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Category: Letters (page 1 of 4)

A Letter to the Hare Krishnas at Union Square

Dear Hare Krishnas hanging out on the southern end of Union Square,

SHUT THE FUCK UP!

You assholes have been making a scene there for months and you’re driving god damned crazy. I’ve been counting down the days until the holiday market set up and pushed you and your cymbals and your chanting and your “good vibes” out. But, just two days ago, as my patience waned perilously thin, those characteristic red and white tents started popping up.

Relief! Finally, no more hippie throngs filling up the park, creating a giant, noisy roadblock by the entrance to the subway! I would have respite until the weather wasn’t so cold!

And then I stepped down into the station, and there you were making noise and blocking traffic like a bunch of self-centered assholes. No one cares about your message. No one likes you. Go away forever.

Warmest regards,

The Black Laser.

A Letter To The Black Laser

Dear The Black Laser,

I would start this off with pleasantries and an inquiry into how you were doing, but we both know that is totally unnecessary. We both know how you (we) (I) are doing, so let’s just skip to the meat of this letter, shall we? Ok.

The Black Laser, my old friend, my alter-ego, my weird internet outlet, I am growing incredibly bored of you. For years you have been a place where I can share whatever random crap I’ve been thinking about or enjoying or learning about. I really liked that. It was nice to come here and think, “You know what? I bet someone out there would want to watch a death metal video today because I want to watch a death metal video today. Let’s find one.” This site has more than 1100 examples of exactly that train of thought. “Maybe someone out there will enjoy this piece of ephemera as much as I do. Share time!”

My regular readers will recognize that over the last few months the regularity and quality of my posts have dropped. Indeed, they are dropping still. Currently on the front page there is a post dating from March 30. That means that I have written fewer than 8 posts for all of April. Posting this letter will push that March entry off the front page, but the point still stands. I am just not writing that much here these days. It has not been some conscious decision, but just a lack of joy in the process. I am uninterested, unfulfilled, uninspired.

I don’t hate you, The Black Laser. I am just having a hard time these days mustering up the energy to contribute to you regularly. I am not thinking of funny things to rant about. I am not able to give a damn about most of the music I am finding these days. Work is slow. Life is slow. My brain is messy. And you have been a casualty of that, my old friend. You are not the only aspect of my life suffering, but you are a visible, public one and the fade has been clear.

What does this mean for your future, The Black Laser? Nothing really. This is not a good bye, but a “don’t get too excited because it’s going to be slow going for a bit.” Even writing this letter is like pulling teeth. I am fighting just to finish it and not give up in the middle and let it slide. Just terrible.

I’m sorry.

Sincerely,

Me.

A Letter to the MTA Regarding the Reopening of the 7 Connection at Court Square

Dear The MTA,

Months ago, after spending many months prior building the connection between the 7 train and the E and M trains at Court Square in Long Island City, you decided you then needed to close the brand new same-station connection to do track work on the 7. That was, what, maybe December of last year? People were furious. And understandably. You inconvenienced riders for months to build the connection and, as soon as it was open and they’d breathed a sigh of relief, you closed the damn 7 train at Court Square. Fuck that!

Signs sprouted all over the station informing people that the track work would be finished April 2nd, 2012. No one believed you. I mean, I didn’t take a poll or anything, but I am going to assume no one believed you. Why would they? You don’t exactly have a sterling track record in this area. We lived with exiting at 21st St and walking over to the other 7 stop for months. It was a pain, but we dealt. How the hell else are people supposed to get into town?

We heard the announcement every single time we stopped at every single Court-bound G stop. There was no 7 service at Court Square. You need to get off at 21st and walk over to Hunters Point. So on and so forth ad nauseam. It became like a little song, like the regular “Stand clear of the closing door” announcements you hear so often that they cease to be words and become a collection of sounds, meaningless, musical, abstract.

And then, April 2nd happened and the 7 train at Court Square started running again exactly as you had promised. I was absolutely amazed. Amazed. And surprised. And shocked.

