Saturday, July 16, 2016



Friday, July 15, 2016

and I kneel down and pray

you can turn it off or on

That first "Hey baby" just absolutely fucking slays me.
So far 2016 seems like one of those years that gets described in history books like "As the world slid farther and faster towards fascism, most citizens felt powerless to do anything other than witness the horror." Jesus fucking wept.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016


Method actors like to talk about something called “public solitude” — that is, the ability to seem alone onstage. Really, to be alone, without wondering how you look to the audience. They will tell you this is the basis of naturalistic acting: to forget about the audience. Only then can you build a character, pay attention to others onstage and act out a scene.
To write a story also requires public solitude. You can’t be worrying how you sound. You can’t wonder whether you or your characters are likable or smart or interesting. You have to be inside the scene — the tactile world of tables and chairs and sunlight — attending to your characters, people who exist for you in nonvirtual reality. This takes weird brain chemistry. (A surprising number of novelists hear voice, and not metaphorically. They hear voice in their heads.) It also takes years of reading — solitary reading.
For all these reasons, writing fiction is pretty much the opposite of writing a good tweet, or curating an Instagram feed. It’s the opposite of the personal-­­­slash-professional writing that is now part of our everyday lives. More than ever, we need writers who are unprofessional, whose private worlds come first.
Women are good at translation. We are culturally programmed for it. We learn early on to translate the world we inhabit: to adapt the stories that permeate our culture to have meaning for us; to adapt our own stories to be amenable to the male ears that might be listening; to adapt our bodies, our voices, our words, our thoughts to make them acceptable.  We translate to find our own stories in a male narrative, and our own vision in a world framed by a male lens.
From childhood, we develop this skill....Of course, this type of translation is not a linear search for linguistic equivalence. It does not prioritise a seeming originary text. It does not see a clear progression from source to target. It does not even consider fidelity to the source important – because that source invariably negates the female experience. It is a lateral, rhizomatic form of translation that gives a resigned shrug and weary sigh to the traditionalists’ frequently, and tediously, trotted out axiom, traduttore traditore(translator, traitor), and carries on regardless with its own meaning creation and quiet works of subversion.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

books read in July 2016

Fiction is in red. Date of first publication in (parentheses).

35. The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries, Jessa Crispin (2015) (AKA 'Eat, Pray, Sulk'; remarkably shallow and twee)
36. An Abbreviated Life, Ariel Leve (2016)
37. Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood (2014) (deliciously wicked indeed)
38. The Lyre of Orpheus, Robertson Davies (1988) (reread)
39. Truth: Red, White & Black, Robert Morales and Kyle Baker (2004)
40. The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides (2011) (just BAD)
41. Kill the Messenger: How the CIA's Crack-cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb, Nick Schou (2006)
42. The Killing Game: Selected Writings by the author of Dark Alliance, Gary Webb (2011)
43. Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, Gary Webb (2nd ed., 1999)
44. You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott (2016) (very disappointing; time to stop buying her books new)
45. Aftermath, Rachel Cusk (2012)

all 2016 booklist posts

Monday, July 4, 2016

smash those faces bro we're watching The Social Network (yeah I am ALWAYS this behind the cultural curve, I go back so far, I'm in front of me as McCartney sings) and the impression I have so far from the first half-hour is that if Zuckerdude had been able to keep his mouth shut long enough to get a pity fuck from a townie girl, our future here-and-now would be OH SO VERY different.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Chuck Klosterman apparently just went through incredible contortions (and so many words!) to answer "What artist would represent Rock and Roll far in the future?" and admitted the obvious fucking answer would be the Beatles, but then he'd get paid about ten cents for the goddamn article. Then he admits the second obvious fucking answer is Elvis, but somehow he has to cram Bob Dylan in there, because....don't ask me, man. (Bob Dylan, rock? Really?) So he talks and talks and he talks and then finally the grand conclusion is --

Chuck fucken Berry.

I like Chuck Berry okay but oh my fucking God, no.

Also nobody has to pay anyone else to cudgel their brains and kill trees pixels to come up with an answer to this question anymore, because I found it for all time after thinking for five fucking minutes:


You know who is not mentioned once in that fucken article as far as I can tell?


Yeah, Klosterman, I don't motherfucking care if two white people picked Chuck Berry to represent us all on Voyager. The answer to your fucking question is


I mean, JESUS FUCKING CHRIST. He caps it all off triumphantly with a quote from John goddamn Lennon anointing Chuck Berry. I can top you there, man. (And of course I can't find this interview right now, dammit. I know I have it in a book somewhere....)

