Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Body: Happy Halloween.

Warning, spoiler: The Monk by Matthew Lewis, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.

There is no point to this post. It is for your pleasure. :)

According to Wikipedia, "the slasher film (sometimes referred to as bodycount films and dead teenager movies) is a sub-genre of horror film typically involving a psychopathic killer (often wearing a mask) who stalks and graphically murders a series of victims in a random, unprovoked fashion, killing many within a single day. The victims are usually photogenic teenagers or young adults who are away from mainstream civilization or far away from help and often involved in sexual activities or illegal-drug use or both. These films typically begin with the murder of a young woman and typically end with a lone female survivor who manages to subdue the killer, only to discover that the problem has not been completely solved." This definition is perhaps over-specific, but understood a little more broadly, slashers evoke a response by the explicitness of affliction and an emphasis on its bodily nature.

As a genre, slashers supposedly contrast with thrillers, which rely on suspense about what is going to happen instead of simply when, psychological terror over physical atrocity, and defers the most gruesome effects to the imagination. Thrillers are often seen to require more craft on the part of artists and patience on the part of audiences, and are more highly regarded by mainstream critics.

But I have long thought that each genre has something different to offer. By trading in one subtlety, the slasher can develop another. They are, by the very reason of their visceral, blatant effect, more adaptable to allegory and stylization than more psychologically dependent work. Alfred Hichcock made masterfully crafted and subtle thrillers, and George Romero has made crafted and masterfully subtle slashers.

Today, of course, these terms are thrown around mostly with regard to films, but the first precedent, in terms of these genre and many of their conventions, may actually be literary. Ann Radcliffe wrote novels during the 1790s, including The Mysteries of Udolpho, and characters must reconcile the mysteries and connections of their past in a vast and threatening setting. Isolation and uncertainty are the impetus for fear, and her books typically involve little or no bloodshed.

Her chief rival, Matthew Lewis, was mostly known for one book, The Monk which, while completely immersed in the biases and prejudices of its day, also provided a very forceful and striking study of the virgin/whore mythology.

Here's an excerpt from each. See if you can tell who is who.

To withdraw her thoughts, however, from the subject of her misfortunes, she attempted to read, but her attention wandered from the page, and, at length, she threw aside the book, and determined to explore the adjoining chambers of the castle. Her imagination was pleased with the view of ancient grandeur, and an emotion of melancholy awe awakened all its powers, as she walked through rooms, obscure and desolate, where no footsteps had passed probably for many years, and remembered the strange history of the former possessor of the edifice. This brought to her recollection the veiled picture, which had attracted her curiosity, on the preceding night, and she resolved to examine it. As she passed through the chambers, that led to this, she found herself somewhat agitated; its connection with the late lady of the castle, and the conversation of Annette, together with the circumstance of the veil, throwing a mystery over the subject, that excited a faint degree of terror. But a terror of this nature, as it occupies and expands the mind, and elevates it to high expectation, is purely sublime, and leads us, by a kind of fascination, to seek even the object, from which we appear to shrink.

Emily passed on with faltering steps, and having paused a moment at the door, before she attempted to open it, she then hastily entered the chamber, and went towards the picture, which appeared to be enclosed in a frame of uncommon size, that hung in a dark part of the room. She paused again, and then, with a timid hand, lifted the veil; but instantly let it fall--perceiving that what it had concealed was no picture, and, before she could leave the chamber, she dropped senseless on the floor.

'The fatal night arrived. The Baron slept in the arms of his perfidious Mistress, when the Castle-Bell struck 'One.' Immediately Beatrice drew a dagger from underneath the pillow, and plunged it in her Paramour's heart. The Baron uttered a single dreadful groan, and expired. The Murderess quitted her bed hastily, took a Lamp in one hand, in the other the bloody dagger, and bent her course towards the cavern. The Porter dared not to refuse opening the Gates to one more dreaded in the Castle than its Master. Beatrice reached Lindenberg Hole unopposed, where according to promise She found Otto waiting for her. He received and listened to her narrative with transport: But ere She had time to ask why He came unaccompanied, He convinced her that He wished for no witnesses to their interview. Anxious to conceal his share in the murder, and to free himself from a Woman, whose violent and atrocious character made him tremble with reason for his own safety, He had resolved on the
destruction of his wretched Agent. Rushing upon her suddenly, He wrested the dagger from her hand: He plunged it still reeking with his Brother's blood in her bosom, and put an end to her existence by repeated blows.

'Otto now succeeded to the Barony of Lindenberg. The murder was attributed solely to the fugitive Nun, and no one suspected him to have persuaded her to the action. But though his crime was unpunished by Man, God's justice permitted him not to enjoy in peace his blood-stained honours. Her bones lying still unburied in the Cave, the restless soul of Beatrice continued to inhabit the Castle. Drest in her religious habit in memory of her vows broken to heaven, furnished with the dagger which had drank the blood of her Paramour, and holding the Lamp which had guided her flying steps, every night did She stand before the Bed of Otto. The most dreadful confusion reigned through the Castle; The vaulted chambers resounded with shrieks and groans; And the Spectre, as She ranged along the antique Galleries, uttered an incoherent mixture of prayers and blasphemies. Otto was unable to withstand the shock which He felt at this fearful Vision: Its horror increased with every succeeding appearance: His alarm at length became so insupportable that his heart burst, and one morning He was found in his bed totally deprived of warmth and animation.

Happy Halloween!

Labels: ,

Gravitane 9, 30.

- Last night I read Fillmore and did stuff. I also got my first cell phone ever.


If you are dressing up today, what as? If you aren't, if you did, what as?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Diary: In October 1981.

I don't remember a thing.

Where were you in October 1981?

Labels: , ,

Diary: October, 1991.

I was in 7th grade, and had recently auditioned for, and cast in, the Junior High Drama Club's inaugural production of The Wizard of Oz. I was to play the Wizard. The play quickly became my new social group and, between that and band, I must have asked five or six girls to go out with me. They all said no, and I learned that an assembly-line approach to dating is not efficient. For some weird reason it gives people the impression that their individuality is incidental.

At this time I was also reading Dracula by Bram Stoker, and devouring it. The book filled me with suspense and while it took maybe a week to get through the first section by Jonathan Harker, I read the rest in just a few days. I called it my favorite book, and read my Dungeons and Dragons Ravenloft supplements to get a better sense of Vampires. Ravenloft talked about the "gothic" which was a word I understood in a palpable, visceral sense more than any particulars:

Gothic was a location afflicted with limited light.
Gothic was cool and beautiful and lonely.
Gothic was old; a broken and decrepit relic of something that had once been powerful and inspiring.
Gothic was windy and autumnal.

These were my happenstance impressions based on the sound and shape of the word and whatever associations and imagery I had built in on my own. A few years back, when I reread Longinus' theories on the submlime, I'm amazed how close I got to grasping the "gothic" in '93, just by chance, and knowing nothing about the Romantics or about Germanic tribes and the legacy of the Roman Empire.

At any rate, my 4th hour Skills for Adolescents somehow got into a debate about the existence of God, with me taking on the "nope" view. Mr. Gromak had, of course, spoken in my favor, saying that I thought about things seriously – that I was reading Dracula, "one of the classics," (in fact, he knew this because he had told me to put it away after catching me reading it in class). The other kids took this as proof of some sort of satanic inclination, and harassed me until I started crying and ran from the room (drama queen that I am was). Mr. Gromak chased me out and assured me that I wasn't a satanist, and I remember after school I walked over to my grandmas, throwing walnuts through the holes in the chain-link fence.

I learned my lines.

I made lists of girls I could date and thought about how much I really really wanted a girlfriend.

I pored over Ravenloft and thought about this "gothic" thing.

Where were you in October 1991?

