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THE WAVE SPEECH, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

"Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.…

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket… booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change)... but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that…

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda.… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.…

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.…

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

072922

in Retiro, I finished Fear and Loathing. I have been fiendishly taking notes in my hieronymous Bosch notebook I got from el Prado and thinking about my life. 'to be cool' would be a lackluster motivator for all the things I want to accomplish...everything feels much more intense and meaningful than that. spending more time alive seems like it has instilled in me a more intense sense of time.
in Claudia's apartment in madrid we eat jamón, pavo, and queso as we work, waiting for 10p.m so we can head out for dinner. the air sits hot and stagnant, so far we are from the coast, and even then not very far. the sun beats down and at 3p.m. it is so hot, but not unbearably so, but the people still disappear. on august 1 everyone will flee to the sea, claudia says, leaving madrid empty for a month. tomorrow we will blablacar to lisbon, and hopefully everything will work out fine. when I get back I feel dedicated to my art, and being more ruthless with my time—24 is a year to get serious, 25 is when Dalí started his most famed years. all the painters study the old masters, all of them are inspired by the words and lives and works of the ones who paved the road before them. . . in my notebook I have written so many treatises to myself for how to sculpt my life in San Francisco when I am back, sculpt it as art.

thanks chris—
Príncipe Discos: the highway to royalty

reading mood ring and am surprised at how much Amy's strange and completely unfounded identity crisis resembles mine from 2019-2020. many of the things she has written could be pulled straight out of my journal, as I grappled with feeling like an empty shell of a person with no distinguishable personality traits, while everyone around me had a clear 'nugget of identity' that they cohered around, as I used to say. its crazy to think how easy it is for some of us to feel this way when clearly our friends and peers see us as complex, multifaceted characters in our own rights—Amy, with an insatiable curiosity about people and things and an animated desire to dig deeper into life, unlimited energy in an exciting situation and a desire to seek out the alternative, generally laid-back and considerate, along for the ride, but privy to intense emotion and sentimentality (with a healthy dose of self-awareness and a particular sensitivity to affect), and of course strikingly beautiful, lithe. now when I think about it the nuggets I was reducing my friends to were not whole pictures, I was stereotyping them, or reducing them—Ella as recluse hermit fairy girl, Zach as hipster multidisciplinary anprim white boy, Jeffrey as crazy rich hip asian. my friends have fluid personalities, and surely I do too, and that is more than OK...
Amy's criticisms of her own writing also remind me of myself, and particularly a conversation I had with Jon where I lamented being so referential, feeling like I was a medium through which other people or other things expressed themselves without having any sort of character or quirks of my own, and he said that he felt that I was so singularly engaged with the world that it was shocking to hear me say I felt a loss of identity, when clearly to devour and reflect on culture, parse it through our brain and make sense of it, apply your newfound knowledge and learnings to other areas of your life is such an egoistic thing, asserts the individual so concretely...and besides, who's deciding those things are interesting anyway, besides you? Amy, if you ever read this, perhaps it will make you feel better, as it clearly also applies to you...

