A lot of things make me cringe, but I cringe every time I see that someone has viewed SFSF’s About page. Mostly because I don’t quite know what sanfranciscostreetfighter.com is about. And I certainly had no clue two years ago. In that section, I recall that I wrote a cocky and naive response to Jonathon Franzen’s Ten rules for writing. I can’t bear to look at it now.
***Random pictures will be spread throughout this post to lure readers in***
The About section is where I explain the origin of my absurdly long, silly blog name. I’m not going to make you read the original About to hear the story.
Goes like this: I was living at my mom and Step-dad’s house, when I was about 25 years old. I’d just moved home after my second tour of Seattle. My little brother Nicholas was 15 and he’d begun to recognize patterns. He was beginning to realize that I talked a lot about writing movies and/or a memoir and, like everyone else, he observed that I had absolutely nothing to show for it. Unfinished college semesters were accumulating almost as fast as crappy retail jobs. And again, not a whole lot of writing. I remember he’d written somewhere that he wished I could “stay steady.”
He began to take interest in my well-being and he considered my situation. One day, he very thoughtfully suggested that I move to San Francisco to become a streetfighter. I think he’d just been assigned to read The Call Of The Wild in School and he’d picked up some biographical info on Jack London.
“Aaron, you should move to San Francisco and become a streetfighter. That’s what Jack London did before he was a writer.”
Nick was sincere, he really was. He treated the situation delicately, squinting and cocking his head a bit as he made his suggestion. So, consequently, and perhaps as a consolation for me never beginning a streetfighting career up the coast, the blog is named sanfranciscostreetfighter.
Perhaps there’s a magical force that makes blog writing align with the title, as San Francisco has surfaced in the blog in a couple of posts, independent of the Jack London/Nicholas Rian Jones anecdote. In Esephesef, I wrote about a seminal trip to San Francisco when I was 14. I drove up from San Diego (where I’m actually from) in a van with my mother, her Dad, and his Mother’s corpse, in the coffin. Nanny’s funeral was in Berkeley, where Pop was born and raised. I suppose that trip’s setting was Berkeley and not San Fran, but we went to Fisherman’s Wharf, so it qualifies.
Anyway, there’s a point to this post. Much of it is about a transition here at SFSF, and a possible end. The new writing just seems like the beginning of something long-form to me. It’s the beginning of a book or screenplay. I began this blog simply because I needed a venue for my writing. It was roughly three years after Nick offered up his concerned suggestion, and I still had absolutely nothing to show for it. I’d recently quit working at Starbucks and I’d gotten a job at Dave’s Fresh Pasta. At Dave’s, I didn’t have to act completely fake all the time and pretend to love being at a job that required me to show up some days at 5:45 am, other days not till 1 pm. When my workday ended at Starbucks, there was just nothing left in the tank, creatively. I didn’t have the energy to write the great American novel. Plus, my second adolescence was just getting started. I had shit to take care of. (My second adolescence can be described in about 100,000 words, but restricted to this parenthetical statement, I’ll just say that it began with a lot of bass guitar, and alcohol & weed consumption at typical collegiate levels of alcohol & weed consumption.)
In the Fall of 2010, I was still smack-dab in the middle of my second adolescence, but like I said, I had a much more humane work schedule at Dave’s and the clock was ticking, so I began this blog. I had no idea what else to do. I picked WordPress over the other blog sites for unknowns reasons, and wrote the original About section in addition to Reviews: Movies That I Saw A Long Time Ago And/Or Vaguely Remember.
I first decided to write a movie about my loss of faith while I was still a missionary, on my mission in Colorado. This was about 11 years ago. I distinctly remember mornings when I’d wait for my greenie (the new missionary I was training) to turn the faucet on in the bathroom, and that’s when I’d pull out my Sony Mini Disc player that I kept hidden between my mattress and the wall. I’d listen to a certain song by blink-182 and imagine an opening credit sequence beginning. As I listened, I imagined on-screen exactly what was going on at the time.
I think the scene began with me and my greenie wrapping up a required companionship study session, and me waiting intently as he exited the room and went into the bathroom. As soon as I heard the water, The headphones went on and the music blared. Anthem 2, the first track on Take off your Pants and Jacket played and there you have it, the opening credits of a juvenile, emotional, high-energy movie accompanied by a juvenile, emotional, high-energy band. The camera panned the room, exposing certain things about missionary life: Letters from home, scriptures, a photo of a girl, the return address part of an envelope. Outside, a bright, cold, winter morning. A closet full of white shirts and ties.
