Monday, April 30, 2007

reports from the field

Another lovely day at the Festival of Books...

When oh when will I remember the best place to park? I've only gotten it right one year, and this was not the year. The only consolation for parking lot #3 is that you have to walk through the beautiful sculpture garden to get to the booths and panels.

As a result of my parking snafu, I arrived about 15 minutes late for Inland Empire Fiction: The Other California.

Tod Goldberg moderated this panel inspired by the Inlandia anthology, which includes Tod and the other three panelists: Susan Straight, Michael Jaime-Becerra, and Gayle Brandeis. Some of the topics discussed were the changing environment around the peace movement, Darby Crash, secretive mother-in-laws, tract homes (natch), National Novel Writing Month, self-storage auctions, folk art dinosaurs, bad air (natch), the Salton Sea, parrots, the evil god of Tahquitz Canyon, the nudist colonies of Riverside, summer homes of the KKK, citrus groves (natch), Hell's Angels, White Front, and Trafficula. The mythologies around the Inland Empire are still being formed (and certainly, not enough has been made of its designation as an empire), so the panel (and presumably the anthology) have begun the discussion as a survey with the analysis sure to follow as the genre develops.

Favorite quote:

"The wind blows; that's sex." (Susan Straight discussing The Sex Life of the Date)

I wandered around a bit before attending the conversation between David L. Ulin and Jane Smiley. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I've never read a single book by Ms. Smiley, but I am intrigued by her latest - Ten Days in the Hills - a contribution to my growing bookshelves of contemporary LA fiction. For that reason alone, I am likely to read it, but I will now make it a priority because I was impressed and entertained by almost everything Ms. Smiley had to say (and that Ulin's no slouch). Topics discussed included the Decameron (to be expected considering Ten Days is structurally based on Boccaccio's classic) and the lesser known Heptameron, the idea of writing overtly about sex as a political statement, the idea of being apolitical as a political statement, exchanging structure for plot as organizational framework, the finger of the plot in one's back, Robinson Crusoe, confessions of hanged men, empathy, chick lit, paperback originals, dating yourself through topical subjects, Zola's The Ladies' Paradise, fiction after September 11, and whether the administration's reaction to Hurricane Katrina would have been different if they had read Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Favorite quote:

Jane Smiley: "[Sex] sells papers."
David Ulin: "Something has to."

I left a bit early to get over to the purported smackdown panel, Litblogs: Words Online, once again moderated by Tod Goldberg. Andrew Keen has seemingly enraged the blogging community with his forthcoming polemic, The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture. Keen was in attendance, and litbloggers Carolyn Kellogg and Ron Hogan rounded out the discussion. Work obligations prevent me from doing this panel justice at this time, so thoughts will follow tomorrow.

The audience was full of local bloggers, and while I missed Callie (do you look like your photo?), I had the chance to chat with Carolyn at the Book Soup booth later. You can read her report of the panel here.

The rest of the day involved a surprisingly delicious chicken caesar wrap with a friend, spending way too much money, running into random acquaintances, and starting the countdown of another 51 weeks until the next Festival of Books.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

sunday! sunday! sunday!

After a crazed day of nonstop work yesterday, I am now free to enjoy the Festival of Books! Reports from the Inland Empire and litblog panels to come as well as the talk between David Ulin and Jane Smiley.

Losanjealous has an amusing list of "editorial picks" for the panels, such as Saturday's 3:30 offering "Book Fair Panels: How to Monopolize the Q&A portion with Your Inane Questions" and today's don't-miss panel "How to Write 'L.A. Fiction': Sunshine, Traffic, Superficiality, Hollywood, blah, blah, blah…"

Friday, April 27, 2007

stories from the book shelf scan

Callie at Counterbalance reflects on a subject that hits close to home: book snobs and the lies they tell.

I know several bloggers of all stripes (lit, design, music, etc.) who don't list certain books in their "just read" or "currently reading" columns. Sandra at Book World (who has just made a lovely shift in her blog from covering books to covering writing and books about writing) mentions that she would never place these books about writing in her left-hand column. Instead of gasping at her declaration, I thought: my god, I do the same thing...

