Full Stop editor Max Rivlin-Nadler has a piece up now over at The Classical (which we like, a lot) about his time as fan photographer at Madison Square Garden. We recommend it.
A couple of things that ran through my mind as I was pressed to the man-breast of a drunken Rangers fan.
Why did I lower the camera between me and his nipple? The camera was the only valuable thing on my person, and if the lens got damaged, there goes the easiest job in the world. But my dignity was also slowly evaporating along with the mix of beer and sweat that was beading along his soft areola. His friends laughed and there it went; my self-respect, mixing with the asbestos and dust, floated away into the damp air of the arena. He released me and I handed him a card. He could find the picture of his bosom approaching my lens in gallery 42.
I walked out of the dim and crowded 400-level of Madison Square Garden and furiously wiped my face with my lime green shirt. Back in the arena, the crowd chanted the name of its enforcer, BOOOOOOG, a man already deep into a death spiral of concussions and painkillers. The camera that was entrusted to me dangled safely from my neck. I still had 20 pictures to take before I got paid.
I resolved to never work another Rangers game.
You can check out the full article here. And you can follow The Classical here.
I assume that most people who read this site are familiar with The Guardian. Anyone old enough to have protested through the Bush years has a respect for The Guardian as an, um, “guardian” of journalistic integrity and the Democratic impulse, standing in opposition to the crypto-fascist corporate media outlets of America. And, of course, in the days of The Clear Skies Initiative and Abu Ghraib, focusing on the heroics was necessary. But something was overlooked, at least by American audiences — or at least by me: humor.
John Crace is a writer most likely unknown to American audiences. He’s written a few nonfiction books and been on British television debating various things, but all that is less important than his work on the Guardian podcast Digested Reads. The premise is this: Crace takes books, both new releases and classics, and in approximately five minutes regurgitates the essence of the book in its own language, and by its own logic. It’s kind of an expressionist critique of writing that less holds the author’s flaws up to a mirror than creates a grotesque sock puppet caricature of the work; mimicking the tone while throwing the voice. Here’s an example of his skewering of Blood Meridian:
Dying of thirst in the terra damnata, they were taken prisoner in Chihuauha and walked the gauntlet of flung offal. Let us go, said Glanton, and well kill you injuns and get Gomez. They drank mescal, stove in the skull of a crippled woman, said nigger a lot and left town. Nine days out they got ambushed by Apaches. The Judge laughed, plucking the arrows from his side before pulping the Indians against the rocks.
Whats he the Judge of? asked the kid.
Hes the Judge of American history, the expriest replied. The blood depravity and lawlessness that’s been airbrushed by the victors.
So this is like a XXX-rated Spaghetti Western?
Clint Eastwood is a Disney shithead.
And here’s his critique of Alain DeBottom’s Religion for Atheists:
One of the losses modern society feels most keenly is that of a sense of community. Religions may have evolved out of a need to enforce social cohesion, but one cannot deny the sense of belonging that going to church confers on the participants. In our atavistic, rationalist world we have lost these connections. While we may surrender up to half our income in taxation, we have no sense of how that money is being spent. How much better it would be if the less fortunate members of the polity were able to congregate in one place to say thank you to me in person while the Monteverdi Choir sings Mozart’s Mass in C Minor.
And lastly, here’s a bit from his take on Freedom:
2004. Joey had a great deal on his mind. He was struggling to believe Connie – a woman so passive she had locked herself in a cupboard at his request for five years – was a three-dimensional character, and only a session of anal sex half-convinced him otherwise. “Is this part of the GAN deal?” she had asked. “No” he had replied. “It’s just this year’s must-have transgression in serious fiction.”
It’s mostly lighthearted and diversionary; whimsically critical. (As I said, it’s British.) And it comes in either text or podcast form, to suit your tastes. Enjoy.
If Kelly Clarkson’s endorsement of Ron Paul is any predictor — and what anecdote isn’t in an election year — Dave Mustaine’s accidental endorsement of Rick Santorum should result in a 400% spike in Megadeth’s record sales. The real boon, though, falls to Santorum, who can now expect a strong turnout in the upcoming primaries from the coveted 13-17 year old white male voter demographic. But is it fair to call Santorum heavy metal’s candidate based on the strength of this high-profile endorsement alone?
Before he suspended his campaign in January, Jon Huntsman was widely considered to be the hardest man in the race. His encyclopedic knowledge of prog legend Captain Beefheart was considered “cool,” as was the fact that he dropped out of high school to play keys in a band called Wizard. What really set Huntsman apart, though, was his record as Governor. In 2007, he attended a Dream Theater concert in Salt Lake City and found it so awesome that he issued a proclamation declaring July 30th “Dream Theater Day” in Utah. So metal.
