The Long Schoolroom

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?

Zombie Night

I cannot sleep
O wakeful maidens of the night
I read the first 50 pages of The Rest Is Noise
I have a painful physical ailment too mundane and homely to name
I live inside the eyeball of a blind guy who once read Mallarmé. TV pilot about a poetry-reading duck who pranks people on TV: Mallar’d. No. People complain about the little Critic (Jon Lovitz, 1995) in their minds. My bigger worry is the noxious accurate fictional vituperative web-only first-time writer’s gloss on my weird experimental hemmhhroidde that they find out about in NY and covertly fedex back to my alter-ego who’s managed to forget his body in a whirling cloud of NYC oxidized mercury children’s museum vegan baloney epiphany swirl.
If it weren’t the middle of the night, I’d fix this for you. But C. Debussy, et al, forget it, miffed and restive maidens of midnight, vexed vixens of the porch-crawl, next time I click on you, you will feel clicked upon. Naked. Girlfriend, I’m not blogging about pornography, I’m applying to an MFA program in Drama, and this is my best shot. Will this work as a pitch as a first-time writer for the web-only category of the n+1 website? I want to write about the way that certain ahh forget it. The problem with nightblogging is all the assholes only read it during the day, or else they’re the kinds of assholes who have noon brains in the middle of the night. Perfect for big-city living. Can I download a widget that only lets you read this when you’re out of sorts and awake when you’d rather be asleep? I don’t get off on knowing about things that you don’t know about. I’d rather we both know about them perfectly equally. That’s my idea of heaven. We both open the perfect book together and understand it without trying. That’s why I feel the soft blade sliding up the curve of my big belly: the editors want me to try harder. The one thing that keeps me going, maybe, is that you still get points for emotions. So if you fuck up and skid out and scarf the last of the libretto jelly watching real youtube of your closest female relative flirting with her best friend joking about placenta breakfast, but you don’t get it, but you feel it like the worst thing, high school play with a boner, wet spot obvious, that helps. You get financial aid for that.

Fatty

Hey Cutie! Well, if I’m not blogging, I don’t know who is… Best anagram for great is always Greta. I had to write this thing so I took care of other fake-important business and finally barnstormed my way out the house by maybe 1:15. Stopped at cafe number one, where my internet doesn’t work. Drank a single Americano and wrote the thing. It only had to be like 600 words, I just needed to finish a draft, whatever, right? Pay attention to what, ladies, am I right? If only the sports section were full of field hockey, long-distance running, rock-climber recipes, and so forth. Mountain Bike stats, info-graphics about how commercial horseradish is made. Then I’d read it… Ate a clam-filled Peasant Pie. I try to be vegan, and then I stop trying. While I waited for the pie to heat up, I read 2/3 of a framed Dan Leone column about Peasant Pies on the wall that begins with a non-review of a Mark Richard book. (Mark Richard is a Gordon Lish guy. What does that mean? I heard Dan Leone is a Gordon Lish guy, too. What does that mean? I guess technically L.E. Leone would be a Gordon Lish gal. Maybe it just means they took Lish’s class, or were edited by Lish. Code-name Quoinstone’s love for Dan (now L.E.) Leone made me give her a closer look. Those columns are a boon. Real boons. San Francisco is lucky to have L.E. née Dan Leone writing about food in the pages of its best alternative newsweekly. Future generations may shake their heads in wonder.) Moved on to cafe number two, more coffee, realized the draft was fine, realized they didn’t offer internet — it’s more of a bakery than a coffee shop. Plenty of people on laptops, but no internet. This is a shameful description of my current life between full-time jobs. I have a part-time job that requires me to squeeze out 600 words every week or so. [Glances at Jawbone, smiles, casts +4 wagon spell. Begins whistling The Man from Laramie.]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc4TDx_0k9Q]

