Student # 56004501
STUDENT #56004501 CULTURE FREAK
Student #56004501; that’s who I am. Someone will be able to look up that number and make value judgments, decisions, and recommendations for my life. That my name is Tom Miller, is incidental. Tom is a common name, short form of Thomas, meaning, ‘purity’. I am anything but. Miller/surname: anyone who works in a grain mill. I know nothing about grain mills. I was adopted.
When I was a young boy, about the age of 14, my best friend was what is now safely and allowably called, ‘African American’. His name was Dwayne. We got along. We had commonality. He was black, I was white. What we had in common was we talked, laughed, shared, and generally enjoyed each other’s company. We were in a singing group in junior high school. I remember it vividly because it was the first time I ever had a car of my own. My job was to drive the car to the mall with me and my friend Dwayne in it, because our singing group was going to entertain for some adoring fans. It frankly never occurred to me that Dwayne was the kind of deep South black that some people looked down upon. I just thought he was black, as in the way ‘black’ is a most useful color of the palette. Some would argue—artists/colorists/racists—that black is the absence of color. Interestingly enough, white is also appreciated as colorless.
We sang our parts, got our applause, and headed for the parking lot to prepare for the adventure that would be me somehow managing to drive us home. In broad daylight on the way to my car, we were confronted by a couple of fairly big white guys. “What are you doing with this nigger?” said one. “Are you a nigger lover,” said the other. Though I was young, this hurt me. I experienced a complete feeling of pure shame before I ever looked over and saw my friend’s face. I knew these were men who had a very different reality than the one I was living in. Were these men confronting young children with the heavy weight of the Civil War, maybe? I wanted to be angry, but I was just scared. They had the kind of anger you can instantly read in a face and in body language. I immediately became prejudiced against another of my kind: these simple-minded KKK turds—because they were prejudiced against me and my friend. It did not make any sense to me, not until I realized these gentlemen were the kind of people I can not stand: ‘assholes.’ I didn’t think about their mothers, or them as children growing up with whatever worldly impositions had been cast upon them. I did not cut them any slack...turds! Assholes! The people I wished to die painfully for their ignorance. White people, like me. Give it to me that I was twelve, if you will...
Ethnic and Religious Groups
I grew up in Miami. Many of my close friends were Cuban. I took several Spanish language courses in elementary and junior high school. To this day, I can only pronounce, effectively, the curse words. I can issue them authentically. Even so far as the variant approaches to, “Conyo.” This is like “Damn” spoken in the English language. In Spanish, it is as it seems...”Conyo.” In Cuban, which has some differences with the Spanish language, it is pronounced, “ConYO”. One means Damn. One means, muthafkn DAMN! The Cubans have more chutzpa [audacity] on this term. What does it really mean unless you say it musically, unless you say it with flair, unless you say it with some spit coming out of your mouth and your eyes bulging? We discover meta-language and Para-language easily without the benefit of a college education. I am 14.
I was raised a Southern Baptist. My aunt was a church organist. Every Sunday, I would ride with her to the SB Church and when we got there, she would occasionally let me play the tiny organ keys that produced a gargantuan uber-Godly sound through some fat tubes with hot air into the loudspeakers which riled the entire neighborhood. I played “Chopsticks”. I played it again and again. Then, when it was time for the parishioners to fill in and sing, I would sneak into the back where the refrigerator was and steal the communion wafers. Body of Christ...Blood of Christ...it was all in there. I came to a realization...everyone is completely insane. By the time I had polished off an entire bottle of the Blood of Christ, I was convinced that alcoholism was the true religion and fairylands in the clouds and the burning moshpits of the bowels of Purgatory were the ramblings of complete and unadulterated idiots. All the same, I loved my aunt without judgment. She was my aunt, not the Church organist for Dr. Seuss meets George Lucas in Exorcist V in 3-D VomitVision.
