(It’s 4:52 p.m.) I have the feeling of panicky middle of the night why can’t I get back to sleep insomnia even though it’s working (and not sleeping) that I should be doing and seemingly cannot do. I blame: Facebook. Facebook is a Crisco-covered pig always ready to run; you just open the gate and it tears out squealing and skronking and it’s at least 45 minutes until it’s back in the pen again. Another persistent feeling I have is that sitting in this chair clicking on you guys over and over again is fine as long as I’m quiet, but the moment I open up this WordPress text editor (Barbara, this just refers to the thing I use to write blogs [who is Barbara?] [She’s my fictional grandmother; all of my nonfictional grandmothers died before I was born;] [my wife has an email subscription to this blog so that even though posts aren’t technically “letters written to her,” in effect they all are, because I post them and then maybe six to twenty seconds later I hear the chime that indicates she’s got new mail (cf, Barbara, the Nora Ephron [not related to Zzac Efron — who is Zac Efron? I just Googled him, he’s something called High School Musical; I’m pretending not to know what that is, and that I didn’t notice the initially accidental second z in his name] (I realize you realize this is an absurd number of nested brackets [which is fun to write because “brackets” is the word the English use to refer to our “parentheses,” so I can maybe elegantly or pseudo-economically refer to both the brackets AND the braces (the English word for brackets) in one simultaneously ambiguous and unambiguous word] and I am simultaneously proud and embarrassed to admit that by about line twenty of all this I pasted us out of the WordPress text editor (Barbara) and into TextMate, a piece of software designed for writing code (HTML; PHP; C++; what have you) I optimistically purchased earlier this year when I was more unemployed than I am now that has the useful-to-programmers feature of making it easy to see which left-facing bracket goes with which right-facing one. So when you type a parenthesis, TextMate automatically (“automagically,” my CS TA said last semester about some dumb feature of Visual Basic, the language we used to learn the basics of Computer Science) prints two facing parens or brackets (it does the same thing with single quotation marks [and all this bracket/parenthesis/brace alternation makes me think of the way the English invert our nested quotation mark conventions, starting with the single quote and then nesting a double within that and then if you’re going double-nested reverting back to a single (to say nothing of which side of the law their commas fall on)] (I imagine if I ever did find myself in an MFA program this is the sort of “piece” that would lose me friends and create long and hateful afternoons of people deriding and condescending and deploring me in a workshop, when really all I want to do is post this on my blog for my own sake, jazzing around having fun, high fives cool see you later, knowing that my wife will have a nicely formatted version emailed to her for her to read at her leisure only if she wants as a hopefully diverting distraction while she’s on a break from William James or Facebook or some fresh piece of health-care legislation), and sets your cursor in between the two, and if you run your cursor over one bracket it highlights its spouse, sort of the typographical equivalent of the device on many contemporary car keys that makes your car chirp when you’ve lost it in a garage) (though since I have such poor peripheral vision it can be tough to find the tiny flashing brace in this sea of type, and sometimes I can’t tell if running my cursor back and forth over a brace doesn’t result in a spousal highlight because its flashing counterpart is in one of my eyes’ degenerating “dead zones” or because I messed up and it’s a stray bracket whose spouse has been deleted (or it never had a spouse to begin with; it, like you, unmarried reader, was typed into this world as a horrible extra, a soul without a mate, cursed to wander the internet reading the self-satisfied blogs of happily married gradually blinkered midwestern acid casualties until you die, happily, well-sexed and alone, in your loft apartment surrounded by paperbacks), enclosing nothing, adding an unnecessary and syntactically confusing (though to be honest how could things get more syntactically confusing than this, which almost immediately abandoned any attempt at readerly syntactical amnesty) layer of padding, like a package wrapped with an excessive amount of tape and very irritating to open (right about here the student in my MFA workshop, in reference to the “email to my wife” line, might say, with a tea-tree-oil toothpick turning to pulp in her mouth, “I mean, is this how you treat your wife? She likes getting this sort of email from you?” and I try too strenuously (it’s no longer 4:52, we’re now post-dinner and I’ve had a beer, I no longer care about getting work done or the perils of Facebook [though I’m still happy to be here; I’m settling in]) to explain that I’m writing this for me, not for our professor or my wife but it doesn’t matter) [even with the aid of