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Unfreedom trail

Monday 8/7/23

Ran 5000 stairs yesterday at City Hall. There was a woman's shoe on the stairs of my building between the first and second floors when I left. After I got back, a woman was standing outside at the door. Thirty, perhaps. She said she was waiting to be buzzed in by her friend, which was apparent.

I let her in, then kind of took myself off to the side from the stairs to get out of the way, because I was disgusting and I also just wanted to bend over, put hands on knees, gather myself for a few seconds, as I generally do upon returning. I was dripping everywhere, shirt saturated, top half of my shorts soaked through with sweat. The headband, the whole post-workout deal. (My shirt is also ripped under both arms, to complete the ensemble.) I'd say that I look like a guy who is focused on his own personal physical matters right then and there. Pretty locked-in.

This woman waits for me to go up the stairs in front of her, like I've tried to get myself into position for her to go up first so I can ogle her from behind in her leggings. You could tell that's what she was thinking. A stair regiment wouldn't have been the worst thing for her is what I would have been more likely to have in my mind, if I'd been regarding her physically at all. The worlds that people live in. Their private worlds, so far away from reality.

Rather than belabor anything or say, "I'm just standing here for a bit," I ascended instead, thanking her for letting me go first--like I didn't know what had passed through her head--and of course she picks up the shoe and sure enough, there was the matching shoe outside of the door of the apartment facing the stairs that belonged to her friend. The woman behind me started knocking vigorously on said door as I carried on down the hall, but it was clear that no one would be coming for a while.

Was at a cafe reading Michael Cox’s biography of M.R. James, and was treated to this bit of bon mot from the North End habitués later on:

One no-necked gentleman on behalf of several others at his table: “Yous guys shoulda given him a beating.”

Dejected no-necked gentleman speaking on behalf of absent friends: “Eh, you can’t do beatings no more like you used to.”

I know the kind of beating they were talking about: one guy on the ground, bunch of other guys kicking the shit out of him.

I was passing through North Square once. There's this restaurant next to Paul Revere's house called Limoncello. The owner was outside smoking a cigar and half a dozen guys were kicking the shit out of some guy on the ground as the owner looked on idly. Daylight. A zero-stress situation for the owner. He could have been watching one of those street-sweepers passing by, such was the look of boredom and ordinariness on his face. Then he just said, "Okay, come on guys, game's starting," and they got a few more kicks in as the attack tapered off because the Celtics had a playoff game.

There is now a North End mob tour. "Learn the unofficial history of the North End. The unfreedom trail."

So much sloppiness out there.

It is hard for me to take a person seriously who hasn't mastered second grade-grammar, which means it's hard to take many people seriously. I saw a post from Peter Gammons yesterday on Twitter. I've never really had any respect or regard for him as a writer or would-be baseball expert. I thought even back in his "prime" he was a simple person's version of a leading authority, the airport bookstore equivalent of an expert. You know those history books that get sold in airport bookstores for that person who reads that kind of thing--the one book on that subject--and then thinks they know it all and let you know it like they've studied the matter for decades.

It's rare that someone is going to read a book of any kind--and the publishing industry gives them few reasons to, so it's not like I blame them entirely--and if they read a book on one subject, they almost certainly will never read any other book on that subject, unless it's the Beatles and that's what passes for their main interest in life. Though there are people who read baseball books. Anyway, his post was better written than other posts, because he's whatever age he is. He comes from a different time when not everyone bordered on illiterate. What do you think happened? People made fun of him, said how bad he was at posting. Because it wasn't terribly written. And that meant they couldn't understand it and it looked old-fashioned.

Whereas this morning, I see a post from a guy with ample man breasts and a black T-shirt with the word "freedom" in all caps on it, getting thousands of responses, as he writes her's for hers dozens of times over.

This is what people want: a fellow idiot. That is most of everything. Are you as dumb as I am? People simply want to have the recognition that someone else is the same as they are. They don't care what that person is saying, if it's interesting, funny. They just want to see sameness. This is the governing principle of culture, society, and humanity at present. To look and see the same equals good. To look and see different equals bad. To look and see someone better equals some combo of hate, shunning, fear, envy, meltdown.

