Friday, June 29, 2007

The American Scholar/"hope toward God"

Whenever I think of my favorite magazines, I think of The New Yorker and Cat Fancy. In fact, I think these are the two preeminent publications in not just the U.S. but the world.

I've been meaning to mention, though, how much I also enjoy The American Scholar. It's a quarterly, and it is worth your time. I've seen this essay by Christian Wiman linked to in several places. It's about getting sick at a young age, about loving someone through that experience, and about stumbling toward an understanding of God. It begins like this, and you should read the rest:
Though I was raised in a very religious household, until about a year ago I hadn’t been to church in any serious way in more than 20 years. It would be inaccurate to say that I have been indifferent to God in all that time. If I look back on the things I have written in the past two decades, it’s clear to me not only how thoroughly the forms and language of Christianity have shaped my imagination, but also how deep and persistent my existential anxiety has been. I don’t know whether this is all attributable to the century into which I was born, some genetic glitch, or a late reverberation of the Fall of Man. What I do know is that I have not been at ease in this world.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Authorial Onanism

I'm a big fan of the first book collecting Paris Review interviews, which I wrote about here. Now, The Elegant Variation gives a preview of the next volume, which is due this fall:
INTERVIEWER: Do you see much of your fellow authors?

GRAHAM GREENE: Not much, they are not one's material. A few of them are very dear friends of mine but for a writer to spend much of his time in the company of authors is, you know, a form of masturbation.
I often think the same thing about spending time with aspiring writers, of which there are approximately six million in New York. Though, I guess that's not so much masturbation as group fantasy or something. I don't know -- the blog's never really gotten kinky, so I'm at a loss here. But all of this reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Annie Hall, which I watched for the eight-thousandth time last weekend: "Don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Recent Finds

In case you haven't heard, blogging is the future. (Bow down before me and my handfuls of readers.) And that future continues to brighten:

Two friends of mine are the significantly good forces behind Moreover, a new blog from Intelligent Life, a lifestyle magazine from the folks at The Economist. Visit Moreover frequently. And call your mother.

I also think you will enjoy, if you don't already, Paper Cuts, a new books blog by Dwight Garner, a senior editor at the New York Times Book Review. The blog is appropriately housed at the Times' site, and it includes this funny post about the writer Pete Dexter.

I've added Moreover and Paper Cuts to the blogroll, along with Maud Newton and The Elegant Variation, under a new category called "books." You may have heard of them. I'm sure more entries under that heading will follow. Also, George Packer has started a blog at The New Yorker's site, but I haven't visited enough to feel comfortable adding it to my list. I'm sure that stings Mr. Packer deeply.

Wednesday's Song

A very young James Taylor singing one of my favorite warm-blanket songs, "Carolina In My Mind," to a small group of flower children in what looks like someone's basement. I imagine there's a foosball table somewhere just off-camera.

A factoid pops up on the screen early on, but those are mercifully rare during the rest of the performance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dumb Choice

This blog has a long history of making fun of art prizes. Well, I did it once, anyway.

Now comes word from my friend SD that an artist named Gavin Turk has been given the Charles Wollaston Award ("one of the art world's most prestigious prizes," worth nearly $50,000) for a work called Dumb Candle:
Dumb Candle, a sawn-off broom handle carved into the shape of an extinguished candle, was praised for both its simplicity and subtlety.
Bill Woodrow, who chaired the judging panel, said: "Dumb Candle is an imaginative work with subtle undertones that pick up on several significant art historical moments."
And here I am sweating my career choices. Someone get me a broom handle!

Monday, June 25, 2007

"It's Been a Long, a Long Time Comin', But I Know...

...a change gonna come. Oh, yes it will."

Sam Cooke, ladies and gentlemen.

June has been embarrassingly light around here. I know your money is hard-earned, and I hate to take it for so little in return.


But the lightness is partly excused, I hope, by the intrusion of Massive Life Events. At the end of this week, to name one such M.L.E., I leave my current job, a steady source of camaraderie and income for more than six years now. For July and perhaps even part of August, I'm going to do the kind of notably spineless travel for which I'm renowned (this will involve a week upstate and perhaps a couple of weeks in Texas) and hopefully some productive writing as well. Productive, in this case, meaning a good deal other than blogging. But blogging will be part of it.

