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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Happy Birthday Mark 

Today is the birthday not only of French SF grandmaster Jules Verne, but also my brother Mark (pictured at right).

As brothers, we fought plenty whilst growing up. He used to like to tease me for various random reasons -- what I was wearing; the music I liked; my choice of cereal.

I remember he used to make fun of rap artists like Public Enemy and Run-DMC, claiming it was noise. (There's a lyric in "Run's House" stating that DMC is "wanted by every fan / across the land". Mark insisted he was saying "I wanna buy every fan" since he needed to bribe people to be his fans.) When Run-DMC and Aerosmith made the video for "Walk This Way," we argued bitterly over who the people in the crowd were there to see.

But we had good times as kids, too. We used to use cardboard bricks to build big fortresses, position Star Wars action figures on the parapets, and then shoot them off with rubber bands. We ate pancakes every Saturday morning whilst watching cartoons. Our house had two bathrooms, which shared a wall -- whenever we were both occupying one, he would knock on the wall and (for some reason) tell me that there was a green man outside the door eating a tunafish sandwich.

Mark is three years older than me, so in both elementary and high school, he was on his way out when I arrived on the scene. Once in second grade, I was eating lunch when his PE class came jogging by. He grabbed my sandwich and took a big, sweaty bite.

Once we moved out of the house and made it into adulthood, we quickly realized that there was no reason for us to be at odds. Our political evolution began around the same time, and we seemed to twist around each other when it came to social consciousness. We'd each explore some part of the world, share it with the other, and re-explore it ourselves. Before we knew it, we were side by side on picket lines and political meetings.

During my first year at New College (three hours south of Gainesville, where we grew up and where Mark was a student at the University of Florida), he helped to start an institution called the Civic Media Center. To celebrate its opening, they recruited Noam Chomsky to speak in Gainesville -- a tremendous event. Mark gave me some posters to put up at NC, and told me to attend, especially since he would be introducing Prof. Chomsky. But as a stupid greenhorn littlun, I passed -- and have regretted it ever since.

To say Mark's been there for me in good times and bad would be a disgraceful understatement. He's been a rugged lodestone in my life, a comforting continuum of laughter, compassion, and friendship. There's a closeness between us that can't be explained; it can (and often does) withstand months of silence (we're both so busy saving the world, we don't have time for family).

Today Mark is in Gainesville, raising heck with the Labor Party and honing his skills as a graphic designer. For a while before I moved up here to Madison, we both lived in Gainesville at the same time for the first time since high school. I loved being able to see him more often, and I wish it were possible today.

Love ya, bro -- I don't have time to send an empty CD case, so consider this your birthday gift. Take some time to relax and eat some catfish.


Blast trucks with Jetspeed! Somewhat amusing.

Today I'm listening to: Blackalicious!