Labels: , ,

Diary: In October, 2003

Actually, for a moment of overlap... at the very end of September I vaccumed and finish cleaning out my house in Flint, met with the landlord and retrieved the deposit, and said goodbye to the 1600 block of Maryland Ave. I renewed my license, spent the night at my parents, and the next day my dad drove be down to Chicago. We ate at Salonica with my girlfriend (they were making their famous egg-lemon soup on this day), and while my sinuses were acting up, it was a nice example of autumn-perfect. They sky was all moldy cheese, and it was raining, chilly but not so much that I could see my breath, and the leaves were already falling and lying on the black pavement at the bottom of clear puddles as bright yellow jags. I said goodbye to my dad and he drove home to Michigan. I left most of my stuff in my girlfriend's dormroom, but I had made plans to couch-surf at my friends' Marina and Kaury's while I was looking for an apartment. Kaury and I stayed up late, drinking coffee and talking about Scavhunt.

This time, at least I had a job... good ol' Advanced Resources had been contacted by the Neurosurgery Department at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation (NMFF) where I had worked the prior Spring. They needed some clerical help and agreed to take me on in that capacity.

I really took a couple risks that October, and they didn't entirely bite me. I wanted to expand my horizons and live somewhere different and new, by which I mean unfamiliar and old. I was set on either Bridgeport, Back of the Yards, or Canaryville, on the South Side or Edgewater Beach, Uptown, and Rogers Park on the North Side. After spending two weeks after work, from seven until ten, stumping from 32nd to 51st, and between the Dan Ryan and Ashland, I nabbed an unclaimed Bridgeport Newspaper and called about a place in McKinley Park, "right across from the Orange Line" at the very generous price of $425. This was important... I'd already turned down a beautiful apartment in an Edgewater Art-Deco masterpiece for $535 because I needed to save up for an engagement ring. The matter was that close in my mind.

The apartment and neighborhood were strange and wonderful and sullen and weird and perfect. 3613 was right across from the Orange Line... if you ever take the train out to Midway from downtown you can see it vividly as you pull out of the 35/Archer station, on the left, a third story window of an 1880s-ish tenement rising right out of an automotive body shop. The body shop owner, a cheerful and reasonable man named Gerald (probably my favorite landlord ever) showed me the studio, tiny but just rehabbed. I looked out over Archer Ave., and had a fine view of a the Orange Line and heavy freight tracks, as well as the Sears Tower and Aon building. My only complaint was the hard water, which with time left a gritty film over the walls of the shower. I filled out the application, and it was accepted...

The neighborhood was just as unusual and vivid as the apartment. On the south and a bit to the east it faced the massive remnants of the Union Stockyards, but these were visually removed by the Central Manufacturing Center, which was originally the nation's first industrial park in 1905. This sat on Pershing Road. Just north, oddly enough, was McKinley Park, one of the city's sub-flagship parks, a gorgeous half-mile long, quarter-mile deep piece with a lagoon and huge old oaks. The rest of the neighborhood was a mess of triangles and rectangles trying to make sense of the chaos that Archer and the Shipping and Sanitation Canal made of Chicago's grid system. See, in New York people can deal with such things. But it made an institutional wreck, and my favorite example was just a few steps down my own trapezoidal block. Three alleyways cut in making a triangular sub-block, a stomach of sorts, which consisted of one massive vacant lot, and one house. What the house's address was or how they got their mail, I can only guess. Nor do I know what they thought of having their house surrounded by three alleyways. Following Archer southwest led to Brighton Park and Archer Heights. Following northeast led to Bridgeport, Chinatown, and ultimately, the Hilliard Homes.

My apartment was also convenient. I was within two blocks of the park, a Jewel, a taqueria, a Unique, two diners, and the Orange Line. It took me forty-five minutes to get to work (and that was if the Red Line was moving slowly) and forty-five to get to Hyde Park. Unfortunately, nobody at the U of C has heard of McKinley Park, so I had few visitors. In a way, this was nice too. On one of the first nights, when my girlfriend helped me cart my things up from Kaury's and I was unpacking in sweaty stillness (it was in the eighties), Mark S came over to hang out. It was a fun time, but seemed distracted, and then a cat was run over out on Archer and it made the most hideous squalling sound as it died I'd ever heard.

That was the month when I got into baseball. It was under an unfortunate circumstance... the Tigers had just had their worst season ever, almost tying the '62 Mets. The Cubs, on the other hand, had made it to the Division Championship and were favorted to beat to Marlins and move onto the World Series. That was, of course, the year of Steve Bartman and other catastrophes. And while the Cubs have been gradually shuffled to the bottom of my list of likeable teams, they helped to jump start my interest in the game, which grew each year as I saw my team, my Detroit team, doing better and better.

Finally, preparations were underway for the doomed production of Nocturnal Project No. 2, the Cenci. It would really pick up steam in November, and I hung around UT, interviewing and recruiting actors, and reasearching the strange tryptich of Radiohead, Percy's Cenci, and J.M.W. Turner.

On the second-to-last day of the month, I went to Mercedes' Halloween Party, had some sweet vodka drinks, and made up with Sean, with whom I'd been arguing.

On Halloween I rode up to Irving Park for the kick-off to my first NaNoWriMo. I didn't know anybody there, but I did spend some time talking to a topologist from the U of C.

I thought I knew how I'd start my novel: Your tender toes never felt such wind but once.

Where were you in October 2003?

Labels: , ,

Gravitane 8, 30.

- Why is it that day after day, I never get done all, or even a fair chunk, of what I need to get done? I did, however, some reading of Bellairs' House with a Clock in its Walls.

- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - (One day late) Dan S.

Is it as cold as you'd like it today?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Gravitane 7, 30.

- I am all kinds of groggy and out-of-sorts this morning. Anyway, on Friday I spent the day attempting (often unsuccessfully) to devise applications for jobs in Chicago. But that evening I waited for the bus in fine mist and rose it out to Earshot where I saw five new readers and got some excellent advice on adjuncting from Justin. That night, my wife and I went for a ride out on Long Island and got back around two.
The next day we I went to the Enclave to hear Molly Rosen and Dale Peck, and that night we went to visit with Marco, Scott, and Hannah. We ended up driving down to the Verrazano and taking the Beltway to Brighton Beach, where we had a midnight dinner at a very odd seeming diner. An admixture of 50s diner neon, seasonal harvest decor, and, um, Russians. The food was alright, though.
On Sunday we played Twilight 2000 with Marco and Scott, and then I went to a reading at The Creek and The Cave. I probably drank too much, and got embroiled in yet another discussion of the ought-to-be-thoroughly-dead-and-at-rest subject of Cleveland v. Boston. But life goes on.
I also spent a lot of the weekend reading Hosanna's masterpiece, which is appreciatively longer than Hungry Rats.
I went to four readings this week. I think that my head hurts from it.

Shine laminated countertops with white vinegar and water.

What would be some good possible names for a new reading series, either

Friday, October 26, 2007

Gravitane 5, 30.

- I felt crappy all day at work yesterday so I came home and took it easy. Not so much to report.

Do you like wearing hats? If so, what kinds?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Body: Compelling Intangibles.

from my journal:

Last Thurs. 10/18... before Mark and I went to see Unkle I hopped from one Barnes and Noble to the next and it was like the past. That moment of darkness when fall has finally fallen thick and dense and dead. Tonight it is familiar too.
Then I was at work then various B&N, sky shadowed and heavy and I knew that the B&N on Union Square was the place to be (even if it didn't have the books I wanted) because the light as so bright. Elsewhere, light seemed to have a film in front of it making it dusty muffling and sepia toned.

[a sketch of this]
The right Barnes & Noble. The Place to Be.

And now tonight I'm at a coffee shop on A (before I go to Guerrilla Lit - I hope to be terrified). It is very dark dim. Just the tiniest chandelier candle lights above and candles on the tables. I sit alone – far back – black coffee – candle – RWC3: The Church in the Roman Empire – Village Voice – pencil. Spoon. The place is dark wood and orange Christmas light for Halloween. And it's gray and gimy and rain and moldering outside. Christ. I feel besieged like always, but now I feel it most strongly.

