WHY DO SO MANY MENNONITE FAMILIES SHOP AT NATURAL GROCERS?
SERIOUS INQUIRY; PLEASE ANSWER IN THE COMMENTS
WOKE EARLY OF MY OWN ACCORD. BABY-RELATED BUT I COULDA FALLEN BACK ASLEEP IF I COULDA
THE ONLY THING MORE “SELF-INVOLVED” THAN BLOGGING ABOUT THE MINUTIA OF YOUR LIFE
IS GENTLY ANONYMOUSING — ANONYMYZING — ANONDYNE DYNASTY METASTAZING — OCCLUDING THE DETAILS OF MY OWN LIFE AS IF ANYONE CARES
EMPTIED THE DISHWASHER, CHECKED OUT THE 6 AM CST FACEBOOK FEED
BEEN A WHILE SINCE I’VE BLOGGED YOU, GIRL
FOR THE NEXT WEEK AND A HALF AT LEAST I’M AN ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OCCLUDED!!!!
I’VE GOT CLASS IN 20 MINUTES
IF A STOODENT GOOGLES ME THEY FIND THIS BLOGPOST
WHEN I FIRST STARTED THINKING ABOUT TRYING TO “BE A TEACHER” I PASSWORD PROTECTED THIS BLOG
BUT THEN JUSTIN — HIS ACTUAL, REAL NAME — EMAILED ME SWEETLY DEMANDING I TAKE OFF THE PASSWORD
AND NOW I AM MANY MONTHS BEHIND IN OWING JUSTIN AN IN-DEPTH EMAIL ABOUT AN “OCCLUDED PROJECT”
BUT I SORTA DOUBT HE’S GONNA SEE THIS,
PLUS I “LIKED” SOME OF HIS RECENT GOOD NEWS ON FB, THAT PROBABLY BOUGHT ME ANOTHER WEEK, RIGHT?
THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE
I’M HERE IN MY SHARED OFFICE AT THE OCCLUDED U
NICE VIEW OF ELM STREET. A BIT OF PEACE PARK
TODAY IN CLASS WE’RE SKYPING WITH A RADICAL YOUNG JOURNALIST WHOSE ACQUAINTANCE I’VE MADE
HE’S AN EDITOR AT OCCLUDED NAME OF MAGAZINE, CURRENTLY ENJOYING A SURGE IN RESPECTABILITY OR AT LEAST MORE PPL TAKING IT SERIOUSLY DUE TO HBO SERIES AND SPIKE IN INTL INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT JOURNALISM, BUT I AM A FAIRLY ACCOMPLISHED STAND UP COMEDIAN, SO TEACHING WORKS OUT FINE
AROUND 6:30 THE HUMAN INFANT WOKE UP, I STRAPPED HIM TO MY THORAX AND WE TOOK THE DOG TO THE PARK, THE GRASS WAS BE-SOAKED IN DEW
AN OVERFRIENDLY A.M. BIKER SAID HELLO IN AN AGGRESSIVE WAY, SORT OF LIKE “HEY WHY IS IT I WHO MUST BE THE FIRST TO SAY HELLO?” MY RESPONSE WOULD HAVE BEEN, “I HAVE A DEGENERATIVE RETINAL CONDITION AND DIDN’T SEE YOU, YOU OVERFRIENDLY LEATHER-SKINNED MEGA-DAD”
BEEN READING A BIT OF CAROL DEPPE’S THE RESILIENT GARDENER, THINKING ABOUT PLANTING SOME RESILIENT VEGETABLES IN THE OLD BACK YARD
LAST NIGHT THE MISSUS AND I HAD A GOOD LAUGH RE A PASSAGE IN THE BOOK I READ ALOUD TO HER, WHEREIN DEPPE WAS RECOMMENDING TO THE READER A BOOK BY JARED DIAMOND ABOUT CATASTROPHE THAT INFORMED HER CHAPTER ON CATASTROPHE AND CLIMATE CHANGE, I AM PARAPHRASING BUT DEPPE WAS LIKE “LIKE MOST GREAT BOOKS THAT COVER A BROAD RANGE OF HUMAN HISTORY THIS BOOK IS VERY HARD TO SUMMARIZE, IN FACT IT’S INDESCRIBABLE” — I’M NOT DOING IT JUSTICE BUT SUCH A POWERFUL BOOK RECOMMENDATION ACCOMPANIED BY A SUBLIME CONFESSION OF the failure of language, it made us laff.