TextMate I’ve now totally lost track of the nests, and can’t bring myself to untangle this right now… Maybe I will start a Kickstarter campaign to hire a freelance copyeditor to iron this out for me, or perhaps announce a reader-contest where I send my almost entirely unread hardcover copy of Steven Moore’s 2010 alternative history of the novel (Continuum) to the third person to offer their professional services to make the syntax of this blog post perfect])) writing it down on the internet brings my thoughts into the realm of “politics,” because, I don’t know. Maybe it only makes me nervous about angry strangers reading this, and my nervousness comes from insecurity, and I’m insecure about “politics.” The ensuing paranoid fantasy usually manifests itself as this text appearing on the screen of some politically “active” sad young literary type who has recently Occupied something and then zestily coupled with another politically active and attractive young person, even though in my experience this sort of person despite their “fearsome” (to me, a Jewish American princess who tries hard to leverage compassion and thoughtful engagement into his life but constantly fails, as I imagine the zesty couplers succeed) political intelligence and engagement still tends to harbor tastes and pleasures that are totally unpolitical. Like what? Like food that’s more delicious than it needs to be (truffle oil), or jokes that don’t strike a fatal blow to the ruling elite, or literature that doesn’t do — and doesn’t try to do — same. Smoking pot, getting drunk? Indie rock. And so saying anything about my aimless click-diverted workless afternoon of privilege and leisure “reifies” (Barbara, meaning it makes real, into an object) the spoiled fermenty gas that is my consciousness and creates a permanent (though many these days argue that the internet and the servers it lives on is impermanence reified, that “digital” is synonymous with “virtual” with “evanescent,” though our [my] experience of it is that something I write on a piece of paper gets seen by no one, not even my deeply beautiful wife in the other room, or if I publish a poem (“How many / little dickless / little sparrows / swallow cocks, / swallowcocks // May I scat for u”) in Pleuperfections, a well-respected university press’s literary journal, then NO ONE WILL SEE IT, whereas this is at least going to end up in my wife’s inbox (which is of course what most Facebook activity is, messages ostensibly sent to one person that are really messages sent to everyone [which is more or less what all writing is, unless you’re really writing something private, under the kind of shadowy dangerous exigent privacy that only politics or illicit sex can create]), and will at least be read by Max Tabackman Fenton, who is my internet guru, who I hope by posting his full name here I’m ensuring that he’ll read this, since I imagine him to be the sort of person who Googles himself at least once a year (or more likely has a Google Alert for himself, or has subscribed to this blog in one of the many ingenious ways he has devised for keeping abreast of everything at once), (which is not to say he’s egotistical, because he’s not, only that he’s savvy) maybe right around the end of the year, which is tomorrow, and so might see this then.) object.
Happy Cyber Tuesday.
Post-honeymoon, back in Columbia, MO.
Felt like an obese Christopher Isherwood contemplating the Panera Bread growing like a yeast infection (gah, sorry) like a fungus, what, like a milky cyst out the wounded old orifices of the old Hall Theatre. Not that I’ve lived here more than four months, but I’m entitled to my outrage on behalf of the ghosts of the old Hall Theatre. For all I know there’s an awesome poetry-in-the-prisons disco-punk freeform youth-art gym operating out of the top floor. But the bottom floor is Panera Bread. What do I have against Panera Bread? Maybe it’s a good company. Maybe I’d love their bread. Aren’t blogs built for whingeing about one’s conflicted feelings about shopping at national chains? No. If you have Giardia, you’ll be glad Panera Bread exists so you can rush into Panera Bread to use their “corporate bathroom” with extreme prejudice. You think the old powder-wigged ghosts of the old Hall Theatre would let you rush in there if it were still a stately old theater? If, fresh back from your Honeymoon in Belize with a bad case of the Giardesis, you burst through the glass-and-brass entryway in search of a place to exigently void yourself, speed-waddling toward the gleaming forty-quart urinals, because you can’t even make it all the way to a stall? This photograph might articulate my initial impression of Columbia after a few months: impressively intact vestiges of the stately old America with an easy-cheezy diahhrea-bathroom snack bar retrofitted into the lobby.
My best man gave a truly remarkable and overwhelmingly sweet and thoughtful toast that commented extensively on this very blog, and it’s made it hard for me to write anything new here since then. It also surely ensured that some of my new wife’s old aunts are now reading this and frowning and scowling and scoffing and harrumphing and winking and snarling and leering and sighing.
