Heading to Laundromania with a basket of dirty clothes, a bottle of liquid detergent, twenty quarters, four Cynthia Ozick stories, and a biography of the German Marxist who wrote Bobby Darin’s greatest hit, which was later adapted into a vehicle for selling Big Macs, which validates its worthiness as art as only money can says America.
Here’s Darin, performing “Mack the Knife” in Las Vegas near the end of his life:
It’s amazing to listen to the recording and see how abstracted the song has already become from its origin. It starts out in German, moves to English, moves out of The Threepenny Opera and into a swing idiom, gets recorded by a guy whose fame is partially built upon it but who by the time of the YouTube recording is probably contemptuous enough of it to joke through the first verse, but it’s endearing to the crowd, and they laugh and applaud, but their applause isn’t exactly for the song or the singer, it’s for their nostalgia for the younger selves they were when the singer’s version of the song was young like they were young, and that’s why they’ve come to Las Vegas, in part — to recapture that youth — but their attempt at recapturing their youth requires a long drive to the desert, where they’ll give their money to a gambling cartel in exchange for a few hours of hope they know will turn to nothing by design, and where they’ll linger among replicas of things that exist elsewhere in the world. But listen a little while longer, because when Bobby Darin says, “Let it swing, yeah,” and the orchestra agrees, it all gets real again, and anything could happen, because the thing still has that transcendent power latent in it, and for the last two minutes it’s the whole world.
I feel like it would be an honor to be left out of an anthology as much as it would be to be included in one (Ange Mlinko’s review of Paul Hoover’s Norton Anthology of Post Modern Literature from the Nation, follows. I expect this will get taken down soon, as the original article was behind a paywall…). Do you give a fuck about this? Or about being anthologized? Should I?
My recent Netflix “viewing activity,” which I discovered to my horror, follows the break. If you would like me to review any of these movies (or shows), or engage in commentary with me about any movie (or show), just list it in the comments. I will tend to this post, as best I can, for the next few days. This post may or may not be deleted, depending on the results.
I once temped in the “equity research” department of a large investment firm. I had to be there at 6:30AM PST, given that markets open at 9:30AM EST in New York. Seeing the sunrise from the train felt romantic, the graffiti scratched windows cutting the sun. Daily fluctuations in the market function as a myth; the only two numbers that count are how much you buy and sell, the latter in theory exponential to the former. The gentlemen for whom I worked — my entire job consisted of printing out stock reports and making binders out of them — were all younger than me, with better educations, abs, and weekend plans. They kept me at a cordial distance yet treated me with intuitive bro code sympathy. I exuded humiliation, hiding whatever morose novel I was reading. Short of inviting me to lunch, they asked if I wanted the leftover fries upon their return. Greasy fingered and self-loathing, I printed the fuck out of various stocks — whose sudden peaks and valleys told the bipolar story of our free market — while eavesdropping on tales of roughly coordinated fellatio in sports cars during metered parking. A quarter buys diminishing time, guaranteeing itself business again. I wondered who these women were, their red lipstick further deepened by a $24 dollar glass of Côtes du Rhône seeming as blood under a sole candle flame wavering inside glass. And this is just happy hour.
Between 1915 and 1923, Marcel Duchamp tedious arranged seemingly arbitrary shapes concerning a myth about a bride and her nine bachelors that he would refuse to convey to others. The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even leaves us with an eerie Avant-garde cartoon embedded between panes of cracked glass which conform to a unique “mechanomorphic” law of physics, whose notes began in 1913, he was to incorporate in The Green Box (1934), a limited edition (of 320) scrap heap compilation of its conception and execution — though let not the word “edition” and the auspices of printing fool you; he produced each one by hand. The cracks in the glass are ostensibly controlled, which may explain why he was both insane and spent eight years to create it. None is this is really meant to make any sense. Duchamp’s self-enthralled solipsisms juggle meaning and nonsense, until the viewer is just left to stare. If there is a God, he too must be a fan: In 1926, the Brooklyn Museum accidentally broke the art piece in transport, making the cracks worse (via the actual laws of physics). Marcel, unfortunately, was not there to repair what he described as a “hilarious picture” in the first place.
