Adam Ash

Your daily entertainment scout. Whatever is happening out there, you'll find the best writing about it in here.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Condi's warm-up act to the Oscars

Oscar outfits? Condi has trumped them already with her long black coat and stiletto-heel boots. "Rice arrived dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind the 'save humanity' ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in 'The Matrix.' As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy." Read how power expresses itself in, what else? sex.

The end of the West

From a French editorial on the Bush trip to Europe: "François Heisbourg evokes, at best 'a limited-responsibility partnership,' at worst, a more or less acrimonious rivalry. In spite of the transatlantic warming-up, the 'era of multiple Wests has arrived.'"

Torture, U.S. style

I know, you don't want to know about it. But "the young women interrogators in Guantánamo who put red ink in their pants, then smeared what appeared to be menstrual blood on devout Muslim men, and mocked them by turning off the water so they could not wash before prayers, did not dream up such an idea and send home for red ink. It was policy." More here.

All the NY Times reviews of Hunter Thompson

See them here. From the review of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: "It is a custom-crafted study of paranoia, a spew from the 1960's and--in all its hysteria, insolence, insult, and rot--a desperate and important book, a wired nightmare, the funniest piece of American prose since "Naked Lunch"...These are the tracks of a man who might be dismissed as just another savage-sixties kook, were it not for the fact that he has already written himself into the history of American literature, in what I suspect will be a permanent way. Because, regardless of individual reader-reactions, his new book is a highballing heavyweight, whose ripples spread from Huckleberry Finn to F. Scott's Rockville grave...The book's highest art is to be the drug it is about, whether chemical or political. To read it is to swim through the highs and lows of the smokes and fluids that shatter the mind, to survive again the terror of the politics of unreason." Haven't read it? Start now.

Pol Pot

William Vollman gets through a whole book review on Pol Pot without once mentioning that the U.S. backed the regime. How soon we forget. Plus, we're the reason the U.N. never intervened in the Rwanda genocide. And we never did bomb those railways to Auschwitz, did we? Our crimes of commission pale before those of omission, in case you think we shouldn't have started the war on Iraq. Nice opening, though. "I remember the first time I saw the killing fields at Choeung Ek: pits with rainwater in them, scraps of cloth and concretions of bone in the exposed earth. In one mass grave swam fat, unwholesome frogs. A child was catching them; his family was going to eat them. When I try to conceptualize Cambodia's suffering, that sight--repulsive to me, ordinary to the boy--reminds me equally of the presence of the murdered and the sad expedients of the living. Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge had been expelled by the Vietnamese a dozen years before, but their influence remained everywhere. Obviously it was the Khmer Rouge's fault that children were catching dinner in mass graves."

We're all getting Paris Hilton Sidekick-hacked

"Why am I not surprised that ChoicePoint, the consumer data-mining company recently conned into sharing 145,000 consumer credit profiles with identity thieves, is the same company that helped Florida 'purge' its voter rolls of felons and other undesirable voters during the 2000 election?" Read on.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Where does the overspill of language come from?

How come human consciousness not only transcends the real, but inflates it? Reality doesn’t measure up to language, it isn’t enough for language. Think of what we make up in language – religion, for example – that does not exist in reality. Language generates an overabundance, a surplus to reality. Where does human consciousness come by its superabundance, its ability to represent more than there actually is?

This week's sex topic: Do you have sex in front of your pet?

Does your pet have the makings of a good voyeur? Have you ever had sex in front of your pet? If not, why not? If you have, why? Has your pet ever inserted itself into the act? There’s the Robert Mitchum effect: once his cat took a swing at his bouncing balls, which kind of ended. Things. Right. There. Then again, pets have been known to lick in the strangest places. Discuss. Recall. Report.

It's The Plot Against America vs. Cloud Atlas

The final round of the slam of novels at The Morning News is here. I think Plot takes it. We'll see.

Moby Big Dick

Offers to blast Hunter's ashes from cannon

In his will, Hunter Thompson specified he wanted his ashes blasted from a cannon (going out with a bang not a whimper). Dozens of cannon owners, from Civil War re-enactors in Pennsylvania to an Eagle pilot, who has specified in his own will that he be shot posthumously from a cannon, have offered the use of their weapons to Thompson's family. A California company, Angels Flight Inc., is offering to blast Thompson's ashes into the wild blue yonder in a 21-gun cannon salute or to shoot them off in a fireworks display. A Steamboat Springs radio station plans to shred some of Thompson's books and blow them into the sky from a cannon in a confetti of words on March 5, the same day Thompson's family and close friends will gather in a private ceremony of commemoration at an Aspen bar. Read here.

