Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
On July 4, I was invited to take over the Twitter feed for my old theater troupe, The Neo-Futurists, and share my thoughts on the day. Below was a sort of deconstructed monologue that I offered as context for my mood. If I’d been performing it in the weekly late-night show, I might deliver the monologue while methodically slicing into a brick of cheese, and end the monologue by placing one of those slices on a cracker, then plaintively eating it.
(1) In the three days prior to Independence Day I took a road trip through Wisconsin with my wife and 7 year-old son. We visited House on The Rock, Cave of the Mounds, and several ice cream parlors, and watched a Women’s World Cup semifinal match in a bar in Madison.
(2) My wife and I had meant to visit House on the Rock nearly 12 years ago on our first wedding anniversary. It was recommended to me as a potential source of inspiration while I was writing my first Neo-Futurist primetime show, Contraption.
(3) I ended up writing the show without having made the visit. After having finally experienced the place — a singular stream of consciousness and wild imagination rendered into architecture — I understand why I was told to go there in 2007.
(4) Cave of the Mounds is several million years old and wasn’t discovered until 1939. There is no life in the cave except for the tour groups that go through every 20 minutes, and no light save for the installed electrics that guide those groups.
(5) Several sections of the cave feature limestone formations so aesthetically stunning that it’s hard to believe they’ve happened randomly. One of these sections is known as “the cathedral” because of how many weddings have been performed within it.
(6) I have too much ice cream and too much cheese. I expect that my body will punish me for it the remainder of the week.
(7) Nomad World Pub is a genuine Football Pub, the kind of place that would normally be closed on a Tuesday at 2pm except there’s a match on and Madison’s ravenous soccer fans are ready to yell at the screens.
(8) My son became utterly obsessed with the sport during the 2018 Men’s World Cup, and currently divides most of his free time between studying the Beautiful Game and devising new decks of Pokémon cards.
(9) It was a highlight of the trip to watch this game in a room of such positive energy. I was glad we got to experience it and moreso that he got to understand the thrill of being part of a community cheering for a team of such dynamic heroines as the USWNT.
(10) All of these are things that happened to us. All of these are things we willfully and joyously experienced. All of these things feel like one ideal of America to me.
(11) Driving back from Madison, the truck ahead of us in the lane to our right has a back window covered in decals. One of these decals is a prominent pair of Nazi SS lightning bars.
(12) It is anxiety-inducing to see them. It is downright terrifying when the driver, unprompted, lets me know that he sees me, extending his left hand out the window and showing me his middle finger until we manage to pass him on the left.
(13) I don’t know what his purpose was; if he was trying to antagonize me into an escalated altercation or if it simply made him feel powerful to express himself to one vacationing mixed-race family on an empty Wisconsin highway in the middle of the morning.
(14) I spent the next several miles in a state of tense anticipation. Checking the rearview to see if he had decided today was a day he was bored enough to turn his hatred into action. Wondering how to safely maneuver my family out of a dire situation at 85 mph.
(15) It’s 24 hours later and I’m still thinking about this encounter. It hangs like a cloud of acrid smoke over my wonder at the Organ Room and the Giant Carousel. It unsettles the silence of the Cave. It knifes through the cheers when Alyssa Naeher saved that crucial PK.
(16) This also happened to us. This is something we wish we hadn’t experienced and something I have yet to fully explain to my son. And this, too, is America.
(17) All of the above is the lens through which I see this holiday today. Kindly keep that in mind for my future observations.