Scav Hunt Theme song)

En route to the slide show, I walked past 41st and Berkeley, that I saw in my dreams and is featured in Euphemism.

15. JUNO REACTOR Bible of Dreams, Track 1

Scavhunt was stress after stress.
CP2 was cursed and doomed. Someone must’ve said “Macbeth” early on, that show was so fuckin’ cursed, but we DID it, we PUT IT UP, and we should be PROUD. It was a SUCCESS.
Family drama.
Friend drama.
Work drama.


But I’ve known what I’ve had and I’m thankful for what I’ve had.

This is the month of June and it’s almost over.
I make it a point to always wear shades in the sunshine, April through June.
If I don’t I feel naked, and so stare at the ground.
Soon it will be July and this won’t be a concern.
But now, at last this year is over.

16. DES’REE Kissing You

Last year was the YEAR OF THE BOSSY BIG TOE.

What will this year be?


It has passed.
And it is over.
And something new is beginning.
Beginning with me losing my job, becoming engaged, and recommitting myself to old goals but hoping to see myself and all things with greater clarity.

I amputated a big toe this year.
It had to happen; it was devouring my body.
I think horizons are long since a foregone conclusion.
They should've been years ago.



Tomorrow I will commit the first act in the long process of naming this next year.
Last year I solstice walked around the Flint. That will be hard to top.
Tomorrow I will start in downtown Chicago, and head south.
My goal is Porter County, IN.
I’ll report back soon, and let you know how it went.

~ Connor

Monday, June 21, 2004

Whir; getting married.


The cat is out of the blog.

I’m engaged, kids.

Last Sunday, June 13th, I asked Jessica to marry me and be with me for ever.

She said yes.

I held off on blogging this for so long because we threw a party yesterday in celebration, but the invitation was ambiguous as to what we were celebrating.

The story:


Four years ago Jess and I met and lived happily ever after (and that’s another chapter).
We got stuck together, and even after one year it seemed unlikely we were soon to be unstuck. She felt nervous and sad… but I was encouraging and happy. I felt angry and disconnected… but she was soothing and patient. We survived massive fights, food throwing, tears, death, not graduating, graduating, employment and the lack thereof. Stupid idiots. Bitchy bitchy bitchy bitches.

As time went by, though, it became increasingly clear to me that not only was I likely to spend the rest of my life with this woman, but that I would love this life with a fever… that she was really all I had ever asked and hoped for… she would never bore me or break me or abandon me. And I could promise her the same.

By September 2003, we had spoken about this. I new she wanted to me my wife, and I knew I wanted to be her husband. But she also wanted to be surprised, and there was the challenge.


In November I told my mother that I was planning on proposing.
On Christmas Eve my mother and I went to Medawar's Jewellers in Flint, MI, and picked out the ring; a pear-shaped diamond mounted in a simple but unique band of white gold. I'd decided to purchase the ring on layaway, because my credit is "problematic" and continuing employment was uncertain.
Still, I'd managed to pay off most of the ring by June and my federal tax refund clinched it. I set a date; June 13th. We were already celebrating my sister's birthday and my brother's return from Asia on that date.
I just had to speak to her parents before then.
I just had to get her to Michigan.

On Friday my mother picked me up in Hyde Park after an (unsuccessful) job interview. Even though I'd only gotten two hours of sleep the night before, I knew there was no hope of sleeping in the car, so I didn't even try. My mom and I talked as we rolled through the factories of Gary (avoiding a massive accident smeared across the expressway going both ways), the dunes of southwest Michigan, past Lansing, and the farms and prairies of southeast Michigan. We picked up the ring on Linden road, picked up Chinese food outside Flushing, and watched Father of the Bride (the cheesy new one, with Steve Martin) while we ate dinner. My dad got home, but soon I was exhausted and went to sleep. For six hours.

On Saturday, at 8 AM, while Jessica was moving all of her books, clothes, and furniture out of her dorm and into her sublet (having just finished Finals) and grumbling about my absence, I climbed in the Grand Am with the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack (vol. II) and whirred south by southeast... 23... Past Flint. Past Fenton. Past Brighton. Past Ann Arbor. Past Toledo. 75. To Findlay. 23. Past Marion. Past Delaware. To Columbus. I-70 East. Flat Farmlands. The DarkLands of BuckEyes. Rolling foothills of the Appalachians.
Zanesville, Ohio.

