Thursday, December 28, 2006
Therefore I will be watching movies.
I saw Apocalypto. I liked the running part. You know, when they ran.
Speaking of Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon was on Cinemax last night. I had forgotten what an awesome and awesomely brutal movie it was. Really the ultimate eighties action film.* [update: No, you know what, I saw it again and decided it sucks except for any scenes in the last twenty minutes involving Gary Busey.]
And Point Break** was on, too. Another of the maybe seven or eight great modern action films. [update: I saw Point Break again, too, and it only gets better. What a delightful movie.]
(A list which also includes: Die Hard With a Vengeance, Raiders of the Lost Ark [more an "adventure" than an "action" film, but still], maybe Speed, definitely Terminator 2 and Aliens...)
Also, Vizzini is trapped in Prague and becoming a danger to himself again.
* I love how they're called "action" films. I mean, they are, after all, "moving pictures."
** Kathryn Bigelow's Point Break is the most underrated action film. It contains not only what I consider the single most pleasing chase scene ever filmed (Keanu Reeves in pursuit of a tuxedoed bank robber in a Reagan mask), but also a climactic confrontation between skydivers (one with a parachute, one without) that is uniquely ingenious, at least in my viewing of action movies.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
*Fuck Greyhound. A 3.5 hour bus ride turned into 7 hours. First the police had to come on board to take away some horrible woman who refused to get off the bus after blatantly cutting in line. Our surly, trembling-with-rage driver could have handled this a lot better. Beside me a loudmouth obese lady was reading a paperback titled Soulful Strut. Later, we had to get a wheelchair-bound woman on board at another stop, and they couldn't figure out how to operate the lift, so we sat there for an hour or so...until she stood up from her wheelchair and just walked on board. And a great murmur arose as every passenger said to his or her seatmate, "She can walk?"
Saturday, December 23, 2006
A while back I wrote about a mysterious sushi bar I had heard about--the "best sushi in the city"--that was up some stairs and had no sign, etc., and I couldn't locate it...well, I found that place. It's by no means hidden or secret, just... unobtrusive. I had the location wrong. I was two doors off.
On Thursday I went there and had astonishing sushi. Sea urchin--"uni"--and toro so exquisite the brain salivates in recollection. (That toro was the best food I've ever eaten. No use to try description.) Have you ever seen sea urchin, naked and raw, prepared for you to eat it? It looks exactly like a bright, orange human tongue. In many restaurants it is gross but in this one it was incredible. With regard to taste and texture--if chilled--it might best be imagined as sort of creamy foie gras ice cream.
Doesn't that sound delicious? If you doubt me, I'll have sushi with you there anytime. You pay.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The whole thing was videotaped and is being edited. Eventually (soon, I hope) video will be available.
It's fortunate that Suzanne hosted because otherwise there might simply have been too much young maleness. Ned read an extended, graphic, wry sex scene. Noah Cicero, as promised, appeared to have a breakdown/freakout on the dais, slamming the lectern so hard it sounded like something cracked--either a bone in his hand or the wood below. Noah, who I met in person for the first time last night, is very fucking cool. I read two short sections of Fires. Tao went last and read a handful of his poems, including several of my favorites, like this great one.
To the people who couldn't come to the reading but emailed me to buy one of the commemorative proofs: thank you, and I will mail them on Monday. They should arrive very quickly.
Fires is now available to pre-order on Amazon.com.
Here are some pictures [some people are having trouble seeing the pictures but when I click the links it looks fine to me...hm, sorry, well they'll be on the KGB website in a couple days anyway]:
The four readers.
Readers and friends.
Poets Tao Lin and Ellen Kennedy.
A random moment from my company's holiday party.
Have a relaxing Sunday.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
On Dec 12, 2006, at 9:53 PM, Nick Antosca wrote:are you fucking with me? there was a galley on ebay?
On 12/13/06, Mom wrote: Dear, do NOT use that language with me please!!! Love you, Mom No, I was not _________ with you. P.S. You got 6 letters from the IRS! Ouch. One a week or so ago, that i accidently opened thinking it was for me, 5 more yesterday. Do you want me to forward them or open them and tell you what they say? I only skimmed the first, then realized it wasn't mine. Sorry. Let me know what you want me to do.
On Dec 13, 2006, at 9:22 AM, Nick Antosca wrote: Oh sorry, I was just excited and tired. Six letters, what the [expletive deleted]? [expletive deleted] yes, open them please. Is one of them my [expletive deleted] federal tax return???? Or am I being audited? How did you see there was a copy on eBay???
