Category Archives: Deutschland

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

Advertisements

The Long Schoolroom

Is it irresponsible to request books from the library if they’re not checked out and they’re already in the branch where you’ll be picking them up? I got used to this in San Francisco: I’d read about a book online, want to check it out, request it from the library, then forget about it until I got the email notification that it was ready to be picked up at my branch. But now the books I want are already there, usually, not checked out and at the main branch of the University library. But I’m here in stocking feet, 2.5 m away from the closed library, on my second Single-Wide, and I’ll never remember to go pick up these books unless I request them. I guess I could retrain myself and use the library website’s “wish list” function, but I’m disinclined. Any thoughts on this, especially from folks who’ve worked in libraries, would be appreciated. Is this like asking the waiter for hot sauce when there’s a bottle on an empty table within arm’s reach? Or, like, asking the bike mechanic to wash your helmet?

My College Radio Application

Dear mom and dad,

I went to college from 1999-2003, where I lived, ate, breathed, and smoked college radio (WOBC-FM) all day every day. Then, with a year left, I dropped out to move to CA to work for a magazine. I worked there for the next eight years. Then I fell in love with a beautiful woman and she got a job in town, so I decided to follow her here and finish my B.A. To my intense delight and surprise, this makes me eligible for a show on [yr station]. When I dropped out of college, I cryogenically froze my radio show and now, eight years later, [cue music bed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_tVZFZ5PR4] my beloved show is going into the industrial microwave on MEDIUM for 6-8 minutes and dragging itself through the halls of the academy once again!

My show (TITLE TK: “WEIRD OLD GUY?”) will be freeform radio at its finest, pushing into the red w/r/t innovation and FUN. Fun must never be sacrificed to innovation. And vice versa.

Music is the bedrock of the show, and I plan to make the most of [yr station]’s rock library, in addition to my extensive personal vinyl/CD/MPEG collection. The best rock — from oddities, novelties, classics, forgotten b-sides, to brand-new singles and previews of bands coming through town. But sprinkled throughout the music will be the true jewels of the show, the multiple talk-based segments. Possibilities include:

• “Walking the Line”
Each week, a different writer (from creative writing profs, to visiting poets, to MU poetry/fiction PhDs and even undergrads) brings in one line — a line of their own poetry, or their favorite poet’s, or a sentence from a novel, or from a piece of journalism, anything — just has to be one line of “literature” for us to discuss.

(Each of these segments will have its own musical intro. Maybe Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines” for this first one? Or Johnny Cash, sure)

• “Comics Digest”

A weekly verbal recap of what happened this week in the comics page of the Missourian

ex: “It’s been a tough week for Lois of ‘Hi & Lois’; she’s been home with the measles and her little brother won’t leave her alone!” etc etc

• “Vibin’ with the City Council”

Each week I get a Columbia city councilperson on the phone (pre-recorded, most likely; I have a ZOOM H4N I can produce several of these segs in advance, but I’ll always cue and introduce them live) and ask: what’s the vibe of the city council like this week?

• deranged/brief Self-interviews; fake interviews with pre-recorded interlocutors

• I might try a recurring feature about being a 30 year old dude taking computer science with freshman; I will probably rip lots of samples from my DVD of Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School for this (maybe rent Happy Madison, too…). Find other old undergrads and ask them about their lives, what it’s like here for them

• I have an MU football-related idea that I’ll only tell you if you give me a show with a legit timeslot

• Reviews (with field recordings) of frat party bands (!!!!!)

• as many opportunities for live call-in segments as possible (TBD)

• Guest singles (a guest — anyone from the dean of grad studies to that girl who works at Sparky’s brings in 5 singles and we play them and talk about them)

• tiny, hilarious 5-minute radio dramas

• even tinier, even more hilarious 2-minute radio dramas in foreign languages feat. students in various MU language departments

• Much, much more

• Seriously, so much more you have no idea

• And, as I mentioned above, all of these segs, some of which may happen every week, some once a month or so, will all be sprinkled like cherries and chopped nuts over the wide swath of whipped-creamy dark-chocolate sets of top-shelf weird/funky/great music. Wire, the Fall, Olivia Tremor Control, Pixies b-sides, Unrest, Big Dipper, Deerhoof, Beefheart, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, Truman the Tiger’s Drug-Hell Singers, Is That a Real Band?, That Would Be Amazing If So, Go Betweens, Soft Boys, Soft Machine, Soft Cell, Soft Bulletin, Don Cherry, Destroyer, Cluster, Tyvek, Essential Logic, Glasser, Wreckless Eric, Nick Lowe, Sparks, Magazine, Melvins, Cardigans, Acrylics, Pterodactl, Fela Kuti, R. Stevie Moore, et al!!!!

