Kevin Spaides Comments
I went to a Jeffrey Lewis concert the other night in Madrid. I really like Jeffrey Lewis, but I was feeling lazy about the whole thing because I was tiredI mean, even more tired than usual. We got there early and sat around. I was tired and lazy and in pain, but I didnt want to miss anything. Jeffrey Lewis and his brother Jack were selling CDs and t-shirts and comic books at a little table in the entranceway. They were surrounded by a group of people who were all trying to talk to them at once. It had been a long time since Id seen anyone sitting at a little table like that selling their CDs and t-shirts before a show. And I dont think Id ever seen anyone selling their own comic books in a bar. I was thinking, Yes, yes! The first band went on. It was all right, but I could have done without it. Then Jeffrey Lewis + The Junkyard went on, and from the moment they started playing I felt like everything made sense. The music, something I recognized as coming from the world that created me, destroyed my usual sense of being two or three steps removed from what was going on around me. It was odd. Im so used to that feeling. Im so used to it, I dont even notice it anymore. Suddenly I didnt feel like a secret alien. Was this normality? Was this how I used to feel all the time? It was a great concert, I had a great time, but I was painfully homesick the next daywhich does not happen often, I tell you.
Iíve just read Cobarde for the first time in months. Its obviously the product of a semi-deranged minda good thing for a story, right? (You need a clear, strong head to write well and regularly, but a little semi-derangement does take you places.) I think the story comes out of that feeling of dislocation you learn to live with when youre making your life (fighting for your life?) in a place you dont understand or belong to. Even a place as harmless as Madrid. Everything is always slightly (or sometimes drastically) out of whack when you live in a place that didnt make you. Is for me, anyway. (Im not complaining.) Everyday signals are broadcast on a frequency that can be hard or even impossible to tune into. New fears arise. You find yourself confused, possibly even terrified, about little things, stupid things, things that dont even existmaybe the terror only lasts a microsecond, but its there, in your head. There is nothing you can do about it. You feel embarrassed and naked. Youre also getting older. Your body is starting to hurt in ridiculous places. You know you should exercise more and stop drinking so much beer. You are falling apartor preparing to fall apart. Or your body is preparing to fall apart. Not that Iím complaining. Not at all. (Im reading Varlam Shalamovs Kolyma Tales about life in the Siberian labor camps. I know Im not suffering.) Most of the time living in a country that isnt yours is fantastic, exhilarating, pleasantly weird, and you gain a real edge, a freedom unknown to natives, by not knowing what all the rules are, but often its exhausting. Throw a toddler into the equation, and youre going to wonder what the fuck you were thinking.
Cobarde is one of those rare stories that could have been taken straight out of my life. Sure, I could have passed a day like that. There are no time machines, no ones secretly able to fly. No ones trying to kill anyone in the supermarket. Its about three people going for a walk in the city. Thats half my life. Except Im not married to that woman. And I dont say fuck when Im talking to my son. Or I try not to. Not that hed care, I guess, since he only speaks Spanish. I have, however, chased him around that filthy, long-gone fountain at Callao. And Ive probably dragged him by the arm down Calle Santiago once or twice. I seem to recall an afternoon like thator maybe its just a memory from this story. Which Im especially happy is published in FRiGG, because its kind of a continuation of a story I published here three years ago called Playground Story. I didnt write it that way, I doubt I was thinking about Playground Story when I wrote Cobarde, but they seem to have come from the same place. They go together. Theyre dealing with the same shit. So thats good. Maybe Ill write one of these every three years and wont know Im doing it until its done. That would be perfect.
So I went to a concert, loved it, felt normal for a second, got homesick. Then I read this story, because I wanted to write some comments, and it explained how something so good could make me feel so awful. And how its probably just going to be that way from now on. And how theres nothing I can do about it. And how thats something I can work with because Im an optimist. I dont have enough energy to be pessimistic. Hope you like it. And, wow, what a blabbermouth!
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