George Watsky- How To Ruin Everything BOOK EXCERPT



I'm really sorry man yeah we really did try to promote the show top Saturday home football game huh yeah and and it's the opening weekend of deer season so not a lot of students on campus why did we try to book a show this weekend in the five years I spent doing spoken word on the college circuit I played 193 campus gigs it was always roughly the same routine Wednesday night I print out my contracts for the free weekend shows staple them to my flight itinerary and write the student contacts phone number unto each Thursday morning I'd leave my house in Jamaica Plain while it was still dark out with my backpack a pillow and carry-on walk to the Green Street Station for the 5:00 a.m. Orange Line Metro transfer at Chinatown to the red line transfer again at Downtown Crossing to the Silver Line bus ride at the Boston Logan I check in for a flight leaving around 7:30 for Minneapolis or Chicago or Charlotte Denver Seattle Atlanta I've sit in a window see with my pillow fall asleep as soon as I sat down and wake up when our wheels hit the ground I'd rent an economy car at thrifty or budget or enterprise and drive to wherever my Thursday night gig was if I had time I check into my room and drop my bag at the motel 6 or the Red Roof Inn or La Quinta Inn Suites then I Drive to campus and meet the kids in the Student Activities Committee wearing matching t-shirts with slogans like kab sab UPV or ask me what I'm doing tonight I'd never see again for the rest of my life and we'd talk about that awful rainstorm that just passed or that awful snowstorm on the way until Showtime afterward I'd get back in my rental car stop at a gas station pick up some emotional crutches I Drive back to my red roof or look into Inn & Suites watch The Daily Show microwave my macaroni chug my coke then fall asleep without brushing my teeth during that time I learned there's a Manhattan in Kansas they call themselves the little Apple I learned Casey's general stores not general stores just a gas station that sells shitty pizza and the best thing about come and go truck stops is the name at the am weg Minnesota Wisconsin in Northern Iowa you can get fried cheese curds with your shake and at any gas station you can get raw curds the kind of squeak between your teeth there are nights in Minnesota when it's so cold that the boogers crystallize in your nose Cedar Rapids Iowa is not to be confused at Cedar Falls Iowa which is not to be confused with Cedar Falls Wisconsin and Sioux City Iowa is not to be confused of Sioux Falls South Dakota there's even a Sioux Rapids in Iowa but it doesn't have any colleges I learned that Sioux City Iowa smelled like manure because of the Tyson food slaughterhouse but Cedar Rapids Iowa is the city of five smells because of the General Mills factory the morning breeze might be scented like cocoa puffs or Cheerios but when the wind changes is rotten eggs I remember Salina Kansas an hour outside of Manhattan Salina is just big enough to have its own water tower at the center of town the HD leaf flower Mills rusty steel sign trellis rises over its abandoned brick greeneries isolated from the rest of town by a chain-link fence – pizza joints are open on Main Street but the only businesses that seem to be thriving are the bars and the church its tone fresco engraved with he who does not take up his cross and follow me he's not worthy of me mostly the town's a graveyard of closed storefronts sun-bleached awnings and for rent signs pockmarking the empty windows you could do three laps around the block in the middle of the day without seeing another pedestrian on the outskirts of town the water tower still reads Salina right place right reason right now a slogan someone came up with a long time ago Salina is not unique Main Street looks the same in so many of the rural towns that dot the Midwest separated by hundreds of miles of square plots sprinkled with Barnes and silo's you know post office a coffee shop an antique store a Methodist Church the Lutheran Church a Catholic Church three or four bars a Chinese restaurant and a whole bunch of vacant storefronts faded pages from a previous draft of America usually the motels I stayed out were a few miles outside town sharing a shopping complex off the freeway with the McDonald's a Panera in a Rite Aid the day I checked into my days in near Manhattan the local headlines more to teenager who had died in a wheat Avalanche when the Shelf of seat above him collapsed one of the most dangerous jobs the granary I learned from the article is to knock down the wheat stuck to the silo ceiling workers try to shovel down to him but by the time they pulled his body out of the seed he'd suffocated under his product and here I was with my wheelie suitcase arrived from Boston to make sense of life's bitter ironies Midwestern kids study for all the same useless degrees as kids in New York and Boston philosophy dance performance art history but a lot of them take paths coastal kids wouldn't consider like agriculture and animal husbandry how would I connect with someone who is going to spend the rest of their life analyzing crop yields or with their gloved hand of a cow's vagina joke about how everything like the student body like me like snow on a cornfield was so white around here or sure you can never go wrong with a love poem but the only material that worked consistently from Appleton Wisconsin to Minot North Dakota was pop culture I knew the references didn't make my poems good but celebrity gossip is like sports or the weather cheap Elmer's glue for people who can't figure out another way to bond when I started playing the college circuit in 2007 the most consistent laugh line in my set was a joke about Alanis Morissette but pretty soon Alanis Morissette so with the next show Britney Spears two more years past Britney Spears at the tail end of my time on the college circuit one direction two celebrities had managed to become irrelevant while I kept circling the plains well I guess we should probably uh oh hey come in we rearrange this so this is for those of us who but a few months later my show in Kirksville Missouri was packed even the lines that didn't rely on pop culture worked I had no reason to expect this town to be any better than Grand Forks to think that I should be able to connect with the kids in Kirksville Missouri but I had no reason not to and I'd learned after this many shows that any single performance can be the one that inflates your ego or destroys it the night that makes you feel like a big web of energy links every single being across time and space where the gig that alienates you from every other human on the planet I never really gave much thought to the fields while flying over them just seems like a whole lot of empty space from above I wonder how many half-naked kids you see rolling around and then if you zoomed in am I gonna see you again yes please maybe I'll start eating better on the road I thought maybe later you you

21 thoughts on “George Watsky- How To Ruin Everything BOOK EXCERPT

  1. Only after being a student for 3 years and being one of those Student Activity Committee kids, I understand the truth in this.

  2. "The odds of having a seizure are pretty low at any given time. But floating alone at the swimming hole, it does cross my mind. It's always in the background. No one would hear me. Mom and Dad and Aunt Marion wouldn't figure it out for hours. I'd just taste copper in the back of my mouth, enjoy that warm weightlessness, soak up one fading view of the summer of 1973 graying, creaking, enduring, and no one would ever ask me what year it is again. It's a self-indulgent thought, but it builds a bridge to my parents in my mind. Their jokes about aging and AARP memberships are getting a little more morbid and a little less funny. The truth that anyone can die at any moment, including me, indcluding right now, reminds me that everything is connected, that I'm just a bit player in a beautiful, sprawling epic, and makes me feel as though our conversation up at the house wasn't just between parents but old collegues.

  3. I was expecting this to be hip-hop, from an album entitled Book Excerpt. Glad I stayed til the end. Poignant.

  4. Caseys pizza is good af! I grew up in a town that it was the only pizza in town, so my preference might be nostalgia.

  5. i bought the book with my first ever paycheck in december. didn't read it until this week. i don't think i was in the right headspace to comprehend or appreciate the artistry from George's catatonic, yet brilliant brain in december. it has been thoroughly entertaining. : )

  6. Perhaps a good majority of the world would like to visit small town America if they didn't have to be so afraid of it.

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