The New Pornographers have a new album out. It’s pretty good.
Just kidding. It’s really fucking good. What are you doing still reading this blog? Go buy it; stop withholding your cash from actual talented people who are way better than you. Come back to this blog when you’ve listened to it at least four times, because they deserve your attention more.
I listened to it on the way home last night. I was trying to read a book at the same time. It was distracting. The book or the album? I don’t know, but I chose the album. Listening to it on a train, on your regular route home from your regular shift is weird, because all the songs sound like you’re supposed to be doing something more epic, like prepping for your first space flight, or dying your hair blue before you go roller-disco-dancing at the club. But no, I was just sitting on the sideways seat, swaying back and forth, looking at the dirty floor, the way I did going in to work, and the way I did 4,942 times before.
I noticed the sneakers on the dude across from me. He was doing something on his laptop that made his mouth hang open, but his sneakers were nuts. The socks didn’t help: clashing patterns and bright colours and all sorts of craziness that were more apt for the tune in my ears. By this point it might have been “Whiteout Conditions” or “High Ticket Attractions.” The continuity of the phrasing in NP songs is partly what makes them good. It worked with the socks.
I started looking at everyone’s shoes. They fell mostly on the crazy spectrum. I am perhaps not the most qualified to speak on the issue, given my choices are limited by my size 11 feet and a package of requirements I take to the store that include fashionable, comfortable, reasonable (price), durable, etc. Still, what is up with everyone’s shoes. First the girl beside me left the train on a pair of royal blue sneakers, then a woman came in with velcro wedges. I kid you not. Three strips. Another guy with turquoise-and-blue sneakers. Sneakers are among the worst offenders. It was a veritable shoe circus.
Shoes, I realized, are one of those commodities that facilitate a sense that you’re both individual/cool and fitting in/alike. Small variations on general homogeneity that don’t make you feel too out of place. Also, bonus, they are “necessities” so you don’t have to feel bad purchasing your primary form of transportation, or replacing the old crazy with the new using an entire paycheque, because “they would eventually wear out anyway.”
Since we’re all in the business of routinely switching our identities, shoes can be doubly functional: don’t cut your foot on dangerous objects outside, plus, be somebody different from who you were earlier today! While you are stepping out in your current weird shoe, look at pictures of yourself on your phone to determine who you should be next, or perhaps check and see how many likes that most recent selfie got. If you didn’t get enough, maybe it’s time for a new shoe.
I was covertly spying on the shoe wearers’ phones last night, wondering what sorts of treasures they were drowning in. By and large, it was pictures of themselves. They were either scrolling through libraries of their own snapshots, or looking at pictures they had posted of themselves. There seemed to be a sort of shoe/self-absorption aspect ratio, wherein the level of shoe crazy could predict the amount of time spent staring at one’s posed version of the self now available for widespread consumption.
I got on the bus. A guy sat next to me; he was good-looking and quite large, so my body reacted in that way where contact is intimate but not necessarily acceptable or unpleasant. Sort of like the dream I had the other night where I was in Stockholm with Knausgaard and I was trying to tell him I slept with Khal Drogo by accident and as I was explaining it I was drawing lazy lines on his bare back while he sat next to me and we stared out to sea, and then I woke up with that warm feeling of intimate love only made possible by dreams. (It is no secret what my pop culture-literary inputs are at the moment.) I looked down at the bus guy’s shoes, and lo and behold they were quite classy loafers. Wow, I thought, and as I did, he lifted his foot to cross his legs, thereby displaying in all its glory the loafed foot for me to admire.
He took out his phone. I kid you not. And – I kid you not again – he did not look at a picture of himself. He checked his emails. And he had none, so he put it away.
I got off the bus. Such a waste of a beautiful day.