072722

A WHIRLWIND LAST FEW DAYS. . .
I landed in madrid midday and took a taxi to Claudia's apartment on conde de aranda, well-appointed with yellow mid-century modern accent chairs and a magnificent restored fresco. I took a long, deep nap after eating (drinking?) some fridge gazpacho, then clocked in for my job at 6pm. we took a break for dinner—pulpo, croquetas, vino rojo, a red lobster rice dish that I don't remember the name of. the city was mired in a dark, stagnant heat.
friday morning we got up early, ish, made our way to estación de Atocha, en route grabbing some little sandwiches and cappuccinos from Mallorca down the street. after waiting in line at the Avis kiosk in the blistering heat, we finally made it out of madrid around 11am, in a Mercedes no less. we were headed to TOLEDO, to see the cathedral. it took us a silly 2 hours to get there, as the GPS was set to avoid highways and tunnels, a fact we did not realize until far too late. we meandered through abandoned little villages (claudia says that Spain's rural towns are undergoing a population crisis, as young people are moving to urban centers) like villaconejos, town of bunnies. when we finally reached old toledo, we parked illegally by a church, narrowly escaping the decidedly car-unfriendly alleys. Toledo felt romantic and ancient, cobblestone and medieval buildings.
hungry, we ate at casa Antonio, a simple meal of boquerones en vinagre, gazpacho, tortilla de patatas, aside a Coca Cola Zero, a Coca Cola normal, y una botella de agua, our standard beverage order for the rest of the trip.
the Toledo cathedral was so beautiful—we did the audioguía and walked around for a good hour or so. I wondered what drama occurred in those medieval walls, what gossip, what illicit affairs, what torment. if only these walls could talk? the whole place was so brilliantly ornamented, so meticulously embellished, to exist at a time where beauty was prioritized in this way would have been so cool. the main chapel was breathtaking, stories of biblical illustrations encased in gold leaf, painted in vibrant colors. the muslim influence on the building, seen most prominently in one of the chambers to the side, was cool as well. in the sacristy was a magnificent fresco and a painting of Jesus in red that I stared at for a while, his expression so moving. so much inspiration to be derived from these rooms, walls, ceilings, from the level of detail, the patterning, use of color. outside claudia and Amy showed me a row of huge people on wheels, some in racist caricature, likely for some festival. before heading back on the road, we stopped to try marzipan, a Toledo specialty alongside leather and knives, and saw the world's largest marzipan sculpture of don Quixote. we made a short stop at CONSUEGRA to see the windmills, quaint and comparatively not very old (from the 1800s). the wind up on the hills was hot and strong, the town below us desolate, quiet in late July, or maybe all the time. all the towns felt eerily empty, we couldn't tell if it was because of urbanization, the heat wave, or the European tradition of a summer pilgrimage to the coast. regardless, it felt special to be able to experience many of these towns without feeling like we were part of a mass of tourists; instead we were merely casually and individually foreign, strangers to a distant land.
we arrived in CÓRDOBA at sundown, a beautiful soft light illuminating the poetic streets. our apartment on plaza del potro had a skinny door that we had to shed our backpacks to get through, many flights of dark wooden stairs, and air conditioning, thankfully. pigeons chirped outside our third-floor window while Amy took a work call. we went on a pre-dinner walk through an old red plaza, the ruins of a roman temple, and a more modern city center with fountains and high-end shopping. tabernas and tiendas lined the streets, a decent amount of people milling about in the late evening. we ate on the rooftop of casa Rubio, a beautiful little restaurant overlooking the puerta de Almodóvar. we had salmorejo (the first of many), ensalada de rusa con pulpo, y flamenquín cordobés while the sun set to black. after, we got gelato (mine with flan) and we walked it off around the mesquita and the bridge.
in the morning we got cappuccinos and pan con tomate and went to meet our mesquita guide, Lola, who knew Claudia's family. at the mesquita we learned about the different eras of conquest in Córdoba (the Visigoths became a recurring meme), the interaction between the religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) and how they shaped the city, and the constantly evolving restoration of the mesquita itself. it was crazy to see the ways in which the moors re-used the roman columns in building their mesquita, over the remains of the Visigoth episcopal church, and then how in turn the christians retrofitted the mesquita after the conquest to turn it into a church, where now people still go for mass. it's the trippiest place ever—in the middle of the mesquita is just a giant white cathedral that feels like it just came out of nowhere, with vaulted ceilings and crazily ornate organs. it was interesting to note how the christians changed the whole light of the space by covering the previously open archways to create chapels, heightened the cathedral area to create windows to allow natural light to establish that as the primary focal point of the space. what would it have been like, we wondered, to be (a man) worshipping Allah in this space in the year 700 AD? what would the experience of the building have been like?
after wandering around Córdoba a little more, along the Calle de las Flores and in the hidden courtyard of a leather workshop that smelled strongly of dye, we departed for the first stop on our journey to Cádiz, MARINALEDA. I found out about marinaleda from atlas obscura, which explained how the small town was a communist farming coop with woke murals, including a massive one of che at the rec center. indeed, the streets were named for Salvador Allende and libertad y solidaridad, although were completely empty as we drove through there at peak daytime heat, in the 'frying pan of Spain,' the basin of Genil. we made our way next to SETENIL DE LAS BODEGAS, a white village built into a cliff face, for a delicious lunch. according to legend, the town got its name from avoiding christian reconquest seven times—'seven times no,' in Latin. our lunch was delicious—a definitively unhealthy salad, with balsamic and cheese; fried berenjenas rellenas; some jámon thing; y patatas fritas con ali-oli. Amy accidentally ordered a Coke Zero. I considered getting a magnet but decided some lines needed to be drawn. sétenil would be a great place for an artist residency, I decided...