That was a beginning, and that’s all I had. It was frustrating back then because all I could ever think of, or imagine, were beginnings. In retrospect, that makes perfect sense, because it was the beginning. When I was in my mid-twenties, I’d imagine scenes and think “Hey, this feels like a middle scene.”
And now I’ve got some end scenes. Finally. They’re in my head though, or in my silly little notebooks. They ain’t here yet, on the blog. There are a couple of things that stand alone, as pieces, and technically those pieces have endings. There’s some middle-scene stuff on the blog, but mostly, it’s the beginning.
That’s the point of this post. I think the blog has served it’s purpose. In November of 2010, I was desperate and scared, and I begged Sarah to help in any way. I just needed someone to be there, someone behind me, to pretend like they were holding the bike upright while I peddled. But Sarah let go a long time ago.
It’s been my workshop. I needed feedback, and got it.
Is that the one he wrote about me? The one that doesn’t make any sense?
No, I’m talking about the one about me that makes no sense.
I needed cheerleading, and I got it. Mostly from Sarah’s mom.
Anyway, there’s debate about whether or not writers should comment on their own text. I think one argument is that the author can’t always be there. And of course, the author will die one day, and then they’re permanently gone. So the author should say everything that needs to be said in the text.
This is my blog though, and I can do what I want. Early criticisms, as I’ve alluded to, were largely about my vagueness. So I’m gonna go through and attempt to explain briefly, what some of the posts are about, beginning with:
Reviews: Movies That I Saw A Long Time Ago And/Or Vaguely Remember was the first post ever on SFSF and it’s about me being pretty damn guarded and far from writing what I’d originally intended to write, way back when I was a missionary.
57 YR Old Man In A Poodle Skirt is an old thing I wrote about American Idol. I wrote it in 2005. The point of this post and others like it was to display that I’d been serious about the writing thing the whole time, if extremely afraid to show anything. Also, it touches on themes of confidence, delusion, and cynicism themes that I’ll probably spend my whole career talking about. But most importantly, it’s the only thing I’ve every copy-and-pasted to the website I Write Like (a site where you simply paste your writing and you’re quickly told what famous author you write like) where I was told I write like my man, David Foster Wallace.
Allow Me To Do Anything but Actually Introduce Myself is Sarah’s first post.
Boston Colleges is about my insecurity over not finishing college. In it, I knock Sarah’s alma mater, Emerson College.
Sort Of is about my disdain for Natalie Portman, and my disgust at her lack of eloquence despite being a Harvard grad. But really, it’s more insecurity.
The Cat And The Tree is about a conversation I had with my ex-girlfriend. It another old thing I dusted off. It’s from 2005. It’s sort of works as a prelude to ETHER 12:27.
For Tyson- With Cereal and Phonebooks is quite obviously for Tyson, my best friend from San Diego. Additionally, it’s an homage to J.D. Salinger’s For Esme- With Love and Squalor. It’s also the first time I reference where I came from, if very thickly veiled; I note that “Tyson doesn’t even drink coffee,” which may not seem like a big deal to the reader, but it was a big deal for me, at the time.
IRRResponsible, Microscope Glasses, Normal Human Being, and It Helps Me all belong together as super-short pieces set at Dave’s Fresh Pasta that are about me barely beginning to touch down to Earth. I think I turn a corner with It Helps Me.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Mediocre Movies is a play on Haruki Murakami’s memoir, What I Talk About When I talk About Running. I’m not the only hack who’s played with that title. That post is about me running, and it’s also about me throwing myself out there. It’s the first time I mention my brother Tyler; I hint at what drives me, I suppose. It’s not perfect.
Demolition Man is light fare about NCAA basketball. But it’s about where I come from, which was again, a big deal for me.
Glossary is a tiny story about when I was harmlessly hit by a car on my mission. A harmless piece, but a HUGE deal for me. It’s the first public writing about my mission, ten years after I decided to write about it. I told the story to my friend Dan while we were sitting on The Stoop, drinking beers. He thought it was funny, so I went home and blogged about it.
A Real Pal is about my friend Ben, making fun of me at work. I had a crush on a girl who would come into Dave’s and flirt with me. I told her to read my blog and deluded myself into thinking I had a chance. She toyed with me for a hot minute, but never really took me seriously. She came in a few weeks later with a proper suitor. Ben ran over to The Deli to make sure I knew that the dude was rubbing the small of her back.