I exited onto 7th street at 2 PM, turned past the church I will probably be getting married at, St. Nicholas, a huge dome outfitted in an opulent Austro-Hungarian or Polish style (I realize distinctions are important; I cannot make these), and zigzagged through to South Zanesville, where I met Jess’ father at Tat's Pizzeria.

We sat, ordered pizza, chatted about the weather and work.
Then I said, "I've been with Jess for four years now, and love her more than anything in the world, and tomorrow I hope to ask her to marry me, and it would mean a lot to me, and I'm sure to Jessica, if we had your blessing."
And he said, "Well, Connor, you know you have it."

A very nice meeting.

We drove back to his house, but I still wanted to speak with Jess' mother and stepfather. After telling Jess' sister and grandfather the news, we were able to get hold of Jess' mother. Jess' stepfather was at the hospital, but her mother was able to meet in the lobby. We spoke for a few minutes, and again, I received their blessing to ask Jessica.

Less than two hours after arriving in Zanesville, I was back on the road, and six hours later back In Flint. I stopped at Best Buy and bought the Romeo and Juliet soundrack (vol. I), and reconnected with my old, old friend, Katie Cawood, whom I haven’t seen in almost two years.

I got home around 10:15, and went to sleep by midnight.
I woke up at 7, and was on the road by 8.


All the way there, I kept listening to the same song… the Des’Ree song. It never wore out.
I owned 94 all the way into Chicago, and finally picked up a very tired, worn out, and slightly grumpy Jessica (she actually exaggerates a bit how grumpy she was… she was grumpy; not intolerably grumpy). We stopped at a corner store in South Shore and she got some water, and we stopped at McDonalds (again) before getting on 90 East. Feeling a little better, she went to sleep, and wasn’t getting wise on anything all that way on 94 past Battle Creek.

This was when my plans first hit a snag. I wanted to propose at the Hidden Lake gardens (see below), which is entangled in a nest of roads well off anywhere we were supposedly headed. If she had woken up after I’d exited, easy enough: “I got lost.” As it was she woke up right as I passed by the interchange to 69 North I normally take.

“Weren’t you supposed to exit at 69?”

“I’m taking a short cut.”

She bought it. For the moment.

We took 127 South through Jackson, which I explained “It’s a shortcut; it runs through Jackson.” This was almost plausible. 127 is certainly not a shortcut to Flint from Chicago, but 127 North isn’t particularly out of the way. I however was taking 127 South, and worried that she’d notice from the direction of the sun that we were driving pretty much straight toward Ohio.

We switched off 127 and onto 55, a winding two lane road that took us through a series of odd, blink-and-they’re-gone towns with names like “Brooklyn” and “Napoleon.” About forty minutes later, we pulled up at Hidden Lake gardens, a spectacular park I’d discovered with Colin as we planned the road trip for the ill-fated 1st annual Flint Scavenger Hunt.

I’d been complaining to need to use the bathroom, but now as we pulled up in front of a roped drive that read “Closed at Dusk” (it isn’t remotely dusk in Michigan in July at 6:17 PM), I said, “come with me.” We walked about forty feet in, still in sight of the road, but also with a view of the spectacular park, the crumbling round hills with maples and spruces dense about, and sharp mirror ponds.

She followed me to a tall poplar, and there I shook the white ring box out of a cardboad coffee cup.

I handed her the white ring box and said “open this.” She did. Inside she saw a smooth stone, painted blue, and attached to a blue ribbon. The blue paint was already coming off on her hands.

“Connor, thank you!” she said, convincingly polite.

“Well if that’s in there, then I wonder what’s in here?” I said, and pulled out a plastic gumball capsule.
Jess started shaking a little. She said, “you can’t kid me about this!”

I said, “I won’t kid you,” and then I told her that I hadn’t understood love until I met her, and that I had grown to understand through her… that I hoped to keep growing with her forever. I unwrapped her ring and asked her to marry me. She said yes.


And then! Back to the car and on the road, and drove through Tecumseh and to 23 and north and north and back to Flushing. My family was gathered around the table when we arrived, mom and dad, Caitlin and Cody, Grandma Coyne and Aunt Georgia and Peg, fifteen minutes late, and Jessica made the announcement herself. We’re getting married in late summer… August or September next year. We’re getting married in her childhood church. And everyone was happy, and that night we stayed up, talking.


The next morning, Jess and I ran errands. We had her ring resized. We got my drivers license renewed and library fines paid off. We visited friends, but nobody was home. We ate dinner at the Atlas. Jessica’s father arrived; he’d driven up from Ohio. He was abducting her from me for a week. He was taking his family on vacation to Myrtle beach in South Carolina. She got sun.

