An Accidentally Experimental Post about New York City

Here’s a post I started writing in New York City, then stopped writing, then couldn’t re-enter the train of thought I was on when I had initially started writing it, so I abandoned it.  Looking at it now, it feels more like a piece about how mood and environment can drastically alter how we process things.  But anyhow, here it is, I liked some if it so I couldn’t bring myself to delete it.  You be the judge:

SnapseedA dense fog sits over Central Park as I look out of the window of my 28th floor hotel room somewhere near what I think is called Midtown Manhattan.  I would never pay to stay in a room this nice, but that’s one of the benefits of being lucky enough to have friends who can help out with those sort of things.  Last night we went to a fancy dinner at a well known and well reviewed restaurant.  We split a few entrees, appetizers, and desserts–my picks being a double cut tobacco smoked pork-chop with a cipollini onion jam and a honey-tangerine-pistachio spumoni with brûlée tangerines and pistachio dust.  Yes, pistachio dust.  It was one of those kind of places…

After dinner we went to see a concert put on by a man who was relatively well known in the ’90s for playing slow and sad music and has now in the 2010s become infamous for long and rambling songs that often take dives into melancholy personal tangents and occasionally break out into short patches of dry humor.  He played with the drummer from Sonic Youth.  My favorite track of the night was a song I’ve never heard before where he sang from the perspective of a house cat, forced the string section to improvise over a part they’ve never heard before and had lines like, “Trump did this and Trump did that/blah blah meow meow meow/I don’t care, I’m a house cat.”  It was fantastic.

After the show, we walked back to the hotel.  There were at least 4 halal vendors on every corner and the city air was thick with that mysterious and disgusting smell that always seems to pour out from the cracks in the NYC pavement on particularly humid evenings.

While walking, I made the mistake I always seem to make in New York, or really in any city with monstrously tall buildings–I looked up.  I would look up at the spot where the tops of the buildings scrape the sky, where the clouds seem to move faster past the tops of the buildings, almost like a time lapse video on a cinematic environmental science documentary.  I’m not sure what it is, I can look down from almost any height and feel perfectly fine, but every time I look upward at the tops of skyscrapers from the ground, I feel like my stomach is going to fall out of my ass.  I think it might be that something about it just reads as unnatural and my Primate sub-brain starts firing warning signs at me, “What kind of monstrous hell-world have you entered?!”

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This type of monstrous hell-world.

Trying to re-ground myself and gain some composure, I traced the concrete spine of the skyscrapers down to their concrete bases, I looked through their crystal glass at the beautiful light shows beaming out from their concrete interiors, I imagined the steel beams holding this concrete up and wondered what type of expensive rugs or even more expensive tiles the interiors of the buildings were floored with, I saw our president as the sultan of this city, his name plastered on so many buildings, his grubby and gross fingers smudging his gaudy style all over so much of its economic landscape.  It was in this moment that I started hating New York.

The large beautiful buildings bordering the park were now the walls of a giant prison we had built for ourselves which was suffocating the small patch of green in the heart of the city–which was already scarred over with roads and walkways for human’s sensitive feet.  I saw the storefronts as monuments to capitalism and income inequality, I felt like I was running from giant Monopoly pieces which where slowly closing in on me and trying to crush me to death, I knew that if they got their grubby hands on me they’d strangle the humanity right out of me.  I knew if I stayed here for too long, I’d become one of them, whatever them might be.

I squeezed out a few blinks and took a deep breath, trying to return to where I had just been a few minutes ago: walking back to my hotel with my girlfriend and our good friend.  As I shook the tightness from my shoulders, a phrase floated through my mind as if lobbed by a (friendly?) ghost, “New York is kind of bullshit.”

Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind I hear, “New Yawk is da greatest city in the woyld you un-American Scum! 9/11!”

I felt on that walk home the same thing I feel every time I’m in a Metropolitan area, complete existential dread and incommunicable loneliness.  I like that NYC is a late city, it is nice to grab a slice of pizza or a coffee at some random spot on some random block, but that’s about the only thing I’d like to bring back to my little seaside MA city that no one really cares about.  The Louis Vuitton stores and the 40 yard long Chanel ads with pictures of elegant women with (apparently) golden skin and the disengaged self-absorbed hordes of people can all stay can stay in the Tri-State for all that I care.

I don’t want to sound like I’m trashing on America’s favorite hub of “multiculturalism” and gentrification.  What I’m trying to say is that NYC, to me–and yes, I know I don’t matter and life is meaningless and yadda yadda whatever–I repeat, to me, the city represents a microcosm of most of the things about capitalist consumerist American culture that is just so damn uncomfortable and wrong.  By just being present in that environment, I’m forced to reckon with the reality that I don’t hold the same values that many of my peers and fellow countrymen do.

When I’m here, I’m forced to self-analyze, to wonder why I have such a visceral reaction to that stimuli.  It almost makes me feel crazy; I was standing in the middle of Times Square after seeing Annette Bening and Michael Moore hug one another on the corner (and presumably give one another the Big-Time-Democratic-Donor Secret Handshake) and I couldn’t help but wonder why everyone else was so happy and excited, while I was feeling a deep paranoia and unease burbling in my gut…or maybe that was just the pizza.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I never feel more alone or more out of place than when I’m surrounded by thousands of people in a city with far too many places.  Yes, I do realize that sounds pitiful.

