"Some customers can be pretty gross, but we don't have to serve any of them. If we walk out, though, we don't get paid."
It's good to hear people's stories, face to face. In Philadelphia, I knew almost none of my neighbors, so the only local community I had were the drinkers inside Friendly Lounge, yet even there, it was hard to talk, because the television was always on, even if no one was watching it, and the jukebox often interrupted.
Though not all Americans bowl, eat, drink and have sex alone, too many are divorced from their neighbors, neighborhood, the direct experience and even their own thought process, since it is regularly drowned out by canned garbage. Since the collapse of the American empire will be, among other things, a cultural and psychic deliverance for Americans themselves, all should wish for it.
A decade ago, I gave a reading at This Ain't the Rosedale Library, a Toronto bookstore now out of business. It was fairly well attended, and afterwards, a bunch of us went to some Kensington Market bar to talk, but the canned music was so loud in there, conversations were impossible. We were reduced to shouting snippets at each other. I screamed to a woman next to me, "This is why poetry is dead!"
"This is why!"
"We can't even fuckin' talk!"
Lastly, an announcement: at 6PM on Sunday, November 18th, I'll give a reading in Tokyo at Aoyama Book Center, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Cosmos Aoyama Garden Floor (B2F). Mieko Kawakami was supposed to appear with me, but some nutcase has threatened, online, to come to this event to stab her, so the police has advised Mieko to not show up. It's a great shame, but it's also heartening to know that literature can still be that deadly serious somewhere.