Should probably head over to class now, guys. I realized I should be supplementing the steady stream of nonsense stream of consciousness I fill the baby’s ears with more useful language acquisition naming time, like “TREE” and “DOG” , so my internal monologue is now infantalized and externalized; “the doggie is shitting in the woods; dogs love to shit in the woods; do you love that doggie? the doggie loves to chase the ball”
A: When you have a baby you don’t have time to do ANYTHING
F: That’s because babies take up so much time
A: I know
F: What is it that babies take so much time doing?
A: The babies are very busy, they are constantly reading dense texts and challenging your preconceived notions about things
F: Like what sorts of things?
A: Like … arbitrary–
A+F [in unison] …arbitrary taxonomies of genre!?!
F: I’m bummed out again about how I don’t feel like I know how to make sense. Or, maybe, I hate making sense. Making nonsense is much more fun.
A: It’s hard to tell the difference between making nonsense is more fun in the way that smoking lots of pot and watching Adult Swim is more fun, or making nonsense is more fun in that you are an acolyte of Jarry and Ionesco and Stein and live your life in a radical subversion of standard bourgeoise modes of expression etc
F: I think I sometimes milk that ambiguity. Like I pretend to be a highbrow Dadaist when in fact I’m just waiting for the next fortnight of pajamas and Xavier Renegade Angel
A: Xavier Renegade Angel
F: But Xavier Renegade Angel is made by guys who split that difference. They’re students of Gordon Lish, they seem like they’ve done their homework, and they might have pretensions for their show to have a depth or at least a terminal bleakness that makes the comedy that much more “fucked up”
A: Did you ever check your email during the dark time of hospital visits and black veiled hospitalizations
F: There’s never been a time in my life when I haven’t checked my email every fifty minutes
A: remember when you first went camping and they explained what the trowel was for?
F: Yes. The trowel is for digging a little pit for you to shit into. Then you wipe with leaves, and bury your poo like a tiny funeral rite.
A: That’s a lot of work for a poo.
F: You’re not pooing so much in the forest. Maybe once a day if you’re lucky
A: Also not a lot of urgent emails to respond to in the woods.
F: Are you pining for the pines, blood?
A: The grass is always greener in the other bong. I had my dream job, and now I have my other dream job. Someday I won’t have any dream job and I’ll be shooting squirrels for sustenance
F: Shooting them with what?
A: An inherited crossbow.
F: Inherited from who?
A: A girl I met on the internet
F: Why did she leave you the crossbow in her will?
A: She said she liked my blog.
F: How did she die?
A: She faked her own suicide.
F: So she’s still alive?
A: No. She actually killed herself, but she didn’t mean it.
F: You know how if you commit suicide you don’t get in to harvard I mean heaven?
F: that’d be funny if whoever the last person you slept with got to rewrite your will if you ended up killing yourself
Free Wi-Fi at the Phoenix airport. I’m one of those guys sitting on the floor near an outlet, working on my laptop. Except I don’t really look like one of those guys, because I’m unshaven and there’s underwear spilling out of my shoulder bag and I’m not wearing a purple short-sleeved polo shirt with a company logo on the breast. Two soldiers in desert camo just sauntered by, at ease but still walking in step with each other. I slept poorly last night so this “text” is going to be awful, not worth your time. Fortunately, it’s still worth my time, which is why I’m writing it. Unclear however why it still then needs to go on the internet, aside from the fact that the magnetic attraction that your potential attention asserts on the “language inside me” serves as a fine stimulus to draw it out. Of me. Otherwise I’m lazy and it’ll stay inside while I check my email again and again.
My friend met me at the airport in Albuquerque and told me he hadn’t eaten even though he’d had a layover in Phoenix because he was boycotting the entire state of Arizona. As I deplaned in Phoenix just now a douchey blonde guy looked through me, aggressively unsympathetic to my humanity, as far as I could tell, only because I wasn’t the brother in law he was waiting for. I felt like flipping twin birds at everyone within eyeshot and declaiming, clearly and loudly, “FUCK YOU, PHOENIX, AND EVERYTHING ELSE CONTAINED BY THE STATE OF ARIZONA, INCLUDING ME, AND ALL OF THIS PIZZA. BECAUSE OF YOUR IMMIGRATION POLICIES, I GUESS”
On the plane I read more of the New Yorker 20 under 40 issue. Yesterday, which seems like a long time ago, I wrote this about the Josh Ferris story:
(I’m on a sadness junket in Santa Fe.) I thought “Pilot,” Joshua Ferris’s story in the 20 under 40 issue of the New Yorker, was great. I haven’t read his first novel, which I know is written in first-person plural, but I was very impressed by the narrative control of this new story. It’s written in the “close third-person,” where the narrative voice is contained entirely by one consciousness, except it’s communicated with a “he” or “she” instead of an “I.” Maybe a better term for “Pilot”‘s voice is “the clingy third person.”