**NOTE** I stopped writing at this point because we were going to go to the Natural History Museum.  I really had a great time at the museum, I felt much more suited to that environment and that type of stimulus, so I think when I left there I was in a much better place and that prevented me from crawling back to whatever dark corner I was in when I was writing the first part of this post and calling New York’s “bullshit” like that actually means anything.  I know that’s a harsh and cynical claim that many people would disagree with, probably myself included.  But, that’s where I was in the moment.  Maybe it would be better to say it more politely, “Well, gee by golly that Manzana Grande might just not be for me, old chap!”  But anyhow, here’s an afterthought/postscript:

One of my secret favorite parts of the weekend was when I was walking by Columbus Circle and took a vertigo-inducing picture of one of Fuhrer Trump’s towers.  I imagined that I could practically see the burning eye of Sauron atop it.  It’s such an obvious example of a Villain’s Evil Lair, comically so.  It just made me laugh at how absurd life has become in the 21st Century and it reminded me of the reason why we go to places that make us uncomfortable in the first place: because they force us to learn things, and that’s the meaning of life.

Here’s the aforementioned picture:

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Can’t you just see the Eye of Sauron burning up there?

 

 

 

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To Cook a Steak. (or, a Meaty Piece)

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A piece of meat.

For as long as I can remember, my father has been in sales.  He’s sold a few different products or services, but for the most part it was always the same business model.  I have also been a salesman at different times in my life so I as well am more familiar with the process than I would like to be.  For those of you who don’t know, or maybe haven’t considered what being a salesman actually is, here is what it means when broken down to its most basic level:

Someone who has more capital (aka cash, c.r.e.a.m, dollar bills) than you has purchased a large inventory of something.  You, being employed by this capitalist, are expected to do all of the work necessary to convince consumers that they require this specific product more than any similar product.  This process is a fairly simple one, you’re  painting a picture where the product is a necessary part of the consumer’s life, and the consumer is happily buying your painting.  Though sometimes the process becomes more complicated, usually with consumers who are more fiscally savvy or who possess a lower amount of capital than others.  Here, the salesman is expected to become a psychologist.  This consumer is already aware of the fact that they may not necessarily need this product and instead see the sales process as an obstacle course that they have to successfully navigate in order to get what they want.  In this situation, the salesman must become the consumer’s capitalist spiritual guide, occasionally conducting pseudo-therapy sessions right there on the sales floor.  When I worked in sales, I once found myself hugging a consumer as she cried into my chest about the fact that her husband had recently unexpectedly died, and she had a son who was a junior in high school, and she was just so nervous about keeping everything afloat, and she just really hoped I wasn’t putting her through the ringer–as she said–and that she really wanted to trust me because I seemed like an honest person and she was just so very very sad and…etc.

That really happened to me.  Consider that for a moment.

Anyhow once you have led the consumer through this inception and brought them to the place where they are sure they either want or need your object, it is then your job to convince them to give you their capital in exchange for the product. This becomes difficult with the latter example I spoke of before.  Usually this person really values their capital as the amount of time they have sacrificed in order to achieve it is astoundingly high, and with large purchases that sequestered capital disappears fast enough to make your head spin off your body and shoot all the way to Mercury.

Once you’ve completed this process and filled out the (typically excessively complicated) paperwork, you then deliver the product to the consumer and give the capital to your boss who then gives you a peanut’s share of it, even though you are the one who has done ALL of the legwork, and sends you on your way.

Often in commission based sales you get paid by what’s called a draw system.  A draw system works like this: At the start of each pay period, an employee is advanced a specific amount of money, the “draw.”  This draw is then deducted from your commission at the end of each pay period.  After paying back the draw, the employee keeps the rest of the money.  If you go a couple weeks without any significant sales and rely on the draw, you are then liable to repay that draw once you start to again make some sales.

Yes, what you’re thinking is correct, that is completely insane.

I can say from experience that it is wholly possible to go one or two weeks without making any significant sales.  When this happens not only are you in a situation where your next paycheck may result in negative pay, you are also likely to be under harsh scrutiny from your bosses who will can you as soon as you start to look like a liability to them.  For a practical example, imagine you go two weeks without a significant sale, and let’s imagine that the weekly draw is $300, leaving you with a balance of -$600.  This means that on the third week when you make your first sale and you net a commission of $650, $600 of that commission is going right back to the employer.  Now, if that ends up being your only sale in the week, then that means you have made $50 for what is most likely over 40 hours of work.  Yes, it is possible to be selling for over 40 hours and not make a sale–that’s called catching a bad break.   This is why many salesman, especially those who have caught a bad break, end up working insane hours and often times fall into drugs as a means of self medication and coping.

This also explains why we have such an aversion to the desperation that we often encounter with salesmen.  Thinking of things this way, does it not make you feel pity instead of aversion at their behavior?

So when we break it down, being a salesman means doing a tremendous amount of frustrating work for no salary and watching all of your hard work translate into a lion’s share of the capital returning to the original investor, your boss or the owner of the company.  It’s a tough gig.

I bring up my father and what he does for work for a specific reason; I bought a ribeye steak from a farm that I work at during the summer and I want to cook it for him.  But, considering what he does, I cannot cook it for him now.  I’ll explain, bear with me.