Barista at coffee shop number one asked older woman I didn’t really turn to look at what she was doing today; woman replied, loudly, “I woke up at one, now I’m going to the Legion of Honor. They’ve got the Magna Carta there.” A pause. “I don’t really know what the Magna Carta is, But I’m going to check it out.” Barista: “It sounds like it has to do with the Founding Fathers.” Onward to the Mission Branch of the SFPL. Sent off my thing. Yelling match, crazy dude, “You stepped on my foot and then took my turn on the computer. I want your name, so I can give it to the spiritual registry of offenders.” Patrons yelled for him to shut up. Elementary schoolkids yelled the same thing at each other an hour earlier on the street. Sent the emails. Went to therapy. If I woke up at one on a Wednesday and didn’t know what the Magna Carta was, I wouldn’t say it so loudly. But this blog entry is essentially the same thing. Confessions. Bought and ate a large container of wasabi-soy almonds. Stopped into a new bookstore called, I think, Press Works on Paper? Can’t tell if there’s more punctuation in there. The store is mightily well-appointed, particularly considering they opened less than a week ago. The table in the center was covered in books lain flat: Andy Fitch’s Ten Walks; amazing-looking Al Columbia book from Fantagraphics; Witz; something old by Blake Butler; something old by Anne Carson; plus I think Nox; a journal called Paul Revere’s Horse whose editor and whose editor’s fiancée I ran into in Whole Foods with my fiancée yesterday. We discussed the price of avocados. I feel like I’m trapped inside a club remix of a Leonard Cohen song; Heather Christle’s The Difficult Farm; Rachel B. Glaser’s Pee on Water; Thin Kimono; the Wave book of James Tate prose poems with Bee in the title; Matthew Zapruder; something by that poet with three names who has a new book I just got an email about. All on this one table. On the shelves were things like The Age of Wire and String and Stories in the Worst Way, a twine-wrapped set of old Penguin Paperbacks, Knopf-published Field Guides to Birds/Sea Creatures/et al. Expensive Japanese and German stationery. Fine-looking art books and prints and bookbinding materials. I told the guy at the laptop/register that I was pretty bowled over by their selection. I think it’s the most fussily — that’s not the word, I don’t mean to be negative, I was impressed by this store. Assiduously? -curated bookstore I’d ever been to. The spectre of Flying Object, or do I mean Walser & Co., I honestly don’t know the difference, and I faltered trying to explain them to the kind dude, suffused the place. Not that I’ve been to either of those places, but I wanted Northhampton to drop-ship a passel of chapbooks to this place. It also could’ve used more from Siglio and Picturebox, but AS I SAY, they’d been open five days.  Nothing from McSweeney’s, either, but apparently that’s because PGW turned up their nose at this store. It also might’ve been nice if they’d had print-outs of Helen DeWitt’s and Bill Knott’s blogs stacked somewhere. I’ve never read a poem in my life. Then I stepped on the foot of an old traveler (angry survivor of the 60s) as I exited, fishing for my almonds. He made an aghastly sound and I said, quickly, “I’m so sorry, I’m nearly blind.” Which is true. I no longer drive during the day. (Haven’t driven at night for a few years.) Tuesday morning around 6 I googled “blind martial arts.” Apparently vision’s not too important once you’re in close contact. Jiu-Jitsu.  I might begin (being is the preferred anagram) Asian grappling (?) once I move to Missouri. I don’t want to buy a gi unless I’m sure. Tonight, packing for tomorrow’s wedding-trip to  Chicago, I am glad I haven’t gotten rid of my leather dress shoes in a fit of vegan indignance. I still feel vegan diffidence even though at this moment my belly is full of pork. Yes, after the coffee and the clams I crashed and caved even deeper. It’s not full of pork, but the pork is in there.

“Spilling Juice On Me Like You’ve Got Someplace To Go”

SHANNON: Can I borrow your yoga mat

BETHANY: Keep your voice down, I don’t want those boys to know I do yoga

SHANNON: What boys? Who cares?

B: Yoga is a bourgeois activity. Also I feel like a girl doing yoga

S: U are a girl

B: I know

TELEPROMPTER: Hey girls I’m a journalist writing an article about the author of this blog. Mind if I ask a few questions?

B: OK!

TELEPROMPTER: It won’t take a minute.

S: Sure. Go ahead.

TELEPROMPTER: What is your relationship to the administrator/owner of this blog?

