No Capes!

Whew! Hurricane Irene! Most of my cynical New York friends complained that they were duped when we didn’t get destroyed. But parts of the city went without power, a friend in New Jersey had a brand new car submerged in water, another friend in Brooklyn had to pull up his basement carpet because of flooding. I wasn’t affected much, my Direct tv dish on the roof didn’t even flicker. Finally, crappy walk-up tenement living works in a person’s favor, too high up for flooding, windows don’t face anything pretty that can break off and fly in.


What was more interesting to me was the shopping frenzy the two days before. Drew and I were not immune to the mob panic, we assembled a packed fridge, a pile of new flashlight batteries, candles and a few jugs of water. Plus ice cream, boxes of pasta, tuna fish, peanut butter, bread, fruit, salad stuff, fake meat patties, hot sauce, more bread, veggies, extra bottles of wine, cans of cat food, etc. etc. Classic Raff panic over the wine. I bought everything on Friday and then freaked out on Saturday morning. We’re gonna need booze if we’re sitting in the house for days! Luckily many people think the way I do, and the liquor store was open on Saturday afternoon and doing a brisk business. You’d think vodka was a staple the way people were snatching it off the shelves. I bought 2 reds and a white and called it a day. And then we ate to bursting with a nice cabernet while the rain came down.

On to another subject that I’ve been thinking about…I caught part of the movie “Superheroes” on cable last week. I haven’t seen the entire film, it’s on my dvr list and I’ll probably watch it tonight. But the parts I did catch were very interesting.

The movie is a documentary about people across the U.S. who are creating new superhero characters for themselves by dressing up and going out into the streets to fight crime. Clearly, to the rational mind, there are all kinds of things that can go wrong with this scenario. First, none of them have actual superpowers and can easily get shot or damaged. This is the primary issue that I take with the idea. Second, things like masks and capes can really slow a person down if they do get into a battle with the criminal element. In real life, capes don’t blow back out of the way when you’re doing physical work. They fall in your face and get caught on table corners and door knobs, which is undignified at best. And a mask is going to be a hindrance if you’re, say, trying to keep your eye out for gang guys who are going to cap your ass for getting up in their business with your costumed bad self. These outfits just don’t seem practical. How are you going to chase or run away in all that plastic?


The man in the green, Mr. Xtreme, is a slightly pudgy guy who appeared to be consistently losing the wrestling matches he was fighting in the gym. His parents, Asian immigrants to the U.S., had more traditional aspirations for their son and seem genuinely confused by his lifestyle choice. But they also seem very sweet and are trying very hard to find acceptance. His father worries that he’ll get hurt roaming the streets at night, a legitimate concern. They’re probably praying it’s a phase.

But in fairness, he is out there trying to make a difference in the world, and that’s kind of lovely. And there were some in very good shape and well equipped, both physically and mentally, to do damage to criminals they might find in their travels:


I find the phenomenon fascinating. At first it seems merely laughable, especially when the more ridiculous of the people were on screen. It’s not the most reasonable or lucrative of career paths. But I do get the desire to be larger than life, to be special, to make a difference in the world, to be magical. These are not bad things to aspire toward.

I said to Drew, “I always wanted to be a superhero too, I just didn’t know it was an option.” And he responded, “You already are. Take a look at the shit you wore in the Cycle Sluts. And you scare the crap out of everyone.” Jerk. But he’s right. It’s obvious when looking at old photos that my lifelong catwoman adoration has guided many choices in my own life.

Favorite outfit ever, but I could only wear it for photos because it was made out of sweat-inducing pvc and the whole thing rode up my ass if I so much as took a step:



PS. Check out Gini’s awesome studded viking codpiece. Great minds think superhero alike.

I happened to get lucky and was able to create a larger than life character for myself. It has sustained and educated me over the years as I strive to understand and heal the quiet and wounded person underneath that original desire to expand into something more powerful and better defended. And I have a great life: I live in New York, I get attention and singled out, I have excitement and love and cool friends and backstage passes. I never take any of that for granted because I wasn’t born into it.

So who am I to judge a pudgy Asian dude who wants to be something other than an ordinary working stiff? We ALL want to be more than an ordinary working stiff, and we all are, in reality. Even people with the most outwardly boring of lives have an inner world that could be fascinating if it were expressed properly. We are all children of the same Universe with hearts and minds and desires.

Some of us get an easier run towards the prizes, some of us don’t. One of the people filmed is an obvious alcoholic. He was raised by a father who put him in a ring on the weekends to fight other kids, often his friends, and if he lost would get beaten and sent to his room with no food or medical treatment. Can you imagine? The man is ridiculous in his silver suit, moving from bar to bar. But isn’t it so much more wonderful to at least aspire to be something magical than to lay down and die or continue to perpetuate the damage by fighting dogs or something equally abusive and hereditary? I love the spirit of the act, even if the act itself isn’t as effective as it reads in comic books.

So that’s my thought for today. Let’s all be superheroes. Let’s allow ourselves to be grander and a little more crazy than what is considered normal.

Just don’t wear a cape.


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