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.

Vegan Breastmilk for Sale

Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains the personal, journal-entry-style musings of its author. The diaristic mode is a common one on the “blogosphere,” but critics and pundits still find the time to complain about how boring and pointless it is for people to write about themselves if they’re not living through extremity.  If you are likely to be offended by a first-person bourgeois confessional, you are advised to steer clear of this website entirely, and focus on more immediately pressing global concerns.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11q4hUuZLRU]

I am a tiny bit hungover. As I’ve already mentioned “in this space,” after reading Deb Olin Unferth’s interview with Gary Francione in the Believer magazine I couldn’t think of a reason to justify continuing to eat meat or animal products, aside from “it is convenient and delicious,” so I decided to call a temporary cease-fire until I could think it through. So I’ve been vegan for about six weeks. The first weekend in, I snarfed a cookie at a museum and realized later that it almost certainly contained  butter and eggs. I also ate half of a hot and sour soup before remembering that the delicious floaty strands are of course scrambled eggs. I’ve been pretty solidly vegan since then. I didn’t throw away the leather I own. I drank a bloody mary that probably had worcester sauce that probably had anchovies in it. I put tofu in the blender for the first time in my life. Tofutti ersatz cream cheese is excellent. I don’t like the herb flavor in their “herbs n chives” variety but if you chop up some chives and stir them into the plain variety it’s good. All other fake cheese I’ve tried is gross, except for the stuff at Gracias Madre. Tofurella fake cheese is not vegan. Vegan pancakes are just as good as non. Indian food tends to have lotsa butter and yogurt everywhere. Today I went to a chinese restaurant and wanted chicken and scallops and beef and fish and shrimp and eggs. I ate a vegetarian hot and sour soup that had eggs in it. I can feel myself caving further. I want to buy large packages of anchovies and sardines. And grill a big salmon, and skewer some fucking shrimps. That’s mostly what I miss. Cubes of cheddar bobbing in the ocean, they can drown. Since I’ve been vegan I’ve grown a full, womanly bosom, and my penis is now shaped like a little vagina. My teeth have yellowed and when I poop it looks and sounds like this:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seQDXPDa0J0]

I adopted a dog on a semi-lark and the dog is not vegan. I walk around craving sea bass with my breast pocket filled with crumbled up sticks of “Pupperoni” — basically low-grade beef jerky. I’m still overweight. Pizza sounds good. Factory farming practices commit inexcusable crimes every day. Dudes argue that even the most humane dairy farm is still not cool for the cows. Cows only lactate if they are pregnant? What? How do dairy farms work?

Beer is vegan. So is Scotch. So is my loaf of bread, and my jar of peanut butter. Poetry is not vegan. Some poetry is vegan but much of it is not. Reading the back of the book is not always a reliable indicator. Reliable indicators are impossible to find in the United States. You need to travel to Thailand or Guam to find them. People with genitals tend not to stay vegan for very long. People argue that they’re more interested in human rights than animal rights, so they order steak. It’s possible to think about and work for human rights while eating a falafel sandwich with no cheese or yogurt on it. What board games are technically zero-sum games? Does anyone want to play online Go with me? It’s pretty fun. I’m sometimes on Pandanet as “quailty.” Hit me up.

The craigslist m4m/vegan forum is intense.

What about all the rodents and insects that die when you harvest organic skin creme? The answer is, it’s impossible to go through life without inadvertently hurting some other living thing, but if it’s within your power to avoid punishing some sentient being, then one shouldn’t let the rodents that occasionally get shredded by the creme-thresher justify the punishment of the chicken with its beak ripped off, and so on.

bunrelated   Schuyler:

This morning
one of the dogs killed
a barn owl. Bob saw
it happen, tried to
intervene. The airedale
snapped its neck and left
it lying. Now the bird
lies buried by an apple
tree. Last evening
from the table we saw
the owl, huge in the dusk,
circling the field
on owl-silent wings.

