I used to worry about seizing the zeitgeist. Okay, I still worry about it: I need to write relevant things that people want to read. But it’s not hard. A couple of quotes from Heaping Torso got a bunch of reblogs on Tumblr so I’m probably pretty good, right? I don’t need to check for trending hashtags or survey the tastemakers, those nebulous powerful nobodies, in order to make art. I just have to work on things that interest me, and hope I’m naturally cool enough for other people to be interested too. I’m anxious to push to the front of the pack but it’s better to be on the side investigating something that most people haven’t touched. God, I’m gonna have a fucking panic attack. I can’t do that. I can’t be original.
Sometimes I consider moving to some irrelevant small town in Central Valley and being the beginning of an art scene, paying cheap rent and living through the glory days that my heroes talk about. San Francisco before the AIDS crisis and the tech boom. (Hopefully the cultural shortcut conveys what I mean.) I want to create a ground floor for myself to get in on. My dream is that twenty years from now I’ll be mentoring new versions of myself in a town whose name we don’t know yet.
I mentioned this fantasy to my cousin and he warned me not to dismiss what’s already in these small towns. They’re not San Francisco or Oakland, places with exciting histories and mainstream recognition, but they’re not nothing. Fair criticism; he was right to contradict me. You can’t go into a place expecting to be better than everyone else and have them embrace you; pride goeth before a fall.
But I don’t think I’m entirely wrong. Have you been to these rural towns? There’s nothing there. Fucking nothing. No bookstores, no cafes, not even churches. It’s full of Americana to romanticize, grazing horses and old rusty cars in every yard, but there’s a reason why everyone moves to cities instead of the other way around.