The thing, too, is that so many of these borderline illiterates went to college. What does that say about college then? This guy went to college. And he's sticking that apostrophe on hers. Someone with a degree from a place of "higher learning." That's a joke. What is the point? Why have the institutions? It's obviously predominantly a racket to put money in people's pockets and give them a career (meaning the people who work at those institutions), but few people are learning anything. I know that it borders on the impossible that I will see a single sentence this week on social media that is so much as grammatically correct. I won't see anything intelligent. But I won't even see a single post that rises to that level of acceptable second grade English. It will not happen. It'd be shocking. (And I think it logically follows that if you haven't mastered second grade-level English--or even come close to it--you won't know anything about anything, because it doesn't get more basic than that, and to know about the French Revolution or Miles Davis or prohibition or the Korean War means you went out and tried to learn something which I don't believe that people who haven't mastered second grade-level English would do.)

I had to switch tables yesterday when I was somewhere else because this woman wouldn't stop staying the word "literally." I could not take it. She used it in nearly every sentence. "I literally got up at 1:30 this afternoon." Who the hell gets up at 1:30? What are the logistics of that? If you get up at 1:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday, what time do you go to bed that night? Do you go to bed at four in the morning the next day? Then how do you get up for work? I ask who gets up at this time, but I don't think it's that rare. (NB: Presumably this was not Lady Stair-Shoe from my building.)

One of the reasons people want to see that sameness is because they have no sense of self. To have the sense of self, you need self-awareness. People don't have that, of course. When you don't have self-awareness and knowledge of the self, you can't have confidence, or should I say, self-belief. Confidence can be an attitude; self-belief is the knowledge of what you are and the understanding that what that is is good. Which means almost everyone is cripplingly insecure. To the point of terror. That's how pervasive their doubt is. They doubt themselves totally. (As most should. If you're not trying, there isn't going to be very much there. You need to try. You need to be committed. You need standards for yourself, and they need to keep evolving. You need points you are trying to reach that get succeeded by other points. You need to always be trying to build. And if you're not doing these things and you're just there, there will just be nothing, and you will be just be nothing. And if you're nothing, what reason would you have not to doubt yourself? The answer for most people: that they can look and see that other people are the way they are. That is their sole reason, and it also means nothing. But it's why they value sameness over anything else. It gives them the illusion they need in order to live.)

When you doubt yourself totally and live in this crippling fear, you are desperate not to feel more fear and doubt. For relief. Thinking that someone else is the same as you does the trick. You need that. Then you think you can't be that bad. It's comforting. And that's all it is. Not healthy comforting. This explains the popularity of anyone or anything in the world at the current time. I'm trying to be the sole exception to what is now the rule of our world. Because that is why everyone likes anyone that they like right now whom they don't know personally. Are you like me? Do you know what I know? Do what I do? Try as hard as I don't try? Write like I do? Could I be you? Do you use the same words? The same expressions? Do you think the same things? Do you talk the same way? Are we on the same level?

It's "Are you like me?" and not "Are you good at this?"

Further: the affirmative answer to the former question trumps the value that comes from what that person is good at, no matter the enormity of that value.

Yes, you are like me presently beats out This is the most entertaining, inspiring, moving, enlightening thing ever.

It renders the latter void. If the latter is true, that means that someone was able to create that thing, which makes that person the enemy, because that person wouldn't be at all like that other person.

Whereas, I am not like anyone at all. And that's it. That's the problem to be solved. It all comes back to this one thing, for as complex as all of this is, and the million sub-problems; but they all debouch into this one larger problem. There is nothing about me, what I do, how I do it, the level I do it at, that is at all like anything or anyone else in the world. Hence this situation.

Red Sox were obliterated 13-1 yesterday at the Blue Jays completed their sweep at Fenway Park. Put the game on in the fifth inning and they were already talking on the broadcast about the likelihood of a position player coming in to pitch. Usually that kind of talk doesn't start until the seventh at the earliest.

Yesterday marked 2583 days, or 369 weeks, without a drink.

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