Help Decks

There’s a problem in the garden partition; it’s not the stupid’s fault for being stupid. I don’t try too hard. Failure gathers in the bleaches of my belly. Sara, blending into the evening, marches along the low garden wall, worrying her outfit’s straps while she considers the problem… and Sara wants to know: What problem? And, actually, what partition? When you were with the woman who hired you to check out her typography (in a city, in a women’s room), it bleached me. I made a joke about a person who eats a dinner designed for an animal. “The omnivore’s dilemma: What if you ate Fancy Feast for dinner instead of all that old tuna salad?” I must have understood it as a joke because then I said, “Just kidding.”


DARREN: My favorite kind of music is trust-fund punk.

KARREN: My favorite kind of tunnel is carpal. My favorite academic trend is the linguistic turn

DARREN: like in the 80s?

KARREN: yeah. I felt so good when scholarship took a linguistic turn

DARREN: One time you told me that you thought my blog was really well proofread

KARREN: it is!

DARREN: But I only thought, Ouch! faint praise!

KARREN: what’s faint about well proofed?

DARREN: i want it to be blazing and arresting, not clean

KARREN: well

DARREN: who will run the frog hospital?

KARREN: who will boost our followers?

DARREN: Steve Roeggenbuck will run the frog hospital

KARREN: we can’t name our son Ben Smith because he won’t be googleable

DARREN: I didn’t study search-engine optimization in college to help inform what we’re gonna name our son. anyway i thought we were gonna name him derrick?

KARREN:  like oil derrick?

DARREN: Like derek jeter?

KARREN: you’re embarrassing me. Have we gotten everything on our list?

DARREN: we still need salt-breath

[they turn down aisle 9, where the salt-breath is stocked]

DARREN: here’s the salt breath

KARREN [selecting a less-expensive brand]: let’s get this kind. that kind is eleven dollars!

DARREN: OK. I like this brand tho

KARREN: 11 dollars!

DARREN: OK, get the cheaper kind, but it’s not as salty. Or as breathy. It tastes like evaporated seaweed milk

KARREN: kan we talk about theater and radio and improvisation and the experience of reading plays or reading radio drama scripts

DARREN: darling i’d prefer not to in the supermarket. can it wait till we get home?

KARREN: I dunno. did you hear annie baker on WTF?

DARREN: yes. a fine reminder  that self-deprecation can sound 100 times more self-involved than self-aggrandizement

KARREN: or you mean that self-deprecation can just be another form of self-aggrandizement

DARREN: that’s a finer way to put it

KARREN: do we like these Deep Noodles?

DARREN: I’ve never tried them

[tosses the Deep Noodles with nonchalance into the brimming cart]

[a loud trust-fund punk song begins playing on the supermarket stereo]

KARREN: but Baker was sharp and charming in that interview

DARREN: i know. it was just when they were talking about the Pulitzer that it bummed me out

KARREN: what if I’m more interested in writing dialogue that’s read on the page than I am writing something that’ll be performed?

DARREN:  watching tv or film, the only time i’m conscious of the writing is after the fact. i only think “that was well written” once it’s over. as opposed to obviously reading a novel or a poem where every sentence is another opportunity to evaluate — and consciously appreciate — the writing

KARREN: sure because the writing is submerged in film or tv or theater — you have so much else to evaluate first — the performance, the images, the sound

DARREN: why don’t more people publish novels in dialogue?

KARREN: Because they have to feed their families.

[Throws a vegan suckling pig shrink-wrapped in hot-pink plastic into the cart, which buckles and implodes]

Franc Brasscombe

FB: Do you wanna read this post?

JJK: I’m busy with family

FB [lilting]: Tell me about the last 40 days of your life!

JJK: My aunt has dementia. I’m a human salad

FB: James Salter is verrrrrry important to me, professionally

JJK: If a professional copyeditor were to ask you out, and you weren’t married, would you?

FB: Would I what?

JJK: Would you consider?

FB: Consider what?

JJK [lilting]: would you consider taking her by the hand… leading her down the aisle… remembering all her most personal details…passwords, leggings sizes, ratios of incline…

FB: Like in literary theory?

JJK: A little!

FB: Wakefield. I’m worried about not being an activist?

JJK: Let’s talk it through. What’s wrong?

FB: Injustice. Social justice. Social injustice. Environmental catastrophe.

JJK: OK, and?

FB: We should be involved.

JJK: Join a synagogue?

FB: There aren’t any good ones nearby.

JJK: Get a PhD in sociology?

FB: Same.