Come September (or sooner), it will be back to employment of some gainful type. Whether this will be in the industry to which I've become accustomed, we shall see. Whether this will be in Gotham, in the Hudson Valley, in Austin, or in Iceland, who really knows? As an acquaintance said the other night, I am "at loose ends." True enough. But they're loose ends at which I'm happy to have arrived, and from which I think good things will happen. In the meantime, if posts around here take on a more searching tone, I hope you'll forgive me. Sometimes a guy's gotta search.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Noteworthy New Mascot

My friend JW (not me, though I am a friend to myself) passed along this piece about a new minor league baseball team in Grand Prairie, which is between Dallas and Fort Worth. The team is going to be called the Air Hogs.

Evidently, Grand Prairie has a thriving aviation industry, and Air Hogs is a slang term used by military pilots. The fan who suggested the name in an online contest gives good quote:
Mr. Hasty, a self-proclaimed Google addict, said he searched the Internet for mascots. Then he typed in "aviator" and up popped pictures of "air hogs."

"These cool little logos came up of hogs with tusks and goggles, and they looked real tough," Mr. Hasty said. "I wanted a tough hog, one that wouldn't be mistaken for a pig."
Got that? They're not a bunch of pansy pigs.

The team begins play in 2008, and I imagine that's when I'll see its new stadium for the first time in person. If ASWOBA is still going strong then, there will be a full report and photos. If you're half as excited as I am by that prospect, you're very, very excited.


Friday, June 22, 2007

About a Dog

I imagine I'll write more about William Maxwell before too long, because he has other books and I'm likely to be reading them soon. But before I move away from So Long, See You Tomorrow (which I finished; you should read it, if you haven't), one more thing. Toward the end, the novel includes a few remarkable passages told from the perspective of a family's dog. I know that sounds potentially horrible, but I'm not even a big pet person and I found it incredibly moving. This passage below, earlier in the book, doesn't get inside the dog's mind quite as much as those later moments, but I thought the last sentence here was a beautiful way of expressing the cliché of dog loyalty:
The dog follows Cletus up onto the porch, leaving her neat footprints wherever she has been. With her head cocked she watches while he puts his schoolbooks beside the door and bends down to untie his shoelaces. His head is now on a level with hers. The plumed tail wags seductively. He leans forward so that she can smell his breath and, smelling hers, wrinkles his nose with distaste.

"Whew! What have you been eating? Dead fish?" Dead something.

There is no telling how long she would let him go on looking into her agate-colored eyes. Forever, possibly. She has made him a present of herself and nothing he does or doesn't do will make her take it back.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

AP Headline of the Day

Turtle Causes Parkway Wreck, Then Dies

Wednesday Tune

Van Morrison singing a very abbreviated version of "These Dreams of You":

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Long History of Assimilation

Jane Galt caught some flak for this post about immigration, so she responded with this longer one, which is worth a read. Here's a small slice:
Your ancestors weren't welcomed; they were reviled. They didn't assimilate along the happy schedule outlined on saccharine television dramas; indeed, Mexican immigrants are much more open to assimilation than many groups, which is why early 20th century literature is so full of anguished dramas about immigrant parents trying to keep their children from losing their culture.

The Automatic Loser

Please understand, I don't reflexively hate Hillary Clinton. I do reflexively dislike her, but I'm talking about hatred. You know, the feeling that at least a third of Americans have for her. The fact that the Democrats might opt for such a monumentally divisive nominee when the White House should be a lay-up for them in 2008 -- well, I've said it several times around here; it makes me especially proud to affiliate myself with neither major party. Chances would be very good for her to lose a general election. If she managed to win, you now have another dynastic, widely loathed figure at the top of government. Yippee.

Now, she's getting points for a campaign ad that announces her candidacy's official song and mimics the ending of The Sopranos. And I guess that's pretty cool, but it buries the real story, which is that the song is "You and I" by Celine Dion!!! I usually keep the exclamation points in a high-up cabinet around here, so I resist the urge to use them, but seriously. Is she running for President or Lame Mom Laureate? Does she care about the under-50 vote? Bill once adopted "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac as his song, which seems like the Arcade Fire compared to this choice. Realize that as I write this, I'm listening to Air Supply (not a joke), but there's a time and place.

I'm sure he's got more volunteers than he knows what to do with, but I really want to work for Obama. This has got to stop.

That Was Fast

I'm easily swayed. Two of you suggested that a photo blog wasn't the worst idea you'd ever heard, and voila, there's a photo blog. It's called Existent Light because Existing Light was already taken, existing light referring to, well, the light that exists without a flash. I try to never use a flash. Get it? I understand that Existent Light might sound a bit too much like the next Sarah McLachlan record, but beggars can't be choosers.

