Juvenalia

I used to have a WordPress blog that a few times a month I’d use to post aggressively strange sherds of prose and dialogue that I’d shuck from my mind with a goofy, happy violence. When I appeared on the Longform podcast in 2013 to talk about my work at the Believer magazine, the host, Aaron Lammer, surprised me by asking about this blog, and he evinced some surprise at how “out” it was in light of my work, which was to help edit and publish essays that were as coherent as possible. I liked Aaron’s deployment of this word, out, which I thought he used in the same sense that jazz afficionados use it, to talk about particularly free, improvised solos that stray into the “wrong” notes, riffing off scales that are harmonically distant from the chords the rest of the band is playing.

When I asked my friend Max to help me make a professional website, he suggested that I import all of my old, bloggy, out prose improvisations into this site, assuming I wanted a place to keep posting them, since like the blog, it’s also built on WordPress, and would easily absorb them, and one day WordPress might shut down all its free blogs and then I’d lose that archive of youthful linguistic freakouts and experiments. I kinda grudgingly agreed, and figured they could all live here, under the banner of Juvenalia, but reading back through, even though some of them still make me laugh, I guess they’re also terminally embarrassing. Isn’t the point of this new website to get people to buy my book, subscribe to my email newsletter or podcast, offer me a new teaching job or some exciting freelance work, burnishing my brand into a gleaming white-hot cube that eventually burns and blinds and crushes and destroys the entire Northern hemisphere of Earth? Posting cryptoërotic flash fiction to my personal website would not help me achieve this goal.

Every day I have stupid thoughts that in the past I’d post to the blog, that now I usually have the urge to tweet. Pretty much every day I have an intense pang of desire to tweet the single question, What’s up with life?? But I never do. The stakes feel too high. If I posted what’s up with life??, what if someone important saw it and thought I was stupid? What if no one liked it? What if what’s up with life?? is somehow offensive to someone and I can’t see it, and won’t realize until it’s too late and after posting it I am totally canceled?

I’m sure I say some mortifying things on the old blog, hopefully nothing cancel-worthy. But I do miss the feeling that I could post some out riffs and within 24 hours a core cabinet of like 11 friends would read them, sometimes even commenting, or forwarding me my own post from their Google Reader to tell me they liked it. Maybe I will, in my burgeoning middle age, loosen back up and start posting nonsense to my website again. If I do, it will show up here.

Events

This is a page where I will link to future events and appearances, and archive old ones if they are not too humiliating.

UPCOMING

There are no upcoming events worth speaking of at this time.

ARCHIVE

There are no past events worth speaking of at this time.

Writing

I’m writing a book about the world of blindness — and finding my place in it — for Penguin Press. The Country of the Blind, the book’s working title, was cribbed from an H.G. Wells story.

I started an email newsletter that I have never and possibly will never use to send any emails.

I wrote a feature for the New York Times Magazine about the controversy surrounding a TV show that cast a sighted actress in a blind role, and how it lead me to reconsider the ways in which people — blind, sighted, or, like me, somewhere in between — perform disability, and what blindness is supposed to look like.

I wrote about Joe Frank and experimental public radio for the New York Review Daily.

I wrote an essay, “The ADA-Compliant Elevator of Literature,” about accessibility and writing, for McSweeney’s 64, and an essay about visual art and blindness, “Self-Portrait in an Open Medicine Cabinet,” for Mcsweeney’s 50.

I have written other things, mostly criticism and essays, for a variety of other publications. Links to these occasionally appear amid my punishingly banal observations on Twitter.

Audio

Between 2013 and 2019, I hosted and produced 107 episodes of the Organist, an arts-and-culture podcast from KCRW and the Believer/McSweeney’s. In the final season, I produced a few episodes that took a more personal turn, which lead me toward writing about disability, which I now do quite a bit. These include episodes about blindness and narrative form, Stevie Wonder truthers, and art and illness.

I produced an episode of 99 Percent Invisible about blindness and reading called “The Universal Page.”

I was the senior producer on issue 64 of McSweeney’s,
“the Audio Issue” (for which I also wrote an essay, called “The ADA-Compliant Elevator of Literature”). More information on that issue is available here.

The Internet, Pt. MCXMLIIVIVIVAOIUAOVSOVIPFOUFQ;OWEIJF

Clickin on stuff I ended up reading about a woman I don’t know named Amelia’s trip to the doctor. Then I “closed the tab” and read the next thing 0pen in my browser, which was a woman I don’t know named Molly’s experience at the doctor’s!

UPDATE: I discovered this morning that two women I do know, both of whom live in San Francisco, and who[m) I don’t think know each other (though they surely know of each other), both have “food blogs” called “Weird Vegetables” !!!

  1. Kale Daikon
  2. Claudia

All I seem/want to do on this blog is talk about

a.) drugs

b.) how my brain has stopped working

c.) [things I’d write if I weren’t lazy/busy/lobotomized in bracketed italics indicating that this is where they’d go]

GIANT OH WELL!!!!

Marijuana Masterpiece Theatre Presents: “Fortress of Cool”

SVEN: I met someone else.

LARISSA: What? Who?

SVEN: [Sven is a nerd: black turtleneck, utility belt, rimless specs. “Stage crew.“] You.

LARISSA: [Curtains descending at every level within her] What?

SVEN: You. I met you.

LARISSA: Someone… else?

SVEN: Yes.

LARISSA: But it’s me?

SVEN: Right.

LARISSA: Is that… OK?

SVEN: You tell me. [Farts silently]

LARISSA: It’s not OK.

SVEN: Why not?

LARISSA: I’m the only one.

SVEN: I know.

LARISSA: But you met someone else.

SVEN: [Nods like a concrete skate park. 🙁 ]

LARISSA: And that someone else is me. And somehow this contradiction is supposed to turn me on?

SVEN: It’s not supposed to do anything. It’s just a vegetable, in your refrigerator, going bad slowly.

LARISSA: Is that a metaphor for what you just said?

SVEN: I don’t know. Maybe it’s a simile. It’s definitely figurative language.

LARISSA: I really wish this was more interesting.

SVEN: Why? So that when you remember it years later you’ll be entertained?

LARISSA: No, so that I could be entertained right now. Instead, I feel sort of upset.

SVEN: Maybe it’s because you love me.

LARISSA: That’s not why I’m annoyed by this spooky bullshit.

SVEN: Well, I love you, too.

LARISSA: Maybe you should smoke some more pot, you’re acting terrible.

SVEN: OK. [He take a colossal bong ripper. The smoke, as he exhales, curls into ancient fortresses and other cool designs.]