October 3rd, 2010 / 10:23 pm
Web Hype

Literary Doppelgangers

Joe Brainard may have handed James Franco a free pass to the “New York School,” where during the 50s and 60s, poets, painters, dancers, and musicians (unemployment check in one pocket, manifesto in the other) all “hung out” and made stuff out of cardboard or something. Of our most “generational” literary places: Paris gave you nihilism, Bloomsbury gave you spell-check, New York gave you solipsism, and San Francisco — thanks Haight St. — gave you lice. It’s a good life to be a good looker, and charm doesn’t hurt. Brainard died of AIDS, Franco died of Spiderman, and we all die after the break.

The precocious T.S. Eliot and Zachary German gaze ahead, gently, with the quiet confidence of enormous talent. Of course, that is were the argument begins, literature’s unanswerable question: Am I supposed to understand this crap? April, in Williamsburg, is the coolest month. These boys, their hair unkempt but clean, each fashion the lazy noose of a tie en route to their respective dates who are no doubt waiting for something beautiful and revolutionary to arrive.

Nobody knows why Hegel was so sad that night; maybe he too impulsively tried to kiss his next door neighbor one rainy evening coming out of the closet. Chris Cooper‘s performances — from American Beauty to Adaptation — are always dynamic, searing, and memorable. I love it when repressed gay Nazis think everyone else is gay (paranoia or just wishing thinking?). His awkward moment with Kevin Spacey in American Beauty is my favorite hollywood kiss of all time.

Susan Sontag was against interpretation, and apparently hair dye as well. I like the white stripe, but I can’t help smelling for a skunk. A keen eye for photographers, they had a keen eye for her. Patti Smith dances barefoot because the night belongs to athlete’s feet. Independent and formidable women from New York have this sans make-up strong severity which, if I were more of a man, I would find attractive. Fortunately for them, our ménage à trois will have to wait.

Kinda annoyed with José Saramago pulling some Borges or Calivo surreal shit with that golden ball over his eye. Philip Roth understands that social realism doesn’t need any golden balls, just regular balls — walking into his publisher’s office again with some thoughtful account of aging exile and Jewish political pensiveness. I want to fall asleep on their bushy eyebrows, and if what they say about osmosis is true, wake up with a Nobel, National Book Award, and Pulitzer.

John Ashbery, short of a thyroid cancer that Roger Ebert has bravely fared, still grimaces with a clenched jaw, hesitant lips shutting out the words while the mind edits. His “Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror” describes a bloated image whose periphery shrinks away, a POV distortion of self. Ebert’s bloated thumbs-downing self shrunk too, it seems, after the cancer hit him. It’s obvious that some remarkable change occurred in him. Only when given another chance at life, one can finally begin to live. Perhaps these men, with their identical jaws, are munching away at mortality’s hay.

Not much happening in Königsberg in the 18th century, Immanuel Kant went ahead and critiqued pure reason, practical reason, and judgment. Caught in an endless struggle between the empiricists and rationalists, he said “fuck it, I’ll get my truth from TMZ.” Arnold Schwarzenegger, a clear fan of German thinking, also critiqued pure reason, pragmatism, and judgment when he crashed California’s economy into the ground. I don’t see why he doesn’t just transfer the royalties from Kindergarten Cop and True Lies to California’s economy. That would buy us a few more laughs, and years.

It’s an unjust world when John Cage can sit in front of a piano for four minutes and thirty-three seconds and get away with it. Who needs Cage to help along a song’s silence? Just throw your iPod out the window. Meanwhile, poor Harrison Ford (as “The Fugitive”) has found himself shin deep in injustice, looking for a one-armed man. Little does he know he should be looking for a no-armed man, which is Cage, sitting in front of a fucking TUBA this time doing JACK SHIT.

We all know William Shakespeare had a good sense of meter, but he’s no match for Paul Reubens, who whacked off in perfect iambic pentameter that fateful afternoon in a porn theater. After being arrested, in a fit of auto-nepotism, he told the cops he was related to Pee-Wee (they looked down and agreed). All the world’s a stage, unless of course you’re in the back row gripping the drama in one-two, one-two, one-two, one-two, one-two until the tragedy cometh. Hey Gertrude of Denmark, I wouldn’t drink from that goblet if I were thou.


  1. Waller

      “Patti Smith dances barefoot because the night belongs to athlete’s feet.”

  2. Guest


      you’re really good at this, jimmy

  3. Molly Gaudry

      OMG, Ashbery/Ebert.

  4. Waller

      “Patti Smith dances barefoot because the night belongs to athlete’s feet.”

  5. Blake Butler

      this just changed the looming trajectory of my forthcoming week for the best.

  6. jesusangelgarcia

      astonishing. peewee and shakespeare. how, jimmy? how???

  7. Mike Young

      lovely! kant/arnie is my favorite

  8. lily hoang

      i was having such a shit day, and then i read your post: the best fucking gift ever. now, i am smiling. thank you.

  9. Alban Fischer

      Actually, Eliot looks a little Michael Jackson-ish there

  10. deadgod

      This is one way Eliot’s “date” made her way into his poetry:

      –Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
      Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
      Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
      Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
      Looking into the heart of light, the silence.