August 31, 2024

Who's Next?

Wow. Does Rep. Ed Schrock (R-Virginia) sound hot or what? I love TANNED guys with buff bods who will go down on me. And when they're co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, well, that's so much hotter.

see also:
"Va-02: GOoPer Shrock resigns" at Daily Kos.
Schrock faces accusations: CANCELS CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN at blogactive.
MegaMates Dating
"U.S. Rep. Schrock drops re-election bid over 'allegations'"

Posted by jason at 10:08 PM | Comments (2)

August 23, 2024

Jolly Merde of a Waning Hangover as the Boys Head on to Boston


Roy and his lovely boyf Jules have come and gone, leaving me to wonder if in fact I have been graced by the unwavering lilt of a Midlands accent or if the entire weekend was merely a dream conjured like a genii from a bottle of Veuve.

No, they were here, because they left behind a dozen curly wurly candy bars and some strange minty shower gel (unintentional, that). Also, several now-empty bottles of Veuve.

I met Roy at a writer's group in London, when I was a lonely American trying to find work and suffering the damp winter, writing a shitty novel among fleas or hanging on to the bar at The Champion. I soon gave up my aimless barfly Friday nights in favor of Peter's dinner parties, where Roy and I often held up both ends of the dining room table. Many a night we'd put our heads together and talk poetry over champagne or coffees, a much-needed commiseration. An amazing poet, a vault for a mind, easily leaping between mathematical concepts and anecdotes about Wittgenstein, between fine food and greasy-spoon patty melts. It had been almost two years since he had last been to Minneapolis, and over six months since I had last been in London to see him, so when he included me on his itinerary for the trip around the states he was arranging with Jules, I was flattered.


The few days they spent here went quickly, even quicker given the booze we imbided. My lips are cracked and chapped from the weekend's dehydration. A little happy hour cocktail party I arranged early on Saturday evening turned into a debauched marathon of bisexual undertones, migraines, histrionic banter with the ex, true confessions, hot showers, sicking up, a mugging, and a long chat over cheese. During the days we managed nice walks in weather that suggests summer has finally arrived, and some superb meals out.

I love it when I chat with Roy because his simple British maxims, spoken in his accent (which will always carry airs of authority for me) cut through my second-guessing bullshitting American neuroses, at least for a time. It all boils down to Roy simply saying, "Well, you just have to get on writing..." As always, he's left behind a syllabus of sorts for me to explore until we meet again.

God I want to be in London again.

Posted by jason at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2024

The Dangers of Publishing Part I


Tis the season in publishing when our authors start returning from whatever villa in Italy they've been studying paintings at and start freaking out. Not the most stable of creatures, academics can literally go insane when their books (i.e. their children, their life's passion, their life's work), creep nearer and nearer to the point of publication. They excel at the grammar of passive-agressive behaviour, and their emails and phone calls to me can go from condescending coddling to rigid demands within the space of a few phrases. They become, simultaneously, experts at marketing and cover design, but incapable of writing their acknowledgements, chasing up a missing permission, or reviewing their copyediting on time.

As a result, I've developed a special editorial assistant power, a sixth sense for freak-out authors. I know when they call. I can detect a certain charge, an extra urgency, to the telephone ring. An email will surely follow. For fun, I'll add an auto reply to my email: "I am currently on sabbatical, studying the papyrus manuals of ancient Egyptian copyeditors. For the number of the nearest Kinko's..." The suspense over who in the office will win the bet and accompanying pool for craziest author becomes almost unbearable.

This year, the collective state of academics has deteriorated to such an extent I felt it was necessary to adopt a color-coded chart of the various stages of an author's freak-out, so that myself and the folks down in Production can better choreograph our response. Call it information-sharing, if you will. We've got a few authors who are pushing orange, so remain calm. Be vigilant, but try to go about your daily routines. Stay away from windows, stock up on booze and aspirin. And should they reach the red stage, turn off your phone and join me at Saks.

Posted by jason at 01:14 PM | Comments (2)

August 02, 2024

I Hate 1984

Has anyone else found this week's City Pages collection of vignettes, "I Hate 1984", a little regressive? In a series of brief essays, the usual suspects show us how cool they've realized they were back in 1984 by dint of their musical tastes.

From Peter Scholtes' "1984: An Introduction" to Brad Zellar's "The Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime" to Chris Strouth's "How Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel Almost Saved Me from Poseurdom", the recurrent joke seems to be, look at me, I was a total geek, a loser, lost...but because of my musical tastes, hindsight has vindicated me.