[two sketches, one of the room, one of my table and its accoutrements]

There is a tradition in all this. More than I will remember but at the front of it: the Hamlet reading at UT in the 3floor Theater directed by SMH where Judd was the Prince of rotten Denmark. Sometimes (rarely) at St. Thomas the Apostle. Then also at listening to Poison (a bit) by Laurie Anderson. The UT moment was potent. Another potent: Jr. High Drama Club. And the Nintendo Power rendering of FFII (so the beginning of 7th grade. So Drama Club. I do believe that it has to do with October/November... and also lots of umbral dark pitch black dark and beaten wood.

In 7th grade, Auditions at the Gym.

[sketch of this]
black ceiling
blue mesh net ->
volleyball ->
practicing ->
watching ->
auditioning ->
watching ->
black floor

Overheard here: "...and my body is deteriorating..." "no focus" "no focus" "only think, like, that I can initially connect to."

Two related things – strong for NYC. (I think) – have to figure out. It's dense. Hard.

1. from Cricket/ghoststories (clock, etc.)

[sketch of the below]
sewar grate
far overhead

This was the prison in NYC where a demihuman antediluvian was kept and he was so old that his emotions had all eroded and dissolved away. He was also deeply ambivalent about his captivity seemed a cathedral w. the grate cover above working like stained glass.
(Also: Watership Down)

2. from Flint: "The Flushing/Eastside. Bizarre.

3. from NYC? Or Europe? Out of time. More later.

Quick Schematic.

[sketch of this]
Neoclassical official
bldg.s and maybe a brick tenement or two
Medici. Ominous.
Cold/Forbitting town square where the ghosts whistle by
Statue of
Death as a

Darby O'Gill and the Little People.
To Guerrilla Lit.

Labels: , , , , ,

Gravitane 3, 30.

- Yesterday I had quite a day, though I was beat at the end of it. Since so many of us freelancers are leaving in the upcoming weeks (myself included) we all had a pizza party. After work I went to a coffee shop in the Village and did some reading and writing, then went to the Guerrilla Lit reading. When I got home, my wife and I watched some Deadwood, and I worked on my job search and sent out some Gothic Funk emails. I went to bed at about 4:30, and today I'm exhausted.

What's your favorite flavor of tea?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Concept: Where Is That Deep End Of Which You Speak?

I've been having dizzy spells lately.

I hadn't had one in years and then about a month ago, at a reading, during an almost claustrophobically erotic piece by a friend of mine, I suddenly saw stars and felt like I would pass out. I remember being worried that I would collapse and people would think it was in response to the very visceral imagery.

A few days ago, I had another spell, and now I'm having a third.

It sucks, and slightly concerns me.

I've been writing some friends copious emails talking about a wide range of subjects including: academia, literary theory, art, society, blah blah blah. It all comes down to the fact that, while there are a number of outstanding projects, I've spent the last several years developing a battery I can fall back upon. A novel (Hungry Rats), short stories (including The Silurians), and plays (including Canaryville Blues). I'm still working onthese, but part of this battery is that I can work on such writing for a few hours a week and continue to submit it while dividing the rest of my attention between two projects in which I'm investing the greatest hopes for my career. They aren't strangers. They are Urbantasm, a novel I drafted when I was seventeen and eighteen, and the Gothic Funk Nation.

I'm getting ready to swim in these deep waters again, and I'm looking for some advice as I do so. Next week I will write about Urbantasm and follow up with Gothic Funk.

I will be very interested to hear what you think.

Labels: , , ,

Gravitane 2, 30.

- Last night Jess and I hung out with Matt, who's leaving for Maine today. We ordered Chinese food. It was nice, but why am I so tired?

Why are you so tired?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Event: All Walling / Williamson Posts.

Click on Labels "Flint" below.

From August through November, almost all of the posts on this label will deal with the Mayoral Race in Flint.

Labels: , ,

Event: Walling Gets a Wild Endorsement. Williamson Gets Schooled.

I know I've pointed out that Williamson has (debatably) taken the most influential endorsements in this race, but I am quite unexpectedly proven wrong.

The Flint Journal: Blistering radio ad targets mayor.

The ad doesn't pull any punches:

A new advertisement airing on several local radio stations says violent crime doubled in Flint under Williamson's watch, calls into question Williamson's values while noting he is a convicted felon, says two men in his administration have been accused of violence against women and says Williamson has been accused of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

"If we live in one of the most violent cities in America, do you really feel confident knowing that your safety depends on Williamson's judgment?" the ad asks.


The advertisement is titled "King Kong" and it ends with the line "King Kong ain't got **** on me," a reference to the movie "Training Day."

The main character, played by Denzel Washington, a corrupt cop, says the line as a show of his power, but the community turns on him, and he is killed shortly thereafter.

But the ad itself isn't what extraordinary. It's that the ad is paid for by the Michigan Democratic Party.

[State Party Chairman] Brewer said the party "very much" wants challenger Dayne Walling elected.

"Dayne Walling is a Democrat. Don Williamson is not," he said.


"Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words, and by his actions, he's a Republican," Brewer said.

The Michigan branch is one of the most influential in the nation and in a study conducted following the 2004 Presidential Election, Flint voters came in ninth of over 300 cities by percent of votes cast for Kerry. When I said before that the UAW were the most-coveted endorsement that was, of course, because I assumed that the Democratic Party wouldn't be getting involved in an important non-partisan election.

Ultimately, though, it makes sense. Though Don Williamson has occasionally and conditionally professed to be a Democrat, he donated substantially to the Bush campaign and other Republicans, and his pre-political life was filled with unambiguous conservative endorsements and moments of union-bashing. Perhaps even more to the point, the Democratic Party recognizes a hazard to their viability in Williamson's ability to cripple dozens official municipal positions (all held by Democrats) serving one of their most reliable constituencies.

Let's be honest: the ad is nasty. One could lament that, or make the realpolitik observation that at least this means that weapons are drawn without Wallings having to slop around in the blood himself. Voting fairly reliably Democratic myself, however, I'm just glad to see the party flexing some muscle where a, underfunded fledgling candidate deserves and benefits from it. It's certainly a high stakes move for Michigan Democrats and drives the ball pretty hard into Williamson's court.

A tiny caveat: This could backfire. I'm just superstitious enough not to say how right now. But when the election has "cleared the air," I will. For the moment, though, I'm optimistic.

Labels: , ,

Gravitane 1, 30.

- Sorry for the delay in posting today. I've been busy... anyway do you like this month's background? I thought I'd go for something a little bit more intense, it being the season of All Saints, All Souls, plus the sun going to sleep for awhile.

- Yesterday I explored the Financial District. I've been there a few times, but I haven't given much proper attention, and it really is something unlike any other city I've seen. The buildings are on par with Chicago's or Midtown Manhattan's, in terms of height and grandeur, mixture of Art Deco and International Style. But Downtown also has these broken, twisty 17th century streets that make it feel more like a canyon than either of those other districts. There are some good pictures here. It's an easy place to get lost, truly, except I didn't because I'm good with maps. I stood on a manhole cover in the center of Broad and Wall St., the financial pulse of the world. I didn't have to worry about cars hitting me, obviously, since the whole area is cordoned off by iron posts and metal gates... just the occasionaly manic bicyclist. There's definitely a hushed sort of feeling to the place in the evening – Federal Hall and the Morgan Guaranty Building, the Federal Reserve and the New York Stock Exchange. While I don't consider capital to be sacred, it is interesting – and occasionally even compelling – to think that anything can be made sacred with a certain amount of secrious pursuit and contemplation. I walked north along Williams and Pearl Street, and explored the South Street Seaport. Soon, I'll go back and explore south of Wall.

The only other news was that I created a Facebook Group I'm a little too giddy about.

