Category Archives: anglophilia

Grainwaves

DOCTOR: Linda

LINDA: Herry

DOCTOR: Linda

LINDA: I checked out thirty books from the library today but I didn’t bring any of them home.

DOCTOR: What books? Why so many?

LINDA: I’m writing part of a master’s thesis this summer.

DOCTOR: About what?

LINDA: Just a fat fake scholarly elaboration of this Transom article from 2010.

DOCTOR: That sounds interesting!

LINDA: Yeah, I’m having fun researching it. The fake

DOCTOR: Hang on that’s the second time you’ve said “fake.” I think it’s become a tic. What do you really mean? Instead of fake, think of a more genuine, a more authentic

LINDA: [Seething] Why say both genuine and authentic? Is there a difference between the two that requires you to use both words?

DOCTOR: [With dignity and reserve] I merely used both words for emphasis.

LINDA: I’m sorry. My worst enemy had a baby last night. I just got the email announcement.

DOCTOR: It’s OK. I know you’re going through a lot.

LINDA: You mean my eyes.

DOCTOR: Yeah. Do you want to talk about your eyes?

LINDA: OK. They’re fucked.

DOCTOR: Ha. How are they fucked?

LINDA: I was taking Acetazolamide

DOCTOR: —a generic of Diamox, a standard diuretic used for glaucoma patients —

LINDA: —and also commonly prescribed for cystoid macular edema, which I have.

DOCTOR: A swelling in the retina. Which is itself a common complication of retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

LINDA: Yup. The RP is the main event — that’s the degenerative retinal condition that’s inexorably eating my vision from the outside in

DOCTOR:  At your diagnosis, at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, when you were a teenager, I asked if you could see stars. You said no, and I knew it was RP.

LINDA: You asked if I could see stars in the night sky. It felt a little creepy. That you knew I couldn’t see stars. like you’d asked me, “Do you have a fantasy of being reborn as Frank Whaley’s character in Career Opportunities (1991), locked in an after-hours Target, rollerskating and making out  with Jennifer Connolly for eternity?”

And I was like…”uh, yeah. No, I can’t see stars.”

MSDCAOP EC005

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES, Jennifer Connelly, Frank Whaley, 1991, (c)Universal Pictures

DOCTOR: RP often first gets diagnosed in teenagers as night blindness.

LINDA: That movie (and, let’s be real, Jennifer Connelly) made a strong impression on me when I first saw it. I was probably 11.

DOCTOR: What made you think you had RP?

LINDA: It must have been… I don’t know. 2000, 2001. People were already Googling their ailments by then. Or, I guess, Yahoo!ing their ailments.

DOCTOR: Webcrawling across their pain.

LINDA: Ha. That phrase

DOCTOR: I just thought of it! I love riffing with you!

LINDA: Ha. That phrase reminds me of Chris Burden’s TV Ad, where it says “through the night softly.” he bought a TV spot on national television

DOCTOR: He’s the performance artist famous for the piece where he crucified himself to a Volkswagen.

LINDA: Right so he bought a TV spot on national TV where it shows him crawling through glass with his hands tied behind his back and then it says through the night softly

All this talk of my night blindness, kind of reminds me of this Chris Burden piece.

DOCTOR: Was it that painful?

LINDA: not at all. I mean that’s the thing unless you count walking into things (which hurts) or feeling sad or worrying you’ve passed it on to your son

DOCTOR: RP is genetically marked in some people but many with the condition have no record of it in their bloodline

LINDA: But it’s not painful. The Burden connection is more about the way I went through the world at night, and now the way I increasingly do during the day. Softly, at pains. But also something about the way that Burden has uhhh burdened himself with this difficulty himself. he’s not being tortured — he’s going through the night softly for an artistic reason.

DOCTOR: Cut that pun but my question is why do you think of the blindness as self-imposed?

LINDA: More that i have to perform it, that blindness becomes a sort of performance art. The cane really creates that feeling: when I unfold my cane, with a flourish, the social situation is transformed so fast it’s like Chris Burden just walked into a room and started doing one of his pieces. Of course I’m exaggerating

DOCTOR: At the time of your diagnosis you still drove a car

LINDA:  I still drove back then — even at night! Kind of unbelievable to me now. At first it was really only noticeable when I was like running through the woods with my drug-friends after dark

DOCTOR: But over the years…

LINDA: It’s gradually degenerated. Anyway I was living in NYC for a year recently

DOCTOR: You were in that one-woman show on Broadway.

LINDA: Grainwave.

DOCTOR: That got great reviews, didn’t it?

