A classic fave from Michael Kupperman
22-year-old cool-guy rides his bike through a red light. On the next block, a different, uglier 22-year-old cool-guy rides his bike through a red light. The Lord of Saturday takes a sip of water from a half-crushed plastic bottle as he coasts. It’s 10 a.m. This is their element. They are the Lords of Saturday. First guy I’ll call Garrick. Second one was Earl.
Over on the other side of the country, in Brooklyn, three hours earlier, the same thing happened. Their East Coast analogues, the Lords of Saturday East™, rode their bikes quickly and effortlessly through light traffic, cool-guys in excellent grey jackets. San Francisco must have had at least 30 such grey Lords this morning, spread evenly across the city, pedaling their way to—what? Sex with TK, noise pancakes? A shitty weekend job, a mostly empty office? The library, the beach, or Bethany’s? Park, office, mom’s. Hip bakery, weak bakery. Certain death. Record store.
NPR’s Guy Risdall sipped his fourth cup of coffee. He listened to the first Helmet record on headphones as he responded to emails.
The song played so loud, and Guy felt so high from the caffeine that, even though he could see a clear sky through the window in the corner of his vision, he still hallucinated a gentle rain falling. It battered big elm leaves down into the carhoods.
Horsey is champing at the bit! He is a professor of Spanglish at Domenicka Girl University of Barbados County, which is a hot little sub-county within Marin, in Northern California. Horsey teaches:
- indie-rock criticism
- short story
- table mannahzzzz
- jewish studies
- ovary sciences
- a river runs through it (fly fishing)
- ENGL204: “John Fante and the Beats”
- NATTYSCI003: “VeggieTales from the CryptCyde”
- Avatar Studies
- CRWRI404: Politically Correct, Pseudoexperimental Erotica (practicum)
- tabla (indian classical music)
A student walks up to Horsey on one of the campus’s windy paths. “Hey I’m trying to square Marx Freud and Darwin but it’s hard. These thinkers only really make sense to me when I’m having sex with another person. When I’m in the library or in my dorm room trying to write a paper it doesn’t make sense. But, you know, when I’m having sexual intercourse, during the duration of the intercourse it all makes sense. I feel like I get marx darwin and freud.” Horsey winks. “In that order?” The student frowns. “No.”
HORSEY: Well, come by my office hours, we’ll talk about this problem.
STUDENT: Professors are like therapists in this way, non? [She lights a cigarette]
HORSEY: “Oui.” [He does not speak French]
SHOUTING INTERNET GUY: I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL EVERYONE LEAVES AND IT’S JUST ME IN THE OFFICE BLASTING STREAMING WEIRD INSTRUMENTAL HIP HOP AND MY TINY BOWL OF HONEY ROASTED CASHEWS RUNNETH OVER, WEARING A CRAZY WIG OF PAD THAI THAT FALLS INTO MY EYES, GCHATTING WITH MC PAUL BARMAN, GCHATTING with self-loathing people in New York who are not sad that JD Salinger is dead, who are not sad that Twitter wrongfully terminated a Jewish woman last night, who are not sad that a robotic cat raped a drawing of a mouse in plein air on 32nd St and Harrison in San Francisco that same night; these fuckers are unmoved by the outrageous story of all the caffeine in an unsteeped Earl Grey teabag deciding to GET HIGH USING A GRAVITY BONG, and then go back into the teabag, and then a toddler, only 3 years of old, ordered the tea from his Russian nanny, demanded tea, NANNY FETCH ME TEA, and so the Russian nanny dutifully steeped it, and served it, and the kid died, 86 years later, of natural causes. Nobody is concerned that I’m not friends with Harmony Korine? That I have Dutch gentials with the brain of a Dane? That I sometimes dip articles from Harper’s into boiled water and watch them steep and then drink the tea while I read the leaves?
I’m glad Jessica Hopper was outraged by the new Vampire Weekend record. I think she’s a smart and funny writer. Martin Amis is, too, but that doesn’t mean JM Coetzee denies his readers the pleasure principle. I’m not fluent in Italian, French, German, or Swiss French. I’ve never brought a Swiss woman to climax. I’ve never denied the pleasure principle to JM Coetzee. He asks, and I tell. Every time. @moodygroovin is the darkest, dankest 140-character assassin on twitter. Every author who’s ever published a novel as a paperback original with FSG or Picador has at one point in print claimed that one needs to be a coffee-drinker in order to be a successful novelist, and each and every one of them is wrong. My fictional female alter ego, Beth Pails, drinks nothing but hot tea in greens and Grays and wrote a novel that Amis and Coetzee agreed could “only have been produced by the Internet and its attendant depravities.” It sold several, several copies. If I were a woman, I would have the body of a woman. Do you remember that time I paraphrased Steve Martin’s line from L.A. Story about how he would spend all day feeling himself up if he were a woman when we (you, the reader, and me, Bethany) were in seventh grade and Mrs. White was scandalized and I got in “pretty big” trouble?