As soon as they left, my mother drove me back to Chicago, and we talked weddings on the way. We didn’t get in until midnight, and so she stayed, and did the dishes as a surprise while I slept. She dropped me off at work.

The next week, tension and anxiety and stress and insomnia followed as we put the screws through the final production of the Nocturnal. Maggy and Elisabeth did a splendid job, and they should be proud at the energy and poise they brought to a difficult and contradictory play. Evan was patient and aware. Meridith was energetic and helpful. Twenty-seven people saw the show. We made ninety-nine dollars in donations, paying off most of our expenses. Comments were positive. We celebrated on the roof the Versailles, watching strange clouds drift off the skyline seven miles north, drinking Old Style and Mexican beer.

And then, Jessica got back. She arrived at the party with Sebastian and Meridith, and we visited awhile, and then we all went home.


On Sunday, after a long, luxurious sleep, I woke up, lounged around the apartment awhile, and set out to do the bead thing. I went to the Medici. I ordered coffee, and read and read. I walked to Kimbark liquors, bought a 30-pack of Old Style Genuine Draft, dropped it off at Jessica and Meridith’s, and walked ten minutes to St. Thomas for sun-dappled Mass.

When I came back, we threw a party in celebration of our engagement. The invitation was ambiguous; we didn’t want people feeling pressured to bring gifts. We just wanted them to celebrate with us. Still, Jen and Mike Kennedy brought a bottle of Chardonnay, and Maggy brought us Polish honey liqueur. And so many people stopped by. They trickled in and hour for three hours, and in the end, Jess and Meridith and I sat in the soft lit living room and watched the first half of French Kiss. It was the end of the first full weekend since. Four more days to the second.

* * * * *

And I didn’t tell you about losing my keys.
And I didn’t tell you about my wedding planner.
I didn’t tell you about the coffee stains.

It doesn’t matter.

Now you have the story.


“I’ve wasted all my years.
Been chasin’ all my fears
for another brighter than you.

“I gave it long ago
to make it to the show.
And it’s not easy… when you’re alone.

“All your friends
in my head.
Don’t you care?
Whir yourself around
just to fall back down.
Whir yourself around.”

“My holy little girl,
c’mon, let’s go for a whir.
It’s still early. Sun is sleepin’.

“She says she wants to marry me.
She says she wants a baby.
It’s not easy… when you’re scared.

“Whir yourself around
just to fall back down.
Whir yourself around.”

“All your friends
in my head.
Don’t you care?”

Friday, June 18, 2004

5 hours per night.


That's the mean of 5 + 5 + 7 + 6 + 5 + 4 + 3 hours of sleep over the last week.
The fruits of this labor? Come see the show. (See below).

In other news, I've been given a slight reprieve. Neurosurgery wants me to work 40 hours next week, Monday through Thursday. I'm dreading it... but it's much needed cash.

On Sunday, I might be persuaded to tell you about last weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

10 Reasons to See My Show


#10. It's cheap. $5. $4. $3. $2. $1... ... whatever.

#9. It's easy. Hyde Park. Ida Noyes. Walking distance. 7:30.

#8. Martin Esslin liked the Dumb Waiter.

#7. Despite #8, it's the lurid tale of the abstract entanglements of feral miscreants.

#6. Despite #7, it was written in 1958.

#5. Despite #6, it's a suspense thriller.

#4. Features a guy named "Wilson"

#3. The Hunter and the Bird features music from Final Fantasy.

#2. Despite #2, it's not a fantasy... strictly speaking.

#1. All of the characters are ninjas.

Well... okay, so they aren't.
But they could be.
Here's the info, in case you missed it:

* * * * *

The Nocturnal Presents

The Hunter and the Bird
by Jean Claude van Itallie


The Dumb Waiter
by Harold Pinter

7:30 PM

2nd Floor, West Lounge
Ida Noyes Hall
1212 E. 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

Recommended Donation $5

$aving ¢alamites, or, the Many Uses of a Dutch Oven


So tomorrow is my last day working for Neurosurgery.
Malpractice insurance rates went up, costing the department 1.4 millions. Solution: lay off the temp file clerk, and let the administrative assistants do the filing.
Will this actually work for them? So far, nobody seems to think so.

I'm still registered with Advanced.
And I'm applying for outside jobs.
In the meantime, though, I have to save some money.
After next weeks paycheck I'll have enough to pay the rent, the phone bill, electricity, and *maybe* part of a student loan payment, but that's all.