The University put a hold on my account until I could prove I didn’t have Measles Mumps or Roboprella. My mom could only find one booster shot from ’83 and my high school and 1st college had burned my records when they found out I sometimes compulsively overeat peanut butter while reading the New York Review of Books. So I had to go to the Student Health Center, pictured above, and get a booster shot today. Only partially humiliating. I am accidentally writing my Shakespeare term paper about rape.
first thought was some fashion people are high all the time, no thanks
but then I found a video on there that through some facebook integration it said Johnny was into
so I watched it
since i’m “Working from home”
Ryan Trecartin isn’t listed in the credits but his fingerprints are smeared all over it
What the hell is Dis?
the video i liked was directed by @leilah_weinraub
who directed a film called Shakedown:
a press release came in for the band Woods:
word on the street is they throw better parties than Olivia Tremor Control ever did
I just made that up
I got a job as a magazine editor again. Maybe I should start punctuating my blog posts and thinking about cultivating a learnéd persona, instead of this marijuana casualty vacation tweetsturm
the job dampened*
*I never think of “dampened” as meaning “made damp” in this context, but I guess it does. In that form I think I usually imagine something being tamped rather than damped.
my enthusiasm for going Back to School, but it’s OK.
should I take presocratic philosophy or “literary journalism” or history of doc. film or 20th-c. russian lit in translation or spanish conversation or Occupy Wall Street Studies II: Thinking about Capital
leave your comments below, unless you feel hot anger, in which case go for a jog and volunteer somewhere first
you guys ever think about race
started reading pitchfork reviews reviews again, after being reminded of its presence via the NYT (again)
that guy’s voice is addictive, makes sense why he loves Tao Lin. I bought the zine.
I sent a piece of writing that wouldn’t be out of place on this blog to prism index #2, and they printed it next to a sweet chris johanson painting. which looking at it was somehow the first time I ever made the connection between his work (messy/masterful/gorgeous semi-cartoony drawings with ab/ex brush/inkwork, at once punk and mannered, skateboards and sublime landscapes, with wry/dry inky captions that buttress the work’s philosophical ambition) and Raymond Pettibon’s.
I could’ve found better examples
Today in Shakespeare there was a girl wearing a leather jacket — the classic kind. It seemed promising to me, somehow. Black leather jackets used to be signifiers of rebellion. Then they became cliches. But now they’re so cliched, so obviously not rebellious, that it takes a certain courage and recklessness to wear one outside of a community theater. After class she was good-naturedly complaining to the professor about something — she might have said her copy of Othello was stolen from her car. I imagined Camel hard packs and and empty jewel cases on the floor of her car. I imagined that she never hangs the jacket up — at best, it gets draped across a couch, but usually gets piled atop of the rest of her clothes, books, trash, thumb drives, etc strewn across her floor. I think the leather jacket speaks to me because everyone else in the class is wearing college sweatshirts, or otherwise intensely normal clothes. Is it heinous to say that everyone in my Shakespeare class seems intensely normal? Is a leather jacket just the intensely normal uniform of the outsider? I’m sure many of these men and women have moments, if not decades, of experience that would make hair curl if I were in their shoes. The way they dress doesn’t matter.
I’ve noticed people in Missouri say “You’re good” in the context of, like, “Oh, excuse me — I didn’t mean to bump–” “You’re good.” Is there a tendency toward affable reassurance here?
Yesterday was the study session for tonight’s CS midterm. The class was optional. Seated behind me were two dudes. One guy said he had trouble studying for this “piddly freshman class” — he’s a senior chemical engineering major, was taking this class for a requirement. The rest of his classes were capstones, clay engineering (?), “really tough stuff” — he just couldn’t see himself studying for this piddly freshman test. I never got a look at either of them. Then he speculated (all this was sotto voce, basically whispered into my ear) about the professor’s breasts. How for a smaller, older woman they were pretty big and nice. He wondered if they were fake. His friend: “Dude, do you really think a mousy computer science professor who wears baggy tech-logo polo shirts tucked into Dockers is going to have fake breasts?”
These guys spoke — mostly the first dude — through the entire duration of the study session. (Idea for new grammatical person: the first dude, e.g. “speaking in the first dude”; “this story is narrated in the First Dude.” This just means the text sounds like it is spoken by this guy sitting behind me in CS yesterday.) I wanted to turn around to glare or say something but, you know, he sounded angry and athletic.