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
On Friday night we drove around for a while and ended up in the French Quarter. For a time we were on Bourbon Street and for a time we were on other, darker streets. Bourbon Street at night is a surreal place now, more surreal than before. The street itself is bright and noisy and relatively populous, but when you are there you can feel the darkness surrounding you on all sides. One street over in any direction it is dark and empty. I thought of images from The Martian Chronicles when we were there--the towns of human settlers with their noise and carnival lights surrounded by the huge sad darkness of the dead civilization. The "ancient bone-chess cities...the old canals."
Later that night and for the entirety of the night before, we hung out with the cast of Last Resort in Covington (about forty minutes outside of New Orleans, across Lake Pontchartrain). The guy at whose invitation we were there, Danny Franzese, is not only an excellent and hilarious actor but a genuinely nice person. I'm talking above and beyond: the guy is just really fucking cool.
It was (quite characteristically) generous of my godfather Jon to put Ned and I up for two nights, and it was great to see him after so many years. We spent some time with him on Thursday after we arrived, then on Friday he had to go to Florida. Ideally I'll go back to Louisiana in a couple months and we'll meet up again.
Last night I spent five hours on a plane back. I enjoy flying at night. When you descend and are close enough to see not just the streetlights but the soft pools of glow below them, it looks like the earth is leaking eerie green from its center. I slept a bit but mostly I was awake.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
In the afternoon, I finished the "final" revisions of something which I will now with great relief send to the patient recipient.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Also, oddly, here is Biblio with Fires already. Trevor emailed me to ask when it'll be available...don't worry, soon. The physical books haven't even been printed yet (so, clearly, they won't be by December 15th, although there will be 15 "commemorative" copies printed up specially for the Dec. 16th reading, so if you show up there you can get one). It'll be available online for pre-order in a bunch of other places soon, should be the major ones plus the Impetus website, and by spring it should be available in stores like Barnes & Noble, etc.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I saw Richard Grayson read last night. His story was excellent ("it's like a choice between hedonism and Hasidism" is one line) and I ate some crab and artichoke dip. You should read this collection by Grayson, and this one.
Afterward I was very far from the subway so I decided finally to walk over to KGB. There was a reading there but I didn't really like it. Then I went to Barnes and Noble to look for a book. As I walked in, two skinny girls about my age were in front of me. They weren't my type (their hair was deliberately grubby and they wore those spectacularly unflattering, supertight tapered hipster jeans that you used to see only on severely mentally disabled children) but they were young and cute enough that I noticed them. I also noticed them because a deranged vagrant was following them and hollering, "Yeah, yeah, I'm gonna follow you, yeah, yeah." His tone wasn't lascivious or mocking; he seemed to think they were friends. He was walking too close and they looked freaked out. This odd trio went up the stairs to the cafe (this was Astor Place B&N) and the girls tried to find seats where the vagrant couldn't sit by them, but he grabbed a chair and dragged it over, yelling, "Here, I got one for you, sit down, sit down." By now the whole cafe was was watching. The girls looked profoundly embarrassed. What I really wanted to do was grab the vagrant by the arm and exclaim, "Dad! I've been looking all over for you!"
Sunday, November 26, 2006
A large part of Saturday was spent in Washington, D.C., wandering with parents and brother. The Phillips Collection is one of the better art collections I have ever visited. (It caused my mother to say what she says whenever we go to a gallery: "Huh, this makes me want to go do art.") We saw some memorable Paul Klee pieces like
The Witch with the Comb:
Figure from the Oriental Stage:
Another piece that made me happy was Fugue by Nicolas de Staël, but it is useless to post an image, which can't convey the pleasing texture.
Friday, November 24, 2006
(Trivia: one of the guys standing around who breaks up the fight is Tony Hawk, and the cameraman is Bam Margera.) The clip is notorious for Vallely's apparently unflinching reaction to facing four aggressors and how quickly and brutally he knocks the grins off their faces. Now here's one of the "4 [j]ocks" on the news, years later. He has a lot of gel in his hair. Apparently he just heard about the video and decided to sue, claiming he and his friends never said anything to provoke Vallely. I don't know. Vallely seems like an unbelievable hothead. But I find the guy's claim hard to believe. As one of the Youtube commenters says, "What a crybaby. If Vallely had been the one who started the fight, those douchebags wouldn't have all been circled around him with dumb grins on their faces."