So I've been thinking of solutions.
First, I've accumulated enough various varieties beans, potatoes, and onions to chomp quite happily for some time, and have also discovered the fabulousness of pasta, so that isn't an issue.
Second, I won't be doing the play, and I won't be working downtown, so during the interim I can get a lot of places by walking, and spare myself the $75 30-day CTA pass.
And third, with a two basin sink I can do laundry by hand. I do not have a two basin sink. I do, however, have a Dutch oven, which should work just fine as soon as I acquire a scrubbing board.

One of my wonderful coworkers said she might have one she doesn't need.

If you have any other suggestions how I can avoid squandering money in this perilous hour, drop me a note or send me an email.

Or better still, the same, if you can think of any jobs I ought to apply to.

~ Connor

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Weird weird weird.


An absolutely crazy weekend.
But check out the next post.
It's about the totally sweet Nocturnal show coming up this weekend.

~ Connor

Nocturnal Performance this weekend


The Nocturnal Presents

The Hunter and the Bird
by Jean Claude van Itallie


The Dumb Waiter
by Harold Pinter

7:30 PM

2nd Floor, West Lounge
Ida Noyes Hall
1212 E. 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

Recommended Donation $5

Tuesday, June 15, 2004



One weird weekend...

What makes a city "cool"?


Andrew Heller also recently stated the following:

"I also think a clean, safe, well-lit downtown with closely clustered shops, restaurants and pubs that stay open past 5 p.m. would be cool.

But that's about where my creativity ends. If Flint suddenly is going to become a cool place to live, don't you think we ought to have a better idea of exactly what cool is?

Sure we should. That's where you come in.

If you have an idea or two about what makes a city cool in general or what would make Flint cool, in specific, e-mail me (assuming you're cool enough to own a computer) at aheller@flintjournal.com or call (810) 766-6116. You fogeys who still remember how to write in cursive can write to me in care of The Flint Journal, 200 East 1st St., Flint, MI 48502-1925.

I'll print the best."

* * * * *

I responded today with the following:

I read once that defining cool is patently uncool, but I didn't think I was ever in the running, so here goes:

I've lived in and around Flint for eighteen years and Chicago for seven. It's common for Flint to be unfavorably compared with Chicago, the capital of the midwest, but I've been startled to find Chicagoans self-depricating when comparing their fabulous city to both New York and L.A.

I think the worst civic failures and lapses of judgment begin with a desire to be someone else rather than a better version of ourselves. By recognizing our distinctness, complete with limitations, we also acknowledge what we alone are able to offer.

Be realistic: AutoWorld did not make Flint into a midwestern Orlando. By the simplest economic arguments a casino will surely fail; we cannot make Flint a midwestern Vegas. Be honest about what will and will not happen in Flint.

Work what works: The Farmers Market. The Cultural Center. The Motor Cities Heritage Corridor. Flint colleges work. Our religious communities work. The Mott Foundation works. Sink our resources into instituions and projects that are tried and true, and that have supported us consistently in the past, even if these projects aren't necessarily alluring or exciting.

Acknowledge real assets: Flint is historically an important center for African Americans, for the labor movement, for the auto industry, community education, and political organization. Our city is also incredibly diverse in terms of race, religion, and political orientation. Moreover, Flint has been tested by the tragedy of its decline. Cities such as Seattle and Cleveland have experienced long droughts that have given them a greater maturity and dynamism than their more prosperous, stable neighbors. These are part of our identity we can use to our advantage.

Flint's "coolness" and overall success is dependent not on its ability to demolish and rebuild itself as a brand new city, new and shiny and entirely different, but to recronstruct itself as a better, happier, and wiser Flint.

Connor Coyne
Flint, MI and Chicago, IL

* * * * *

But this is actually a very complicated question, regardless of its terseness, and I think that my answer is handicapped by its necessary brevity.

What do you think?

What answer would you provide?

Andrew Heller: Maybe it's time to hug Mike Moore


From the Flint Journal:

Maybe it's time to hug Mike Moore
Sunday, June 13, 2004
By Andrew Heller
Journal Columnist

"Letter to the editor writer Vagios Young brought up an intriguing question last week: How long before people in Flint forgive Michael Moore?

I'd never realized it before, but Young is right. This town really doesn't embrace and celebrate his royal rumpledness. (Not that we could in the physical sense. Not alone, anyway. We'd have to form a chain or something.)