In these pieces, the narrator gradually vanishes (or fails to emerge at all), and instead the particular bands that they happened to find (or that happened to find them), and the styles of hair they haltingly adopted, take center stage. All we have as points of reference are embarrassing circa-1984 class pics which only underline the irony for us of how cool they've become. For example, in 1984 we learn that the fourteen year old Scholtes was a "punk rocker" who got shit about his hair on the playground. But his later success was prefigured--his record reviews were published in the high school newspaper by a woman who went on to be editor of The Progressive, natch. Zellar couldn't honestly tell you what the hell he was doing in 1984--"I surely had some sort of shit job"--but he could damn well tell you the best albums of that year. At the top of the list would be the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime, which had some sort of profound effect on him. Vague on the details of the album's influence, all we know is that it still makes him profoundly happy. But what should help to give shape to an identity instead trumps that identity (or lack thereof). The Minutemen stood for something, but we don't know what. It helped make 1984 "a good year" for Zellar, but we don't know why. Perhaps he doesn't either. Something profound happened--the album is such an inextricable part of him that upon finding out he had forgotten the album on a road trip out west, Zellar detoured for a day in a frantic search of Rapid City's record stores for the album and, upon being thwarted there, had a friend overnight the album to his next stop in Montana. You rarely hear of such obsessive behavior outside of addiction counseling.

The album takes precedence in several of these essays, at the expense of making everything else appear vague. Perhaps that's the goal. What is a 'tribute piece' but an exercise in nostalgia that uncomplicates the past into a a series of smoothly saleable markers. They stand in for the past. And by dropping on to the page the Replacement's Let It Be, the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime, Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade, as well as ironic trimmings like Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Chaka Khan, and Purple Rain, we're referred to these albums and their cultural connotations in place of anything authentic or specific about the narrator. We end up knowing nothing about him or why these albums meant so much to him in particular. All we come away with is proof that he was cool. Or rather, he was a nerd until history made him cool.

This is the leitmotif of a generation deeply anxious of their place in the world and uncertain of the future. Rather than confront these anxieties, they retreat into the immemorial realm of the album. Thus, Zellar can listen to Double Nickels over and over again and it sounds exactly the same. It brings back the exact same feelings and reminds him again and again "that nothing has been lost, that I'll always be in some essential way the same guy..." Whoever that is. It is this essential timlessness to an album (it will always sound the same, so long as you don't use the CD as a coaster, but even if you do you can always go out and buy another exactly like the first in every way) that makes it so attractive as a nostalgic device. Ironic then that Zellar should try to qualify his love for the album by asserting that there's "no ache of nostalgia" associated with it.

These are the narratives of wannabes and poseurs who, seemingly through the effortless pull of destiny, are saved by particular albums that, through a conflux of the universe, cross their paths at the perfect moment. We know that Foetus almost saved Chris Strouth from poseurdom, but what was he posing as? What was the alternative? What authenticity did the album impart on him? We'll never know--such answers are beyond our grasp. All we have access to are the reflections on the walls of the cave-- and very specific reflections at that.

These pieces do seem to be conscious of their own retrogressive politics. You can't tell the story of how The Replacements replaced your unrequited love for a girl without realizing the irony of your construction. By returning to an adolescence marked by growing pains, emerging sexuality, bad hair, alienation, and acne (at best!), and replacing all this with albums and bands that have since been validated by time, we can rewrite our own histories and erase all the baggage that we might still be carrying. Even in the loving way in which some contributor's express their hatred of 1984 betrays a kind of nostalgia that's always to be wallowed in. After all, these critics (as they would be pleased to have you call them) are setting forth their credentials. These are their resumes--by acknowledging their unself-consciously cool youth, they are imbuing themselves and their futures with authority. For a young unaware child to stumble across Let It Be as if it were can't manufacture this kind of cred.

Only albums could figure in such an anti-intellectual pursuit. Books, which as entities enjoy with albums the same sort of permanence, somehow never stay the same. Books to these writers only start to make sense when they're adults, years after they first read them, or at worst remain just plain confusing and hard.

see also:
"I Hate 1984: The Box Set" via City Pages>.
"The Intellectual Situation" at n+1.

Posted by jason at 11:22 PM | Comments (4)

August 01, 2024

Call Me Swann

These days, Minneapolis is my own personal Musee D'Orsay, and only gradually have the statues started to move again. This is in large part thanks to Marc, who has returned to Minneapolis just in time for us to be there for each other. Also, a brunch at the Band Box Diner with my own personal Odette, a series of band-aids ripped off quickly, taking a bit of hair with them but leaving behind the raised scabs that will come off in the shower and reveal a pretty cool tattoo. I can say to myself, "there was a time when Odette loved me more than any other time," and though I know it must be true, I cannot find that moment; it has not been recorded; it is not to be found in any of the drawers in any of the rooms and besides I will never contrive myself to look. Knowing it is somewhere means more to me than finding it; should I locate it, perhaps in the form of a pressed chrysanthemum, I'd no doubt find the feeling and the moment in which it is wrapped, like a speck in a raindrop, somewhat diminished, sapped of its color, turning to powder. And staring at Odette across the table over a shared pancake, I tried to see again the face, the face, but the particular veil through which I had come to know it has gone. It is another face now, and will soon belong to someone else. The particular magic with which it once entranced me has gone.

Posted by jason at 11:20 AM | Comments (1)