My mother has had a wider range of jobs than my father.  She worked in the service industry, she worked in human services, she’s been an interior designer, and is currently working in furniture sales.  Hmm, sales again, eh?  Like my father, my mother is good at sales and she does well enough at it to survive.  But, she has a very bad back.  A back that is probably bad enough for her not to have to work anymore.  But for some reason, whether it be willpower or fiscal anxiety/necessity, she continues to work everyday standing on hard linoleum floors and faking smiles to consumers as the bones in her spine aggressively grind one another to dust.

My parents are good, caring people.  Combined they work an average of about 100 hours per week.   Save for my mother’s back, my parents have had limited health problems and look remarkably good for their age, my father is in his early 60s and my mother her late 50s.  I am (regrettably) their only child and they have always cared for me greatly.  Sure we’ve had our problems and we’ve both been at fault at different times for those, but at their core they have always meant well and have had my best interest in mind.  They’ve worked very hard to ensure that we never went without and that we always had enough stability to be okay.  I appreciate that immensely and have learned from their work ethic in surprising ways that continue to reveal themselves to me.  It is because of how they raised me and who they are, for better and for worse, that I have been able to become who/what I am and that I am able to lead a fairly comfortable life with no pressing wants or needs.

This is why I wanted to cook a steak for my parents.  I learned to cook from watching them and in recent years have become pretty good at it (in an amateur way).  I just wanted to give them a night off where I prepare a nice little feast for all of us, and they can sit back and enjoy it.  In preparing for this, I defrosted the steaks a day in advance, and salted them for an overnight age in the refrigerator.  Then, this morning, I find out that I am no longer able to cook the steak for my mother and father because my father has to stay at work late on a day he was supposed to be leaving in mid-afternoon.  He does this because it is asked of him by his boss and if he doesn’t stay, his paycheck and job can be adversely affected.

This makes me sad.  Not for me, I can cook for myself anytime, but for them.  And yeah, I realize it’s just a small night that can be rescheduled but it sent me on a bad trip.  It just reminded me that my father– a man who possesses genius level rational thinking and pragmatism–and my mother–a woman who possesses such an empathetic sensitivity that she can practically read people’s minds–are stuck working for giant, unsympathetic money machines who will replace them promptly as they get older and their meat-bag bodies start to fail, turning them from capital-generators into liabilities.

Anyone who has read my blog or is subject to my social media presence can gather that I ma not the biggest fan of capitalism.  But today when I talk about it, I implore you to understand it on a human level rather than a socio-political one.  I don’t want to hear retorts about economic machinations and how capitalist incentive is necessary to drive progress or yadda yadda whatever.  I just want to relay the fact that it makes me sad that as a result of the coincidences of their lives, my parents–the good, working, tax-paying, voting, children of immigrant families that the news likes to talk about–are stuck in a system that does not appreciate them for who they are; that does not value them as intelligent and sensitive people with a lot to offer; that doesn’t see the sacrifices of time and health that they make by standing in their fluorescent-lit showrooms and inhaling clouds of printer ink and toxic cleaning products; and that will replace them as soon as it is deemed practical in the pursuit of more capital.

I crave a change in value systems.  I don’t want capital to be the goal, I want peace to be the goal, or happiness, or the progress of the human race, or a peaceful coexistence with our environment.  I’m not even sure exactly what I want, but on days like today it becomes incredibly clear what I don’t want.

I don’t want my children to be exposed to the same sadness, hatred, raping of natural resources, abuse of people, and the resulting global famine that is the fallout of the frantic pursuit of capital.  I don’t want to see pathologically insecure people blaming other people for their fears and anxieties on a global level, treating their bullshit self image by plastering fake magazine covers of themselves all over the golf courses that they own.  I don’t want to see people killing each other over money, or my economically disadvantaged students competing to see who has the most expensive shoes, or rich white men denying people the right to universal health care and preventing peaceful immigrants from coming into the US in an attempt to stay alive.  I don’t want to see my city’s infrastructure falling apart due to shriveling tax bases and socioeconomic devastation.  I don’t want to see gentrification destroy culture and chase people out of their neighborhoods to put up some other trendy fad business that caters to the rich.  There’s so much, you know?  It just feels so overwhelming…

Well, Nick, what are you doing to help?  I’m trying, I swear.  Often times I feel like I’m not trying enough, but I’m slowly doing what I can to help, teaching, buying local, working with local sustainable businesses, etc.  Today, I just wanted to cook dinner for my parents to show them some appreciation and was reminded that there are victims in the pursuit of progress, that my vision of a re-alignment of values is made possible by the wage-slavery of people like my parents, and that the future is built on top of those who have sacrificed themselves to an immoral, socio-pathic system both willingly and otherwise.

 

Domesticated Primate needs HELP!

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One of our logos, drawn up by Meaggsy.

I need help. Summer is coming up, and being a teacher, with summer comes free time. With that free time comes the opportunity to do some more work for Domesticated Primate. Given the scope and the type of work that needs to be done, I could use some help setting up a system and getting reliable individuals involved who can help keep us afloat throughout the year.

I started Domesticated Primate with the intention of having a little publishing venture that shares interesting work by creative and unique artists. So far, this mission has been fulfilled. I have been running this endeavor as a non-profit, or more accurately, without personal profit.

