Fly Girl

She is feeling boxed in. The rituals, like keeping the ashtray clean, no longer enough to forget the dust accumulating along the skirting.

Perhaps it was the stoner mind at work again. She liked to tell herself she was using it as an anxiolytic. She knew the odds were that it was the cause of her anxiety.

She let the joint go out again and, with feigned energy, went to get the broom.

Not that anyone would see the difference. Nor would it last long. In a day—or two—she would notice a stray hair or a dust-bunny blown in from another corner.

The mindless uselessness would give her the time to think, to finish putting together her genius idea that would unify a bunch of psychological effects under one common root cause. I’s to dot, t’s to cross. She doesn’t want to be just another kook on the internet acting as if they had found humanity’s silver bullet.

She should have written it down when she’d had her eureka moment. Now she had to go back through her day to find the starting point. What had she listened to? Watched? Read? There was the bit about the group for toeless people but that wasn’t it. There had been the podcast that had linked a quote from Simone de Beauvoir to a similar idea by Mary Wollstonecraft. Something about how the expectations of how women should be then turning into how women tried to be. She has found the trigger.

There are plenty of studies showing expectations having the behavioural equivalent of a placebo, self-limiting behaviour, people acting according to traits attributed to the labels they choose to wear, whether from astrology, a personality test, or an ideal.

This is the artificial paradise that is her ideal, a place where cobwebs are swept away, where she is mindlessly taking care of the acts of living while exploring the meaning of life, where toeless people are a thing and they get together in groups.

She sparks the joint and giggles. Half-baked ideas from a fresh-baked person.

How Did I Miss The Boat?

Earlier that year I discovered that the kiosk in the Basel train station sold The Rolling Stone magazine.

I am returning home from a client’s. I get to the record reviews. The album is described as an ambitious attempt to create a Wall for the 90’s. The concept is weak, the music less  so.

I am intrigued. I am also wondering how it is that I have never heard of The Smashing Pumpkins.

I have to change trains. My ritual for the Bern train station is a stop at the CD shop. Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness is on listen and on sale. I like what I hear and the album joins my collection.

Even though no one knows, I am still embarrassed that they are new to me. I fill in the blanks of my knowledge about the group. The positives are about the music, the negatives about the singer.

Over time I see that whenever someone actively dislikes the band, I hear comments about Billy Corgan’s pretentiousness, arrogance and other ad hominems. After a while I figure out a why: the programming director of the local indie-rock station did not like Billy Corgan.

“Shakedown 1979
Cool kids never have the time
On a live wire
Right up off the street
You and I should meet

Junebug skipping like a stone
With the headlights pointed at the dawn
We were sure we’d never see an end
To it all

And I don’t even care
To shake these zipper blues
And we don’t know
Just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed
Into the earth below

Double cross the vacant and the bored
They’re not sure just what we have in store
Morphine city slippin’ dues
Down to see

That we don’t even care
As restless as we are
We feel the pull
In the land of a thousand guilts
And poured cement
Lamented and assured
To the lights and towns below
Faster than the speed of sound
Faster than we thought we’d go
Beneath the sound of hope

Justine never knew the rules
Hung down with the freaks and the ghouls
No apologies ever need be made
I know you better than you fake it
To see

That we don’t even care
To shake these zipper blues
And we don’t know
Just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed
Into the earth below

The street heats the urgency of now
As you can see there’s no one around” — The Smashing Pumpkins, “1979,” Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)