There are no statues. (Do baseball caps translate well to copper?) There have been no ticker-tape parades. (There'd certainly be no beauty queens in the car with him. Remember what he did to poor Miss America?) He's never been presented with the key to the city. (Hey, would you give Mikey the key to YOUR house?) He's never had a day named in his honor. ("It's Michael Moore Day in Flint, everybody! Grab your video cameras and go humiliate someone!")

He wasn't even invited to the first-ever Flint Film Festival last week, for crying out loud. How odd is that? I mean, this is Flint, Michigan. We don't exactly have a lot of bananas on the tree, favorite son-wise.

We have a few pro athletes, most of whom, by the way, bug out as fast as they can and never come back, except for maybe deadbeat dad hearings. And we have a couple of rap groups and rock bands that hit it big. But we're certainly not Los Angeles, where you can't swing a silicone implant without hitting someone famous.

So you'd think we would embrace our biggest, brightest star.

And he is big and bright. Moore is internationally renowned as a filmmaker, director and author, and deservedly so.

He just won top honors at the Cannes Film Festival. Can you imagine, say, Quentin Tarantino winning such a thing and his hometown pretty much saying, "Ho hum"?

Like his work or not, Moore's even enough of an icon to appear in Billy Crystal's movie spoof at the beginning of the Oscars, which is seen by billions.

And yet when people hereabouts speak of Moore, it's often in weary tones and usually after someone from elsewhere discovers we're from the Flint area and asks, "Wow, is it really that bad there?"

"Yes, we bash and eat rabbits to survive here," is my usual response. "Care to come by for dinner?"

Therein, I think, lies the rub as far as the lack of widespread, local fondness for Moore. He's made the world think this is a shameful, downtrodden place to live, and for that sin, there may be no forgiveness.

Probably this doesn't matter to Moore. He'd probably say he didn't make "Roger & Me" to get our approval and that anyone who doesn't agree with the movie can kiss his backside.

Or it could be that he's not even aware that half the people around here resent the psychological and economic impact "Roger & Me" has had. (It's an arguable point: Did the movie in part cause GM - which certainly is capable of corporate resentment - to move more jobs out of town and fewer in?)

Whatever the case, is the aforementioned letter writer right? Is it time for Flint to let bygones be bygones and embrace and, yes, even celebrate the wonderfulness that is Michael Moore?

As a sometimes Moore fan, sometimes Moore critic, I say why the heck not? What do we have to lose? Besides, it might be fun.

See you at the Rabbit-Skinning Festival."

Andrew Heller's columns can be read here.

What a crazy weekend...


Danny's Inferno


The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Fifth Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Low
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

"The river Styx runs through this level of Hell, and in it are punished the wrathful and the gloomy. The former are forever lashing out at each other in anger, furious and naked, tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth. The latter are gurgling in the black mud, slothful and sullen, withdrawn from the world. Their lamentations bubble to the surface as they try to repeat a doleful hymn, though with unbroken words they cannot say it. Because you lived a cruel, vindictive and hateful life, you meet your fate in the Styx."

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Those Crazy Indo-Europeans


I've been brushing up on my ancient history for work on Euphemism and found this little bit interesting/amusing:

Another serious mistake committed by historians who were born inthe comfortable sense of European superiority over backward Asiatics has been to assert that the Indo-Europeans had remarkable capacities for civilization and, wherever they went, impelled a great advance. The truth of the matter is that, wherever we first meet Indo-European peoples in history, they were barbarians; and their invasions often produced a serious decline in the civilizations they encountered-- A History of the Ancient World, Chester G. Starr

~ Connor

Urban Explorers Beware


Check out Detroitblogs "Nine Lives" post... from Friday 6/4/04.
It's one of the craziest UE stories I've heard lately.

~ Connor

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Kicking the gipper while he's down. Or am I?


I really hated them...

by Glenn McCoy
image acquired via the New York Times

by Pat Oliphant
image acquired via the New York Times

...the 1980s...

by Tom Toles
image acquired via the New York Times

I was two years old when Reagan was elected and ten when his presidency ended.
At least one of my parents voted for Reagan in 1980, but I'm certain neither did in 1984.
In Michigan, such voting patterns were widespread and led for many autoworkers to be lumped together as "Reagan Democrats," particularly in 1984.

Michael Deaver has written, "The Reagan Democrats lived in a world today's Generation X would hardly recognize. Stagflation. Malaise. Gas lines. Crime waves. The Ayatollah. Voluntary thermostat controls. One percent pay raises. Mujahadeen. WIN buttons. Hollow military. Killer rabbits. Exploding Pintos. Unemployment. Misery index. Billy Beer."

