Friday, March 21, 2003

At way past eleven a silhouette in the all-night grocery store, reaching to the shelf.

Went out with C. and her ex from Hungary. He's a heavyset man with red hair in a pony tail who speaks very quietly and hesitantly and smokes Camels nearly all the time. There were times when he was trying to say something and C. would lean over to him, lean in a little, and grin, sort of taunting him or cajoling him, spit it out. I was kind of manic and generally dissatisfied. We were at the Knitting Factory to see Luna, a good band but it was kind of a mistake. They play droning, soporific indie rock. The kind of music that, on a Thursday night for Christ's sake, makes you feel like a little kid with your parents in a museum or something, rocking back and forth on your cramped feet with your jacket on.

The lead singer said he'd played with Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs recently and Tuli said, "The war against Iraq will be very short but the war against America will be very, very long." No one really reacted to this. Should we applaud? Yes? No? Wait. The singer broke the pause by saying, "That's what he said!" and there were some relieved guffaws. 

I'd been thinking, in the rain on the way to the club, walking the footbridge over Varick, scared by the soaking-wet corrugated metal steps. I thought, this is the age of the American Empire. We've had the British Empire, the Spanish, the French, the Austro-Hungarian, the Ottoman, the Chinese, the Greek, the this, the that. Now for better or worse it's the age of the American Empire. And the trouble is, an empire is never good. It may think itself well-meaning, aligned with God, a defender of justice – was this not the British imperial view? – but it can't be. By virtue of its power and its dominion over others it is immediately corrupt.

But beautiful too. And doomed.