B: He my daddy

S: Yes

TELEPROMPTER: Do you have any financial relationship with the owner of this blog?

B: He makes me dinner a lot

S: He buys me lunch sometimes

TELEPROMPTER: Do you have a sexual relationship with the owner of this blog

B: We snuggle

S: It’s not like that

TELEPROMPTER: should children descry etc

B: Aw, you seem tired. Come sit.

S: Sit here next to me. This couch is cool.

TELEPROMPTER: I am feeling tired. It’s facebook. Facebook depletes me.

B: It’s also your diet. And your posture. Have you ever done yoga

S: She’s a yoga fiend!

TELEPROMPTER: I got into yoga for a while. I felt great, but I couldn’t keep with it.

B: The owner of this blog isn’t lazy, but there’s something about him that reminds me of what you say.

S: Yeah, it’s not laziness but there is a kind of lack of backbone or something

B: A caveyness

TELE: Cageyness?

B: no, cavey. like he starts something and then it gets hard and so he caves.

TELEP: Anything else?

S: I named the network’s printer “harold printer.”, isn’t that cute?

B: i love that

tele: OK thanks gals that’s plenty. here are my lynx:

  • stoya reads there is no year
  • stosuy talks to stoya
  • sam frank’s essay from the failure issue of the rcf is full-text online. Helen DeWitt‘s isn’t. Read both of these essays drunk and exhausted on an airplane. Frank’s slayed me. DeWitt’s scared me. I highly recommend that issue of the journal. i even took notes on it. maybe i’ll suspend my facebook account and write a thoughtful response to the issue. i wish I were capable of writing a thoughtful response to something

Oye CoMo Va

I’m moving to Columbia, MO this summer without the best idea of what I’ll be doing there. In the meantime, I’m keeping a running list of things to know about, to get excited about moving there. Convincing myself that CoMo will be an all right place to spend some days, probably some years.

This morning I clicked on a press release from the Minneapolis label De Stijl for a band that sounded interesting. I yipped a little as I began to read the text below the track:

Having toured tirelessly and stupidly for many years, I played the unlikely hot spot of Columbia, Missouri no less than three times one summer. Don’t ask me how—logistically the cursed itinerary is still a mystery—but I can probably tell you why. The chance to play a gig with that city’s Jerusalem and the Starbaskets always made it a worthwhile and necessary stop. Basically a duo (although sometimes augmented by other members), Jerusalem and the Starbaskets play unfashionable, unpretentious and completely devastating pop music, and they’re one of my all time favorite live bands. Criminally under-recorded up until now (with only a handful of impossibly rare cassettes and a split LP with Skarkraou Radio to their name), their brand new The Howling LP (Radio Fonico) is a great sampling of their unique vibe, sounding like the third Velvets LP played by The Terminals. Note the righteous guitar tone any stoner rock Chud would envy, and catchy, infectious tunes (with a recent emphasis on country melodies) that will stay in your head for weeks. Completely necessary and great. Album of the month!

~ James Jackson Toth
Your Flesh

Further reading on the press-release proper reveals:

Jeremy Freeze is a Memphis born songwriter who has spent the last few years in Columbia, Missouri playing and recording with Kim Sherman as Jerusalem and the Starbaskets. Before yr preconceived notions of Missouri make things cloudy, consider the Black Artist Group, Screamin’ Mee Mees, Drunks with Guns, Gene Clark and a whole lot of other shit that you don’t know about get in the way. [emphasis mine] Lest there be other confusion, my friend Oliver, this 65 year old dude from Kashmir, told me DOST means “brother man”. So basically, DOST is “friend” but a more familiar way of the word. Just so happens that it’s the phonetic same as “dosed”. One crystalline thing herein is the Jams. Freeze has reached that point where he’s saying more by saying less and that’s a level that many songwriters never reach. After a few yrs of playing gigs with Times New Viking, Wooden Wand and a short list of more or less limited releases, DOST is the bands first readily available release and we’re going to do our best to get it everywhere.

I realize it’s a potentially sad thing for a solid, hip-seeming garage band to make me (so) excited to move to a place. But man doth not live by True/False Film Festival alone, know what I mean?