My next thought was: well at least I don't pretend to have read books that I haven't. That seems a far worse offense. Or is it? Isn't the shame -- for those who haven't read something they feel they should & those who've read something they'd rather not advertise -- and the hiding of said shame, equal on both sides? I wonder. While I continue to probe this question & my own guilt (no doubt induced by a brand of crazy that only my christian school education could provide), I reserve the right to leave these aforementioned read-but-not-going-to-admit-it books off my public "Books I've Read List."

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. I am actually trying to meet a somewhat difficult goal for someone with two jobs - 52 books in 52 weeks - and when I delve into the occasional self-help book because let's face it, I need help, I don't list it! What kind of help is that? And boy, do I check out other people's book shelves. I've yet to end a friendship over it, but one friend's Nelson DeMille collection haunts me. I thought I was at least off the hook for lying about things that I haven't read when I realized that just the other day I was asked if I had read a particular classic, and I replied, "Parts of it." Parts of it?? Where do they publish parts of a novel? Did I travel back to the nineteenth century and read it in serial form? For that matter, am I in the habit of beginning books and not finishing them? Not even. Ah, I have seen the lying book snob and the lying book snob is me.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

time is a strange mistress

Spinal Tap reunites to call attention to climate change.

portable night pots carried in ladies’ muffs

At the OUPBlog, Anatoly Liberman looks at the etymology of the word "loo":

French l’eau “the water” has been offered as the etymon (source) of loo. In the 19th century, it was common to invent French etymons of English words and explain the discrepancy in the pronunciation as the result of English speakers’ inability to produce foreign sounds. But surely, law or low are more accurate renderings of l’eau than loo. And why should loo have been borrowed from French, a language that lacks its equivalent? Engl. ablution contains the syllable loo, and so does Latin ablui “I have washed off.” If loo originated at Oxford and Cambridge, bookish word play could be considered. However, as noted, we do not know the social stratum in which loo was coined.

Since the abbreviation for water closet is WC, loo resembles the second half of double u, but loo, definitely not an “Americanism,” has never been pronounced like British lew (that is, with the sounds of few, pew, cue) even in the United States, let alone England or Scotland. The same objection holds for the attempts to derive loo from lee “shelter,” reportedly pronounced somewhere as lew, and from the phrase in lieu of. Lavatories are often named for people. Engl. john is a classic example; its predecessor was jakes. In Germany, Tante Lotte “Aunt Lotte” and many other similar names have been attested. It would be nice if Uncle Lou, the eponymous ancestor of British toilets, were discovered, but so far he has not turned up. According to one version, during a house party in Ireland, about 120 years ago, Lady Louisa Anson’s two younger sons put her name card on the guest lavatory. Henceforward, highbrows (or so we are informed) talked of going to Lady Loo. Perhaps they did, but, to the best of our knowledge, this piece of aristocratic slang has left no trace in any story or newspaper article, and no member of the British nobility seems to remember it. We may forget it too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

bowie nicked all your stuff

Didn't we all slave away in an '80s band before we settled into our office jobs?

one of the more noble functions of human intelligence

Hermione Lee looks at a stack of books on the Novel.

The novel's entanglement in "the prose of the world" can also be its justification and its pride. The novel's virtue, it has often been argued, lies in its egalitarianism, its very commonplaceness. And the novel's everydayness need not be an enemy to its aesthetic integrity. In his wise, deep, and witty essay on the novel, The Curtain, Milan Kundera, a follower of Flaubert in his critique and practice of the European novel, celebrates "the everyday" ("it is not merely ennui, pointlessness, repetition, triviality; it is beauty as well") while writing in praise of the novel's essential self-sufficiency:
It...refuses to exist as illustration of an historical era, as description of a society, as defense of an ideology, and instead puts itself exclusively at the service of "what only the novel can say."
Kundera's celebration of the novel's freedom and self-sufficiency makes essential reading in a long history of debates about the genre. Ethical and aesthetic controversies over the novel have gone on for many centuries—the number of centuries depending on whether you think the novel came into being in the early eighteenth century, or (as Walter Benjamin does) coincided with the invention of printing at the end of the fifteenth century, or was lurking in Egyptian demotic narratives of the seventh century BC or Greek romances from the first century AD. Every so often these long-running debates are accompanied by prophecies of doom: the novel is dead, the novel is drowning in a dizzying virtual universe of instantaneous, interactive information, the novel is having to compete for readers in "a world in which millions of books are dumped in the market place at once."

