Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: a salty ode to Fall, Andrew Gillum reads Florida man to filth, and Starbucks once again persecutes my tastebuds.
Okay. I'm just going to say it: I don't know where any of my photographs are. Like, the ones I've taken on my phone over the years. So, basically every photograph I've taken since 2009? No clue. I've been on hold with the National Weather Service for two hours trying to locate the cloud in which my photographs are being held captive in perpetuity. No dice. I feel like a real luddite whenever I try to find photographs that were taken more than, say, 4 years ago. I don't know where they go. I think they might be on my computer but it's equally likely that they are in a lower pressure system off the coast of Antigua. It is a mystery. This really grinds my gears because, apparently, the familial gene that feels compelled to treasure, document in triplicate, and then scrapbook every memory has kicked in with a vengeance and I need every image of every event that I have been to, been invited to, heard about, or at which a member of my family was present even briefly! Don't even get me started on pictures of my niece and nephew in costumes. Don't even get me STARTED. I call this moment of my life Portrait of the Artist as a Young(?) Man Looking for Portraits.
My mother is a big scrapbooker. She's the family historian so before she discovered the joys of scrapbooking, she was into baby books and photo albums and collecting oral histories and Ancestry.com and family tree-making. I must admit, I poo-pooed this in my fleeting and foolish youth. Don't get me wrong, I wanted the family stories and the scrapbooks and everything, but the fervor with which she threw herself into the pursuit of documentation was too intense for me then. I don't think she'll mind me telling you that she has created so many scrapbooks that the floor of her scrapbook room has started to sag, in turn depressing the ceiling of the kitchen--the room where many memories are made. "The weight of the past invades the territory of the present as time marches ever forward!" I cry every time I'm over for a visit, to the delight of absolutely no one. I mock because I love and I mock because I understand and I mock because the ceiling of the kitchen of my mind dips ever lower! (Does that last sentence mean anything? Who can say! Put it in a scrapbook! Let God sort it out!)
Last weekend, I set about the task of going through the many "memory boxes" that David and I have amassed individually over the years. It was part of my multi-part plan to get our new apartment set up, this phase entailing rooting out spaces where junk accumulates under the willing catch-all of a vague category. I had a sneaking suspicion that many of the memories contained therein probably weren't that memorable and would not, ultimately, be worthy of being included in my papers when I donate them to Acme Looniversity. In my memory boxes I found things definitely worth building a permanent exhibition around, like programs from plays and articles I've been featured in, but mostly I found nonsense, like name badges from conferences I don't even remember going to and a business card I made myself on Vistaprint that listed me as a standup dramedian (I am still proud of that branding but I am ready to admit that no one liked it. Every time I was introduced with it at a show they host would say it with such breathtaking incredulity: "He calls himself a standup drah-mediannn? Okay. Put your hands together for Eric R. Thomas!")
Most of what I found, however, were boxes of printed photographs, many of them still in those paper photomat envelopes, stretching back to before I was born and stopping around 2004 or 5, right after I moved to Philadelphia and around the time I got my first digital camera. I shared some of the random discoveries I found on Twitter, but lemme tell you, most of these photos were not worthy of the hallowed archival halls of Acme Looniversity. It seems my early 20s were dominated by going to happy hour at places that don't exist anymore and exclusively taking pictures of people I don't remember smoking indoors. What a life! There was a period in my early college years (pre-Felicity's haircut) when I became very into taking badly composed pictures of my shoes. Carrie Bradshaw up in here. There were doubles of series of photos documenting a playful fight my college suitemate Shay and I had all over the dorm lounge in 1999. I am fairly certain that though it began playfully, it ended with everyone having hurt feelings and us apologizing. What a great thing to document on photographic paper and save in a box for nearly 20 years!