Carter had left people pretty uninspired.
The 70s had gutted Detroit, Flint, Lansing, and Saginaw through massive plant closings and layoffs and racial strife.
Somehow we'd wound up with disco...

Why not vote for Reagan? He did, after all, promise to resurrect our reputation as liberators and warriors of freedom abroad. He did, after all, speak with passion and flair. He did, after all, have a physique quite imposing for a man his age.

See where I'm going?

And then the 80s happened.

"How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

"My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I have signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

"You can't help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we've had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice."

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."

"Morning in America?"

Well, we do know your fondness for naps. Now we know you're napping.

* * * * *

It's all about the idea right, and a person is just a person?
Okay, then, you're fogiven, forgiven.
Rest well, rest well, and may we never meet in Hell.

* * * * *

I was going to turn the rest of this post into a rant on the 80s.

I was going to direct it at University of Chicago students who generally idolize that decade, which marked the final ruination of the core of many American cities, ugly cars, bad hair, hollow materialism, and the ultimate hypocrasy: "compassionate conservatism."

And point to Madonna and note that despite the Material Girl's hardscrabble to the top, her roots lie in rusty little Bay City, a fact she's denied on numerous occasion.

And maybe point to Depeche Mode and the Cure, and remind you that you didn't really listen to them until the 90s, if you were even old enough, that is.

You feminists and democrats, liberals and socialists, and haters of W. Bush; how on earth can you so unequivically embrace the era that personified most what you've hated? But I know... you don't remember. I do. I saw Flint cush and crumble.

And remembering that has made me too tired.

Maybe I'll go take a nap.

~ Connor

Egyptians or Mesopotamians?


Your choice boils down to these...

Heiroglyphics or Cuneform?
Khufu or Hammurapi?
Medicine or Astronomy?
Memphis or Babylon?
Villages or Cities?
Set or Gilgamesh?
Nile Delta or Fertile Crescent?
Pharoahs or Lugals?
Pyramids or Ziggaruts?

Choose wisely.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

In Support of a Universal Draft


There's a pretty intense discussion going on at Ashley's LiveJournal about the draft.

We all started out panning the notion of a random draft, but ended up debating what was better: no draft or universal draft (ie. everybody).
I support a universal draft.

You can find the discussion here: http://www.livejournal.com/users/ashleyisachild/72047.html?view=236143#t236143.

~ Connor

Monday, June 07, 2004

I've been Canned.


Downsized. Let Go. Laid Off.

The good news is that they're saying I did a fabulous job and they feel really bad about it.
Apparently the cost of the malpractice suits just overwhelmed their ability to budget a file clerk.

Time to pound the pavement.


~ Connor

A Taste of What's to Come, 2.0


I will comment on this, but several friends I greatly respect have strong, invested opinions on this issue, and I want to hear their thoughts before commenting.

~ Connor

* * * * *


Gay supporters denied communion at Chicago Mass
Minnesota Catholics blocked at altar
Monday, May 31, 2004 Posted: 1203 GMT (2003 HKT)

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Parishioners who wore rainbow-colored sashes to Mass in support of gays and lesbians were denied communion in Chicago, while laymen in Minnesota tried to prevent gay Roman Catholics from getting the sacrament.

Priests at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago refused to give the Eucharist to about 10 people wearing the sashes at Sunday Mass. One priest shook each person's hand; another made the sign of the cross on their foreheads.

"The priest told me you cannot receive communion if you're wearing a sash, as per the Cardinal's direction," said James Luxton, a Chicago member of the Rainbow Sash Movement, an organization of Catholic gay-rights supporters with chapters around the country.

An internal memo from Chicago Cardinal Francis George that became public last week instructed priests not to give communion to people wearing the sashes, which the group's members wear every year for Pentecost.

The memo says the sashes are a symbol of opposition to the church's doctrine on homosexuality and exploit the communion ritual.

"The Rainbow Sash movement wants its members to be fully accepted by the Church not on the same conditions as any Catholic but precisely as gay," George wrote. "With this comes the requirement that the Church change her moral teaching."

Rainbow Sash Movement spokesman Joe Murray was among those denied communion in Chicago. He said members wearing the sashes should be seen no differently than a uniformed police officer or Boy Scout seeking communion.

"What we saw today in the cathedral is discrimination at the Eucharistic table, and that shouldn't be happening," Murray said. Those denied communion returned to their pews, but stood while the rest of the congregation knelt.

