note: “Electric Parade” is now “Bullet Train to Tokyo” because “Electric Parade” no longer suits me and I’ve never set foot in Japan, much less one of its bullet trains.
once upon a time, i was poor. in Prince George’s County, Maryland–close enough to Washington, DC to claim the district as my home–empress and i rarely ate well. we survived in a two bedroom apartment on Nigerian fare she learned from her family, but we struggled. a bohemian struggle, yes–we fucked and wrote poetry and ran an unprofitable business–but still a struggle. cheap rice & boiled chicken in a tomato broth: sometimes with onions; sometimes with seasoning; never with pleasure.
better times in Georgia; elle and i ate better. i made money. with money comes stuff. i had no stuff; i loved hip-hop; i had to have stuff. i got around to buying my own Dell laptop for $300 used. but it wasn’t the right stuff: top of the line; materials to fill the void; labels to brand me beautiful.
i’m often asked why i buy Apple products. i believed–once–that their products would make me beautiful, imbue me with worth. the same reason i buy Moleskine notebooks now, in New Jersey, with amira. we eat well–English fare three floors above the River Thames–and the beauty seen in particular stuff outweighs its actual worth.
i acknowledge i’m a fool for (or of) marketing. Hemingway used little black notebooks, so goes the legend, and while i’ve read little Hemingway, and have even less interest in emulating his sparse style, the Moleskine’s alleged history promised beauty. beautiful notebook to beautify my disfigured works.
Moleskine srl, the parent company which branded & released The Notebook since 1997, knows its audiences.
some buy for status. which is comical–no status is more ignored than the act of writing anything, even a grocery list or the pornographic sins of last night, into a notebook.
some buy because money is no object. true–money, at a certain amount, becomes a way of life, a philosophy or, god help us all, a religion.
and then there are the artists, the squirming bodies shoved into the base foundation of culture, who buy Moleskines for the same reasons we buy writing prompt books and “how to get published’ webinars chaired by social media ninjas. art is a magical trade, the one form of wizardry accesible to humanity, and talismans come in all shapes, sizes, prices–products with varied promises as altruistic as campaign slogans. yes you can.
i am not immune. disfigured words written in a drugstore notebook, or typed into a black plastic monstrosity with an equally reprehensible operating system, appear even uglier, scarred. Moleskines, like MacBooks, are akin to extreme makeover shows.
the homely, stretch-marked blonde becomes a redhead, her face dyed with Revlon, her shabby clothes replaced with McCall and Choo (or reasonableÂ facsimiles), and the crowd applauds as she enters the room, re-made: still homely; still stretch-marked; branded “beautiful.”
every artist longs to be beautiful. this is a good thing–there is beauty in truth. but beautiful tools, like the oil-skinned Moleskine–fashionably black and slim; its pages suited for pencil and ballpoint pens, lest ye be judged for smears and feathering caused by fountain pens (like the one in my hand)–are easier to purchase, attain. right there, begging you to beg for truth inside its covers.