they don't praise the shadow

Are you able to tell the difference between machine-translated German text and Faulkner?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

sidewalks in the sky

At 3qd, Jaffer Kolb cites the High Line and a project in my hometown in his exploration of off-the-ground development.

The problem is simple: most cities contain tall buildings (though, ironically, I’m writing this from Los Angeles), and yet despite sharing scale and parallel planes, these buildings rarely connect or contain any physical relationship to one another. The average city dweller only really enters vertical space for specific purposes, whether to go from his 16th floor apartment to his 42nd floor office or from his friend’s basement flat to the observation deck on the top of Rockefeller Center. That is to say, from private space to private space. This isn’t about rooftop restaurants or mid-building showrooms, but rather the problem of urban circulation that forces pedestrians down a stairwell, across the street, and up an elevator—ultimately and forever bound to move over a singular plane at the feet of the city.

Monday, April 23, 2007

the real artichoke

Wittgenstein, explained:

Wittgenstein's glamour was Garbo-esque. When Wittgenstein was in the room, even Isaiah Berlin was at a loss for words. He placed such an emphasis on precision of language that he made the merely eloquent feel slovenly. To get Wittgenstein in perspective, it required first of all his death, and then some unsentimental reflection on the breathtaking scope of what he had never talked about. He received credit for giving away the large amount of money he had inherited, and thus detaching himself from his social privileges and from the involvements and distractions of everyday life. But he also detached himself from everyday life by ignoring what was going on in Europe. The advantage to his philosophical position was that by not saying much, he never said anything ill-considered.

Friday, April 20, 2007

un wap-doo-wap

VSL: On the Parisian Website La Blogothèque, photographer and filmmaker Vincent Moon regularly contributes a video feature called Les concerts à emporter (“The Take-Away Shows”) in which he films emerging bands in distinctive locations around France, performing songs in one continuous take.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

hush hush keep it down now

I've been feeling incredibly taciturn this week, so I'm just going to embrace it.

White Chicks & Gang Signs

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

the right word

Sunday's LA Times reprinted Jonathan Safran Foer's foreword to The Diary of Petr Ginz, 1941-1942, the journal of a 14-year-old Czech Jew who died in Auschwitz in 1944.

It can be dangerous to treat a diary like this as literature — to find beauty in it, and symbolism and structure. But how can one not? Here is the beginning of the passage in which Petr recounts learning that he would soon be parted from his family:

"Don't think that cleaning a typewriter is easy. There is cleaning and there is 'cleaning.' If you want the typewriter to shine on the inside and on the outside, you have to remove the carriage and wipe the most invisible corners with a small brush. Then you have to use a blowpipe to clear it out. The most difficult part are the spaces between the typebars."

When Theodor W. Adorno speculated about the possibility of literature after the Holocaust, he wasn't asking something about art (as is commonly misunderstood), but about language itself. What meaning can words have in the light of such destruction? Can "loss" have any use? Can "war"? Can "love," for that matter? Will we ever again be able to find the right word?

the children of hurin

Am I implying that Suge Knight killed J.R.R. Tolkien in order to take his unreleased material, produce it under the pseudonym "Christopher Tolkien" and reap the benefits of the high-selling novels? No, but I'm not saying it's out of the realm of possibility.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

trying to find what was lost

The director of the creative writing program at Virginia Tech reflects on yesterday's horrific events.

