Monday, December 2, 2013

A Meeting Between Elizabeth Wurtzel and Jonathan Franzen

“Excuse me,” he asked quietly, “Is this seat taken?” She looked up, lusciously, from the New York Times (but in German) and blinked, still lusciously, before smiling.
“No, please go ahead.” He sat down and smiled back.
“So,” he said, “is the coffee any good here?”
She let the Times (still in German) drop to her (still luscious) lap. “No,” she said. “And I blame–”
“–the Internet,” he finished, almost unconsciously, until he realized they’d both spoken in unison. They laughed, and something warm knit the air between them together.
“The coffee here was much better before the Internet,” she said. “I’ve been to Germany.”
He scooted his chair closer to hers. “Oh, have you? I love Germany. It’s so uncool.”
“If you say you’re taking a trip to Germany, you’d better be able to explain what specifically you’re planning to do there,” she said, “or else people will wonder why you’re not going someplace where life is beautiful. Even now, Germany insists on content over form. If the concept of coolness had existed in Kraus’s time, he might have said that Germany is uncool.”
“Wow,” he said.
“I read that in a magazine,” she said by way of explanation.
“I wrote that,” he said.
“Get out of here.”
“I did, I wrote that.”
“Where did I read that?”
“The Guardian.”
“I’ve never quoted anything from a magazine in my life,” she said. “That’s amazing. Don’t you think that’s amazing?”
“Look,” he said, “It spoke to you, and that pleases me.”
“Do you find the thighs of Lena Dunham inexcusable, too?” she asked.
“I do. I do. I can find no excuse for them anywhere in the works of Karl Kraus, the Great Hater, nor in the writings of any of the lesser haters who came after him.”
“Did you know that Martha Stewart went to prison, and that all of rap music has betrayed its roots because P. Diddy hosts a costume party every year?”
“I did not know this,” he said gravely, “but I have been watching a lot of those new Mac vs. PC ads lately.”
“Computers,” she said.
“Computers,” he said. They drank their coffee.
“Have you ever noticed,” she began, then halted.
“What is it?” he asked.
“No, it’s stupid,” she said.
“Have you ever noticed,” she continued, “Have you ever noticed that everything important on television is about people our age?”
He nodded slowly. “I had noticed that,” he said. “I had noticed that, because all of my friends who own television sets have told me that.”
“Not like how the Internet is,” she said, laughing a little. He laughed too. The coffee was warm and dark.
“I’ve heard of Fifty Shades of Gray,” she said, not a little proudly.
“Hmm,” he said. “Everything is wrong.”
“Facebook,” she said knowingly.
“Yes, Facebook,” he agreed. “What should the young people do?”
“The young people should rock bands,” she said, banging her fist on the table so emphatically her coffee spilled a little. They laughed a little then, because she was so full of life, just as her cup was full of coffee.
“The young people should not Jeff Bezos. Nor Amazon,” he said, then poured like half a thing of the sugar shaker into his coffee. “They should not shout ‘Whoa!’ at Mentos.”
“There is no system too harsh to stop genius,” she said.
“You’ve made a claim,” he said.
“I have, haven’t I?” she smiled.
“But of course–” he began.
The Internet,” they finished together in chorus.
“Between piracy, and China, and digital, Hollywood is just all messed up,” she said.
“And Salman Rushdie keeps sending me emojis,” he said. A single tear fell into his sugar mound.
“Everything should be intense,” she said. “Like Led Zeppelin, or escalators, or dying inside of a forest.”
“Like King Lear,” he said. They both flung their coffee in each other’s open eyes.
“That was so intense,” she breathed, blinking. “I can’t see.”
“Could you ever see?” he asked, bleeding a little bit out of his eyes.
“Let’s go to Germany,” she cried. “Let’s go to Germany at once.”
“We are already there,” he said. And they were, and it was wonderful.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I found this today. I had forgotten I wrote it.

I love when that happens. 

"I fastened you in this dropping hour
Tied like a stone
To string
In our empty room
Pulse runs hard
Forgetting we stagger
Working my way down your tongue
Following the length of you
Until the seed is swallowed
Pure black ink
Comes from your eyes
Tell me to scream
Or sigh
Either will do.

The frost cut our lips
Taught a winter’s lesson
Swollen in the cave
That formed over your mouth
I am not only aware of my tongue
I am aware of my teeth.
Red ruby deepened
Flush to the neck
You remind me of a great swan
I’ll make of you what unfolding is
Clutching chests
In a tomb like life
Wooden ships sail in

a beating heart breaks out."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Elizabeth Bishop, Crusoe in England

A new volcano has erupted,
the papers say, and last week I was reading   
where some ship saw an island being born:   
at first a breath of steam, ten miles away;   
and then a black fleck—basalt, probably—
rose in the mate’s binoculars
and caught on the horizon like a fly.
They named it. But my poor old island’s still   
un-rediscovered, un-renamable.
None of the books has ever got it right.