One more paragraph: “I still like hip hop.” Of all your favorite living novelists under the age of 40, which do you think likes hip hop least? This is among the questions I’ll be asking tonight on a panel I’m moderating at the Garricks’ Library, 800 Valencia St, just kidding, 5:15 p.m. Appearing on the panel will be Cameron Stipené, Shellie Coup, and (I’m just kidding, 800 Valencia is the increasingly gourmet bodega on the corner) Lydia Brousserrie. $5 suggested donation. Enter through Rhea’s Deli.
DEB: Don’t waste your youth. Don’t waste this coffee high. Get it down on paper. Grab life by the clear plastic tab and tug gently until you reach orgasm.
DEB: Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about, Vijay.
V: I know what you’re talking about.
DEB: Thank you.
[East-coast trees flash by. It’s all green. The trees may as well not have trunks. They’re just hanging, diagonal foliage. The forest is empty of deer. Insects accumulate on the windshield, but Vijay and Deb, hallucinating, interpret this as an argument against the existence of insects outside the car.]
VIJAY [Driving]: We’re approaching eighty miles an hour.
DEB: [Hallucinating]: Is that the name of a town?
VIJAY: Yes. “Eighty Miles Per Hour.” Population: 60,000. Mayor: Debbie K. Leamme. Public libraries: Yes.
[I should probably get back to work. Big heap trouble focusing. Every day. Forever.]
—it’s not that bad.
—you know, being hungover at work is the WORST, but somehow days like today when I brought my lunch and slept 7.46 hours and drank a few rounds of earl grey on the same teabag and practiced zazen for 15 minutes and caught up on the news and went for a run and had a fun weekend make me even MORE antsy than the days when I’m sitting here like a puddle of burrito’d underslept overworked lardo crapulent etc
—hmm. i wonder why
—i think it might have something to do with the peaceful healthy lifestyle making things “clearer”: things like … “emotions” …. can shine through more brightly when yr treating yrself with dignity rather than treating yrself like a frat-house hand-towel
—and so the bright light of dignity is painful or at least uncomfortable and annoying as opposed to the crapulent hand-towel lifestyle which while totally untenable and heinous does have a degree of “comfortably numb” insulation to it
—do you think i should quit my job and move to oakland and move into a house with thirteen other people who like Tyvek and buy some really oversized glasses and stop eating three meals a day and glue corn kernels to my face and so on?
—no, definitely not, you are a yuppie, you will miss san francisco’s reliable supplies of truffle oil
—that’s not true I’m not a
—oh shut up, i’m just teasing you yuppie
—does HTML Giant own a compound in detroit yet? like a big fort thunder wham city kinda house where young literary drop-outs can rent rooms for $166/mo. and sit in filthy-couch common rooms hand-rolling cigarettes, composing writerly emails, etc?
—i don’t think so, but if such a compound existed I would be tempted to go. although it’d probably be gross.
—whatever, it’d be like a co-op, it’d be fun
—i’m nearly 30.
—the kitchen situation would be weird
I like/hate it when bloggers say things like…
Welcome, HTMLGiant webtrawlers!
…whenever there’s an influx of traffic from a generous link posted by a generous fellow webtrawler. But I’ll say it anyway: Hi, guys! I also struggle. I also did drugs. I also occasionally write things down and think too hard about the wrong things. My opacity comes just as often from laziness as it does from artfulness, or some fictional thing called “artful necessity”. What??? I’m pulling all this from the HTML Giant media kit. “Just kidding”
I wrote the below to read on Friday and Saturday at Lowerdeck Gallery. As I began reading on Friday night I realized that Breadstixxxx was right, of course, and I should’ve just riffed from the start. Saturday night went better, mostly because I didn’t bother even beginning with the pretense of reading from the page. Non-rhetorical questions for HTMLGiant webtrawlers: don’t you agree that at a “literary event” with, say, four readers, the two that extemporaneously riff and talk off the cuff will be more fun to listen to than the two who read from their trembling and creased laser printouts? Are there mp3s on the Internet of Gordon Lish’s freestyle monologues? Ubuweb? Help me out, HTML Giants!
So anyway here’s the text I didn’t let myself read aloud to a roomful of people this weekend. I was wearing a steak costume:
I like the way SFJ goes back on himself in the piece — “I dismissed them, I was wrong, here’s why” [MISLEADING TO HAVE PARAPHRASE IN QUOTES?–Ed.] Maybe “not enough” music criticism accounts with such narrative grace for this “grower” effect of music that rewards multiple listens, or that changes dramatically when you’re hearing it live, etc.
Actually though this is all just a pointless preamble to a joke I have now destroyed through belabour.
In his column, Frere-Jones asks:
Who hasn’t used sex to mask an argument?
The question is meant rhetorically, but I am forced to answer literally: Northrop Frye, the eminent Canadian literary critic and theorist, never used sex to mask an argument. Ever.