Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Earlier tonight my neighbor told me he's gotten a break; he's not going to do any time. He was arrested a few months ago for pistol-whipping someone on the subway in a drunken rage (the gun was legal). And he's going to be able to keep his job. I told him I was happy for him, which I am. He showed me the head of Jesus that he's having tattooed on the left side of his chest and stomach. He said the one his mother won't be so happy about, also of Jesus, will be on the other side; the face will have horns and will be screaming in pain. I said Jesus had had a hard life. He said it was probably closer to the expression Jesus had on his face before he died. We talked for a few minutes. He said it doesn't matter what side you worship, you'll will be taken care of, but that now he's worshiping "the better angel." I said life is complex. He said no, it's simple. It's just hard.

I just wasted an hour at a bar listening to a couple of slackers doing an open mike tribute to Johnny Cash. (the drinks were cheap.) At one point I watched a shaggy ex-suburbanite, who could probably pass as Matthew Yglesias' kid brother, singing along -"I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die"- pointing a cocked finger at the head of a friend next to him, laughing with an expression that betrayed no knowledge of violence. The 12 years olds on my block have a better understanding of the world.

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