Has Santorum really taken up this mantle? A look beneath the surface reveals a candidate with little interest in catering to the metal voting bloc. While Mustaine’s homophobia, born again Christianity, and views on foreign policy may mesh well with the Santorum camp, he and Santorum’s shared hatred of Satan worship may alienate them from many metal fans. Perhaps more damning is Santorum’s negative view of promiscuous sexuality, a pastime many metal heads purportedly enjoy. And while the candidate may have an impressive collection of vests, he is yet to be seen in one of leather, worn open over his bare, glistening chest.
So who can rockers look to become the next Master of Reality, I mean President of the United States?
Ron Paul. While the Mustaine endorsement may have briefly put Santorum in the limelight, Paul has quietly been building up an impressive core of endorsers. This group includes Michale Graves of the Misfits, Aaron Lewis of nü-metal group Staind, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, and Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth, all of whom are considered to be much cooler than Mustaine, who is really kind of a wuss if you think about it. Paul can count on his most metal quality — his I-don’t-give-a-f*k Libertarianism — to win him more supporters in the future. However, it remains to be seen whether or not we will see more anointments from metal’s gods over the coming weeks, as many of them don’t care about politics or are British.
However things go in the next few weeks, I’ll be taking a road trip down to Tampa this August to work on my new documentary film, Republican National Convention Parking Lot.
The Internet is abuzz about basketball sensation Jeremy Lin. Basketball fans love him so much, they’ve inserted his name into words, creating such wonderful phrases as “Linsanity” and “Linspiration.” They’ve sought out as much information as possible about this phenomenon, from the couch he slept on, to his college GPA (3.1 in this, the era of grade inflation? Really?) People are even obsessing over his pre-game ritual:
Most outlets have incorrectly identified the text Lin and Fields (<3 <3 LANDRY!) “read” as the Bible, but a well-placed source in the New York Knicks organization (definitely, defintely not Renaldo Balkman) recently informed us that this is not the case. Balkman, I mean, er, a source, has brought it to our attention that the book in question is actually David Foster Wallace’s modern masterpiece, Infinite Jest.
Or should we say, #LINFINITEJEST. Some more books that can be found on Jeremy’s shelf:
- Because of Lin-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo
- The Pale Ling by David Foster Wallace
- The Lins of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
- BLindness by Jose Saramago
- Midnight’s ChildLin by Salman Rushide
- Rabbit, Lin by John Updike
- To The Linhouse by Virginia Woolf
- The Heart is a Linly Hunter by Carson McCullers
- Linsburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
- Studs Linigan by James T. Farrell
- The Fortress of SoLintude by Jonathan Lethem
- The Crying of Lin 49 by Thomas Pynchon
- 266Lin by Roberto Bolano
- Lin II by Don DeLillo
- The Age of Linnocence by Edith Wharton
- The Amazing Adventures of KavaLin and Clay by Michael Chabon
- Moby-Lin by Herman Melville
- The Brief Wondrous Lin of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
- Black Swan Lin by David Mitchell
- Super Sad True Lin Story by Gary Shteyngart
- Play It As It Lins by Joan Didion
- As I Lin Dying by William Faulkner
- DeLinverance by James Dickey
- Portnoy’s CompLint by Philip Roth
- The Maltese FalcLin by Dashiell Hammett
- Lord Lin by Joseph Conrad
- We The Lining by Ayn Rand
- Stranger in a Strange Lin by Robert HeinLin
- Linnn Lin Linn by Tao Lin
- A Good Lin Is Hard To Find by FLinnery O’Connor
- The Lins They Carried by Tim O’Brien
- Gone With The Lin by Margaret Mitchell
- The French Lintenants Woman by John Fowles
- AbsaLin, AbsaLin! by William Faulkner
In this month’s installment of Reading a Book by its Cover, we’ve found ourselves coated in glitter as a result of our recent immersion in Warhol-era memoirs. If you’d like to join us, feel free to light a joint, take a seat next to Paul America, and prepare to get dressed.
“Robert approached dressing like living art. He would roll a small joint, have a smoke, and look at his few pieces of clothing while contemplating his accessories. He saved pot for socializing, which made him less nervous but abstracted his sense of time. Waiting as Robert decided on the right number of keys to hang on his belt loop was humorously maddening.” — Just Kids
“She would try on twenty-five different outfits, but every gesture was very slow. Do you remember how she moved? Like a Japanese Noh Dancer–very dreamlike and slow. Lighting twenty cigarettes and putting them down.” — Edie: An American Biography
“”Late that year, 1962, back in New York, Dali bursts into my bedroom at the St. Regis, walks to the window, opens the drapery to let the sun flood in, and says ‘Get ready. We are having lunch at the Pavillon with two nobel prize winners, Crick and Watson. They know all the secrets of DNA. Be ready in 15 minutes.’ Swiftly Dali draws a double helix on my wall with a magic marker and signs it.” — Famous for Fifteen Minutes: My Years with Andy Warhol
Thanks to Kelly Schmader for forever being a superstar.
