Monthly Archives: November 2009

Occasional poem

What kind of poem do you like the least?

The kind with yeast.
Rising in a half morning baked
epiphany of meaningly thoughts.

What kind of poem do you like the most?

The kind on toast.
Held fast with a fat veneer
of cream cheese.

What kind of poem does your family like?

The poem that’s caught
In the beak of a shrike
About to be fed to its young.
Healthy lifestyle poems.

What kind of poem does your girlfriend favor?

Sweet-pepper flavor.
Poe, Kunitz, Shyamalan.

What kind of poem is right for Thanksgiving?

Heavy metal poems.
Rivets and drums.

tremendous shout-out

It was obvious, though, from the writings of the cognoscenti, that a true sampling of poutine would require a trip to Montreal. That is how I came to be eating so much of it with Emily Birnbaum and her boyfriend, James Braithwaite, and their friend Richard Parks, and a revolving selection of special-guest eaters.

from Calvin Trillin Eats Poutine with Richard Parks,” the New Yorker, 11/23/09


Language porridge,

alcohol cauldron,

dehydration history,

55-year-old woman at literary magazine party, lips pursed, thoughtful and sublime

drunk blogger abroad, brimful of self-loathing, each tooth a piece of video art broadcasting a private American history back to the motherteeth

British man wearing a t-shirt mocking class struggle, a Scottish novelist too politicized to appeal to an American novelist, an upper-class American too drunk to ever find work in the merchant marine–

MERCHANT MARINE: We’ll take you, you can maintain our website

DOUGHTY CRISP: Great! I’ll start this summer, first I have to go to my nephew’s opera in Tuscany

HAMBURGLER: Have you ever snorted heroin? I am the hamburgler.

In the Hague, they speak Dutch. In Antwerp, it’s rumored that they’ll speak Dutch. Two Americans talking passionately about comics for hours puzzles a short-haired Dutch woman. What could they be so interested in? What’s the appeal?

A tabby cat in Athens, Georgia listens to the sound of a dial-up modem learning to speak Arabic in the compost bin of a futuretimes EcoKFC

A placenta dresses up as Groucho Marx for Halloween

I am drunk

Language Bom

Dear future grandchildren,

I’m writing this blog for you. Someday all blogs will be engraved on the bottoms of wide flat stones and you’ll slide your finger across a surfaceless touchpad and the stone will turn and you’ll read these words and think about the life of the man who begot you.


I put on my semi-rumpled suit and walked to Spinoza’s grave in the rain. It was inscribed with Hebrew characters, some Latin. In English it said “please also visit!” Just kidding, 1632–1677. Ate a sandwich alone at a cafe run by Hillary Clinton and her 12 secret Dutch sisters and daughters. I wanted a sandwich with cheese and vegetables on it which I felt confident they had but I couldn’t decipher the menu so I had “aubergine”.

Went to a panel discussion at a bookstore. Panelists included me (an animatronic goat named Chloë), Breadstixxxxx (dressed like a celebrated motorcycle journalist), and Diacrunktrixxx, who dressed perfectly. It was Us vs. three Dutch publisher/editors, plus another hyperfriendly Dutch editor/novelist moderating. Also in the mix were three short fiction readings from playwrights associated with the small nonprofit theater company where I work.

The music part of the festival began tonight. Saw James Kelman, the amazing Scottish novelist, read three short stories. Kelman was followed by God Save the Girl, which is Stuart Murdoch from Belle & Sebastian and a “cracker” team of musicans (ex-B&S, Teenage Fanclub, et al) backing up a trio of deeply attractive Scottish women singing highly theatrical 60s story-song B&S-style tunes. One woman behind us said wryly to her friend “The gentlemen must really love this band.” It was, according to Murdoch, their first “proper gig”. I enjoyed myself, Breadstixxxxxx was a puddle on the floor. Afterward Pru (I have not changed her name because her fucking name is Pru) said she thought Murdoch was pedantic toward the girls– and he was, he wanted everyone to know he’d written the songs and it was really his show and for everyone to be really excited at the end when he sang a song, but it didn’t ruin anything for me, because the songs were terrific and the band was tight (very much in the style of Belle and Sebastian at their most huge-production loungey Dear Catastrophe Waitress mode) and the trio of singers–one of whom murdered Breadstixx’s heart, maybe Breadstix himself, in an elevator at the hotel earlier today, maybe yesterday, Brdstx at the time having no idea who she was beyond just painfully Scottish and lovely–were lovely.

Then about 10 minutes of Akron/Family then all of Grizzly Bear whom I’ve seen a few times and are at the peak of their powers and put on a great show for a crowd of 400 seated elderly (median age maybe 36) Dutch people whose rows and rows of glowing heads from behind were occasionally as compelling to look at as the band itself. I’m not entirely sure why I’m staying awake right now to warm over tired rock-crit cliches essentially reviewing a show I’m embarrassed to have attended (see “I don’t deserve this hotel room,” 11/20/09) but anyway demons begone guitars are often described as shimmering or glimmering or glittering but Daniel Rossen’s guitar in that band is truly a shining blade that cleaves Chris Taylor’s thick bass into savory slices.