Today I was checking out a book at the library’s temporary circulation desk — the normal desk is currently hidden behind opaque plastic construction sheeting until the damages from the guy who broke in, shit on a table, and lit the library on fire are repaired — and as I was waiting for the student clerk to retrieve my books, I saw a guy, late twenties/early thirties, rectangular glasses, holding A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I thought about ways I could uncreepily speak to this man. Nothing came. Later, there was a dude sitting outside Shakespeare’s Pizza — how on earth do writers speculate about the ethnicities of strangers without sounding like unconscionable fuckheads? — drinking a beer, eating a slice, and reading Turgenev. It sounds pathetic, but I wanted to give him my card, or something. “Hey, Turgenev, a beer, 12:30 on a Tuesday. Amazing, bro. Call me sometime.” I don’t have a card. I need more friends.
This morning I unearthed my Andrew Jeffrey Wright Mr. ET T-shirt, which is a drawing of ET, drinking a beer and wearing Mr. T’s mohawk, beard, and chains:
I was wary to wear it, leery of being perceived as the slightly eccentric, trying-to-seem-cool 10-years-older guy, the equivalent of wearing a shirt for a band that was cool when I was first in college and is still cool now, which all adds up to something annoying and uncool.
(What band would that be, anyway? Unrest?)
(Why do I persist in pretending that I ever listened to Unrest?)
(Would it be Pere Ubu?)
(Isn’t the fact that I want to do a show on the college radio station here the ultimate expression of this still-cool-and-thus-intensely-uncool impulse?)
(Stop saying cool! This whole thing — the entire enterprise of going Back to School (1986)– must be an exercise in cauterizing my ego, or all is lost.)
And so I wore it. I went to class and made sure to speak twice—mindful of my participation grade—in the discussion of Hamlet. Then I went to the library and looked (for an assignment) at the Early English Books Online database, which is awesome and full of things like this:
After class I was walking across “Speaker’s Circle” where an evangelist — though not Brother Jed — was haranguing a group of mirthful, occasionally goading students. There were certainly more sympathetic ears for the preacher than there were for the evangelists who would drive to the Oberlin campus to condemn the students to eternal suffering. “My church has a webcast!” one young woman shouted cheerfully this afternoon. I smiled and continued walking, when my way was blocked by a little dude, probably 19, wearing a beanie in the heat.
“I like your ET T-shirt,” he said. “You seem cool. Are you a student here?” I was momentarily thrown off by the second part of his greeting, so I focused on the first part.
“Notice that it’s not just ET,” I instructed him. “It’s Mr. ET — Mr. T is in there, too.”
“Mystery-T?” he said.
“You’ve heard of Mr. T, haven’t you?” I asked him, suddenly full of concern. He shook his head. “Have you ever seen The A-Team?” He looked very slightly frightened. “You know Mr. T. He’s a muscular black man, with a mowhawk and gold necklaces and earrings?” The kid nodded tentatively, then seemed more sure. I suddenly noticed he was holding a large rolling suitcase. He said again,
“You seem like a cool guy.” Then he put a Bhagavad-Gita into my hands. Because I have severe tunnel vision, I didn’t even see that the whole time we were talking about Mr. T, he was trying to get me to receive his Hindu scriptures! He finally placed the books directly into my hands.
“My dad loves The Legend of Bagger Vance,” I told him, trying to ignore the fact that he was trying to spread his Krishna consciousness onto me. “Do you know that book? Or the film?” I asked him. His face darkened again.
“Is that a Hindu film?” he asked. I told him it was a golf movie with Will Smith, but that it was based on the Bhagavad-Gita.
I handed the books back to him and walked to my Shakespeare professor’s office hours. Then I stopped by my fiancée’s office in the same building, where she was preparing her notes on her afternoon class’s discussion of Judith Butler. Then I ate a quarter of a jar of peanut butter.
Is it irresponsible to request books from the library if they’re not checked out and they’re already in the branch where you’ll be picking them up? I got used to this in San Francisco: I’d read about a book online, want to check it out, request it from the library, then forget about it until I got the email notification that it was ready to be picked up at my branch. But now the books I want are already there, usually, not checked out and at the main branch of the University library. But I’m here in stocking feet, 2.5 m away from the closed library, on my second Single-Wide, and I’ll never remember to go pick up these books unless I request them. I guess I could retrain myself and use the library website’s “wish list” function, but I’m disinclined. Any thoughts on this, especially from folks who’ve worked in libraries, would be appreciated. Is this like asking the waiter for hot sauce when there’s a bottle on an empty table within arm’s reach? Or, like, asking the bike mechanic to wash your helmet?