And that’s what this letter is about. I am not writing to express gratitude to you for opening on time, when you said you were going to, but to express how thoroughly disappointing it is that I am amazed, surprised, and shocked that you did something on time, as you initially claimed. Fuck that. Doing things on time and on schedule should be the base. Yes, I understand that sometimes projects get out of hand or things change and deadlines push and expectations have to be shifted, but that should be the exception, not the rule. To have me absolutely astounded that you managed to finish a project when you said you were going to is fucking pathetic.

FUCKING. PATHETIC.

I work in a fast-paced industry where deadlines are tight, nights are long, and the work is hard. We will work around the clock to make sure we meet our clients’ expectations because that is how we keep our jobs. If we were to behave as you do, MTA—letting deadlines slip, projects drag on, budgets explode—we would be out on the street without a penny to our names. And we don’t even do anything that actually has real benefit to people! When was the last time you heard someone say, “Man, I couldn’t get to work/school/whatever on time because the advertisements were late.” Never. But how many times have you heard, “Man, I couldn’t get to work/school/whatever on time because the G is down again for some fucking reason and the god damned L isn’t running into Manhattan and the 7 isn’t connecting and for some reason the M doesn’t come into Queens on weekends, so I had to go all the way downtown, then all the way back up, and what the fuck, I hate the MTA.”

I hear that all the time. Literally all the time. I don’t know if you know, but when you use “literally” to describe something what you’re saying is “the words I am using mean exactly what I am saying and in no way am I using metaphor, hyperbole, or any other literary device”. So imagine, MTA, what it means that I hear that literally all the time. Yeah. I know. It’s terrible.

And can you do something about these fucking metrocard bonuses? Why don’t they just work out to an even number of extra rides? It is infuriating to have like 4 extra metrocards in my wallet, each with less than a single fare on them. Get your shit together!

I hate that I have to rely on you.

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.

A Letter To My Gums Regarding Their Excessive Bloodiness

Dear gums,

What the fucking fuck, you guys? Do I not take care of you?! Have I not spent my entire life converting the things I eat and drink into fuel for your continued replenishment?! It’s not like I even brush you super hard! I have a soft bristled toothbrush for fuck’s sake. Do you know how emasculating that is? Do you?!

This is, as we both know, a fairly new issue. I think it started just before the trip to Breckenridge about three weeks ago. One day I’m brushing my teeth fine and dandy, like I have for years, brush brush brush, and the next day any time a toothbrush gets near my mouth I taste that familiar copper flavor of blood and spit rust stained toothpaste into the sink. Real cool, gums. Way to be hypersensitive dicks about it. I’m just trying to keep my fucking mouth clean. Why not help a player out a little?

What’s worse is that it’s not just the toothbrush that makes you bleed, it’s pretty much anything: eating apples, smiling, sucking cashew chunks from between my teeth, laughing, breathing, fidgeting with my tongue, anything. What’s that about? I try to be gentle with you and this is the thanks I get? Fuck you, gums.

And now what am I supposed to do about it? I don’t have dental insurance so a trip the dentist is right out. Ditto for healthy insurance. No doctors or inexpensive prescriptions for me. I suppose I’ll just brush my teeth with a damp microfibre cloth until it seems like you’ve had a chance to heal. Until then, we are not friends. I am sick of spitting blood into the shower. Remember last year, gums, when I had a nosebleed every day for like 3 months? Yeah, this isn’t nearly as bad, but it’s still pretty fucking annoying.

If I didn’t need you as an important barrier between my teeth and my raw, exposed skull, I’d fucking cut you, gums. Get well soon!

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.

A Letter to Buffalo Wings Regarding Their Deliciousness

Dear Buffalo Wings,

Do you mind if I call you Buffy? Wingies? B-wings? Is that last one too Star Wars? Whatever. You need a nick name, but I am not sure any of those are sticking, Buffs. Wingers. Bwangs. Bwangs??? Where did the A come from? Regardless, Buffles, we need to work this out.

But the real point of this letter is to talk to you about your deliciousness. You are, even when you are not, one of my favorite things to eat in the whole world. There are few things I find as pleasurable as getting sweaty and having my nose run from your spicy, buttery sauce. I dare not touch my telephone or eyes or light colored clothing while tearing meat free from your delicious bones. When I’ve finished, I walk directly to a sink with my hand held out so as not to spread your delicious sauce on things and people and then I wash my hands with tremendous sadness. Come back, buffalo wing sauce! Come back! And when my ritual is finished, I always want more.

