brothercyst: October 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006

9/11 apocalypse dream, impetus blog, and other things

I realize I've been describing a lot of dreams lately, and they are by definition of interest only to me, and no one wants to hear about my stupid dreams.

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

Yesterday I went to a "calling party" run by Moveon.org. We were calling people in Virginia about the Jim Webb/George Allen senate race. Earlier this weekend, the George Allen campaign (Allen is the incumbent Republican, Webb is the Democrat [who used to be a Republican and is a Vietnam vet and bestselling author]) pulled some seriously pathetic shit. They dug through all of Webb's novels, picked out sexual passages, and tried to make it seem like he's a pervert. Who the fuck are these people?

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.


Call For Change


***

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

a pleasing feeling

I have a galley of Fires (which arrived this morning in a package from Impetus) in my hand. It is a curious feeling. I tend to think of my books as things on a computer. I flip through the galley and the font looks good. The paper feels right. Excellent. I'm like, Shit, I remember writing this. Oh, this part, too. Huh. Wow.

UPDATE: I keep showing the galley to people. This is also a pleasing feeling.

birds did it

I just woke up from a strange dream in which I went to a Jewish-themed party where they were serving mashed potatoes and sauerkraut (which I'm fairly sure is not traditional Jewish food). In Brooklyn. People I knew were there, and war veterans gave short speeches, but no one clapped. A beautiful brunette got in the elevator to leave, so I got in the next elevator down. But the elevator tilted, and the further down it went, the more it started getting crushed, so the walls were closer and closer and metal was screeching. A little kid screamed. Downstairs, I got out shaken but alive. The girl was gone. I started wandering the city streets--in the rain--trying to get back to Wall Street. Someone pointed me toward a parking garage. Inside, I met a woman who spoke mostly Spanish and was trying to get home to her kids. Together we looked for the way out, but we were going lower and lower. Everything was filling with water. A ramp ended, blocked with wrecked cars, and we started climbing down some poles that were beside the ramp, trying to get further into the garage. But we were horrified to see that we weren't in the garage anymore, but sort of a half-swamp, half-junkyard. The poles were really trees, and everything below them was water. It was like the Everglades, the trees just coming out of the water, and no land to stand on. We had nowhere to go, and the garage and ramp had disappeared. The woman who spoke only Spanish was up to her mouth in water. Disgusting fish swam around in it. There was something wrong with them, they were bloated and could only swim very slowly. I was higher in the tree than the woman, who kept gasping, and I noticed that in a tree beside me, only two feet away, there was another person--an older guy with white hair. He was tied to the tree by his neck, with tight copper wire. He couldn't move. I said, "How did you get here?" And he said, "Ornithology."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

inventory

This past month has been stressful.

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

A pretty remarkable election season

Article subhed: "GOP frontrunner: I have never had sex with a man"

dead prostitute

A friend I haven't spoken to for a long time emailed me yesterday saying this:

Nick,
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

October 2006, the Martian Canal

I'm rereading The Martian Chronicles yet again. The chapters are all dated, as the book takes place over a period in the future as Bradbury envisioned it. The last chapter is...October 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

Galleys: exist



I like my publishers. They sent camera-phone pictures to my cell phone when the galleys arrived from the printer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

behind the green door

Apparently there's a stellar sushi place on 47th St.--"the north side of the street, between 5th and 4th"--where there's no sign, only a green door, and no external indication whatsoever of a restaurant within. I heard about it from this old guy in my regular sushi bar who got really drunk and started talking about it, and who also unexpectedly picked up my fairly exorbitant check. He told me a bunch of other, in some cases quite disturbing, stories, but never mind that. This green door place, he claims it's the best sushi in the city. So I went looking for it today. I couldn't find it, so I stopped into one of the diamond stores in the area.

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

epigraph page for Fires


click for big, then expand.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

if I were a high school senior this might make me not want to go to Yale

Shit, I remember hearing about this Aleksey Vayner guy almost two years ago. And I remember hearing all these bizarre stories secondhand, mostly from my ex-girlfriend who had a class with him. The ironical townspeople of the internet are roasting the guy alive right now. I don't like the tone of glee; the whole thing seemed hilarious when he was just a joke on campus, but now that it's inexplicably national news, everything about it feels distasteful. I wonder if he believes the things he says? Maybe they will make his story into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio or someone.

Monday, October 09, 2006

sick again

Fires went to the printer for galleys tonight. Soon they will exist and reviewers, I guess, and other blurb people will start getting them. Cool.

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

muscles hurt

We hauled a beautiful 200+ lb. glass & iron table into my apartment yesterday evening; I'll be honest, it nearly broke me. I was in pain this morning. Unfortunately this morning I was also supposed to raft down the Hudson, from 56th St. to Battery Park. And I did. The rowing was fun but there was no rest. Now my muscles are screaming.

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

This is just to say

that I have seen The Departed, which came out last night, and it is so fucking good I can't believe how fucking good it is.

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

Fires cover art, posted


Here is the cover art for Fires.

As I noted earlier, it might still be tweaked a little and of course the text on the back will be different since the book will have flaps but the galley won't.

I like the cover image a lot.

Monday, October 02, 2006

weekend

Had dinner last week with Richard Grayson, author of the excellent With Hitler in New York and I Brake for Delmore Schwartz, among other things. Grayson reminds me a bit of one of my best friends, to whom Fires is dedicated. With Hitler in New York is probably the best short story collection I've read in the past year or so(although it's several decades old, if I'm not mistaken) since Last Night.

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.