Please let me know if you have any questions. I love you.

“Spilling Juice On Me Like You’ve Got Someplace To Go”

SHANNON: Can I borrow your yoga mat

BETHANY: Keep your voice down, I don’t want those boys to know I do yoga

SHANNON: What boys? Who cares?

B: Yoga is a bourgeois activity. Also I feel like a girl doing yoga

S: U are a girl

B: I know

TELEPROMPTER: Hey girls I’m a journalist writing an article about the author of this blog. Mind if I ask a few questions?

B: OK!

TELEPROMPTER: It won’t take a minute.

S: Sure. Go ahead.

TELEPROMPTER: What is your relationship to the administrator/owner of this blog?

B: He my daddy

S: Yes

TELEPROMPTER: Do you have any financial relationship with the owner of this blog?

B: He makes me dinner a lot

S: He buys me lunch sometimes

TELEPROMPTER: Do you have a sexual relationship with the owner of this blog

B: We snuggle

S: It’s not like that

TELEPROMPTER: should children descry etc

B: Aw, you seem tired. Come sit.

S: Sit here next to me. This couch is cool.

TELEPROMPTER: I am feeling tired. It’s facebook. Facebook depletes me.

B: It’s also your diet. And your posture. Have you ever done yoga

S: She’s a yoga fiend!

TELEPROMPTER: I got into yoga for a while. I felt great, but I couldn’t keep with it.

B: The owner of this blog isn’t lazy, but there’s something about him that reminds me of what you say.

S: Yeah, it’s not laziness but there is a kind of lack of backbone or something

B: A caveyness

TELE: Cageyness?

B: no, cavey. like he starts something and then it gets hard and so he caves.

TELEP: Anything else?

S: I named the network’s printer “harold printer.”, isn’t that cute?

B: i love that

tele: OK thanks gals that’s plenty. here are my lynx:

  • stoya reads there is no year
  • stosuy talks to stoya
  • sam frank’s essay from the failure issue of the rcf is full-text online. Helen DeWitt‘s isn’t. Read both of these essays drunk and exhausted on an airplane. Frank’s slayed me. DeWitt’s scared me. I highly recommend that issue of the journal. i even took notes on it. maybe i’ll suspend my facebook account and write a thoughtful response to the issue. i wish I were capable of writing a thoughtful response to something

Let This Hangover Be Not Wasted

I’m in a book club with a whole bunch of pseudonyms: Jeremiah’d, Paulie Groundphones, Li’l Broheim, Shampoosie, et al. Maybe their pseudonyms should be taken from the book we’re reading, instead of from the jovial thin air above, since the book is already populated by hundreds of perfectly named minor characters. But I’d want an hour with Hilary Spurling’s Invitation to the Dance to produce halfway decent analogues for each of my book club’s members. Last night was one of our most rollicking meetings to date: The spirits flowed liberally, and by the time Shampoosie had to leave for her engagement, the atmosphere had (sonically speaking) pleasurably devolved into this sort of vibe:

I got vague half-permission to record the meeting’s minutes here. I was astonished by how much beer I’d been served, and how easily it flowed into my massive gullet. Just before he was shrouded and bundled off to bed, Li’l Broheims, our hosts’ beatific infant son, staggered around the cacophony clutching a baguette nearly as tall as he was, grinding fine cheeses and flatbreads into the fine carpet. Maybe a less-hungover observer than I am could turn a nice analogy comparing Li’l Broheims to a drunken British soldier like those depicted in Anthony Powell’s Valley of the Bones, the book we’d met to discuss.

His pose is supposed to subconsciously remind you of Lou Reed holding his guitar in the video above. And it's cute to picture him as a moustacioed infant with a giant baguette cannon. I know this isn't an English soldier's uniform. Manet's painting appears with kind persimmons from Manet's garden © SKRONK, INC

But not this guy. Because I AM TOO HUNGOVER TO DO ANYTHING. Which is all I wanted to say in the first place. So today being a low-volume work day I’ve just sat here hitting the internet harder than I have in a long time. 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., I’ve probably stood up three or four times, once to retrieve a pallet of Thai food from the overpriced (dance-club atmosphered) restaurant next door.