in the car we discussed myriad things and listened to music, and sometimes I slept. among the topics of conversation were: competitive and sexy female friendships, how to instigate change in one's life, Anna karenina, bird or horse. we listened to disco and soul and indie rock, in the beginning a lot of Tommy Guerrero. we peed at gas stations where we bought things like takis, ice cream, Oreos, Aquariuses. when we got to ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA, the next stop on our itinerary, we got stuck on a one-way road going up to the church, where a bougie Spanish wedding was happening. everyone thought we were strange and some man helped us get past the church and downhill, and we gave him five euros.
upon arriving in CÁDIZ, we went straight to the old town to get the keys for our airbnb, then back 20 minutes outside the city to the car rental area. there, we waited about an hour to get a taxi, the sun setting to our right over the Lidl—finally we just took the bus. claudia wore her mask only halfway in protest. our Cádiz apartment was jank (hair in the shower, no toilet paper, up many flights of stairs), but was well-located and had AC. we went to get dinner but it was 11pm on a Saturday and all the tapas places were popping—we settled on a nondescript seafood place that was definitely not good, and not because they put down a plate of 30 dead shrimp, eyes intact, right in front of me, triggering a mild panic attack. instinctual revulsion is such an interesting feeling, I thought, and one that I never feel, even somehow around the plates of chapulines in Mexico City. something about shrimp, prawn, and Norwegian lobster really got me...
the next day we went to the roman theatre, and discussed the history of comedy and entertainment. there was a funnily rendered educational video in the exhibit that informed us of how women and children were relegated to the porticoes to protect them from the often vulgar shows. on the trip, we kept moving backwards in time—the christians in the Toledo church, the moors in the mesquita, the Visigoths under the ground, and now the romans in Cádiz. we took a break from our digging and went up the Torre tavino for views; we tried to sneak past the camera obscura people to no avail. after some more tapas and little cakes—and after I inadvertently ate a tortillita de camarón which I thought had shrimp pieces and not whole little shrimp, to my dismay—we saw the Phoenician ruins at a puppet theater with another very entertaining educational video, replete with actors and post-production effects. later we decided to go to the beach, where we languished and read under a straw umbrella, and sometimes took a dip in the water, when it got too hot or we had to pee. sipping Tinto verano, I thought about how crazy and raucous and sexy Raoul Duke's life was, and resolved to be more intense and do more drugs, like ether and adrenal gland. after returning to our apartment, we took a walk out to one of the forts before scoring a table at tabernita, by arriving just earlier than the dinner rush. we ate queso, jámon, boquerones, berenjenas, some squid ink thing, all the classic tapas, followed by ice cream and a brief walk.
the next day, we got churros from the churro stand from the 1930s and ate them with chocolate and coffee on the steps of the post office. we traversed the market, which seemed to have not yet fully opened, then went to the cathedral (baroque, not rococo, and not very old), and went into the crypt, where we mused on the intense individual experiences the clergy must have had, in front of large crosses illuminated by a flickering candlelight, breathing in the damp mildew. we walked up the bell tower, a never-ending uphill spiral, to see (and hear) the two kinda hot young men playing flamenco-inspired guitar echoing through the plaza. we got lunch indoors with AC, the best salmorejo with helado, I had a Fanta limón. then to the bluebird cave, a flamenco bar from the 60s that they only recently discovered was built on Phoenician port ruins and thus became an archeological site. our guide was laughably confusing but the space was hip. should we be allowed to club in ruins? we decided yes, at least in a small area.
as we sat down to kill time before the train station claudia realized she bought the train tickets for the wrong day. we left our milquetoast croquetas on the plate and hurried to the station, where she tried to see if we could switch the tickets, unsuccessfully. instead we rented a car, but they only had a manual, so Amy bought claudia a coffee and we hit the road...mostly it was going fine until the car broke down on the side of the highway, 100km to madrid at around 11pm. the Guardia civil, dad-looking men in neon green vests that oddly seemed not dangerous like cops despite carrying guns, stopped behind us and tried to help, waiting until they confirmed the hertz people were sending us help. we waited for about 40 minutes until the tow guy came to take our car, and we (claudia) argued with him to not leave us stranded on the side of the road, which the hertz lady said was definitely illegal. he was upset with us, and he sat on the back of his tow truck waiting for our taxi to come while we stood in the dirt and played Botticelli (Pythagorus, Maimonides, Colbie Caillat.) the taxi finally came and in the delirious two-hour drive back to madrid we played bird or horse, the most idiot activity of all time that counts neither as a game nor a conversation. nick aldridge? definitely bird...
tuesday I went to the Prado and saw garden of earthly delights, and cried. goya's black paintings were also cool. I felt very inspired and had many thoughts and impressions that I now cannot seem to remember. other than painting much more when I go home, becoming generally a more intense person, reading more history and theory, and painting a fresco on my ceiling (probably after I finish the mural and my door...) I don't have any more action items. life is too short...
Amy left early this morning (3:30am) after we went to a vaguely African-inspired restaurant that was probably problematic but had a distinct stylistic vibe and was generally fun.

