PUNK: Lonesome American Memoirs

24. Lambency for the indigent

They say that to admit vice is no virtue. And when I hear that said, I’m tempted to break character and give you a little wink. The shame of judgment, contempt prior to investigation, is the deepest wound the ignorant have to offer. Not because the silence, or the poor opinion mean anything at all, but because we ourselves hoist the poison to our lips and can not seem to stop drinking.

Is there virtue in here? Is there virtue anywhere? I am afraid you are going to have to make those sort of moral decisions for yourself. Unfortunately when the bell begins to chime in the valley of hatred and self-pity, we all walk to the temple in our bare feet and blood red robes alone. I do have a question. It is, perhaps, my question. Something that I’ll have to work out for myself. But considering the circumstances (I have just finished telling you the story of my life and death, or you’re one of those dreadful people who skip to the end of books so that you can tell people you read them,) it would only be fair to negotiate the contents of the scale while we are still sitting here together. I’m not sure there is any more fairness in the world that we enjoy virtue, but you know what I mean. I feel sure of that.

Is it better to expose myself, to tell the story as I am compelled to, or is it more prudent to retain the vile details and disguise myself amongst ordinary people as if I were an every man?

A common set of decent values would lead me to believe that to tell you my secrets, exposing myself to you, is a burden on your heart and soul. An inconvenience. The very act of confession, or explanation with or without having been asked ought to be reserved for my Gautama Buddha, or local cleric.

Assuming that the exposition is a creative act, and creation is in itself a relative hudud to those who must, as opposed to a flamboyant act of vanity, then what is the alternative? If there ever was a statue at Sloan Square, I can assure you it was most certainly of Haratio Nelson and not of Sid Vicious. Though by rights and relevance the only right thing to do would be to politely ask the shopkeepers to evacuate immediately and let the land go back to seed. There are, however, many accounts of the era in question. Many have gone to great length and into serious detail to describe that came, changed everything with spit on its chin and then slumped off into some corner and waited. It’s true that everyone’s experience is unique, that no other account of this era or these sort of experiences quite approximate my own. And yet, the road is so well worn that it bears little resemblance to the simple concrete sidewalks with craft merchants, homeless lunatics, characters and prophets of politics and philosophy who’s days were numbered even then. The landscape now is broad and generous, but the earth is barren, and no water remains. There is nothing to drink for hundreds of miles.

It may also be that to arrive prepared to expose yourself is the only right thing to do. That to appear, hands washed and hair combed with something to say for yourself is the very least that each of us can do as a means of contribution to the collection plate. That without these tales of forgiveness, love, heartbreak and sodomy then the only thing left to do is keep lying. I could be wrong, and sadly I am wrong all the time, but I suspect that if I had continued my course of self-deception and hatred, you and I would have never met. We simply wouldn’t be having this conversation. Personally, and I can only speak for my end of this little talk, I would be sorry not to have at least extended my hand to you in love and friendship.

So if I have loaded more wood onto your wagon than she can carry then I offer you my humblest Bronx cheer, and present you with a wet raspberry. Fresh fruit is good for you. I wonder if you remember to eat enough of it?

Little boy, you angry and stubborn young man. It’s going to be ok. The truth is you have always been ok. I ask nothing of you but that we huddle together when it becomes so painful that you can no longer carry your own weight. Allow me the privilege of wrapping my arms around you, lifting you to my shoulder, and bringing you with me the rest of the way. You have grown lighter in the last twenty odd years, and though your defenses remain as sharp as a straight razor, as much as you hate it when I talk about these things, I know you pretty well and can lift you without getting too deeply cut.

I love you so much. You proud, brave, stupid, stupid little flower. Your heart breaks open, and I run to comfort you. As if I were the teacher, and you were the blunt instrument. When I am so arrogant, and forget my rightful place in the universe, you are wise, and always remind me that I’ve got it backwards again.

Thank you for the adventures you have treated me to. I would have never had the courage to investigate this place without you. Thank you for the heartache, the torment and suffering. You carried that weight all by yourself, and I still have absolutely no idea how you survived.

When I was on my knees, in tears, begging for relief, you scooched up beside me and whispered, Wus into my ear. When I thought I would die because Maria Dolan did not love me any more, you sat with me in silence for years while I recovered. She joined us for a while, and we all found out that love walks in, and though it seems the world should stop, and yellow flowers ought to fall from the sky, she turns on her Joan and David flat and walks right back out again. It seems yellow is not her color. But what you pointed out so quickly, was that the inflorescence are falling twenty-four hours a day, and we are all blind.

May your hair be showered in blossoms. May the sun always rise in your eyes. May your arms heal, and your heart flow freely like a river.

Goodnight my friend. We probably won’t travel this way again, but it’s been wonderful to hold your hand for most of the way so far.

Now for the rest of you, I think it’s time we got back to work, don’t you? Be the prophet of rage that you were meant to be. Shine in everything you do, even if all you do is drive poorly and act innocent. Love everyone you meet with all your heart, and never forget that sometimes love is a baseball bat. Tell your dental hygienist thank you, no matter how many fillings you get. And try your best to take a shower at least once a week. I know it’s murder on your hair, but trust me, it just looks so much better when it’s clean.

Table of contents
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24
Musicology, Errata