"How can I believe one who tells me that the sun is a red-hot mass and the moon an earth?"
- Tatian

"Actually, just look at what Osam — uh — Barack Obama, said just yesterday. Barack Obama calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. That is the central place, he said. Come join us under one banner."
- Mitt Romney

Who would you rather have as your national leader, Mitt Romney or Tatian?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Diary: In October 1984.

I remember essentially nothing.

I was six years old and in 1st grade at the Valley School, in Gail's class, and finally taking a few steps toward reading. Steps further into arithmetic. I would have been into dinosaurs, and drawing a lot of pictures of them, but I was also increasingly fascinated by space travel. I presumably fought with my little sister a lot. My friends from school were Brian, Scott, Andy, and Aashish, and I went to visit Brian in Flint Township at one point. I was also friends with many of the kids on the block. This might have been the year I went for Halloween as a Dinosaur... in fact, I think that must have been the case, because it was probably the next year that I went as a witch.

I wish I remembered more.

Where were you in October 1984?

Labels: , ,

Galvane 30, 30.

- On Friday I was going to check out the Financial District, but it rained all day, and I ended up sitting in a Barnes & Noble, working on Urbantasm. On Saturday, we went out to Matt's going away party, and got back to Brooklyn to discover that some hooplehead had smashed in the window of our car, even though there was nothing to steal (although the fellow had turned the windshield wipers on, weirdly enough). We hung out with Marco and Scott on Sunday. Otherwise, uneventful.

Red Sox or Rockies?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Galvane 27, 30.

Last night was pretty cool. I went to Mass after work, then hit three Barns & Nobles looking for some AllMusic guides. I ended up having to settle for 1001 Albums You Have to Hear Before You Die. Because sad as it may seem, this is often how I decide what music to listen to. Anyway,I doubt I'll get to all 1001, because that's a lot of music. But the real highlight of the evening was at ten, when I met Mark Bibbins at Webster Hall and we saw Fuck Yeah! and Unkle. Both were pretty cool, but I hadn't been to a big rock concert in a few years, and that was the best part.

What's the last time you were in an arena full of bouncing, shuffling, and/or nodding twenty-somethings?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Concept: Plaigiarism.

Eveready. Super Heavy Duty. Then why do you burn out after a couple hours in a smallish Memorex Discman? Whatever happened to the Walkman? Go for a walk, man. Guarantee: We will repair or replace, at our option, any device damaged by these Eveready(R) batteries, if the device and batteries are sent to: Eveready, PO Box 6056, Cleveland, OH 44101. It wasn't that long ago, just a few years in fact, that people worshiped Cleveland the president. The stars and stripes, they'd been swiped, washed out and wiped and replaced with his own face. But today, once again, people worship the president Cleveland. Some say that until the bugs appeared, it was a really frustrating game for the Indians. Picture me giving a damn. I said "Never. What, the bugs didn’t land on the Indians or fly in their face while they were trying to hit a 98mph fastball?" They swing and hit without a pause. I'm lowering my level. I'll never stoop to yours. Action is of the mind. The mirror of the mind is the face. Its index the eyes. Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum. O puer, qui omnia nomini debes. En el kyrie elysion. Because I didn't see the abyss of vileness. My obesity has swollen, swelled, strained at the seams, and burst out. Because it had gotten too fat. Baiseach! Aughwaighiea!

Labels: ,

Concept: Dirty Magazine Published.

As I mentioned before, "Nogood Boyo" wrote a dirty limerick that was slated to be published in the Dick Pig Review.

Well, the magazine has been published and you can read it here. While NSFW, it is nevertheless the most aesthetically pleasing and challenging dirty literary magazine you'll ever read. Seriously. I'm impressed. This isn't just smut; it's smut infused with the potent tea-bag of Artistic Vision. The illustrations are quite disturbing and beautiful.

Labels: , ,

Concept: The Most Addictive Music Ever.

Is Ragtime.

Labels: ,

Event: More Walling vs. Williamson.

This week's coverage of Dayne Walling vs. Don Williamson, courtesy of The Flint Journal:

Economy key part in race. Mostly interviews pared down to single-sentences, but if you read through to the end, the last paragraph-worth is devastating.

Q&A: Walling on Flint's economy and Q&A: Williamson on Flint's economy. These could have the most important and galvanizing moments of the campaign, since they deal with what is arguably Flint's most pressing issue. Unfortunately, because the questions are so generic and the responses so trunchated, nothing of substance is really said. Walling and Williamson have never sounded so similar as they do here.

Current, past City Council members back Walling. The full list is: Jim Ananich, Sheldon Neeley, Jackie Poplar, Carolyn Sims (from the current City Council); Ralph Arellano, Johnnie Coleman, Verdell Duncan, Josh Freeman, Mark Horrigan, Jack D. Minore, Lawrence B. Murphy, Matt Schlinker, Ed Taylor and Barry Williams (the former City Council). I have, and you probably do too, mixed feelings about many in this crowd. It is still a preponderant number, including more than a couple former Williamson supporters. In his campaign's rebuttal, Joe Conroy said "it's ironic that the mayor drove these people out of City Hall, because they were giving contracts away to their friends and overspending." The quote is a nice textbook definition of the pot calling the kettle black.

Labels: , ,

Body: Today is the Feast of St. Luke.

Galvane 26, 30.

Yesterday. Not much to report. It doesn't mean I wasn't busy. It just means that I wasn't busy doing anything interesting.


What is the creepiest book you've ever read. I don't mean a book that just scared you as a child. I mean a book with the capacity to scare you now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Event: Don Williamson is Acting Like a Banana Republic Dictator... Once Again.

Just a few weeks to go until the election, and it looks like Walling has taken more endorsements, while Williamson has perhaps taken more influential endorsements.

As usual, though, Williamson is his own worst enemy. I don't know, for example, whether Sheldon Neeley's insisting on an apology in exchange for a lawsuit is really anything other than typical cloak-and-dagger Flint politics. Sheldon has always strongly opposed Wiliamson and, intentional or not, it is problematic to include him in campaign literature. Williamson ought to apologize. While the lawsuit has no legal basis, the threat was sufficient to get Neeley's complaint coverage in the Flint Journal. Again, Flint politics.

THIS, on the other hand, is much more serious. You should read the whole article, but in a nutshell Williamson paid an unspecified amount (the Walling campaign estimates $10,000) to send a statement by mail (with official city letterhead) to all Flint residents. The letter attempts to refute the Walling campaign's arguments on Williamson's budget, although this is more of a deliberate distortion than a rebuttal.

There are several valid grounds for complaint here.

Two are more or less incidental: First, why isn't the amount spent known (a problem that doesn't say much for the city's bookkeeping ability under Williamson's watch), and couldn't that money have been better spent elsewhere? Second, the letters don't address Walling's claims, and in fact, mischaracterize them. Walling has alleged that Williamson has allowed federal grants to expire, a fact that nobody has contested. The city's budget surplus, confirmed in the letter at $6.4 million, is also uncontested. It avoids an issue that Williamson cannot refute by attaching a complaint to Walling that his campaign has never made. So we have valid complaints that public money was poorly spent, and that it was actually wasted in that the letter did not resolve any outstanding issue.

A third complaint, however, is far from incidental. That is that Williamson is essentially laundering taxpayers' money in order to promote his campaign. Worse, by having Flint pay for his statement and using the city's letterhead, Williamson creates the appearance that the city itself, the very municipal structure he is contained within and theoretically beholden to, endorses his mayorality. This is illegal and despicable. It is not only a blatant act of political manipulation that would make a Chicago alderman blush, but it's a weird shadow of the one-party states and single-candidate ballots of the worst governments in the world: Belorussia, Iran, China, North Korea, oh, and if memory serves me, Burma.

This is not the first time Mr. Williamson has behaved in this way... in his first year as mayor he used the city seal in an ad for his wife's car dealership, and during her run for the state legislature, a park in the East Village was remarkably reconstructed days before she hosted a fundraising event there. Yet this present violation is more serious than these embarassing episodes of the past. By mobilizing the municipal government on behalf of his own campaign, Williamson seeks to illegally manipulate the election's outcome in his favor.