My dad was weak. He was an alcoholic and my mom was a domineering witch-woman. That sounds like I didn’t love them with all my heart and soul. I am not sure what love is, but if there exists something akin to it, I had much of it for them. Sometimes I wonder if it was because the dominant figurehead of my mother in the household played a role in my ambiguous gender identity, or if genetics rolled some dice. But the hot women of my day put me off. I do not have the need to make another me in the world, nor to bond with some woman. I am open to expressions of love in the many ways they manifest, and of the homosexual bent, I could say I have been in the hay. Our society seems to indicate an importance in assigning roles...that people must pick a card, so to speak, in their appreciation—at the deepest levels—of another of our species. Though I had been informed by my past mentors to “be normal”, i.e. heterosexual, or to be queer (a repellent word)...I found that to decide a thing cuts off another thing. In other words, when one makes a decisive decision, a door closes. I keep all my doors open, some more than others, and feel that absolute decisions are akin to death. The more doors close, the fewer rooms there are to explore. My dad was a great intellect dad. My mother was a teacher, and stood over my young shoulders pointing out the value of mathematics and language. I never mentioned sexuality to them. Did they really need to hear about penis and pussy? Were these my real parents? Sure, why not. They were much older that “normal” parents would be. In fact, they were one of the oldest couples to be able to adopt children before the laws were changed. They taught me the value of value. The only thing I ever saw them do is kiss and lock pinky-fingers. We ‘fuck’ in my day. They had romance. We have porn. As Oscar Wilde said, “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Craftsmanship. Honor. Integrity. My real mother might have been a princess or a crack whore. But these people, who nurtured and supported me, were my parents. I learned from a time past that there are chairs and there are chairs. One you can sit your ass in for awhile, and one, you can sit your ass in comfortably forever. The chair means something to someone. It is not some press-board and glue diorama manufactured by robots. This is a paper about culture. Does it matter in the long run who my real parents are? I do not know.
I grew up and read poetry and saw plays and movies—not your typical Hollywood movies, though I have seen many—but the movies of artists who were invested much more to the art and the message than the dollar. On an island with a million dollars and no food...; well, you can not eat the money. Or you can, but to what nutritional effect? I figure if we adversely impact the environment...before its potential doom...it will probably rebound and put our young humanity out, like blowing on a birthday candle. I say this because mankind is a cosmic speck. Roaches have a better understanding of reality, perhaps simply because they do not bother with it. I have read that some roaches have a ‘hissing’ language. I have read that roaches, in the absence of a lover, can simply become spontaneously transgendered and lay fertilized eggs without the help of a mate. We postulate in our reality-tunnels (see Robert Anton Wilson) a culture of animals and come to the conclusion that we, so different than they (other than science), alone have language, though animals share with us the ability to at the very least communicate. We have learned that we stand alone, as did the Earth as the center of everything before Copernicus fucked it all up. In the macrocosm of the infinite, should we make a decision and close all doors that culture is anything more than that which humans avail themselves of, or is there a broader larger bigger magical wild and wonderful...
The poet Charles Bukowski said “Trees, green-ness...can be deadening. Give me the cities, give me smog.”
I am a Zen guy. Everything is doing what it does. When I look into another human being’s eyes I say, “I am going to find myself in there and bask.” Sometimes, I look into the eyes of a roach and say, “I am going to find myself in there and bask.” When I hear someone or another preach of all Gods, some Gods, or no Gods, I say, “I am going to find myself in there and bask.” When I see someone who is looking for the ‘manness’ or the ‘womanness’ or the ‘be-a-part-of-everything-ness’ I say, “I am going to find myself in there and bask.” When I sit under the sun, look at a blade of grass, watch the meadow sway in the wind like a green sea on a lonely planet in a drop of infinity, watch a spider turn a web in the corner of my toilet, and I say, “I will find myself in there and bask.” The mystery is the answer...culture is the question. Student #56004501 sends his regards to Broadway.