Wednesday, September 28, 2011

the last book I ever read (Hand to Mouth)

from Hand to Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure by Paul Auster:

I was staying with Madame X's brother (whose unhappy marriage to an American woman was on its last legs), and I filled my days with aimless walks around the dusty town, stepping over mangy dogs, batting flies out of my face, and accepting invitations to drink beers with the local drunks. My room was in a stucco outbuilding on the brother's property, and I slept under muslin netting to guard against the tarantulas and mosquitoes. The crazy girl kept showing up with one of her friends, a Central American Hare Krishna with a shaved head and orange robes, and boredom ate away at me like some tropical disease. I wrote one or two short poems, but otherwise I languished, unable to think, bogged down by a persistent, nameless anxiety. Even the news from the outside world was bad. An earthquake killed thousands of people in Nicaragua, and my favorite baseball player, Roberto Clemente, the most elegant and electrifying performer of his generation, went down in a small plane that was trying to deliver emergency relief to the victims.

Monday, September 26, 2011

R.E.M. Has Broken Up, Day #6

I was more than ready to quit myself.
and actually, if I was ever in an R.E.M. tribute band this would definitely be one of my least favorite songs to play.
but the story told by "Rockville Girl" Ingrid Schorr is worth reading and Mike Mills appearing solo on "Regis and Kathy Lee" is more than a little strange.

(thanks to @ThaRealEdPark for the inspiration)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

R.E.M. Has Broken Up, Day #5

Eric Harvey, on behalf of the Atlantic (the magazine, not the Ocean), makes the case that four University of Georgia dropouts might well be "America's Greatest Band."

You could get away from me,
Get away from me

Saturday, September 24, 2011

R.E.M. Has Broken Up, Day #4

today's not so long distance dedication goes out to Brooklyn filmmaker Stephen Altobello who graciously took time out from his busy schedule to bestow the minimum one Amazon star out of five after reading just a third of the Tusk book.
according to his review, my style is, by turns, "self-conscious," "annoying," "cloying" and "grating." and he wraps his analogy tight by saying that if he met me at a party he would "walk away . . . within minutes."

what I wouldn't give, some days, for the same opportunity.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

R.E.M. Has Broken Up, Day #2

today's highlight is former Village Voice music editor and current Rhapsody employee Rob Harvilla, who was undoubtedly a somewhat awkward toddler (he's tall) when four guys calling themselves the Twisted Kites debuted at the former St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia for friend Kathleen O'Brien's birthday party (obligatory new band covers included "Secret Agent Man," Needles and Pins" and "God Save the Queen"), penning Spin's 10 All-Time Favorite R.E.M. Moments

confusing? sure.
appropriate? you betcha.

Monday, September 19, 2011

the last book I ever read

from The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta:

The Pastor firmly believed that it was time for Tim to remove himself from the temptations of bachelorhood, to stop questioning himself and his commitment to Jesus, to bind himself to someone who shared his faith and his priorities, and to get on with his life as a husband, father, and servant of the Lord. He cited 1 Corinthians 7: 1-2: "It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband."

It was a weird verse, Tim thought, encouraging marriage not as a good thing in itself, but simply as the best of bad alternatives. Hardly the stuff of love songs. And yet, like a lot of stuff in the Bible, it possessed a kind of hardheaded wisdom that resonated with his experience of the world and his circumstances at the present moment. From a Christian perspective, to be a forty-year-old bachelor was simply not a spiritually viable condition.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

the last book I ever read

from The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner:

I know a writing instructor who is beloved among her students because she is deeply supportive of their work no matter what stage they're at. "It's not as if they're building bombs or hurting people," she says in defense of her approach. "They're just trying to do creative work." It's not that she doesn't know whose work actually shows promise and which students are likely never to write an interesting sentence as long as they live. It's just that she never fails to be astonished by at least one person per semester who seems at the beginning of the class as hopeless as they come and end the course with a powerful piece of writing. Then, of course, there's Flannery O'Connor's opinion to consider. When asked whether she thought writing programs in universities actually discouraged young writers, she replied, "Not enough of them."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

the 49ers (Byron Kim and others)

of course, we don't always get everything that we want (I mean, seriously, what kind of world would it be if we got everything we wanted?).
which means that you don't always get to talk to everyone you want to talk to.

one of those is California-born visual artist Byron Kim who reached a kind of consensus breakthrough with the appearance of Synecdoche (see above) in the 1993 Whitney Biennial.
Byron Kim turns 50 today.

other folks celebrating on September 6, 2011 (as per the 49ers page) include Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis, January 1990 Playmate of the Month Peggy McIntaggart, former WWF Women's Champion Wendi Richter and Memphis Redbirds manager Chris Maloney.

Friday, September 2, 2011

the last book I ever read (again)

more from House of Prayer No. 2 by Mark Richard:

Ben tells you that your father is dying in a small hospital down in North Carolina and he wants to see you. It's been about twenty years since your last communication with him, a single-spaced fifteen-page hand-printed letter dated New Year's Eve, in reply to a letter you had written months earlier. His letter is in the form of a multiple-choice questionnaire. Sample questions include "At what point in time did God die and you took his place?" and "Where in the Bible is it written that there is no place in Heaven for non-writers?" It is an angry questionnaire and your father closes it with a quote from A Covenant with Death, an out-of-print novel about a man accused of murdering his wife-If you cannot love, pity. If you cannot pity, have mercy. That man is not your brother, he is you. Your wife says you must go see your dying father, and she is right.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

the last book I ever read

from House of Prayer No. 2 by Mark Richard:

Your book comes out and nothing happens. A friend of yours who works at the Washington Post calls the publicity department of your publisher to get a copy to review, and they tell him you are not one of their authors. When he calls again, they tell him you are dead. You pay off your personal debts and continue to live off the stories you sell to Esquire; they end up buying five of them.

The editors there, Will and Rust, often take you to the Broadway Deli for pastrami sandwiches and manhattans. One time at the end of the lunch you carefully pack the uneaten half of your pastrami sandwich, and Rust asks you why you are doing that, and you confess that you're broke again, which is no surprise to Will, who lets you borrow and repay two hundred dollars at least twice a month. Over lunch you have been telling them about the summer previous when you were in Virginia Beach and spent an afternoon sitting on your bicycle watching the police retrieve a body that had been sucked into a sand dredge in Rudee Inlet. You were thinking of writing a story called "Where Blue is Blue," but you didn't have it all worked out.