2011 in review

“The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

MU Triptych

Happy Cyber Tuesday.

Post-honeymoon, back in Columbia, MO.

pantera

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.

Sorry, aunts.

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.

Featured Readers

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.

Neff Hall II: Return to Neff Hall

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.)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hYqvtHzr48]

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.

My College Radio Application

Dear mom and dad,

I went to college from 1999-2003, where I lived, ate, breathed, and smoked college radio (WOBC-FM) all day every day. Then, with a year left, I dropped out to move to CA to work for a magazine. I worked there for the next eight years. Then I fell in love with a beautiful woman and she got a job in town, so I decided to follow her here and finish my B.A. To my intense delight and surprise, this makes me eligible for a show on [yr station]. When I dropped out of college, I cryogenically froze my radio show and now, eight years later, [cue music bed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_tVZFZ5PR4] my beloved show is going into the industrial microwave on MEDIUM for 6-8 minutes and dragging itself through the halls of the academy once again!

My show (TITLE TK: “WEIRD OLD GUY?”) will be freeform radio at its finest, pushing into the red w/r/t innovation and FUN. Fun must never be sacrificed to innovation. And vice versa.

Music is the bedrock of the show, and I plan to make the most of [yr station]’s rock library, in addition to my extensive personal vinyl/CD/MPEG collection. The best rock — from oddities, novelties, classics, forgotten b-sides, to brand-new singles and previews of bands coming through town. But sprinkled throughout the music will be the true jewels of the show, the multiple talk-based segments. Possibilities include:

• “Walking the Line”
Each week, a different writer (from creative writing profs, to visiting poets, to MU poetry/fiction PhDs and even undergrads) brings in one line — a line of their own poetry, or their favorite poet’s, or a sentence from a novel, or from a piece of journalism, anything — just has to be one line of “literature” for us to discuss.

(Each of these segments will have its own musical intro. Maybe Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines” for this first one? Or Johnny Cash, sure)

• “Comics Digest”

A weekly verbal recap of what happened this week in the comics page of the Missourian

ex: “It’s been a tough week for Lois of ‘Hi & Lois’; she’s been home with the measles and her little brother won’t leave her alone!” etc etc

• “Vibin’ with the City Council”

Each week I get a Columbia city councilperson on the phone (pre-recorded, most likely; I have a ZOOM H4N I can produce several of these segs in advance, but I’ll always cue and introduce them live) and ask: what’s the vibe of the city council like this week?

• deranged/brief Self-interviews; fake interviews with pre-recorded interlocutors

• I might try a recurring feature about being a 30 year old dude taking computer science with freshman; I will probably rip lots of samples from my DVD of Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School for this (maybe rent Happy Madison, too…). Find other old undergrads and ask them about their lives, what it’s like here for them

• I have an MU football-related idea that I’ll only tell you if you give me a show with a legit timeslot

• Reviews (with field recordings) of frat party bands (!!!!!)

• as many opportunities for live call-in segments as possible (TBD)

• Guest singles (a guest — anyone from the dean of grad studies to that girl who works at Sparky’s brings in 5 singles and we play them and talk about them)

• tiny, hilarious 5-minute radio dramas

• even tinier, even more hilarious 2-minute radio dramas in foreign languages feat. students in various MU language departments

• Much, much more

• Seriously, so much more you have no idea

• And, as I mentioned above, all of these segs, some of which may happen every week, some once a month or so, will all be sprinkled like cherries and chopped nuts over the wide swath of whipped-creamy dark-chocolate sets of top-shelf weird/funky/great music. Wire, the Fall, Olivia Tremor Control, Pixies b-sides, Unrest, Big Dipper, Deerhoof, Beefheart, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, Truman the Tiger’s Drug-Hell Singers, Is That a Real Band?, That Would Be Amazing If So, Go Betweens, Soft Boys, Soft Machine, Soft Cell, Soft Bulletin, Don Cherry, Destroyer, Cluster, Tyvek, Essential Logic, Glasser, Wreckless Eric, Nick Lowe, Sparks, Magazine, Melvins, Cardigans, Acrylics, Pterodactl, Fela Kuti, R. Stevie Moore, et al!!!!

