Tuesday, March 15, 2005


--packed; imported several Beck CDs (but not watermarked copy #439 of Guero, 'courtesy' Interscope) and some Bloc Party to iPod for upcoming reviews
--got to LAX w/ over an hr. before boarding, read chunks of LA Times opinion section ("Los Angeles -- the whole of it -- needs a return to civic and social investment, the kind of investment we're making in Iraq." Worse, b/c I think the author, Jervey Tervalon, is well-meaning) and NYT, in particular (1) the piece on the hipster ex-Orthodox now evangelical not-your-mother's-celibacy-activist who wears cat's-eye glasses and, according to the reporter, can drop the name of Bourdieu (though in what context is not mentioned, this capacity being a mark of meta-distinction) and (2) the thing by Paul Muldoon's wife about his becoming first a basement guitarist and then an actual performer. Much fun at the expense of the professor/rock-star disconnect. For my part: Writing some songs with Waren Zevon is fine, and I liked that poem where Lloyd Cole was mentioned, but this "Rackett" thing, man, what are you telling us, that, really, in some way, you rose to where you are in terms of quality and yeah, distinction so you could spend your cultural capital living out the Dylan/Richards/etc. fantasy that's nagged at you since schooldays? You're a poet because the art form the power of which you really coveted was unavailable to you, for whatever reason? That's how it comes off -- and that's a shame.

Oh, and Paul, next time you're actually working on the page, here's a free end-rhyme in your manner: lyric/acrylic.

--on plane, read most of The Atlantic (DFW more substantial on talk-radio than he was on lobsters; sniffy bit on how Dave Eggers' use of metaphor), visited with Bree, did crosswords, ignored Finding Neverland completely. Is that 5 hours? Oh -- Everybody Loves Raymond. Listened to no Beck, failed to crack Elfriede Jelinek's The Piano Teacher, which I'd bought in the airport bookstore.*

(LAX has that improved-bookstore thing going in several terminals; the one at American (I can't remember the name) isn't as good as a couple of the others, but being trapped with a slightly better choice, well, it's still being trapped, isn't it, but it's not being trapped with Tom Clancy. But I wonder where your name shows up when you buy, say, The Farenheit 9/11 Reader, much less Nietzche in 90 Minutes in the airport.)

--Landed at JFK slightly before midnight, planned to economize via mass transit, weakly indulged in a town car (but cut a decent deal) to Bree's parents (they're not in for a couple of days) apt.



Breakfast/coffee in apt., TCM on as background [several newsroom/crusading reporter flicks today and the next, variously involving

1) Bette Davis & George Brent (Front Page Woman),
2) George Brent & nobody you've ever heard of (You Can't Escape Forever),
3) nobody you've ever heard of (The House Across The Street)
4) James Stewart, Claudette Colbert, Guy Kibbee (It's a Wonderful World)

(1) and (2) also involve Roscoe Karns, cast as in His Girl Friday; in both (2) and (3) various characters and eventually the male protagonist are feminized by being made to write the advice column ("Bewildered Hearts," my new band), (3) is the really curious item, no relation to (and several years before) IAW Life, as indebted to It Happened One Night as to The Front Page, with a self-cannibalizing Ben Hecht screenplay too dry and near-absurd to have done much business, as when a boy scout spies the principals in the bushes, and the next shot shows him writing in his notebook: "9:15 -- spotted desperado and poetess." And:

Stewart: "Were you followed?"
Kibbee: "I came in circles, like a hop-toad."

[Now, I have to interrupt all this because Pretty In Pink is on in the background, and while I will hold my tongue about whether it belongs on this station, it is one of these movies where computers are used as a plot device -- Andrew McCarthy, hacks into some kind of terminal in the library to introduce himself to Molly R. -- but what appears on their screens, and how (he somehow calls up pixillated photos of her, and himself, immediately, in the midst of what appeared to be DOS -- bears no resemblance to anything you or I have done with computers. This happens constantly in the '80s and even '90s -- Basic Instinct has some ridiculous 'go see the computer whiz' scene, I think. Jon Cryer is the whole movie, anyway.]

