Happy Cyber Tuesday.
Post-honeymoon, back in Columbia, MO.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
I’m in a student lounge in the J-school? Except my computer science class is in this building? On a weirdly non-password protected newish iMac with a filthy keyboard. I went back to school, Rodney Dangerfield style. Today’s the first day of classes. This morning involved the self-inflicted horror of going to the pre-lecture lab of a computer science class that’s above my level and feeling totally hosed. I don’t know why I thought I could skip the prerequisite class. Because I know what FTP stands for? Please. I learned my lesson and in 20 minutes I’m going to the intro to programming course I should’ve settled on in the first place.
The campus is filled with ambling students. They mill, they stand, they sit. It’s muggy and mild. A little overcast. Lots of shorts, sandals; every T-shirt has a different way of saying the name of the school.
FEMALE STUDENT: I was born in 1993. You were born in ’92?
MALE STUDENT: Yes! How did you know?
I want to somehow mention that these two students were Asian, except it’s not relevant. An hour or so later, two semi-formally dressed young white men walking purposefully together appeared to be making fun of the way Japanese people speak. After that, two students were walking very close behind me talking about playing football, the various merits of their teammates’ throwing ability.
—[Something something TK] roommate. He’s a black guy? We looked in his room and there was a scratch pad, like for a cat.
—Aw, he’s got a cat?
—Yeah, what real man has a cat?
—Actually, I had roommates once and they had pretty hot girlfriends and they had a cat, so…
I turned and looked at the speakers for the first time. One was obese, which surprised me because they’d been talking about playing sports. Forgot that football and obesity aren’t mutually exclusive.
There’s more but it’s time to attend the lecture. In my classes today I’ve been making intensely thoughtful facial expressions. I am 10 years older than everyone in the world.
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
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?
CLONE 1: pornstar.
JEB: prada-paseo prado
CLONE 1: destinos,
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!
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.