Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

sweet and sour LJ

"I won't have a bitter man; neither will my cousin--
You can get such stuff as this for fifteen cents a dozen"--
"jubilee", old Appalachian singing-song

Do you ever wonder how much the LiveJournal process distorts the writer? Here in our various rooms and workplaces, sequestered away from certain of the casual proprieties (and somehow infected with different, more difficult to define replacement proprieties), do we sound the same we would if you could hear our thoughts? Do we sound as if we've been run through a flanger, or perhaps even a wah-wah pedal?

I remember a wonderful little five dollar Chinese restaurant I used to visit in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles. I always ordered sweet and sour. The result, fried chicken or pork or shrimps smothered in sauce, placed atop a bed of fried rice, no doubt would give a dietician a sour wince. But it always seemed like fine eating to me. I loved that sense of sauce upon breading upon a field of fry.

Imagine with me, if you will, the condiments that go with a journal post. If, like me, you've read a lot of journals, endlessly fascinated by the diversity of writers, then you've no doubt read journals not only with the proverbial mustard and mayonaisse, but also with curious doses of anise and cumin, chopped celery and the most luxuriant black pepper. Sometimes I read a journal entry and my eyes water, or I could almost sneeze.

I tend to speak with a narrative voice much like my "real life" voice. I'm quiet, until I get going, rather like some arcade game with machine-gunned ball bearings that doesn't work until you plug it in. But I imagine I tell you all stories I would not tell if we met casually outside LJ, notwithstanding my vaunted "all public posts" self-image. It's a bit chic to compare the experience to exhibionism and voyeurism, because Heaven knows all imagery these days must be sexualized.
But I propose a different image--that of the Food Channel.

Now I must commit mild heresy here by saying that I am not a huge fan of the Food Channel. Sometimes I watch a particular show with rapt attention. But other shows leave me heading for the remote. It's not that there's anything wrong with the Food Channel. It's a too much of a good thing expierience for me. It's like the Athens Olympics, in a way--let me see the gymnastics, and a couple of the dives, and perhaps read of some exotic thing that happened in archery or trap shoot, and I'm pretty much ready to say "finished".

So it is with the Food Channel. But the Food Channel is a marvelous metaphor for what we do in LiveJournal to prepare our particular posts for public consumption.We frequently stew on them a bit, and sometimes begin them with explanations of just how hard it is to cook in our particular kitchens. We've been known, from time to time, to saute the people around us in our posts, and even sometimes display an amazing skill at parboiling. Not everyone makes sizzling beef, but some do, and those who do tend to have more spectators than you'd ever imagine. Who could have dreamed that there could be so much fascination in hot peppers served repeatedly?

I think, sometimes, I would be a better Betty Crocker cookbook than an actual weekly programme. I love the little gingerbread boy tracing in the old Betty Crocker book. People denigrate, by the way, those little church-lady fundraiser cookbooks. Yet they often have so much to teach us.

I love all kinds of journals. I love the Iron Chef ones, in which the ingredients just seem odd, and the meat cleaver gets hurled about a bit improbably. Sometimes I wonder if I need subtitles to get through a particular post, as the language, while English, seems as foreign and wonderful to me as those Slavic journals one gets with the random key, in which everything is in Russian except the name of the journal--"I love Elvis and Julia Child".

During my single days, I remember sitting on a Sunday evening in my own little Mesquite tract home, cooking link sausages for myself on the range-top, playing Elvis Costello's "My Aim is True" on its very own LP record-playing machine.
I could not have been more in the lap of luxury if I had been at Dallas' chi chi mansion restaurant eating the pheasant from the little cocktail glasses.

Livejournal often to me is like my wife's college friend's restaurant in Los Angeles' Chinatown. You gather a huge group of people together, and you whisper to him to bring you the "crab with special salt". Soon, you're all sharing and experiencing a huge shell of the most succulent crab you've ever had. You're not sure that outside the room in which eight or twelve or twenty of you share this meal, you'd really understand each other with perfect prescience. But while you are feasting on this particular crab on this particular night, you're all in perfect sympathy.

Sometimes people will ask me if, because they think I cook relatively well on LJ, I should not really consider myself a "chef". But I feel that the meal I prepare, sometimes, is the meal I make in my own little kitchen in my own little room (where, as the Rodgers and Hammerstein song goes, I can be whatever I want to be).

But sometimes what I enjoy best is the experience of devouring LJs. I try my best to chew the posts some 32 or 33 times, for best digestion. Sometimes a squid tentacle unexpectedly pops up, when you hoped that the reedy thing was going to be a soda straw filled with sugary wonder. But so often, I bite into a rich curry of
ideas and emotions, and feel entirely at peace and fulfilled. I love all-you-can-eat buffets with spicy masalas and perhaps even a hint of goat. I also like the good, solid burger n fries, and the purity of a glorious vegetable repast.

Anyone reading my last few posts would see that commencing with the purchase of my recent car, with its built-in CD player, my interest in music has particularly intensified. I like that I can become so fascinated in something that I can even make a fool of myself, a bit, in the nicest way. But isn't that the way of LiveJournal as well? It's permissible to be "trite" or "profound" or "self-absorbed" or even "in the land of dreamy dreams", if only you can cook with gas.

Sometimes on LJ, it all seems chopped and crunchy. Sometimes it gets almost pureed into a fine powder. Sometimes I have no idea what I am tasting. Sometimes I feel that I make instant potatoes, every day.

But I keep coming back at mealtime, and dinner continues to be served.

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