JJK: Why don’t you and your wife make a list of 95 things that are important to you and post in Lutheran style on your door (fridge door) to remind you of what you think is very important

FB: That’s an adorable idea. What’s on the list?

JJK: You tell me?

FB: The ride in the wedding bus with other 30somethings, only 1/5 of whom you know, but everyone is wasted and mutually connected to Alixia and John.

JJK: A flame-retardant bunnysuit

FB: Climate change

JJK: Income inequality

FB: snarky book review culture

JJK: Attention deficit caused by pinterest, primarily by pinterest but also SEO

FB: Webinar fatigue

JJK: Student Debt Crisis

FB: various bubbles

JJK: Greece

FB: Ham; microwaving plastics and chemicals leaching into your food; leaching as a process more generally

JJK: I could continue alternating between actually serious issues and funny impressionistic worrying ideas but why would I?

FB: “You’re doing important cultural work”

JJK: Selfishness is a pretty gradient… I feel like I’m closer to the UV spectrum of selfishness, I will donate more money soon

FB: So the real list would be let’s say 10 things — income inequality, social justice (too broad?), campaign finance reform, climate change, poverty, hunger, some of these could be collapsed. Then once a week the two of you sit down and go through the list and resolve to do one thing for one of the things.

JJK: What would I do for “Social justice”?

FB: I don’t know.

JJK: Climate change?

FB: Solar panels?

JJK: campaign finance reform?

FB: I’d write a letter.

JJK: To whom?

[The anthropocene or whatever comes]

Email Newsletter (via _Elf)

Found a Kabbala elf holding a mirrored plate with these tweet drafts written on it in a looping dry erase script:

  • Angel anus breathe life into cane shape
  • Proper power journalist repo cower the lane stack
  • Flip foam pate  climbs rowers nit cap
  • dish whips stint at t Rowe price episode attacksin Cambridge
  • Stable ploughframe’s caballish charter state: “Gorman”
  • Fri sat release hour cancelled for lack of weak peener
  • Oh thank god
  • Surreal sculpture made by low vision’s limiting attention to detail: objects lose context. A zebra stripe airplane neck pillow ruts with a ponytail in a mound of sweatshirt cotton that contains human passenger but I don’t see real evidence of human passenger.
  • Tough guy clearly so in love with his 10 year old son and vice versa. Their Pretty mom smiles at me as I stand in aisle waiting for the lavatory. Is she smiling with some sympathy? Why do I elicit a sympathetic smile? Because she reads my mind, that her son might not leave the lavatory very clean? Is he a wild pisser? Bathroom is clean. Kid is competent & has a beautiful mom and a tough, adoring father
  • I thought it was coffee but now I only have
  • re miscarriage of justice: pls describe healthy/ normal justice-birth
  •  non visual metaphor // Blind metaphor
  • Jack is the kind of person who journalists represent faithfully: he’s a nonfiction person (tape)
  • I made an oaf
  • Wild oats gather in a carriage return as the water boils
  • Really great free meditation app except it plays an ad halfway through meditation session
  • I think your unreflective compulsive eating is at odds w your ostensively (ostensibly, obstetrically) sensitive writing
  • The porky nyctalops
  • A shy (shitty) little bromide
  • Ape shit Agnes varda brand combo sunscreen granola. Slathered
  • Onions shimmer
  • Franks red hot opens itself up to questions
    A suggestive breeze, a suggestive bird, a suggestive wine
  • Urge to just pour the rest of th granola into the coffee
  • Use visibility cane more when high. “Do you need assistance?” “No, I’m just very high” (or “yes, I’m v…”)
  • Woman in coffee bean and tea leaf staring thru window into blazing light has the lower part of her face and neck cast in bright gray shadow– for a moment I saw her as a dazzled and dazzling bearded trembling gnome, slender and staring with alarm at the beauty of bleecker
  • Poem about urgent need to deselect an elevator button
  • tinnitus flower
  • looked at his face expectantly
  • listened to what she was saying
  •  emotionally important story
  • i was all like why does it feel so good and delicious in here all of a sudden and then I was like ah I’m eating a cookie
  • girl typing with two thumbs on a pb&j like it was a blackberry (j)
    lydia lunch on expensive studio monitors
  • my reply to casey: “lately i’ve been groovin on a cocktail of spousal love + the pomodoro technique
  • I often feel the way Sarah Jessica Parker sounded when she guest-hosted the Leonard Lopate Show today. Particularly the Dexter Filkins segment.
  • NPR quiz show where instead of kk’s voice on the home answering machine you win an obituary of yr life written by christopher leman Haupt and ready for pub whenever you die
  • Burped up a hotdog from 20 years ago
  • wait you’re not supposed to want the world handed to you on a silver platter?
    does tao lin have an mfa?
  • rebranding marlon Brando
  • Re john Kerry’s “counterpart in Russia” (cf Crimea): where’s ( or who’s ) MY Russian counterpart? (probably named derrick spatzkin)
  • Mon. 1/27
    Tech. 1/28
    2 am
  • Had dinner I mean lunch w F. and Francine. His pants almost fell down on street. Francine didn’t want to help him. I hung back. He asked me who my mom was a few times. Wanted to talk about Sean. Kept saying when he saw me I looked familiar

