Mail Sack

Hi Readers!

Every Week We Here at my blog get almost Thousands of letters, emails, texts, mails, balloons, of all stripes — all of them grammatical, all of them fine. A typo or two here or there is actually healthy — in precisely the same way that a forest fire is healthy for Ecology. You’re interested in What Walter Benjamin thought about Paul Klee? Well I’m interested in what you, the reader, think about Paul Klee! Pretty affectionate, pretty generous, I am, huh?

Let’s take a look at some recent letters.

Dear Andrew,
How come your name isn’t on your blog? It’s pretty easy if you have an iPhone or even a dial-up internet connection to figure out who you are, but you still kinda fake-occlude your identity on your blog. What gives? I heard you’re vegetarian now?
With Real, Romantic Love,
Daniel Coane
Samp Stones, NJ

Heya Daniel,
Joshua Cohen recently “argued” that, to “our” (mine, his, Tao Lin’s)

transparency is the new sincerity; many of our peers maintain that it’s psychologically healthy, and artistic, to expose oneself entirely online. Anonymity was so 1990s—the Age of Fake Screen Names. Today, only utter exposure can set one free, while the only thing proscribed is regret.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned? Probably I’m just terrified of my boss.

Dear @Quailty,
Why do you speak in riddles? Isn’t the point of communication to, like, communicate? What’s the difference between a chat-room conversation and a correspondence conducted via USPS on expensive stationery?
Adults Pretending to be Teenagers

More like Adults Acting Like Teenagers! I’m thinking about quitting my job.

Whoops That’s all we’ve got time for this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

nyc, 1993


I wish your daughter could read your poetry. But with titles like “Neighborly Cum,” you’ve presumably guaranteed that she won’t be allowed, either by yourself or her tutors. And when she does find your work, chances are, she’ll be disturbed forever. I have to ask: Why do you all but ensure that at some point in her life, your daughter will be disturbed?


I’m not the one ensuring that she’ll be disturbed. Old Barry Life-Truths is the one who makes sure of that. If it’s not “Neighborly Cum,” it’s Return to Oz (1985, Walter Murch, dir.) at a friend’s house—or any number of other horrors one can’t slide through life without being forcibly pressed up against them for longish periods of time.


But why add to the horror by writing a poem like “Neighborly Cum”?


I’m not making myself understood. I’m not adding to the horror. This is like asking why I’m adding to the flood by dipping my bucket into the angry, swollen creek and reserving that water for tonight’s broths, sipped in misery among the bloated, flood-ravaged corpses of our friends. The water is there, whether it’s in the creek with the dead catfish or if it’s in my tureen—with the dead catfish. [Smiles, awkwardly adjusts his pants, smiles again, grabs a full fistful of the wasabi peas on the table between them. He has small hands.] I’m not inventing the water, and I’m not conjuring it. I’m carrying it.


But you could leave it in the creek. You don’t need to fetch it. Let it pass on.


You describe the water as something in transit — just passing through our encampment, on its way to nobler fates — a job at a university, maybe, or a self-employment that manages to fuse social justice with a “hip” cultural engagement? Or just broader diffusion into the ocean, for example. Sure. But as it rushes west, the water is also quite a static thing. The creek is there—sometimes swollen, sometimes “normal,” now and then quite meager—but it’s there year-round. Just like your arms, or your thighs—sometimes swollen, sometimes meager, always present. [Derrick, looking away from the interviewer’s thighs, thinks about them.]


Your work often mentions self-loathing, and something you call “fake self-loathing.” Do you really hate yourself?


Well, yes, I do, but this isn’t really why I use those words. I think of self-loathing as an artistic tool, a raw material — it’s a particular brand and color of paint that I buy in quantity, and use in my compositions. This doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a subject of mine, no more than you could accuse a painter of using “brown” or “blue” as her subject.

[Originally published in Fake Paris Review, Issue 2, Spring 1994]

psychic dancehall




FS: Check out the cover of Artforum

PDX: Cool

FS: Contemporary art like this gets made so that hot lovers can hang out inside of it and feel intelligent. Then they trot off somewhere and do it.

PDX: Really??? Sex?

FS: Yep

PDX: Are those hot lovers on the cover?

FS: Yeah. One of them is Danish, the other one is American

PDX: Wait, you know them?