The bar next to my house has ¢25 wings on Sunday nights. It is a rare Sunday I do not stop in and spend 3 dollars. One Sunday I spent 6. I wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point down the road, I spent 9. I just can’t help myself, but, then again, I don’t see the issue. There is no issue. I love you, Bwingerz. I love you a lot.

I remember once upon a time, Juli and I were on vacation up in the Finger Lakes. We stopped into a local brewpub for dinner one night after a long day of hiking around. I scanned the menu and saw that they had wings in the appetizers in four heats: mild, medium, hot, and nuclear. I asked our server, a young man of dubious sobriety, how hot the nuclear wings were. Were they really as hot as they wanted to seem or were they just tooting their own proverbial horn? He replied that he didn’t really like spicy things and that he had never tried them. Of course, he was not quite so eloquent. I cocked an eyebrow, decided to throw caution to the wind, and ordered the nuclear wings. That’s just the kind of guy I am. When they arrived at the table, they were pink and black and covered in pepper seeds, not unlike the merciless peppers of Quetzalacatenango. Juli took a single bite of a wing and put it down unable to take the heat. I ate 9 of the 10 wings on the plate.

Let me tell you, B-Ws, these things were fucking hot. Hot enough, in fact, that I got high on endorphins. Literally high. I was tripping balls on neurotransmitters released by my pituitary gland because IT THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE. That is awesome. I’d never gotten high on food before. I hope to achieve that success again, Wing Beezies, and you will help me get there.

Until Sunday (or perhaps sooner),

The Black Laser

A Letter From a Friend and My Response

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine wrote me an incredibly sweet e-mail. With her permission, I am posting it and my response here for everyone to marvel at.

Hi Joe,

I was wondering how you find time to do the million things that you seem to do, be it post to your tumblr, post to blacklaser.net, find all videos you either love or hate, write as Torgeir, review bars, record short stories, etc etc etc to the nth degree?

I’ve been toying with the idea (for a while now) of starting a site where I would maybe review some things I like, heap scorn upon things I dislike, discuss the flotsam and jetsam of life in general, perhaps while trying to be funny sometimes. I get all these ideas in my head about things I want to do, I even get as far as lighting the match, but I just can’t seem to catch myself on fire. Within a few days of thinking “I should start a blog/site!” I circle back around to thinking “When would I even find time to write up a post? Who cares what I think anyways?” (Perhaps I need to care less about people caring? It would be funny if this were the simple secret to success in blogville.) Not to mention I work 40+ hours a week, at the end of which the last thing I want to do is look at another computer. I’m even writing this from my work email, as I loathe getting online at home that much.

I guess I’m wondering how you get inspired, or what propels you forward from thought to action? I need a dose of that, so I’m asking people who seem to fit a lifetime of personal achievement into each week.

If you’re too busy to answer (ha, see what I did there?), then please take this picture as tribute. Seriously though, if you don’t have time for this or don’t have anything to divulge, you can just reply with a picture of a shrug, no hard feelings.

Thanks,

Monica

Well, Monica, you’ve asked me a number of questions that I have a lot of thoughts about. In fact, I’ve been thinking about your e-mail for some time and have put together some ideas that are a bit of a synthesis of things I’ve written here before. I am going to jump around a little bit in answer your queries, so bear with me. I will touch on everything.

First, should you start a blog. I mean, you didn’t ask me this directly, but it’s what your second paragraph is hinting at. What do I think? Of course you should…if that is something you are motivated to do. When I first started The Black Laser back in 2008 (so long ago!), I didn’t really have a good idea of what I wanted the place to be. I knew I wanted a venue to share my photos and writing and whatever in one collected place. I made this site with a vague direction (black and pink, a bunch of text, uh, maybe videos?) and then just let it evolve as my fits and fancies dictated. Did I know in 2008 that by this point I’d have posted nearly 500 music videos? Of course not. I didn’t even consider posting music videos back when I was getting the site up. Did I know that I’d have an entire section devoted to letters I’ve written to things like the 23rd St F station or Coffee or Ugg boots? Of course not. The letters were just something I thought would be fun one day so I wrote a letter. And, you know what, it has turned out to be a lot of fun for me to write those things. They don’t take a lot of energy or thought and, most importantly, they make me laugh.

