Let This Hangover Be Not Wasted

I’m in a book club with a whole bunch of pseudonyms: Jeremiah’d, Paulie Groundphones, Li’l Broheim, Shampoosie, et al. Maybe their pseudonyms should be taken from the book we’re reading, instead of from the jovial thin air above, since the book is already populated by hundreds of perfectly named minor characters. But I’d want an hour with Hilary Spurling’s Invitation to the Dance to produce halfway decent analogues for each of my book club’s members. Last night was one of our most rollicking meetings to date: The spirits flowed liberally, and by the time Shampoosie had to leave for her engagement, the atmosphere had (sonically speaking) pleasurably devolved into this sort of vibe:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS0N1WSUQeQ]

I got vague half-permission to record the meeting’s minutes here. I was astonished by how much beer I’d been served, and how easily it flowed into my massive gullet. Just before he was shrouded and bundled off to bed, Li’l Broheims, our hosts’ beatific infant son, staggered around the cacophony clutching a baguette nearly as tall as he was, grinding fine cheeses and flatbreads into the fine carpet. Maybe a less-hungover observer than I am could turn a nice analogy comparing Li’l Broheims to a drunken British soldier like those depicted in Anthony Powell’s Valley of the Bones, the book we’d met to discuss.

His pose is supposed to subconsciously remind you of Lou Reed holding his guitar in the video above. And it's cute to picture him as a moustacioed infant with a giant baguette cannon. I know this isn't an English soldier's uniform. Manet's painting appears with kind persimmons from Manet's garden © SKRONK, INC

But not this guy. Because I AM TOO HUNGOVER TO DO ANYTHING. Which is all I wanted to say in the first place. So today being a low-volume work day I’ve just sat here hitting the internet harder than I have in a long time. 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., I’ve probably stood up three or four times, once to retrieve a pallet of Thai food from the overpriced (dance-club atmosphered) restaurant next door.

Among the many things I clicked on today, I finally had the chance to read Elif Batuman’s review of Mark McGurl’s book on the rise of MFA culture, “a study of Planet MFA conducted from Planet PhD.” Then I read Molly Young’s review of James Franco’s debut collection, which in turn linked me back to Batuman’s review of the 2004 and 2005 Best American Short Stories. I don’t have anything interesting to say about any of these book reviews. In both of Batuman’s essays, Joyce Carol Oates comes off as an exception to the rule of timid, tepid, guilt-imprisoned contemporary short fiction. In both essays, Don Quixote is the canonical first novel that successfully performed the literary innovations that four hundred years later are still being called innovations. And in both essays, she urges fiction writers to expunge the guilt and shame in being a contemporary writer in the face of global suffering, to shun the imperatives to write about

(A) nostalgic and historical subjects; (B) external, researched subjects, also sometimes historical; © their own self-loathing; and/or (D) terrible human suffering

[N.B. as a lover and collector of typos, that copyright symbol is about as awesome as it gets—unless it’s some kind of metadroll joke I’m too hungover to get?]

[Pointless Full Disclosure: I recently purchased from this writer her “favorite red chair, as well as two lamps, an ottoman, a saucepan, a carpet steam-cleaner, some geranium-scented laundry detergent, and approximately eight pounds of rice.” I’m also babysitting her car for a few months, it seems SUPER relevant and important to add. Buying a writer’s soap or borrowing her car unfortunately doesn’t transmit any of her intelligence to their new owner — although I wonder if some reptilian part of my brain wants to pretend that it does. The same goes of course for adopting a great writer’s dog, something I also did with no improvement to my critical faculties. Or, shit, I bet lots of editors, myself included, egoistically and falsely absorb some of the brilliance of a piece they’re editing, even if their edits mostly involve the introduction of typos and tautologies. The connection between leading a good life and thinking and writing well — I wonder how big that gap needs to be. It fluctuates. Brilliant assholes; generous buffoons; everyone in between. Eating Elif’s rice won’t help me think clearly about literature. Neither, apparently, will getting an MFA.]<—– (<(“the ghosts of deleted paragraphs rattle their chains from the margins.”)>)

[Once I’ve fully left my job,  I wonder if I’ll start writing Tao Lin–style fan fiction about Keith Gessen, or hosting this blog on a domain with my full name on it, etc.]

[What would that last “etc” refer to, I also wonder? Going on the Tao Lin diet? Buying my own car? Moving to Alaska to teach comp at Juneau Community College with Gerhard Richter’s Daughters? Starting a weekly jogging club with Benjamin Cheever, Sam Frank, and Haruki Murakami?]

[Please don’t make me try to say anything else about anything I’ve read. Please don’t say nasty things about me on the internet. Or about Ariana Reines.]

