Five Easy Pieces

Thinking of You

The em-pirical Emdot did a fun blogmemething a week or so ago, in which she answered five questions from a friend and then offered to turn the interview table on a few proud bloggy volunteers. I ponied up to take my five, only a day or so after her cutoff deadline, and I may be late late late but the questions she concocted were great fun to answer. Asks La Em:

1.) The ubiquitous superhero question. You are a superhero. What are your three powers? What is your costume? What is your theme song?

As it happens, I am a superhero. But sshhh, don’t tell. Secret identity. You know the gig.

  • Hermione Granger Time-Turning Adobe Cloning Awesomeness: This simple silver charm, when it comes in contact with my super-powered skin, creates a duplicate Linus and returns him to sunrise of that day to catch up on all those things no one ever has time to do (but really should, in this best of all possible worlds). Come nightfall we merge and join up memories and experiences. So AlterLinus can wait on those lines, take care of all that paperwork, organize the closets, go to the gym, play computer games for the rest of the afternoon and then nip out catch some great local music and a burlesque while Linus One is out busting crime rings, containing supervillains, and trying to keep up the front at the Day Job.
  • Jungian Archetypal Penetrating Gaze: Supervillains aren’t really bad — well, a few, and you know who you are. They’re just unhappy. The JAPG reveals that they are simply externalizing their rejection of a society which denies them satisfaction as individuals, and through a few rigorous sessions of analysis and therapy helps them to moderate their needs and urges. It’s also good against the sort of religious people whose idea of God is telling you what to do. Off-hours, the JAPG is a handy accessory over a good beer to remind those special girls that yes, I am the guy they’ve been looking for all those years.
  • Neo/Max Payne Bullet Time Arm-Wavy Goodness: You know that slo-mo dodging thing Neo and the agents can do in the Matrix movies, which was immediately snapped up by the Rockstar Games Max Payne computer game as “bullet time”? Every superhero worth his pinstripes needs a defensive ability, and that one is just cool.

Did he say “pinstripes”? My legs are a little on the stubby side for Spandex, so instead I’m going for the dashing shirtsleeve old-fashioned English look. High-waisted trousers, gray pinstripe (black pinstripe for night work) with light pleating and sturdy pockets; a vest-and-cummerbund ensemble, satin for those night jobs and parties, and whimsical paisleys for day work. The vest is where I store the utility belt stuff and the various super-gadgets we all need to get through our super-days. Square-toed comfortable leather boots — if there’s one thing out of Texas that makes sense it’s boots with suits, string ties a close second. Comlink cufflinks, and a sturdy bowler to ward off evil super villain mind-control attacks. In cold weather or for special occasions, I might make a quick dogleg along these lines. NO not the kilt, the guy on the right. Although I might look pretty good in a kilt.

Song? I was trying to work in some early REM, say Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars) or Perfect Circle or Catapult — “Not everyone can carry the weight of the world … but Linus The Bold isn’t just anyone,” that sort of thing — but really, this was decided the moment I heard the question. It’s the theme from Mighty Mouse. “Here I come to save the day!” Yep.

2.) A friend from faraway is coming to visit. Name three things you must show this person so that they fully understand the greatness of where you live and why.

These are the best questions ever. New York City is all things to all people, so what I want to show my visiting friend is my personal brightly-lit shape of it. I’m assuming, like when they give you R-S-T-L-N-E on Wheel of Fortune, that visits to the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty (that always comes out “statute” on the first go, always) don’t count here, and instead we’re moving right into texture and grace notes. The links here will bring you to my photo sets on Flickr, for those who like visual aids.

  • Coney Island: We’re going to ride the Cyclone; you think you’ve been on cool roller coasters before, but there’s nothing like this one, especially from either the front or the back. We’ll do a re-ride for a buck off. We’re going to eat Nathan’s hot dogs and crinkle-cut fries and marvel at how good they taste when they’re right off Surf Avenue. We’ll walk the boardwalk and gaze up at the Parachute Drop; we’ll ride the Wonder Wheel twice, once in late afternoon looking out at New York harbor, and once by dark hung in the galaxy of city lights. We’ll go on the spook house ride, which is very dopey but I love spook house rides. We’ll go to the Freak Show and afterward I’ll introduce you to a couple of the freaks if people I know are working that day. Maybe the itinerant Area 51 guy will be in town with his “alien bones” exhibit, which costs only fifty cents to get ripped off for fifty cents. We’ll take inevitable pictures of the run-down facade of the vacant Coney Island Museum building. We’ll go look for Totonno’s Pizza, where I’ve never been because (a) I’m not down there very often, and (b) I always forget to look up where it is before I go. And when we’re done with all of that, we’ll sleep like stones.
  • The Ventura and New York Harbor: There is nothing as central to my summers as the Good Ship Ventura, a charter boat out of North Cove downtown. These sailing trips through our remarkable harbor, and occasionally up the East River or the Hudson, are oasis and sweat lodge and watery soul rehab balled into one. Whole vacations in a single afternoon, sometimes stretching into messy drinky night revels. As is only proper. Maybe Captain Pat will take us into the Erie Basin, so we can look at the sunken lightship there.
  • A Night at the Burlesque: And what would a visit to my New York be without a weekend night-into-morning burlesque show at the Slipper Room, ideally a giddy sloppy one with the whole cast of characters: Miss Saturn and Scotty the Blue Bunny of course, and also Julie Atlas Muz, Harvest Moon, Creamy Stevens, Little Brooklyn, Miss Delirium Tremens, and all the rest? If the timing is good, you may even meet the shrill dregs of the evil Dr. Donut.