A few months ago, when I returned from a trip to Sierra Leone, a country I lived in for years and one still reeling from the effects of a brutal civil war, I was filled with relief to be returning to a crime-free place like Blacksburg. As usual, I was welcomed by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and by the friends I’ve grown to love during my 22 years on the faculty at Virginia Tech.

It’s a quiet place. The town is full of turkeys — statues of our mascot, the Hokie Bird, painted in garish colors — as if being a Hokie were not a sports metaphor but a way of life. There’s a 5-foot-tall turkey just outside the bank; one near the police station; another in the parking lot of a Cleaner World, where I take my clothes. We have a sense of humor in Blacksburg — it’s part of our charm.

Blacksburg is a misnomer, of course. It’s the whitest town I’ve ever lived in. And although I’m not white, I’ve grown used to the fact that we can, for the most part, live in relative harmony — black and white, town and gown, young and old together. It’s a place that lulls you into believing you can predict what will happen next.


Congratulations to Cormac McCarthy, Lawrence Wright, David Lindsay-Abaire (thanks again to Ellie for taking me to see Rabbit Hole), Ornette Coleman, local boy Jonathan Gold, and all the Pulitzer Prize winners.

Monday, April 16, 2007

on becoming a woman

In your twenties and thirties you will experience the realities of becoming bride, housewife, and mother. Each of these experiences will carry its full quota of satisfaction and enjoyment. But the routine duties that accompany homemaking will fill your time so that you will hardly have opportunity to realize that your cherished day-dreams have come true...

...A girl's reasons for petting are not so much for the physical pleasures she receives, as is true in the case of a boy. Her reasons are somewhat secondhand in that she derives her satisfactions from bringing pleasure to her boy friend. It is not that a girl is repulsed by petting, but rather that her greater pleasure comes from assuming that by petting she is endearing herself to her friend and thus improving her social status.

the molecule's defiance

Nextbook has a previously unpublished story from Primo Levi (via KR Blog).

A batch that spoils is one that solidifies halfway through the preparation: the liquid becomes gelatinous, or even hard, like horn. It's a phenomenon that is called by fancy names like gelatinization or premature polymerization, but it's a traumatic event, an ugly sight, not to mention the money that's lost. It shouldn't happen, but sometimes it does happen, even if you're paying attention, and when it happens it leaves its mark. I told Rinaldo that it's useless to cry over spilled milk, and immediately I regretted it—it wasn't the right thing to say. But what can you say to a decent person who has made a mistake, who doesn't know how he did it, and who carries his guilt like a load of lead? The only thing to do is offer him a cognac and invite him to talk.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

sunday short stack

"When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." - R. Buckminster Fuller

Saturday, April 14, 2007

eyes full of falling angels

You have to like an essay that begins with the line: "There comes a point in many a person’s life when things that Nietzsche said begin to make good sense." Erik Campbell is referring to the Nietzsche quote - "Many a man fails as an original thinker simply because his memory is too good." - and this idea begins his VQR reflection on the accidental plagiarist.

X. A Thought Concerning Socrates

I’ve read that Socrates never wrote any of his philosophy down because he believed that words imbedded in print, being unalterable and static, could never be sufficiently defended against misreading and perversion. In his twilight years Socrates was put to death for sharing too many interesting ideas with young men in the agora,[21] which resulted in his being considered a “pain in the ass” by an assemblage of Greeks who were fed up with their sons humiliating them in front of the servants by using Socratic logic and initiating every utterance with, “Oh, yeah? Well, Socrates says . . .” Then, as we all know, Plato turned around just as the hemlock touched his teacher’s lips and began madly scribbling, using Socrates as the spokesperson and the de facto ethos for what we now call Platonism.[22]

And so now I wonder about two things:

  • Would Socrates be pissed off at Plato for appropriating his ethos?
  • If both he and Plato were transported to the twenty-first century, would Socrates, as Vonnegut would say, attempt to “sue the piss” out of Plato for stealing his ideas, for lost royalties, and for false representation?[23]

Friday, April 13, 2007

very short list

I'm a sucker for these daily newsletter thingamajigs. I currently receive one from Daily Candy, Ideal Bite, Yoga Journal, and my fast-growing favorite, Very Short List. (There are many more weekly newsletters I receive as well, but it takes great dedication and imagination to put something out every day.) At the risk of sounding arrogant, it's not all that easy to impress me with recommendations for cultural items, because I've usually read about them on someone's blog or this or that website or heard about them from this or that friend. Very Short List, however, discovers the coolest things I've never heard of. It was yesterday's recommendation that prompted this post.

