Monday, May 23, 2011

stuck inside of Mobile, at Gate 2 again

after parts of 10 days in Mobile County (Alabama), all but the last enjoyable, it took a bit more time to actually depart than we had hoped.
up in downtown Mobile at 8 a.m., to the airport by 9:20 for a 10:49 flight that was late coming in from Atlanta.
then during the clean-up, check-up changeover one of the flight crew noticed "a gash" in one of the tires.
of course, there are no spare airplane tires at the Mobile (Alabama) Regional Airport.
so we waited for the next scheduled flight to Atlanta (at 11:59 and completely full) to take off, fly to Atlanta, land, pick up a spare tire (and mechanic) and then return to Mobile for a tire change on the original plane so we could eventually depart at 3:15 (or four plus hours behind schedule for our Atlanta connection).

in the interim? an hour plus phone call (over half of that time spent on hold) with Delta customer service in an attempt to reschedule our connecting flight.
the customer service manager (who came on a little more than 45 minutes into the proceedings) did a bang-up job, but the first phone rep, who was only asked to reschedule our Atlanta connection, took us off of our original flight and re-booked us on the 6:15 p.m. flight out of Mobile, then lost her place, then tried to get us to agree to provide our own transportation to Georgia in return for seats on the 5:40 from Atlanta to LaGuardia as our flights were "paired," so that eventually (more than 45 minutes in) the customer service manager had to re-book us on our original flight as well as find us non-adjacent, non-aisle seats on the 6:40 flight because the 5:40, after all that time, had sold out.

the phone call was much, much worse than it sounds (one hold session lasted more than 12 minutes and another one nearly 10 and when she came back on the line she asked me to repeat what I'd asked her to do before she went away before).

the rest of our vacation, by the numbers:

0 - number of rainy days (out of 10)
0 - number of my three former homes within the Hillsdale Heights neighborhood still standing
1 - number of live, thankfully swimming (we, thankfully, were not) alligators who growled at us
1 - number of Mobile, Alabama Chick-Fil-A employees named Scaribou who served us
1 3/4 - number of miles, in width, of Dauphin Island's widest point
2 - number of meals eaten at Mobile's Dauphin Street Taqueria (there's no Dauphin Street Taqueria on Dauphin Island)
2 - number of trips through (or partially through) the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island
3 - number of Scrabble games played (I won one)
3 - number of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches consumed by me within the city limits of Mobile
8 1/2 - number of hours it should've taken to travel from Mobile, Alabama to Long Island City, New York
13 1/4 - actual travel time, in hours, from Mobile, Alabama to Long Island City, New York
14 - approximate length, in miles, of Dauphin Island, Alabama
15 - preferred SPF of standard sun screen
slightly less than 21 - approximate number of hours it would take to drive from Long Island City to Dauphin Island
36 - number of navel oranges purchased for our host's margarita mix
55 - SPF of sunscreen used on a spouse's prematurely burned shoulders
1002 - street number of our Mobile residence
1258 - approximate number of driving miles between Long Island City and Dauphin Island
2358 - street number of our Dauphin Island residence

Amazon's servers are struggling to handle the demand for Lady Gaga's new disc, Born This Way (priced at 99 cents today only), tomorrow is Bob Dylan's 70th birthday (there's a reference up there somewhere) and our thoughts go out to Joplin, Missouri

Friday, May 20, 2011

episode 6 (nrqfdlaocyeubyartwdfw)

non-random quotes from David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace:

“I had no idea that 90 percent of what I was getting out of books I really loved was this sense of a conversation around loneliness.”

“I have to structure my life, you know, sort of like anybody who’s dedicated to something. To maximize my ability to do good stuff. And it’s just like, and it doesn’t make me a great person. It just makes me a person that’s really exhausted a couple other ways to live, you know? And really taken them, taken them to their conclusion. Which for me was a pink room, with no furniture and a drain in the center of the floor. Which is where they put me for an entire day when they thought I was going to kill myself. Where you don’t have anything on, and somebody’s observing you through a slot in the wall.
“And when that happens to you, you get tremendous—you get unprecedentedly willing to examine other alternatives for how to live. (Laughs in satisfaction)”

“My musical tastes are so eclectic and so involved, it’s like what students have given me. I mean I didn’t even, I hadn’t even heard of Nirvana until after that man died.”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

episode 5 (nrqfdlaocyeubyartwdfw)

non-random quotes from David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace:

“There’s an odd phenomenon where, I think, if you write stuff that’s intimate and weird, weird people tend to feel they’re intimate with you.”