Lesson to be learned? Never trust a mayor who signs away on his own paycheck.

What to do in the meantime? Take it to court. Any Flint resident ought to be able to file suit, with consultation. This is a serious matter, and it should result in criminal charges.

On a last note, Andy Heller has been writing a streak of great columns lately. Check them out.

In All quiet on Flint mayoral election front, he actually quotes me from a comment I left on his blog, and I'm flattered, but that's not why I'm giving him props today. How could I say no to an idea like this?:

It's only a few weeks until the mayoral election. Flint, do you know where your Don is? Honest to gosh, where's he been? I see his campaign signs everywhere, so I know he's out there, but other than that, you'd hardly know an election was nigh. This last month is supposed to be the silly season. Where's the Don's customary announcement of some bizarro project that will turn Flint around -- like, say, turning Genesee Towers into the world's biggest haunted house or making the former Forest Park into a hunting preserve?

Labels: , ,

Diary: In October, 1999.

September 1999 had been a big month. I want to say that October began a few days after my Flint friends – Josh, Sarah, Sam, Mitch, and Bree – had headed home and I went down to the Pit for a ginger ale with Cynthia and Armand.
Wracking my brain, I cannot remember all of the classes that I took that quarter. I think I was taking a Biology sequence. Not one of the Nat Sci sequences (because I fashioned myself a badass), but nothing for geniuses either. It frustrated me. Biology classes always do. I think I took a G.S. Hum criticism course as well. Not the one with Ted Cohen (that was my Fourth Year), but the one with Herman Sinaiko. Maybe.

Certainly Claudia Allen's Playwriting class was the most memorable. I was listening to the Lords of Acid's Voodoo U nightly, but then the new Tori Amos, To Venus and Back came out, and I added it to my rotation. It was somehow less abstruse than Choirgirl Hotel, while also being meatier and more supple. With songs like Lust, Suede, Spring Haze, and Concertina, I never figured out why so many of my friends considered it a bomb. The last was partial-inspiration for a scene of the same name that I wrote for Claudia's class. Rachel Silverman acted it out, quite effectively, and this might have been the academic high point of my entire college experience. I still have it, somewhere.

This week, whatever week it happened (Fourth Week) was the key to my Autumn Quarter. See, you all think that I'm silly for giving the years names, but it really vied for a long time with a system similar to the British habit of naming eras after their monarchs. I'd develop long-term, hopeless crushes on unattainable girls, and while I was already naming years, I often thought of them in terms of these romantic unfulfillables. It wasn't fair to me, myself, since it inevitably overshadowed my own achievements and other experiences. It also meant that I was putting humans up on pedestals, which is, ahem, unwise. During the summer I fell hard for A.S., and during winter break, I fell almost as hard for A.H. In Chicago, my crush for S.A. was not mild, but certainly gentler and less encumbered by delisions of reciprocity. It's probably part of the reason that I had such a productive quarter, as well as why that autumn was slightly less memorable than the months before or after.

The whole thing with S.A. started in the Playwriting class when Rachel read my "Concertina" piece, and S.A. asked if I was a Tori Amos fan – if the piece had had anything to do with the song. That was the moment when the crush started off, and I consulted with Armand and began various dorky strategems of my own.

I wasn't a complete romantic wash, however. I'd had encounters the prior summer, in sufficient numbers to have a bit of experience and know what I as doing. It was just that I could never evoke the response I wanted from the person I wanted. An example of this happened walking back from the Reynolds Club one night early that month, when Armand (?) and I ran into AJ and one of is friends. As we walked back to BJ, Armand talked to AJ and I talked to his friend. We hit it off and she followed me back to my room where we talked for another hour or so. She explained that she was bummed because October had always been a good month for her romantically – 100% of the time in fact – but here it was the 15th and there was no sign of anything happening. I commented that, well, if Halloween rolled around and none of the fish were biting, she was free to stop by.

You should never say something like that if you don't mean it from the core of your being.

I could flirt and even deliver pickup lines, but if S.A., for example, wasn't interested, then all of the flirting in the world wasn't going to make a difference. On the other hand, I went (in a bit of a cowardly way) to hide in Armand's room on Halloween, because a housemate (Ed) had told me that the "October Girl" was looking for me.

This was before our dorm became haunted; that was to happen in November.

And speaking of Armand, the most exciting weekend of the month really revolved around his 21st birthday, Halloween, officially (this might have actually happened the first weekend in November?). He was one of the most popular people in the dorm, and so unassuming that four of us, individually and independently, decided to throw him a surprise party. We ended up combining our plans with the effect that I don't know if Armand's ever fully recovered from that weekend. On Friday Lisa M. and I were to ride to Minnesota with him to visit his friend at Carlton College (since nobody had planned anything for his birthday). We took the Red Line up to Wrigleyville (during which I got into an argument with a Scientologist) and borrowed Lisa's brother's car. From there, we drove north toward Wisconsin, taking a detour to Rockland where we were to covertly rendezvous with Ben, Liz, and Armand's friend (whom we had arranged to transport to Chicago). I was to make contact with the second group, but they had been delayed, and I had to leave on the pretext of snatching a cool looking sign. An hour later, the connection finally happened. Armand was relieved just enough to not be angry with us. The next day, we threw a party at Ben's apartment, and after hanging out there for several hours, I took Armand out to the Checkerboard for some Blues. It started a great new tradition, in fact, cut short only when the Checkerboad closed due to missed rent payments (though I believe it's open again in Hyde Park now). The lounge even had their own driving service; an old man in a beat up Buick brought us back home.

Other things were going on, of course. I had spent most of the month readying my proposal for Artaud's Cenci for University Theater. I made at least one or two trips to Canaryville. There was certainly one night when Irinia, Bela, Lisa, Liz, Ben, Armand, Chris, and I all made a picnic dinner and ate it in the grass on Stagg Field. We threw a frisbee, and tried to jump high enough to touch the goalposts, but we couldn't.

Where were you in October 1999?

Labels: , ,

Event: And if That Isn't a Good Start to a Tuesday...

... take a look at this.

If only I'd known as I watched Ferris Bueller. My childhood's shaking and shuddering.

Labels: ,

Event: Ass.

I have no doubt that global warming exists. I just question the cause and what we can do to ameliorate it. But I wonder why the Sierra Club isn't going crazy about the environmental aspects of massive immigration into the U.S. The fact is, Americans consume more energy than anyone else, so if a person moves here from another country, they automatically become bigger polluters.

No Googling. Guess who said this.

Labels: ,

Galvane 25, 30.

- Yesterday was realtively unmemorable. One significant development: I finally figured out how to burn MP3s to my player so that I can listen to them. Yay! Also (minor Deadwood spoiler): I am increasingly unimpressed with Mrs. Garrett. While everyone else is out in the mud, shooting someone, getting shot, having sex, drinking whiskey, swearing, or feeding Mister Wu's pigs, all Mrs. Garrett does is stand by her hotel window and pine. Seriously: she was in like eight scenes in the last episode, and she never left that window.

What would you like to be next year's dress fad?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Galvane 24, 30.