Lawrence is a newly, shakily recovered alcoholic filmmaker who can’t believe he’s been invited to a fashionable Hollywood party, doesn’t want to go, but feels he must for the sake of the TV pilot he’s writing. He’s desperately insecure and spends most of the story neurotically trying to engage other people, to get the things he needs without appearing so clingy. The story reads as if it were written in a more conventional third person — “He thought, ‘I should get out of here,'” e.g. — but then Lawrence’s voice, so strong and desperate and charming, has sort of crawled up inside the third person narrative and infected that voice with its self-obsession and neediness. The result is a pleasure to read. Ferris didn’t invent this technique, but he deploys it beautifully.
Who cares about my take on Joshua Ferris’s narrative control! I do(n’t)! Not sure if this is a journalistically responsible article. Phoenix Airport free Wi-Fi is barely functional. I’m entitled to one full meal for every delayed layover I have, regardless of the hour or Arizona’s immigration policy.
The Jonathan Safran Foer story irritated me even as I found parts of it familiar, smart, and…. “original.” I think it would be funny to write a novel that marketed itself as “vegetarian fiction.” I like the idea that Tao Lin writes “vegan fiction,” if if he doesn’t market it as such. Foer’s “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly” is a vegetarian story. Not a lot of meat in it, but plenty of complex carbohydrates and vegetable proteins. That’s a joke, insofar as I don’t know what it means and I’m saying it only because I like to.
I can’t help reading all of these 20 under 40 stories imagining their authors writing them at the behest of the New Yorker’s fiction editors. “Hey, Dinaw, submit a story to the 20 under 40 thing. You have a shot.” All fiction everywhere is “by definition” contrived, but these stories are maybe more contrived than usual. For that reason. Which doesn’t nec. make them bad. Solicited = contrived, unless the fiction writer responds to the solicitation with a piece of fiction they’d already written but not published, submitting something they wrote uncontrivedly. Which is impossible, because nothing is written uncontrivedly. But there are degrees. The Ferris story is contrived and great. I’m not as crazy about the Foer story. It’s my fault that I read it as a second-person half-fictional sexy love note to his wife, novelist Nicole Krauss, and it’s my lightweight brain alone that makes me read the “house” he refers to in the last paragraph as their dope brownstone in [specific part of Brooklyn TK]. My bad my bad
The Rivka Galchen story is great. It’s narrated by a woman who, like Galchen, has just published a well-received novel. Like the Ferris story, it features an unproduced television pilot. It’s also the first instance of an fictional, ekphrastic blog I can think of, there must be more: icantstandmywife.blogspot.com. (As of this writing, no one has yet reserved this blog. Which is surprising. Full disclosure: Phoenix Airport Wi-Fi has officially crapped out so I can’t check. I’d be surprised if Galchen didn’t reserve it herself. Update: PHX Wi-Fi never resolved, so I’m posting this from California, and of course someone, probably Galchen, reserved the URL. Goodnight)
I skipped the story called “What You Do Out Here, When You’re Alone.” Rant about this sort of declarative second-person short-story title TK, ad naus. Let me know if you read this story, by Philipp Meyer, and if you think I could’ve learned something about myself by reading it. If you think the horizons of my limited worldview would’ve been pushed out a hectare or two. If so, I’ll read it.
More misc. notes on this New Yorker, June 14 & 21, 2010: The spread of illos of the writers (p. 90-1) is pointless and unappetizing. There are Q&As online, huh? That sounds good, but then What is the point of printing these straightforward, moody, photo-based line illos??? At least list the names of their favorite newspapers or where they went to elementary school or how many siblings they have alongside their portraits. The Chris Ware cover, on the other hand, and like the Steve Powers illos with the Shteyngart, are wonderful. Something has been beeping off to my left for a few minutes. (I’m sitting at gate A2. Come say hi!! This is a rebroadcast of a previous episode) Reading through these stories I was occasionally like, “this is awesome, but when I finally man up and decide to write fiction myself, my fiction is going to be all gnarly and unexpected and different and rad, and a drug-addict teenager in upstate new york is going to read it and decide that [oh my god, sorry, redacted]” but then I read the Gary Shteyngart story, and that thought bubble immediately dissolved, and I realized Ah, shit, this is it, he did it, damn, etc, I am mollified.
