10 December 2009 Like a Bug-Eyed Tarzan, Swinging from Hit to Hit
Where does a junkie’s time go? Mostly in 15-minute increments, like a bug-eyed Tarzan, swinging from hit to hit. For months on end in 1988, I sat inside a house in north Minneapolis, doing coke and listening to Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” and finding my own pathetic resonance in the lyrics. “Any place is better,” she sang. “Starting from zero, got nothing to lose.”
As daylight finally breaks this morning, I begin with a reread of David Carr’s Me and My Girls. The passage above begins the narrative in which Carr discusses his life as a crackhead.
While in some ways the beginning of Me and My Girls hearkens the great Hunter Thompson’s “We were somewhere outside of Barstow…” — particularly in its immediate discussion of drug use in the first person: that is, an admission of guilt, right off the bat — but what fascinates me more about Carr’s narrative than the narrative itself is the method Carr employed in writing it:
As a veteran journalist, I decided to report the story. For two years on and off, I pulled medical and legal documents and engaged in a series of interviews with people I used to run with. By turns, it became a kind of journalistic ghost dancing, trying to conjure spirits past, including mine.
Some people I interviewed wanted me to say I was sorry — I am, and I did. Some people wanted me to say that I remembered — I did, and I did not. And some people wanted me to say it was all a mistake — it was, and it was not. It felt less like journalism than archeology, a job that required shovels and axes, hacking my way into dark, little-used passages and feeling my way around. It would prove to be an enlightening and sickening enterprise, a new frontier in the annals of self-involvement. I would show up at the doorsteps of people I had not seen in two decades and ask them to explain myself to me.
Since reading Me and My Girls for the first time some months ago, I too have begun showing up on the doorsteps of people I’d not see in years to ask them “to explain myself to me.” While my story is very different from Carr’s, the method mirrors his method, except the doorsteps I approach are digital, inboxes; and the most useful of my inboxes for this sort of gig is my Facebook Inbox.
Like many in Generation Facebook, I have used the platform to reconnect with pretty much everyone I’ve ever met. This means that when I login, my newsfeed is a stream of names & avatars that take me back to a certain place(s) and time(s) with a particular association. In November I began contacting these people about those places and those times to get their take on stories I’ve been telling — and, in some cases, corrupting — for years. Some stories, I’ve butchered for as long as I can remember.
Anyway, I have not decided on a tag to use on blog for posts employing the Me and My Girls-research method; but for about a month now I’ve been preparing them and will begin with my first one very soon, possibly later today with a post about Obama’s inauguration, if only my peeps will get back to me…