The long weekend was busy and wonderful and fun, but I don't want to ramble on for too long about it. The low point, fortunately, was Thursday morning, when I spent hours duelling with one DMV and two SSA offices. The goal? A legitimate drivers license that I will need to move to Chicago. The good news is that a SS card is on the way, and that ought to be followed in short order by a Drivers License. After that particular five hour adventure, I took the A train up to Harlem and spent a few hours at the Studio Museum. Also, I called my wife from a Verizon pay phone, but the machine ate my four quarters. I passed a Verizon office on the street though, and went in and was directed to Customer Service. I told them I thought I should be able to make a long-distance phone call to my wife, and they let me call out of their office. So that was a kind of funny encounter.
On Friday I went to the Met and was there all day. I spent the first several hours in the collections from Africa and the Americas (Oceania, sadly, is closed until 2008), and then looked at art from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Tibet) and Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, and Burma). I had about an hour to spend in the Chinese collection, which is huge, before heading home. I was in a mood for Lamb Vindaloo, so my wife and I ate from Kinara's and watched Deadwood.
On Saturday we got up early and took a cab out to LaGuardia. We flew out to Columbus (with a fifteen-minute holdover in Detroit... we were running to make our connecting flight). My sister- and father-in-law picked us up at the airport and drove us out to a hotel, where we had time to shower and get ready for the wedding. It was at the historic Darby Creek Farm, and the outside ceremony was over in about fifteen minutes. There was an open bar followed by dinner and dancing, all oscillating between two rooms on opposite sides of the farmhouse, a huge, barnlike structure with polished and glazed timber beams. The last song was Stairway to Heaven, and my wife drove us back to the hotel, where the Indians finally beat the Red Sox 11-6 in the 11th inning.
On Sunday my inlaws and I checked out of the hotel and went to Bob Evans outside Columbus for breakfast. We said goodbye to my brother-in-law and his wife (sister-in-law-in-law?) and the rest of us drove on to Zanesville, then Cambridge. My wife's parents had found us a used car (a Kia Rio) at a good price, and it ought to get us through the next year-or-so in Chicago. We stayed in Cambridge with her parents that night, and had pizza and Greek food for dinner. We stayed up late talking, though I've been taking it easy on the coffee.
Yesterday, we got up early and left at about 8:15. We made great time all the way through Pennsylvania, only to be caught for two hours in a traffic jam a few miles outside New York. My wife was late to her class, and I was exhausted by the time I got home at around seven. All around, though, what a great weekend. I had a nice long talk with my mom on the phone, and when Jess got home we had leftover vindaloo for a late dinner.

Should I restore the weather/almanac/news/quotes/links/countries of the week? I mean, did you ever check them out? Were they interesting? Or skim-overable material? (They take a bit of time, but I kind of miss them, so I'm having a hard time making up my mind.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Concept: Semi-Pro.


Labels: , ,

Concept: Help: Run a Reading Series for the Gothic Funk Nation.

Next February, the Gothic Funk Nation will launch two monthly reading series (staggered two weeks apart). For the moment we are calling them the Informal Series and the Formal Series. We want you to volunteer to help (and pick out better names for them).

THE FORMAL SERIES (Earshotesque or Bookslutesque):
Needs 3-7 Chicago voluteers who will: Determine a submission protocol, review submissions, solicit "featured readers" and other artists for their involvement, help find and negotiate a venue, schedule readers/performers, promote the reading. We are likely to meet 1-2 evenings per month, plus the reading. We will also have to read/consider submissions outside of our meetings.

THE INFORMAL SERIES (Open-micesque):
Needs 1-3 Chicago volunteers who will: Determine a sign-up protocol, help find and negotiate a venue, schedule readers/performers, promote the reading. We are likely to meet 1 evening per month, plus the reading.

We will not meet as a group before December.
In December we will meet, brainstorm, and hammer out details (submission policies, venue, promotional strategy, etc.)
In January we will coordinate and promote the first installment for February.

This can be a lot of fun... if you like to read, and are looking to get involved in the Gothic Funk Nation in an active but not-too-time-consuming way, this is ideal.

Information on Gothic Funk is available at
Subscribe to the Gothic Funk mailing list at

Reply to this post and let us know what you think!

= Connor and Sky

Labels: ,

Concept: The Visual Arts: A History, by Hugh Honour and John Fleming.

As part of my development of Urbantasm, I've been attempting a complete-as-possible review of the history of the West... generally speaking I'm up through the end of the Roman Republic, but since New York has such an unparalleled array of Art museums, I've actually gone ahead in the history of visual art, and I'm almost done with The Visual Arts: A History, by Hugh Honour and John Fleming.

It has unexpectedly become one of my favorite reads this year. So far as there is a sense of dramatic tension and suspense, there is no reason in my mind not to read nonfiction, and even a college survey, as a narrative exercise. Of course, I've been mostly reading to learn about art, but the sense of social and critical progression, the way the authors describe the undulation of schools, and the way one artist reacts and responds to another reads to me as a story.

A friend has pointed out to me that this particular textbook is treated by art historians with a certain amount of frustration. The response seems to be not one of contempt but resignation, and the problem is that Honour/Fleming is too short, that is, unequal to a fair and general explication of its subject. I was surprised by this, personally, because the book is the size of two Bibles. It's big enough and cumbersome enough that fellow subway riders would shoot me dirty looks and sidle away when I'd try to read while standing, holding the book open on one arm and turning the page with the other. It's almost 900 pages long, two inches thick, slightly oversize, has small print, and probably weighs enough to kill any small, furry animals it's dropped upon.

The brevity is made clear, though, as the complexity of the story becomes apparent. For example, four chapters spanning 140 pages attempt to cover the last 2000 years of non-Western art. While the book is able to explicate and discuss well-known and documented trends such as Chinese Landscape Paintings, these have to be treated very briefly. Moreover, the fact that there is any discussion at all requires many ommissions. There is no, for example, discussion of Korean art, or art from Southeast Asia beyond the 16th century. Meanwhile, the last 100 years of European and American art is compressed into 110 pages; in short, a heavily abbreviated sequence of the big guns (Picasso, Pollack, van der Rohe) marching across the pages in more-or-less single file.

I'm not saying this by way of criticism. I suspect that more meaningful analyses of this textbook would scrutinize the disparities it posits between Western/Nonwestern art, and possibly the stability of boundaries it establishes between different schools and artists. I simply don't know the field well enough to have an opinion as to whether it succeeds or not on these levels. The two greatest impressions for me, however, as a layperson, are 1) the majesty and diversity of the physical artistic historical record, and 2) the immensity of history as a whole. It's just one more example of that double-edged sword: that the world is full of interesting things. In fact, there are so many interesting things that we'll die before we've ever experienced enough of them.

Then again, maybe just one is enough.

Labels: , ,

Event: Wiretaps, or, What is a Democrat? (Part 2)

Galvane 15, 30.

- Yesterday sucked. I got a lot accomplished, but it nevertheless sucked. So instead of regaling you with that, I'll talk about baseball.

- A friend of me called me out on a couple recent shout-outs to the Cleveland Indians. "Fuck the Tribe," was what he said, specifically, although I think the sentiment was something along the lines of "How could you support the Indians when they kept Detroit out of the playoffs?" I have two answers.
The first is that only the Tigers could keep themselves from the playoffs this year. Sorry, but I have to be objective, and a team that loses a majority of games to the Royals and the White Sox is not a team begging for games in October. I saw the Tigers at Yankee Stadium this year, and Ordonez was swinging at balls almost clear above his head.
The second is that I'm not one of those people who loves one team and hates the other twenty-nine.
I have a strong dislike of the Yankees and the Cubs. The White Sox kind of annoy me too, although I like them the other half of the time. I am fond of the Mariners, the As, the Twins, the Brewers, the Cardinals, the Orioles, the Red Sox, occasionally the Mets, and yes, the Indians.
Think of it this way... they've had it coming for a long time. The Tribe's last WS title was in 1948, and whatever Cubs fans will tell you, the Indians have packed more angst and frustration into the last fifty years than Chicago has in a century.
Or, think of it this way... if the Indians win it'll be a victory for the Midwest in a League obsessed with the rightmost 5% of the country.

Red Sox or Indians?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Event: Flint mayoral race update, 10/9/07.

From the Flint Journal:
Complete Coverage.
Recent posts: Share your thoughts, Top Pastors Endorse Williamson, Walling, Williamson to speak at Rotary, City of Flint lowers suplus estimate, Time is running out to register to vote, Chamber PAC to host candidates, Prized UAW endorsement goes to no one, Firefighters union backs Williamson, Mayor says city has jail money, Former Stanley aide heads Walling's north-end HQ, Court of public opinion: Lawsuit costs become election issue.

Also updates to the anti-Williamson blog Williamson Watch.

Meanwhile, the Uncommon Sense hasn't been updated since June. What gives? Their fortè is depth in political coverage that outer outlets cannot or will not provide. We need you, Uncommon Sense.

If you look at the headlines above, you might gather that this has been a bad week for Walling. The pastors' endorsement stings hard, and they have been some of the most decisive factors in recent elections. If anything, however, it points to what a close election this is likely to be. Without the UAW endorsement (which would count for much more than the AFL-CIO position), there's a vacuum in the race. There is a chance, of course, that influential individuals in the UAW will endorse a candidate (several already have, on both sides), but logistically speaking, it's hard to make any predictions. Walling's cooperation with former-mayor's Stanley's administration may help to offset the pastors' endorsement in the African American community. And that, itself, may damage Walling's standing in the white community, since there was nothing they ever came together on as strongly as opposition to Stanley. Aren't the messy memories of racial politics just lovely?

One interesting effect, incidently, is that this election could be less even along racial lines than any other in recent history. It may even polarize more by age and occupation than by race. We'll see.

The upshot, of course, is that if you can vote, you need to. This looks like it's going to be a very close race.

Labels: , ,

Body: Weight.

I usually get myself into situations that cause sparks. I mean I'm a girl that likes the storms. I love feeling alive, I love walking out in the cold in my bare feet and feeling the ice on my toes.
- Tori Amos

The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.
- Leon Trotsky

In nonnullus causa silentium est periculosus.
- Saint Ambrose

Labels: ,

Event: Wiretaps, or, What is a Democrat?

It's a typical week, in that there are plenty of things that you ought to be angry about. High on the list is the New York Times report that Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers. Of course, given the sound-bite nature of reportage these days, it's easy to lose the sequence of events here. They are fairly laid out in sequence by BarbinMD... specifically that despite Democratic tough-talk ("violence to the constitution" and "the stonewalling is unacceptable and it must end," a la Harry Reid) subpoenas have been slow coming. Now, not only do formal charges in response to an illegal program that puts us on par with Russia seem unlikely, but the program is about to be written into law.

Why can't the Democrats fight as tough as they talk? They don't have to become Republicans in order to do it. They don't have to be mean or hypocritical... just firm and assertive. How does this sound: For every Presidential veto that Congress will not override, the Democratic leadership will (in the absense of pressing legislation) turn its energy toward investigations of the abuse of power in the last decade. It doesn't have to be stated outright: it can be an "understanding." To paraphrase alan1, there's a time for rhetoric and a time for lawyers.

This time, I feel an above average sense of betrayal. Opposition to unconstitutional wiretaps isn't, after all, a fringe liberal position for Democrats to take up, nor are their numbers so soft that they can reasonably defer to perceived expediency.

This is a decade where the Republican party charges to the right in pursuit of their radical and inconsistant base. This is a decade where the Democratic party charges to the right, abandoning their patient and long-suffering base. At what point does a protest "vote of conscience" become acceptable again?

Labels: , ,

Galvane 14, 30.

- Yesterday. Blah. Whatever.

Suppose you run a gas station, and you have to give customers a key to get into the bathroom. What do you attach to the end of the key?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Diary: In October, 1987.

In October, 1987.

I don't remember anything about October, 1987, really.

Actually, I do think I can scare up at least one memory with some reliability:

I would (I believe) have been a Wolf Scout in Cub Scouts in Flushing. This means that this would have been the month where I fell victim to an overactive imagination and got scared by thoughts of the headless horseman at a pumpkin carving Cub Scout meeting. Prompting my mom to go to bat for me: she was talking on the phone about it after I had gone to bed.

I believe gymnastics had been attempted and abandoned, and figure skating was in full swing. We would have had the Disney Channel at this point, but not a Nintendo. I don't think we'd gotten the computer yet, but we did have a VCR. I would have been aware of Santa Claus (but evidently not the Headless Horseman). It was two years before the paper route and almost a year before discovering Dungeons and Dragons. Victor from church was not a friend at this point but Justin was (a situation which would reverse). My best friend, though, was Jeff from across the street, and now that we'd joined forces after years of war, we could terrorize the younger Teslars a block away. Well, okay, "terrorize" might be a strong choice of words.

I can place a lot of contexts here: what had already happened or what happened yet. But 1987 was long-enough ago that I don't remember anything specifically. Except that cub scout meeting, and my mom on the phone.

Where were you in October 1987?

Labels: , ,

Galvane 13, 30.

- I've been deeply involved in my job search, and it's superceded writing in demands on my time lately. Some good news is that my wife and I were able to lock down a car at a pretty good deal (her parents helped us), and we'll drive it back to New York this weekend. This way, I can rent a moving truck to take our stuff to Chicago, and my wife can follow in the car when her classes are done. It is the first time I will have ever been in de facto possession of a non-GM, not to mention non-American made car. There's a little bit of guilt involved in this, especially in light of my support for the compromise GM and the UAW arrived at last week. But life is all compromises, and we didn't have the time or resources to put into a more involved search. At any rate, we'll probably have this vehicle (a used Kia) for the next couple years, then we'll sell or trade it. When we buy an actually nice vehicle, we'll be holding a better hand.
It was not the most productive weekend I've ever had. Since I've got to get my New York on while I still have a little time, on Friday I took the subway up to 155th Street in Manhattan, and worked my way through Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, Harlem, and the upper third of Central Park. There's a lot to see: I saw the homes of about a billion jazz singers (including all of the big ones: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and company), the theater where Malcolm X was assassinated and the mosque where he taught, Alexander Hamilton's home and the estate where he duelled Aaron Burr, and a spectacular view of the Bronx from Sugar Hill. It was all something. I walked through City College, which I never applied to because its deadline was so much later than the New School's decision. I wish I would have held off for awhile, to apply, because CC had an amazing campus and the place just had a nice vibe. I saw the Apollo, obviously and the Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe.
The rest of the weekend was a melange of short expeditions and tv. My wife and I finished the first season of Deadwood (the last episode being particularly dizzying and spectacular), so we started on Freaks and Geeks. It's okay, I guess. It's no My So-Called Life. I'll try to write more on this later. On Saturday, I met up with Marco at Tillie's and we talked about his novel, and on Saturday we went over to Marco and Scott's for a game of Axis and Allies. I played Germany this time, which was a change. I almost always end up being the Soviet Union.
I have to get a lot done this week, because my wife and I are flying to Ohio this weekend for a wedding. Wedding #5 (and the last) of 2007.

Which month of the year do you think best sums up your personality?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Event: Beating an Undead Horse.

New York Times: Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations.

Yeah, I know that a subject so often repeated loses its viscerality.
I also know that a lack of progress or change inspires a feeling of futility.
And I know that the more drastic a comparison is, the more cliche and stale it seems.

Still, we have to recognize the importance of these things, no matter how frequent we hear it and how futile we might feel. Because they're still doing it. All of it. Secretly. Behind closed doors. In freezing, wet, clamorous rooms.

Significantly, one needn't fall back on a cliche likening this administration's "interpretation" of the law to a Soviet political purge. They've taken that step themselves:

With virtually no experience in interrogations, the C.I.A. had constructed its program in a few harried months by consulting Egyptian and Saudi intelligence officials and copying Soviet interrogation methods long used in training American servicemen to withstand capture. The agency officers questioning prisoners constantly sought advice from lawyers thousands of miles away.

It may be that the closest we ever get to a real sense of what the C.I.A. has been doing is this.

Here is, for your mollification, a list of Democrats who voted for the Military Commissions Act, a piece of legislation that allegedly "dealt" with these abominations once and for all, while quite capably taking the matter out of the hands of the U.S. Courts.