I've added it to the blogroll, and from time to time I'll point you in its direction if I think there's something interesting up. (I'll also note at the bottom of a post here if there's a companion photo gallery over there.) I make no claims to being a skilled photographer. I just take a lot of shots these days, and figured it would be nice to have a place to put my favorites. I won't speak of this much after

Monday, June 18, 2007

Stop Me Before I Blog Again

I'm toying with the semi-ridiculous idea of starting a companion blog to this one where I would only post photos. I've been taking quite a few with my new camera (it hasn't replaced my iPod in my heart, but it and the iPod are exchanging tense glances) and the vast majority of them don't really have a place here.

There's no reason for me to have told you this other than my not having much else to do at the moment. Please enjoy the more substantive new posts below.

Archive(s) of the Day

I'm reading William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow, a short, ruminative novel about a murder in the rural Midwest in the 1920s. Maxwell is a beautiful writer, the type, like another William (Trevor), whose sentences somehow seem both whittled and ornamental. Some people would sacrifice great things to be able to dance like Fred Astaire or paint like Rembrandt. I fantasize about writing like these guys. Here's a passage from So Long:
Roaming the courthouse square on a Saturday night, the tenant farmers and their families were unmistakable. You could see that they were not at ease in town and that they clung together for support. The women's clothes were not meant to be becoming but to wear well, to last them out. The back of the men's necks was a mahogany color, and deeply wrinkled. Their hands were large and looked swollen or misshapen and sometimes they were short a finger or two. The discontented hang of their shoulders is possibly something I imagined because I would not have liked not owning the land I farmed. Very likely they didn't either, but farming was in their blood and they wouldn't have cared to be selling real estate or adding up columns of figures in a bank.

On the seventh day they rested; that is to say, they put on their good clothes and hitched up the horse again and drove to some country church, where, sitting in straight-backed cushionless pews, they stared passively at the preacher, who paced up and down in front of them, thinking up new ways to convince them that they were steeped in sin.
Reading it has also put me in mind of a great passage about William Maxwell (and New York) by Edward Hirsch. I posted it as an archive last summer, but here it is again:
I can't reconcile myself to the fact that he is gone. The night before he passed away I stood on the sidewalk outside his apartment building and burst into tears. I was grieving in advance. I couldn't bear to be without him. I still can't. William Maxwell knew something about inconsolable grief. People hurried by on either side of me, but no one even glanced my way. It started to rain. The night opened its arms. New York City is a place where one can weep on the sidewalk in perfect privacy.

Upstate NY, Sky Country

Gone to Altamont (Near Albany)

The past weekend was spent upstate, west of Albany, with my friend Nick. Just the two of us (as several have asked), trying out our community-theater revival of Sideways. There was a good deal of driving, a reasonable amount of whiskey-drinking, and a healthy number of hours spent sitting on the porch listening to the trees in the breeze. Like a lot of my visits upstate, I ended it wishing that I had a circle of friends up there -- the lifestyle is better than NYC's for mental health in ways that are probably immeasurable.

We also spent time picking fresh strawberries. You drive off-road for a couple hundred yards and come to a wooden shed, manned by two teenage girls handing out trays and buckets to arrivals and charging the departures an exceedingly affordable amount of money for their hauls. This is the shed:

And this was our haul:

As you can tell, the weekend was more steeped in Americana than a baseball doubleheader on the Fourth of July. Or as Nick put it, "I keep waiting for John Mellencamp to step out from behind a tree."

Mellencamp never showed up, but there were three bunny rabbits on the lawn when we arrived at Nick's parents' house near sundown on Friday.

Saturday afternoon, we realized that the relaxation offered by our escape was accompanied by vast stretches of time that needed filling. We were either going to sit in matching recliners and stare out a bay window for several hours, or we'd have to figure out something to do. I would have happily (lazily) opted for the former, but luckily Nick had other plans. We ended up walking through a nature conservancy and coming upon scenes like this one:

I spent several minutes taking pictures of the trees reflected in small puddles:

In case you're not getting the picture, this was a leisurely weekend. Nick and I are happily with women, thanks for asking, but he's just a rare kind of friend who knew I desperately needed a break and offered it to me.

The one stressful part of the trip -- a blown-out front tire on our rental car about halfway up to Albany on Friday afternoon -- actually turned out to be a blessing. We stopped in Newburgh to get it replaced, and met some characters there who defy description on a blog. If you know me, please ask about them, and I will inundate you with impressions.

