24 October 2006

Reflections

I thought that being confined to bed and/or this tiny room for a few weeks while my foot recovered would give me a great opportunity to do some serious blogging.

After all, there's not a whole lot else to do here. No TV, no stereo, no DVDs, though I finally borrowed the original Star Wars trilogy that I had given to my nephew for Christmas last year and watched it on my laptop. It was sensational, even better than I remembered from decades ago. But that was about it. I had three P.G. Wodehouse novels, an AM-FM radio, and an internet connection. Considering the ridiculous amount of time I normally spend on the internet anyway, I figured, now that I didn't need to make excuses or feel guilty about wasting time that I could be using more productively, I'd stay online about 20 hours a day and produce the blog equivalent of a three-volume novel.

Well, I was on the internet a lot, though not as much as I expected, because it was too uncomfortable to sit up, and trying to type while lying down, I discovered, can be downright painful. But not a word of blogworthy content found its way onto my screen. I did a fair bit of posting on the Pop Punk Message Board, read newspapers from around the globe, checked all my friends's blogs several times a day for new entries, and thought of a thousand and one things I really needed to tell the world about here, but it was as though my typing fingers had gone mute. Even now it's taking a supreme effort of the will to stay up writing instead of going to bed.

It's the longest I've gone without posting anything here since I started this blog, and I guess - no, I don't guess, I know - that I feel guilty about it. Why, I don't know. It's not as if any of you out there have paid me to do this, and I haven't had any anguished letters or calls from people distraught over the lack of news or opinions from chez Livermore. I guess I just have the inbuilt tendency to set myself tasks and then torment myself if I don't religiously carry them out regardless of whether or not they have a point. A legacy of Catholic school, I suspect.

But before I digress further, a progress report: yesterday - day 12 of the post-surgery process - was my first day walking without crutches, which rather surprised me, since I'd been expecting to be laid up a lot longer than that. I thought I'd be mostly confined to bed for about four weeks, but by last Thursday, day 9, I made my first venture out on my own, hobbling three arduous blocks on crutches up to Shattuck and University for a much longed-for burrito. I had to stop every hundred feet or so to rest - using crutches gives your arms a serious workout, for those of you who haven't had the experience - and had to move very slowly and carefully so as not to be trampled or knocked over by rowdy groups of high school students to whom I might as well have been invisible.

It was a crash course in being old and infirm. Before she died, I used to take Olivia out to do shopping or to the doctor, and I'd learned to be patient with how slowly she moved, how cautious she was about crossing streets, refusing to start out unless the light had only just turned green. But now I could see what it must have been like to be her, and maybe what it will be like for me someday, though hopefully when I'm a lot older than I am now.

But for now I'm very optimistic about making a full recovery and being able to run around again at least as well and as quickly as I used to. It might be a while yet - today, withoug my crutches, it was all I could manage to half walk/half shuffle to the end of my block and back. Any further than that and I've got to drive - something else I wasn't supposed to be able to do for a few weeks, but which has been no trouble at all for a few days now.

Tomorrow is the day I get my stitches out, and hopefully some advice from the doctor about just how far I can push myself without risk of damaging my new big toe. I've even - no doubt in a fit of delirious optimism - considered flying out to Gainesville this weekend for the amazing punk rock fest. Saturday happens to be my birthday, and I can't think of many better ways to celebrate, especially since many of my East Coast friends will be there as well.

But practically speaking, the idea is probably sheer madness. Getting there would be no problem - BART to the airport, and a rental car to get me around Gainesville - but so far I'm not able even to wear a shoe on my bad foot. Can you imagine being in a jampacked punk rock club and trying - hoping against hope, really - to make sure nobody will step on it? So unless the doctor tells me tomorrow that I can start wearing a normal shoe again this week, the trip is out of the question. But just in case, I've got a room reserved in G-ville...

What else? I've been devoting much of my time here to sorting out and throwing out much of the cultural detritus that's been accumulating in this room for the past 12 years. It's my intention to sever my last remaining ties to Berkeley as soon as my foot's back to normal, and that means getting rid of, or finding a good home for, hundreds of records, CDs, zines and other assorted memorabilia. Some of it's probably eBay-able, like a test pressing for the Operation Ivy LP or the first pressing of Jawbreaker's Unfun LP on blue vinyl, but so much more of my stuff falls into the t00-good-to-thr0w-away-too-useless-to-keep category that I despair at the thought of sitting here for weeks or months running several hundred online auctions.

I've already found someone who wants my old copies of Maximum Rocknroll, but even that's not simple: the reason I've hung onto them as long as I have is that they contain columns I wrote back in the late 80s and early 90s that I don't have computerized copies of. Eventuallly I want to put some or all of my old columns up on my long-delayed website, so I've been typing them into the computer. An interesting experience, and a slightly traumatic one.

It's not just the tedium and the risk of repetitive strain injury (how data entry clerks do this eight hours a day for years on end, I'll never know), but the unsettling realization that the Lawrence Livermore who wrote those late-80s columns was precisely the kind of left-wing hippie wackjob I'm constantly inveighing against these days. At one point I considered just dumping all the magazines and forgetting I'd ever written those columns. Ben Weasel said he'd had a similar experience, and ended up deciding that, "Out of five years I had maybe 4 columns worth reprinting." But, he added, "What the heck, it was cheaper than a writing class and probably more instructive."