FS: My college roommate took the photo. He’s beside himself that it’s on the cover of Artforum. He’s playing it cool, though

PDX: I’m stuck at the Portland airport.

FS: Why?

PDX: How should I know? The pilot ate too many Chili Cheese Fritos, won’t get off the can.

FS: Really?

PDX: No. I’m joking.

FS: I liked you better when you were painfully self-conscious and never said anything

PDX: Me too

[They make love.]

[Wait, I thought one of them was in Oregon while the other is in NYC?]

[That’s right]

[So how do they…]

[I’m not sure. Maybe they are in the same room after all.]


FS: I feel like a big slice of garbage cake

PDX: You feel like you are one? Or you feel like having one?

FS: Both, dog. [pause] have you seen druggie moses

PDX: i heard he died… in the video game he was playing

FS: ahh phew i thought you meant died in real life

PDX: no, no, he’s still alive in real life

FS: thank god, i love druggie moses

PDX: so do i. he’s a nice guy. real nice guy. makes an amazing field roast

PDX: say, i thought you were going to liveblog your CSA box

FS: i was, but then i opened it

PDX: disappointed?

FS: no, just not… inspired to write about it on the internet

PDX: what was in it?

FS: some fucking vegetables.

PDX: I see.

FS: do you want to write on the internet some fake-fantasies about quitting your job and studying language and literature in a university setting in a place where it snows for the rest of your life?

PDX: ok

FS: you’re not really cut out for academia, though, so don’t actually do it. just ‘blog’ about it

PDX: ok

FS: also can you start wearing really form-fitting clothes all the time?

PDX: ok

FS: I hope nobody reads this.

PDX: don’t worry, they won’t

FS: how do you know?

PDX: today’s a big news day, they’ll be distracted, “Pope’s Portugal Trip a Bid to Move Beyond Scandal

FS: whoa

PDX: people are going to think we’re gchatting, but we’re not

FS: I know. how do we communicate that all this is happening while i’m sitting in your lap, spooning cottage cheese with balsamic vinegar into your mouth?

PDX: maybe if there is a video, or pictures? more ‘new york observer’

FS: no

PDX: more “frites” on the LES

FS: Nah

PDX: more belgian tacos

FS: stop

PDX: ‘stuff white people like’

FS: i know

PDX: ‘stuff latinos like’

FS: ok

PDX: ‘stuff i’ve been reading’

FS: ha. ok

PDX: ‘stuff that tastes good after you’ve been surfing’

FS: i know.

PDX: ‘stuff me into your mom’s stocking (above the mantle, first movement)’

FS: you lost me

PDX: I hope i stay that way

FS: let’s dance


PDX: I hate the way you use the internet

FS: What, you mean ‘mozilla firefox’?

PDX: i’m actually on chrome now

FS: all part of your major google push, huh?

PDX: there’s no google push

FS: first you’re all google readered out, now chrome?

PDX: that’d be funny to do a remake of The Reader, but call it The Google Reader, and it would be about…

FS: the internet?

PDX: yeah, and, like, the news cycle?

FS: Broadcast News meets Annie

PDX: Against Nature meets Arthur magazine

FS: Erewhon meets Waterworld

PDX: [rueful chucklin, picks up a remote control and starts a previously frozen video that shows a woman masturbating with a snorkel. FS opens a laptop and reads this tremendous collection of ‘blog gifts’]

FS: [munches thoughtfully on some machine-shelled pistachios]

PDX: remember when I ate a hot pocket in the shower to stop you from crying

FS: yeah. i hate remembering myself that way, laughing through the tears despite myself

PDX: was that the night of the Nightmares on Wax concert?

FS: yes

PDX: [youtube=]

FS: classic. stoned volvo. 405 South. there was a period where I was buying bananas every day

PDX: sweet man, talk it through. talk soon, ok? i’m gonna shop my soulcraft a bit, then back to biz. xox

FS: fuck, kay cool, lovies

PDX: munchkin corpse, big love

FS: ok you too

PDX: smack those lips to taste it

FS: I know I know

PDX: bye

Paparazzo: Episode Six

Announcing Episode Six of Paparazzo, a radio show about culture broadcasting from Paris, France. Didn’t think this one was up to snuff, don’t think any of them are up to snuff, snuff is a distant impossibility, but thanks to the support of noted radio producer and power-DJ Baro “The Cloud Hammer” Palma, I’ve decided to free Episode Six from the hard-drive prison where it’s been mouldering for the past three weeks.