Ah, the Writing Life

Andrew Sullivan linked to this speech by Andrew O'Hagan, which opened the Sydney Writers' Festival. As a whole, it's a bit overly earnest and utopian for my taste, going on and on about how literature can help us stop war, feed all the children, and basically make us love each other more, but it's a sunny day and I'd rather not set myself up too strongly in opposition to those things. Yes: Stop fighting, eat something, hug the person next to you and then resolve to pay more attention to their emotional needs.

Early in the speech, though, is a very funny moment, the one that Sullivan reproduced on his blog (I really wanted to avoid citing the same exact passage, but I read the whole thing and it was my favorite by a good stretch):
I have to tell you it wasn't really the library that made me a writer. That dubious accolade must surely go to the film of Doctor Zhivago. My brothers and I were always hanging around our house at night looking for things to burn, but this night I found myself watching Dr Zhivago. There’s a scene in that movie when Omar Sharif comes gliding down the stairs in a flowing dressing gown, Omar Sharif, you know, following his rather impressive moustache down the stairs. Well, he arrives in this room – a giant study, you know, French windows, flowery armchairs, the lot. He sits down at this elegant ecritoir and looks out of the windows, where he sees, in quick succession, a host of daffodils, a bank of snow, a full moon and a herd of deer. (God bless Hollywood.) Anyhow, I'm watching this with wide eyes. Next thing he lifts up a feather pen and – without any ink blotches or crossings out or mistakes, and it takes him about 3.4 nanoseconds – he writes the 'Sonnet to Lara'. After which he goes upstairs and goes to bed with Julie Christie. I remember watching that very closely and thinking, "I could do that."

Top of the Rock

I'm back. Kinda? Sorta? Tonight I'll have a few tales of adventure from upstate this past weekend (with photos), but in the meantime, a gallery of highlights from 30 Rock.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Piece of Music

A day late, here's a clip. This is, for my money, one of the most beautiful pieces in the world, Bach's Cello Suite No. 1, here performed by Mischa Maisky.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No Need to Panic

I just wanted to assure (or disappoint) everyone by noting that the post below was not some kind of metaphorical end to the blog. I have not nuked ASWOBA. It's just a very busy week around here and posting will be light.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Archive of the Day/Armageddon

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan linked to a stunning video of nuclear tests set to music. (He got it from 2 Blowhards, which I've been meaning to add to the blogroll -- so now I have.) I'm putting the video below. But first, since it seems highly appropriate, a passage from my favorite novel, The Brothers K by David James Duncan, in which one of the brothers, Peter, at high school in the early '60s, watches a film about a nuclear test. I've elided some of the section, because it's quite long as is. But I think it's a perfect lead-up to the video. Enjoy?
On August 6, 1945, Edward Conze -- arguably the greatest Buddhist scholar of this century -- was riding in a train through England when he opened his morning paper and read of Hiroshima, and of the world's first nuclear attack. He later wrote, "I have a very deep stomach, and normally cannot be sick. But on this occasion I vomited straight out the window. This was prophetic insight. For at that moment, human history had lost its meaning."

Two decades later, in the fall of his junior year of high school, Peter was forced in a class called Modern Problems to watch a film about a possible solution to the modern problem roughly known as "Russia." This film was a black-and-white documentary, produced by the Pentagon. Its subject was one of the late-Fifties' aboveground H-bomb tests in Nevada.

The military technicians who engineered the test may not have been the most artistic filmmakers of their day, but they were far from unimaginative. They recognized, for instance, that in blowing up an expanse of uninhabited desert there must be something more than miles of barren sand and sagebrush for the cameras to film and for the viewers' minds to grasp. They therefore decided (rather like the third of the Three Little Pigs) to build a little brick house, to situate it exactly one mile from Ground Zero, and to make it the poignant, underdog star of their show, first by stocking and furnishing it with an array of animate and inanimate items that might be found in any American home at the time of a Russian nuclear attack, and then, of course, by attacking it.

Surrounded as it was by miles of scrub desert, the Pentagon's house turned out to be a forlorn and lost-looking little abode. But in my Father's house are many mansions, Peter thought as he watched. And no one could fault the Pentagon technicians' thoroughness in stocking this one: they carted in fresh and refrigerated foods, a pantry full of canned goods, a freezer full of meats and vegetables (I go to prepare a place for you, Peter thought)...