Apparently his suicide was very much planned. Thompson's widow, Anita, and adult son, Juan, said: "It is entirely fitting that Hunter, as a master of politics and control, chose to take his life on his own schedule by his own hand, rather than submitting to fate, genetics or chance." Full discussion by his family here.

Street lit: hip hop writers head for big time

"After years in the literary underground, 'street lit' -- a sort of hip hop black literature, often self-published and sold on street corners -- may finally hit the big time. Street lit stories are rough in every sense -- the language, the violence, the explicit descriptions of sex and the determination of the characters to escape desolate inner city neighborhoods. Religion, obsession with brand names and explicit struggles between right and wrong play a large role in the books, making them a combination of morality tales, Mario Puzo's most violent Mafia novels and chick-lit shopping fiction." Sister Souljah's novel "The Coldest Winter Ever" was the breakout work of the genre. It has sold a million copies since it came out five years ago. Full story here.

Sex in the movies

Jonathan Lethem remembers that incredible sex scene in "Don't Look Now" between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, and writes: "This, to put it bluntly, is what I want. Not Donald Sutherland's buttocks in and of themselves, but films that install themselves this way in my sexual imagination, by making me feel that sex is a part of life, a real and prosaic and reproducible fact in the lives of the characters, as it is in my own life, and at the same time makes me feel that sex is an intoxicant, a passage to elsewhere, a jolt of the extraordinary which stands entirely outside the majority of the experiences of the characters, as it stands in relation to my own experience. I want the paradox. I want it all." Via Maud Newton.

The joys of empire-building: a poem

5,000-year-old Sumerian poem:
Thy city lifts its hand like a cripple, O my lord Shu-Sin,
It lies at thy feet like a lion-cub, O son of Shulgi.
O my god, the wine-maid has sweet wine to give,
Like her date-wine sweet is her vulva, sweet is her wine...

What's normal?

"Once I lived with a heroin addict in a kitchen. Every morning he went out for the day to score, kissing me on the cheek, and I pulled the bedspread over the mattress opposite the cooker. I washed his used syringe in the sink, squirting out the blood left in the barrel, getting it nice and clean. It seemed ordinary at the time. It was. Somewhere out there, I understood, suburban housewives were dusting and polishing, making the beds, clearing the breakfast table, and I thought they were really weird." From an article on getting used to getting old.

Europe and U.S.

"This, in fact, is likely the largest point of disagreement -- and one that a President John Kerry likely would not have made smaller: Europeans today cannot imagine that the world might change. Maybe we don't want the world to change, because change can, of course, be dangerous. But in a country of immigrants like the United States, one actually pushes for change. In Mainz today, the stagnant Europeans came face to face with the dynamic Americans. We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow." From Der Spiegel.

French women: not all thin

"While only 6 percent of the French population was obese in 1990, today the proportion is 11.3 percent. That is still well behind the same figure for the United States (22 percent) but on track to match our levels by 2020." See article in Slate.

Well before Iraq war, Hunter Thompson wrote:

"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world - a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us ... George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world." From an appreciation by Paul Theroux.

Translations and Man Booker International

18 authors were shortlisted for this prize (see previous post). In this article, judges’ chairman Oxford Eng Lit Prof Carey (chaired Booker in 1982 and 2003), notes that more than half of the authors are in translation, including Hebrew and Japanese: “We hope this will be a spur to publishers to publish more work in translation.” The article states: "Many experts claim foreign literature is ignored in Britain. In 1997 only 2 per cent of books published in Britain were translations. Today 3 per cent are translations." Carey says: "We're too insular. There are wonderful things, but a lot of readers are cut off from them. Think of the history of novels — Balzac, Zola...we think they’re English writers in a way. It’s the enormous dominance of English. It means we are cut off from other countries.” Of Gregory Rabassa's translation of his One Hundred Years of Solitude, Marques said it read better than the original.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Serial novel ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN EAT, Chapter 7: Domino and Slave

(Catch up with the first chapters by clicking here and looking under "previous posts." Chapters are short; you'll catch up in under 15 minutes.)