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Struggling to create decent jacket copy for Fires even as publication date approaches. So excruciating to summarize one's own novel. Must get it done so the motherfucker can be published, though. Fell asleep on the subway this morning.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Memorable night. I'm taking off work today (mostly because I have a ton of stuff to do, including go to the doctor, go to Fed Ex, and pick out a scene to read tonight, but also because of my toxic-of-late work environment, where I am stuck in an office alone with an ex-girlfriend for eight hours a day) so I was able to stay out very late last night. Ned and I went to a party at the Hotel QT, which is a great place to go because unlike a normal bar, this one is adjoined by a swimming pool and sauna, so you can go swimming, then walk through crowds of elegantly-dressed people while barefoot and wearing nothing but dripping swim trunks (or in Ned's case, boxer shorts) and no one bats an eye. We had wandered into a birthday party for some short gay guy wearing a beret who knew lots of really tall women. We met a couple of particularly interesting people. One or two we may meet again. Early on in the evening I took a break from the party to talk via cell phone to Willy Blackmore of Impetus for a while about final design details.
After we left, we were sitting on the train when this guy beside me started yanking some of the subway advertisements out of their metal and plastic cases. After the second one, I said, "What are you planning to do with those?" and Ned said, "Yeah, are they valuable?" And the guy says, "Soon to be!" Then with a blue ballpoint pen he starts sketching us on the back of one of the posters. The whole time, he's talking about Picasso and how this is what Picasso use to do--scribble a lot of lines, and then the lines would come together. He also mentioned his admiration for "that hispanic guy"--it turned out he was talking about Basquiat. Oh, and his name was Artemis. Artemis finished his sketch just in time, as we reached Chambers Street, and then I offered to buy it from him, an idea which unsurprisingly he didn't reject, and we continued talking for a bit.
He said, "You know how it's like, you go to the airport to get on a plane, and you go to the desk, and they like, 'That's your flight that you got to get on,' and you like [whispers with skeptical face] 'That ain't the flight I was planning to get on.' [Eyebrows raised, voice low.] That's the plane to hell."
I'm the one on the left that looks like George W. Bush. Ned is on the right, bearded like young Santa Claus. Don't we look gentle? Not a bad sketch, considering that he did it in roughly eight minutes, sketching with one hand while gripping the paper in the air with the other and holding a rapid conversation the whole time.
Considering that control of the Senate has now come down to Virginia, I'm particularly glad I spent some time in the past week calling Virginia voters in support of Webb, who is ahead by about 8,000 votes right now. His Republican opponent, George Allen, is "a bigot and a bully," as Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in The New Yorker last week. Hertzberg also perfectly described Allen's selective use of violent or sexual passages from Webb's novels to smear him as "a tactic that combines prurience with philistinism."* Now let's hope the cabal of Republican lawyers that have surely already descended on Virginia will not manage to drag 8,001 elephants out of their hats.
* Hendrik Hertzberg. Bigot bully. Prurience philistinism. Did I stutter?
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
November 8 - New York, NY
Class of 2007 Reading Series @ Boxcar Lounge
Jami Attenberg (Host)
The other thing is that in the email I sent out, I got the release date of the novel wrong--it's not in two months, it's in like five or six weeks, so before Christmas. Like December 15. Cool.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
In that spirit, here's one I had last night.
I was back in high school, but it was in California and it was a boarding school that resembled Calhoun College. It was afternoon of graduation day and everyone was bustling around, waiting until we could go outside for some sort of barbecue event. Then news started trickling in--via other students, then parents who started arriving--that there'd been some kind of catastrophic plane-related disaster in the eastern United States. A plane had hit something on the ground and exploded, and the explosion was on a nuclear level. It wasn't like 3,000 people had been killed, it was like the Eastern Seaboard was razed. People couldn't quite believe it; we were going about our daily schedules saying, "What happened...does anybody really know what happened?" We kept preparing the graduation barbecue in the courtyard. My dad's car pulled up on the lawn and he jumped out and said, "This is serious. This is serious." But people ignored him. Then everyone saw that the sky was dark red outside the window. We went outside and saw a huge red-black cloud rolling in from the east. People were scared. They knew that cloud was going to kill us. Something spilled out of the cloud, an avalanche of skulls--thousands of human skulls arced forward into the courtyard and covered the grass. I picked one up. Because they were so ash-covered and smooth we hoped they might be old skulls, not from people who had just died (implying that we were about to), but then I turned one over and found a knot of fresh, squishy flesh still stuck to it*.