LINDA: Uh, it was a finalist for the Pulitzer. Yeah, we did well.

DOCTOR: What was it about?

LINDA: I adapted Dwight MacDonald’s Against the American Grain and sort of did a mashup with that and “The Star-Spangled Banner”  

DOCTOR: “Amber waves of grain”

LINDA: Right and there was also a thread about brainwaves

DOCTOR: “grain waves”

LINDA: Yep and one of the characters was the lovable fascist Walter Starkie whose autobiography was called The Waveless Plain 

DOCTOR: I thought it was a one-woman show. “Characters”?

LINDA: And I  performed the whole thing in a Lieder style inspired by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau who  Roland Barthes writes about in  “The Grain of the Voice,” his wonderful essay on the linguistics of sound.

Fischer-Dieskau’s recordings are played at loud volume at various times throughout the piece

DOCTOR: Wait didn’t you say it was a one-woman show?

LINDA: It took a lot out of me. Also Terry Eagleton has a book of essays called Against the Grain and he’s a character in it and so is an eagle that my mom made out of felt and I did the whole thing buried up to my waist in raw barley

DOCTOR: But so you said you stopped taking the Diamox?

LINDA: The Acetazolamide.

DOCTOR: Why?

LINDA: Well I was taking it because I had the swelling in my macula and that was fucking with my central vision

DOCTOR: you also have cataracts

LINDA: which are super treatable but I don’t want to fuck with surgery until it’s absolutely necessary because my vision is like a little scrap of parchment that I have been carrying with me through the wilderness

DOCTOR: the wilderness of, say, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

LINDA: Sure. Or maybe a YA adventure book à la Hatchet

DOCTOR: OK

Hatchet

LINDA: And I think of someone with otherwise healthy eyes getting cataract surgery they’re worried but also if something goes wrong there’s a lot more…uh… parchment left over for them even in a worst-case scenario

DOCTOR: Whereas you have just this tattered soft decaying square that you’ve worried over and sweated through and pissed on and so on through the King Lear style Tempests

LINDA: seriously, the literary references here are a bit much what is going on

DOCTOR: I dunno just feeling my oats

LINDA: right so I’m understandably wary of laying my precious little square of fabric out on the operating table. so when I’m living in NYC i finally decide to go see a retinal specialist which i haven’t been to for years because I figured what’s the point there is no treatment for RP

DOCTOR: At least not for someone with as much vision as you have left but recent developments such as the Argus 2, an artificial retina

LINDA: Right sure but I’m a few years out from needing one of those and it just recently became commercially available and anyway the specialist on Gramercy Park looked at my eyes and was like jesus I don’t know how you get around — i had folded up my cane when i arrived so he didn’t know i used one? — and told me I was legally blind and could collect disability and then said the good news is you have this swelling which we can treat with Diamox. So  I’ve been on that  for a year or so and the only side effect I noticed was that it makes beer and most carbonated beverages taste bad

DOCTOR: which is a shame because you love craft beer!

LINDA: yeah, woe is me. but then i started having tinnitus. which for a person who’s gradually but inexorably going blind tinnitus is really fucking scary. because I was just imagining myself once i’d lost all my vision,  sitting there in the dark with my family nearby reading books that i’d only know the titles of if I asked them and not being able to quite make out what they’re saying because of the painfully loud ringing in my ears

DOCTOR: jesus

LINDA: and then one day i was re-googling my ailments and remembered that tinnitus is a listed side-effect of the drug

DOCTOR: motherfucker!

LINDA: so I stopped taking it right away and then really quickly and dramatically my vision went to shit. like a new level of shit. it took about a week off the acetazolamide, and  suddenly reading got really hard. as did moving around, even familiar places. chances of knocking over my son went up by 40 percent. asking if anybody had seen the thing sitting on the table in front of me became a daily thing.

DOCTOR: ugh

LINDA: so anyway i found an alternative treatment which i’m trying but i’ve only been on it like 2 weeks and I’m not sure if it’s working yet or not

DOCTOR: what’s the new drug called?

LINDA: spousal love

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Solo Dad on Toast

This is a recipe given to me by my wonderful friend (and one-time nemesis) Savitri Chandran, who makes it much more fruitily with granulated gnum-gnumb beans sprinkled on after the fact. I have omitted those beans here, but the dish still retains an exhilarating zest.

