“Laid back, eating smoked veal” – Action Bronson
Action Bronson does this thing at his shows where he invites a girl up on stage, throws her over his shoulder like a mink coat, and keeps on rapping without missing a beat. A couple weeks ago, a story came out that he invited some 17-year old girl up on stage at a show, threw her over his shoulder like a mink coat, and dropped her on her head and paralyzed her.
It all turned out to be fabricated, but for a few days everyone thought it was true. After that got cleared up, I kept thinking about the moment before he allegedly dropped her on her head, and how stoked the two of them must have been at the time. He was living his dream, probably, of literally objectifying a woman as thousands cheered him on. She was getting quite a thrill herself, probably, becoming the life of the party all of the sudden, draped over the shoulder of the fattest rapper alive as thousands cheered her on.
Recently, a friend posted a Facebook link to his food blog, called “Gustatory Epicureanism”. Epicureanism! I did not know what it meant, but I knew instinctively that it belonged in my word bank. Not unlike a third-grader sprinting home from the bus stop, his bladder a ticking time bomb, I raced to Google Docs, found the starred file ‘Word Bank’, and stowed it safely there, never to be forgotten. Epicureanism.
I’m a pretty huge fan of my word bank. Everyone should have a word bank. You should have a word bank. It’s easy. And fun! Here are a few from mine to get you started: Perambulate. Titillate. Whet. Loins. Etc. You get the idea.
Some words are just fucking awesome. I didn’t know what Epicureanism meant. But I could tell, it had steez. It just emanated this ineffable steez. The way it hit the eardrum. The way it rolled off the tongue. The way it formed a unique geography on the page. Epicureanism.
The best words are poems. The best words are songs. The best words are portals into other galaxies. When used at such an angle, perhaps in conjunction with an unexpected turn of phrase, the best words set off fireworks. With the best words, the abstract sensory experience aligns seamlessly with the definition, almost like an onomatopoeia.
According to Wikipedia, Epicureanism is a philosophical system formed in the days of the Roman Republic by a dude named Epicurus. Pleasure is the greatest good, he said, in that great wise voice of his. Go forth and seek pleasure, but not out of desire. Find tranquility in moderation. Do not fear the gods, he said. Do not fear death.
It’s like you’re a squirrel and you come across a rather handsome walnut. You can’t say for certain whether or not this nut will nourish you. You just know in your heart of hearts that you ought to stash it away for later. It’s just lying there, all dusty and effervescent. Soon, before you know it, you’re sitting on 175 of the finest nuts you’ve ever seen. And the best part is, YOU are the supreme ruler of your nut kingdom. They’re not just anybody’s nuts. They are YOUR nuts, even when your body has turned to dust, when the last stone vestige of civilization has crumbled into the sea.
About a month ago, before my lifestyle took a turn for the Epicurean, before Action Bronson allegedly dropped anyone on their head, I attended a Halloween party in a half-assed Action Bronson costume, in which I dyed a big pirate beard with water-soluble orange hairspray and wore my prized 3XL shirt. “THA REASON RECORDS: WHAT IT IS,” the shirt said.
A gaggle of older females dominated the party. Most of them were engaged, and didn’t have the slightest idea who Action Bronson was. Over in the corner of the living room stood a dude dressed to the nines with a voluminous white beard and tall hat, his face obscured by thick, wrinkly makeup.
I nudged my friend Manter. “Who do you think he’s dressed up as?”
“She. It’s a girl,” Manter said, and he left to apply his cat facepaint in the bathroom.
Intrigued, I went over to test Manter’s theory.
He was correct. The person of interest was in fact a girl. She was dressed as Charles Darwin. I forget her name now, somehow. She spoke gently, with a vague accent, though her English was immaculate. I asked her where she was from. Albania, she said. This nearly made me cry with joy, because Action Bronson was Albanian! She nodded sagely and played with my beard.
Even in the US, it always seems to be the Europeans that come up with the most creative costumes. I guess when you learn a second language, you are forced to give up the notion that you and your people are at the center of the universe. You expand your mind, and the world seems wondrous again. You gain the capacity to converse on end with anyone, even a simple jack like myself, as well as the ability to dress up in a totally kick-ass, unsexy Halloween costume.
Which of course only made her hotter. Her whole face was deformed, except for her eyes. Long lashes and big shining green orbs wide with awe, straight out of a Japanese manga.
We chatted onward for an hour, maybe more. I, Action Bronson, the charming rogue, she, Charles Darwin, the intrepid natural historian. We, brought together by fate. We, united by our beards, but also by the view that life can be reduced to the struggle for survival in a cold, indifferent mother nature, the singular goal to pass along our genes like our ancestors had before us ever since they were single-celled amoeba, the belief that if there is one thing worth consecrating, it is procreation, and its requisite act, coitus.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, that one guy with level 150 zombie makeup came over and eskimo kissed her arm and smooched her gnarled cheek. My heart crumpled into a sorry heap on the floor. She introduced the two of us. He was her husband from Albania. He smiled broadly as we shook hands. We exchanged niceties for a few minutes, but that was all I could handle. The worst part was, he was super cool. He LOVED Action Bronson!
Distraught, I joined Manter on the couch. The gaggle of older females staged a coup of the iPod and led off a streak of putrid song selection with Party in the USA. As they danced the night away, Manter and I sat there and debated the merits of the big butt, for which Manter expressed zero affection whatsoever. “Flapjacks for life,” he said.
Soon it was time to leave. I bade Albania girl adieu. She gave me a big hug. On my way out I tapped the host of the party on the shoulder. “How do you know Albania girl?” I asked.
She shrugged. “No idea. She just showed up.”
As we speak, my word bank is tucked away up in the Cloud. I used to think the Cloud was corny and strictly for moms who couldn’t deal with an external hard drive. Now I am all about the Cloud. I am a proud mom. The Cloud is omnipresent. It is everywhere. It is at the subway stop. It is at Trader Joe’s. It is in Bangkok. With the Cloud at my side, I am practically immortal.
I hate to be a hoarder. Things that might be useful later for posterity — awesome T-shirts, essays from college — I pick them up and tomahawk slam them in the trash. This word bank, which I started a couple years ago, appears to be something worth keeping. It’s something I’ve cultivated and curated over time, it’s a vehicle for discovery. It’s a part of who I am.
Me and Albania girl, we had a rip-roaring good time, but a lot of it was in my head. She was one of a kind. I still think about her. It’s hard to say where reality stopped and fantasy started.
It is true that the arrival of her husband made me temporarily depressed, but I’m glad that I met her, because now I know I’m not some nihilist. It’s good to be open to loss, and bear its pain, in order to rise again.