Tuesday Roundup

Lotsa great links posted to the web around eight forty-five last night.

  1. Derrick Prine on “Doogie Howser and the Problems of Genre” [Ninth Estate]
  2. Penelope Popples: “How Hating Myself Led Me to My Dream Job in California” [NYT]
  3. Frank Gally on journalism’s “nude enemies and chubby reliquaries” [Homely Carthage]
  4. “But you guys are you seeing in fact the way in which the the problem is, I can’t. I’m not. I’m a timesaver, a lifesaver, a fireshaper[…] Though I’ve changed the name of my boyfriend in this piece, nothing about him has changed. He hasn’t changed a whit. He hasn’t changed nearly so much as insofar [sic] Whit Stillman. I’m the Penelope Cruz of the jilted loin. Do they make Bard College MFA in Writing flavoured potato crisps? I would eat a whole bag right now.” Righteous, deeply affecting new work from Caren Pomnsipsnist-Carlyle in The Proudfather
  5. Charles Kor on “the New British Affect” [College]
  6. Wylie Brott has been on fire this year: after last month’s excoriating takedown of the new Napa C. record, he returns with a 12,000-word brutalization of the concept of “chi” [Famerist]
  7. Capadonna blood donald whispers whippets into whip-smart willoughby frames [Paid advertisement from Warby Parker. Thanks for supporting this site!]
  8. AMAZING new podcast: Hate Speech
  9. AMAZING new instagram account: Lynda Folds
  10. AMAZING new product for men: Beatles Shampoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Notes from Around the Web

Lots of great stories from around the web to tell you about:

  • Alan Treet on the carbuncle that Hamish Hamilton wants for Boxing Day [Capital]
  • Farnoosh Ko on women’s hats and men’s hats and agriculture [Lathe]
  • Paul Rec on coffee diuretic economics and “Apple Watch” [NextOne]
  • Samantha Broingnès on the Bard College MFA program and the seven poets you can’t afford not to have recently read (including wonderful, extensive quotations from one poet in particular, whose name eludes me, after which I apprehended their name, at which point it escaped me. The poet’s name then squared off gently against me; a sympathetic novice on the judo mat. We coincidentally winked at each other — simultaneously. The poem is called “Garibaldi’s Promise” and what it does is press John Ashbery (and his legacy) very, very gently against certain hashtags from the Occupy movement until they yield what the reader must know they must yield. Highly Recommended!) [Literary Nests]
  • Caleb Payne-Sawyer on Rupert Murdoch, Moloch, Alan Greenspan, Iraq, Isis, Oats, Oates, and “The Israel School of Economics, where Mick Jagger didn’t go” [The Times of Brunswick]
  • Gerry Nayman on “The Clickthroughpocalypse” [The Mediums]
  • New fiction from Caren Bream (“Hate”) and Linda Yarbo (“Crane Peach Predator”) [The Iowan Quarterly]
  • A wonderful roundup of essential links from around the web — which might have unconsciously inspired this one! — from Carlotta Breast-Moulk [WSJF]
Beautiful tree in rime on the background of blue sky
Beautiful tree in rime on the background of blue sky

Solo Dad on Toast

This is a recipe given to me by my wonderful friend (and one-time nemesis) Savitri Chandran, who makes it much more fruitily with granulated gnum-gnumb beans sprinkled on after the fact. I have omitted those beans here, but the dish still retains an exhilarating zest.

  • 7 white mushrooms
  • 2 english muffins
  • oil
  • pb&j
  • mirin
  • soy sauce
  • old, old quarter of an old avocado (refrigerated)
  • the red hot chili peppers feat. salt n pepa

Make sure your wife is delivering a paper on Simone Weil at a comparative literature conference. You are alone with your son, a toddler. Put two whole-grain english muffins (I use Ezekiel brand, so named because of the passage in the bible where god says, “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger [plus whole-grain muffinzz, this line may have been added by King James]” and then shoots a screaming Frank Whaley in the head as acoustic desert nomad surf music starts, sounding not unlike the new Tiniawaren album but more surfey than bluesey and the opening credits roll) in the toaster oven.