"I do not care. I am having the most grand weird fuck with the most beautiful woman in the world, and I will not be distracted by the little nonsense.”

Domino took a cursory lick out of a mound of cocaine lying on the coffee table in front of him, and ran his tongue over his gums. Xavier frowned. Try as he might, he could not stop his voice from rising in pitch.

“Your show is going to be a disaster. Nobody will be there. No media, no buyers, no society. They’ll all be at the Ungungu Gala.”

“But we have the real Ungungu in our show.”

“Our show is dead.”

“You are dead.”

“Domino and Partners cannot stand another disaster.”

“What do you mean?”

“We are on the last legs.”

“The last legs?”

“The last legs.”

“Again?”

“Yes, but this time the last legs are worse than the last legs before. This time we are keeping up the body of the big corporation. This time, if we fall, we fall with the big thud which we will feel to the end of our days.”

“You are being the drama queen, which is my job, not yours.”

“I am being the businessman with the hard nose.”

“You are not being the paranoid with the spooky vibes?”

“No. Not at all.”

“Damn. I didn’t have the realization.”

“This time our shares pass into the hands of others, and we are owned by financial accountant lawyer-type people who have no imagination.”

“I shit on financial accountant lawyer-type people who have no imagination.”

“We become slave employees who work for wages instead of the big deal.”

“This is the big horror.”

“Tiara Blaine strikes again.”

“Why doesn’t the cancer kill her! For my next design project I want to design her tombstone.”

Continue reading by clicking here.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Rushdie threatens critic with baseball bat

Salman Rushdie, 56, snapped after Guy Trebay said Rushdie's wife stood “for a love of money and commodity." Rushdie allegedly screamed at a New York function: “If you ever write mean things about my wife again, I’ll come after you with a baseball bat.” How Westernized of Salman: to properly honor his Indian roots, he should have threatened Guy with a cricket bat. Myself, I think Rushdie should be beaten over the head with a croquet mallet for -- after the classic Midnight's Children -- banging out a more boring oeuvre than Deepak Chopra.

Thoughts from late author Cabrera Infante

From kitabkhana via Maud Newton: "The author of Three Trapped Tigers died at 75. From The Paris Review:
INTERVIEWER: Surely you believe in immortality, a niche in that book called Literary History?
CABRERA INFANTE: I don't believe in immortality, either of the body or of the written word, my corpus. Remember, when we talk about those immortal writers, like Homer, we are not talking about the writers but their writing. Dead men don't write. Dead writers don't last. Homer exists as a continuous process of rewriting called reading and translation."
Apparently he "wrote the best description of a blowjob I ever read." If anybody can find that description, email me at everteden@earthlink.net. I'll blog it, and give a prize to anyone who tops it. It's time descriptions of blowjobs caught up with sunsets.

Like God, Al Qaeda doesn't exist, but we had to invent it

The book Al-Qaeda by Jason Burke shows there's no Al-Qaeda. From a review: "The most striking fact Jason Burke hammers through in this meticulous study is that 'Al Qaeda' does not exist. What does exist is a series of disparate and competing forms of militant Islamism. Bin Laden’s faction, rarely termed 'Al Qaeda' by its followers, is only one part of this, yet it has become lazy shorthand for a massive phenomenon. For one example, the twin towers atrocity could be said to be the work of 'Al Qaeda'; the ones in Madrid and Bali cannot. And al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian thug currently given to beheading aid-workers in Iraq, has been described as an 'Al Qaeda operative' and 'bin Laden’s Lieutenant' in highly reputable papers, despite their groups being bitter rivals of one another." In related news, Yale Professor Craphogger has a new study out that says there are no Democratic and Republican Parties -- just a bunch of disparate people who vote every few years under the illusion that they have the power to change things.

Yes, our economy is totally fucking fucked

So I was freaking out about the economy yesterday. Well-timed paranoia, it turns out. Today's New York Times lays it out in an editorial and a Friedman column.

"Given the number of people who have refinanced their homes with floating-rate mortgages, the falling dollar is a sword of Damocles, getting closer and closer to their heads. And with any kind of market disruption - caused by anything from a terror attack to signs that a big country has gotten queasy about buying dollars - the bubble could burst in a very unpleasant way."

