My last year+ in New York has been eventful, to say the least. Some might say challenging. Others have said it was a bitch. Being arrested and seeing my friends arrested for exercising our first amendment rights with Occupy Wall Street - not being able to smoke almost anywhere - the rigors of looking for a new position in a crippled job market. The general politics and pessimistic outlook of the country at large. Hurricanes. The American hallmark of mass public shootings. The general malaise and hubris I saw coming on when I first shipped out for Korea in 1995, made me long for Asia:)
So recently, when a friend told me about a Chinese video game room (비디오 방 in Korean) where I could use a nice computer for 15 hours for $10 total, buy cigarettes for $6.50 a pack vs.the standard $14, bring in my own beer, and nap during the session if needed, I felt like I was going home - to a place like many in Asia and even a few in Europe I frequented. The only catch is that you must use the computer time in one stretch.
And so I was off to Chinatown away from the watchful eye of a government that shows more concern over what size soda I drink than whether I own an automatic weapon or not, to exercise all the rights I used to have in this country - once upon a time.
The main lure of course, is the cheap computer time, having had my laptop crash last winter and not having replaced it. The other things, are just a convenience, and a comfort if you will, for someone who has spent the last 16 years out of country in lands of the more free.
Using my 15 hrs, in two stretches, I was able to do a massive amount of uploading and processing on the over 1300 paintings rendered at iTOMB, clear a years worth of email, write a proposal for a Pringles/Star Wars promo , smoke all the while, and only have to hear Gangnam Style a few hundred times. All the computers have speakers and gamers tend to favour them over headphones. I use headphones. And that's where the film clip above comes in.
As I edit, organize and retouch art, it's always nice to have a soundtrack in the background. For over 30 years, My Dinner With Andre, a film By Louis Malle with Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory as both writers and actors, has been one of my favourites - not for it's visuals, but for the narative that begs one to imagine broader, more free and open thoughts - much of what I try to impart at iTOMB.
And the last two minutes of the film might quite be my favourite ever, with the spare piano of Erik Satie. He treats himself to a cab, riding home through a city of complexity, considering his simple life, and how it really is not so simple at all, but resigned and calmed - much the way I feel now. Much the way I feel in this oriental island on the larger island of Manhattan. Much the way I wonder, just how all of this will play out. Like Wallace, looking out the window as he rides.