INTERVIEWER: What musicians have influenced you?
INTERVIEWER: ....and what other musicians have influenced you?

This right here is the fucking biggest way Gen Exers get fucked over, man. We're squeezed to death between the Baby Boom and the Millennials, nobody gave a damn when our futures went bust in the nineties, grunge is a hissing and a byword when it's not a joke, and our NYT-sanctified spokesperson is....Chuck fucking Klosterman.

Who has apparently never heard a BO DIDDLEY RECORD IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE. I don't even fucking know. It's like being represented by Elmer Fudd.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Loneliness is personal, and it is also political. Loneliness is collective; it is a city. As to how to inhabit it, there are no rules and nor is there any need to feel shame, only to remember that the pursuit of individual happiness does not trump or excuse our obligations to each other. We are in this together, this accumulation of scars, this world of objects, this physical and temporary heaven that so often takes on the countenance of hell. What matters is kindness; what matters is solidarity. What matters is staying alert, staying open, because if we know anything from what has gone before us, it is that the time for feeling will not last.

-- Olivia Laing

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The signature to a life requires
the search for a method
rejection of posturing
trust in the witnesses
a vial of invisible ink
a sheet of paper held steady
after the end-stroke
above a deciphering flame

- Adrienne Rich, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2016

Wood's own feelings about the photo have evolved. He remembers feeling angry at Arbus for "making fun of a skinny kid with a sailor suit." But today he thinks of the image as one of the great conversation pieces of all time. And Arbus clearly fascinates him. He riffs about her for a good 15 minutes.

"She catches me in a moment of exasperation. It's true, I was exasperated. My parents had divorced and there was a general feeling of loneliness, a sense of being abandoned. I was just exploding. She saw that and it's like . . . commiseration. She captured the loneliness of everyone. It's all people who want to connect but don't know how to connect. And I think that's how she felt about herself. She felt damaged and she hoped that by wallowing in that feeling, through photography, she could transcend herself."

Wood remembers that his interest in guns and grenades prompted teachers at his Catholic grade school to suggest he see a shrink. ("They thought I was deranged" is how he puts it.) His father dismissed the idea. Wood ended up working for years with his father, a former professional tennis player who invented, and for a long time installed, a new kind of court surface. Wood tried a few different careers after that and eventually moved to Los Angeles to try his hand at acting. He found the auditioning process humiliating and he quit. Now he sells insurance.

He doesn't talk often about his cameo with Diane Arbus but it's been a long time since he was embarrassed about it. Once he wanted to break into theater, and when he started his own production company he knew what to call it: Grenade Boy Productions.

- "Double Exposure," Washington Post (just got the new bio)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What do you fear when you fear everything? Time passing and not passing. Death and life. I could say my lungs never filled with enough air, no matter how many puffs of my inhaler I took. Or that my thoughts moved too quickly to complete, severed by a perpetual vigilance. But even to say this wold abet the lie that terror can be described, when anyone who's ever known it knows that it has no components but is instead everywhere inside you all the time, until you can recognize yourself only by the tensions that string one minute to the next. And yet I keep lying, by describing, because how else can I avoid this second, and the one after it? This being the condition itself: the relentless need to escape a moment that never ends.

- Adam Haslett

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ali was attending a rally for fair housing in his hometown of Louisville when he said:
Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.
This is not only an assertion of black power, but a statement of international solidarity: of oppressed people coming together in an act of global resistance. It was a statement that connected wars abroad with attacks on the black, brown and poor at home, and it was said from the most hyper exalted platform our society offered at the time: the platform of being the Champ. These views did not only earn him the hatred of the mainstream press and the right wing of this country. It also made him a target of liberals in the media as well as the mainstream civil rights movement, who did not like Ali for his membership in the Nation of Islam and opposition to what was President Lyndon Johnson’s war.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

books read in June 2016

Fiction is in red. Date of first publication in (parentheses).