Let me explain what I mean…

After putting in an initial investment on our first run of printing (and a smaller investment on every subsequent printing), I have taken the profit and immediately reinvested it into the publishing company. In other words, I am yet to recoup my personal costs, but with every book sold, it becomes easier and easier to publish more works and in more interesting formats. The low pricing of our books is achieved by my not attempting to recoup my initial cost. I have taken into account all of the physical expenses for creating the books and averaged that out. Using this number I devised a complicated method of pricing our works based on percentages, which allows for fairly

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A bullshit logo I just designed using a free online “Hip Logo” generator.

even pricing across the board—save for when things like photo paper or alternative bindings are used, two things which I’ve learned can quickly escalate the costs on a product.

 

By doing this, I’ve been able to keep our traditional paperbacks at a cost of $7, our staple bound books at a cost of $5, and our 100+ page traditional bound paperback photo-book at around $25—though with the sales from our newest releases, this price is about to decrease down to a solid $22. I’m happy with these prices, I think they’re more than reasonable for the quality of the product, and as more product is sold over time, the cheaper the prices will get!

We also have a few amazing artists and writers who have been working with us on things like editing, design, and art. They have done this for no financial benefit, just to be involved in a creative process, and to help bring some interesting art to life.  I am so grateful for and energized by their help. Hopefully as Domesticated Primate grows in the future we will be able to provide them with some capital as well—if they desire that (it’s not always about the dollar, you know?).

But right now, we need some help, a different kind of help.  Particularly in the areas of social media, website, and marketing.  Unfortunately, I cannot pay anyone.  In fact, I’m not even paying myself.  But what I can provide is a free copy of every one of Domesticated Primate’s releases for as long as you’re helping, as well as back issue copies of our already published material.  You will also have the first look when it comes to submission time.  In other words, if you submit a manuscript or a collection, you will have first consideration over anyone else for getting it published.  Also owning this business, I will do whatever I can to help you in any way.  For example, if you need me to sign off on volunteer hours, or edit some work for you, or whatever you might need.  We can make it work for you. You know, the wonders of reciprocity.

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Another of our logos drawn up by Meaggsy.

Here’s a list of a few specific places where we could use some help:

Social Media/Marketing:

>Someone to manage our Instagram.

>Someone to manage our Facebook.

>Someone to manage our Twitter.

>>A note about social media; I’m not the type to be insane about “staying on brand” or “using our company voice.”  In truth, I can’t stand most marketing and cringe at nearly every attempt by a company, organization, or person to “brand” itself.  My goal with social media for Domesticated Primate is to share interesting things with people and keep them updated on any happenings/upcoming works.  We aren’t trying to take over the world or spam the living hell out of anyone’s pages.  I don’t care if it’s one person helping out, or a team of people, or three separate people who manage this or whatever. Ideally it would be someone (or multiple someones) with some free time who like to wonk around on social media and have an interest in books, art, publishing, literature, or things of that ilk.  The only requirement is reliability and communication.  I don’t care posting at exact times everyday or anything, but semi-regularly with relatively similar quality images or blurbs would be ideal.

Website/Marketing:

>Someone to help with design on the website/streamline it.

>Someone to help set up an online store.

>Someone who can help with the google search term algorithm crap.

>>A note about the website; I am not very good with website design or management.  I believe our platform is based off of wordpress, though I am willing to switch to whatever works best for you—as long as it isn’t cost prohibitive. A huge help would even be just sitting down with me a few times and helping get the website into better shape, ie more streamlined and easier to use.  I don’t know much about online stores but I would like to set one up where I don’t have to pay a hosting site just to sell our own product.  I’m sure there’s a way to do this through our website, but not being literate in this area makes it very difficult for me.

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Another bullshit logo, this time I used a “FutureText” Logo Generator

Blogging:

>We need bloggers

>>>A note about blogging; If you’re a good writer and have some ideas for blogging, I’d love to have you on our site.  A quick pitch e-mail for the blog—ie subject matter and approximate length—and a quick convo, and we can be off and running.  I’m open to basically any subject matter as long as it is well written and unique, creative, or engaging.  It doesn’t even have to be literature or publishing specific.  Ideally I’d like to put up 2-3 blogs a week by different authors.  So, you wouldn’t have to be a regular blogger, even a one of two-off piece would be helpful.

Something to consider is that we are always looking for artists.  Writers, graphic designers, painters, sculptors, musicians, anything and everything.  If you have any idea for a collaboration, project, or experiment, please shoot a message our way. Anything you think might be too ridiculous or outlandish or risky or unlikely to get picked up otherwise, make sure to send it.  We’re probably crazy enough to turn it into something.  I’d love to hear it and see what we can workshop.

Thanks for reading, and if you know of anyone else who might want to help out an experimental little indie publishing venture and get some free books in the process, be sure to loop them in!

Thanks!

–Nick (Grand Poobah at Domesticated Primate)

Proust Questionnaire: Meaggsy

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Today we continue the Proust Questionnaire series with artist Meaggsy.  Meaggsy has been an integral part of the establishment of Domesticated Primate.  She designed our logo, drew the cover art for our release “Other People,” and sculpted out of clay the two main characters from our collaboration with photographer Brandon Cabral, “What’s Next?” for an art installation we put on at the New Bedford Bookfest.  She is an incredibly talented artist with a wide range of abilities.  We’ve got some ideas on the back burner for some future releases, so stay tuned for those!

NAME: Meaggsy

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  being controlled by anything with monetary value… that, and never getting a chance to meet my dog sophia.