071522

new job is cool and interesting, love to be around artists, inspiring. living the life I always wanted to, in a conversation with Jason the other day I realized if I was gonna die in a year I would do exactly the same thing I'm doing now. throwing parties, making art, spending time with my family, loving, learning and living San Francisco. what a realization that was, esp. after so many years deep in the hole...
reading about relationship anarchy, deciding how I feel about it. seems woke and in line with my values to forego a label, but some part of me wants to be accepted and recognized in this way that everyone else is, as a girlfriend, as a partner, as someone who deserves to be in a relationship. but then again, aren't I already in that third bucket...? trying to break free of the chains of normalcy and tradition, but also still negotiating my real desires and feelings. life is hard even when everything is going right...
first milk bar party was a huge success, so fun. on cloud 9, so cool to be throwing my first party at the bar at the end of haight street, across from amoeba where we used to shop in high school and take pictures at. all I wanted was to live my dreams, my cool urban hipster life, and that's exactly what I get to do now, I am so lucky. or maybe I manifested it for myself, because im awesome.
heading to madrid next week, doing this new thing where I book one-way tickets and plan nothing. honestly it removes some degree of stress from my life bc I know I'll always figure it out and doesn't feel like planning is this thing I must do or else I will die on the side of the road. feels a little flippant and fun, and isn't that what your 20s are about anyway?
everything is going great with Jason, trying to enjoy it while it lasts and not be tied to an outcome. hard to put into practice when it's been so long since I've met someone I've genuinely connected with, someone who appreciates me for me and makes me feel so good. but to put it in perspective I guess there's always other fish in the sea, and I am a whole person even when I'm single, too, and in fact I paint more and am a better friend. the grass is always greener, or something, even though I love love.
what do I want, anyway? I guess I'm getting all I could desire. a label means little when there is realistically no problem to solve. but deep down maybe I crave some legitimacy, some validation, but it would be nice to not need that in the form of what is said, because obviously I get that from the actual relationship, and when I don't we talk about it and I usually get it in the end anyway. im new to all this, Louis and I never talked about anything, and yet he called me his girlfriend/partner, at least from time to time...
I saw Lou at my party and felt nothing. it was a little bit of a relief now that he's a character in the scene, and I was worried that I might have some strong reaction or feeling towards him. instead it felt like an afterthought, I feel nothing when he texts me and he is just another person for me to inadvertently ghost. it feels nice to have that power. I am smitten with another, and I wait for him to reciprocate...but I guess I am in no rush, Catherine claims this is the best part. im not sure I agree, but it's a good one nonetheless.
madrid, then maybe paris, then up the coast to Oregon and Washington, to martin's poetry retreat. excited for that, excited to see him and be among creatives, to manifest my desires. Jason is lucky to have me, for invites and ideas and company. am I lucky to have him?
a reminder to myself that I built all I have, except my house. it took work and time. and now I am well-situated and I feel blessed. bad luck could have ruined a lot, and I was fortunate to receive opportunities that I then was able to deserve. I know everything will turn soon - my grandma is dealing with a lot, I make my mom sad by not coming home, and it breaks my heart that I haven't talked to my brother in so long - but I am trying to enjoy this moment and be present while it lasts, and shelve my anxiety to the side. focus on creating value, charese says, the things that matter to me. when I thought I was dying the other day in Pacifica I felt acutely the importance of the present moment, as they are so limited. all that matters is the experience, not even really the memories. to continue to create, build, relate, love...what more could anyone want or ask for?

071122

alone in bed after thinking i was having a heart attack, only to head out the door to go to the ER and it goes away suddenly. from thinking that my independence is my crutch to a strength. Charese says to stop comparing myself to others because they havent been through what ive been through. listening to bladee and feeling solace in my aloneness, in my peace with death, in my extreme and troublesome selflessness where i martyr myself like my mom, for points or something, erase myself out of life itself, the ultimate bliss, my life a service. to need no one and nothing is the most all-encompassing relief—it feels like ketamine on the final night of the untz. on the stool at winters tavern i thought that if i were to contract some terminal illness i would die with grace, and a sense of humor. nothing is that serious anyway, i guess, but i appreciate my friends who are always there for me and care about my health and safety, to my perennial surprise. a sense of terror, then a sense of calm—reminds me of the robert hass poem. to cut myself some slack, and to believe in my deservingness and worth—to demand everything and more—to be in control of my well-trodden anxieties and bullshit thoughts and be the agent of my own life and destiny, how i have always wanted and deserved. life is too fragile, too short…

walking back from the smart vip opening in the snow in the dead of a chicago night, louis told me “you’re so beautiful when you cry”— the evilness of those words haunts me to this day, i want to be free of it all…