The english muffins ought to be vegan — most brands seem to contain powdered milk. Are you seriously that insecure that you think having the powdered milk of some artificially inseminated factory farm cow destined for the meat grinder is going to make the nooks and crannies of your little vegetarian muffin taste any better? No. Your milky muffin is poor. Buy a better muffin.

(Also hey I want to know why the cows that make the powdered milk in your [and ok not infrequently my] muffin are lactating. You think they decided to finally take the plunge and have a baby and they read that the longer you breastfeed your baby calf the more immunities and ADHD-resistance it builds up, so they have all this extra cows milk for you? Fact: dairy farmers block their cows’ access to all third-party websites, including Slate, Salon, Mother Jones, and other outlets that might educate them about the benefits of longterm breast feeding. No but seriously dairy farmers spend a lot of time keeping those cows as pregnant as possible as long as possible and then when they can’t anymore they get chopped into cheap chili. Buy a fucking peace muffin, OK, let’s get back to breakfast–

You don’t need to toast your son’s muffin so much — just loosen it up because truth be told those Ezekiel muffins can be kinda bricklike before they’ve warmed up. Slather some PB ünd J on his and cut it into quarters, like a little time-piece. Noon to 3 p.m.: muffin. 3-6 p.m.: muffin. 6-9: yes, muffin. 9-12 midnight is muffin time. Do you understand? The sandwich will distract the child whilst you attend to your half of this meal. Now is a good time to decide that later you’ll write a blog post about breakfast, even though you have more or less stopped blogging in favor of, whatever, working, reading, writing sad diary entries that lack the zest (and embedded video) of a blog entry since you know no one will ever read them.

It’d be easy enough to just slap your muffin with hummus and move on to more pressing matters (becoming an activist, making the bed, etc). But it’s going to be a long morning, no matter how deep the reserves of fun you and your child will explore,  and you deserve more than hummus today. It’s Saturday.

Hey: Why do people frown on dads who smoke one hit of pot after their kids are asleep for the night, the baby monitor flickering quietly like a 19th-century candle? Seems hypocritical whilst these same people smile upon those selfsame dads who drink four high-octane seasonal ales after the kids are in bed. Is it safe to admit here on the barely occluded blog that Last night while my wife was out with Gerhard Richter and his extended family I tried to treat my degenerative retinal condition with illegal medicine? Before watching Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects on Netflix I had some spooky fun times with Dodie Bellamy’s new semiotext(e) pamphlet, printed on the occasion of the 2014 Whitney Biennial. It’s called The Beating of Our Hearts, and it’s animated by (among many others) these two YouTube videos by Andrew Kenower:



If I were to try to respond with any interpretive substance to Bellamy’s essay I think I’d run out of time and brain cells and tiny dudeman would wake up from his nap and you’d never find out what to do with your muffin, now nearly toasted. Put oil in the pan or, more likely, spray it for nine tenths of a second with a spray-can of oil even though people who subscribe to gimmicky nonsense like spray-cans of oil tend to be fatter than people who just pour a little oil in the pan but know when to stop eating or who can skip meals without feeling “deprived” or who can go six hours without eating without thinking constantly of food. Cut up the mushrooms, probably not local, probably not “ethically sourced.” Throw em in there. Pour in some mirin. Mirin makes everything taste great when you sautee with it. Soy sauce in there. Salt. Pepper. Enough chili flakes so that if this were on the menu at a restaurant they’d need to put a little icon of Flea’s face or Anthony Kiedis’s wang in a sock next to this item.

Come close as you can to burning the mushrooms without burning them: Near-crispy. Spread the top of your halved muffin with the last slices of a dying avocado like the avocado had come out of a tub of vegan fruit spread. Avocado is always already a savory vegan fruit spread (in a compostable wrapper! Just kidding). Remember: Avocado is Already™. Respectfully lump the mushroom sautee on top. Retain your dignity. Don’t put anything in your mouth until you’re sitting down. Your son is almost done with his breakfast by now, having eaten his way through about “6 hours” of the “muffinly timepiece” you “wound” for him. But he’s been learning that Daddy Needs to Eat Breakfast Too (how old until he points at your middle and replies, “Not by the looks of it, Bro”?), so gently bring the muffin to your mouth, over and over, until it’s gone, as your son turns the pages of a book on the floor, quietly identifying each dog that appears there.

Serves 2.