The movement, which started about five years ago in England, also has members in Dallas, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York and Rochester, New York.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, people wearing the rainbow-colored sashes were given communion Sunday despite protests from some parishioners who kneeled in front of the altar blocking their way.

The Rev. Michael Skluzacek said in a written statement that both sides were "mistakenly using the Mass and the Eucharist to make their own personal statements."

Brian McNeill, organizer of the Rainbow Sash Alliance of the Twin Cities, said the local group has worn the sashes every Pentecost at St. Paul Cathedral since 2001, but the group had never experienced such a confrontation.

A Vatican doctrinal decree last year directed at Catholic politicians said a well-formed conscience forbids support for any law that contradicts "fundamental" morality, with abortion listed first among relevant issues. A second Vatican statement said it is "gravely immoral" not to oppose legalization of same-sex unions.

* * * * *


To: Priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
From: Cardinal Francis George
Subject: Rainbow Sash Movement

1. The National Policy

The Rainbow Sash movement wants its members to be fully accepted in
the Church not on the same conditions as any Catholic but precisely
as gay. With this comes the requirement that the Church change her
moral teaching, which is from the Lord and his apostles, that genital
homosexual relations are objectively mortally sinful. Rainbow Sash
members give witness to their oppostion to the Church and her
teaching as they come to Communion itself. The policy of the U.S.
Conference of Bishops is to not give Communion to those wearing the
Sash. If they come to Communion like every other member of the
Church, without the Sash which is the sign of their opposition to
Church Teaching, they may receive. This is also the policy of this
Archdiocese. Priests, deacons and other distributors of Holy
Communion shold understand and accept this policy.

2. The nature of the Eucarist

The first issue here is the nature of the Eucharist, which is the
body and blood of Our Lord and a sign of unity in the faith of all
those who receive it. We all go to Communion as sinners asking for
forgiveness, grateful for this gift and its promise of eternal life.
The moment of receiving the Lord in Holy Communion is never a moment
for an individual to exploit, turning attention to himself or
herself, attempting to force a change in the meaning of the
sacrament, transforming its objective sign value into a subjective
statement. Such an action is objectively sinful.

3. Freedom of Worship

The second issue here is freedom of worship, which is supposed to be
constitutionally protected in this society. A commnity of religious
believers has a right to worship in peace according to its own faith
and practice, without disruption, provided it is not itself
disrupting the public peace. Catholics have a right to celebrate the
Eucharist as the Church tells us to worship, without fear of being
berated or disturbed by people with personal or political agendas.
Those who hold the apostolic faith and strive to meet its moral
demands should not be forced to change their faith in order to make
some group happy. No group has a right to make such a demand,
especially not in the context of Eucharistic celebration.

Those who disagree with the Church's teaching, whether on
homosexuality or any other subject, should be treated with great
respect, listened to, instructed as possible, loved in all cases. But
such pastoral conversation and care takes place outside of the
celebration of Mass.


* * * * *


Communion denied

Gary L. Cozette
Published June 4, 2004

Chicago -- By ordering clergy in the Chicago Archdiocese to refuse Communion to believers wearing the rainbow sash to show their solidarity with gay and lesbian Christians, Cardinal Francis George has lost his way ("Protesters denied Eucharist; 10 supporting gay rights get only blessing in Holy Name," Metro, May 31). Communion is perhaps the most sacred and spiritual moment between the believer and God. To thwart this deeply personal bond with God seems vindictive, an abuse of power. I think the cardinal, the bishops and clergy need to search their souls. This spiritual violence against gay Christians seeking inclusion, equality and respect betrays the Christian message of love.

Friday, June 04, 2004



I believe that, at long last, the links in the sidebar (right) are more-or-less complete.
I tried to be as comprehensive as possible without being overwhelming. In some cases, I cut 3 out of every 4 links, so I hope that what's left is quality and relevant.

If nothing else, check out the "Vicious Circle" links... they're supposed to be innocent fun. I particularly recommend the North Vancouver bylaw.

I still might add 10-15 links for the Vicious Circle.
I'd also like to link to one or two international English-language newspapers that cover a wide variety of views and topics. Any suggestions, let me know.

Finally, I've started a reading club, following the last link.
Scroll down if you're curious.

~ Connor

The True form of Asmodeus


Yes, I am feeling confrontational tonight.