More news began to spread about the plane that crashed--its fuel had been replaced with some kind of accelerant that caused the massive explosion and red incinerating cloud. And now it was thought that this had been done to lots of other planes still in the sky. So at any moment there would be more explosions, and the red cloud would burn across America in every direction, and the whole country would just be covered in so many bones you couldn't see the grass. A plane came screaming across the sky, in flames, and landed somewhere outside the school, but there was no huge explosion. Someone said, "We got lucky with that one," and people started eating the barbecue. My dad took me aside and said, "We need to get out of here. The only way we're going get ahead of this cloud is if we fly to Japan. I've made arrangements for us [meaning our whole family]. We need to go now, so say goodbye to whoever you want to really, really fast." I said, "I don't want to say goodbye to anyone, let's just go." Then I woke up.
*remember when you were a kid and your baby teeth came out? and sometimes there would be a little wet knot of red flesh still attached to the root of the tooth? that's what this looked like.
Impetus Press has a blog now: theimpetusblog.blogspot.com.
Pleasing! Go read it. Will have info and regular updates.
I went to another Moveon.org thing on Sunday, but this one sucked. They wanted us to call callers, not voters, and get them to commit to calling at certain hours...I don't know. I didn't feel comfortable bothering people like that, so I got up and left. I'll call actual undecided voters again sometime, though.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
You would think MoveOn.org calling parties would mostly be staffed by energetic young people in black-framed glasses
In any case, the calling party was held in a volunteer's Manhattan duplex penthouse on 14th Street. This was one of the most stunning apartments I've seen in New York. Staggering view. He also had an entire wall full of old LPs and a huge turntable set-up for DJing. Forty people, roughly, showed up, and were sitting everywhere just calling on their cell phones. I'm pretty sure I was the youngest person there. Most of them were friendly, charming women in their fifties and sixties, and there was slightly lower but still significant attendance from the disheveled fifty-ish intellectual male contingent. Just about everyone was really nice and they ate a lot of grapes and drank soda. So we called Virginia voters nonstop for a couple hours and encouraged people to go vote for Webb in November. Now and then people would hang up on me, but a fair number of people were like, "I just hate George Allen," to which I would be like, "That's cool, just make sure you actually vote for the other guy."
I'm going to another such event today at the Moveon.org headquarters in midtown, if I can make it.
UPDATE: MoveOn.org asks bloggers to post the link or whatever to their Call for Change program. For the record, it's a good experience, it's really easy and user-friendly, and it isn't stressful.
On Friday, I saw Cocaine Cowboys, a mesmerizing documentary about the cocaine trade in Miami in the seventies and eighties. These random people just started making unimaginable amounts of money by importing tons upon tons of cocaine into south Miami when lots of people still didn't even know what the drug was. A hit man for the Columbian cartel is interviewed (as described in the link above). He's in jail for thirty murders and is suspected of many more. He talks about how his people got into a dispute with some New Yorkers, so they sent him up to New York for a day, and he killed eleven people in twenty-four hours. The thing about this guy, Rivi, is he doesn't seem scary--he has what you might call kind eyes. He really does. When a cop describes another killer as "Rivi without the class," you understand how he could say that. This Rivi person was responsible for extreme cruelty, but if you met him without knowing what he was, your instincts wouldn't tell you to be afraid.
Halloween. I told somebody not thirty-six hours ago that I never go out for Halloween or New Years parties, which was true until last night. Went to three or four, one in a beautiful, ramshackle apartment on Chrystie Street, where I met a Russian girl and was humbled by her ability to match and outdo me in a conversation about books. A guy I know from school has just returned from teaching in Korea for a year (something I might like to do) and he came with us. Teaching in Korea you get paid over $30,000, tax-free, and your housing is free. That's better than I do now. And you don't even have to speak Korean.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
UPDATE: I keep showing the galley to people. This is also a pleasing feeling.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Time for bullet points.
- I was really sick, almost delirious.
- Galleys stuff is happening, slowly. This is exciting.
- I stopped seeing someone I was seeing for a long time.
- Revising the other novel is making tears of blood come from my eyes. But I like it.
- I got angry at someone in line for a movie and grabbed his neck and someone pulled me off.
- A chubby person took all the furniture from our living room. How bad is it that when I'm angry at a fat person for something unrelated to their fatness, I repeatedly point out their fatness?
- She wouldn't even be pretty if she were thin.
- I bought so many books and they're sitting beside the bed, looking at me, like dogs, expecting me to read them.
- It's hard not to grab people by the neck when they're pushy.
- I stare at the ceiling a lot and feel full of rage.
- I received an amount of money that seemed to me tremendous, and already it is gone and I have less money than I did before.
- I went to an event where there were some people I really needed to talk to about something, and for some reason I didn't talk to them, and they left, and now I have to wait two weeks to get it over with. Fuck.