  • 7 white mushrooms
  • 2 english muffins
  • oil
  • pb&j
  • mirin
  • soy sauce
  • old, old quarter of an old avocado (refrigerated)
  • the red hot chili peppers feat. salt n pepa

Make sure your wife is delivering a paper on Simone Weil at a comparative literature conference. You are alone with your son, a toddler. Put two whole-grain english muffins (I use Ezekiel brand, so named because of the passage in the bible where god says, “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger [plus whole-grain muffinzz, this line may have been added by King James]” and then shoots a screaming Frank Whaley in the head as acoustic desert nomad surf music starts, sounding not unlike the new Tiniawaren album but more surfey than bluesey and the opening credits roll) in the toaster oven.

The english muffins ought to be vegan — most brands seem to contain powdered milk. Are you seriously that insecure that you think having the powdered milk of some artificially inseminated factory farm cow destined for the meat grinder is going to make the nooks and crannies of your little vegetarian muffin taste any better? No. Your milky muffin is poor. Buy a better muffin.

(Also hey I want to know why the cows that make the powdered milk in your [and ok not infrequently my] muffin are lactating. You think they decided to finally take the plunge and have a baby and they read that the longer you breastfeed your baby calf the more immunities and ADHD-resistance it builds up, so they have all this extra cows milk for you? Fact: dairy farmers block their cows’ access to all third-party websites, including Slate, Salon, Mother Jones, and other outlets that might educate them about the benefits of longterm breast feeding. No but seriously dairy farmers spend a lot of time keeping those cows as pregnant as possible as long as possible and then when they can’t anymore they get chopped into cheap chili. Buy a fucking peace muffin, OK, let’s get back to breakfast–

You don’t need to toast your son’s muffin so much — just loosen it up because truth be told those Ezekiel muffins can be kinda bricklike before they’ve warmed up. Slather some PB ünd J on his and cut it into quarters, like a little time-piece. Noon to 3 p.m.: muffin. 3-6 p.m.: muffin. 6-9: yes, muffin. 9-12 midnight is muffin time. Do you understand? The sandwich will distract the child whilst you attend to your half of this meal. Now is a good time to decide that later you’ll write a blog post about breakfast, even though you have more or less stopped blogging in favor of, whatever, working, reading, writing sad diary entries that lack the zest (and embedded video) of a blog entry since you know no one will ever read them.

It’d be easy enough to just slap your muffin with hummus and move on to more pressing matters (becoming an activist, making the bed, etc). But it’s going to be a long morning, no matter how deep the reserves of fun you and your child will explore,  and you deserve more than hummus today. It’s Saturday.

Hey: Why do people frown on dads who smoke one hit of pot after their kids are asleep for the night, the baby monitor flickering quietly like a 19th-century candle? Seems hypocritical whilst these same people smile upon those selfsame dads who drink four high-octane seasonal ales after the kids are in bed. Is it safe to admit here on the barely occluded blog that Last night while my wife was out with Gerhard Richter and his extended family I tried to treat my degenerative retinal condition with illegal medicine? Before watching Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects on Netflix I had some spooky fun times with Dodie Bellamy’s new semiotext(e) pamphlet, printed on the occasion of the 2014 Whitney Biennial. It’s called The Beating of Our Hearts, and it’s animated by (among many others) these two YouTube videos by Andrew Kenower:

If I were to try to respond with any interpretive substance to Bellamy’s essay I think I’d run out of time and brain cells and tiny dudeman would wake up from his nap and you’d never find out what to do with your muffin, now nearly toasted. Put oil in the pan or, more likely, spray it for nine tenths of a second with a spray-can of oil even though people who subscribe to gimmicky nonsense like spray-cans of oil tend to be fatter than people who just pour a little oil in the pan but know when to stop eating or who can skip meals without feeling “deprived” or who can go six hours without eating without thinking constantly of food. Cut up the mushrooms, probably not local, probably not “ethically sourced.” Throw em in there. Pour in some mirin. Mirin makes everything taste great when you sautee with it. Soy sauce in there. Salt. Pepper. Enough chili flakes so that if this were on the menu at a restaurant they’d need to put a little icon of Flea’s face or Anthony Kiedis’s wang in a sock next to this item.

Come close as you can to burning the mushrooms without burning them: Near-crispy. Spread the top of your halved muffin with the last slices of a dying avocado like the avocado had come out of a tub of vegan fruit spread. Avocado is always already a savory vegan fruit spread (in a compostable wrapper! Just kidding). Remember: Avocado is Already™. Respectfully lump the mushroom sautee on top. Retain your dignity. Don’t put anything in your mouth until you’re sitting down. Your son is almost done with his breakfast by now, having eaten his way through about “6 hours” of the “muffinly timepiece” you “wound” for him. But he’s been learning that Daddy Needs to Eat Breakfast Too (how old until he points at your middle and replies, “Not by the looks of it, Bro”?), so gently bring the muffin to your mouth, over and over, until it’s gone, as your son turns the pages of a book on the floor, quietly identifying each dog that appears there.