If the split-screen dialog between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (1978) seems perfectly timed, of masterful cadence, that is because it was filmed in the same take, the actors next to each other. They built two adjacent therapists’ offices for this. Allen, of course, could have spliced the disparate takes into one, but the “organic,” however inefficient, way of doing this aids the subtly. Alvy is seen in a mahogany-lined office with a Heidegger look-alike — being and time, or rather, time being almost up. Psychotherapists may be called “shrinks” in reference to the Freudian super-ego (conscience, the cause of suffering) one tried to shrink; or, it was first a derisive term from tribal “headshrinkers” who dried the decapitated heads of their enemies. A euphemism for therapist is analyst, the Freudian ghost of anal safely tucked away in the venture. (To see “the rapist” in therapist is, however, your own problem.) Whenever I call my mental health care provider to neurotically reconfirm the breadth of my insurance, an intake counselor pensively — though trained to seem calm, casual — asks me if I feel like either harming myself or others. A phenomenological response would throw us into a two hour conversation, so I just answer No. My therapist is a homosexual Buddhist suspicious that I might be homosexual and Buddhist as well, despite all my efforts to convey otherwise.
Here are the latest installments of Ben Pease’s epic video poem, Chataeu Wichman. Previous installments in the series can be found below.
“That’s what Mommy made for dinner,” the woman behind me said. The museum was crowded the way Sundays are. Like grocery stores and churches, we apprehensively prepare for the week and the rest of our lives, respectively. I would have ridiculed her — for her provincial and self-involved inclinations towards great art — but found it, now at this point in my life, very touching. A dollop of love hardened in my throat for this dumb person. She held her daughter against her side, the latter who even grazed my ear pointing at the painting the way children always point at referents, as if to convince the world there’s only one thing, to consolidate life’s erratic foci into a single point. “Our fish didn’t look like that!” the daughter said. “Okay but the lemon did.”
Do you like summits? Do you like poetry? Do you live in or around the Bay Area? You’re in luck! Info provided by event organizer Andrew Kenower after the jump…
The chat to my left is my response to a friend after I had excused myself to go to the bathroom, which the reader may deduce was a “number two.” The first line is an empowered assertion, perhaps stoic celebration. The second line is a critique of its aesthetics, which seems inextricably pointed, upwards, towards myself. Seems like there is a direct correlation between fecal length-girth and perceived and/or anatomical satisfaction of the experience. If this sounds familiar to other physiologies which ought to happen daily, you’re welcome. That men are all self-penetrated, however inversely, by their poop may be our best shot in having a vagina. We all know about penis envy, but frankly, I wish I had a place to hide my gummy bears. If any of this seems Freudian, or disgusting, we may have unintelligent design to blame: that our mouths and anuses are but the openings of a long and twisted tube. Notice that the letter D is next to the letter S on a standard keyboard, such that “dad” can easily replace “sad” in the ultimate critique of one’s self. Or maybe he’s just been on my mind.
In 1974, Sol LeWitt made a series of “incomplete open cubes,” portraying all the possible configurations an incomplete cube could have. His early sketch studies of them resemble cuneiform, the rise from babble to meaning. The conceptual minimalist wasn’t interested in human volition, discretion, or gesture, but rather, the algorithmic underlining of things. Immune to will, art was granted a meaningless presence that could become beautiful on its own. Some of them sold at Christie’s between $50,000 – $250,000 dollars, depending on how mutated or fucked-up each one was. The more amputated the violated square looked, the more it fetched at auction. In short, absence had been purchased on a sliding scale, and maids finely dusted the masterpieces in their respective homes. His 1968 “Buried Cube Containing an Object of Importance but Little Value” is supposedly buried in its collector’s backyard. LeWitt was photographed digging a hole with a shovel though, the way condemned men are oddly obedient to their imminent executor. The will to prolong life as Darwinian tic. The IKEA “Lack” side table is $9.99 if you want it in “birch finish,” and $7.99 in plain white, a color which — when not imbued with high modernist sheen — concedes to a post-industrial grim boredom, even guilt, that is always trying to find its way back into the woods. This may be Walt Whitman’s fault, who saw a “journey work of the stars” in a blade of grass, so I have him to blame for my meandering horoscope. Everything looks so beautiful in IKEA’s labyrinthian showroom, until you haul a box full of flattened glued sawdust home. The instructions are made for the illiterate; one’s personal language reverts grunts and squeals, reduced to their hands and knees. Hours later, if you’re lucky, the representation of an ideal object has manifested inside your home, itself turned into a new object by its very representation of the original. Every clone in every home is theoretically the same, except secretly broken in unique ways. You come across a bag of screws, and hope they were extra. My personal lack holds an alarm clock for which I lament waking up, each day a slow parody of the one before, my bones buried under flesh, the birch now slowly peeling off. Imagine a species after this one coming across these objects, excavating their parts from the rubble, and trying to put the pieces back together. It might be hard to tell what was missing. The sifted legs resemble robot femurs, as if making the perfect person. They decide we were sloppy aliens. We often lied about what was underneath. In need of a place to rest our keys, and minds, we brought the strangest things home.