- Somebody I trust keeps telling me I'm a horrible person. It's true.
- I worried that Fires isn't going to be in many bookstores. And that people will have to already know it exists to buy it.
- My roommate got hit in the head and her scalp was stapled and she seemed to be in a lot of pain.
- It's cold.
- I want to strangle almost everything I see, including intangible things, like good judgment. I'm going to lure good judgment into a back room with friendly talk, then strangle it slow.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I had a dream the other night that someone found a dead prostitute in your room, and I was trying to convince everyone that you were really a great guy and that you'd probably befriended her and were in no way involved with her death. What do you suppose that means?
Probably nothing, don't worry about it.
Monday, October 23, 2006
This actually lends a certain additional poignancy to the book, which is pretty haunting anyway.
I had lunch yesterday with my friend Alex, who I haven't seen in a long time, maybe a year. Dinner with another Alex. Wandered a bookstore. Saw Todd Solondz.
Except for that lunch and dinner, I didn't leave my apartment this weekend.
My roommate went to The Knitting Factory last night and one of the performers threw a bottle into the crowd. It hit my roommate and she had to get her scalp stapled. She came home covered in blood.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
To the old woman there I said: "Odd question, sorry to bother you, but have you ever heard of this sushi restaurant around here...there's no sign, it's just a green door..."
Old Woman (heavy Israeli accent): "Uh, no idea, sorry..."
Young Woman Assistant, sidling over: "Best sushi in the city, right?"
Me: "Yeah, that's what I'm told."
YW: "I've actually heard about something like that, it's supposed to be right down there. No sign..."
So I go over in the direction she's pointing, and sure enough there's a blank storefront with a green door. Indeed, the whole front of this building is covered in this weird green metal pattern (the address is 15 W. 47th St., right by the Mercantile Library) and on the door there's a tiny piece of paper taped that says, "Call [number without area code] to be let in the door, thanks!" I try a bunch of area codes with the number, even though it should be 212 given the location, and none of the combinations connects me to anyone who has any idea what I'm talking about. I ask a woman from the Mercantile Library what the green place is, and she says, "Used to be a Japanese restaurant...I think they closed."
So I gave up for the afternoon, but I'm far from finished. Maybe I have the wrong storefront, or maybe I've been tricked.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
Our living room looks bizarre. One wall remains hideous pink, and there are some folding chairs and a shitty beanbag chair filling in for whatever sofa or chairs we get to replace the Ikea stuff the roommate took. But in the middle sits a beast of a table that's so heavy it may one day crash through the floor. Who knew glass could weigh so much? The tabletop--the massive slab of glass--isn't attached to the base in any way, so it appears you could just lift it up, even if just a little. But put your hand under it and try to lift, and your mind will at first refuse to comprehend the level of resistance. "What is this?" your mind will say, "Nothing's holding it down...mere glass couldn't be this heavy...is this...is it...kryptonite?" You could jump on this thing and it wouldn't break.
My head is full of cotton and weeds lately. Can't even think remotely creative thoughts. Partly this has to do with being sick, I think, but also there are just, you know, cycles of wretchedness.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
At midnight I saw the Borat movie at the New Yorker Festival. I enjoyed it, then returned to thinking about how good The Departed was.
Yesterday morning our vaguely bovine ex-roommate came (towing her vaguely, uh, glirine boyfriend, I think) to our apartment unannounced and took a bunch of furniture. That was a nasty thing to do. And yet, to paraphrase an insult dubiously attributed to Winston Churchill, in a week or two we'll have new furniture, but she'll still be fat, squealing, stupid, living with her parents in Jersey, and under the impression that hot pink is a really great color.
I think I might go see Departed again tonight. Or maybe go see Kelly Link at KGB Bar.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Forgive me, I don't mean to overhype the thing, but EVERY MINUTE IS DELICIOUS. I was twitching with glee by the end.
Scorsese's last two movies have been mannered and interesting. Aviator was architecturally solid but never really, so to speak, lifted off the ground. A good movie but you could anticipate everywhere it was going and it was "good" in standard ways. The Departed is a nutty, digressive, ferociously colorful movie, though, and you'll know it right off--as soon as the first lines of Nicholson's philosophical narration turn into a racist rant, and when moments later we see him casually shoot a woman in the head and then chuckle, "She fell funny." This is, like, the first two or three minutes. Later on Nicholson just goes to crazytown and builds a condo there. It's not the land of Howard Hughes and Katherine Hepburn--and thank heaven. Scorsese's best since Goodfellas? Absolutely. (Incidentally, I also liked it much more than Infernal Affairs, of which it's a remake.) Maybe even his best since Raging Bull. And unquestionably his most purely entertaining movie ever. God, it's good.
