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xmag.com : July 2001 : The Gospel According to Viva Las Vegas

The Gospel according to Viva Las Vegas - "the laziest gal downtown"


Been travelin' again, this time to Venice, Italy, which is the most beautiful creation of man's I've ever witnessed. Birthday-cake houses with cobblestone streets and
myriad elegant stone bridges, all connected by blue-green Mediterranean water. Sprinkled here and there are enormous empty churches and bizarre half-naked half-humans. Sure, much of the time it's a veritable sewer, and all the time it's swarming with hordes of white-as-they-come tourons, but visually it is breathtakingly, heartbreakingly gorgeous! And if ever you get sick of bumping into gelato-eating Germans, all ya gotta do is walk over a canal and Venice is all yours--an empty Eden with nary a pigeon to mar your path--all moss-covered lions and Renaissance mansions. No cars, no mopeds, not even the swish of a passing gondola. Just an utterly gorgeous ghost town with its deafening post-apocalyptic silence. And why's that? Cuz NO ONE LIVES THERE.

Venice is nowadays an amusement park. It's for tourists only, and the price of admission ain't cheap. Which makes the place ring rather hollow--what is a place if no one lives there, no one calls it home? Got me thinkin' 'bout home. You know, is home where the heart is? Where the heartbreak is? Or, as Andre Williams said as he placed his red pimp-hat on my head, is home where ya hang your hat? Dunno. But home is not geography: street names, architecture, land forms. No it's not, Miss Las Vegas, tho' I seems to have thought otherwise, romancing the plains and grain mills of my birth, the Lutheran hymns sung off-key in cracking elderly voices, Highway 61, Lake Superior, Magic Gardens, Mary's Club, Satyricon...are these things home? I thought so. I was wrong. Home is people. Flesh and blood and souls and the dramas they enact in the street, schools, churches, and even strip bars.

I am such an intimacy-fearing ice-cold romantic beautiful loser. It's like I've already planned my epic ending off some high bridge into some cold water. I live my life like a tragic poem. Always on the run, always running away from home. Now I've run away from Portland. Why? Cuz I couldn't see the next chapter? Cuz I wanted to impose bookends on the chaos of life? The Portland story began 7/21/96, ended 3/21/01. I made sure it had a beginning, a middle, an end.

Most writers and artists have passionate allegiances to HOME, a place that birthed them, reared them, tortured them. A place they mythologize, demonize, record. I on the other hand wax passionate about homelessness, the road, loneliness. Home for me has always been the last place I left. And now I'm wonderin' if I don't leave merely to achieve the idea of a home.

I think my art would improve if I could just stay put. Get a bit intimate with a place, its people. Try to love, try to write about it...Could New York be home? Seems like everybody's mythologized it, but nowadays hardly anyone is from here. Someone told me I was already the quintessential New Yorker, bein' a) not from here, b) fabulous, c) beautiful. And it's great livin' here, great to create art here, but it's not home. It's a giant Monopoly game that I'll play while I'm in the mood. Then, please GOD, I'll go home. Or create/embrace/accept a home. Why is it so hard for me? The comfort and security feel like death. But, says mom, flowers bloom only when planted.

You know, I even think I know where home is. But I'm not tellin', not yet.

Miss ya, Portland. But otherwise doin' just fine. And hey, thanks for the money, those who sent checks. I'm toastin' your health from afar.




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