The [Paul] Mitchell ReportDecember 14, 2007
Summary of the [Paul] Mitchell Report:
Point 1: Nothing is occurring. A slouching man offers his right arm to the viewer, the arm limp and possibly burdensome, as if it has fallen asleep. Two other men loiter in the background. Visible also are seats, all of them empty. Presumably all the seats in the stadium are empty. No one bears witness. No one cares. Perhaps beyond the frame of the photo there are other men standing around.
Point 2: I never had homework as a kid, at least none that I can remember. After going to a regular class for first grade I became a charter member of a rural hippie-founded elementary school classroom where there were no grades (as in grades awarded) and no grades (as in first grade, second grade, etc.), and the general idea was that we would flourish by growing wild, in whichever direction we wanted to grow. Anyway unlike children today I never had to lug a giant backpack back and forth to school and I had a lot of free time to disappear into the strange flat dioramas of cards such as this one featuring Paul Mitchell. I wonder how all those hours spent staring at these miniature rectangles of stopped time affected my development.
Point 3: It has become unusual for nothing to be occurring. They don’t make cards like this anymore. Now every photo is of a moment of drama, an action shot. Action shots leap from the frame, adding noise to the wider noise beyond their borders. Still-life dioramas quietly invite viewers with time on their hands to enter. I imagine standing around on the green grass shown here. I imagine a strange peace. I pose. I linger.
Point 4: I guess I started getting homework in junior high, but I don’t remember ever doing any. Eventually my mom was called into school and all my seventh grade teachers sat in a circle of desks around her and took turns expressing their disappointment in me. My mom kept this to herself for years, and somehow I continued to skate by scholastically, gathering Cs and a couple Bs here and there, not running into the wall of an F until my sophomore year in high school, when I neglected to complete, or even start, a big idiotic project involving planning an imaginary trip to a far-off city. For some reason the F didn’t prevent me from gaining admittance for the following year to Northfield Mount Hermon, the boarding school where my brother had just graduated. Maybe they overlooked my lackluster grades and my mumbling, unimpressive interview, happy to get the tuition money, for which my mom had to take a loan that took many years to pay off.
Point 5: We linger here where something has departed, all of us posing our empty poses. We exist in an aftermath, depleted. The championship years, which we were too late for, are over. We were throw-ins in a deal sealing the end of those years. The Superduperstar has departed. We have arrived.
Point 6: At boarding school I started getting tons of homework. I did some of it, I guess, but if there was a big project assigned to me I let it slide and let it slide until the day before it was due, usually around the middle of the term or the end of the term, at which point I’d swallow some Vivarin pills (or, on one regrettable occasion, chop up and snort some Vivarin pills) with other slackers in my dorm and stay up all night, mostly fucking around, and by dawn’s sickly light have some feeble facsimile of a report done. It’s fitting that the action that got me kicked out of that place—smoking pot—came during official Study Hours. If there was work to be done, I avoided it (occasionally with the aid of drugs) until it was this huge anxious specter looming over me, at which point I flailed blindly at it (occasionally with the aid of drugs).
Point 7: We will move on elsewhere soon. We will experience expansion. We will lose and lose.
Point 8: I took some time off from school after getting kicked out near the end of my senior year. During that time I tried acid for the first time. When the trip started kicking in my friends and I were near a playground. We got on some swings. While we were on those swings childhood returned, and not just the memory of childhood but the full feel of it. I was ecstatic, changed. When I resumed my schooling a few weeks later, enrolling in a small state school in northern Vermont, the embers of that feeling were still glowing. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to learn. I also wanted to continue doing drugs, and I did, mostly hallucinogens of the mild and not so mild variety, plus occasional gigantic helpings of beer from kegs. I remember one evening, running with a friend through a hard-dirt parking lot, both of us already high and holding our empty personal keg-mugs. Someone asked us where we were going. “We’ve got a buzz to catch,” my friend said. Laughing, I felt like my running feet weren’t even touching the ground.
Point 9: Soon enough our release will be tendered. Given a moment like this, free of meaning, we linger as long as we can.