Seriously, go see this thing. It kills.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Saw the BODIES exhibit, which was really informative and I learned a lot. I learned that the Chinese government has lots of dead people lying around, and that bodies are disgusting.
Saw Army of Shadows Sunday afternoon. Good movie, though it felt long. Not quite as pristine as Le Samurai, but more vital-feeling (as well as more conscious of death--hardly a coincidence). Ate delicious ravioli afterward.
Revisions on an intermediate novel formerly titled both Love Misery and The Graves are taking place right now. Excruciatingly slowly due to Fires and life in general. But to be completed in six weeks or less, I hope. Midnight Picnic is in stasis, simmering.
Last night I dreamed Fires came out and someone reviewed it--a former classmate, though a fictional one existing only for the purposes of the dream*--and wrote something like "His novel is all right, but his blog is better." Literally my worst nightmare in memory.
*I hated most of my Yale classmates but I could have kept it better hidden. Now they are all media interns or journalists.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The "Trade Edition" ($95, 1,800 copies, I ordered one) and "Numbered Edition" ($250, 300 copies) are not completely sold out and people can still order them at the first site linked to above. The "Lettered Edition" ($900, jesus christ, only 26 copies) is sold out.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Modern Times and The Greatest are my favorite albums of recent years, I think.
Internet denizens will often seize upon some offhand sentence in a "mainstream media" article and use it to both attack the author and to ostensibly demonstrate the breadth of their own intellects. Here's a particularly baffling example. Notice this guy's list of "experimental fiction"--which includes such formalistically radical books as The Corrections, Underworld, and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. His list serves as evidence against his own argument.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Sunday afternoon on Spring Street a woman took pictures of us with an antique camera and we bought two of them. Here's a glamorous-looking one. The photo is so fuzzy and softened that you can't even tell I'm wearing glasses.
Tonight, of course, I am reading with other Impetus authors at KGB. If you're reading this you probably got the email about it. Either way you're invited. Should be interesting.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Last night and this morning I went to Brooklyn Book Festival events.
The first one was a reception last night prior to the Festival. It was in DUMBO, Brooklyn, in a place called the Tobacco Warehouse. I have a preexisting contempt for this venue for reasons related to my day job that I won't go into here. It is a ruined old warehouse with no roof that sits under a bridge--a place only trolls should go, really. To get there I only had to go one or two stops into Brooklyn, but it still took me an hour because the area is not clearly described on maps (at least the ones I found on the internet) and pedestrians were giving me the wrong information. I walked around for maybe half an hour before I found it, which doesn't sound so awful, except that it was pouring rain and the wind was slashing around and beating up my frail little umbrella and I was wearing jeans that seemed to be made from sea sponges and the streets all had violent little ponds in them. And as I trudged around, looking at my increasingly sodden map but unwilling to give up because after all I had come to Brooklyn already (it is a great distance psychologically if not geographically), my mind was chanting, "I hate being in Brooklyn. I hate being in Brooklyn. I hate being in Brooklyn. "
Please understand that I am not insulting the people of Brooklyn or those who love it. It is simply a matter of taste, like hating Indian food (which I do). Brooklyn has always reminded me of the bland, low cities in Maryland near the place where I mostly grew up. Or even Bayonne, New Jersey. It looks to me like Nowhere In Particular. I don't like the skyline and the hipster infestation only reinforces my bias.
The event itself, location notwithstanding, was cool and I enjoyed myself. Lots of food, nice people to talk to, etc.
Then this morning I woke up and it was time to go to the festival itself, mostly because I wanted to talk to the good people of Impetus, who had a table there and were selling Hollywoodland and The Dream Sequence. After convincing myself to actually go, I stepped out of the train station at Borough Hall and the weather was beautiful. My destination was immediately in sight and there was no chance of getting lost. Everything was bright and warm and the area kind of actually looked like 14th St.-Union Square. I felt great. I immediately and ashamedly forgave Brooklyn for the previous night.
