Pardon me for a moment, my mind's split in several directions, and not feeling well. It's not new, this split, it started on the day Katrina washed ashore blowing past present and future into a heap of shit. That's when my mind split in two, one half maintaining my useless body here in New York, the other half trying to pull it to the Gulf to find and help my family. It then split into thirds, when my mom and little brother evacuated, and I was left with New York, the Gulf, and the new North Carolina.
Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts, thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison...And I should be in the Gulf right now, with my mom and little brother, using the Thanksgiving break to dig through the months-dried mud, sifitng for scraps to salvage and be thankful for. My mom's really hoping she'll be able to save her old vinyl collection, now that it's not so swampy in her trailer, and maybe the mold's not quite so aggressive. And she thinks she could get a FEMA travel trailer now, and the government will bulldoze her Eden and haul it away, for free even. But then she feels sad, she knows she's better off staying settled for now in North Carolina with the wonderful people who've helped so much there. And even more she knows that my little brother is better off up there, and feels doubly guilty again. Guilty for one that she's not surviving, barnacle steadfast, Cajun stubborn, alongside the others in the muck and speculation and slow grinding dread in the Gulf. And then again she feels guilty for feeling that guilt, the guilt of the exile, that she should be thankful for the oasis she's found herself in, and she is thankful, so thankful, but also guilty for it.
Thanks for the American Dream to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through...And I'm thankful for all that I've been able to accomplish with a few photographs and some words, but guilty that I'm so far away, on hold. So far away in New York, bidding for an advertising job so my photographs can lure teens into buying more jeans, so I can make a big paycheck, so I can pay off the debt I have on my mom's destroyed Eden, so we can get back to zero again. But my gut nags at me and tells me to get the fuck back down to where I started from, to make pictures, not money, because somehow that might help more. Or will it just help me to stop feeling guilty?
Thanks for all the memories... all right, let's see your arms... you always were a headache and you always were a bore. Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.
-Excerpts from William S. Burroughs, Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1986. Watch Gus Van Sant's short film here.