(Notes for the Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah)

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Something Bad Has or Hasn’t Happened

Something bad has happened or hasn’t.

This post was scheduled before I left for Afghanistan and Pakistan. I left almost completely certain I would return, but certainty killed the cat, and I’d hate to leave this blog without even the most trifling conclusion if the worst were to happen. The worst, of course, being that I am lured by an accounting job for the Taliban, for the generous vacation time and team-building retreats, and so simultaneously cast asunder my dreams, morals, and extensive porn stash (the last is negotiable). Anyway, the point is: no one likes anything left unfinished (looking at you Schubert). If I haven’t returned, there will be a large F underneath this paragraph — it stands for a few things. If I have, I will have deleted it, but I leave the remaining text here as a window into the past, my head, and other things that look better from a distance. (PS: in either case, this may come off as rather black humor. If dead, I claim that humor as home turf, right along with Jew and sleep farting jokes. Still, Mom, this probably isn’t for you.)

Last Will and Testicle:

Dearly beloveds who are gathered wherever whenever, let this bad joke be a reminder of everything I am and wasn’t. If any lawyer gets his hands on this, and if this will that I’m typing on a Sticky Note has any standing in a court of law, I expect the above title to be printed in a large, dreadfully serious Gothic font. Now let’s get to the good bits:

Electronics: anything with batteries or solar panels goes to my brother. If I have more than one (brother, not electronic things), let them duke it out. (Mom, c’mon — I know you’re still reading.)

Written things, photography, film attempts: to the Louvre and the Guggenheim, but not the Abu Dhabi branches because I stand with the protestors of labor rights. And now these hallowed grounds must sully themselves with my things because I put it in my will and it’s my will and you’ve got to do something with them so there. It’s nice to have a will. The copyrights and royalties of the above shall not be retained within these or any museums but shall be accredited to the Adam X. Valen Levinson Estate which shall be heretofore established inside Monticello. Again: it’s a will, you’ve got to do it. And the X stands for “Magic”. (Ma, quit it.)

Souvenirs, gizmos, and fun things (excluding electronics) will go to Friends. “Friends” is henceforthward defined as anyone who would like to claim the title. (Henceforthward is furthermorthword defined as a word I made up when I was about 14.) If you have a picture with me and an object, you have dibs on the object. If you have a picture with just me, you better check your purse. And if you have a picture with a bottle of alcohol, shots for everyone in the room on me. Just kidding, I’m dead — someone else get the fucking tab for a change. Jesus.

Musical instruments: bury or cremate me with them. It’ll probably sound really silly. Oh, and then take that recording and do with it whatever you’ve done with me. I’d like to hear it.

Oh, and money: Coins. All of it into coins of various currencies and thrown by the fistfull into one or many fountains on every continent. An Antartic fountain may be considered a) a hole in the ice, or b) the direct possession of a penguin or other native wildlife.

Now that these are or not my last words to the world, I’m feeling a bit sheepish. Too much heed is paid to what comes last, when generally I give my best at the very beginning and then give up. That’s right ladies. (Oy — this is really a terrible way to go out.) So here it is, my last words are below, but you must click the link. The words are not mine and I shan’t claim them, but they speak to us all and shall resonate both in the moment and forever. In large type you will see what I have to say, and what I will continue to say until the end of time. But do not live your life by it, and do not think too deeply — I hope it’s helpful — that’s it — that’s all I could ever hope to be.

——> Thank you all. <——

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The Beggar’s Leg — رجل المتسوّل

The beggar’s leg jutted into the path of clambering metro-riders.

The man sat on the landing between the flight of stairs heading upwards into the cold sunlight and the one that went down under the overhang into the damp, tiled metro. He was situated just so on the concrete staircase that ascending or descending with the crowds, one might not notice a head floating at knee-height.

I saw him as I left the shade of the subway, but I could not see his leg, outstretched. Change rattled around in my jacket pockets, more easily reachable than usual, more valuable. I felt the Turkish one-lira coins with my fingertips.

And then I was beside him, looking down at my own feet as I noticed the leg that bent the flow of traffic in a silent arc. A stifled spasm. My upper half jerked forward and pulled the rest of me with it, shuddering.

The beggar’s leg was but half a leg; not cut off crosswise, not a stump hanging below the knee, but eroded like a rotten log, eaten away from end to end. Yellow skin tinted green and flecked with the red of broken vessels, burst somethings and disease. I saw his leg crumbling like a nightmare I had never faced and I could not look, I could not turn back.

The part of me that feels fear pulled me away, up out of the stairwell by my own legs, around the corner towards home. Turn around.

Inside I screamed— half for the sad science of his wretchedness, half for finding myself so cruelly skittish. Turn around, goddammit.

I walked alone farther and farther away, joining the countless thousands who had skirted his leg and climbed the staircase. I walked towards a me I didn’t like, but who recognized his pitiful shortcomings. To go back was to view something that would live in my mind for days, weeks, I told myself. I had given before. I would give again.

But I had already seen what I would see. I had the chance to redo my actions — a mini experiment with time travel. There was no butterfly effect; there was only the beggar’s leg.

I held the coins, maybe four or five, in my fist.
A choice.

More from Turkey here.

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