Where would you like to live?  i like it here, so this must be the place.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?  when the human race devolves into nothingness.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?  never being satisfied…. gift and a curse, really.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?  siddartha for showing me the worth of ones self, and sam gribley for being wise enough at such a young age to say fuck society, go live on his own, and get a sick falcon.

Who are your favorite characters in history?  david byrne, robert johnson, peter green, bob dylan, lou reed, iggy pop, eric burdon, hank williams, blind willie mctell, jack white, lightning hopkins, john lee hooker, paul mccartney, john lennon, matt groening, seth macfarlane….. just to name a few.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?  honestly, all those i surround myself with, and the those who are positively impacting the city (and the world) on a daily basis in the way that they do… thanks ladies.

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?  jasmine (since i can’t pick aladdin) cause she was a princess and wanted a chill life… and had a fucking tiger as a sidekick.

Your favorite painter?  Picasso. i’d drink to him.

Black and White study for ‘Guernica’–Pablo Picasso, 1936

Your favorite musician?  mannnnn, too many to have a favorite, but i do wanna shout out Peter Green, he’s the fucking man… and also wanna give recognition to Bob Dylan on this day, as it is the god damn day he graced the world with his beautiful presence.

The quality you most admire in a man?  being able to stay true to his own self… and the ability to communicate feelings. it takes a lot for someone to put their feelings out to the world. makes you vulnerable… and to not change themselves when the feedback hits takes a strong person. i know that’s two qualities, but fuck off.

The quality you most admire in a woman?  doesn’t matter if you’re a lady or man… same qualities apply to an individual.

Your favorite virtue?  wabi-sabi.

Your favorite occupation?  occupation is a shitty word. reminds me of jobs like a nurse, an accountant, or a cop. none of those interest me. i don’t wanna have a label, i just wanna draw cartoons, smoke weed, and swim in the ocean forever.

Who would you have liked to be?  i feel great being meaggsy. should i want to be someone else?

Your most marked characteristic?  if i don’t know how to do it, i will try to learn how to.

What do you most value in your friends?  the fact that they can stand to be around me.

What is your principle defect?  i try to learn how to do too much. i’m good at a lot of things, but i’m not great at one thing.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?   lack of self awareness… that and if Robert Johnson never met the Devil at the crossroads

What would you like to be?  always have and always will be me, meag, Meaggsy, or whatever form of myself is present.

What is your favorite color?  black on white. i like the contrast and can’t choose one over the other.

What is your favorite flower?  ones that grow all over buildings…

What is your favorite bird?  black crow cause they look best in snow.

Who are your favorite prose writers?  i had to look up what a prose writer was, which must mean i don’t have a favorite…

Who are your favorite poets?  you already know what day it is, so it should go without saying… Bob Dylan.

What are your favorite names?  atticus, rupert, levi

What is it you most dislike?  commercialized glorified bullshit and the sheep that follow it.

What historical figures do you most despise?   i could state the obvious, so i will, fuck hitler and donald chump.

What event in military history do you most admire?   one if by land, two if by sea.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?  simplemindedness.

How would you like to die?  assassination… or lightning strike.

What is your present state of mind?  meaggsy sucks.

What is your motto?   win some, lose some… it’s all the same to me.

Proust Questionnaire: Alexa Catao

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Alexa and Olive.

After a short break, we’re back with the Proust Questionnaire series.  Today we feature Alexa Catao.  Alexa has done work editing for Domesticated Primate, her keen eye and proclivity to ask questions instead of cross-out and change words has become a valuable part of our artistic process here. I hope at some point soon she will be ready to put some of her own work out into the universe through us.

NAME: Alexa Catao

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  Long-distance endurance running. And exploitative melodramatic programming like TLC shows/ The Kardashians.

Where would you like to live?  There once was a small city by the name of New Bedford that I saw myself in. But futures change.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?  The squiggly warm way that my dog readjusts herself against me while she’s trying to get optimally comfortable to take a nap.

That, and being surrounded by people who “see” you, love you, support you, challenge you, teach you, inspire you, and meet your wavelength of weirdness with their own complementary weirdness.

And a jar of Nutella.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?  Internal disregulation to the consistent passing of time.  And piles of clothing everywhere—assigned subtle patterns of categorization that only the more delusional parts of my mind can grasp.

Who are your favorite characters in history?  I like the wording of this question—the idea that real people who lived a long enough time ago, and did something out of the norm—took action and altered the status quo in some way—are able, with the passage of time, to take on a sort of mythological, archetypal “character” status in our minds. Now just picture Martin Luther King, Jr. farting and giggling with his kids, and nicking himself while shaving, and having a stomache ache on a Tuesday afternoon.  Now imagine someone in fifty years filling out this survey and wracking their brain for notable historical “characters” and coming up with your name, in the narrative of the thing you did that you became known for.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?  Pippi Longstocking,

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?  Lolwut. See above.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?  Malala Yousefzai. Ashley Graham. America Ferrera. Tara Mitton Catao and Lourdes Catao. Elizabeth Warren. Steph Paquette. Terry Gross. Janet Mock. Emerging comedian/writers like Jessica Williams and Abby/Ilana Glazer and Rachel Bloom. Rep Maxine Waters. And about 897 other people I can think of.

Your favorite painter?  As a child I adored Monet—the colors, gardens, bridges, soft brightness. In college I loved Klimt—the vivid textured patterns and intriguing figures.  Now, I love thick chunky textured paint that globs off the canvas and invites you to break etiquette rules by touching it.  And watching watercolor videos on instagram.