Hey Sarah, Can You Read This Little Thing First is about insecurity:
She’s got that older boyfriend, and I bet he’s a genius. I bet they can explain the anger and the tunnel vision in clear, stoic academy, with words I have yet to freely use. They see me from the window of their warm apartment.
“Awwwww, look at him, walking up Mass Ave, in that button-down shirt that’s a little too big.”
The Penn State Stuff was locked away until now. I made it private because I felt like it was out-of-place on the blog. It didn’t seem to work on this stage, me being an unrealized writer. But I don’t care anymore.
Mid-Fall Opium Den is about a girl I met when I worked at Starbucks. It began as a facebook message to her.
Unlimited Miles is the second thing I’d written in ten years about my mission.
I Don’t Think I’m Gonna Fish is possibly my favorite thing on this blog. It’s about some guys from Dave’s Fresh Pasta who go fishing down at The Cape.
i gotta write something is the most confusing thing here on the blog. It’s about frustration. I woke up at my friend Dan’s apartment one morning, all fucked up because I’d slept at an apartment with cats and no nose-spray. I walked to work cold, manic, and disgusted with my lack of productivity. At this point I was 29 and I had a couple of silly vignettes about my mission on a silly blog. I simply thought “i gotta write something.” It’s intentionally lower-cased to express inadequacy. Oh, when I tell Davy that I died my hair blue once, I’m calling myself punk. It’s also about me being my father’s son. Baseball is a metaphor for writing. Despite this being a very vague, imperfect piece, it was by far the biggest deal for me at that point. I really freaked out before clicking the Publish button.
What I Wanted To Write is what I wanted to write the day I walked from Dan’s apartment to work. It’s also what I wanted to write for ten years. All the capital W’s contrast the lower-case letters in i gotta write something. This piece was a huge deal for me. I went to the Boston Public Library in Copley Square to write this. I go there sometimes when I think I’m writing something important. Huge deal. I felt lighter than air when I walked out of the library. It was dusk and there was a fresh blanket of snow on the ground for the fist time during that absurdly mild winter.
Voodune is Sarah’s story. I think it’s a great contrast to my self-absorbed shit. Thematically, it’s similar to what I write, but it’s more polished and has broader appeal. It’s more grounded. I don’t know, I feel stupid commenting on it. It’s a great story.
Vigiana is an ironic piece that shows frustration that I’m really throwing myself out there, while the bulk of the people who stumble onto my blog are perverts who can’t spell vagina. It’s the first time I write about the blog stats. In a comment, Sarah’s mom asked me if I know how to spell vagina, or perhaps there’s deeper meaning.
Dawson: An Introduction is about Dawson’s Creek. It’s a play off of Salinger’s title Seymour: An Introduction. Sarah and I watched a few episodes together. I only talk about it here because I bring it up in ETHER 12:27.
ETHER 12:27 is a story about my first girlfriend. We dated after my mission. Ether 12:27 is also scripture in the book of Mormon. I whore that story out all the time on this blog. It’s about ten pages long, but you should read it if you haven’t. More is a very recent post, and it’s a continuation of ETHER.
Sigh is about how I quit my job at Dave’s Fresh Pasta and had to beg for it back. But I only lasted another six weeks or so.
Delusional Degenerate is pretty experimental, I suppose. I don’t know how confusing it is for the reader. The red text is negative shit I’ve heard over the past ten years, while the green is what’s kept me going. The black text is me. Its obvious, right? McSweeney’s, an online literary journal told me to stay away from colors and shit in their rejection email. Delusional Degenerate, for a period, (around age 24) was going to be the title of my memoir. I’ve submitted a few SFSF pieces to McSweeney’s and they’ve all been rejected.
I think It Was Me is about my brothers and me.
Bright Lights Big City is possibly the blog’s climax. It’s me exercising some serious demons. This whole blog is, but particularly this piece. Also, I think it’s a bit obvious that I’d just taken a class on James Joyce. I’d spent a couple years telling my friends who play guitar that I was writing about them, and with Bright Lights Big City, I finally did…that’s a terrible sentence, but it’s 6:30 am.
The Holy Cinemas Of California is about a conversation I had with my friend Blaze from san Diego. I met him when I worked at a Starbucks in a grocery store shopping center. He worked at the grocery store and would come over every now and then to buy a soda or something. He wore his pants high and didn’t give a shit so I took to him immediately.
Anyway, this isn’t about all the posts, and I apologize to the SFSF loyal for being repetative. I have to go to bed now. It’s 6:37 am.