That is key to this whole thing: it has to be fun. If it isn’t fun, you won’t do it. I don’t very much like getting massages (weird, I know), so I never do that. I quite like drinking beer, so I do that all the time. I also quite like writing on The Black Laser, whether I am bullshitting about some music video or cross-posting my Torgeirs or analyzing my creative path or whatever the hell I am writing about, I like it. It is enjoyable for me. My advice is, unless you’re making money on it, don’t limit yourself to a certain content type. Just post whatever you like, whatever you are motivated to create. That way you will find success. And as a side bonus, you will see your writing get better. Mine certainly has over the years I’ve been doing this. I go back and read some of my early posts and think, “Man, that could have been written better,” but so it goes. That’s life. You do enough of one thing and you’re bound to be good at it. Hopefully. At the very least, better at it.

I would also advise not to get too self-critical when starting out. It’s romantic to think that a bunch of people from all over the place are going to be coming to your site and criticizing everything, but that is just a fantasy. Especially at the beginning. The people who will be coming to read initially are people you know, Facebook friends, Twitter folks, meatspace friends, whomever. So don’t worry about it. Post what you like, put a little thought into it, and just do it. I mean, fuck it, life is too short to not do things because you’re worried about what some nameless, faceless twit on the internet thinks about it, right? It’s for you.

I think I might come across as a classic oversharer, but the contents of my various social media are, in fact, highly curated. I specifically do not post certain types of material on The Black Laser, my Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter as a matter of good practice. Because I share these things with many types of people in my life (friends, family, clients, the world), I only put things on them with which I don’t mind being identified. I only mention this, because I think that’s an important thing to consider when thinking about your potential blog. Sure, yeah, you might not have many readers at the beginning, but people will find it and it would be a real drag for them to read something there about themselves that you didn’t want them to read. Classic OOPSIES moment.

Next, let’s touch on inspiration. You asked me about what inspires me to continue doing what I am doing. A number of things, in fact. Fear mostly. Anxiety. A sense that I am wasting my life away. This dread that I am throwing my future away. The desire to share. Because I like it.

But let’s back up for a moment. You commented that I am a person that seems to “fit a lifetime of personal achievement into each week,” which, while incredibly sweet and slightly shocking, is exactly the opposite of how I feel about my life. If you click the “Inspiration” or “Creativity” tags beneath this post, you will find plenty of posts where I am struggling with my lack of inspiration, with this sense that nothing is coming, this feeling that everything is a waste. I never feel like I am doing enough, creating enough, achieving enough. I always feel like I could be doing more. Enough so that if I get home and sit around and watch a movie, I genuinely start to feel guilty. Of course, I still sit around and watch movies from time to time, but I don’t really enjoy it. It’s not relaxing for me.

I was discussing your e-mail with my therapist a few weeks ago, just after you sent it. I was telling her exactly what I wrote above. She asked me why I thought that was and I couldn’t give her an answer. My ability to create and communicate with people is inherently tied into my sense of self. And why shouldn’t it be? Even this response is deeply personal as I discuss my thoughts and fears and ideals. This is a representation of who I am, and, even more, who I’d like to be. And I guess the idea of not pursuing that to its fullest is terrifying to me. She asked me what would happen, how would I feel, if I cut myself some slack and let it slip a little. I told her that in the times I have done that my brain goes crazy, I start to feel insane, and am driven back to work, even if it’s something as trivial as posting music video reviews on The Black Laser. I have to be making something all the time. She asked me if I could feel relaxed. I told her the only way I know to relax is to create things. That’s true. When I am done with this, I will feel great. Something’s been done. Something’s been made. I can chill now.

I remember, in college, I took an acting class as a prerequisite to a directing class I wanted to take. Every week we had a standing assignment to spend 20 minutes at home just relaxing. Every week I’d come in and my professor would ask me how I did and, without fail, I told her I couldn’t relax. About three quarters of the way through the semester she had me stay after class to try and help me to learn to relax. She laid me down on the floor on my back and instructed me to close my eyes. She touched my shoulders and flinched. She might have actually said, “Holy shit!” I can’t remember; it was a long time ago. But I do remember her being quite shocked at how much tension I held in my shoulders. I told her that I couldn’t relax and now did she understand how tense I was? I left the class feeling vindicated in my inability to relax, but no close to achieving the goal. Oh well. I figured it out later.