Well, I had fifty-two
miserable, small volcanoes I could climb   
with a few slithery strides—
volcanoes dead as ash heaps.
I used to sit on the edge of the highest one   
and count the others standing up,
naked and leaden, with their heads blown off.   
I’d think that if they were the size   
I thought volcanoes should be, then I had   
become a giant;
and if I had become a giant,
I couldn’t bear to think what size   
the goats and turtles were,
or the gulls, or the overlapping rollers   
—a glittering hexagon of rollers   
closing and closing in, but never quite,   
glittering and glittering, though the sky   
was mostly overcast.

My island seemed to be
a sort of cloud-dump. All the hemisphere’s   
left-over clouds arrived and hung
above the craters—their parched throats   
were hot to touch.
Was that why it rained so much?
And why sometimes the whole place hissed?   
The turtles lumbered by, high-domed,   
hissing like teakettles.
(And I’d have given years, or taken a few,   
for any sort of kettle, of course.)
The folds of lava, running out to sea,
would hiss. I’d turn. And then they’d prove   
to be more turtles.
The beaches were all lava, variegated,   
black, red, and white, and gray;
the marbled colors made a fine display.   
And I had waterspouts. Oh,
half a dozen at a time, far out,
they’d come and go, advancing and retreating,   
their heads in cloud, their feet in moving patches   
of scuffed-up white.
Glass chimneys, flexible, attenuated,   
sacerdotal beings of glass ... I watched   
the water spiral up in them like smoke.   
Beautiful, yes, but not much company.

I often gave way to self-pity.
“Do I deserve this? I suppose I must.
I wouldn’t be here otherwise. Was there   
a moment when I actually chose this?
I don’t remember, but there could have been.”   
What’s wrong about self-pity, anyway?
With my legs dangling down familiarly   
over a crater’s edge, I told myself
“Pity should begin at home.” So the more   
pity I felt, the more I felt at home.

The sun set in the sea; the same odd sun   
rose from the sea,
and there was one of it and one of me.   
The island had one kind of everything:   
one tree snail, a bright violet-blue
with a thin shell, crept over everything,   
over the one variety of tree,
a sooty, scrub affair.
Snail shells lay under these in drifts   
and, at a distance,
you’d swear that they were beds of irises.   
There was one kind of berry, a dark red.   
I tried it, one by one, and hours apart.   
Sub-acid, and not bad, no ill effects;   
and so I made home-brew. I’d drink   
the awful, fizzy, stinging stuff
that went straight to my head
and play my home-made flute
(I think it had the weirdest scale on earth)   
and, dizzy, whoop and dance among the goats.   
Home-made, home-made! But aren’t we all?   
I felt a deep affection for
the smallest of my island industries.   
No, not exactly, since the smallest was   
a miserable philosophy.

Because I didn’t know enough.
Why didn’t I know enough of something?   
Greek drama or astronomy? The books   
I’d read were full of blanks;
the poems—well, I tried
reciting to my iris-beds,
“They flash upon that inward eye,
which is the bliss ...” The bliss of what?   
One of the first things that I did
when I got back was look it up.

The island smelled of goat and guano.   
The goats were white, so were the gulls,   
and both too tame, or else they thought   
I was a goat, too, or a gull.
Baa, baa, baa and shriek, shriek, shriek,
baa ... shriek ... baa ... I still can’t shake   
them from my ears; they’re hurting now.
The questioning shrieks, the equivocal replies   
over a ground of hissing rain
and hissing, ambulating turtles
got on my nerves.
When all the gulls flew up at once, they sounded
like a big tree in a strong wind, its leaves.   
I’d shut my eyes and think about a tree,   
an oak, say, with real shade, somewhere.   
I’d heard of cattle getting island-sick.   
I thought the goats were.
One billy-goat would stand on the volcano
I’d christened Mont d’Espoir or Mount Despair
(I’d time enough to play with names),   
and bleat and bleat, and sniff the air.   
I’d grab his beard and look at him.   
His pupils, horizontal, narrowed up
and expressed nothing, or a little malice.   
I got so tired of the very colors!   
One day I dyed a baby goat bright red   
with my red berries, just to see   
something a little different.
And then his mother wouldn’t recognize him.

