in this photo the tree and flowers are posed like your back-up band. the wet earth is a soft stage you’re all standing on. you’re their leader, the singer, dwelling in their sound, about to join in.
—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 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.
—Is there any other kind?
—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.
—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?
[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.]
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.
Another thing you’ll lose when you let newspapers die forever is reading the Sunday Times on a Monday night after two beers. (Substitution: if you’re an alcoholic in recovery, substitute two furious phonecalls to your ex-wife or whatever.) (I feel sympathy for alcoholics in recovery. I’ve had two beers. Stand up comedians don’t publish their routines in print because they’d be apologizing in parentheses until the sun rose on Tuesday morning.
“It’s gonna be a hot one. I’m glad we moved to L.A.” “You can give yourself Deja Vu the same way you can give yourself herpes.” “Blank Dogs on Myspace.”)
Staring at an ad for James Taylor the immediate thought is: “I wish I was James Taylor.” That’s not quite it — I’ve lost the thought. It’s something like: “In death, I want to become James Taylor, as he is. As he will appear in Ozawa Hall, Thur June 30, 8 p.m., in Tanglewood — between Lenox & Stockbridge, MA. Taylor looks like a hospice in the photograph. [LIKE A HOSPICE PATIENT? No, like he himself is a hospice for the dying. ALL RIGHT].” He’s holding the belly of a guitar like it’s filled with the space his coffin will hold. I hope James Taylor’s people don’t reach out to me. That would feel like the iciest skeletal racoon-penis bone-finger cresting the miles between me and my coffin. I just googled James Taylor illness — I wasn’t the first — to make sure he was OK, that these disassociated speculations aren’t out of line. I think I’m OK. [“THRESHING” THE MILES? Fine]. Groundwater seeps through like tears……
God, I’m just kidding. Last night’s dream — I wish I could offer more details — I was using my penis like a frosting gun. I wrote phrases in unspeakable places in a festive birthday-cake cursive. In frosted semen. Pretty gross.
RICO: Sucks that we’re not allowed to complain anymore.
PIMM: Me too.
RICO: Just to confirm: we decided that blogging is funny and ‘grand’ but that to write a sustained performance destined for ‘print’, like a novel or a book-length unstageable play, you have to “rose at 5:30 a.m. to write and often stayed up past midnight, but rarely discussed the book at work”?
PIMM: Sounds good. Also don’t forget to “Finishing dinner with a reporter — at Ouest, naturally — …had a double espresso with a single sugar cube. It was past 10, but [have] things to do.”
PIMM: And, finally, “some coffee would address that”
RICO: I haven’t had any coffee today. I had a Yorkshire Gold and couple rounds on a bag of green tea.
PIMM: Here’s your new plan. Follow Boswell’s Journals’ self-exhortations to the letter (e.g. when he says “Latin till breakfast, something till eleven, then dress and at twelve French, then walk and dine. Afternoon, journal, &c.” — that is what you’ll do. No exceptions.
RICO: Do you like to work?
PIMM: On what?
RICO: I don’t know. Office work at the homeless shelter?
PIMM: Not really.
RICO: What if you were married to a woman who worked at a CSA, and you went home every night at a totally reasonable and guilt-free time — say, 6 p.m. — with no work to bring home with you and you and your wife cooked organic vegetables together? You’d read from Boswell’s journals, work on your autoerotic death poetry (with embedded animated GIFs for eventual iPad publication), head down to your “woodshop” to energetically/contemplatively work out on your Special Edition Twin Peaks themed marijuana vaporizer, then take some sort of abused/rescued Labrador Pitt Shepherd for a walk through a wind-tousled glade
PIMM: This all sounds great, obviously, but there’s no predicting, no creating that kind of life. I have the life I want already, for example, yet I’m still going into the office bathroom every two hours to smoosh my face against the mirror and cry and blow lines of my own weep-snot off the reflected image of my nose and so on
JESS: In last night’s dream someone talked about how a typeset page is rigidly ordered and composed, but still sometimes contains the smeariest formal derangements available to art.
CLEM: Same as a rectangular canvas. This is all so obvious. This is 100-level. You think better when you’re awake. “Intellectual” dreams are rarely worth relating to the waking.
JESS: Thank you. I learn so much from you. Every day. Maybe we could write an entry-level textbook about “thinking” sometime. Together, like the Krugmans. From a laptop in a bed in St. Croix
CLEM: Emily Gould quotes Sam Lipsyte in Vice on being a young writer before the Internet was what it is: “there was no real record of when you were a dumb, scared, angry baby who didn’t know how to write yet.” I like that. You totally are a dumb, scared, angry baby who
JESS: I’m not that angry. I’m too comfortable to be angry.
CLEM: You sometimes get angry about how comfortable you are. I want someone to murder part of you. Then you’ll be scared, and you’ll give some of yourself up, and you’ll start helping other people.
JESS: I dislike talking about the world in abstract psychological terms. What the hell is a “part of myself”? My leg? What does it mean to “give up a part of myself”? What does it mean to be “scared” about “opening up”? If I say I’m “vulnerable”—vulnerable to what? Lyme disease? I know these aren’t meaningless expressions. I wouldn’t prefer an Orwellian law that required everyone to only talk about themselves in nutritional terms. Still. I’m not afraid of opening up. I’m just selfish and comfortable and unshowered.
CLEM: Have you thought about therapy?
JESS: Have you thought about ESL training?
CLEM: Have you—-Hey, my boss just showed up. Gonna get back to work.
JESS: OK, love you
CLEM: Love you too.
Will Self on JG Ballard in Granta 107:
Ballard, the most outlandish of fictional imaginers, had always dug out his wellspring by the hearth, and remained the perfect exemplar of Magritte’s dictum: a bourgeois in his life, a revolutionary in his dreams.
Another maxim, expressing a similar sentiment, is attributed to Flaubert. From his entry on “Wikiquote”:
Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire comme un bourgeois, afin d’être violent et original dans vos œuvres.
Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
[Letter to Gertrude Tennant (December 25, 1876)]
My boring 12:38 a.m. EST questions: was Magritte alluding to Flaubert? Was he improving on Flaubert, changing “oeuvres” to “dreams”, and “violent/original” to “revolutionary”?
Should Self have quoted Flaubert, and not Magritte? Or do the revolutionary dreams that emerged from JG Ballard’s bourgeois life have more to do with the painter than the novelist?