October 28th, 2007 § § permalink
This was yesterday. It was one o’clock. A woman left the table with its pens on chains and trays of small forms to rejoin the line. The woman ahead of me turned and addressed her friend.
“It wasn’t there?”
“There’s always a book, but it’s not there. I don’t know. I’m hoping she can look it up for me when I get there.” She nodded at the only open window. “I think it’s 28290. I think that’s it.”
It was a small branch post office by a telephone company in downtown Newark. I had never seen the other window open, or anyone else behind the open one besides Bonnie, with her expression of sorely tried forbearance.
“I’m sure she can look up the zip code of North Carolina for you.”
The woman behind me snorted. “Who asked them to move to North Carolina anyway?”
“That’s what they’re doing—they’re all moving back down south.”
“Now I got to go all the way down there to see my grandpa.”
“You still got your other grandma living up here.”
“Yeah, but I only got one living grandpa. Why couldn’t my other grandma have moved to North Carolina?”
Two more women came in, shaking the drizzle from their shoulders and stamping their feet on the mat.
“You two still here?” » Read the rest of this entry «
October 25th, 2007 § § permalink
told me to update my blog more regularly. Or he will do this:
So, today, some thoughts on eating at parties, and looking good afterwards:
Lest I give the impression that I appreciate party guests only in proportion to how much food they dispose of, let me tell you about this paranoid reality I survived when I first started trying to lose weight. As at many middle-class American gatherings, talk at the parties I attended often revolved neurotically around diet and suitably cosmetic emaciation. Young wives paraded their newly trim husbands, boyfriends displayed on an arm their slim dates, such words as “yoga”, “pilates”, “South Beach”, and “Atkins” fell like so much chattered confetti on the luscious dip of pure sour cream while hands darted for the brownie squares. I felt the presence of a feral undercurrent around the snacks buffet. » Read the rest of this entry «
October 22nd, 2007 § § permalink
I am the new owner of a bike. It folds. Slightly used, it did not cost as much as that link will claim.
I am a Pisces. Now, I am no longer a fish without a bicycle. Which is to say, to invert the Steinem maxim, that I am a woman with a man. But neither am I that, nor a man with a woman.
The bike will be useful in fetching groceries.
The lock and chain, however, are a different story. Half as expensive and a third as heavy as the bike itself, they are my first investment in city-proof security, since this is the first time in six years I’ve had a bike worth protecting. Pulling the chain from the frame feels like hauling anchor. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to use it on your bike, or if you’re just supposed to park your bike in sight, keeping the chain with you at all times to beat thieves.
October 21st, 2007 § § permalink
Do you know, you go along for years thinking nobody’s onto you, and then… I mean, you think because you’ve had a thought but never mentioned it to anyone, even in passing, that no one knows what you’re talking about, and you’re one of the few to have thought it. Then, there it is in print. Listen to this: “By a back-derivation typical of pop revivals, the fantasy glamour of the original songs is translated into a description of the era in which they originated: in the case of the old-new Bacharach craze, as if life in the early Sixties had been a live-action Dionne Warwick song, with deft periodic accentuation by oboe, xylophone, or celeste.” A Geoffrey O’Brien piece from the NY Review of Books, which unfortunately you can’t read without paying. » Read the rest of this entry «
October 20th, 2007 § § permalink
Continuing the series of places-I’m-already-back-from-but-forgot-to-mention-I-was-going begun with last weekend’s SPX, let me tell you about this party I went to Friday…
The launch party for the AWESOME anthology from ISR and Evil Twin was last night. I got a ride over from Jersey with Mark Smylie. We got a late start, even skipping dinner—I was late to Archaia from the PATH and Mark was wrapping up work—then idled predictably away where citybound Friday night traffic had plugged up the approach to the Holland Tunnel. When we got to Brooklyn, rain was still dripping from awnings where people huddled with their upturned collars, blinking in irritation, wet hair clinging to their skin.
I hadn’t been to this store for a year and a half, during which time the landlord had walled in what I remembered as a back patio, caged in chain link like a city schoolyard, where, in one corner of pitted concrete, a table of beer in plastic cups stood crookedly. The going explanation among disgruntled cartoonists was that neighbors had complained of the noise, which bare sheetrock walls, daubed here and there with white paint, now contained and amplified, so that the room echoed like a cheap venue from the early days of punk. High on the right, a few dusty cinderblocks peered from a ragged gap; above the only sofa, someone had hung the string of jalapeno-shaped lights that once adorned the chain link, tangled like a festive vine, but here did little either to spice up the new atmosphere or to bring back the old. There was still a drinks table in one corner: no longer aslant, but on a cement floor smooth as a garage’s. From behind the girl seated there, the kind of Frosty the Snowman you find on Christmas lawns lent its glow to the bottle of Pinot Grigio, though the reds filed beside remained opaque. I stuffed a dollar in the glass pitcher of tips, and she handed me a clear, hard tumbler of wine. Mr. Phil walked up to me with a Sharpie, proffering a name tag. In white, across a light blue strip on top, it proclaimed: I’m AWESOME. » Read the rest of this entry «
October 17th, 2007 § § permalink
- The AWESOME anthology is getting nods, shout-outs, and a few reviews, the Flight blog, the Top Shelf SPX roundup. Reviews—one negative aside—have not mentioned “We Are Not Alone” yet, so I will chime in with a “GB, you did a f****n’ fantastic job!!!” The book ships today, Wednesday October 17th, so get your local comic shop to order you a copy, or just buy it yerself!
