brothercyst: March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

lush life

Started reading Richard Price's Lush Life. I'm only a few pages in and I'm indifferent so far, but I have near-complete faith that I'll be into it by the end, because that's always my reaction to Price novels--it takes me a while to get into them but then I develop much admiration. I never think the slang-heavy dialogue is as precise/natural as reviewers seem to, but at a certain point in all the novels the characters hit a threshold of complexity and the narrative becomes sturdy enough to stand and walk on its own and I'm entirely there. Clockers is my favorite so far but I have high hopes for Lush Life and am particularly interested because while I read Clockers, Samaritan, and some of the early novels in the relative haven of New Haven, Lush Life takes place on the LES and I recognize everything he mentions.

Began writing a new short story this weekend; the working title is "black Dodge Charger story," and no, I haven't developed a sudden interest in vintage automobiles. Sent Midnight Picnic to Impetus and to two friends. One of them was the first so far to have an unqualified positive reaction, so all the editing I've done since January has been good, or maybe she's insane. Ned and his fiancee brought me obscure brands of ginger ale from New Hampshire. I had dinner with Erin last night and sat outside the restaurant for almost twenty minutes waiting for her while she sat inside at a table, having arrived minutes before me. Never leave a woman waiting at a table in a restaurant; it's bad and you will feel like an ass. Saw John Reed read at KGB--excellent. Watched much of Season 3 of The Wire; mixed feelings but Idris Elba and Jamie Hector are great. Wandered about. Met someone I liked. Wrote out a lot of notes. I still can't sleep before 4 a.m.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Did very little this weekend. Or maybe a lot, but it feels like a little. Art show Friday, then dinner, then another party, then increasing dread, went to Brooklyn, went home. Yesterday I saw a screening of a film by Nathalie Djurberg, this film, Kids & Dogs, which was fucking awesome. Then went home and wrote all night. Today, talked to Impetus people; Midnight Picnic done now, all good. I need to get blurbs for it. Who should I get to blurb this ghost story? I don't know who to ask--I want writers but also some unusual people, like musicians or filmmakers or artists. I want a blurb from Antony of Antony & the Johnsons. I want a blurb from Cat Power. How do I get that? Who else should I ask?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

annoyed; concert

Odd day. I'm almost finished the crime story I'm writing, and I feel jazzed about it. I wrote a lot of it last night and this morning. Reading James Ellroy's Killer on the Road. Yesterday a friend I haven't seen in forever invited me out of nowhere to go on a trip to Mexico this weekend; I agreed, for some reason, and started to get excited; today that fell through and I felt disappointed about a trip I hadn't even been considering 24 hours earlier. Lesson: Never feel good about anything. I sent some stories to magazines. I met someone I didn't like very much. I considered what to do with this weekend.

Tonight essentially by accident I went to a Morcheeba concert at Webster Hall. I'm not an avid fan of theirs but I'm familiar with them. Morcheeba apparently has different vocalists all the time--I recall Cool Calm Pete and that singer Skye, whose voice I liked. But now they have this Frenchwoman, Manda. Being a musical idiot, I'm not a great judge in this area, but I am fairly confident of several things. 1) I enjoyed the concert. 2) They know how to play their instruments. 3) Almost every song they played, especially "Rome," "Part of the Process," and "Be Yourself" sounded better in concert and sung by Manda, 4) who is gorgeous and magnetic.

Video I took before my camera ran out of memory.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

writing it out

While I was in Atlantic City I plotted out a "plot" story. I wrote out everything in a little pocket notebook and kept the pages in order, placed neatly in my moleskine. When I returned, I scanned them all at work together in groups to make files I could save on my computer and refer to while writing the story. Like this:

I feel like it's a nice personal reconciliation of our modern practice of writing fiction on laptops with the Nabokov/Kerouac/everybody else tradition of writing shit on notecards or napkins or whatever's around.

Anyway, writing the story now, will probably throw away when done--just an exercise.

Monday, March 24, 2008

i have a $25 amazon gift certificate

what book should i buy? send me recommendations

UPDATE 36 minutes after original post:

I bought--

Because the Night by James Ellroy
Killer on the Road by James Ellroy
Blood on the Moon by James Ellroy
Suicide Hill by James Ellroy
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy (lost old copy)
American Tabloid by James Ellroy (haven't read since high school)
The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld
Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk (as per recommendation in the comments, thank you Scott)

I exceeded the $25.
Spent the weekend in Atlantic City. Wrote some, didn't gamble. Easter Sunday in Greek diner with rabbit:

I took a bus there and back, and I read White Jazz, completing the L.A. Quartet. I slept in a bad-smelling Ramada Inn. I had Italian food. I wrote an outline for a short story in a pocket notebook--I'm going to write a crime story, one that's all 'plot,' just for fun.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

a most effective and disturbing commercial

do not watch if easily made queasy

thanks to k.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

weekend 3/8

Last night was my dad's concert at Issue Project Room, which is an odd and terrific performance space in an old canning factory:

Those black things hanging from the ceiling are speakers.