26. To the Power of Three, Laura Lippman (2005)
27. True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray, James Renner (2016)
28. End of Watch, Stephen King (2016) (not as good as the second one -- also features an evil ambitious policewoman, boo)
29. Under the Harrow, Flynn Berry (2016) (quite good)
30. Imagine Me Gone, Adam Haslett (2016) (wildly overpraised; Franzen Lite)
31. The Girls, Emma Cline (2016) (terrible, so disappointing)
32. Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body, Jo Marchant (2016) (okay, v pop-sci)
33. While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness, Eli Sanders (2016 ) (So many. Sentence fragments. Not bad, much less gripping than the reporting it's based on)
34. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, Olivia Laing (2016) (pretty good)

all 2016 booklist posts

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

There is an Indiana Jones–style, “It had to be snakes” inevitability about the fact that Donald Trump is Clinton’s Republican rival. Of course Hillary Clinton is going to have to run against a man who seems both to embody and have attracted the support of everything male, white, and angry about the ascension of women and black people in America. Trump is the antithesis of Clinton’s pragmatism, her careful nature, her capacious understanding of American civic and government institutions and how to maneuver within them. Of course a woman who wants to land in the Oval Office is going to have to get past an aggressive reality-TV star who has literally talked about his penis in a debate.

- New York Magazine

'we're just basically a punk band'

Saturday, May 28, 2016

When Ophelia appears onstage in Act IV, scene V, singing little songs and handing out imaginary flowers, she temporarily upsets the entire power dynamic of the Elsinore court. When I picture that scene, I always imagine Gertrude, Claudius, Laertes, and Horatio sharing a stunned look, all of them thinking the same thing: “We fucked up. We fucked up bad.” It might be the only moment of group self-awareness in the whole play. Not even the grossest old Victorian dinosaur of a critic tries to pretend that Ophelia is making a big deal out of nothing. Her madness and death is plainly the direct result of the alternating tyranny and neglect of the men in her life. She’s proof that adolescent girls don’t just go out of their minds for the fun of it. They’re driven there by people in their lives who should have known better. I think Shakespeare probably understood that better than most people do today.

- B.N. Harrison

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I'm a chronic depressive and I can't be unhappy when I hear this

I'm in love
what's that song?
I'm in love
with that song


The 'mats had the best anti-video videos:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

books read in May 2016

Fiction is in red. Date of first publication in (parentheses).

17. Alligator Candy, David Kushner (2016)
18. The Long Goodbye, Meghan O'Rourke (2011)
19. David Koresh Superstar: An Unfilmable Screenplay, Simon Indelicate (2014)
20. Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction, Sue Townsend (2004) (reread)
21. Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, Sue Townsend (2009) (reread)
22. A Long Time Dead, A.J. Orde (1994) (reread)
23. My Life and Hard Times, James Thurber (1933) (reread)
24. Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (2016)
25. Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? Paul Cornell (2016)

all 2016 booklist posts
I miss her hands, which I shall never see again, for we have burned her body into fine, charcoal ash and small white bone fragments, and that is what is now left of her voice and her eyes and her fingers. That loss is not recuperable, regardless of what one believes about the afterlife.

 - Meghan O'Rourke

 ....I am certain that [the dogs] thought that, as I was returned, my Sisters were not far behind -- but here my Sisters will come no more. Keeper may still visit Emily's little bed-room -- as he still does day by day -- and Flossy may look wistfully round for Anne -- they will never see them again -- nor shall I -- at least the human part of me.

 - Charlotte Bronte

Sunday, May 8, 2016


CALL MOM” said a sign the other day, and something inside me clenched. In my inbox, at work, an e-mail waited from the New York Times: a limited offer to “treat Mom” to a free gift. It’s nothing, I tell myself. A day for advertisers. So I shrug off the sales and the offers, the cards and the flowers. I press delete. Still, I now mark Mother’s Day on my private calendar of grief. Anyone who has experienced a loss must have one of those. There’s August 29th, my mother’s birthday—forever stopped at sixty-four. September 17th, my parents’ anniversary—a day on which I now make a point of calling my father, and we both make a point of talking about anything but. There’s June 6th, the day she was diagnosed—when a cough that she had told us was “annoying” her and a leg that she had been dragging, thinking she must have pulled a muscle, turned out to be symptoms of Stage IV lung cancer. And then there’s October 16th: the day she died, four months and ten days after the diagnosis. The year becomes a landscape filled with little mines.

There’s a word in Hebrew—malkosh—that means “last rain.” It’s a word that only means something in places like Israel, where there’s a clear distinction between winter and the long, dry stretch of summer. It’s a word, too, that can only be applied in retrospect. When it’s raining, you have no way of knowing that the falling drops would be the last ones of the year. But then time goes by, the clouds clear, and you realize that that rain shower was the one.

-- Ruth Margalit