Seems like your mortgage payments are going to hit the roof, your living standard is going to fall by half, and you'll never be able to see Paris before you die. Why, when it comes to the economy, are the Republicans always such assholes? They're the ones with the money, why can't they handle it responsibly? In related news, Yale Professor Craphogger has done a feasibility study on living in tents in America's vast forest-lands, and trapping small vermin for food.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

One good thing about Bush

So he's a nasty, mean, smirking, fake-cowboy reverse Robin Hood who robs the poor to give to the rich, BUT: he listens to Creedence Clearwater Revival on his iPod.

Is our economy totally fucking fucked?

Got this stuff off some Marxist site, and it's scary as hell. Please, anybody know of a capitalist article or book that rebuts this?

1. "Incredible as it may sound, ever since the late 1950s, the world economy has been tossing around a hot potato of an ever-increasing mass of 'nomad dollars' (dollars held outside U.S.)  whose conversion into tangible wealth would plunge the world into a deflationary crash. That mass of dollars, now grown to gargantuan proportions - 1958's $30 billion is $11 trillion today - will be deflated, one way or another."

2. "Even now, few people are aware of the extent to which this 'technical' question of 'economics' (in reality a profoundly social question) has in fact cadenced 45 years of world history, erupting into view in key years such as 1968 (dollar convertibility crisis), 1973 (end of Bretton Woods System), 1979 (runaway global inflation, gold at $850 an ounce) 1990 (Japanese deflation) or 1997-98 (Asia crisis, Russian default, 'hedge fund' crisis). Today we're at another turning point."

2. "The U.S. must stop running $600 billion in annual balance-of-payments deficits, drawing in 80% of the world’s savings to finance them. It must deflate the outstanding $33 trillion of Federal, state, municipal, corporate and personal debt (3 times the dubious 'GDP' figure) that has kept the economy going for decades. This will entail a collapse of the huge mortgage bubble and the bankruptcy of untold millions of families. The U.S. must figure out a way to balance imports and exports, which, given the vast hollowing out of U.S. industry over the past 35 years, will entail a vast reduction of imports, and stringent austerity for working people."

3. "No less a figure than Warren Buffett has been saying for years that America’s highly paid army of 'financial engineers', media CEOs, lawyers, and HMO bureaucrats is 'kicking society in the shins'.

4. "Who can seriously imagine a mainstream politician saying 'we must accept a major devaluation of our currency; recognize our status as the world’s largest debtor nation; accept a further major fall in our living standards on top of the 20% fall since 1973; cut social services to the bone, and bring exports into surplus over imports to repay our huge debt'?"

Just heard Robert Reich on NPR say we're in hock mainly to China, which is why Europe is sucking up to them, because Europe needs China to keep us from being flushed down the toilet, where they would follow. Seems like the rest of the world would be double-fucked if we got f-ed, so we're less f-ed than we should be f-ed in the totality of economic f-uppedness.

On the fact of Hunter Thompson's suicide

A numb fan writes (via Splinters):
"I read an article a few years ago, that I haven’t seen cited in the obituaries yet, wherein it’s stated that Thompson’s body was pretty much packing up on him. His stomach was having problems with toxic substances like, um, food, and his diet was mostly liquid, mashed avocado and yoghurt. He’d spent time in a wheelchair in recent years. His drug use had always been exaggerated for comedic effect, but, at 67, he’d been hammering his body in a committed way for some 50 years. There’s a fair chance he was looking at years of dependency, chronic illness, and listening to his own body die by inches.

"He used and re-used the last line from A FAREWELL TO ARMS, over and over: “I walked back to the hotel in the rain.” Legend has it that he retyped a Hemingway novel to understand how the writer got his effects.

"Hemingway, of course, shot himself in the head. Old and sick and unable to live up to his own ideas on manhood.

"I always thought it peculiarly apt that the man who wrote that line, whose work was all about keeping the expression of human feeling underneath the surface, sat somewhere quiet and alone and put a shotgun in his mouth.

"Hunter Thompson waited until his young wife left the house, and then shot himself in the head with a pistol. He must have been quite aware that either she, or his son, there in the house with his grandson, would find his corpse. Dead bodies don’t lay neatly. They splay, spastic and awful. There is often shit.

"And the numbness, in part, comes from now finding that he was the kind of man that’d let his family find him like that. I have a personal loathing for suicide. It’s stupid and selfish and ugly and cowardly and reeks of weakness. Someone said to me yesterday about Thompson, “What a ripoff.” And I kind of know what he meant. It’s become convenient to write Thompson off as parody in recent years, and there’s a case to be made that he peaked around the age of 36, with FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL ‘72. Probably his great work of the last twenty years was in Being Hunter Thompson. In performance.

"But how you leave the stage is at least as important as how you enter it. And he left it alone in a kitchen with a .45, dying in –- and wouldn’t it be nice if it were the last time these words were typed together? -– dying in fear, and loathing."

I don't know much about suicide myself, but having once been clinically depressed for two years, and not having felt like suicide then, although I would've welcomed being murdered, I can say this: nobody has any idea how bad anyone must feel to snuff themselves. Cast no stones where your glasshouse can't follow. R.I.P. Hunter. I hope you had one last rush as you died.

After global warming, the water wars

The next big environmental tussle will be about water, according to Water Wars by Vandana Shiva. She charts the growing privatization by multinationals of communal water rights. The free-market comes to water. Hey, some day two or three corporations could own all the water. Now that's power. In related news, Yale Professor Craphogger is examining the possibility -- in a world short of water -- of ebaying your pee.

Why reviews are suspect

So I read this NY Times review about a one-man show, "ThomPain (based on nothing)." The most laudatory review ever. Sample quote: "run don't walk" to get tickets. I run, as excited as a drug under Courney Love's nose, dying to go up against all the other drugs in her sexy bod. Well, the piece is well-written and well-performed, poor man's Beckett -- but given that my expectations were raised higher than a gnat drowning in a drop of LSD, not quite a full meal. In fact, I dozed off four times; so did my companion. Of course, that single review sold $150,000 worth of tickets in 2 days, including $90 for us two (wonder how much the writer sees of this). I can only think that reviewers sit through such a lot of stinky steaming scrofulous crap, they get carried away when they happen upon something halfway intelligent.

Geoffrey Hill, the best living poet

I guess I'm going to have to read this poet. "With his new collection of poems, Geoffrey Hill so entirely eclipses most of his contemporaries that it seems meaningless to rank him in relation to them. Trumpets should be blown, garlands made, televisions turned off across the land and the book dropped free from aeroplanes. I would like to think that they might even convene early in Stockholm and, chastened by the astonishing excellence of these poems, agree now on the proper destination of the next Nobel Prize. It is unlikely that any of these things will happen." Click for his New and Collected Poems.

On being sick when you live alone

Fluish: swollen head, runny nose, achy lassitude: a great pass to feel sorry for myself. But I live alone, so I have to trudge out in the cold to buy food if I'm hungry, and cook it myself if I want anything hot and comforting. Being sick when you live alone -- it sucks. I'll summon my last strength to walk to the library and get some books, and live on boiled eggs and ascorbic acid for the next three days. Not even enough energy to masturbate. Or laugh. If Michelle Pfeiffer came and sat on my face, I wouldn't be able to stick out my tongue.

Young adult fiction can get very adult

Author Francesca Lia Block pushes the limits in YA fiction (for readers 12 to 18). Her main character, Weetzie Bat, "has a boyfriend she calls 'My Secret Agent Lover Man.' They live with Dirk, Weetzie's gay best friend, his lover, Duck, and Weetzie's daughter, Cherokee, possibly conceived during group sex with Dirk and Duck. There is also Witch Baby, Lover Man's child with a witch. The family works in the movie business. They become involved with rough sex, pimps and drugs." And people complain when a cartoon character visits a family with two mommies.

Describing the death of Weetzie's dad from a drug overdose, Ms. Block writes: "Charlie was dreaming of a city where everyone was always young and lit up like a movie, palm trees turned into tropical birds, Marilyn-blonde angels flew through the spotlight rays, the cars were the color of candied mints and filled with lovers making love as they drove down the streets paved with stars that had fallen from the sky."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Australian View of Bush Inaugural

My friend Henry writes: "Here is an interesting editorial. At a time when our own press has become timid and loathe to call a spade a spade, it is both startling and refreshing to read an editorial that says exactly what the writer thinks."

THE EMPIRE OF VULGARITY by Mike Carlton (Sydney Morning Herald)

 George Bush's second inaugural extravaganza was every bit as repugnant as I had expected, a vulgar orgy of triumphalism probably unmatched since Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in Notre Dame in 1804.

