my less than secret life-jonathan ames

sometimes in life, we don’t know when things change. other times, there is a clear, demarcated turning point. my opinion of jonathan ames has been shifting, but this is the exact moment that i was sure of my love:

“So I sat there about another half hour, and then to help pass the time, I went to the deli and bought a banana split, which was something I loved as a child. And then into this happy scene that damn couple returned to collect their laundry-including, I imagined, her sweet panties and bras; I should have gone in there and clutched them to my face when I had the chance-and again the boyfriend stared me down. This was getting ridiculous. So much staring! And I must have looked even more creepy now that I had a half-eaten ice cream bar in one fist and a half-eaten banana in the other. I wished I could explain to them that I was trying to recapture my youth and was also crazy with boredom waiting for a friend who was late for an animal sacrifice that she herself had organized.” (128, The Sacrifice)

it is from this book that i got the idea of stand-up tragedy, and “fiction=feigning, invention” (ames didn’t invent it, but he did alert me to the definition that i would never have thought to look up. he also did inspire me to look up “porn stars without balls” because he made the claim that it was common, and i’d never noticed before. that was an interesting search. oh yea, and i’m now thinking of reading joyce carol oates because he was his advisor.


2 thoughts on “my less than secret life-jonathan ames

  1. influences:

    “Last night when I really needed to sleep I woke up at three A.M. All summer long I’ve been troubled with poor sleep, and Dr. Bronner, who sells that good soap I use, castile soap, writes on the side of his soap bottles that the two keys to health are sleep and cleanliness (i.e., using his soap), and I happen to agree with him about sleep, so I worry that my health is deteriorating.” (76, Into Thin Hair)

    “And I’m not alone in thinking that suicidal ideation can be positive: Nietzche wrote something about how thoughts of suicide can help one fall asleep, at least that’s my memory of my brief skimming of the work of Mr. Nietzche, though I do hope he wrote that before the syphilis had gotten to his mind.” (84, The Orgy)

    “You see, in person, I come across as depressed, and that’s because I /am/ depressed. And being depressed makes you shy and scared and boring. But the odd thing is that I’m funny onstage. I’m not bragging when I say that; it’s more of a diagnosis, actually. A self-diagnosis. I’ve come up with a label for my personality disorder: Comic-Depressive. Depressed most of the time; comic on stage. When my friends introduce me to new people they’ll often say, ‘You should see Jonathan perform; he’s very funny.’ And the new person will just look at me and see my morbid face and frightened, glazed eyes and they are always completely unbelieving. I look more apt to commit suicide than make someone laugh.” (118, President Clinton: My Hero)

    “At that time, I was teaching a dreary composition and grammar class to soldiers in night school in Fort Hamilton, though I was primarily surviving off my credit cards, which when you’re broke is like drinking salt water when you’re lost at sea.” (163, Kooba, /Si/!)

    “…thinking I was like Graham Greene, but because I’m Jewish, I called myself Graham Greenberg, I did drink too many Mojitos and Cuba libres, but each morning in my little apartment, a woman would make me breakfasts of eggs, toast, pineapple, guava, and strong coffee, and my hangovers would disappear.” (165, Kooba, /Si/!)

    “It would have been nice to add a little milk to the cup of petroleum I was calling coffee, but I had sniffed the milk in my fridge and it was bad. I knew it would be rotten, but I sniffed it anyway. Why? Well, human beings often do things when there is no hope. For example, I’m always trying to flag down taxis that have their ‘occupied’ light on. I see the light, register what it means, and yet I still wave at these unavailable taxis. In this way, it’s like one’s romantic life-we all want the cabs that won’t stop for us.” (180, Booty and the Beast)

    “Jews know their life is in danger all the time, that’s why we’re so horny. It’s distasteful. We’re about to get it in the neck again, I’m sure. I think Jews must have alien blood in them. Some alien screwed a sexy Jewess in the dessert five thousand years ago. That’s why we’re hated. We’re part alien. How else do you explain Einstein, Freud, Gershwin, and Lewinsky?
    If Lewinsky hadn’t been so horny and brainy, she never would have sucked Clinton’s cock. Granted, he was a fairly easy target, but still, it took a lot of brains and chutzpah and sex drive to give the President of the United States a blowjob. She’s the Einstein of sex. And if he hadn’t been dealing with his blow-job impeachment, maybe he could have done something in the Middle East and we wouldn’t be going crazy right now, bombing and getting bombed.” (226-7, Womb Shelter)

    “The names in this essay have been changed, unless they were false to begin with.” (258, The Nista Affair)

    what a footnote.

    “And so it went. When it was my turn, I said that I was undecided, and no one gave me a hard time. They were understanding, tolerant. It was kind of like a twelve-step group, except that at the Eulenspiegel Society one’s madness was being embraced, rather than rooted out. I felt guilty for being a sneaky writer looking for material, but in my own way, I belonged. I can take on a perversion if I am surrounded by like people. It’s the same thing with sports. I can switch the teams I root for with great ease. I’m like a tree frog-I adapt to my surroundings, whether they be sports or fetish oriented.” (293, The Eulenspiegel Society)

    “So this morning I walked into the bathroom and was worried about my erection. I tried to do a yoga breath to make my penis wilt. Men will understand why I needed my cock to go down, but women might not know that you can’t have a bowel movement if you have a hard-on. Hard-ons take precedence over everything. They override all other functions. It’s Darwinism at play.” (303, Some Thoughts on the Crapper)

    well, this contradicts the image that has been burnt into my memory of the spear-an erect vietnamese street crapper. that will be an episode of my podcast.

  2. sexwork life balance:

    “I have good luck that way. In the most unkind settings, I meet the kindest people. I go to them to die by they don’t really let me. So I only die a little.” (222, Good Night, My Dear)

    “‘White like butter. Japanese-soy sauce. Korean-kim chi. Chines-miso. Black like baby powder. I smell under the balls.'” (339, The Pop (definition: cum-shot) and My Pop (definition: dad)

    culturally, this may be wrong?

    “She told me to undress. I did what she told me. Then she washed my cock with a wet rag. Probably spread diseases on it. Anthrax. Put antrax on my cock. Wait, this was 1989. That wasn’t popular back then.” (224, Womb Shelter)

    “She said massage like a real Brit colonial, with an emphasis on the first syllable. I looked at her closely. Her nose was wide and interesting looking. I could really see the Aborigine in her. And her mixed blood explained her odd skin, skin I had never really seen before. But I didn’t want to be alone with her in my room. She was sweet and I wanted to help her somehow, but to see her body would be to know too well the agony of what she’s been through.” (63, The Tenderloin)

    “I walked down Broadway and breathed in her smell, which was all over me. I loved it. And I felt like I was in love. I knew I couldn’t be, but my heart was fooled and I let it stay that way. Everybody needs a break once in a while.” (206, A Young Girl)

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