“I think what happened was, I had forgotten to tell my parents not to give my number out. So it was people who tracked my parents down, and um—yeah, and they were all very nice. But a lot of them were troubled and upset, and wanted to talk about, in great detail, their problems. The way for instance I talk to really good friends about it. And I just have this terrible problem of . . . um, I just really hate to hurt people’s feelings. And so I did something kinda cowardly. I mean, I kinda changed my number and just got my phone disconnected, so these folks couldn’t find me anymore.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

episode 4 (nrqfdlaocyeubyartwdfw)

non-random quotes from David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace:

“I was just really stuck about writing . . . I didn’t know whether I really loved to write or whether I’d just gotten kind of excited about having some early success. That story at the end of Curious, which not a lot of people like, was really meant to be extremely sad. And to sort of be a kind of suicide note. And I think by the time I got to the end of that story, I figured that I wasn’t going to write anymore.
"That’s my whole take—that at first I thought writing was empty and all just a game. And then I realized that my take on it was hopelessly empty, and that it was a game. And it was after finishing that and doing the editing on that, that I remember getting really unhappy.
"And it sounds weird—but I think was almost more of a like, sort of an artistic and a religious crisis, than it was anything you would call a breakdown. I just—all my reasons for being alive and the stuff that I thought was important, just truly at a gut level weren’t working anymore.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

episode 3 (nrqfdlaocyeubyartwdfw)

non-random quotes from David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace:

“This stuff is real bad for me, it makes me self-conscious. The more exposure I as a person get, the more it hurts me as a writer. But I said yes to this, so that I could in good conscience say no to a couple other things that are just way more toxic. And that’s what I get out of it.”

“I haven’t read a lot of the new stuff that’s come out over the last few years. Like Steve Erickson, and Tours of the Black Clock—it’s really f*cking good. I thought Bret Ellis’s first book, I thought it was very, very powerful. American Psycho—I thought he was really ill-served by his agent and publisher even letting him publish it, and those are the only two things of his that I read. But that’s, I think this is another danger: you get lavishly rewarded for that first book, and it’s gonna be very difficult for him ever to do anything else. I mean there’s gonna be part of you that just wants to do that over and over and over again, so you continue to get the food pellets of praise. It’s one more way that all this stuff is toxic.”

“I just missed like four years of this. And I’m not sorry not to be part of that world anymore. I just—there’s nothing but envy, and sort of puffery, and all that stuff in it. And it’s not like I’m above it. It’s just that it—the amount that it hurts me, outweighs whatever good feelings it gives me.”

Monday, May 16, 2011

episode 2 (nrqfdlaocyeubyartwdfw)

non-random quotes from David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace:

“David Lynch, Blue Velvet coming along when it did, I think saved me from droppin’ out of school. And saved me maybe even from quittin’ as a writer. ‘Cause I’d always—if I could have made a movie, right at that time? That would have been it. I mean, I vibrated on every frequency.
Including the fact that it was absolutely horrifying. That that’s not a movie about a kid discovering horror in a town. It’s about a kid discovering that he—that there are parts of himself that are just like Frank Booth. And it’s a weird movie, ‘cause the climax comes at the end of act two, when Frank turns around in the car, and looks at Jeffrey and says, ‘You’re like me.’”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

episode 1 (nrqfdlaocyeubyartwdfw)

non-random quotes from David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace:

“But you know that writing down something that somebody says out loud is not a matter of transcribing. Because written stuff said out loud on the page doesn’t look said out loud. It just looks crazy.”

“Or that you weren’t wasting your time when you were doing something that’s regarded by the culture as kind of odd and self-indulgent. And is not—and is really off the beaten track, you know? We could’ve, you know, we coulda gone premed, or gone to Wall Street. And that would have been a much more American thing.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

so here's the thing

I'm separating myself from the computer, social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc, for a certain amount of time. I'm sure that I'll be keeping an eye on e-mail (maybe), checking up on the news, et al (I'm worried about Morgan City, Louisiana, for instance), but I don't intend to be as tied to my daily lifeline as I usually am.