Your Grampy Jommz

anti-blogging, drunk, nobody knows what time

Hello America

I am drunk, I didn’t mean to get drunk, I wanted to hydrate and acclimate, but then I met so many wonderful people [eats an entire tube of lipstick, belches, kisses a real pig, literally, at a farm] that I ended up drinking nineteen Belgian and Dutch beers (Heineken is somehow a masterpiece here in the Netherlands, Heineken is a masterpiece here in the Netherlands, they make a variety called “extra cold,” I am drunk, if you’re not careful I am going to smoke Dutch Marijuana and write a terrified blogpost about Yo La Tengo and the raisin-ing of “Northern Europe,” I am drunk) and I had a conversation with a novelist about how blogging actually is bad for the gastric intenso-valves, and I should stop if I want to become the first Jewish James Boswell in Space (Prince, Michael Jackson, Tristram Shandy, Tom Jones, Peter Falk, Peter Falkner, I am drunk), and so I drank the beers. It’s OK. At Christmastime the Dutch set out glass vitrines of dog-food treats for people to eat in honor of St. Nicaulaus. I heard a Russian and Italian discourse about violence. I met several people who, when I thought about describing them on my blog, made me ashamed to have a blog. Their authenticity and bravery and eminence and humility shame this website into the dead condom wrapper that it is. Fuck this blog. I am drunk. I am in the Hague. I am with Slobodan, we are both trashed. Just kidding. The internet is a threat to American novelists so they lash out. Dickensian Tiny Tims like myself kiss and preen before the ovalled internet in our privetty bed-jams and are un-soothed, un-sayed, Orientalised and shaken off the knife. I’m drunk,  nothing excused. Remove me from your Feed.


Lingua Citadel

I work for a small nonprofit theater company; a theater festival in the Hague (Den Haag), Netherlands, inexplicably invited members of our company to a festival they are putting on but all the senior members of my small theater company got lockjaw syndrome and painful-butt disease so by the luck of the draw I got to travel to the festival with my colleagues and coworkers Breadstixxxxx and Quintiple-Deez, I’ve changed their names to protect their names, I haven’t slept in 20 hours, these last three clauses are true.

Over the next five or six days I will be “liveblogging,” that is to say “breathlessly typing up my pointless notes” on my time here at the pointlessly occluded roman a clef literary music festival that I am simultaneously at and not at in the Hague. War crimes joke.

We landed two hours ago. I tried for fifteen minutes to sleep but sleep never came. I won’t tell you if I went to the bathroom or not. (I did.) I have abandoned sleep, I’m going to just power through the evening and sleep with the Dutch. When they’re sleeping. I don’t mean have sex with them. I mean sleep when they sleep. I did sleep with fourteen or fifteen people on the plane, not in the bathroom but in the little aisle  between my row of seats and the cabin separator wall behind it, men and women, a few consenting children, I also made love to a couple handicap devices, like blind-person canes and arm braces.

HALF-ELF: [exhausted] No apologies for heavy/gross/fake-occluded-personal blog, right?


Breadstixxxxxx came over to say hi to me at my seat and had written on his hand in ink Dat kinkt geweldig which he thought from watching Flight of the Conchords with Dutch subtitles meant “That would be great.” He had a draught of drambuie after dinner. I drank nothing but water on the plane. The flight passed quickly as I read the entire New York Times and then an entire (complimentary) UK Guardian cover to cover in the first must have been four or five hours of the flight. Intensive newspaper reading on long flights is good: the aridity dries the paper as you read so by the time you land the newspaper has turned to a delicate, sloughed-off epidermal crinklesheet.

Guilt about air travel’s deletirious effects on the environment. Guilt about my going on such a fun-sounding junket-seeming trip despite the fact that I self-lobotomized at age 14 and have done nothing to deserve this hotel room and will do nothing but think about myself the entire time I’m here. Guilt about guilt, guilt about self-consciousness, guilt.

Ethical dilemma when obese Dutch woman and husband wanted me to trade seats with their son so he could sit next them in my aisle seat. “Is he sitting in a middle seat?” He was. “How old is he?” Thirty-three. I rejected their offer. I spent the rest of the flight in intimate contact with the giant woman’s elbow, other aspects of her right side. She ate everything that was put in front of her. I am also overweight, but not as much as she is. I also don’t have a 33-year-old Dutch son. I felt bad when, at the end of the flight, the flight attendant confirmed that she’d want a wheelchair to get out of the terminal. She could walk, nevermind, what

At baggage claim there was a stoner delegation from CA clearly engaging in marijuana tourism. They were gentle, fine. Four of them plus a guitar.

Juice bar in airport called Juggle Juice.

Sleep = Slaap

Het is half elf’s morgen = it’s 10:30 a.m.

Arts = doctor

two = twee

Lunch = Lunch!!!!

Middle initials omitted.

Officers from Beijing’s Industry and Commerce Administration stopped the sale of “ObaMao” merchandise showing Obama dressed as Mao Zedong. The Republican National Committee said that its health-insurance plan would no longer pay for abortions. The Cheesecake Factory agreed to pay $345,000 to six male employees who were sexually harassed by other male employees, the number of Americans lacking dependable access to food reached its highest levels on record, and a New York woman who cut off her father’s penis and burned it on the stove began taking cooking classes in jail.

Christopher Beha wrote a particularly informative, funny, and sad Harper’s Weekly.

“Why are you not afraid of India’s nuclear weapons?” the official asked. “Because India is your friend, and the longtime policies of America and India converge. Between you and the Indians, you will fuck us in every way. The truth is that our weapons are less of a problem for the Obama Administration than finding a respectable way out of Afghanistan.”

Seymour Hersh has an arresting report on Pakistan‘s unstable nuclear program in the New Yorker.

Hypothetical query: if you were on a business trip to the Hague, and you had one day off, where would you go? (Assuming the Oostvaardersplassen is closed.)