I stopped drinking coffee again. My brain floats belly-up in a thin broth of turkey.

[Listen to Episodes One, Two, Three Four, or Five.]


JESS: In last night’s dream someone talked about how a typeset page is rigidly ordered and composed, but still sometimes contains the smeariest formal derangements available to art.

CLEM: Same as a rectangular canvas. This is all so obvious. This is 100-level. You think better when you’re awake. “Intellectual” dreams are rarely worth relating to the waking.

JESS: Thank you. I learn so much from you. Every day. Maybe we could write an entry-level textbook about “thinking” sometime. Together, like the Krugmans. From a laptop in a bed in St. Croix

CLEM: Emily Gould quotes Sam Lipsyte in Vice on being a young writer before the Internet was what it is: “there was no real record of when you were a dumb, scared, angry baby who didn’t know how to write yet.” I like that. You totally are a dumb, scared, angry baby who

JESS: I’m not that angry. I’m too comfortable to be angry.

CLEM: You sometimes get angry about how comfortable you are. I want someone to murder part of you. Then you’ll be scared, and you’ll give some of yourself up, and you’ll start helping other people.

JESS: I dislike talking about the world in abstract psychological terms. What the hell is a “part of myself”? My leg? What does it mean to “give up a part of myself”? What does it mean to be “scared” about “opening up”? If I say I’m “vulnerable”—vulnerable to what? Lyme disease? I know these aren’t meaningless expressions. I wouldn’t prefer an Orwellian law that required everyone to only talk about themselves in nutritional terms. Still. I’m not afraid of opening up. I’m just selfish and comfortable and unshowered.

CLEM: Have you thought about therapy?

JESS: Have you thought about ESL training?

CLEM: Have you—-Hey, my boss just showed up. Gonna get back to work.

JESS: OK, love you

CLEM: Love you too.


Cowardly Inferno

COWARD: More beef? More chocolate?

HERO: Nah. Time to push off.

COWARD: Please stay? For another five minutes? [Palms a piece of chocolate into his face.] For another forty?

HERO: Nah. Gotta go. Stay whatever, kid.

COWARD: Babette is coming home soon–wouldn’t you like to see her?

HERO: [Eyebrows waggle] Uh, yeah, I would. When’s she get here?

COWARD: In an hour. Less. She’s on the Dittobahn, past Eyes Chreaste. She sent me a text.

HERO: [Flexing] Lemme see it.

COWARD: No, I mean, my phone is–

HERO: Are you lying to me?

COWARD: [Soils pants] Yeah, I mean, hey, wait

[They make love]

YOUR HOST, JIMINY CRICKET: Whoops! Looks like the MPAA made a boo-boo! This film is NC-17, not PG-13 as advertised! Sowwwy! [JIMINY CRICKET joins the “orgy”]

BETO G.: Hey, what’s up, bro?! [High-fives a CLOUD IN PANTS]

CLOUD IN PANTS: Yo, dude, Avatar in three Gs!

BETO: Yeahh! Smoke some weed! Three thousand dollars!

AFFABLE MOM: [Laughing good naturedly] Wow, wait, what? This is insane!

COWARD: [Extracts himself from the orgy] Mom, what are you doing here?

AFFABLE MOM: Moms like watching movies too, you know! I have more than one Phish CD in my music library, young man!

COWARD: You’re not going to smoke pot on TV, are you?

AFFABLE MOM: Who do you think pays for your subscription to Cracked magazine, young man?

COWARD: You know I’m really grateful to get Cracked in the mail, mom. But I don’t think you should be here— some of these guys…

AFFABLE MOM: I can take care of myself, Gerald. And don’t forget to do your Italian homework.

COWARD: I dropped Italian, mom. I’m not taking it anymore.

AFFABLE MOM: That’s fine, sweetie. But what are you going to do for your language requirement?

COWARD: Latin. Or maybe French? I’m getting really into poetry, mom!

AFFABLE MOM: Well, I don’t need to remind you of all the wonderful poetry in Italian, Gerry.

COWARD: Really? Like what?

AFFABLE MOM: Dante, anyone? My goodness! [Farting sound]