Please let me know if you have any questions. I love you.

tenBroek

Dr. tenBroek liked Trader Vic’s ice cream and apple pie made with summer apples and without cinnamon. He had breakfast early (about 7:00) because he wanted to spend time with his family, and he never knew what the end of the day might bring. Steaks or pork chops were common for breakfast. Most mornings he rose about 4:00 and went for a long walk, often accompanied by his son Nicolas. Nicolas remembers being waked by his dad’s grabbing the covers from his bed. They walked through the woods with Dr. tenBroek using a broomstick for a cane because he needed something heavy to help him make his way through the brush. The tenBroeks had a forty-by-forty-foot living room with a huge fireplace along one side. This was the meeting place for leaders of the blind, government officials, and even students. Saturday classes for Berkeley students often occurred in that living room. Dr. tenBroek chopped much of the wood for the fireplace himself. Mrs. tenBroek said that Dr. tenBroek paced when he was talking, and others, such as Muzzy Marcelino, paced in a different portion of the living room. The carpet must have taken quite a beating. President Maurer has Dr. tenBroek’s fireplace poker in his office. It is more than four feet long with two barbed prongs on the end for stirring the fire.

Braille Monitor (7/11)

misc hex dump

JEB: Big sale at Nordstrom’s going on here

CLONE 1: Nordstrom’s possessive?

JEB: Nordstrom’s singular. Just the one up on Geary.

CLONE 1: You’re in San Francisco?

JEB: For a tick.

CLONE 1: What for?

JEB: Involved in a professional creative endeavor that brought me out here.

CLONE 1: But I thought you just moved?

JEB: I did. I’m back for a few days to tie up this loose end.

CLONE 1: How’d it go?

JEB: Today was one of two. Went bad. I knew it was pointless for me to come back here, but they wanted me to, and they paid for my airfare, so I did. It’s a film shoot. I was in the way and trapped feeling all day, going apeshit on the craft services table, chatting up the P.A.s. I ended up going into the office there — unrelated, mostly, to the reason I was there — and asking if I could just do miscellaneous work for them, just to be useful. I ended up editing some blog posts.

CLONE 1: Weird.

JEB: Around four I felt that my alienation had sort of topped out, so I left without saying goodbye. I just got a text from the guy being like, “Where are you? Did you go back?” Made me feel like a stoned fearful teenager. I’ll go back tomorrow. Sorry.

Then I went to Nordstrom’s because I had a gift card and bought a shirt.

CLONE 1: Your bag says Barney’s.

JEB: I changed the name because I was embarrassed.

CLONE 1: Don’t be embarrassed. You went to Barney’s because of the gift card. You didn’t ask for the gift card.

JEB: Walking through the Mission with a bag from Barney’s is much worse than walking through the Mission wearing a shirt from Barney’s.

CLONE 1: How much did the shirt cost?

JEB: More than the gift card.

CLONE 1: How much more?

JEB: Does anyone in San Francisco want to get a quick beer? I’ve got dinner plans at 8:00 or 8:30. It’s about 6:00 now.

CLONE 1: What else?

JEB: I wanted to do a misc hex dump, Dad.

CLONE 1: What are you waiting for?

JEB: …for you to turn up the background

CLONE 1: ok. go

JEB: where’s my beat

CLONE 1: boom tss tropp

JEB: well,

CLONE 1: people now peoplesoft grab a garabedian

JEB: soft pomeranian lefkowitz insaneian

CLONE 1: lobestar rodeo for Rudy (1993)

JEB: Banagrams w/ Rufio’s the only Lucky Peach you’ll need after the sex-change operation.

JEB and CLONE 1: [together] Whoa!!!

JEB: Veiled bra reduction soft is cancerous and bleeding

CLONE 1: Delete the softest tone in that tone poem’s loft hearth

JEB: label labia libel sokal hoax got supersoaked

CLONE 1: mysql childhood?

JEB: radio

CLONE 1: pornstar.

JEB: prada-paseo prado

CLONE 1: destinos,

JEB: reflectos

CLONE 1: island culture deaf squad

JEB: vegan squab; Thanksgiving

CLONE 1: gypsy marijuana trailer coat is dusty warm and febrile

JEB and CLONE 1: [together] Cool!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrw00Amyl5s]