Dreams were the worst. Of course I dreamed of food
and love, but they were pleasant rather
than otherwise. But then I’d dream of things   
like slitting a baby’s throat, mistaking it   
for a baby goat. I’d have
nightmares of other islands
stretching away from mine, infinities   
of islands, islands spawning islands,   
like frogs’ eggs turning into polliwogs   
of islands, knowing that I had to live   
on each and every one, eventually,   
for ages, registering their flora,   
their fauna, their geography.

Just when I thought I couldn’t stand it   
another minute longer, Friday came.   
(Accounts of that have everything all wrong.)   
Friday was nice.
Friday was nice, and we were friends.   
If only he had been a woman!
I wanted to propagate my kind,   
and so did he, I think, poor boy.
He’d pet the baby goats sometimes,
and race with them, or carry one around.   
—Pretty to watch; he had a pretty body.

And then one day they came and took us off.

Now I live here, another island,
that doesn’t seem like one, but who decides?
My blood was full of them; my brain   
bred islands. But that archipelago
has petered out. I’m old.
I’m bored, too, drinking my real tea,   
surrounded by uninteresting lumber.
The knife there on the shelf—
it reeked of meaning, like a crucifix.
It lived. How many years did I   
beg it, implore it, not to break?
I knew each nick and scratch by heart,
the bluish blade, the broken tip,
the lines of wood-grain on the handle ...
Now it won’t look at me at all.   
The living soul has dribbled away.   
My eyes rest on it and pass on.

The local museum’s asked me to
leave everything to them:
the flute, the knife, the shrivelled shoes,
my shedding goatskin trousers
(moths have got in the fur),
the parasol that took me such a time   
remembering the way the ribs should go.
It still will work but, folded up,
looks like a plucked and skinny fowl.
How can anyone want such things?
And Friday, my dear Friday, died of measles
seventeen years ago come March.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


"There is no life I know,
To compare with pure imagination
Living there you'll be free
If you truly wish to be"

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Happiness, for once, has come unearned. Without disease, without lies, without a plan. It feels like a miracle, and it is purer than anything I’ve ever felt.  Sorrow  binds —  at once lending more compassion than can be explained and  more passion than is fathomable. It is measured in sighs and weighted in reciprocity.  

“All I ever wanted was a world without maps.”   

"I cut my teeth on wedding rings...let me be your queen."

Lorde / Royals from joel kefali on Vimeo.

After visiting Micah, poignant isn't word enough to describe how watching this dance makes me feel.

"You could still be,
what you want to,
What you said you were,
when I met you."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ferrett Steinmetz is tired of being told that he should point guns at his daughter’s boyfriends.

There’s a piece of twaddle going around the internet called 10 Rules For Dating My Daughter, which is packed with “funny” threats like this:
“Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilising some kind of ‘barrier method’ can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.”
All of which boil down to the tedious, “Boys are threatening louts, sex is awful when other people do it, and my daughter is a plastic doll whose destiny I control.”
Look, I love sex. It’s fun. And because I love my daughter, I want her to have all of the same delights in life that I do, and hopefully more. I don’t want to hear about the fine details because, heck, I don’t want those visuals any more than my daughter wants mine. But in the abstract, darling, go out and play.
It doesn’t lessen you to give someone else pleasure. It doesn’t degrade you to have some of your own. And anyone who implies otherwise is a man who probably thinks very poorly of women underneath the surface.
Because consensual sex isn’t something that men take from you; it’s something you give. It doesn’t lessen you to give someone else pleasure. It doesn’t degrade you to have some of your own. And anyone who implies otherwise is a man who probably thinks very poorly of women underneath the surface.
Yes, all these boys and girls and genderqueers may break your heart, and that in turn will break mine. I’ve held you, sobbing, after your boyfriend cheated on you, and it tore me in two. But you know what would tear me in two even more? To see you in a glass cage, experiencing nothing but cold emptiness at your fingers, as Dear Old Dad ensured that you got to experience nothing until he decided what you should like.
You’re not me. Nor are you an extension of my will. And so you need to make your own damn mistakes, to learn how to pick yourself up when you fall, to learn where the bandages are and to bind up your own cuts. I’ll help. I’ll be your consigliere when I can, the advisor, the person you come to when all seems lost. But I think there’s value in getting lost. I think there’s a strength that only comes from fumbling your own way out of the darkness.
You’re your own person, and some of the things you’re going to love will strike me as insane, ugly, or unenjoyable. This is how large and wonderful the world is! Imagine if everyone loved the same thing; we’d all be battling for the same ten people. The miracle is how easily someone’s cast-offs become someone else’s beloved treasure. And I would be a sad, sad little man if I manipulated you into becoming a cookie-cutter clone of my desires. Love the music I hate, watch the movies I loathe, become a strong woman who knows where her bliss is and knows just what to do to get it.
Now, you’re going to get bruised by life, and sometimes bruised consensually. But I won’t tell you sex is bad, or that you’re bad for wanting it, or that other people are bad from wanting it from you if you’re willing to give it. I refuse to perpetuate, even through the plausible deniability of humor, the idea that the people my daughter is attracted to are my enemy.
I’m not the guard who locks you in the tower. Ideally, I am my daughter’s safe space, a garden to return to when the world has proved a little too cruel, a place where she can recuperate and reflect upon past mistakes and know that here, there is someone who loves her wholeheartedly and will hug her until the tears dry.
That’s what I want for you, sweetie. A bold life filled with big mistakes and bigger triumphs.
Now get out there and find all the things you fucking love, and vice versa.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Handle With Care (for you I'm dying now)