Your favorite musician?  I’m exploring again. I’m not sure right now.

The quality you most admire in a man?  <Again, with these next two questions my initial response was to take issue on the basis of reinforcing gender binaries. But I’ll acknowledge socially-constructed binaries for the sake of the question…>

Critical self-awareness, including deconstruction of gender norms/ toxic masculinity, a sharp intellect that breaks apart and analyzes the world around him, a value on listening to the perspective of others, the ability to reflect and own up to flaws when necessary, and the capacity for growth. And a splash of goofiness.

The quality you most admire in a woman?  Unapologetic strength and self-love and opinions and changing the world though acts of radical love and accountability, both big and small.

Your favorite virtue?  Genuine curiosity/ a desire to always be learning.

Your favorite occupation?  Teacher (the really revolutionary, mind-blowing kind. You know what I’m talking about.)

Who would you have liked to be?  To be an entirely different person for their life? I don’t think I would. (This suddenly makes me feel warmly grateful for my own me.)

Your most marked characteristic?  Apparently I smile a lot more than the average person. I didn’t realize this was unusual, perhaps because I always mean it when I smile. I wonder how other people smile less. It’s usually the kind of smile that takes over my whole face. I like to make people feel good about their lives. I’m always subconsciously brushing hair out of my eyes. I have opinions and I really like other people’s opinions too. I’ve had my nose pierced for 10 years and I swear I forget that it’s part of my face. If I’m unsure how to answer something, I often default to the open, honest truth.

(Note: I copied/pasted the above response from my OKCupid profile’s “First thing people notice about me” section. See? Open, honest truth.)

What do you most value in your friends?  That they’re complex, thoughtful individuals, who also see and value the complexity in me.

What is your principle defect?  This reminds me of the “what faults you are the most indulgent” question, but if we’re talking about physical defects, then I’d have to say my body is a temple so fuck all y’all’s conventional beauty standards—but ya I have this weird dark dot on the side of my nose that won’t go away.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?  To hide your self and your dreams for your whole life out of the obligation to conform, and never feel “seen” and therefore experience an even more intense sense of isolation than we all already feel. And the misfortune can get greater when bigotry, violence, hatred, and trauma are added to this equation.

What would you like to be?  Under the sea. In an octopus’s garden in the shade. (An octopus.)

Ranunculus.

What is your favorite flower?  Those with substantial blossoms, an overabundance of fleshy layered petals, like peonies and ranunculus, that make you want to take a bite out of them.

What is your favorite bird?  Fluffy-chested springtime ones, hopping and shivering in a puddle with a certain elation.

Who are your favorite prose writers?  Vladimir Nabokov always tops the list. Faulkner. Daniel Handler. Nick LeBlanc. And I recently was reading Elena Ferrante, whose subtle depths I appreciated, so I’ll add her.

Who are your favorite poets?  e.e. cummings, Mark Strand, Billy Collins, also the age-defying words of Naomi Shihab Nye, and Nick LeBlanc again (and Moraes and other Domesticated Primate/ local-NB poets that I’ve enjoyed)

What is your favorite color?  Teal. Or coral. Or yellow.

What are your favorite names?  When I was little I named my favorite doll—the one that looked like me with tan skin and brown straight hair— my then-favorite name. However, it’s currently my least favorite word, because now it makes me think of spaces— actual loft apartments and doily-covered dining room tables and passenger seats—that are not only lost to me, but tainted. (Again, futures change.)

What is it you most dislike?  I may have mixed this up with the above question. I dislike the historical figures below and the television programming in the “depths of misery” question. I dislike the way humans can tend to fall back on shallow, judgmental, categorical thinking.

What historical figures do you most despise?  45 and his cronies, puppeteers, and sycophants.

What event in military history do you most admire?  Nah.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?  The kind of easy self-discipline that allows you to complete the tasks you set your mind to right away.

How would you like to die?  I think like most people, at the end of a fulfilling life, with some level of peace and support of loved ones. Sorry I didn’t choose any sort of action-movie response.

What is your present state of mind?  Crackling with energy, open and eager for new experiences, but also more settled, certain, confident, and honest to the point of being blunt. On the verge of finding my words again and letting them out on paper. (This has been a fun exercise in that).  Present.

What is your motto?  Words matter.

A Recipe for April 20th

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The completed product.