So, where does my inspiration come from? Everywhere and nowhere. Everywhere in the sense that as I wander through life doing things, I like to soak in everything around me and funnel that into whatever the hell it is I am thinking about or working on or planning. Nowhere in the sense that my own constant sense of dread propels me all the time. I honestly feel like I am throwing away my life if I am not making things on the regular. Sure, I experience a normal ebb and flow of creativity, just like anyone. And sure, I get lazy and tired and fucking distracted—wow, so distracted—just like anyone else. I know these things about myself, yet I cannot allow them to win. It is part of why I’ve always set goals, guidelines, limits, quotas, or whatever I think will motivate me to stay obligated. I’ve always liked working with other people in teams since I am incredibly motivated to put out work when I know someone else is counting on me. When it’s only me and there’s no financial reward to be seen, it’s much harder. But if I make myself accountable to myself and to my readers on The Black Laser who are following along my year’s theme, then I find it much easier to stay on track. Does that make sense?

This all ties in to your question about where I find the time. I don’t. I make it. I work at least 50 hours a week, every week, often with late nights and weekends popping up and keeping me in the office. And, as an editor, my whole day is being creative. When I get home I rarely have much juice left to try and be super cool writer guy, so I just do what I can. I say, “All right, Joe, you’re going to write 500 words. At 500 words you can either stop or, if you’re feeling it, keep going.” That works nicely for me. It’s a system I’ve used for years. Do I always write 500 words? Fuck no! If I get home from the office at midnight after a fourteen and a half hour day, you can bet your sweet ass that all I’m going to do is go to the bar next door for a beer and then come home and go to sleep. But if I come home after a normal 10 hour day, I do try and do something. Do I always? Nope, but the thought is there. Sometimes you can’t force it. The weekends are often good for this. I’ll wake up, go out, eat, wander, run some errands, and then come home and produce before going back out for the night. In the end, it’s fun for me, so it’s not a hassle to make time for it. It also keeps me from feeling like a crazy person, which is always nice, you know?

To sum this whole thing up, if you want to make a blog, do it! Don’t limit yourself, and don’t make it a chore. If you have fun doing it and regularly think, “Man, it would be fun to blog about this!” then you will find yourself making time for it. And it doesn’t always have to be enormous blocks of text or things you spend a ton of time on. Lots of people have had incredible success on Tumblr just posting silly photos along a particular theme or just having curated collections of things or whatever the hell people do on Tumblr. The Black Laser was conceived as a place for me to write, so that’s what I do here. Think about what you might want to do (don’t get to specific) and just do it. I think you’ll have fun with it. And if you don’t, stop doing it. Done and done.

Thanks again for the note. I hope this was helpful.

Sincerely,

Joe Dillingham
The Space Pope
Torgeir The Black Metal Extremist
The Black Laser

A Letter To Having Nothing At All To Say

Dear Having Nothing to Say,

Did you see the game last week? Yeah, it was pretty sweet, huh? The one sportsguy sure did a good job preventing the sportsguy on the opposing squad from accomplishing his goals. It was quite a performance. They certainly are competent practitioners of their sports!

I’m writing today, Having Nothing to Say, because I really have nothing to say. I’ve been trying to think of things I have opinions about, but nothing is coming to me. It’s weird, you know, because I am an opinionated crank of a human being and usually there’s plenty inside my brain to waste people’s precious time. But today—and the last few days, really—I’ve had absolutely nothing at all to say.

There was so much build-up to my 1000th post and 3rd birthday, that I feel like I exhausted my good Black Laser ideas. That is, of course, totally untrue. As long as I breathe there will be a lot of crap for me to spew out onto the interwebs, but I’ve found myself in a bit of a lull, Having Nothing to Say. It’s a little frustrating, I guess, but I’ve also been quite busy (read: there are many people in Skyrim that must die).