No one would confuse the auditory barrage of a busy big-city street with, say, the ethereal strains of a madrigal choir. But if you’ve ever gazed wistfully from your office window, wishing that the ceaseless car alarm and pounding jackhammer and crazed sirens would turn into something more calming and melodic, this may be the classical-music CD for you.

The Cries of London performs a remarkable act of alchemy on a bustling 17th-century English thoroughfare, transforming the city’s bygone peddlers’ shouts into soothing, strangely beautiful baroque music. While Fretwork, a string ensemble, plays the music of period composers, the vocalists from Theatre of Voices sing out the sales pitches of the day (“Chimneysweep!” “Fine white salt!”), creating a sonic combination that’s as pleasurable as it is improbable.

Even if you’re agnostic on the subject of classical music, The Cries of London could be a welcome escape from a chaotic, disharmonious day. And you’ll never again hear a phrase like “I can kill vermin!” the same way.

WTF? Love it. Other recent recommendations of note include Billy Collins' poems-as-music-videos, the Athanasius Kircher Society website, Fanfare Ciocarlia's Queens and Kings, the monthly comic serial Scalped, this hilarious rap track from Dan Le Sac VS Scroobius Pip, and Vice's documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad. I'll let the archives take you from here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

kurt vonnegut (1922-2007)

Goodbye, Mr. Vonnegut. It's hard to find something appropriately meaningful to say about an author who seems to have been there for me since I learned how to read. You will be missed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

dedicated to ether

I wonder why people don't talk about Tim Fite more often. He's an engaging character from what I can tell. I first discovered him in what must have been his alt-country phase and listened to the song "All I Need" thousands of times. You can get a sense of the quirk from this odd introductory video:

His album Gone Ain't Gone has many other gems I've grown to love, but then what does Mr. Fite do? He releases a rap album - Over the Counter Culture - that you, yes you, can download for free. You can understand the transition listening to songs from Gone Ain't Gone like "No Good Here." Over the Counter Culture, however, dispenses with any pretense toward the pop and Fite goes for the whole ironic gangsta pose. Who can resist lyrics like this?

Robitussin/MochaMuffin/Ibuprofin/Rice-a-Roni/Stouffer-stuffin' Hamburger Helper/Sudafed/Bell Biv DeVoe/Soup of the Day/Kanye/Monistat 7/Soup of the Day/Kanye/Hamburger Helper/

Not me. Brooklyn Vegan has some great photos from a 2005 show at Joe's Pub.

Monday, April 09, 2007

meez me

This is a reasonable facsimile:

I never do write what I say I am going to

Maud Newton posts selections from the Hermione Lee biography of Edith Wharton, focusing especially on the writing process:

When Wharton talked in old age about her writing methods, she said (as many novelists do) that her characters “arrived,” “coming seemingly from nowhere,” complete with their names. They “then began to speak within me with their own voices.” It sounds from this as though she subscribes to the idea of the writer as a kind of unconscious medium, through which the narrative flows onto the page. But she also says, firmly, that her characters never “walk away with the subject”: she knows “from the first exactly what is going to happen to every one of them.” So she describes a double operation (which parallels the mixture of cool analysis and deep emotion in her fiction). The process of writing “takes place in some secret region on the sheer edge of consciousness” but “is always illuminated by the full light of my critical attention.”

the air of revolution

The Guardian recently explored the influence of The Clash in France.