They didn't recruit a family -- though with their budget and powers of propaganda they no doubt could have. But they did the next-best thing: they built one. ... The Army really had constructed four lifelike, white-skinned 100%-patriotic dummies -- a Daddy, a Mommy, a Little Boy and a Little Girl. "The Last Supper!" one of Peter's pals cracked as the camera finally drew away. But no one laughed...

With that, the camera zoomed in on the four happy, lifeless faces, and the narrator counted down, Five, Four, Three, Two, One . . . But at Zero, nothing happened. Seconds passed. The house remained standing. The Dummies kept smiling. "Gee, Wally! That wasn't so bad!" said the boy who'd made the "Last Supper" crack, and there were a few snickers. "Better light another one," someone said, and half the class began to laugh.

Then the family simply vanished. It was not at all dramatic. The little lost house and everything in it disappeared in a flash of such pure and silent whiteness that Peter thought the film had broken. But then they began to perceive movement within the whiteness. No one, least of all the Pentagon narrator, could describe what they were seeing, but there was clearly a billowing, an erupting, a majestic swirling of heat and light pouring toward them and through them and far, far beyond them. It was mesmerizing. It was even beautiful. And it went on for a long, long time.

Finally, the screen darkened, there was a stasis, and the Modern Problems students sighed, thinking the Dummy Family, though deceased, was at least at rest. But they were wrong. The billowing not only resumed, it reversed direction. The first wind, Peter realized, had been the ex-plosion (I go to prepare a place for you) -- everything blown effortlessly aside as when a boulder lands in a pool and crushes the water away in all directions. But the second wind, the reversed wind, was the im-plosion (and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself...) -- the melted molecules of brick and insect and appliance and desert all rushing like water back into place, after the thrown boulder has sunk.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Strange Mascots

My friend the Dread Pirate sent this link to a round-up of the strangest college mascots. It's a good list. Put it this way -- the Fighting Okra is not number one.


A new review over at Pajiba:
The degree to which you get swept away by Once will be exactly the degree to which you like the music of Damien Rice. The wispy songwriter doesn’t appear in the movie (though he is thanked in the closing credits), but the songs at the center of this indie musical are straight from his mold.

A Wednesday Song

I've heard three great outer-space songs in my life. Please let me know of any others. They are "Space Oddity" by David Bowie, "Rocket Man" by Elton John, and "The Commander Thinks Aloud" by the Long Winters. I saw that last band a few months ago in New York, and they put on a terrific show. This is a clip of "Commander" from another set, in Madison, Wisconsin. Enjoy:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

AP Headline of the Day

City Greases Up Eggs to Stop Goose Guano

Archive of the Day

From All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy:
By early evening all the sky to the north had darkened and the spare terrain they trod had turned a neuter gray as far as eye could see. They grouped in the road at the top of a rise and looked back. The storm front towered above them and the wind was cool on their sweating faces. They slumped bleary-eyed in their saddles and looked at one another. Shrouded in the black thunderheads the distant lightning glowed mutely like welding seen through foundry smoke. As if repairs were under way at some flawed place in the iron dark of the world.


Today it happened. Cormac McCarthy was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. I consider myself lucky to be alive at a moment when this cultural moment was possible.

The interview took place at the Santa Fe Institute, where McCarthy likes to write and converse with scientists. This was a big disappointment. I was hoping it would take place in front of Oprah’s maniacal studio audience. She would have stepped on to the stage and said, “Ladies, for the first time ever on television, please welcome Cormac McCarthyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!” And out the taciturn Cormac would have walked, surrounded by shrieking women (he’s in good shape for 73), to sit in a leather chair across from America’s Book Queen. At the end of the confessional chat, Oprah would have advised her devoted guests to look under their seats for a gift, at which point several hundred jubilant, well-groomed forty- and fifty-something women would have reached down and come up holding cattle skulls, the flesh eaten off of them by a particularly ferocious species of South Texas fire ant.

Alas. The interview was taped in Santa Fe, in front of no one, and Oprah made a promise to McCarthy that she wouldn’t take up more than an hour of his time. I work hard to like Winfrey, because let’s be honest -- no matter how vapid, afternoon TV that points people in the direction of Cormac McCarthy is a pretty rare beast. That said, her questions were pretty vapid, but McCarthy being someone who carefully considers his words, his side of things was somewhat nourishing.

For instance, Oprah asked, “Are you passionate about writing?,” which drew a groan from the coworker with whom I was watching.