Cheryl Strayed! Cheryl Strayed! It’s Cheryl Strayed! Dear Sugar has revealed her real-world identity, and sweet peas around the world are beside themselves. If you’re a Dear Sugar reader and you’re unfamiliar with Strayed’s work, we’ve put together a few links to help you play catch-up:
-An interview with The New Yorker about writing Dear Sugar.
-A beautiful essay she wrote a while back for The Sun.
-An excerpt from her novel, Torch.
-A place to preorder a copy of her upcoming memoir, Wild.
-If you are or will be in New York toward the end of March, a reading for you to attend.
Hooray for unveilings! As someone who has had an inkling about the Cheryl Strayed/Dear Sugar connection for a while, I can say that knowing who she is only adds to the Dear Sugar experience. Happy coming out, Sugar!
Being in-between novels is like being in-between serious relationships (happy “Candy-Up-For-Grabs-In The-Office-Kitchen Day!” It comes around every February 15). It’s also like being in-between new albums to wear out or being in-between apartments — which is one way to describe my current state of being (another way to describe it would be: my hot water heater is out again and I’m still rocking the blow-out I got on Sunday morning). Borderlands are fun as narrative metaphors, but they are less fun to live in.
I used to have three friends living in San Francisco, so for a while, I would travel there frequently from LA. Most of the time I flew; once, I drove. It was an eight-hour trip. I left on a Friday afternoon and when I was around halfway, I needed to stop for gas. So, I programmed my GPS to find the nearest gas station and followed the “Burgundy Virtual Road” off the highway.
Unfortunately, I’m not the kind of person that updates the maps on my GPS. In fact, I wouldn’t know how to do it if I tried.
I was in rural California. Following the prescribed path, I immediately turned onto an unpaved road lined with unlit trees. Luckily, it was farm-rural; I’m from the Midwest, I recognize farm-rural. Leaving Los Angeles, there is a possibility you will hit desert-rural (Chicagoans call our rural “BumbleFuck” or “Po’ Dunk”, Los Angelinos call theirs “Butt Fuck Egypt”). I’m not sure I would’ve been able to handle desert-rural. Luckily, since I was heading north of LA rather than East, I had found myself in some kind of farmland, probably with fruit trees (I would’ve been even more comfortable if it had been grain or sod).
I was absolutely in the beginning of a horror movie.
It was becoming less and less likely that I would find a gas station at the end of this path the GPS had created for me with incomplete map information. I was probably driving through someone’s private farm property. I passed rows and rows of unlit trees and of course when I reached the end of the path, there was nothing there.
I don’t make the Los Angeles-San Francisco trip as often anymore. Two of my San Fran friends moved away, and one started studying in earnest for her Masters exams, which means she’s living more inside her head than in any particular location.
Our favorite advice columnist in all of history, Dear Sugar from the Rumpus, will unveil her real world identity TONIGHT. We’re taking guesses as to who she’ll turn out to be. Our top choices so far:
Ann M. Martin
Francesca Lia Block
Charlotte Brönte’s Ghost
Frankie “Bonus” Jonas
A Reptilian Humanoid
Jonathan Safran Foer
Franklin “One Moer Foer” Foer
Kid from Kid ‘n’ Play
A. M. Homes
…who do you think Sugar is? [Update: Sugar's reveal!]
When people think about meaningless deaths in the First World War, they tend to think of one of two things: either fairly abstract numbers with a lot of zeroes in them, like death was buying people wholesale or something, or Wilfred Owen. Speaking for myself, at least, I tend not to think very often about all the lost possibility and talent on “the other side.” But the losses were there and felt, perhaps, even more profoundly by the conquered.
And everyone knows that the First World War set the stage for the Second. You probably know all about the horrible terms set at Versailles. You may even know the socio-political details of Sonderweg and the history of post-war German isolationism. But people are rarely able, if ever, to name an individual German loss in the war. Allow me to change that by introducing you to Albert Weisgerber.
Weisgerber became a printer’s apprentice in Frankfurt in 1894, but in the same year switched his focus to the production of “high” art in Munich. He studied at the Akademie der Bildenen Künste, along with fellow students Paul Klee, Kandinsky, and Willi Geiger. He fell under the influence of Impressionism. He visited Paris a few times and started painting cafes in a style mysterious and strange, like a combination of Toulouse-Lautrec and Greco.
But his first big break didn’t come until 1906, when studios in Frankfurt and Munich started buying his paintings. Money and fame, even in modest amounts, didn’t stunt his growth. He visited Florence and studied Italian Primitive Art. In 1911, he had his first big one-man shows in Dresden and Munich.
