“You have, like, the worst superpower ever,” she said. For the third time in my life, I had just shattered a glass in my hand. Now, I’ve broken dozens of glasses. Most of them were on purpose. I’ve also smashed phones and lamps, computer mice and headphones, and even a television set. Breaking stuff is fun. My policy of non-violence towards living things apparently doesn’t extend to inanimate objects. But that’s not what this is about. This is about destroying things through no more than physical proximity.
A few years ago, a friend lent me his cell phone to make an emergency phone call. He dialed the number and handed me the phone. I spoke for five minutes, then handed the phone back. It never worked again.
I’ve never owned a phone or computer that’s lasted more than a year without some major malfunction. My last phone just stopped dialing 1, 4, or 7. Try to dial an NYC area code without those numbers. Others phones physically lost buttons or simply stopped working.
A friend and I used to walk around the Upper East Side a lot. Every time we passed this one streetlamp, it would go out. When we’d pass it going the other direction, it would go back on. When we formed a new band a few years later, we scheduled our first practice for September 11th, 2001. When that band went on to record a CD in August of 2003, the entire City of New York lost power.
Recording for our next band hit speed bumps when my guitar mysteriously caused the recording computer to malfunction. Drums were recorded fine. Bass was fine. Vocals went off without a hitch. But when I plugged in my guitar, the computer stopped working.
I don’t tell you this with a woe-is-me intent. It’s frustrating when mechanical devices malfunction, but sometimes it feels like there’s a little magic to it. That much is fun.
It’s not fun when people start dying, which has been too common a theme. For someone who’s never seen war or famine, I’ve seen too much death in my life. Sometimes it feels like a curse. I know that people die and things break down. These are laws of biology and physics. But it’s hard to feel like it’s not me.