McCarthy responded, like one of his characters might: “Passion, it sounds like a pretty fancy word. I like what I do. And I suppose some writers have said in print that they hated writing, it was just a chore and a burden. I certainly don’t feel that way about it. Sometimes it’s difficult. You always have this image of the perfect thing, which you can never achieve, but which you never stop trying to achieve.”

When she asked him if he liked spending time with the scientists at the institute, he said: “I don’t know any writers. I would much prefer to hang out with scientists.” (To be 73, as decorated as McCarthy is, and not know any writers is the antithesis of the New York lifestyle, where undecorated 20- and 30-somethings know only other aspiring writers. The beautiful antithesis.)

Oprah later asked him about the lack of female characters in his novels, and McCarthy, echoing Freud, said: “Women are tough. I don’t pretend to understand women. I think men don’t know much about women, and find them very mysterious.”

For those of us with questions about our purpose in life, McCarthy had this to say about his ability to avoid 9-to-5 work in his younger days: “It’s not that I don’t like things. Some things are very nice. ... Life is brief. And to have to spend every day of it doing what somebody else wants you to do is not the way to live it. I don’t have any advice for anybody on how to go about that, except if you’re really dedicated, you can probably do it.”

And lastly, maybe especially relevant for a blog that’s often taken up the question of god:
McCarthy: “Life is pretty damn good, even when it looks bad. We should appreciate it more. We should be grateful. I don’t know who to be grateful to, but you should be thankful for what you have.”

Winfrey: “You haven’t worked out the God thing or not yet?”

McCarthy: “It would depend on what day you ask me. But sometimes it’s good to pray. I don’t think you have to have a clear idea of who or what God is in order to pray. You can even be quite doubtful about the whole business.”
I have to admit, that last exchange sent this deeply committed agnostic over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (it’s only one short block away) for an end-of-the-day moment of silence. It’s true, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I was doing or who I was doing it to, but it’s equally true that I found quiet there that wasn’t available in the office, on the street outside, or even inside myself. Not for the first time: Thanks, Cormac.

This Is Your Spider. This Is Your Spider on Drugs.

You might have seen this a thousand times. You never know with these things. But Pajiba linked to it today, and it had me laughing pretty hard, which is no small feat lately:

Monday, June 04, 2007

Me vs. Ken

It seems everyone is offering their own take on this McSweeney's piece -- including two friends of this blog, here and here. So, since it's a quiet-ish week in these parts, I'll show up way too late and take a crack at it. Here are the Jeopardy! categories in which I'm reasonably confident I could beat Ken Jennings:

REM lyrics

Shortstops of the 1980s

Richard Russo novels

Spinal Tap and Raising Arizona quotes

How to Mismanage Apartment-Rental Decisions

The Simpsons

New York City Bars

College Mascots

Reasons to Dread Traveling

Reasons to Dread

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Archive of the Day

From Empire Falls by Richard Russo:
"Cindy--" Miles began.

"I can bear it that you don't love me, Miles," she said. "I've borne it all my life. But if I thought I made you want to run away..."

"We're old friends," he assured her. "I don't want to run away from you."

She gave him a smile in which hope and knowledge were going at it, bare-knuckled, equally and eternally matched. No, there was a God after all, Miles concluded, as he took his leave of her. This misery was His plan for us.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Song 3: "Bleecker Street"

Simon & Garfunkel's "Bleecker Street" has the smart lyrics you expect from the first name in that combination. And in lines like "thirty dollars pays your rent on Bleecker Street," it glorifies the New York that existed -- well, a long, long time ago. I spent the second half of last night in the company of a couple of friends, one of whom is an artist who's starting an MFA program upstate in the fall. Like many artists these days, he seems more than OK with the idea of working, living, and breathing outside the exorbitant confines of this city. Shame, that.

Now, there's someone next to me at Starbucks shouting into his cell phone in a most unpleasant way (he seems to be directing workers of his on their routes), so I'm out of here.

Thoughts of Not Melting

Changes are afoot, one way or another. And the beginning of summer (in earnest) always makes me wonder where it's cool enough for me to feel like a biological creature suited to his environment. It's only about 86 here today, but it's -- how you say -- gross. I'm in an apartment that I will not be in for long, so installing the air conditioner seems like a lot of effort for not much reward. It's 71 today in Portland, Maine; 70 in Portland, Oregon; 54 (!) in San Francisco. I have no reason to live in any of those places, but golly, they sound nice.