Passive Mouse

Derelict passive mouse blog on the weekend has several jobs: primarily to make sure she makes sense. The second is bloggier: I make sure any pregnant children get health-care of the highest quality. The best cheeses at the corporate supermarket (Safeway) are fine if they’re already in your fridge, but when it comes time to replace them, the best cheeses, why not go to the worker-owned grocery store (Rainbow) and buy that Leftist cheddar. Once everyone’s sure they make sense — in the sense that the language pour is robust or solid, making sure the iPod is charging, don’t telegraph anything, — break open a Thought Experiment Set Piece: the adult stoner’s choiceless afternoon (multiplex).

If it’s on my blog, you can be sure it’s vegan AND kosher, so sup.

Language classes:
the false choice of the breastless necktie.

Preemptive salad:
Not a snack, precisely,
and prime.

Lame basalt cup on a hooded truck’s best rodeo gear:
If sense is your master, then this is one holiday potluck
where you won’t have much luck
finding food

The horniest llama at the petting zoo,
Sarah.

If it’s important for fiction to advertise itself as socially conscious and that some of the proceeds will go toward buying the author’s daughters farmer’s cheese, please, please, revise, revise. Salad like typos cranberries itself up into a defecit — My deficit. A blinded salad’s cranberries flare out (“like jeans”–Cricket Pete). If a college salad freezes on a plate, it’ll be imperative that your reading end quickly. And begin again just as soon.

I’ll not make a plate of sense for you, Imperativa. And a beautiful name, totally — Imperativa. Your purple Honda conceals many curves — I’d love to ride shotgun and change the CDs for you. Let’s meet back here later; “Continue the Story.”  I’ve got a Nintendo DS full of stories for you. Knowing, winking, awful self-conscious stories about children of privilege ruining themselves against backdrops of total suffering.

I have trouble on the weekends, pt. II

Thrines’ Muog-e

Seventh-Story Glory Hole

Walking through the Castro, I looked up at an attractive seven-story building. Someone had cut a three-inch circle out of their street-facing window. They’d lined the circle with soft black foam. The window was painted black, or maybe dark blue. I saw a long, flaccid penis hanging out of the hole. An impossibly high glory hole! The cock swayed gently in the tall breeze. I considered climbing an adjacent tree, or scaling the building itself. I would surely have perished had I made the attempt.

Drink This Now

She thought about piercing my throat with her razor. I’d die, but it’d also mean I’d finally stop talking. Then it dawned on her: I still hadn’t had my morning coffee. All my focus had been on preparing the eggs and onions. No wonder I’m babbling like an idiot. My coffee stood cooling by the stove while I sputtered and bloviated, rubbing my thumb against the plate to retrieve the last bits of onion. A well-rendered female character in a fictional short story, she dashed into the kitchen and returned with the mug. “Drink this,” she said, and pressed the warm cup into my hands. I swallowed it quickly like medicine.

Thinking Critically

Crabby chic. I’m bored by my style. I got it from you. If you’re British, does that mean your brown hat’s British? Running out the door this morning I grabbed something to read. The Fall 2010 number of thee Threepenny Review was at the top of the pile. It’s wrong for the bus: if you’re reading fiction, it should be bound in a book; if you’re going to read a magazine, it should have at least some politics or pop in it. Each item eventually repelled me—the scholarly ‘mystery’ felt contrived and overdramatized; a poem that maybe wanted to failed to make me consider seriously my own mortality. Then I got to Richard Locke’s review of Lydia Davis’s Collected Stories, which I enjoyed until I arrived at my stop.

Locke quotes Davis’s wonderful three-sentence story “A Different Man” in its entirety. I am a solipsist and a megalomaniac, though I use those terms interchangeably and probably don’t know what they mean. Reading the story there, I worried that my girlfriend might someday write a similar story about me, portraying me as a character who “kept his distance from her, who took offense, who was not reasonable.” With even more damning observations sprinkled in.

nyc, 1993

INTERVIEWER

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?

DERRICK RAPEWONE

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.

INTERVIEWER

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

DERRICK RAPEWONE

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.

INTERVIEWER

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

DERRICK RAPEWONE

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.]

INTERVIEWER

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

DERRICK RAPEWONE

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]