Human Creativity • 12 January 2009

I was in MacArthur Park this morning, practicing with friends in a grand century-old house that’s been a mansion and a craft shop of sorts, a fraternity, an apartment building, and now an ashtanga space. This—bohemian, in your erstwhile livingroom, with a man repairing furniture in the kitchen, a Salvadoran woman walking by the windows with fruit for sale and a Jack ‘n’ the Box billboard filling the driste of the farsighted—feels in a sense like how it should be. Kid on the instructor’s hip, unmufflered engines in the alley, vendors screaming in the street. Practice.

So much more creative than the way most choose to live in this town—antiseptic, paying the jacked-up rent, with dues to some corporate studio whose propaganda features stickthin yoga teachers spandexed in all white. MacArthur Park is teeming in creative risk-taking humanity, colorful, fecund, noisy. Yeah, scraping a life off the surface of society is a grimy affair. And beautiful. The things that people think up in order to live, and live well. Learn the insults, keep your head down, act a little knowing. Dodge the obvious punches and see so much beneath.

Bony Express

There’s this wave in me that rises and falls on my faith in humanity; and I drove home fast to Mountain Goats survival anthems, feeling so lucky to be part of the world now. Human creativity. The element that can never be predicted by any model nor explained by any theory. And it’s the main thing! Everything.

At the close of the day, the tide got sucked all the way to the floor. I sat in my car for the better part of an hour in the blocks surrounding the Federal building. This is where you go to demonstrate in LA. Yeah, I know the story of the conflict over the holy land, and am named decisively for one side. I know how everything that has happened the past 60 years is supposed to be god-made and how I’m not supposed to say I understand unless I have skin in the game. But this time, I’m just letting the celebratory violence and the death-wishes mystify me. What am I doing rejoicing in human creativity in these days—these months—of destruction? Yeah—I tried not to hear the lyric edge of John Darnielle’s flat out neuroticism this morning—but yeah. We are going to make it through this year if it kills us.