He didn’t stop growing. His style moved from an incredibly colorful palette and the depiction of social scenes, to a religious focus, darker and with more depth. His work got more symbolic and open-ended. He began asking more questions with his work, rather than piggybacking on a generally popular (at least within his social circle) style. And then in August of 1914 he was drafted into the army.
And then in 1915 he was dead.
I think my favorite work of Weisgerber’s are his illustrations of Grimm’s fairytales. You can download the entire book here, at Open Library. Or, for a real bit of fun, click here, and then on the upper right hand-corner where it says “Read this book aloud.”
some in fear, learning love of slaughter;
Died some, pro patria,
non “dulce” non “et decor” . . .
- Ezra Pound, “Hugh Selwyn Mauberly”
Many English majors take some kind of literature survey course, and I would guess that no survey course is the same. Some courses cover all of literary history, some cover only one period; some cover British literature, some cover American and world literature. My only survey course in college was on nineteenth-century British literature. How do professors choose what authors and works to include in their courses? One would assume they select from the canon, but how do they navigate the amorphous monster that is the literary canon?
Let me offer one take on the canon that is not my own: that of the Educational Testing Service (better known as ETS, or those b-i-t-c-h-es who design standardized tests like the GRE and its Subject Tests).
The scene: in preparation for applying to graduate school, I’ve spent the past five months studying for the GRE Subject Test in Literature, a beast of a test that supposedly measures how successful one will be as an English PhD candidate according to how much of the canon (according-to-ETS) one has read (and remembered).
My journey through the canon has been an interesting, eye-opening, and mostly enjoyable experience; enjoyable in part because I’ve had a friend to study with — there’s been someone to tolerate my reading Ben Johnson aloud in an affected British accent and to just plain nerd-out with over the intricacies of Donne and the hilarities of Dryden.
But there’s no way we could cover the entire canon in seven months, so how did we decide what to read? We took a two-pronged approach. Firstly, The Princeton Review book for the Literature GRE has a system of “Lists” — A, B, and C — that denote some of the most important works (which works are most likely to appear on the test) that have high “points-to-pages” ratios. These works do not take much time to read and are almost guaranteed to appear on the test — thus, we could earn multiple points without having read too many pages. Our second prong comes from an all-inclusive spreadsheet that my friend had made before she took the test. This spreadsheet measures how likely a work is to appear on the test by — shocker — how many times it has actually appeared on the test, using a five-star, color-coded system. Here’s a sample of the chart:
||# of Tests
||The Divine Comedy (especially Inferno)
||The Canterbury Tales
||The Waste Land
||“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”
You get the idea.
Our journey began with a review of the Greeks — Homer, Sophocles, Plato — and Beowulf. As someone who specialized in nineteenth-century British literature, I had never actually read Beowulf, nor many other pre-Elizabethan works like those by Chaucer, Malory, and Langland (I did read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in 9th grade.) I was wary of this early literature because I had heard it was hard to read and often confusing. Not so! I discovered that Beowulf is totally awesome, and though Chaucer is tough, he’s also quite funny. Gaping holes in my literary education began to be filled in.
I’ve discovered gems that I might never have read if it hadn’t been for this silly test (and I’ve reaffirmed some previously-designated beliefs — I still do not enjoy Thomas Hardy). Paradise Lost is amazing — Milton’s prose is gorgeous, and though I growled at its sexism, the reading experience was worth it. And John Dryden was somewhat of a genius — Mac Flecknoe is a scathing and comic criticism of his contemporaries and society, and All for Love rewrites Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra to adhere to the Aristotelian unities of time, place, and action. And yet before studying for this test I had never heard of Dryden. I wonder what happened that he seems to have been left out of the canon? Some critics make the argument that the more prolific, yet just as great writers get pushed out of the canon by writers who wrote one or two memorable works. This doesn’t seem fair to me — Dryden produced a lot of important works in the seventeenth century, and his stuff is good. Why has he fallen into obscurity while poets like Robert Herrick and his ridiculous “Julia poems” remain?
Passing chronologically through the canon also allows for literary trend-watching — who knew dream visions were such a popular point-of-entry to works in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? I forgot how young the novel is until I found myself wading through poem and play after poem and play up until the eighteenth century — “when will we get to some prose?” — my brain wailed.
Despite all the questions of canon formation — who decides what goes where and how and why — and despite the fact that I have done all of this reading to study for a silly test, this epically extended study session has ultimately been a wonderful journey in self-education. Whether or not I ace the GRE Subject Test in Literature in April, in the past five months I have gained an invaluable amount of literary knowledge and perspective on the canon (whatever it may be).