The Théâtre Mogador - a magnificent music hall near Gare St-Lazare - squeezed in around 500 more than its official 2,000 capacity each night for the sold-out residency. The Clash - along with their large retinue and support acts the Beat and Wah! - stayed out in a tower block on the eastern banlieues of Paris. "There were too many of us to stay at a fancy hotel all week," says Jones. "So we were out in what looked like a rough estate in the suburbs. I remember hearing a lot of hip-hop and Arabic music that week. Generally, we spent a lot of time in France. We played proper tours there, not just one date in Paris, like most British bands did, but the whole country. They went mad for it. They love their rock'n'roll."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

sunday short stack

"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?" - Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday, April 07, 2007

the awful/awesome debate continues...

Introducing the New Balance Joy Division edition:

...and the (RED) Ramones Chuck:

equal opportunity opprobrium

The Post has excerpts from the new Christopher Hitchens' diatribe, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

*On creationism and intelligent design: "The inculcation of compulsory stupidity."

* On Gandhi: "A fakir and guru" whose belief in primitive farm-based living meant that "millions of people would have starved to death if his advice had been followed."

* On Billy Graham: "His absurd [post-9/11] sermon made the claim that all the dead were now in paradise and would not return to us even if they could."

* On the Dalai Lama: "A hereditary king appointed by heaven itself. How convenient!"

* On Moses: "Commandingly authoritarian and bloody-minded" and given to "genocidal incitements."

Topic: Iraq

MoveOn has arranged a virtual town hall meeting with most of the candidates of note. Tune in...

Join's Virtual Town Hall: Iraq

Friday, April 06, 2007

fortunes chinoises

Last night, as a gift for a friend's birthday, I gave her a "parlour game" I had discovered in a Silverlake shop. The game is called Fortunes Chinoises and it's more fun than a manufacturer of antibilious pills. This type of quirky, archaic language is reproduced from the nineteenth century version of these cards, and let me tell you: they're magic. Each Card of Destiny has a title such as "The Qualities for Which You Are Beloved" or "What Will Cause Your Death." Beneath each title are 12 predictions or characterizations. You choose a number from another deck of 12 cards, and your fortune is revealed. My friend and I had to stop playing when the revelation I received was an exact reiteration of what we had been discussing less than an hour earlier. Here's a sample card (for fun, pick a number before you read on):

Will You Marry?

1. Sooner than you think.
2. If you do not tire with waiting.
3. When you are wiser.
4. Yes, unfortunately for you.
5. You will make an interested marriage.
6. Never; so console yourself.
7. Upon your first opportunity.
8. At forty.
9. In three months.
10. If you change your conduct.
11. Yes, with a person you do not love.
12. You will marry young or not at all.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

52 books in 52 weeks

7. The Stories of Mary Gordon

This collection contains both reprinted and new stories; it's a testament to Gordon's proficiency with the genre.

8. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

This book has had more of an impact on me in the weeks following than it did when I was reading it; the details return. At the time, I was a little anxious to move on.
9. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomicby Alison Bechdel

Where have graphic novels been all my life? This moving, bizarre memoir has ignited a new obsession for me.

10. Here Lies My Heart: Essays on Why We Marry, Why We Don't, and What We Find There
The best thing about this anthology is the title of Amy Hempel's essay: "It Takes a Hell of a Man to Replace No Man at All."
11. Winterwoodby Patrick McCabe
12. Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan

Reading these two novels in such close proximity was an intense experience. Both Irish authors take the reader on a harrowing exploration of the macabre events that become possible within a world of extreme loneliness. They're great.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

her hopping about is here and there hardly bearable

LA Weekly describes Leni Riefenstahl as "pretty as a Swastika" in this review of Stephen Bach's new biography of the Triumph of the Will filmmaker. The article provides a compelling portrait of Riefenstahl in Hollywood in the 1930s.

One wonders what might have been her destiny had Riefenstahl simply upped sticks and immigrated to Hollywood wholesale, along with the rest of the German UFA diaspora, in, say, the late ’20s, long before she ever met Adolf Hitler. Certainly, she would have found a large German-exile community to nourish her, and a studio system hungry for German talent. And, possessed as she was of sharp elbows, a functionally sociopathic determination to rise, a bottomless appetite for attention, and the bulldozing drive of a Joan Crawford, who knows how she might have rewritten the history of women directors in Hollywood?

