brothercyst: October 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

temperament, walrus nightmare

Is a predisposition to depressive ideation just wired into some brains--is that really all it is, a chemical condition?

Saw Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Performances excellent. (Albert Finney, Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei. Tomei is naked a lot.) But I did not enjoy the movie. Admired it, didn't enjoy it.

Doing a lot of writing. That's good.

A certain venue owes me a lot of money and is very late... I'm not pleased.

I saw this walrus thing, the "lolrus," fell asleep, and had a nightmare about it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Haneke



Saw Funny Games tonight at the MoMA; Michael Haneke answered questions after. I have the movie on DVD and had seen it before and admired it, but it's much more excruciating to watch it in a theater surrounded by people--the screaming seems to assault you, and so does that John Zorn music. (There were a number of walk-outs, including one guy who barked, "Garbage!" as he left.) One thing I love about it is how mercilessly it abuses an audience's presupposition that in a game there are options; there are possibilities; there are ways to avoid death. In this game, even when you are told, "You can live if you do this," there is no way you can live. And when you are told, "If only you hadn't done that, none of this would've happened to you," you are just being tormented. It was always going to happen to you, and there was no way you could win.

So it's a brilliantly constructed movie with much to admire about it but there are the What's the point? and Is this necessary? questions, which are, it seems to me, entirely reasonable. Cache is a better film--Haneke's best, I think--not as viscerally upsetting as Funny Games but more profound, with real, affectingly examined human pain and with an authentic sense of consequence (though not without Haneke's austere formal tricks). Funny Games is shallow. As Haneke said tonight, it's a parody of a thriller/horror film--and that's really all it is. It's not about violence in the real world. Brilliant and absolutely engrossing but shallow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

vagrant in candyland



Wandered the city all day running errands and editing Midnight Picnic on the subway. Kept running into people I know. It's as if Manhattan below 16th is just a big campus. Went to an event hosted by my friendly neighborhood literary society at a pseudo-communist club with a very nice bouncer who was a dwarf. Then walked with my friend Tom through the West Village and had a surreal moment: we stopped at Pinkberry, which is this twee little futuristic wonderland/ice cream store, and as we're ordering, an utterly bedraggled and filthy homeless man gets right up next to me and begs for money. Right away the effeminate store manager with stylish titanium glasses leans across the counter and hisses at the beggar to leave ("Sir, you cannot solicit my customers!"), which the beggar dutifully does, saying he'll wait for me outside. The sight of this absolutely wretched, grime-encrusted human bursting into the gleaming, spotless anime fantasy-land of Pinkberry and being sternly ejected back out on the street just seemed kind of--I don't know. If I'd seen it in a movie my brain would've said, "Too much... too obvious." Anyway I went outside when I got my change in order to give it to him but he was gone.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

misanthropic humanism + caviar & national book award

1:15 am, what a pleasing night...had dinner with a friend who is disturbingly witty/entertaining (and isn't a writer, so it's legit for me to modify that material for use in a book... a standard rule I learned from Lorrie Moore when she talked at yale), ate amazing food, had weird waitress who told us, about the rack of lamb, "it's highly recommended by my cat" and indeed it was excellent. went to friend's house, saw other friends, wrote section of novel in gmail docs on friend's computer, walked around, collaboratively created a new verb (to "level"--in parlance, to take something to a higher level; but a more specific meaning is to speak to someone in a metalanguage when they think they're being spoken to a more basic language... sarcasm being a basic example but also like if you hit on a girl by casually saying to her, "What's more important, art or science?"--causing her brain to go okay, this guy's hitting on me, asking me this silly question, okay, i'll answer it dutifully, but we all know the real intent here--and once she's answered it, you explain that the question you just asked is something a friend of yours is always asking girls as a quirky pretext to hit on them, and you are now trying it on random sample populations to test his assertion that it works... this is obviously absurd [and, it should be noted, does not and is not intended to "work"...not the point here] and vaguely insulting but mostly just confusing to her... you have "leveled" her), and then I got on the subway to go home and encountered Joshua Ferris and his wife, which is absurd, because just today he got nominated for the National fucking Book Award, which is obviously a huge honor. I congratulated him and talked for a bit and people around us were sort of trying to listen and surreptitiously staring like wait who's this guy, is he a celebrity... you should check out his book, I was reluctant to for a long time and whatever about a brief excerpt I read but then I started reading the book and was quickly persuaded of its quality.