A student walks up to Horsey on one of the campus’s windy paths. “Hey I’m trying to square Marx Freud and Darwin but it’s hard. These thinkers only really make sense to me when I’m having sex with another person. When I’m in the library or in my dorm room trying to write a paper it doesn’t make sense. But, you know, when I’m having sexual intercourse, during the duration of the intercourse it all makes sense. I feel like I get marx darwin and freud.” Horsey winks. “In that order?” The student frowns. “No.”
HORSEY: Well, come by my office hours, we’ll talk about this problem.
STUDENT: Professors are like therapists in this way, non? [She lights a cigarette]
SHOUTING INTERNET GUY: I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL EVERYONE LEAVES AND IT’S JUST ME IN THE OFFICE BLASTING STREAMING WEIRD INSTRUMENTAL HIP HOP AND MY TINY BOWL OF HONEY ROASTED CASHEWS RUNNETH OVER, WEARING A CRAZY WIG OF PAD THAI THAT FALLS INTO MY EYES, GCHATTING WITH MC PAUL BARMAN, GCHATTING with self-loathing people in New York who are not sad that JD Salinger is dead, who are not sad that Twitter wrongfully terminated a Jewish woman last night, who are not sad that a robotic cat raped a drawing of a mouse in plein air on 32nd St and Harrison in San Francisco that same night; these fuckers are unmoved by the outrageous story of all the caffeine in an unsteeped Earl Grey teabag deciding to GET HIGH USING A GRAVITY BONG, and then go back into the teabag, and then a toddler, only 3 years of old, ordered the tea from his Russian nanny, demanded tea, NANNY FETCH ME TEA, and so the Russian nanny dutifully steeped it, and served it, and the kid died, 86 years later, of natural causes. Nobody is concerned that I’m not friends with Harmony Korine? That I have Dutch gentials with the brain of a Dane? That I sometimes dip articles from Harper’s into boiled water and watch them steep and then drink the tea while I read the leaves?
I’m glad Jessica Hopper was outraged by the new Vampire Weekend record. I think she’s a smart and funny writer. Martin Amis is, too, but that doesn’t mean JM Coetzee denies his readers the pleasure principle. I’m not fluent in Italian, French, German, or Swiss French. I’ve never brought a Swiss woman to climax. I’ve never denied the pleasure principle to JM Coetzee. He asks, and I tell. Every time. @moodygroovin is the darkest, dankest 140-character assassin on twitter. Every author who’s ever published a novel as a paperback original with FSG or Picador has at one point in print claimed that one needs to be a coffee-drinker in order to be a successful novelist, and each and every one of them is wrong. My fictional female alter ego, Beth Pails, drinks nothing but hot tea in greens and Grays and wrote a novel that Amis and Coetzee agreed could “only have been produced by the Internet and its attendant depravities.” It sold several, several copies. If I were a woman, I would have the body of a woman. Do you remember that time I paraphrased Steve Martin’s line from L.A. Story about how he would spend all day feeling himself up if he were a woman when we (you, the reader, and me, Bethany) were in seventh grade and Mrs. White was scandalized and I got in “pretty big” trouble?
One more paragraph: “I still like hip hop.” Of all your favorite living novelists under the age of 40, which do you think likes hip hop least? This is among the questions I’ll be asking tonight on a panel I’m moderating at the Garricks’ Library, 800 Valencia St, just kidding, 5:15 p.m. Appearing on the panel will be Cameron Stipené, Shellie Coup, and (I’m just kidding, 800 Valencia is the increasingly gourmet bodega on the corner) Lydia Brousserrie. $5 suggested donation. Enter through Rhea’s Deli.
…whenever there’s an influx of traffic from a generous link posted by a generous fellow webtrawler. But I’ll say it anyway: Hi, guys! I also struggle. I also did drugs. I also occasionally write things down and think too hard about the wrong things. My opacity comes just as often from laziness as it does from artfulness, or some fictional thing called “artful necessity”. What??? I’m pulling all this from the HTML Giant media kit. “Just kidding”
I wrote the below to read on Friday and Saturday at Lowerdeck Gallery. As I began reading on Friday night I realized that Breadstixxxx was right, of course, and I should’ve just riffed from the start. Saturday night went better, mostly because I didn’t bother even beginning with the pretense of reading from the page. Non-rhetorical questions for HTMLGiant webtrawlers: don’t you agree that at a “literary event” with, say, four readers, the two that extemporaneously riff and talk off the cuff will be more fun to listen to than the two who read from their trembling and creased laser printouts? Are there mp3s on the Internet of Gordon Lish’s freestyle monologues? Ubuweb? Help me out, HTML Giants!
So anyway here’s the text I didn’t let myself read aloud to a roomful of people this weekend. I was wearing a steak costume: