Category Archives: TBR

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.

Fatty

Hey Cutie! Well, if I’m not blogging, I don’t know who is… Best anagram for great is always Greta. I had to write this thing so I took care of other fake-important business and finally barnstormed my way out the house by maybe 1:15. Stopped at cafe number one, where my internet doesn’t work. Drank a single Americano and wrote the thing. It only had to be like 600 words, I just needed to finish a draft, whatever, right? Pay attention to what, ladies, am I right? If only the sports section were full of field hockey, long-distance running, rock-climber recipes, and so forth. Mountain Bike stats, info-graphics about how commercial horseradish is made. Then I’d read it… Ate a clam-filled Peasant Pie. I try to be vegan, and then I stop trying. While I waited for the pie to heat up, I read 2/3 of a framed Dan Leone column about Peasant Pies on the wall that begins with a non-review of a Mark Richard book. (Mark Richard is a Gordon Lish guy. What does that mean? I heard Dan Leone is a Gordon Lish guy, too. What does that mean? I guess technically L.E. Leone would be a Gordon Lish gal. Maybe it just means they took Lish’s class, or were edited by Lish. Code-name Quoinstone’s love for Dan (now L.E.) Leone made me give her a closer look. Those columns are a boon. Real boons. San Francisco is lucky to have L.E. née Dan Leone writing about food in the pages of its best alternative newsweekly. Future generations may shake their heads in wonder.) Moved on to cafe number two, more coffee, realized the draft was fine, realized they didn’t offer internet — it’s more of a bakery than a coffee shop. Plenty of people on laptops, but no internet. This is a shameful description of my current life between full-time jobs. I have a part-time job that requires me to squeeze out 600 words every week or so. [Glances at Jawbone, smiles, casts +4 wagon spell. Begins whistling The Man from Laramie.]

Barista at coffee shop number one asked older woman I didn’t really turn to look at what she was doing today; woman replied, loudly, “I woke up at one, now I’m going to the Legion of Honor. They’ve got the Magna Carta there.” A pause. “I don’t really know what the Magna Carta is, But I’m going to check it out.” Barista: “It sounds like it has to do with the Founding Fathers.” Onward to the Mission Branch of the SFPL. Sent off my thing. Yelling match, crazy dude, “You stepped on my foot and then took my turn on the computer. I want your name, so I can give it to the spiritual registry of offenders.” Patrons yelled for him to shut up. Elementary schoolkids yelled the same thing at each other an hour earlier on the street. Sent the emails. Went to therapy. If I woke up at one on a Wednesday and didn’t know what the Magna Carta was, I wouldn’t say it so loudly. But this blog entry is essentially the same thing. Confessions. Bought and ate a large container of wasabi-soy almonds. Stopped into a new bookstore called, I think, Press Works on Paper? Can’t tell if there’s more punctuation in there. The store is mightily well-appointed, particularly considering they opened less than a week ago. The table in the center was covered in books lain flat: Andy Fitch’s Ten Walks; amazing-looking Al Columbia book from Fantagraphics; Witz; something old by Blake Butler; something old by Anne Carson; plus I think Nox; a journal called Paul Revere’s Horse whose editor and whose editor’s fiancée I ran into in Whole Foods with my fiancée yesterday. We discussed the price of avocados. I feel like I’m trapped inside a club remix of a Leonard Cohen song; Heather Christle’s The Difficult Farm; Rachel B. Glaser’s Pee on Water; Thin Kimono; the Wave book of James Tate prose poems with Bee in the title; Matthew Zapruder; something by that poet with three names who has a new book I just got an email about. All on this one table. On the shelves were things like The Age of Wire and String and Stories in the Worst Way, a twine-wrapped set of old Penguin Paperbacks, Knopf-published Field Guides to Birds/Sea Creatures/et al. Expensive Japanese and German stationery. Fine-looking art books and prints and bookbinding materials. I told the guy at the laptop/register that I was pretty bowled over by their selection. I think it’s the most fussily — that’s not the word, I don’t mean to be negative, I was impressed by this store. Assiduously? -curated bookstore I’d ever been to. The spectre of Flying Object, or do I mean Walser & Co., I honestly don’t know the difference, and I faltered trying to explain them to the kind dude, suffused the place. Not that I’ve been to either of those places, but I wanted Northhampton to drop-ship a passel of chapbooks to this place. It also could’ve used more from Siglio and Picturebox, but AS I SAY, they’d been open five days.  Nothing from McSweeney’s, either, but apparently that’s because PGW turned up their nose at this store. It also might’ve been nice if they’d had print-outs of Helen DeWitt’s and Bill Knott’s blogs stacked somewhere. I’ve never read a poem in my life. Then I stepped on the foot of an old traveler (angry survivor of the 60s) as I exited, fishing for my almonds. He made an aghastly sound and I said, quickly, “I’m so sorry, I’m nearly blind.” Which is true. I no longer drive during the day. (Haven’t driven at night for a few years.) Tuesday morning around 6 I googled “blind martial arts.” Apparently vision’s not too important once you’re in close contact. Jiu-Jitsu.  I might begin (being is the preferred anagram) Asian grappling (?) once I move to Missouri. I don’t want to buy a gi unless I’m sure. Tonight, packing for tomorrow’s wedding-trip to  Chicago, I am glad I haven’t gotten rid of my leather dress shoes in a fit of vegan indignance. I still feel vegan diffidence even though at this moment my belly is full of pork. Yes, after the coffee and the clams I crashed and caved even deeper. It’s not full of pork, but the pork is in there.