Sickeningly busy in the past week. Writing reviews, revising Midnight Picnic (much more slowly than I ought to be), trying to write new stuff, dealing with a ton of day job stuff, eating, honoring obligations that I made before I realized how insanely busy these two weeks were going to be, like having multiple dinners on the same day with different people. So some things are annoying right now but other things are pleasing, even highly pleasing. I've met a couple people I like. It's strange when that happens because I dislike so many people. Mike Young, editor of Noo Journal, was crashing on my couch for a bit. He visited New York, that's good. I saw Benny's Video at MoMA; very grim movie. How many times do you need to see a pig get shot in the head? Going to see Funny Games, which I like a lot, on Monday; had to run up there today to buy some advance tickets in person. Also I'll be reading 10/24 at my friend's reading series, Guerrilla Lit. More later.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

strange music

Last week I participated in one concert and saw another one. The one I participated in was done by Steve Antosca (my dad, a composer), Lina Bahn (a violinist), and Colin Oldham (an inventor of instruments). This was at The Stone, John Zorn's club on 2nd Street. There were two violin/distortion pieces, and then one longer electronic composition. I read a Neruda poem with voice distortion and some death scenes from Flannery O'Connor. It went really well, and we got paid. One of the guys in the audience was from the Kronos Quartet, which is perfect because the next day we went to see them play at BAM. They played accompanied by an ominous 15-foot wooden puppet (its heart opened up to reveal a velvet-lined stage for other puppets) created by Lounge Lizard Erik Sanko, who also composed the (excellent) piece they premiered, Dear Mme. Then they played a piece called Uniko, which was fucking amazing. Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen, the composers of that piece, performed with them (sampling and distorting, and also just playing) and were terrific.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Burning Babies, chapter one: Death of an Outlaw

Yesterday I wrote, "One of the great modern novels is Burning Babies by Noah Cicero. It is Noah's best novel [which is saying something, because Treatise and The Insurgent are also excellent]. No one has published it, and someone needs to." Today I'm publishing the first chapter of it here. When I first read it, a friend gave me the galley (a small press was going to publish it, then decided not to at the last minute) at lunch and I opened it, read the first few sentences, and said, "This guy can't even use commas, it looks like a kid wrote it... I'm not reading this." But I took it anyway and happened to pick it up one Saturday and read the whole thing. Seriously, take a few minutes to read to the end of this chapter, which isn't very long. It was when I got to the very end of the first chapter that I was like, "Okay, fair--I need to read all of this." The below is copied and pasted here from a Word doc Noah sent me a while ago.

*************************


Death of an Outlaw

“I’m going to kill myself,” said Josey into a cell phone in Kentucky.


“Oh, don’t do that. You’ll go to hell,” said his mother from her house in Youngstown.

“I’m serious you fucking assholes!”

Josey was in a poorly painted gray van that was once red.

He had to paint the van gray because THEY were coming he said.

Josey was convinced people were coming for him.

Josey was right.

Two days earlier THEY found him.

Beat the fuck out of him, busted up his genitals, and left him for dead.

He crawled to the hospital and stayed there for two days.

That was somewhere in Georgia.

Now he was driving his van down the Kentucky highway to Ohio, to Youngstown, his home, where he’d matured into an unhealthy fucked-up adult.

The conversation continued.

“Josey, you can’t kill yourself, I love you.”

“I can’t take it anymore! I’m serious, I can’t fucking take it.”

They randomly spoke like this as he drove home.

Josey screamed in the van, pounded his fists on the steeling wheel, punched himself in the face, wringing his hands, growling, making fists, crying, bawling, screaming, wailing! He screamed, “Fuck you all, who am I! Fuck fuck fuck! WHY! WHY! WHY! How did this happen! Can’t someone make this stop! Can’t someone help me! Fuck fuck fuck!”

He drove for hours and hours like that.

Going home to where he grew up, to parents that never cared about him.

Going home to a place where no one cares about anyone.

There is no time to care, work must be done.

And when the time-clock is punched, errands like going to the bank, writing out bills, sending boxes, buying toothpaste, eating ice-cream, checking your credit report, going to the dentist, back doctor, psychic, and Asian Spa must be done.

Shit must be done; there is no time for friendship, no time for sex, romance, conversations, swimming, relaxation, no time for happiness. Work must be done!

Josey had done his work.

It gave no rewards.

Josey graduated high school with good grades. No scholarship, no money, no sex for that.

Josey graduated from a state university with a business degree because his parents said he should go.

No rewards for that.