And, god damn, I need to get going on my Christmas track. I wrote some good lyrics this morning on the train and I think it’s going to be a very fun one. Here’s a sampling.

It’s Christmas Eve
Waiting at the club
Santa’s gonna show
That motherfucker’s up

Bringing presents
To all girls and boys
Shaking his ass
To this funky techno noise

And Mrs Claus says

Bitch! GET YOUR ASS TO THE CLUB, come on
Get your ass to the club!
No time for thinking
Get your ass to the club!

We got Rudolph in this bitch
We got elves in this bitch
We got snowmen in this bitch
We got Jesus in this bitch.

Mind that those are just rough lyrics I threw together during my trip into town on the M train this morning. Nothing set in concrete. I have no plans for Thanksgiving, so I’m sure there will be plenty of time to get to making sick techno beats and pitch shifted vocals. On that point, I have no plans for Christmas either, so maybe I’ll just spend the rest of the year making dance music alone in my house.

God, that’s depressing.

Anyway, go to hell, Having Nothing To Say, I’m damn sick of you. If you just up and died, I wouldn’t be upset. I wouldn’t miss you. Fuck, this reminds me that I need to write some Togeirs too. Man, so much to do and so few words with which to do them. And remember the William Blake Dance Party Extravaganza? That went nowhere, huh? Jeez.

Whatever, fuck this. I am sick of this letter already.

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.

A Letter to My Brain To Open a Discussion on the Topic of Focus.

Dearest brain,

I feel like you and I have been friends for a long time. Sure, there were the years I abused you, but I’ve always been a better friend to you than my body. I mean, that’s not to say my body has ever treated me badly, but we’ve had a strained relationship. We’ve always had a bit of a disconnect and I’ve never gone out of my way to take care of my body since I reside so wholly in my mind. Brain, you know, I know it. It’s the truth. Sorry, body, I’m trying to be better to you, but you cannot change the past. We’ll get back to you in a little bit.

So, brain, why are you thwarting every attempt I’ve made the last three days to do any work? HMMmmmmmm?? You allow me just brief glimpses of focus, 2, maybe 4 minutes tops. Why not just let me focus on the shit I need to do? What the hell is up with you?

I’ve noticed a pattern with you, brain. I’ve noticed that when I am hungover or tired or feeling shitty, you have a much easier time letting me get down to work. What’s that about? Must I constantly be hungover/tired/sick to accomplish anything? Must I wait until the middle of the night to have creative revelations and be focused enough to actually make them real? Why cannot I not just feel ok and awake and healthy and not have you bothering me all the time by thinking of 80 million things all at once.

For example, today, in my effort to reacquaint myself with my body, I’m well rested, not hungover in the slightest (surprising since I had a birthday dinner last night for a good friend, nor any drop to drink), and I’ve eaten. EATEN! I never eat! All remarkable things considering the state of Joe the last few years. But I can’t do anything for longer than a minute before I get distracted and look away. This stupid letter has taken me hours of writing a sentence, fucking off for a while, pacing the office, watching some dailies, trimming my selects, stretching on the skate ramp, digging through the pantry for snacks, and then sitting back down and writing another sentence.

Brain! I’ve got work to do! This Safeway turkey thing won’t cut itself! I just need like 2 hours from you. Come on, you can do it. I can crank out something in 2 hours. I know you know exactly where we need to go with it; let’s just bang it out and be done. Why fight me? Why fight me all the time?! Is this what ADD feels like? If it does, I feel sorry for people who are afflicted with this. Fuck, it’s not like this is new for me. Maybe I’m all attention-deficit too. Who knows. I’m not a doctor, brain, though I do know how to remove sutures. That’s all right.

Wait! Back to the matter at hand! Brain! Focus! Help! There’s nothing out there that cannot wait! Just shut up for a minute and let’s pay our work attention so we can go back to being a flighty, distracted pair again. Please? Please? PLEASE?

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.

PS – Body, sorry, told you I’d get back to you. Yes, I am scared about the possibility of 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 squats for time tomorrow. Yes, I know, the squats not so scary, and neither are the pullups (assisted, of course), but 200 pushups. Holy shit, I know. Maybe we go tonight instead and do 1200 meters, 30 deadlifts with weight, and 63 pullups? Decisions! Should we do both?