[Paul Groundphones recently demanded that I read Jacob von Gunten as soon as humanly possible, which I did, and I can’t think of a better example of a work of art that’s feels simultaneously both “pointless” and essential; that’s quite so beautiful in its pointlessness. I love the wry, skillful incompetence of Walser’s narrators. I haven’t finished the novel yet. I’ve never read Stendhal.

EXTRA CREDIT:

  • My novel will read like a press release — for life itself!
  • What do you guys think about psychoanalysis!
  • Goodbye!!!!!!

Triumpffffffff

A totally new blend of apathy,
super-grateful for your support

Click The Heart icon, <3 <3
as it Depresses, it makes uh Eponymous Sound.

Hot gurgling; Money. The beginning

ahh fuck this Are you writing POETRy??

Gray Ranch must be some sort of code.
the hottest female bloggers love Daria
THIS TEXT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE WORK
I’M BEING PAID TO DO, THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY
SMELLS LIKE PINE

Your lack of ambition doesn’t scan as humble.
It reeks as badly as the strainers’. The effortful b.o. of
Apples and oranges, both reek. Rotten sirloins
v. spoiled honeydew. Daria.

Check out this mountain

hypothetical diet

  • No meat unless I’m a guest in someone’s home or under some sort of culinary travel-duress
  • No alcohol unless I am in love
  • [Coffee restrictions will require their own post; it’s too complex to get into now]
  • No marijuana except as an aphrodisiac or if a critic I respect writes convincingly that a film or book or band can only or best be appreciated after smoking a small (or large) amt of good marijuana
  • no tobacco unless it’s a part of an ethnographic immersion of some kind
  • no hard drugs unless I need to do them just this once in order to get a really awesome job (movie deal, Zeus’s amanuensis, etc)
  • no processed foods unless I am hungover or driving for more than ninety minutes

Famous &&Tori Amos + Andy Spelling(/Griffith-Bee (movies]

Caught a light depression. Now that depression is a disease, it’s easier to just come down with a little malaise, same as you would a seasonal cold. A sneeze’s worth of sadness. I’m glad Animal Collective is such a popular band. They deserve it. Maybe not personally, who knows, maybe those guys have hurt so many people’s feelings. But I think the music deserves to be liked. What if music doesn’t want to be liked? Some music doesn’t. I’m not talking about the composer’s intentions. The music’s aspect: friendly or not? If you send me proof that our era is “benighted,” along with an SASE and a few pages of popular science writing about plants, I’ll mail you a secret gift. A prize. If it were as cheap to fly to Nepal as it is to buy a Muni Fast Pass? Or a basket of avocados? We’d both have been to Nepal this year. I’d like for the guys from Animal Collective to send me this text message: — Andrew — we all just bought $13.49 tickets to Nepal — the flight is like an hour and a half now that our benighted (beknighted?) era has taken its magic-realist potential seriously. We’re taking the Indian Sky Train to Pokhara. Service charges come out to ~sixty bucks. If you’re not coming, tell Jennifer, we’ll bring her instead of you. You don’t have to smoke pot. Who is Jennifer’s husband.  No one will die on this trip. When we land, we’ll eat, take a nap. Then we buy bikes (bikes cost $5 in Nepal).

Here’s the recipe:

  • lemon
  • pouch
  • vegan carcass
  • salad stuff

peel the lemon like an orange, chop lemon. line bowl with iceberg lettuce. drizzle caperberries and s-cones into bowl with gusto pianissimo. shaken mint; no beef.

see you at the show; Enjoy!

Plutarch Was Not a Poet

This is at least 45 percent embarrassing.

Letter to the New Yorker, 4/25/10

To the editor:

I read Dana Goodyear’s profile of the chefs behind the Los Angeles restaurant Animal (“Killer Food,” 4/26/10) with pleasure. A few responses came up in the wake of my enjoyment of the piece, however, and I’d like to share them with you, mostly as a form of procrastination as I messily scarf a container of Pad Thai over my keyboard (“iPad Thai”) here in the empty Sunday-afternoon office

Goodyear’s piece is filed in the magazine’s “Letter from California” section, and it serves its designation well. The reporting feels legitimately Angeleno. I recognize the L.A. Goodyear describes. Madonna’s Escalade, Canter’s deli, Benedikt Taschen. The “multicolored sleeve tattoo,” the pretty girls, the girlfriend become wife. I believed it all. I know you were worried about effectively capturing this atmosphere, and I’m telling you to stop worrying. You nailed it.