For those of us who still haven't learned the true form of the Lord of the Ninth (that is, more of a jelly spread miles deep in a fissure than the suave, horned sophisticate we know and loved), I have this interesting bit of news:

Pat Buchanan's Reform Party (you remember, the arch-conservative that wanted to build a Berlin Wall along the Mexican border?) has just endorsed Ralph Nader.

The company we keep...

~ Connor

Chicago will be ours!


Would you believe me if I told you that I was one of two hundred plucky souls who, as part of a progressive movement, brought rush hour traffic on Lake Shore Drive almost to a complete standstill?

It's true.

The #6 Jackson Park Express bus I was riding progressed up the Drive before encountering functional difficulties while stopped just north of the McCormick place. Lake Shore Drive is six lanes at that point and the bus was in the second from the left.

I think the problem was electrical, because the driver couldn't even get the engine to turn over. After attempting for about a minute she said, "you'll have to transfer," and opened the doors. The passengers stared at her as if she was crazy; cars were whizzing by at fifty mph inches from the open door now.

Fortunately, two more buses pulled up shortly: a #6 to the left and a #28 to the right to take on all us stranded folks. Another bus showed up after a couple moments, to provide cover for those boarting the #28. They were just parked, parallel, in the middle of the Drive. They occupied lanes one through four of six.

So you see, I was one of two hundred plucky souls who, as part of a progressive movement, brought rush hour traffic on Lake Shore Drive almost to a complete standstill.

* * * * *


11 hours, 56 minutes.

The Times reviewer A.O. Scott has described it as "grainier and grimier... It feels at once more dangerous, more thoroughly enchanted and more real."

Which is incredibly encouraging. This is what I wanted from the beginning.

Normally I am a stickler for faithfulness in movie adaptation (while I enjoyed Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy on the whole, I was disgusted with The Two Towers. I see movies, as long as there is nothing to lead us to believe it is not a literal translation (eg. Ran or O Brother, Where art thou?), the audience's interpretation will be that they are seeing the same events depicted in the book. While I believe it is possible to jusify exclusion, I think contradiction is a much thornier problem.

Still, I am willing to accept Cuarón's cuts and alterations, as long as he employs them with better judgment than Columbus. To illustrate, at the beginning of the first movie, Dumbledore spends the better part of a minute extinguishing each streetlight in Surrey, while they evidently can't spare two seconds moments later for Hagrid to tell us where exactly he got the damn bike. It's that sort of nonsensical choice that pisses me off.

I'll be sure to write more on this tomorrow... once I'm two hours and nineteen minutes further into the Harry Potter Movie Saga.

* * * * *


I've decided my next adventure in Fan Fiction will be a literary interpretation of the Castlevania/Super Castlevania IV/etc. cluster of games... that is, the original story featuring Simon Belmont.

In recent years Konami has taken some pains to at least marginally locate the story within the regional framework of Transylvania. The Belmont clan is descended from Crusaders, and since Dracula is revived every hundred years, it allows for the events of Stoker's novel to transpire when the time is right.

Still, they've not even begun to tackle the historical nettles they've mired themselves in; namely, French-descended heroes confronting Szekely Undead Lords in a land ruled by the Habsburgs and Saxons, at war with the Poles, Russians, and Turks, dominated by a peasant Romanian population and a large number of Roma (gypsy) slaves.

Oh Konami, Konami, how did you so entangle and enoosify yourselves whist merely flossing your fangs?

Mess for them.
Creative opportunity for me.
More as this develops.

~ Connor

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Today is Much Better


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Today is Just


"Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?

"Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.

"So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.

"Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

"Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?

"Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it,
And look what it's done so far.

"What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see?

"Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

"All of us under its spell,
We know that it's probably magic...

"... Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name.

"... Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?

"The voice might be one and the same

"I've heard it too many times to ignore it
It's something that I'm s'posed to be...

"Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

"Laa, da daa dee da daa daa,
La laa la la laa dee daa doo..."
-- Kermit the Frog

"Readying to bury your father and your mother,
What did you think when you lost another?
I used to wonder why did you bother,
Distanced from one, blind to the other?

"Listen here my sister and my brother
What would you care if you lost the other?
I always wonder why did we bother,
Distanced from one, deaf to the other.

"Oh, oh, but sweetness follows

"It’s these little things, they can pull you under.
Live your life filled with joy and wonder.
I always knew this altogether thunder
Was lost in our little lives.

"Oh, oh, but sweetness follows.

"It’s these little things, they can pull you under.
Live your life filled with joy and thunder.
Yeah, yeah we were altogether
Lost in our little lives.

"Oh, oh, but sweetness follows."
-- R.E.M.