070622 (cont.)

in Chapultepec after all the major attractions were closed, we rounded the castle as it began to rain, a light sprinkle. we observed how everyone there was canoodling boldly, old, young, with varying levels of intimacy and passion. in search of the perfect place to canoodle, we settled on a bench in front of a bust of Carlos pellicer, where we did so until a man on a bike came around shouting at us all to stop canoodling, the park was closing, thanks for enjoying...
at rosetta we drank coffee, eating pastries and also canoodling, they gave us the best spot, in the corner, and besides the couple in front of us was doing the same thing. it feels so good to feel so good that you can't even think about the cringe of canoodling, of being in a couple, of sacrificing your cool independence. the reframing that works for me, retroactively, is that it's different when it's a lover, not mi novio, not mi esposo, something maybe more vague, existing outside the confines of category, and therefore more romantic, more suave...
at the airport, we almost missed our flight, despite being there 2 hours ahead of schedule, and I appreciated his calmness, only individually occupying 10 minutes of silent tension that never once broke the surface, no semblance of shared frenzy.
I get mad at him for not wearing his seatbelt here, but in the beat where it's optional, he moved to the middle seat so I could fall asleep on his shoulder.
when we reached home, we canoodled for many more hours, in the sandwich line, in bed, doing k on the couch which we moved to face the deck, watching the sun set over the panoramic view of the peninsula. we didn't make it to the sunset, fell asleep in a cocoon instead.
in the uber to the airport I lamented our leaving, so exciting it is to be in a new place, where the mere act of situating yourself is stimulating enough to fill days on end. he reminded me that San Francisco is beautiful and desirable to many, and that there is magic there too. when I drove around yesterday in the surprisingly warm afternoon to Merriweather post pavilion, the hot wind blowing through the half-opened passenger side window, I felt silly that I could have possibly forgotten the city that awaited me here, the city of my dreams and childhood fantasy that I am only beginning to realize, the city of a poetry of love...

on saturday night, we went to a rave in tacubaya, in a strange warehouse type building with a basement parking lot. we danced in the void, disappearing into the fog. we left (to unsuccessfully find pizza), and when we got home, Amy and I, tripping, considered going back for more. instead we talked indulgently about love and relationships until the sun came up around 7am. on cue, Claudia came back from her 4am hookup, with oddly beautiful raccoon eyes (heroin chic) in a baggy hoodie she stole from her man. she told us about her night, through which she also did not sleep, while I ate 7/11 potato chips on the couch. in the early morning light, with the Condesa birds chirping, it would be hard to miss the cool tenderness emanating from that apartment, three strung-out little boys after a long eventful night, the fourth dutifully sleeping in the bedroom across.

070522

less worming, more living:
he pulled up in a beat to our apartment at Cuernavaca 101 on a tuesday afternoon, after a saga of almost just barely missing his flight, in the true dramatic fashion of a romance.
we sat on the benches in plaza rio de Janeiro while my shins were unknowingly being devoured by fleas; first in the glaring sun, talking about taste, then in the shade, while Jose Luis insisted on giving me a shoe shine. he asked if he was mi novio, o mi esposo, I said no to both and Jose was amused...I wonder what he would have said if he were the one asked—at night he says mi amor...
every night we walked back late at night, 4am, staying up later than everyone. after the absinthe bar, we walked through the little egg, stopping at the vaguely brutalist sculpture that looks like an upturned fist. he tried to run up the little finger and almost made it to the top, and I thought about how he was exactly the kind of guy I'd be into—bold, nimble, dangerous, a little crazy.
the next night we stopped at the big plaza in the big egg, we sat there with the whole thing to ourselves. he lit a j with the cute matchbook that I got him without knowing he had a matchbook collection. he offered me his jacket because I was cold and sleepy, and I asked him if he was kind because of the church.
on the roof of Maison artemisia, we swayed to the silly musical stylings of the piano man, ringing up the serpentine stairway from the first floor at 2am. the roof was dark and ostensibly closed, but we hid up there til past closing time. emboldened by the absinthe, I asked him how I could get him to fall in love with me, to which he responded after a brief pause, 'you're doing it'...

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