In the first scene, at the Farmer’s Market, Dotolo and Shook (what names, by the way! And good call letting them speak for themselves. A lesser writer, or perhaps a writer with fewer word-count constraints, would have allusively riffed on how “Dotolo” evokes “Dorito,” and how “Shook” invokes the early stages in the process of deep frying a foodstuff. But letting these linguistic associations reverberate in the reader’s ear without broadcasting them — like sudden phantom echoes improving the church-organ’s glissandos—was a meisterstroake) seem super stoned. I think it’s all but explicit. They’re “eating a couple of burritos” — does this mean two burritos? One each? Or more? In any  case, It’s a fine ambiguity–a whole burrito, in most contexts, is already a lot of food, so the readerly tension that they may have had more than one each keeps us “hungry for more.”

But were they high at the Farmer’s Market? Or is it the case, as Emily Dickinson noted, that “We never know how high we are”?  We have to wait until close to the end of the story, when they’re catering a party for Tom Munro and champagne, for Shook to ask his line cooks, who have just finished setting up: “Want to go on a long walk off a short pier?”

He grabbed a lighter and the three of them set out jauntily down the alley.

If their befuddled, munchied time in the Farmer’s Market parking lot wasn’t explicit enough, this is all the confirmation the reader needs to know that these chefs enjoy smoking marijuana. And this manner of presenting their highness allows Goodyear to elegantly telegraph the fact that her subjects smoke pot without needing to outright state as much.

However: My daughter works in catering. Is this really the message the New Yorker wants to send to my beautiful daughter? Bethany is fourteen years old and a three-time “Culver City Caterer of the Year.” Does my daughter need to be “stoned” in order to enjoy the taste of duck fat sliding down the back of her tongue?

And when

one woman, when Shook finally had a chance to explain [what head cheese was], spat it out on the table and said, “Oh my fucking God, I’ve been kosher for thirty-two years,”

and Shook’s response is self-righteous merriment, how am I supposed to feel when I realize with a slow shock that the woman depicted in this scene is unequivocally my ultraorthodox wife of thirty-two years, who began keeping kosher on the night of our wedding?

(I don’t feel like doing anything today. Literally nothing. Not working, not not working, not smoking, not not smoking, not eating, not not eating, not community service — remember what Obama said after he was elected? We all need to offer ourselves to the community. If you’ve got hands, you can squeeze a stress ball, and that’s sometimes enough to change someone’s life forever –)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjnygQ02aW4]

I read another of Goodyear’s Letters from Los Angeles — her profile of the brilliant LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold — another hip hedonist, another man who puts the “meatlover” back into the phrase “meatlovers’ pizza” (and in turn stevedores the words meatloafers and leftovers into that one [COPYEDITOR PLEASE STET PLURAL POSSESSIVE ON “MEATLOVERS'”])– on about half an hour of sleep, still drunk, in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. I’d need to go back in order to confirm that it’s pure fucking catnip from beginning to end, but that’s my memory of the piece. I chuckled uncontrollably into my 7 a.m. cheese sandwich when, on

the day he decided to find the city’s best espresso, [Gold] travelled with David Kendrick, who was then the drummer for Devo. After twenty-seven shots, Gold—sweating, trembling, and talking too loud—met up with [his wife] Ochoa and some friends for dinner. He started to panic and begged the group not to get dessert. When Ochoa ordered tiramisu, he burst into tears, ran out of the restaurant, and took the bus home.

I dipped my white iPod earbuds into my airport OJ so I could smear them across the pages of Dana Goodyear’s profile of Jonathan Gold when I read this. Then I passed the earbuds through my entire digestive tract, like R. Crumb’s ascetic brother Maxon does with those long, awful strips of tape in his Tenderloin apartment in Terry Zwigoff’s perfect 1994 documentary.

But isn’t there a sense that, for all its jaunty pleasures, Goodyear’s Animal piece is just a slim salty slice cleaved off of the real cut, her now six-month-old Gold profile? I imagine I’m wrong when I imagine Jonathan Gold giving Dana Goodyear Dorito and Shake’s email addresses, or even just telling her they’d make for a good story. L.A. is big. So is Mario Batali. It’s not magic that Goodyear happens to be in the restaurant when Batali, several other chefs, Mike Mills (I listened to Reckoning last night twice through, incidentally. Wotta gem), et al come in to Animal for the story’s  conclusion. She knows the ID of everyone in Batali’s nine-person party, down to their “magician.” So she must have come in with them. She wasn’t just sitting alone at a table before an untouched bowl of curried duck hearts waiting for New Yorker–worthy guests to walk in. I’d like to know: Was it awkward for Goodyear to get up from this crowded table and follow the waiter back to the kitchen with their order?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSMnNxedQSY]

With respect and admiration,

Sasha H DeGwiid
San Francisco, Calif.