--lunch w/Bree on B'Way somewhere between Union Square and 26th.
--visited Continuum, picked up new proofs to glance over, return before I leave town Mon.
--was supposed to meet Bree at an ornament shop we'd seen that turned out to be "exculsively to the trade," so stood outside reading The Piano Teacher until she arrived. Very much like Thomas Bernhard, both in use of repetition and loathing of the Austrian status quo. The mother would make a good celibacy advocate. Striking passages thus far:

"Vienna, the city of music! Only the things that have proven their worth will continue to do so in this city. its buttons are bursting from the fat white paunch of culture, which, like any drowned corpse that is not fished from the water, bloats up more and more."

"Many young people are driven to art, as in olden times. Most of them are driven by their parents, who know nothing about art -- only that it exists. And they're so delighted that it exists!"

(Makes me wonder if we can fit The Neue Gallerie in this trip.)

--The Strand. The Strand is not even that great in many respects, certainly not in poetry or philosophy, and yet:

Edmund White, The Flaneur
Kurt Weill On Stage, Foster Hirsch
Stewart and Wright, eds. Hume and Hume's Connexions
Judith Jarvis Thomson, Goodness and Advice
George Lipsitz, Time Passages in case I every actually decide to do something other than fly by the seat of my pants w/r/t cultural studies
G.E. Moore, Principia Ethica
Sam Lipsyte, Homeland

and from the $1 stalls --

Gregory Brunn, The Engllightened Despots
Michael Brodsky, Southernmost and other Stories. I've read four of his books Detour, Xman, Dyad, and the collection X in Paris, and own others. No one reviews him, and if I know anyone who's read him, it hasn't come up. Seriously -- does anyone read Michael Brodsky? I also wonder this about anything by Richard Powers (who I haven't read) after The Goldbug Variations, which some people swear by, but at least he gets reviews and some nice blurbs on the pb. I would not like to be a novelist.
Michael Gottlieb, Lost and Found which I own, like, and for a buck can afford to buy to give away

--Manhattan Diner, near the apt.

[in the now -- Annie Potts' closely resembling Suzanne Pleshette.]


Tue. (late start/slow day -- feel more guilty about this in NY than I would at home, though this was not meant to be a whirlwind, touristy 'vacation')

--in the a.m. before Bree felt like getting ready, graded 3 of the 6 papers I brought with me and went to that one bookstore practically across from Zabar's:

uncorr. page proof of John Latta, Breeze (hello, hotelpointer, if you made it down this far)
ditto, Peter Jay Shippy, Thieves' Latin (2003 Iowa foet, never heard of him but looked plausible on a flip, and trust me, the price was right)
Nada Gordon, V. Imp (funny in that I had meant to link to her mixed rev. of the Elmslie show)
Daniel M. Wegner, The Illusion of Conscious Will (just what it sounds like, from an experimental psych. rather than a phil/theory perspective; it's upsetting, this possibility that what we experience as the will has no causal juice whatever; Hume had about the same view, but does a lot of speaking with the vulgar, as do I.)

--some of the newspaper movies noted above
--back out w/ Bree, lunch at the Zabar's counter/corner room; knishes/fish chowder
--walked around the Upper West Side for an hr. or so, bought Bernarr MacMadden, Colds, Coughs, and Catarrh (1936, just what it sounds like) on the street for $1
--back to the apt., cleaned up some things online, finally wrote to some people I'd like to see in town, some of whom responded, eventually graded 3 more papers; thought about going to a reading (Jean Valentine/Rachel Zucker) at Labyrinth, but did not do so
--ordered in from a Greek place because it's cold out there, read more, made this list


One other thing I wanted to get down -- Somewhere, Eco describes semiotics as the study of (I think this is as I read it) "anything that can be used to lie." That is so cheap.

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