Carper (D-DE)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Stabenow (D-MI)

Bishop (GA)
Davis (AL)
Davis (TN)
Peterson (MN)
Scott (GA)
Taylor (MS)

May we never have to accuse anyone of waterboarding our captured troops. It will be a difficult argument to make.

Labels: , , ,

Galvane 12, 30.

- Man am I useless this week. Yesterday's big accomplishment was starting my job search (on and doing the dishes. Sheesh.


Does your high school have a website?
If so, please share!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Galvane 11, 30.

- Finished Tenebre. Watched Deadwood.

How many tattoos do you have, and what are they of, and where?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Body: Lip Balm.



Galvane 10, 30.

- Yesterday I started – then stopped – Gray Skies (aka Notes for Students aka White Swan). I realized about three pages in that it was going to take about twice as long, and would turn out to be about a third as good, as I had hoped. Better to knock off some more short stories, revise some plays, and enter some contests. The next few months are going to be hectic enough as it is.

- Jess and I are of one mind. We're enjoying Deadwood a lot. But it's no Rome. I'm not making an argument of character development of writing – in these capacities, Deadwood is probably the better show, objectively. There was just something about hearing Cicero stand up and make a speech that was thrilling to me.

How often do you check your email?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Diary: In October, 1995.

The randomization of these accounts of months has been weird lately... they almost seem to be pointing toward an actual narrative.

If you like you can pick up here from September 1995, and the huge house-wrecking party described at the end of that entry actually happened in October.

At said party I played my electric clarinet. What this meant was that I electric taped a microphone to the bell (with the effect that notes went way flat), plugged in my amp, and ran up to stary playing. As long as I could continue without losing breath, the feedback distorted in a way that would have worked nicely onstage with a rock band. Unfortunately, this ghettoish setup was as sophisticated as I ever got.

Compared to roucous September, October was a month of meditation and recalibration. I borrowed Vitalogy from Greg and listened to it practically every night. Some days, I'd listen to "Immortality" a few dozen times in a row in my room. There was a lot of lying on my back on my bed and staring at the ceiling. I drove with my sister to Sunset Hills in Flint Township and drove around, studying and exploring the crematory grounds, obelisks, and mausolea. I wasn't a goth. I wasn't obsessed with death. I was intrigued by autumnal decay. This was, after all, the coldest year I can remember. The leaves had started turning in late September; they fell in mid-October. Michigan wouldn't really warm up for good until late May.

I was changing in other ways as well. I had really come to a point from which procrastination was no longer possible. Through tenth grade, I'd drawn pictures in class all day, came home, and listened to music all evening. I also had plans to go to Northwestern University at best, and the U of M at worst. These two lifestyles were becoming quickly incompatible... I'd taken the college prep course at high school, and both Algebra III/IV and Chemistry were ready to hurt me if I didn't pick up the pace. Northwestern wouldn't love a few Cs and Ds in meat-and-potatoes classes my Junior year. So I was studying pretty hard every night – a change from the intense fits and starts that had gotten me through other years – and while Chemistry continued to suck hard, I gradually brought Algebra under control. I think my mom was impressed that I was finally doing homework without coercion. I started writing poetry, and my Creative Writing teacher said, "Connor, this is amazing."

Northwestern held an information session in Grand Rapids, and my parents drove me out there. We sped up and down the hills and the trees were spectacular, veiny redshot and orange. We spent the afternoon with my grandma, and stopped at a particular scenic view where I noticed graffiti left by an exchange student from Flushing. On other days, Paul and I would go to my grandma's house to watch a cable-only special on the war in Bosnia. We were also planning an educational theater workshop series. I spent a lot of time on the phone with Brandi. Mitch and I talked about starting a band, but we never really got it together. I spent most evenings at home.

Toward the end of the month, though, something had developed. My heroes, the Smashing Pumpkins, were preparing to release their first album in the over-a-year since I had discovered them. It was a double album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and it was the biggest news in Alternative music since Kurt Cobain has lost several pounds very quickly. From my own unbiased perspective. I was picking up my brother and sister from junior high when I heard Bullet with Butterfly Wings for the first time. I was pulling in my driveway when I heard 1979. I had to get this album on the day it came out. I had to. But I didn't have a job or any money. I would receive some money for bringing home good grades, but my parents hadn't received my report card yet.

On the week before it came out, I listened to Gish, Pisces Iscariot, and Siamese Dream especially, putting myself in the proper spiritual frame of mind to be up-to-speed and fully receptive.

On the night before it came out, the debut concert at the Chicago Riviera broadcast via Simulcast, and I listened from my parents' Saturn, parked in our garage in Flushing, Michigan. I huddled in the cold with a tape recorder perched on my lap and watched the carbon light streak through slats in the wooden walls. I went to bed at about one in the morning.

The next morning I borrowed $20 from a classmate. The moment that school was over I bolted down to Best Buy and bought the new album. I took it home and listened straight through, reading the lyrics as I went. My brother and sister got home from their music lessons. Somewhere in the house, there was an argument about responsibility or something. My room was a mess. The light was on, and it made a contrast next to my windows as the sun went down and even the Poplars outside went purple and black. The songs that impressed me the most that night are – for the most part – not the songs that impress me today. I liked "To Forgive" and "Cupid de Locke". I still like "In the Arms of Sleep." I wasn't particularly impressed with that album on the first listen, but it continued to challenge me, and still challenges me twelve years later.

A week later, right before Halloween, my friend Mitch tried to get me to skip school to go into Flint with him. I didn't. I was worried about being caught, and anyway, I felt like I was catching a nasty cold. In fact, I was in bed most of Halloween night with a headache and a stuffed nose. But that's okay. I was way too old for trick-or-treating anyway.

Where were you in October 1995?

Labels: , ,

Concept: Correction re: Schizophrenia.

So earlier I lumped Adolph Meyer in with the psychoanalysts. Certainly their stance on laboratory science had a similar impact on the development of psychiatry. Nevertheless, the conflation is incorrect, because the "Meyerians" were at odds with the psychoanalysts as often as with the Kraepelinists.

I'm adding Bayard Taylor Holmes, socialist, Chicago mayoral candidate, and one of the nations more prominent Kraepelin supporters to a list of people I have to learn more about. The glimpses I've caught here and there are very exciting.

Labels: ,

Event: Michigan, In Tents.

Somehow, between following Ahmadinejad's visit and the UAW Strike, I completely missed this. This is evidently a very interesting month for Michigan, politically. It looks like Granholm took a stand on public services, which is nice, although it was a high stakes gamble for both sides. I'm astonished by how much could go to shit in just four hours.

I am above-average homesick.

Labels: ,

Galvane 9, 30.

- CUTTING OUT THE FAT - I'm going to, for the moment at least, do away with the News/Quote/Picture/Link/Country of the week. I rarel see any sign that they are of interest to people, and anyway, if something demands linking, I can just put up a post linking it. Right? Ultimately, there are just too many irons in the fire – too much that demands doing – to continue to sink time into certain aspects of this blog. You also may have noticed that the Almanac has been having something of a mental breakdown over the last couple months, so I'm going to give him a break for awhile. It may make a return later on, in 2008, when things are less hectic. Birthdays, QotD, and the rest will remain unaltered.

- What a frustrating weekend. My wife left for her work convention in Chicago, so I had infinite time and should have gotten an infinite amount accomplished. In fact, I accomplished very little. I did some work on my Chicago job search and whatnot, and there were bright spots. I spent a day at the Met, which was a high point, did some cleaning, and hung out with Yvonne, Laura, and Mark after the New School student readings. But I should have given up on trying to write this weekend. The Silurians doesn't want me to mess with it now. I should have left well enough alone. I should have called some friends, or gone on an Exile-to-Museums. Or something. Anything to get out of the apartment. Jeez. Oh well.

Meredith! (Yesterday)

If you could be 8 years old again for an entire day, how would you spend it?