Also, I hadn’t heard of any of that list of other Missouri heavy hitters, allow me to follow those references up a little. I could use a cup of coffee this morning.

  • Drunks with Guns
    “four sauced, weird-looking guys sitting stupefied atop kegs with beers in hand and countless empties of Milwaukee’s Best and Meister Brau at their feet”
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gIfMEyj3nw]
  • Gene Clark
    b. November 17, 1944, Tipton, MO. Co-founder of the Byrds.

  • “a whole lot of other shit that you don’t know about”
    indeed

The Lonely Dads of Noe Valley

Even though I quit my job of eight years I am not unemployed though I am certainly not overemployed and there are things I should be doing but today it feels impossible to do them. I have been scooping the internet too hard and now my voice is stuck in this breathless Tweety Drescherian whine.  I went for a run and then took a bath even though I tell myself I care about California water issues. It’s my hippie landlord’s fault for installing, in the 1970s, a bath with no standing room. Now I’m going to get a haircut. What will my kids think? They’re so ashamed of their father. I finally opened the 80-oz pickle container I bought in a moment of ecstatic hysteria from Safeway last month. Part of the problem is that after reading this terrific interview I decided to give veganism a shot even though it’s a colossal pain in the ass. Then I realized that there was a whole breathless funny vegan hemisphere of the internet that wanted tapping and so I hit it. Now it’s 4:24 p.m. Time for a haircut? Can I buy a vegan pot cookie from you?

“With a beard, St. Joseph; without, the Virgin Mary”

I began writing a comment on this post by Ed Park, where he politely disagreed with Jenny Davidson’s negative response to the style of Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time — but after two Stella Artois and some Ryvita crackers, I’ve decided to host my thoughts here, in my own air-conditioned corner of the web.

Tonight I’ll finish book nine, The Military Philosophers. I might not have made it this far into A Dance without the support of the Society I’m reading it with — or without Ed’s promise that once you get to about book three, things, as Levi notes on Jenny’s post, “will be layered with memory and meaning,” and become more enjoyable.

I couldn’t help but think of Jenny’s reaction to Powell tonight, when I read the passage in book nine where our narrator, Nick, hears Blake’s “Jerusalem” sung at a Victory Day Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London at the end of Word War II:

Blake was as impenetrable as Isiah; in his way, more so. It was not quite such wonderful stuff as the Prophet rendered into Elizabethan English, yet wonderful enough. At the same time, so I always felt, never quite for me. Blake was a genius, but not one for the classical taste. He was too cranky. No doubt that was being ungrateful for undoubted marvels offered and accepted. One often felt ungrateful in literary matters, as in so many others.

Powell reminds Jenny D., she says, of no one so much as Pope, with the trouble he takes “to develop an elaborate and fluent idiom that seems… overequipped given the relative banality and commonplace nature of the thoughts therein expressed!” It’s funny that immediately following the passage quoted above — one of the most self-consciously literary-critical in the series so far — the narrator invokes Pope himself, quoting “Imitations of Horace”:

Who now reads Cowley? If he pleases yet,
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
Forgot his epic, nay Pindaric art,
But still I love the language of his heart.

“But,” our narrator adds, “surely the pointed wit was just what did survive?” And who now reads Powell? A weirdly vocal and large group, it seems. The pleasure of Powell is in his humor, and his humor is entirely social. “Wit was just the quality he brought to bear with such remarkable effect.”

Before returning to his narrative of periphrastically noncommittal observations of his daily trials and triumphs, Nick ends this section of literary reverie in St. Paul’s Cathedral with a critical reading of the National Anthem:

Repetitive, jerky, subjective in feeling, not much ornamented by imagination nor subtlety of thought and phraseology, the words possessed at the same time a kind of depth, an unpretentious expression of sentiments suited somehow to the moment.

I’m overly inclined to think I’ve found an author’s ars poetica whenever a literary-critical episode appears within a piece of literature. But I wonder if this itchily intrigued section of the Military Philosophers can connect somehow with Professor Davidson’s response to Powell’s style.

UPDATE: I hate this blog post! I’m going to sleep