What does the world of free-market Information Age business want with a kid who has a business degree from a
state university, nothing, jack shit, no rewards there, no sex, no big house in Burbank, no 1970 mint-condition Camero, nothing but wasted time and money.

So there was Josey a thirty-year-old man wearing dirty underwear, jeans with holes in them, a mullet, and shirt with beer and coffee stains on it driving a shitty fucked up looking van down a shitty highway to his shitty home where no one cared he existed.

Josey continued to scream and holler at the top of his lungs while running the thoughts through his head.

Should I kill myself!

Should I not kill myself!

Josey didn’t recite Hamlet’s speech in his head, but it resembled it. Hamlet’s speech is in no way special; it is what all humans who kill themselves say in their heads while deciding to pop a cap in their face.

Josey didn’t know Hamlet’s speech either.

He went to college but didn’t know shit about literature, painting, or classical music.

He didn’t care, why should he?

A lot of people have read Hamlet and continued to kill themselves.

People committing suicide always make some kind of fantastic wager like if there is a shooting star in the next five minutes I won’t hang myself from this tree, or if the wind blows east I won’t do it.

I assume Josey thought of a similar concept.

He was probably like, “If the next car is blue, I won’t kill myself.”

Well, the next car that passed was blue, but he still wanted to kill himself.

He screamed in horror!

Bitched!

Smacked the dashboard!

Punched his own face!

Moaned!

Screamed!

But there was no answer.

Josey was out there alone..

Alienated disfigured!

Alone!

Full of violence!

Other people seemed like aliens, non-humans, beasts.

How could he feel anything but that, his parents apprenticed him and their other two boys like little businesses competing against each other for attention the parents were never willing to give.

His mother was a useless factory worker who would have worked at a fast-food-restaurant if it wasn’t for getting hired at the factory.

But since she did get hired at the factory she thought she was an elite member of the bourgeoisie.

She wasn’t, she was white trash.

A no-good narcissist who thinks Africa is a country, and Reagan was a great president.

She came from truck-driving stock that voted Republican because the rich do as she liked to say.

She wasn’t rich and neither were her family, they are a bunch of sluts, child-molesters, benny addicts, racists, misogynists, and losers.

Josey’s father was Sicilian mobster trash, the kind who blow buildings up, have people shot in their supermarket parking lots, rob their way into political offices, own booze stores, and basically are lazy and have cheated their way through life.

Which is fine with me, but they make lousy parents.

Josey decided to kill himself, the die had been cast, whatever that means.

He pulled the van over to the side of the highway.

He picked up his shotgun, loaded one bullet, and stepped out of the van.

Went over to the side of the van.

Put the gun in his mouth.

What are the very last thoughts of a person who actually kills themselves, who actually does it knowing there is no escape from the choice they have made. I don’t know.

I’m not going to assume that I know either. I’m not an asshole.

Well, he had the end of the gun in his mouth.

And BLAST!

Nothing happened, Josey died, that was all.

A huge hole was in the back of Josey’s head.

Josey no longer moved.

His heart stopped.

His thoughts stopped.

Nothing remained of Josey.

No more fun for Josey.

No more dancing.

Sex.

Drinking.

Partying.

Good times.

Goals.

Self-help quotes.

Movies.

Hunting.

Golf.

Music.

Work.

Tying his shoes.

Putting on his shirt.

Taking showers.

Swimming.

Conversations.

Needing to impress anyone.

Having to care of what other people think about him.

Needing to sell his labor to cheap no-good assholes.

Assholes.

Family.

Need to hope.

Lottery tickets.

Police.

Prostitutes.

Saying cheese when taking pictures.

Christmas.

Easter.

Fourth of July.

U.S. Presidents.

Religions.

Computers.

Prime-time sitcoms.

No more.

No more.

No more.

Josey died, and the world went on without him.

I don’t know if he has a tombstone I’ve never been to his grave.

Perhaps it is unmarked.

It should be.

It should say:

Here Lies an Outlaw

Because that is what he was in his last years an outlaw.

I think he was a drug runner for the Mexicans.

Don’t know though, but that’s everybody’s guess.

His heroes were from the movies like all good American kids. A lot of outlaws; moon-shiners were his favorite. Being a moon-shiner wasn’t in big demand when he became an outlaw, but drugs were, and that’s what he did.

*

My mother always said to me, “Monco, when starting a book, always start with a suicide, a murder, or a rape.”

So, I started the book with suicide; it’s her own son’s, so I hope she’s not mad. But since I had the chance of impressing her by using her advice I did it anyway..

I hope she is very happy with that first chapter.







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