On a more general note, the MTA is a wretched and infuriating organization. I tried to get a downtown 6 train from 33rd St. today, only a few hours ago, and found myself waiting for almost thirty minutes. (Fucking unreliable bastards...you wouldn't see this shit happen in Seoul, dammit.) Finally I went back up to the street to try and get a cab. But there weren't any to be found. So I descended into the subway again just as the train was pulling in. I tried to swipe my card but for some reason (although it is unlimited ride) it wouldn't work. There was no time to fuck around or I'd be waiting another hour or something. So I jumped the turnstile. I heard a guy, presumably an MTA employee, yell behind me, but I was already jumping on the train just as the doors closed. Fucking assholes. If the MTA were a single person, I would want to kick him repeatedly in the throat and genitals.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
Chan Marshall herself: all smiles. Backed up by the Memphis Blues Band. Her voice in terrific shape. On-stage freakouts of the kind about which I'd been warned in advance were not to be seen (no squirrel-chasing), and her childishly inept twitch-dancing was actually pretty sexy. Without the band, she played about four songs combined into one on piano, starting out on "I Found a Reason" and wandering into the others. Then the band returned and "Naked if I Wanted To" became "Nude as the News" and, later on, a seemingly spontaneous cover of "Satisfaction." Then the band started leaving and she began to sing "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley, which is a much, much better (and less annoying) song when sung by Cat Power.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
9/10/06: In the dream I was about 18 or 19. My family went to visit the home of some people we've been friends with for a long time (in "real life" they were our neighbors when I was very young). I'll call them Dave and June. In the dream they had a kid who was about my age (this kid was also someone I used to know outside of the dream, although he was not the son of our neighbors). The home where we went to visit them was out in the woods, newly built. It seemed to be just outside of Houston, Texas. We walked around in the forest with them outside their house. The other kid, whose name was Evan, was saying rather menacing things to me. I couldn't get rid of the feeling that I was in serious danger. There were three dogs around us, all of them large and brindled, like pit bull mixes, but bigger than pit bulls. Then the father, Dave, took out a massive gun--it was a gun the size of that huge rifle the villain uses at the end of Robocop. (This is based I think on an incident from my childhood where I went over to our neighbors' house--the same neighbors featured in the dream--and he showed me an unbelievable collection of weaponry. I was about seven, I think. He worked for the government and had a small arsenal in his home, including assault rifles that it would be unthinkable for a regular citizen to own.) He fired this massive rifle at a patch of ground some distance away. It blasted a little crater in the earth, and in the crater a sort of jellyish skin formed. It was a little bigger around than a manhole cover and it was slightly stiff, so that when I went to retrieve it and pick it up, it retained its shape. It was like a giant, thick contact lens.
I lifted it up to the sky and looked through it. It distorted colors and the sky was purple--it was like being in a swimming pool and looking up at the sky from underwater. Then something happened--I entered what seemed to be a dream within the dream. To the best of my knowledge this has never happened to me before. In the dream within the dream, I was still in the woods outside Houston Texas. But something very bad was going to happen. The sky was dark and when I looked into the distance there was a mountain covered in yellow grass and a dog or a man (I can't remember) was standing on the top of it, looking at me. Either the dog was very dark and brindled or the man was wearing a long dark fur coat. Whatever it was had glowing eyes that had no white, they were just pupils. I started to run. Whatever it was was chasing me. I ran toward a concrete compound that seemed to be in the desert, and it changed into a rock formation that was like a rock formation I remember climbing on with my dad as a little kid. Then I realized that I was being chased not through physical space but through a landscape of my own memories. This thing that was chasing me--it seemed at this point to be in the shape of a human being about my age--could leap very far. I could leap too, but not as far, so I had to try and outwit the thing. I ran across an open field but the thing was behind me and could go faster and was quickly closing the distance, so I ducked inside
a building that had many underground passageways. The building was the library I went to when I was young. I tricked the thing that was chasing me by doubling back many times, and when I emerged from the library I was in an idyllic field with a nice, shady tree. There was a naked, motionless woman, possibly a very realistic statue, holding a banner that said, "High School." That made me strangely relieved. I could feel that the thing was still chasing me, but it didn't know where I was.
Then I woke up from the dream within a dream. I was not awake in "reality" though, I was just in a shallower level of dreaming. In this part of the dream my family was in the news. Apparently while driving through Houston (in the dream, Houston was a coastal city, and driving through it you could look out your car window and see huge waves in the ocean) we had managed to kill something called a "water tiger" that lived in the ocean by booing at it. We didn't even know what a "water tiger" was. It turned out that it was a regular bulldog that had somehow become an aquatic creature. When we looked out on the ocean outside Houston, we could see bulldogs paddling around in the ten-story-tall waves. I wondered what they ate out there and then I saw a bored-looking one eat a floating kiwi fruit, and I wondered how many floating kiwi fruits there could really be in the ocean off the coast of Houston, Texas. It seemed that "water tigers" were very beloved to the people of Houston, and my little brother had booed at one, which somehow caused it to get covered in bloody scars and die, and then its carcass washed up on the beach, and the city of Houston was angry at our family.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I keep trying to read it and somehow my eyes wander away and my brain goes numb after about five sentences.