As I recall (oh, wow, I'm definitely going to rehash this right now. Get ready Therapist Brian, we're going to do some work on Tuesday!) she had taken my computer wristpad and was hitting me with it, I think I jumped on her back at one point, my roommate Will suddenly appears curled into the fetal position (he may have been struck with the wristpad in the nuts but I claim no knowledge of this), our delightfully sophisticated French suitemate Monica stands on the sides in pajamas (we were all in pajamas; this was college) looking bemused. I had printed doubles of these. And then found another set! Why?! I flipped through them and found myself getting frustrated all over again. "This was such an annoying fight!" I shouted at David. He was flipping through photos he'd taken in college of sunset at the Sea of Galilee. Honestly, how are we married? His memory box is like a David Attenborough documentary and mine is like a Worldstar Hip Hop viral video.
But they're my memories. And (with some extreme editing) I want them. Which is why it makes me so frustrated that I can't figure out how to consolidate all of the places that my digital photos are stored. I'm so close to just ferreting out every photo in every cloud, printing them out the next time Snapfish has a sale, putting them in a shoebox, and storing them under the bed until the floor beneath me starts to collapse from the joy and pain and annoyance of a life well lived. Or, short of that a life, well, lived. Future generations will thank me!
This week! I'm taking on the anti-Autumn lobby, Tilda Swinton may or may not exist, and Starbucks' Witches Brew is evil. But first!
Gillum said "A hit dog will holler" and I have never seen someone look so lost as DeSantis looked in that moment. Milo and Otis weren't as lost as Ron DeSantis was. Fievel Mousekewitz wasn't this lost. Nikki and Paolo were not this lost. While Andrew Gillum blew DeSantis' weave back one follicle at a time, DeSantis simply stared forlornly into the camera like he was in a Sarah McLachlan commercial. "Just one dollar a day can help this pitiful man buy back a scintilla of self-respect." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Fall is really having a moment and, like anything experiencing a glut of attention, the backlash is intense. There are seemingly unlimited ways to enjoy fall and, if you pay attention to popular consensus, they are all bad. Piles of crunchy leaves are passé, no one wants to see your hayride pics, and if you dare express an affection for a pumpkin spice latte, you ought to be arrested immediately. The problem with fall seems to go beyond overexposure. The season has been folded into the damning and abstruse monolith known as Basicness. If you celebrate the joys of ochre leaves and cinnamon flecks on whipped creamed coffee beverages, ya basic and ya need to fix ya life. Cancel me if ya must, but to that I say, "fall back." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
As you drink, you occasionally ingest one of the green chia seeds that has been lurking at the bottom of the cup like a cursed sarcophagus buried under a Taco Bell parking lot. The tia and temerity of these seeds, y'all! Is this a healthy drink?! Is this like an overnight oatmeal as designed by Veruca Salt? My FitBit sent me a pop-up notification that read "Molly, you in danger, girl." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
America's most treatment-resistant infection, Donald Trump, has changed his nickname for Texas senator Ted Cruz and, like most of the president's nicknames, it is confusing and disgusting. Trump reversed his thinking on the erstwhile Lyin Ted, now calling him "beautiful." Christina Aguilera, James Blunt, and Veronica Sawyer from Heathers, please contact your copyright attorneys. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
No one, save for Jenna Maroney, lives life more dramatically than Tilda Swinton. An Oscar-winning actress whose wild creative endeavors on- and off-screen lead some (me) to believe that there is no real Tilda Swinton, but rather she is a performance (perhaps by an artist known as Tilda Swinton. I know this is complicated; please see my graduate thesis for more information.) For instance, in her new movie, Suspiria, she plays a foreboding, possibly witchy artistic director as well as a mysterious older woman in need of some supernatural help. Just your normal Swinton stuff. Tildas be Tilding. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Well, this is one way to earn the title Greatest of All Time. Cardi B just dropped her latest single and with it an Instagram glamour shot of the punctual performer posing completely nude, save for roughly 10 to 12 watches. What time is it? Literally any time you want. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Random Thing on the Internet...
This interview with Tyne Daly is a hoot. She's salty and sharp-tongued and well-read and perfect. I've always loved her work and this reinforces the years of fandom. She's great and I can't wait to see her new films.