Among the many things I clicked on today, I finally had the chance to read Elif Batuman’s review of Mark McGurl’s book on the rise of MFA culture, “a study of Planet MFA conducted from Planet PhD.” Then I read Molly Young’s review of James Franco’s debut collection, which in turn linked me back to Batuman’s review of the 2004 and 2005 Best American Short Stories. I don’t have anything interesting to say about any of these book reviews. In both of Batuman’s essays, Joyce Carol Oates comes off as an exception to the rule of timid, tepid, guilt-imprisoned contemporary short fiction. In both essays, Don Quixote is the canonical first novel that successfully performed the literary innovations that four hundred years later are still being called innovations. And in both essays, she urges fiction writers to expunge the guilt and shame in being a contemporary writer in the face of global suffering, to shun the imperatives to write about

(A) nostalgic and historical subjects; (B) external, researched subjects, also sometimes historical; © their own self-loathing; and/or (D) terrible human suffering

[N.B. as a lover and collector of typos, that copyright symbol is about as awesome as it gets—unless it’s some kind of metadroll joke I’m too hungover to get?]

[Pointless Full Disclosure: I recently purchased from this writer her “favorite red chair, as well as two lamps, an ottoman, a saucepan, a carpet steam-cleaner, some geranium-scented laundry detergent, and approximately eight pounds of rice.” I’m also babysitting her car for a few months, it seems SUPER relevant and important to add. Buying a writer’s soap or borrowing her car unfortunately doesn’t transmit any of her intelligence to their new owner — although I wonder if some reptilian part of my brain wants to pretend that it does. The same goes of course for adopting a great writer’s dog, something I also did with no improvement to my critical faculties. Or, shit, I bet lots of editors, myself included, egoistically and falsely absorb some of the brilliance of a piece they’re editing, even if their edits mostly involve the introduction of typos and tautologies. The connection between leading a good life and thinking and writing well — I wonder how big that gap needs to be. It fluctuates. Brilliant assholes; generous buffoons; everyone in between. Eating Elif’s rice won’t help me think clearly about literature. Neither, apparently, will getting an MFA.]<—– (<(“the ghosts of deleted paragraphs rattle their chains from the margins.”)>)

[Once I’ve fully left my job,  I wonder if I’ll start writing Tao Lin–style fan fiction about Keith Gessen, or hosting this blog on a domain with my full name on it, etc.]

[What would that last “etc” refer to, I also wonder? Going on the Tao Lin diet? Buying my own car? Moving to Alaska to teach comp at Juneau Community College with Gerhard Richter’s Daughters? Starting a weekly jogging club with Benjamin Cheever, Sam Frank, and Haruki Murakami?]

[Please don’t make me try to say anything else about anything I’ve read. Please don’t say nasty things about me on the internet. Or about Ariana Reines.]

[Paul Groundphones recently demanded that I read Jacob von Gunten as soon as humanly possible, which I did, and I can’t think of a better example of a work of art that’s feels simultaneously both “pointless” and essential; that’s quite so beautiful in its pointlessness. I love the wry, skillful incompetence of Walser’s narrators. I haven’t finished the novel yet. I’ve never read Stendhal.

EXTRA CREDIT:

  • My novel will read like a press release — for life itself!
  • What do you guys think about psychoanalysis!
  • Goodbye!!!!!!

Foundering mouse,

Foundering mouse,
Foundering mouse,
You normally sign your emails
with a single capital initial
followed by a period.

Your last apologetic email was so sad
with its lowercased initial.
The letter looked like it’d been drenched with water,
hair all matted down.

What letter was it?
Who are you talking about?

Nothing. No one.
Meet me at Ministry?

No.
Meet me at SaladSpace?

No.
Cream comes out of your tear ducts?

Nein, dog
Ah, so, brows and butts,
my two favorite parts of the friendship

Shat Blad
Bled Blonde

Barf wind

Shit-blog

Pram-Wheelie

Bledsoe

Massachussetts’ Lagers

Cramps

Class war:

Pavement :: Vampire Weekend

Saturday, February 6th 9pm
Sean Hayes,
Sean Smith (Citay),
The Fresh and Onlys
windygap

Amnesia 853 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA
$10 donation, $25 gets you a free beer, $35 and over gets you two free beers

http://www.standwithhaiti.org

Link to an Interesting Article About Twitter

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.