I’ve really taken advantage of this day off and watched about two hours worth of videos on the best way to make pizza dough. So, I’ve decided to put together a pizza sauce tonight in prep for the pizza I will apparently be making tomorrow.  As far as dough, well we’ll see how that goes in the morning, but I know I will be using mozzarella cheese only for the pizza and probably no meat.  Though, now that I think of it, I do have some nice hard salami that I could thinly slice and…enough.  Here’s the recipe for my sauce, ingredients list at the bottom:
      Grab a medium size pot, a wooden spoon or spatula, some butter (preferably grass-fed), and some nice olive oil. Not the typical yellow or green bottle olive oil, something decent. Stay away from Italian olive oil as there was controversy recently about the actual olive oil content in the recipe–similar to the recent controversy about cellulose from wood chips being inside of pre-pulverized Parmesan cheese, so stay away from that too.
      I digress…
      Place the pot on the stove on super low heat, put a thin layer of olive oil in there, and throw a nice pad of butter, maybe an inch thick. While those fats and oils are slowly combining, quickly chop a yellow onion very fine (practically to mush). Don’t touch your eyes like I did, that was smart. Toss those onions in the pot and mix it all around, the butter should have melted by now. Then, finely chop the garlic as you did the onions. Cut a small sliver of the garlic for you to chew on, go ahead, it’s good for you.
      Toss the garlic into the pot as well. Salt the ingredients in the pot, toss a little sugar in there too, mix it all around very nicely. Don’t put any cracked pepper in there yet you nut-job, the pepper will burn with the heat of the pan.
      Open a bottle of red wine, hopefully you bought something decent, some is required for the recipe sure, but it’s mostly for drinking. I hope you didn’t but some $100 bottle of wine either, that’s just excessive. If you did that, you should really put some thinking into how you’re spending your money. A $30 bottle (absolute maximum) will be more than satisfactory. I used a $14 bottle of Louis Jadot.  Give the garlic and onion mixture a stir with the wooden spoon or spatula. You better not be using plastic or metal. That shit’s lame.
      Pour yourself a mighty glass of that freshly opened red wine–the style of red wine is up to you, go on, get creative, just don’t do any dumb shit like put some sangria bullshit or fruit wine in there. Be conscious. Go put a record on, something peaceful but interesting, maybe some Leonard Cohen, or early Miles Davis. Sit down, drink the wine, and appreciate the music as the garlic and onions start to slightly caramelize. Your kitchen and/or apartment should start smelling straight up amazing at this point. If you don’t like the smell of garlic and onions in butter, just stop reading this and go to bed. You don’t deserve to be alive.
      After taking a few sips of the wine, and maybe briefly considering Miles Davis’ influence in the development of the guitar solos of late-60s rock bands, head back to the stove and pour some wine right into that pot, covering the garlic and onions and turning the mixture into a nice purple mush. Slop the mush around in the pot until you smell the alcohol burn off and see the wine reduce.
      Crack open your can of San Marzano tomatoes–yes, fresh would be preferable, but I live in New England and it’s April 20th, relax–and dump them into the pot over your hand, squishing the tomatoes with your free hand as they slop into the pot. Get a nice grind on the tomatoes with your hand as they go in. Imagine you just disembowled a warrior from a rival medieval gang and now your squishing their innards in your hand as a display of alpha-masculine power. That’ll be the last time they try and invade your tiny feudal paradise, those mongrels.
      Time to turn the heat up a tad to get things going, the sauce should come up to a simmer, with little bubbles rising to the surface. Mix the tomatoes up nicely with the ingredients of the pot–use the spoon or spatula (wooden, remember!), not your hand, dunce–liberally salt the mixture, crack some black pepper in that bad boy…I should mention here that you should be using Kosher salt. Sea salt is overrated, and when used too liberally can be a bit briney for my liking. If you’re using pink himalayan salt hoping it will align your chakras better or what-the-fuck-ever, just go hang out with the guy who doesn’t like the smell of garlic and onions and go start a colony somewhere nobody cares about, or die or something.
      Now, grab your Parmesan cheese, basil, dry crushed red pepper, dried oregano, fresh basil, cinnamon, and an orange. Yes, an orange. In my case I used a Minneola orange which in reality is a cross between a pomelo and a tangerine, so not an orange at all, but it’s the same idea. Oranges go perfectly well in tomato sauce, relax. Yes, I realize this is a pizza sauce, but it’s a take on spaghetti al pomodoro e arancia, okay? It’s a real thing, look it up nerd.
      Put the dried oregano and red pepper into the sauce to taste. Yes, you should be tasting the sauce as you make it…and you better fucking be mixing this sauce the whole time, you can’t be having it burn on the bottom, or you may as well toss the whole thing in the toilet and not tell your girlfriend about it, so when she opens up the toilet seat she nearly has a heart attack.
      Drink some more wine, you deserve it. It’s been a long day, and ain’t nobody prayin’ for you babygurl, am I right or am I right?
      Cut your orange in half, put one half next to your glass of wine, then squeeze the other into the sauce, be careful not to let any seeds get into the sauce, that’s a shitty move. Give the sauce a hearty stir to incorporate the fresh juice. Don’t you dare use orange juice out of the bottle, that’s not juice, that’s diabetes with high vitamin C.
      Taste the sauce, the orange juice should have added a nice acidic sweetness, and the fruity orange flavor should be complimenting the rich taste of the San Marzanos.
      Go flip the record, time for Side B.
      Roll up the basil and give it a quick chiffonade, cross cutting it to make tiny little basil squares. It’s okay if you don’t have any knife skills, I don’t either. This isn’t Chopped.
      After you handle the basil, smell your hands. Nice, right? Isn’t basil so strange? Like how does that even just naturally sprout out of the dirt?
      Dump the basil into the sauce and give it all a quick few turns with the spoon or spatula. The sauce should be starting to reduce now, sticking to your spoon more as you drag it through the pot.
      Cut three more garlic cloves into paper thin slices and throw them into the sauce. When they’re thin like this they won’t blow your palate out, and they look really nice/add to the chunky-ish texture of this sauce which you’ll appreciate when you spread it on the dough later.
      Grab your cheese. I spent more than I should and bought real Italian Parmigiano Reggiano because I am a gluttonous millenial…but you probably are too so I highly recommend you do this as well. Some may want to use Pecornio Romano–a worse tasting, crumblier cousin of Parm Reg made with sheep’s milk–but those people are wrong and should not do that. Parm Reg is so much better, stop being a naysayer.
      Open the cheese up and cut a nice thin slice, almost paper thin. Place that shit on your tongue like your at Sunday mass and it’s the body of your lord and savior and eat the hell out of it. Do this about 4 more times as you let the sauce reduce. Be sure to alternate eating the cheese with sipping the wine–or the blood, if we’re still using the whole In Hoc Signo metaphor.
      Taste the sauce, be mindful of the saltiness. Grate about 3 tablespoons worth of the Parm Reg into the sauce. Taste the sauce again, this taste should now be at your desired saltiness. Mix the sauce for a few minutes, until you can no longer see the cheese.
      Sit back and watch the sauce bubble for a few minutes. Have some more cheese and wine, go ahead. We can calorie count tomorrow, live in the present like a Buddhist or whatever.
      Now, here’s a tricky part, the cinnamon. You might think I’m crazy for saying to add this, but I’m not. This is where some of the complexity comes in, and where that “pizza sauce” taste really starts to happen. Get a tiny pinch of cinnamon, and I mean tiny, like super tiny, barely a dusting. Sprinkle that into the sauce and mix to combine. Using too much cinnamon will make your sauce taste like some real weird shit, so be very careful with the amount here and be sure to taste. I can’t believe I’m telling people to taste as they cook, that should be obvious, but I see even on the Food Network sometimes that people don’t taste what they cook. What the hell are they thinking?
      Once you’ve added the cinnamon, stir the sauce for a nice long while, it should be really starting to thicken up now. Give the sauce one last taste and add whatever else you may think it requires–this part’s up to you and if you fuck it up, well too damn bad, get a better palate…or stop cooking, I really don’t care, genuinely, it would be difficult for me to care any less, go order a pizza you inept beast.
      Shut the heat off and stir the sauce until it’s cool, store in a fridge-safe container, put your ingredients away, and wash the dishes because if you don’t, you know damn well they’ll be sitting in that sink for four more days until the residue mixes with the high-lead content water and turns into some nasty pale pink monstrosity that you’ll force your partner to clean like, “Oh, but I did the dishes last time, babe!”
      After you’ve neatly stored everything away, go put another record on, something with a nice groove, night-time music, you know? Something gentle, but strong enough to bob your head to. Shut off the overhead lighting, drain the rest of that bottle of wine, eat the other half of that orange–because oranges are just about the finest fruit on this planet–and then do whatever it is you do now that you’re drunk and (presumably) alone.
INGREDIENTS
>I really don’t feel like listing ingredients. Just read what I said and guess the amounts. It’s not like I know what I’m talking about at all anyway.
Bon Apetit.