Which is kind of how I feel about it now. Tonight I typed a copy of something from the spring of 1988 where I was threatening to single-handedly bring down the government because Ronald Reagan was supposedly leading us into a new Vietnam in Central America. Apparently I'd just come back from one of those impromptu marches down Market Street and was mightily fired up. What Reagan had done on this particular occasion was to order some US troops into Honduras, something which today I honestly have no memory of. I think I'm pretty safe in saying that it didn't lead to the wholesale machine-gunning and napalming of Honduran peasants that I was predicting at the time.

But having this kind of political/ideological argument with myself is considerably more troubling than having it with the woolly-minded troglodytes or teenage anarchists I usually find it so much fun to ridicule. For one thing, it's me saying all those wacky things, and despite all evidence that it's not wise to do so, I still have a certain regrettable tendency to take seriously what I think and say. But even more disturbing is the thought that popped into my head last night while arguing with my brother, who still subscribes to pretty much the same ideas he and I both had in 1987. Or, for that matter, 1967.

If I had been so spectacularly wrong back then, I thought, who's to say I couldn't be just as spectacularly wrong today? Will I be reading old blogs in the year 2027 and rolling my eyes at what a hopeless nutcase I was back in the oughties? Entirely possible, maybe even likely, given my past track record.

At that point I quickly resolved to give up writing about politics, and maybe to stop having opinions altogether. Don't know how interesting that would be, but at the same time, how interesting can it be for me to go banging on about the same old themes for decade after decade, even if it's from completely opposite sides of the issue? That's another thing I learned from going through my old columns - not just the MRR ones, but also Punk Planet and Hit List - that much of the stuff I write about today, thinking it's a pressing, urgent issue that needs to be brought to the attention of the public immediately, is stuff that I've already been saying, often repeatedly, for 25 years or more now.

Ah well, who I am kidding? I'm probably not going to shut up, even if I should, but at least maybe I'll change the subject a little. Or maybe by reading enough of my old columns, I'll even be converted back in the direction of my bleeding heart pinko former self. I know at one point, where the 1988 L. Livermore was denouncing the cynical sellouts of his generation who no longer cared enough to get out into the streets and protest injustice, I found myself saying "Ouch, this guy has got my number all right." Naff as he was, he was so damned sincere that I didn't even feel like traveling back in time to punch him in the nose.

Anyway, that's what's been going on lately. Thanks for all your kind wishes and even more so for the tangible help, in the form of rides and food, etc., that some of you have offered. A few weeks more and I should be back to my ten-toed, tap-dancing, street-fighting self, but in the meantime, as you can no doubt tell from the foregoing, I've got a fair bit of time on my hands.

6 comments:

Matt Andrews said...

I wish I lived closer to (or on the same continent as) Berkely, I'd love to claim some old zines from before I was born or ancient records.

Looking back at our old selves and wondering how on earth we had those views/hairstyles/friends is just life I guess, at least we're able to recognise the change and realise we've moved on.

Jim Testa said...

My poor mom had several foot surgeries to correct her hammer toes and some other problems. They were all quite painful and unsuccessful (which is why I never brought them up before you had your surgery.)
Anyway I'm glad to hear you're faring much better. Come back to NYC soon, I hate being the oldest guy in the scene here. It'll be lonely here this week; most of the PPMB is in Gainesville getting drunk and listening to hardcore bands this weekend.

Anonymous said...

"If I had been so spectacularly wrong back then, I thought, who's to say I couldn't be just as spectacularly wrong today"

Finally, an admission that you might be gravely fallible!

Trust me, you are spectacularly wrong on this War on Terrorism / Clash of the Civilizations issue - almost as wrong as when you hated capitalism.

The War on Terror is a farce. Muslims are intelligent, rational people - just like Europeans. If you think Muslim terrorists are a strategic threat to the United States of America, you have been duped by extensive propaganda. Implicit in most of this propaganda is a deeply rooted sense of racism and cultural superiority.

Pointing this out does not make me politically correct, or sympathetic to the dogmatic liberal puritanism you so frequently (and rightfully) criticize in your writings.

Maybe you won't ever change your mind.

But hopefully someone can persuade you to, at least, not be so adament in your defense of legalizing torture or bombing Muslim countries under the pretext of protecting America from terrorism.

Oh, and happy birthday.

Maria said...

Happy Birthday Larry!

Larry Livermore said...

I would be happy to reconsider my defense of torture or of bombing "Muslim" countries if I had ever said any such things in the first place.

I'm also surprised to hear you speaking in such racist terms, as if "Muslims" were a single, faceless entity rather than a vast collection of diverse people, some good, some bad, some smart, some dumb, some devoted to living in peace with their neighbors, others intent on killing and destroying anyone or anything that obstructs the imposition of Sharia law on all and sundry.

In other words, it would be much more useful for purposes of discussion if you could avoid such sweeping generalizations about Muslims. They're people, with individual ideas and values, just like anyone else, and can't be treated as a collective identity. Some of them need to be welcomed and cherished, others need to be bitterly opposed. It all depends on their individual actions and goals.

And thanks for the birthday wishes!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, which sweeping generalization about Muslims did you find so objectionable?

"Muslims are intelligent, rational people - just like Europeans."

That one?

Yeah, sorry for that ridiculous generalization!