Serves 2.

My breasts on your lathe

That’d be funny if the guy who said to you “that’d be funny if” in the cafe naked next to your workshirt in San Francisco, the dairy caffeine cafe with the watercolor timestamp art on sale for the wall next to the Green Giant, the jolly fellow near the bathrooms at Ritual Coffee Roasters had a handbill in his pocket that said Remember That Time? And his smile would resemble (in the poems by the coffeeshop poets of the neighborhood) a Trademark Symbol, and in his pocket a kangaroo-shaped playbill would reveal an idea like wouldn’t it be funny you know how when you work from home you invariably inhale sheets of graham crackers (apologies to Kevin Moffett, and or baby carrots,) over the sink, fuck it there’s nothing left in the fridge boiling veggie dogs just because you’re at home and the only stress outlet is to turn your face into a compostable sink disposal, well the funny wouldn’t it be if watch there’s a hip coffee shop like Roasters, but it’s got a fridge and a microwave and a bunch of free food that when you get stressed out you just go up and eat? Plus a separate normal pastry display with normal pastries for sale that all the people with dignity still pay money for and get on ceramic plates, but in a separate part of the cafe there’s a dirty fridge with leftover Thai food and frozen veggie pups and cantaloupe beans and whatever else that people who get a terrifying work-email at 4 p.m. just go hose-happy on blasting the babka till it’s gone.

Trundling up the path, snowy silence, bullshit poems alight on branches like proper ravens. Fatman lost in the zendo can’t even feel the stringcheese in his fleece’s breast pocket. An elipsis travels up and down the length of your cock, why the fuck are your daughters reating my erotc poetry blog… scratch that… nyc pastries + flowers

feeling free in the zendo a professional lifeguard reads the blurbs on the back of your self-published book at the self-funded book release party craftily, hilariously putting his empty plastic wine glass in his breast pocket. Mallarme reference TK, he reads aloud, having flipped to a page at random. “Oh fuck,” you say, “is that actually in there?” Taking the book to look, you see that your placeholder text has accidentally made it into print, you’d meant to insert a Mallarme reference here but I guess you never got around to it… “Fuck,” you say again, handing the book back to the guest, who wears an eyepatch and has a fake parrot sewn to his shoulder and teeters as if wearing a pegleg though looking down it’s true he has two sturdy legs overhung with slate chinos. “Pity the placeholder,” no-one says. The next song comes on shuffle and it begins with an accellerated secular church bell, the kind that bongs the time in stately patient bongs but the clever electronic musician has accellerated the bongs so it seems to be chiming 4,000 o’clock and it’s driving you wild with pleasure, to hear this now, and the embarrassing Mallarme TK gaffe feels decades old and already celebrated as a hilarious and ultimately instructive gaffe. A mewling toddler does not say, “Gaffe Giraffe,” but she does do something specific revealing that there are toddlers at the book event TK TK. A breast presses against the window, begging to be let inside the gallery. A red-breasted titmouse flutters its paws next to the tiny DVD console. A duste mote reveals itself to be hilariously in tune with the matter at hand, I mean with the Remains of the Day, I mean with the Remains of the DVD, I mean with the reina, the queen, my darling. Hate and hope in equal measure suffuse the air above the plate of sandwiches, sandwiches which have tried so hard to be here and succeed, mostly, except looking again at them they seem mostly gone, where do sandwiches go at parties like this? I saw people eating sandwiches but that seems unconnected to the absent, devastated, crumb-strewn plaza near the greasy checkboard mom flannel plane that is what some once called That Table. My nephew is here, his name is Aristotle said an obese cartoon calico cat. I got string cheese in my pockets, Aristotle said. He moved his elbows and knees like he was composing a filigree’d poem for his aunts. He had spent most of the party in the basement behind a piano participating in a jam session with Needles, the drummer, who performed using eggbeaters instead of drumsticks; Palimpsest, on bass, who didn’t know what any of the knobs on the amp were for beyond the main volume control, but still managed to fiddle with them between every song, giving him a different sound each time, playing literally hundreds of different notes throughout the course of the evening, but in which order he played the notes I’m sure you had to be there to know, and of course P. Raichport, tenure-track professor of fiction at Lathe University at Kansas City, who is so clearly based on a real person that even the dimples in her cellulite seem to spell a constellation of ciphers that you can rearrange and glyph and  wait what who is that based on no one actually OK nevermind