I plan to take a book with me, almost certainly Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which I've been wanting to read for some time. now I do not know at all that I am temperamentally or stylistically suited to make it all the way through Infinite Jest (I'm giving myself just about 10 days), and it'll be okay if I'm not (though that will mean that I'll have to scramble to find another reading task with whatever "not tied to the computer" time remains), but I'm going to take some time off regardless, and then come back with a heavy, heavy push to mid-August when I'll quit interviewing folks for the 49 year old book and possibly, probably "go away" again.

wish me luck.

in my absence I'll be posting some non-random quotes from David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, a book conjured from Infinite Jest book tour conversations between Lipsky and Wallace back in 1996, well before Wallace's 2008 suicide (though he had obviously given the subject some previous thought).

enjoy (and happy birthday to Will and Rob (not me; the other Rob)).

"That’ll be me you’ll see
Walking away
That’ll be me you’ll see
For the last time today
That’ll be me you’ll see
For not very long
’cause that’ll be me
You’ll see
That’ll be gone"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

today's new releases

Okkervil River's I Am Very Far and Man in Motion, the new album by Warren Haynes (who is now 51, not 50, and also plays in a band with one of my distant cousins), are both $3.99 downloads today at

and I read about half of the late Manning Marable's Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention before I had to return it to New York Public (a day late (I'm so ashamed); it's an awkward thing).

do you miss me yet?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

it's May Day, Law Day, Clint Malarchuk's 50th birthday

(also Will Kimbrough's not 50th birthday as well as Charlie Froelich's not 50th birthday, and you're welcome for me not posting the most famous (and completely gruesome) pic of Mr. Malarchuk) and the start of another month (the "Month of May" according to Arcade Fire (and yes, I love the parenthetical)), which means another 500 $5 MP3 downloads at Amazon.
except this month it's more like another 1500+ MP3 downloads for $5 each.
and I would list them individually, accompanied with a separate, well-thought out if not well-written, 1000 word review for each and every title, but I think I'd rather go for a walk today since the sun's actually out and it's kind of beautiful, plus I have an interview scheduled for 6 this evening and, well, there's just other stuff I'd rather be doing.

so here are some truncated highlights (and don't forget that the initial purchase gains an upgrade to the 20GB tier of Amazon's new Cloud Player system): lots and lots and lots of material from Merge (Durham's own), including all three Arcade Fire albums (Funeral, Neon Bible and The Suburbs), several selections, including Dents and Shells and the Edgar Lee Masters' homage The Hill (but not Devotion + Doubt), from the near criminally overlooked Richard Buckner, all Wye Oak (including their newest, Civilian, and their first, If Children), some Destroyer (Dan Bejar of New Pornographers), including Streethawk: A Seduction and 2011's Kaputt, the Love Language's Libraries and All Eternals Deck, the latest by the Mountain Goats.

also: Radiohead's King of Limbs, King of the Beach by Wavves, the Smith Westerns' Dye It Blonde, the brand new Silos' album Florizona, Boys and Girls in America by the Hold Steady and Sound of Silver by the recently defunct (yes, I love the e.e. cummings at times) LCD Soundsystem.

and you really, really should already have the Violent Femmes' debut, Husker Du's Zen Arcade, the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique, Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral, Sparkle and Fade by Everclear (I'm particularly fond of, and once even drove past, "Nehalem") and the Smiths' The Queen is Dead.
and if you don't I'm surprised you're here.

classic classics (a/k/a music for old people): Neil Young's Zuma, Boots by Nancy Sinatra, Hunky Dory by David Bowie, The Band's Music from Big Pink, Pieces of the Sky by Emmylou Harris, Dusty in Memphis, Queen's News of the World and The Who's Live at Leeds

soundtracks? soundtracks? I've got your stinking soundtracks right here, buddy: Ennio Morricone's The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, True Grit and Dead Presidents, Vol. 1 (neither by Ennio Morricone).

and then there's like another 1000+.