Drinking wine this afternoon
I realize that the days are getting
That’s by Richard Brautigan, from 1970’s (see how I subtly and marginally tie what I’m writing about to my nominal blog topic?) Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt. Though
poetry was never really my thing (with the exception of Bukowski and David Berman), I was recently introduced to Brautigan and I like his work a lot. His poems are short, relatively straightforward, and to the point, though quite a few contain metaphors that I can’t really wrap my head around. Many, like the one I quoted above, have hysterical subtexts. And how topical.
I’ve actually used quite a bit of the free time I have here to catch up on my reading, and I have three books going right now. I read the Golden Compass trilogy a couple of months ago as sort of a rebellion against the strict diet of literary fiction that I had been feeding myself for the past couple of years, and though I’ll be reading Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom with one of my friends soon, I haven’t really moved back into it yet. I’m currently in the middle of Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon by Patrick Tierney. I hate that title because it gives cover-judgers an anti-intellectual impression that really, really isn’t there. I could write a whole blog post about this book, but boiled down to its essentials, it’s arguing that Napoleon Chagnon’s “discovery” of the Yanomami in the Amazon was essentially a reenactment of what Spanish conquistadors did on the same continent hundreds of years before. White people with impure motives self-transmogrifying into self-styled tribal deities, wanton disease spreading, sponsorship by shady organizations…it’s all there according to Tierney. It’s incredibly disturbing for someone who studied anthropology and I’m looking forward to seeing where Tierney goes from here. Also will have to check out responses to these allegations.
But speaking of transmogrification (what is wrong with me?) I’ve also been reading the Lovecraft anthology that was my last purchase at Barnes & Noble before my discount ran out. Oh, how I miss that discount. I’m reading it essentially as escapism, and it is quite enjoyable as such, though Lovecraft’s barely veiled racism (e.g. “swarthy” marauders, cats with racially charged names (for real!)) is aaaawkward. However, each story or novella reveals a little more of his world, and with each one I read, parts of others that seemed way
out there while I was reading them start to make more sense. This gradual revelation seems to be where the satisfaction in reading Lovecraft can be found. And just in phrases like “toad-like lunar abominations”. Makes me want to start a sludge metal band and do a concept album. Anyone?
The last thing I’m working on right now is Gig, a book of 3-6 page vignettes of Americans talking about their jobs, edited by John Bowe, Marisa Bowe, and Sabin Streeter. Everything from chicken separator to transvestite prostitute to CEO to U.S. Congressman (Barney Frank D-MA reppin’) is here, and at least nominally in the words of the worker. The thing that really struck me about the in-their-own-words thing, though, is punctuation choice. Yes, I am one of “those people” about grammar, but when talking about work, the editorial decision to end everything someone says with –in’ rather than –ing or to make everything an Eastern European immigrant says in the present tense is an important one. I mean, the book doesn’t feel contrived at all, and I suppose it’s quite possible that everything was transcribed exactly as said, but there is an undeniable reproduction of norms implicit in the grammar of the speakers. Regardless, this book is enlightening, humanizing, and highly recommended.
Speaking of grammar, I saw quite possibly the best billboard error EVER when I was on a bus back from Philly for Andrew and Jacqui’s engagement party (and congrats to them!). The billboard had a picture of the virgin de Guadalupe and a caption that said: “Blessed are the fruits of thy womb Jesus.” Read that again. So I guess there should have been a colon after “womb” (ಠ_ಠ), but in the way it appears right now, Jesus is clearly the possessor of the womb. Also, since Mary in the virgin de Guadalupe style seems to be coming out of this yonic sunburst, it looks like hermaphro-Jesus is giving divine birth to a fully clothed Mary right on the billboard. Yep. What I wouldn’t give to go back with a camera ready.
Andrew and Jacqui’s engagement party (which was so much fun) was part of a New Years weekend in which I bused to NYC, Philly, and Scranton, and had such a great time in the process. On New Year’s Eve, Andrew, Jacqui, Breanne, and I went to Radegast Hall and Biergarten (www.radegasthall.com). The place was packed, but once we got seats it was just a blast. There aren’t any picture of all four of us, so here’s one of Andrew and Jacqui:
And one of Breanne and me
On the way back to the L, we made the ritual stop at Oasis. Best falafel sandwich I’ve ever had for a measly three bucks.
So, I thought I’d get to write about music this post, but I’m closing in on 1000 words already! How does that happen? It’ll have to wait until next post. In the mean time, here’s some stuff I’ve been listening to:
A Place to Bury Strangers: “Ego Death”
‘80s revival dance sludge whaaaa?
And on a completely different note…
Nick Cave – “Helpless”
The version of this that Neil Young backed by The Band did in “The Last Waltz” really got me hooked when I watched that movie a million years ago. Cave’s cover really does it justice.
Alright, so next time I’ll be doing more magazine stuff, ranting about an underappreciated album, and posting photos of the ostrich steaks I made.