The newest issue of [out of nothing] is available now!
And if I don’t say so myself, it’s quite beautiful (and interactive)!
(Yes, transparency: I’m one of the co-editors)
The issue this time was designed by co-editor Eric Lindley, with emcee Douglas Kearney,
and features work by:
Dustin Luke Nelson
And this also means that [out of nothing] is accepting submissions for #7. Check out the interactive call for submissions here.
1. In a world of many, many literary magazines, what made you want to create another one?
I was a reader for Bull: Men’s Fiction for a short while and it was during that short while I discovered I enjoyed the hunt for fresh stories that hadn’t been told yet. It got to the point I began saying to myself, “If I were Bull, I’d publish this one,” so I figured why not gather some friends in the literary world and launch our own project. You’re right, the world has plenty of literary magazine, but Split Lip likes to think we bring something new to the table.
2. Follow up: How do you see Split Lip defining its own literary space?
Our hope is to help incorporate the literary and fine arts into pop culture, a culture that seems to give its attention exclusively to music and film anymore. So, we pay attention to both the mainstream (music and film) and the underground (literature and fine art). Split Lip isn’t only a good place to find great writing, but also serves as a venue for independent music, fine art, and film. We want to take what Paste Magazine did for independent songwriters and apply that to independent storytellers and poets by presenting the full scope of pop culture.
3. What causes you despair?
Fox’s cancellation of Arrested Development.
4. Do you require a cover letter with submissions? Why or why not?
We’re pretty laid back about stuff like that, but do ask for one. Why? I suppose there are two reasons. First, it simply shows if the guidelines were read. Second, it keeps things professional. We get subs as stripped down as the attachment of the work alone. No “hello’ or anything.” That’s just inconsiderate.
5. Have you had any conflicts with writers? Any spicy stories?
Amy Lawless and I like to read chapbooks and review them on the internet. We used to write these together, while drinking wine and watching TV. We live in different cities now, so we do them over gchat. Here are our recent reviews:
Review 1: The Wikipedia Page for Tears
Sent at 1:23 PM on Sunday
Amy: we did it
me: ya good job
me: lets get into it. what’s the first item
Amy: The Wikipedia Page for Tears:
Let’s both look at the page and go for it.
Of a kind of modesty far disproportionate to the attention it’s getting — for it would take a hacker to get into our former president’s sister’s email — amateur yet keenly perceptive paintings by George W. Bush have surfaced. They are remarkable: not so much their rendering or skill, but in their quiet internal repose, evocative of the peculiarities of the Nabis post-impressionist school. An immediate, and easy association — if one considers their respective and mindless havoc onto their perceived enemies — is Adolf Hitler, who also produced unexpected touching watercolors of churches. The imperial hubris with which Bush demonized Afghanistan at large, and later Iraq, is a sad example of turning the enemy into an abstraction. The same can be said for liberal media in their inclines against Bush; and so now, it seems, we are perplexed, and very taken aback at being allowed to see this man in a different light. It is simply hard to imagine such a heartless war monger painting such gentle paintings. Yet, the disparity lies not with Bush’s character, but the assumption that artists are somehow — by the very auspices of their art, as if introverted pastime were a moral act — essentially good people. Enter Pierre Bonnard, whose codependent relationship with his wife Marthe has kind of hilariously been documented by the many paintings of the her in the bathtub. She is said to have suffered from OCD and compulsively bathed half-a-dozen times a day, as if trying to wash away the dabs of paint for which she might have been mistaken by her husband. The pairing here is at best merely coincidental, until we look at their perspectives: George W. Bush gives us his own POV, as autoerotic muse, his phallac member just off the bottom of the canvas, perhaps the rod-like stream of water a surrogate hard on. This is the same view Marthe was having back around 1935, and toggling between the two collapses us into a kind of he-said-she-said scenario, of different versions of the same history.