In this fantasy, Riefenstahl — who, it transpired, would never make a conventional studio-based movie — might have taken her place on the honor roll of German talent that continually invigorated Hollywood at its high tide: Murnau, Von Sternberg, Stroheim, Lubitsch, Lang, Siodmak, Wyler, Wilder, et al. But it was already too late; indeed, by this time, Leni Riefenstahl’s filmmaking career was effectively already over (Bach perceptively titles his section covering the 64 years of her post-1939 existence “Aftermath”). She would spend the rest of her life issuing a blizzard of shifting denials, rationalizations and lies, and of libel suits against anyone who raised a voice against her. And in court, seasoned as she was by her lachrymose appearances before postwar denazification tribunals, she was very rarely bested. Thus, the only list she topped was a dark litany of those who flew too close to Hitler’s black sun: Albert Speer, Max Schmelling, Herbert von Karajan, Martin Heidegger, Winifred Wagner, Werner von Braun ... Among these, there was none in the end more notorious, and none closer to or more steadfastly beloved by the Führer, than Leni herself. It was small consolation, but she ran with it anyway.

sister spit

I have to call your attention to the hottest summer tour of the season - Sister Spit: The Next Generation.

Based on the legendary Sister Spit Ramblin' Road Show of the late 90s, Sister Spit: The Next Generation hits the road in early Spring 2007, nearly a decade after the first Spit van set sail, reviving the rowdy, raucous literary adventure with a mixture of fresh faces and seasoned road dogs.

Catch Ali Liebegott, Eileen Myles, and Michelle Tea with special guests in a city near you. And do your homework before you go: buy The IHOP Papers now. I have it on good authority that this episode makes an appearance.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

national poetry month

In honor of National Poetry Month, all the text accompanying the April photos over at Everything Loose will be poems.
Stop by...

this is the man she marries

The New Yorker has an excerpt from Don DeLillo's new novel.

He began to think into the day, into the minute. It was being here in the apartment, alone for extended periods, that made this happen, being away from routine stimulus, all the streaming forms of office discourse. Things seemed still, clearer to the eye, oddly, in ways he didn’t understand. He began to see what he was doing. He noticed things, all the small lost strokes of a day or a minute, how he licked his thumb and used it to lift a bread crumb off the plate and put it idly in his mouth. Only it wasn’t so idle anymore. Nothing seemed familiar, being here, in a family again, and he felt strange to himself, or always had, but it was different now, because he was watching.

let's say jeffrey dahmer came to your bar mitzvah

Jon Stewart's even cute when he's rapping.

Monday, April 02, 2007

the bombs of atheism and of communism and of anarchy

The Aimee Semple McPherson iron is hot. NPR has a piece this morning on Matthew Avery Sutton's new book, Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America. If you listen to the broadcast, you can hear her preach. There's also an excerpt:

McPherson smiled and bowed. Then, in her high-pitched, nasal, singsong voice, strained by decades of preaching without amplification, she shouted, "America! Awake! The enemy is at your gates! They have penetrated your walls! America! You are in danger! An enemy power is penetrating your strongholds! There is death in their hands—the bombs of atheism and of communism and of anarchy! America! Awake! Defend your own!" Responding to her cry, Uncle Sam jumped onto the stage. He sprinted forward and grabbed the villain, issuing him a ticket back home—"a ticket back to Red Russia, a ticket that will take him to the lands where the Stars and Stripes do not wave." At the end of the scene, McPherson approached the Capitol. With the entire audience cheering her on, she removed the subversive's flag and returned Old Glory to its position atop the dome. The crowd again erupted into applause. Thanks to McPherson and Uncle Sam, the Christian foundations of the nation were safe once more.

Click through to read more. I'll take this as a sign from Aimee's God that it's time to strike.