Uh, somebody else read it and tell me if it's good.
I liked his story about the Saddam Hussein doubles , "In the Palace of the End," that came out a couple years ago.
Monday, September 04, 2006
The Shield, an hour-long police drama airing on the FX Network and set to begin its sixth season in a few months, is one of the most complex and profound American stories being told right now. Most TV sucks but a few writers in the last fifteen years have taken advantage of the unique long-form storytelling possibilities available in the medium. I watched the first two Shield episodes again last night at a friend's house and was reminded of how skillfully and with what affecting results the show's creator, Shawn Ryan, and staff writers have followed Faulkner's edict that "the young man or woman writing today" ought to explore "the old verities and truths of the heart...love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice."
(And here I ought to note that crucial plot details lie ahead. Probably. This being blog-writing, it's off the top of my head.)
The Shield's protagonist, Vic Mackey, is both a cop and a cop-killer. The show's pilot episode ends as he and another cop pull off the calculated murder of their new teammate. (And disturbingly enough, Mackey is no outright villain, no Tony Soprano character. Let me digress here and note that while I enjoy and respect The Sopranos, I feel it is vastly overrated. The Shield has it by the balls in every way. As The Sopranos has slowly declined in quality over the years, The Shield has increased, building to epic levels of betrayal and tension in the fourth and fifth seasons. Even in terms of daring content, The Shield comes out on top despite the constraints of appearing on basic cable. Nothing in The Sopranos, even Tony sawing off Ralphie's head, can compare to the scene in The Shield's third season where the proud and politically ambitious police captain David Aceveda is raped at gunpoint by a gangster. Or Mackey holding the child-rapist Armadillo's face to red-hot oven coils in season two. Or Anthony Anderson's drug lord murdering a little girl in season four and forcing two cops to watch--in one of the most powerful episodes of any show I've ever seen air on television.) That cop-on-cop murder was a bold way to launch the series, and while the issue seemed to be resolved after Mackey managed to cover it up, it returned with a vengeance in later seasons--when the intricacy of the show's narrative truly started to show through.
Indeed, it didn't really become apparent until the fourth season what a profound show The Shield was. (Fortunately, I started watching while the fourth season was underway and caught up on all the earlier seasons after the fourth concluded but before the fifth started. I never watch shows in their first season. Who knows if they'll end up sucking?) The first three seasons are powerful and entertaining, but only in the fourth do the intricate and tragic character arcs begin to curve downward. You start to realize that all these people are going to be destroyed for the things they've done. The stakes for everyone have gotten progressively higher as they build families and make allegiances, and some of the people who've participated in ugly things are genuinely good people, but in the end they're going to suffer.
The fifth season, which ended this spring, eschewed the one-case-per-episode formula of cop shows and instead worked basically as a miniseries (it's only ten episodes) about the noose slowly tightening around the necks of Vic and his three partners. Forrest Whitaker's insane season five performance as the sweaty, obsessed Internal Affairs investigator trying to turn Vic's men against each other was truly sublime. (In the penultimate episode he screams about Mackey to his superiors: "He's pissin' all over us! Okay? Do you feel that? What does that taste like to you? Because to me it tastes like piss.") The only guest performance that has rivaled Whitaker's is Anthony Anderson's (yes, the guy from Kangaroo Jack and Agent Cody Banks) in season four. Anthony Anderson, believe it or not, is a genuinely great actor. In The Shield, he was a ferociously brutal drug lord who stood on the neck of a crooked cop, took his gun, and used it to shoot a little girl in front of him--then buried the girl and the gun in an unknown spot to ensure the cop's loyalty.
The betrayal that ends the final episode of season five is one of the great character deaths in television, and it set up what ought to be a gleefully intense sixth season. I plead with Shawn Ryan and the show's writers not to chicken out (by allowing these guys to escape their seemingly inevitable fates) or drag the series on for too long. The story, as it left off, is at a feverish level. I'd rather see the writers produce ten more episodes at or near the level of the spectacular fifth season than thirty more episodes with the intensity dialed down a notch. Let them not pull an X-Files. A story this gripping and complex ought to flare out, not fade away.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
Not doing much. Sluggish. Watched, with mounting incomprehension, Little Black Book on HBO or Showtime or something. Brittany Murphy is short.