Have I not plugged this book enough yet? If not, how could you resist publishers like these?
- Mark Woods posts a link to the Châteaureynaud story, “A Life on Paper”, at AGNI Online.
- Sam “Golden Rule” Jones links to Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s “Cap Corse”.
October 17th, 2007 § § permalink
I’ve begun listening to these lectures from The Teaching Company, on Kierkegaard and existentialism, which drastically lower the monotony quotient of 45 biking minutes. They even manage to lend the cardio eternity a certain joy, less from their distraction value than from a sense of time cannily reclaimed through judicious multitasking, some minor, even nominal mental self-improvement smuggled into that mirrored arena of physical preening, with the nonstop industry of its weights and pulleys (the gym might do well to evolve toward some synthesis with that other roomful of machines, the arcade: somehow maximizing pleasure and distraction without loss in fitness benefit). Time feels better spent on learning than on the disposable music with which I tend to pack the mp3 folder marked Exercise, since while sweating and grunting I can give only half a soul to songs I like, and thus avoid them (I’d rather travel with music than have it be a greenscreen of pretended travels behind me). I’m happy to sop up whatever philosophy I can, while conveniently filling in potentially embarrassing gaps in an autodidact’s education (or the series of prejudices, misconceptions, and surmises masquerading thereas)—y’know, dots connected out of order or numbered shapes mismatched to colors. » Read the rest of this entry «
October 14th, 2007 § § permalink
I have a new idea for my blog: instead of promoting upcoming events, which I never seem to get around to doing in time, whether because I don’t know what to say, or feel self-conscious about self-promoting, or harbor a secret resentment of deadlines and derive a dark joy from failing them, I’ll blog about events after they happened, and hopefully make you wish you’d been there.
This is the feeling I get, anyway, when I read other people’s blogs and find out about happenings I was stupid to have missed, shindigs I can kick myself for not having dragged myself to, or clambakes to which I wasn’t even invited but would very much like to have been a part of.
This plays to my natural nostalgic impulses: for someone so fundamentally wistful, memory is a constant component of daily perception, and instead of past, present, and future, time might better be divided for me into regret, disappointment, and anticipation.
The obvious downside to this is you’ll never know where I’m going to be. But how many people does that matter to, anyway?
I was, for example, at SPX. My first, and a fun time. Ha-hah! Bet you didn’t know that, did you? The AWESOME! anthology, which features the story that the header image above is taken from, debuted there.
» Read the rest of this entry «
October 10th, 2007 § § permalink
I’m not sure how I feel about this. I hope that doesn’t make me sound a grouch. It’s a mean cutlass, though. And it’s proof positive Sardine is being read, to say the least.
I’d wrapped the next Sardine, on which Guibert flies solo (no Sfar), a few weeks ago. Always a pleasure to see what puns can be smuggled across the language border. Got called in today for an emergency on-site translation of a last-second substitute story. This is about as exciting as the profession gets, folks—frantic editors and a sense of mission! Felt grateful I wasn’t halfway around the world—just in Jersey. On the way into Manhattan, the train stalled twenty minutes for a drawbridge. This was a first. All around me, people shuffled papers, shifted briefcases, sighed, texted, left messages, ruffled their hair so they’d arrive, I suppose, looking frustrated in explanation for their lateness. Across the aisle, a girl bet her grandfather that the Amtrak stopped beside us would get to go first.
“See, I told you,” she said when it pulled away. I shared a smile with the old man.
Money makes the world go round. » Read the rest of this entry «
October 1st, 2007 § § permalink
Chris Fedak, in a phone conversation now years old, once asked me if I watched much TV. I forget the program in question. It might have been Boomtown; if so, this was before he married the lovely Lisa. I was either in France or didn’t own a TV at the time, and the fifth amendment prevents me from further revelations. I said no.
He said, You should. It keeps your dreams humble.
Since then, everything’s happened really fast. TV’s gotten better, the press has admitted that it’s gotten better, and many are the ways to watch it without the actual box taking up precious apartment space in an “entertainment cabinet” (echoes of von Kempelen’s Turk?). We’re a far cry from those yellow ABC billboards of fall ’98, proclaiming the couch potato revolution and the right to dumbness, that delighted my media studies professor so. HBO has, in the meantime, become HBO. People take TV seriously. No longer is the boob tube a sort of purgatory where stars past the prime of their fame are put to Elysian pasture, there to make do with bad dialogue before Friday night family audiences. No more are aging actors banished from the silver screen to the small but, in front of households that have missed them, live out satisfying second lives that fall comfortingly short of total reinvention. Middle age is okay now; it’s socially acceptable. I won’t name names, in case I’m not right. It’s all part of the past coming back and living forever, repackaged. » Read the rest of this entry «