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!!!!!!

The Sleepiness of the Text

I found this passage from The Pleasure of the Text gratifying:

And yet, it is the very rhythm of what is read and what is not read that creates the pleasure of the great narratives: has anyone ever read Proust, Balzac, War and Peace, word for word? (Proust’s good fortune: from one reading to the next, we never skip the same passages.)

This passage, from David Owen’s NYer profile of the inventor Saul Griffith, was less cheering:

The Internet’s energy and carbon footprints now probably exceed those of air travel… perhaps by as much as a factor of two, and they are growing faster than those of almost all other human activities.

Griffith helped implement the electronic ink technology that the Kindle uses, inspired by the reams of paper he saw glutting Australia’s landfills. Now he’s working on wind power, sponsored by Google, to offset the Internet’s damage to the planet.

The iPad uses way more power than the Kindle. I guess that makes the Kindle, or other e-readers that use e-ink, the greenest (and least-pleasurable?) way to read. I guess people have been thinking about this already. I’m sleepy.

(Did anyone else find the photocollage illustration of Griffith—crazy hair, large/athletic/eccentric genius—along with a few superficial details of his life — child sports prodigy, professor-parents, MacArthur grant…—to be reminiscent of David Foster Wallace? I haven’t finished the piece yet (I hate reading reading diaries that obsess over or even mention how much of a work the writer has or hasn’t read, how sleepy the writer was while reading what he’s writing about, or how sleepy he is while writing, or where he was when he read the thing he’s writing about, or at what hour,what he was eating. In other words…) (Griffith lives in the Mission.)

And he also shares with Wallace the ability to extend his considerable what I think of as “formal” intelligence beyond its normal boundaries—to places of deeper feeling and compassion. In Wallace’s case, this meant applying (or maybe combining) a linguistic and philosophical and deductive/(mathematical?/rigor and) intelligence toward (or with) a sensitivity to suffering, sadness, pain, (art); Owen’s thesis in his profile (not that I’ve finished it) is that Griffith is the rare inventor who considers the social, political, cultural, and environmental obstacles to a problem’s solution, rather than focusing exclusively on technology.

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.

Non-Peachable

Here’s what you do: quit your job and get an ethnicity change–can’t cost that much, right? How much does a sex change cost? Ethnicity change is probably more expensive but not too bad. I want you to be Indian, I think. Or Bangladeshi? I know those aren’t ethnicities. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is for you to move to Montreal and enroll at McGill University, the “Harvard of Canada.” Buy the Feelies’ Good Earth on vinyl.

