Friday, December 14, 2001

Advice to the Literary Mafia

  • Pack your heat in the back. It fits into the small of your back and doesn't show as easily as under the pit or down front (Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?).

  • Easy on the gelato: you gotta fit behind your desk to write there.

  • Don't EVER ask about what happened to Uncle Louie. There was a disagreement about the objective correlative. That's all you need to know.

  • IBM, no. Olivetti, yes.

  • Sanka, no. Espresso, duh.

  • When dining out, get a seat in the back, and always, always sit with your back to the wall.

  • Anyone caught reading Nicholas Sparks is outta the family. Period.

  • Similarly, the last person who gave the Don a Tom Clancy book for Christmas woke up with a horse's head in his bed. Nuff said.

  • When reading Pound, always go with a red.

  • Finally, avoid the Gambinos. They'll only try to strong-arm you into "admitting" that Italo Calvino was the twentieth century's greatest writer.

  • Ciao.

    Friday, December 07, 2001

    On December 6th, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft uttered the following inanity:

    "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists."

    I responded to the New York Times article with the following letter:

    Dear Editor:

    Attorney General Ashcroft accuses his critics of scaring “peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty,” adding that their “tactics only aid terrorists."

    So, it’s the old “If ain’t for us, you’re against us” sophistry again. Patriotism, we’re intended to believe, doesn’t allow scrutiny of government action in times of war.

    As Mr. Ashcroft well knows: a free society encourages dissent. Vulgar generalizations like his not only oversimplify the concept of patriotism, they’re also no more than ad hominem attacks—hardly the tactic of anyone truly interested in winning adherents to his cause. Let’s hear some response to criticism, Sir, not pathetic attempts to shame your critics into submission.

    It's this breezy anti-intellectualism at the highest levels of our government that frightens me.

    Robert S.
    Charlotte, NC

    Would love to see that published, but I suspect the Times was flooded with similar angry letters.

    Monday, December 03, 2001

    I confess, I'm an Edward Hopper fan. Guess he suits my moody post-existentialist worldview. Someone once told me my writing read like an Edward Hopper painting and I decided to be flattered. Weird, huh? I knew what they meant. I only hope I can truly emulate the compliment and become the Edward Hopper of letters one day.

    New York Movie, 1939

    Saturday, November 17, 2001

    Benetton caused quite stink (again) earlier this year when they used genuine death row inmates in an advertising campaign. They said they wanted to put a human face on these inmates, hoping, no doubt to provoke people to rethink the death penalty. Well, four Missouri families whose relatives were killed by the inmates were outraged by the campaign. Benetton eventually apologized and donated $US50,000 to the Missouri Crime Victims' Compensation Fund. Part of me has always admired Benetton for their guerilla tactics (especially their colorful, subversive billboards), though I understand they pressed their luck a little here.

    Anyway, I'm reminded of this because I stumbled across a site, Prisoners of Age, which features an usual exhibit: photographs by Rod Levine of aged and infirm inmates at perhaps the world's most famous prison. Some of these post-retirement age men are still in jail for crimes like drug trafficking. Others, well, maybe they needn't start hunting for an apartment just yet.

    If I'm not careful, this could become another hackneyed, stultifying diary of an unemployed dotcomer. A victim of the dotbomb revolution. I'll try to avoid that.

    I used to work for iXL (which may mean something to those in the Web world, but little to anyone else). iXL merged with Scient recently. Our office closed back in early July and I still haven't found work. Until a couple of weeks ago many of my friends were outta work, too. A few have since gotten jobs. I have friends who've been laid off three times in the last year or so. I feel lucky: I just fell prey to a single office closing.

    On another subject, this picture really gripped me. It's an Afghani woman the day after the Northern Alliance took over Kabul. You can see the fear in her face. I imagine she fears the possible consequences of her being photographed with her face uncovered. What a sad and beautiful thing.

    To bed then.


    Thursday, November 15, 2001

    Well, today I join the rest of the blathering bloggers. Know now that my blog will consist of infrequent dispatches. I will make no resolutions to post every day or even "regularly." I shall remain resolutely irregular. I guess I can make one resolution: I will not become a compulsive blogger. I have enough compulsive habits as it is, and I can't afford to be managing another. I mean, I 've got this multi-tasking thing down pretty well, but why throw something else into the mix. Know wot I mean?

    Here's a quote from one of me favorite writers to get things rolling:
    But we mustn't go too far back, must we, we mustn't go too far back in anybody's life. Particularly when they're poor. Because if we do, if we go too far back--and this would be a journey made in a terrible bus, with terrible smells and terrible noises, with terrible waits and terrible jolts, a journey made in terrible weather for terrible reasons and for terrible purposes, in terrible cold or terrible heat, with terrible stops for terrible snacks, down terrible roads to a terrible room--then nobody is to blame for anything and nothing matters, and everything is allowed.

    Martin Amis, London Fields

    Check out the Martin Amis Web, Professor James Diedrick's comprehensive site devoted to Amis.

    Enough already.