"[I]t is the haunted premises of longing that the true love song inhabits. It is a howl in the void, for Love and for comfort… It is the cry of one chained to the earth, to the ordinary and to the mundane, craving flight; a flight into inspiration and imagination and divinity...

The love song is a sad song; it is the sound of sorrow itself. We all experience within us what the Portugese call Suadade, which translates as an inexplicable sense of longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul…

In his brilliant lecture entitled “The Theory and Function of Duende” Frederico Garcia Lorca attempts to shed some light on the eerie and inexplicable sadness that lives in the heart of certain works of art. “All that has dark sound has duende”, he says, “that mysterious power that everyone feels but no philosopher can explain.” In contemporary rock music, the area in which I operate, music seems less inclined to have its soul, restless and quivering, the sadness that Lorca talks about. Excitement, often; anger, sometimes: but true sadness, rarely. Bob Dylan has always had it. Leonard Cohen deals specifically in it. It pursues Van Morrison like a black dog and though he tries to he cannot escape it. Tom Waits and Neil Young can summon it. It haunts Polly Harvey. My friend and Dirty 3 have it by the bucket load. The band Spiritualised are excited by it. Tindersticks desperately want it, but all in all it would appear that duende is too fragile to survive the brutality of technology and the ever increasing acceleration of the music industry. Perhaps there is just no money in sadness, no dollars in duende. Sadness or duende needs space to breathe. Melancholy hates haste and floats in silence. It must be handled with care.

All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather Hate Songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right to be sad and the air-waves are littered with them. The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief. The writer who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, the magic and the joy of love for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil – the enduring metaphor of Christ crucified between two criminals comes to mind here – so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.”

-from Nick Cave’s lecture on a love song.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Humans of New York found the perfect man

"I like to read biographies of dead poets."
"Aren't those a bit boring?"
"You kidding me? Shelley died on a boat, Byron fucked everything that walked, and Yeats talked to dead people."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Happy birthday, Lucy.

"Joy requires no translation. God wanted the world to laugh - and He invented you, Lucy. Many are called, but you were chosen. You are an original. You are the best at what you do."
- Sammy Davis Jr.

By the pricking of my thumbs...

I sob every time I watch this.

No, I'm not suddenly a Mumford and Sons fanatic but this video is gold.

This past weekend, Mumford & Sons released a new music video for their song "Hopeless Wanderer" from their album Babel. In said video, four comedians—Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, Jason Bateman, and Will Forte—dress up like hobo folk singers draped in banjos, acoustic guitars, and drum kits and, for the lack of a better description, rock the fuck out. At one point, Bateman plays the banjo like a finger picking fiend and smashes it like he's in Spinal Tap. Sudeikis has a mental breakdown and falls to his knees while soloing with a drum strapped to his back. All four sit and play their instruments on a boat in the middle of a lake. Forte starts to cry (and Bateman tastes his tears). Forte and Bateman also make out.
The video itself is, of course, very funny. And why wouldn't it be? These four dudes are some of the funniest working comedians today, and watching them rock out in an over-the-top manner is guaranteed to be hilarious. Will Forte's beard is just fake enough. Helms' tears are just real enough. The lighting is just Valencia-y enough. The video presents a self-aware and ironic portrait of Mumford & Sons, and it shows that these guys get it. They know that Marcus Mumford looks like a clerk in the Oregon Trail  games and that banjos are inherently goofy and vests are "quirky," which in this case is kind of a stand-in for "stupid" and their folk-stompy style has become so common that it's practically a cliché. They understand! Get it?! Do we get that they get it?

"You face is like so open."

James Baldwin was a BuzzFeed list. My life is complete.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"I'm sinking like a stone in the sea. I'm burning like a bridge for your body."

"You are calm and reposed
Let your beauty unfold
Pale white, like the skin stretched over your bones
Spring keeps you ever close
You are second-hand smoke
You are so fragile and thin, standing trial for your sins
Holding on to yourself the best you can
You are the smell before rain
You are the blood in my veins."