I need you to major in a humanity. English is best. History is fine. NO SOCIAL SCIENCES. If you’re up to it, you can minor in a hard science. Read the Thoreau of Canada. I don’t know who that would be. Joy Williams is NOT CANADIAN

You’ll enroll as a freshman, even though you’re 31. Send your fiction to the campus literary magazines. Run 7 miles a day and wear corduroy pants. Hold hands with your girlfriend in McGill’s humanity buildings’ excellent hallways. Write an essay about Fassbinder. Eat snow with your girlfriend. Get drunk six or seven times a month. DO NOT ADOPT A DOG.

Do not stay in touch with anyone from your old life. Go camping as often as possible, mayhe more often. Sometimes I want to break up with all of my friends, and I feel that the best way to do this is to quit drinking and become vegan. DO NOT BUY A MOPED

Get an ironic gold tooth. Shave yr head. Publish a zine called Shame Faucet, $1 an issue, lots of drawings, comics, fiction, writing like this. Reviews of reviews of reviews of reviews. Write a poem called “Giardia.” Send it to the New Yorker with the following cover letter:

Dear Paul Muldoon, Poetry Editor of The New Yorker,

Enclosed, please find a copy of my new poem, called “Giardia.” I’m not sending it to you for publication. I’m not hoping you read it. It’s enclosed. Please do not read it. Do not throw it away; do not recycle it. Do not hand it, puzzled, to any of your assistants. Do not mention this letter to your friends or family. Do not subscribe to Vice. I’m just joking around, Paul!

Love,
Guru Nayak
Montreal, QC

Daybook

Last night I read the “front-matter” — probably not the right word for the preface, introduction, chronology, etc — of the recently released Damion Searls-edited NYRB Classics edition of Thoreau’s Journal.

Kind of great: check out the accidental "Adobe Photoshop CS3" text on the cover! How sublime would it be if that made it onto the real cover! Not sublime at all. But still, this is the kinda junk that makes me happy. My daughters are all grown and moved away.

In Searls’s funny and helpful introduction, he calls the volume an “abridgement”–similar, in one respect, maybe, to an abridgment Searls made of another 19th-century American classic, Moby-Dick: called ; or, the Whale, Searls wrote a great essay in the Believer about the project here. I’ve recently been hit with an overwhelming amt of semirequired reading, and Searls’s introduction, which talks about the distinction between abridgement, which seeks to retain the flow and balance of the original, and editing, which simply reduces its length (I am bungling this, hard, and giving up on this sentence).… Of further interest is the fact that it’s basically Thoreau’s life that’s being abridged. I somehow thought it was going to be easy to make a point here about the amount of books one feels one needs to read and the amount of days one has to live and have these things be gloriously connected in a reading of Thoreau’s journal. But it’s not and I’m at work and need to get back to it. These excuses smell like  excrescences on an old cheese.

Late last year I ate a pot cookie and went to the California Academy of Sciences with some loved ones. That evening I accidentally spilled two full beers on a reality TV show demi-celebrity and her date (I have severe night blindness, didn’t see their table). Then I ate more of the pot cookie and went to Rosemarie Waldrop’s George Oppen Memorial Lecture, where she spoke a bit about Oppen’s Daybook. My grasp of the lecture was suitably tenuous but I did love the idea of a daybook, even just as a prettier word than journal. I guess, my dear Wolfman (I write this blog for one person only, and that is the Wolfman, sweet web-surfing Wolfman, I hope you like my blog, I hope your Internet connection is clear and fast and uninterrupted, I hope that no one bridles at my calling you a “person”, for even if you’re sometimes more wolf than man, you, adorable Wolfman of mine, are always a person. Because you can read! What the fuck) this discussion is inevitably leading toward a discussion of blog as daybook. Blog as journal. Something about the fact that the Wolfman has immediate access to it, and that it has hyperlinks, distinguishes it from the intensely private, contemplative analog journals of “yore” (and yore is, of course, still in full contemporary effect, in tens of thousands of active Moleskines and spiral-bounds worldwide). But seriously, I smack your face with my unworn leather gloves: blogs are allowed to be daybooks. Let them be. Why do I feel the need to defend the internet from hypothetical reactionaries? Why do I insist on calling my rambling, soggy rants “discussions” or “arguments” when they’re really just excrescences on my poor old personal cheese, and I should be getting back to work at work?

The self-abusing rhetorical question smells like the privates of an old man. I’ll see you tonight, Wolfman. Hugs.