Bear-Leg Alan Cheuse

If there’s coffee inside that samovar a fake smile — more of a wince

If Plato if Platonic if there’s a Platonic sort of Platoish Plato vibe here

Fussy sugar bowl, heaped high with hepatitis

Paul “Fussy” Titus and I had a motocross moment together, piggybacked on an amusement, then there came a “gift from the chef”

Rapeseed and hemlock, Vance put a quarter in the free jukebox, the bartender’s face as he watched Vance was a scrim of novelty fake puke,

My father in law’s gastroenteritis flared up on Halloween, just as my favorite writer‘s hard drive failed on the upper east side, while he was stuck somewhere waiting for the A, C, E

My impish sister registered a Twitter account for my grandfather’s pacemaker. @Peacemakerzz

I hoped we cancelled that order before it shipped

Plain song plain wrapper, Barnes and Noble’s / shawarmas in love

ex girlfriend knows bounds

perfect wife brushes an elegant lock of the universe from her eyes

probably gave myself type two diabetes eating leftover Halloween candy

I think she went to Yale

Pressure pretty labial twilight; a hangover in the Metreon is worth two in the Bush administration

My ambition is to eat the rest of this candy and then an hour later eat a hearty normal dinner. His ambition seemed to be to write a masterful novel

The worst kind of writer is a brilliant one; necessary is a euphemism for working-class, intelligence is overrated and superabundant among men and women. If you think most people are stupid I think you’re a part of the problem; Hey these leggings aren’t going to wear themselves, buddy:

A shapeshifting Native American shaman enrolled in our MFA program this afternoon! I can’t wait to read his poems. His name is Bear-Leg. I saw his driver’s license–it said Bear-Leg Alan Cheuse.

Wales

—Here, you don’t have a job?

—No, I’m all alone, on a computer not hooked up to the internet, drinking a craft beer out of a can, composing an email to you.

—It’s almost like we’re having a beer together.

—How romantic.

—How are your studies?

—You mean the life of the mind?

—How is your life?

—My mind hurts.

—How is your salad duty?

—I’ve been making bad salads. Bag salads.

—How is your girlfriend?

—I had a dream that she died.

—But she’s alive?

—She’s working on a new translation of Émile Zola’s Germinal (1885). It’s an experimental translation where she takes liberties with the text. Instead of mineworkers, her version of the novel centers around a group of flowers.

—Anthropomorphic flowers?

—Is there any other kind?

—Yes

—Non-anthropomorphic flowers?

—The flowers take place in an election year and the gummy part of my car’s tyres.

—Huh. I think Uncle’s gone into one of his Tish-rages again, Paulice–

—Right. Grab the corduroy. A wide wale will be wanted for tonight. Oh, hush, Uncle; please don’t. Stop fussing. It’s Auld Hallow’s Ween, for aunt grable’s sake. We musn’t brackish the whoolinancy — I mean the whoolery.

—Genre’s got a beer-boner for stoners tonight, Barbara. Barbara.

—I can’t tell if you want this exclamation mark.

—I don’t want just any exclamation point, Mark. [Pause, applause.] I want yours. [Renewed, sustained applause. A child is born.]

—This boner’s gone free.

—Now that you’re a dad, and a city councilman, you mustn’t post pseudohomoerotic flash fiction on your blog. You must only post outspoken 5 point rejections of Romney’s 5 point plan and so forth.

—You remind me of the news.

—Witch part?

—The fuzzy part with no skin.

—That’s called the Purloined Lettuce. [A mouth.] I am studying Botany with your Aunt.

—My nude aunt?

—I have a newborn baby. A child. I haven’t slept. No longer drink coffee. Go Tigers.

— I expect you’ll want to tell me about your craft beer in a can, now.

—Yes. I bought it at the supermarket with some hummus and the halloween candy. Came in a six pack just like a set of Diet Dr. Pepper, but in fact it’s an intensely hoppy microbrew from Whole Foods, Colorado!

—Durango. That candy’s not vegan

—Let’s get personal. I know writing on your blog makes you miss San Francisco.

—Of course. Who doesn’t? But the thing San Francisco doesn’t know is that I took all my shit with me to Missouri so I still have it so if I want to look at my shit like my books or the only one person I love more than anything

—Hang on, there are trick or treaters at the door. [Inaudible] [Audible] [Inaudible]. Fucker just took my last Krackel. [Pause.] Nice costume… What are you?

—Desert clown.

[Doug Liman, director of Swingers (1996), The Bourne Identity (2002), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Jumper (2008), and Fair Game (2010), walks in with Studio Monitors around his neck. Curtain.]

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