3.) You get one month off from work fully paid, but the catch is that you are required to travel the entire time. Where do you go?

Only a month? Whistle stop out to the West Coast first, and we make our initial stop in Seattle for some of that yes-it’s-a-tourist-thing-but-man-is-it-fun seafood on the pier, the kind where they dump that whole pot of crabs potatoes fish chunks and shellfish onto your table and give you a fork and a mallet. A quick zip through the Pike Place Market (mandatory consult at the donut stand just in from the pig, and then half an hour or so at the fish-throwers), a Frappucino at the original Starbucks, and a beer at one of the Elysian Brewing brewpubs. Portland for a day, but our destination really is a return trip to the Tall Trees Grove in the Redwood National Park, and after the hike down and the sweaty climb out a stop for coffee and the best. pie. in. America. at the Palm Diner in Orick, just across from the turnoff road to the trees. I’m not kidding about that pie.

Maybe a night in Arcata — that movie theatre is adorable and I didn’t have time to see a feature there last time — but the next heading now is San Luis Obispo, for all the obvious reasons. Just a day there is just enough to get my feet wet, but rules are rules, and come morning it’s time to trickle down the Coast bound for LAX, sooner or later, and from there it’s off further West.

I’m having a hankering for Hawaii, but this doesn’t feel like the time, so it’s straight to New Zealand. I’ve never been there or Oz, but we’ll spend a few days to mark out an index for future visits — this is all on the company expense account, right? That was what we agreed? Sri Lanka is next, to visit my brother Ethan and his new wife, Aussie Jane. We’re probably halfway through the month, by now.

If trekking counts as “travel” then I’ll head for Nepal. My night in Kathmandu, at the Century Lodge on Jhochhen Tole of course (a.k.a. Freak Street, even if the Thamel is cooler these days), will be spent remembering the last time I was there back in 1991. I did the Langtang/Helambu trek back then, so this time I’ll go for Annapurna. That pretty much burns up my month right there, and what a glorious one it was. On the way back we snatch a day in Darjeeling, where we eat momos and drink salted buttered tea.

4.) What are three things that would surprise people to learn about you?

  • In high school I was an acoustic folkie flower child. Tie-dye and pendants, hair down to my waist, Judy Collins and Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell and Arlo Guthrie and everything. I’ve had long hair a couple of times, but the butt-length pony tail was dramatic and made for extremely long showers.
  • In 1980 I hitchhiked something like 12,000 miles: the big summer trip went New York to L.A. via the hippy-dippy-at-the-time Upper Peninsula of Michigan (where I spent a week in Eskinaba), L.A. up the coast (insert joint-inhaling sound here) to Vancouver, across Oregon to an abrupt encounter with the Idaho Highway Patrol, down to Battle Mountain, Nevada (which has the town initials, B.M., carved into the nearby hills — an unfortunate choice — and which is where I first encountered the dread southern smegma-like White Gravy) and then back to NYC. There were sidetrips up to Boston and down to New Orleans, out to Amherst, and others.
  • The first album I ever bought on my own was Linda Ronstadt‘s Prisoner in Disguise, and I’ve been a Linda fan ever since. I know. We’re not going to discuss it here.

5.) Time Travel time. Do you pedal backwards to a bygone day or shoot forward into the future?

The future is what we make of it — I’m going there later anyway, so why rush? Yes, it would be cool to see the spaceships and all (or the post-apocalypse, if we don’t smarten up quick), but it won’t be any of mine if we go that far ahead. No, put me back bygone instead, where I can watch something beautiful or tragic. I’ll marvel at how we made it past those messy early steps, and at how much better the food is in the present when you get right down to it.

Keeping the Meme: If you want your own interview with your very own personalized questions, let me know by comment or email and I’ll compose your session, which you are welcome to answer at far less length than I’ve done. (I get OC that way, sometimes.) Offer stands until midnight Saturday June 25, unless I change my mind, in which case it will stand until I change my mind.

About Linus

The man behind the curtain. But couldn't we get a nicer curtain?
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