With the release of Siri, an “intelligent personal assistant” app introduced in iOS6, Apple took a unique marketing approach, that of entitled idleness. We see John Malkovich, a cloud of constant irony around him, seated at home skeptically saying “life” into his phone. Siri then offers this advice: try and be nice to people; avoiding eating fat; read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, etc. (c.f. “Fitter Happier,” OK Computer). It’s as if the ad were making fun of the app, bowing to the absurdity of first world problems gone amuck, which is a peculiar move for Apple, whose ads are usually literal and almost condescendingly simplistic (e.g. dancing silhouettes, sincere FaceTime). The camera takes long pans of his house, giving into a kind of bourgeois, somewhat sad reverie: the tempting light of a good day yawning through the panes, the modern art hung salon style on the walls, a suit jacket flayed open to let the smallest gut out. There is even a faint air of derision. Vilhelm Hammershøi, a Danish late 19th century minor painter, made banal paintings in the then climate of fierce modernism; they were sentimental and weak-handed, simply not a match for the explosiveness of his more devastated peers. There’s a clear homage to Vermeer, and one may see him as a precursor Edward Hopper, but overall it’s rather forgettable. He painted his house from a dozen angles, repainting the same scene a year or so apart, his averted subjects slightly older, and having wandered elsewhere. The movement of light across the floor was more of an event, sans notifications and likes. People were walking sundials, the radius of their slow shadows boring as fuck. They knitted, read, and died early.
The time I set aside for pleasure reading has become, in a word, unpleasant. Like you, I have obligations that irritate the ulcers. Bills to pay, a job to attend, a body to take care of, domestic insects to kill or exterminate. The other day I had to rest a glass of apple vinegar atop my bedroom dresser to trap gnats (they love the stuff—who knew?). My girlfriend was “seriously convinced”it was a glass of pee.
Among the detritus of everyday life, like contributing to the genocide of bugs, it’s often nice to turn to the literary big hitters for a respite from the banal. We let Nicholson Baker make us feel dirty; allow Mark Twain to make us laugh; invite Poe to exercise our imaginations and neuroses. If only we didn’t stab them in the back.
While I do happen to harbor my fair share of neuroses, my particular irrational fixations fortunately do not pervade my End of the Day Time to Go To Bed times. I like sleeping and I like walking, but I’ve never sleepwalked. I’m no psychiatrist, but it seems to me a condition afflicting those whose adventures in waking life have taken a turn for the disenchanted. Having the fortune of sound sleep, it’s hard to relate to the woes of the sleepwalker, or, as a matter of fact, any rigors of debilitating nocturnal activity (sleep eating, sleep apnea, sleep talking, sleep onanism, the grinding of the jaw, or that kind of bodily sprawl that ends with a dull, but loud THUD as a loved one graces the floor). But I can speculate that the body does these things to reconcile anxieties. Among which lies boredom.
From my past as a musician with a practice-until-your-fingers-bleed type dedication, I know that an in and out, day after day routine can bludgeon one’s piece of mind. In the 1960’s Guy Debord, a French Situationalist, imagined a serum for this kind of anxiety. Debord conceptualized Dérive, an experimental behavior that encourages one to make new what has become plebian, everyday, boring. Normally, this is done by making urban landscapes exciting again by drifting (literally, walking) through the city, taking directional cues not through street signs, but through the contours of the town’s architecture. Just kind of feeling your way out through new, unexplored terrain to invigorate the drifter from routine. There is no destination; only, perhaps, in the mind: to find something out about yourself and your city. Debord encourages getting hammered beforehand.
“I’ll teach you how to flow.” (The Tempest)
“He speaks plain cannon fire, and smoke and bounce.” (King John)
“I have within my mind / A thousand raw tricks of these bragging Jacks, / Which I will practise.” (The Merchant of Venice)
“That’s an ill phrase.” (Hamlet)
“Holla, holla!” (King Lear)
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1. This nail polish is supposed to last fourteen days without chipping or fading. I am on the tenth day.
2. The fire I built at 10pm last night is just starting to go out. I have added so many pieces of wood to it.
3. Life insurance plans expire arbitrarily. My father’s will be void if he lives past 76. My sister’s was void because she stopped paying.
4. The rechargeable batteries I bought in 2003 only hold charge for thirty minutes now.