You walk inside the building and there's strange machinery just lying around:

And there are strange doorways:

There were two performances last night, one by the Verge Ensemble, my dad's group (incl. Lina Bahn, violin; Jenny Lin, piano; Collin Oldham, cellomobo and radio tape knife), performing two pieces he had written and one improvisation. This went very well; here's a very brief clip of violinist Lina Bahn playing from one becomes two, recorded on my digital camera:

The second performance was a singer named Daisy Press doing something by Morton Feldman, but I had to leave and go uptown. *

*Then my night turned into a transportation nightmare. I was trying to get to Bess's party way, way uptown in Manhattan, but the fucking trains weren't running properly at all, and I finally gave up around midnight in Union Square. I called Ned Vizzini to see if he had made it, and he had tried to get there by car and was stuck in some kind of controlled traffic jam on the west side. Instead taking the unreliable 1/2/3 back downtown, I took the L east, thinking I could meet another friend. But he wasn't around, so I decided to just get some tacos and go home. I waited a while for the 6 to Astor Place, and when it didn't come I figured I could just walk the 6 or 7 blocks to San Loco. And I did, but the wind was horrifically cold, and by the time I got there I was full of rage. There's a kind of wind that blows against you so hard you want to just smash bones. I sat down in San Loco and two people walked in behind me crowing, "We just found $20
right on the street!" I ate my tacos, read some of my book, and walked over to Astor Place to get the 6. "No trains at this station," said a guy walking out of the station. I tried to catch a cab; no cabs. One guy waved at me from a cab as it passed. I walked over to catch the R, waited for a while, got it. Turned out it was skipping every stop from Canal to DeKalb. So I got off at Canal to switch to the 6. Waited half an hour with a bunch of other people until a fucking MTA employee meandered over to shout that it wasn't stopping there, either. Went upstairs, tried to catch a cab. A hundred passed by. Finally I approached an off-duty cab with a pleading gesture. The cabbie rolled down the window and looked me over. (I realized a moment later that he was seeing the Obama button on my coat.) He let me in and said in a heavy Arab accent, "He just have to win Pennsylvania now..."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

My parents and brother will be in New York this weekend. My dad's putting together a concert on Saturday at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn. I'll be doing a small spoken word part in one of the pieces. It's at 8, and I think it costs $10. It'll be nice, you should come.


Bad week. Head cold persistent; general unpleasantness. Several days of brutality at work. But an amazing lunch today. Whenever I see foie gras on the menu, I think of Richard Grayson describing an educational video he was shown as a child that explained how foie gras was made by force-feeding geese. "They love it!" his teacher said. (Richard, am I remembering this right?) One thing we had was bacon-miso soup, which was delicious.

I was going to see Be Kind Rewind today but my friend saw it last night and walked out. I ran into my ex-girlfriend from college, who worked on Be Kind, yesterday morning. Unexpected, weird.

I'm writing a short story, might throw it away. Midnight Picnic, done; my gratitude to the friends who read it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

So at this point, Clinton's still not going to get nominated without defeating some seemingly insurmountable delegate math or circumventing the democratic process--but if she does, I'm going to have to vote for this guy instead.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

sensory deprivation, unauthorized videotaping

...It's Monday night. I stayed home sick today and accomplished nothing. I just laid around depressed and sick and distracted myself by watching He Got Game and reading The Big Nowhere. This cold has occluded my ability to have thoughts of any depth or breadth.


On Friday, I had a sensory deprivation experience. "Floatation"--yes, spelled like that. You go into a soundproof and lightproof chamber about the size of a shower stall and float in water that's so full of salts that it's almost thick and you float like a cork. You don't have to make any effort to keep your head above water. You can hear yourself blink. There's no difference between having your eyes open or closed. I stayed in for an hour.

Then I walked around in the cold and froze; now I'm sick--quite sick. Also, little sleep. It hasn't been a relaxing weekend. I didn't get any work done because I was too busy. My skull feels full.

Today in the subway I was walking on an overpass above a train and for no particular reason I decided to record it with my shitty cell phone video camera. A cop walked past then turned around and came back and asked me what I was doing. I said I was taking a video. He said I had to stop. I asked why and he said it was not authorized. I said, "Not authorized by who?" (Still videotaping.) He said, "It's illegal, you can't take cell phone videos." Then my phone, which has a limit of 30 seconds for individual videos, stopped recording and I put it away. The cop explained to me that while it is legal to shoot videos with a video camera, it is not legal to shoot videos with a cell phone camera. I said, "What law is that?" And he said, "Unauthorized videotaping." I said, "That's absurd." He said, "I don't make the laws," and I didn't bother arguing since I was done anyway, but as my friend pointed out when I joined her for lunch a few minutes later, I should have said, "You're making them up right now."