Proust Questionnaire: Alexander C. Perry

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Today we continue the Proust Questionnaire Series with Alexander C. Perry.  Alexander is new to Domesticated Primate.  He has written a collection of old school horror stories in the vein of HP Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury titled, “Lonesome Dark Forgotten Nightmares.”

The conceit of the collection is that the stories were found in a box in the author’s attic and that upon some research, certain coincidences and synchronous events have led us to believe that these stories may in fact be true accounts.  The book is currently in the second phase of editing and will be out sometime later this year.  But for now, get to know your author, AC Perry…

NAME: Alexander C. Perry

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  Being unable to express yourself or utter loneliness.

Where would you like to live?  In a small cabin on the side of a mountain in New England.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?  Appreciating things and being appreciated.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?  Lying.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?  Rustin Cohle, Guy Montag.

Who are your favorite characters in history?  Francisco de Miranda, Maximilien Robespierre, Aurelian.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?  My sister.

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?  Dana Scully, Elmindreda Farshaw.

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Untitled–Beksinski, date unknown

Your favorite painter?  Zdzisław Beksiński.

Your favorite musician?  I’ve become attached to Current 93 lately.

The quality you most admire in a man?  Humility.

The quality you most admire in a woman?  Adventurousness.

Your favorite virtue?  Helpfulness.

Your favorite occupation?  Dreaming.

Who would you have liked to be?  A dog, dogs have the most fun.

Your most marked characteristic?  I’m an introvert.

What do you most value in your friends?  Their ability forgive me when I act like an ass.

What is your principle defect?  Stubbornness.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?  Losing your mind.

What would you like to be?  Remembered.

What is your favorite color?  They’re all nice depending on how they’re presented.

What is your favorite flower?  Daisy.

What is your favorite bird?  Swan.

Who are your favorite prose writers?  Thomas Ligotti, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard.

Who are your favorite poets?  David Tibet, Clark Ashton Smith.

What are your favorite names?  Names out of the ancient world, dead but not forgotten.

What is it you most dislike?  Ignorance.

What historical figures do you most despise? I can’t say they I despise any historical figures, they’re either interesting or uninteresting to me.

What event in military history do you most admire?  The Battle of Adrianople. Barbarian rebels moved against the Roman Empire and beat them. The emperor at the time was slain in the fighting. It’s a great story.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?  The ability to pick up and play any instrument effortlessly.

How would you like to die?  Peacefully at a time of my choosing.

What is your present state of mind?  Darkly content.

What is your motto?  The only person you can trust 100% of the time is yourself.