 The little Corsican corporal had a few decent victories to his escutcheon. Lodi, Marengo, that sort of thing. Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look, and his grinning plastic wife, and his scheming junta of neo-con spivs, shamans, flatterers and armchair warmongers, and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand theft from the American poor, and his rape of the environment, and his lethal conviction that the world must submit to his Pax Americana or be bombed into charcoal.

 Difficult to know what was more repellent: the estimated $40m cost of this jamboree (most of it stumped up by Republican fat-cats buying future presidential favours), or the sheer crassness of its excess when American boys are dying in the quagmire of Bush's very own Iraq war.

 Other wartime presidents sought restraint. Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address in 1865 - "with malice toward none, with charity for all" - is the shortest ever. And he had pretty much won the Civil War by that time.

 In 1944, Franklin Delano Roosevelt opened his fourth-term speech with the "wish that the form of this inauguration be simple and its words brief". He spoke for a couple of eloquent minutes, then went off to a light lunch, his wartime victory almost complete as well.

 But restraint is not a Dubya word. Learning nothing, the dumbest and nastiest president since the scandalous Warren Harding died in 1923, Bush is now intent on expanding the Iraq war to neighbouring Iran.

 Condoleezza Rice did admit to the US Senate this week that there had been some "not so good" decisions. But the more I see of her gleaming teeth and her fibreglass helmet of hair and her perky confidence, the more I am convinced that back in the '60s she used to be Cindy Birdsong, up there beside Diana Ross as one of the Supremes of Motown fame. I don't think it's a good idea to let her make a comeback as Secretary of State.

 The war in Iran is under way already, if we believe Seymour Hersh, the distinguished investigative writer for The New Yorker magazine. Hersh reported this week that clandestine US special forces have been on the ground there, targeting nuclear facilities to be bombed whenever Bush feels the time is ripe.

"The immediate goals of the attacks would be to destroy, or at least temporarily derail, Iran's ability to go nuclear," he wrote, quoting reliable intelligence sources. "But there are other, equally purposeful, motives at work. The government consultant told me that the hawks in the Pentagon, in private discussions, have been urging a limited attack on Iran because they believe it could lead to a toppling of th religious leadership."

 Naturally, Pentagon flacks rushed out to deny all. But then they did that when Hersh broke the story of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1968, and again when he revealed the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. A tussle for the truth between Hersh and the Pentagon is no contest.

 What terrifies me most is the people planning this new war. The CIA professionals have been frozen out: too weak and wimpy for the Bushies.

 The Defense Secretary, the incompetent Donald Rumsfeld, has seized control, aided by two Pentagon under-secretaries. One is Douglas Feith, largely responsible for the post-invasion collapse of order in Iraq, a civilian bureaucrat memorably described by the former Centcom commander, General Tommy Franks, as "the f---ing stupidest guy on the face of the Earth".

 The other is army Lieutenant General William G. (Jerry) Boykin, whose name also rings a bell. Jerry is a born-again Christian evangelical, a three-star bigot who, in his spare time, stumps the country in full uniform, preaching that America's enemy is Satan, Allah is a false idol, and that George Bush has been ordained by the Lord to rout evil.

 "He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this," Jerry told a prayer meetin' in Oregon just a while back.

 Be very afraid.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson, 65 or 67, snuffs self

The Gonzo journalist took his last and biggest drug in the form of a bullet to the head. For those old enough to remember, he was the voice of a generation who unashamedly broke the law, scarfed heroic amounts of drugs, and called Nixon the worst names you can imagine even before Watergate. He spent most of the time he was supposed to report on the Ali-Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle" attaching leeches to his head because it gave him a buzz. Like fellow-druggie Burroughs he loved guns. He loathed Nixon more than the angriest Democrats hate Bush. We need his hate today. Compared to the namby-pamby hate of the left for the Bushies, this man spouted fat projectile voms of rancid bile that were truly epic. If I were to call George Bush a heartless grind-the-poor draft-coward stoolie-for-the-rich Yale-preppie fake-Cowboy Hitler-big-lying Antichrist pond-scum dirt-bag who butt-fucks bunny-rabbits for breakfast, it wouldn’t come close to what Thompson called Nixon. Read the obit (the best one so far, from Australia for chrissake -- the New York Times obit sucks, you’d think they could do better with a fellow journalist who pioneered "New Journalism”), and read his classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the wildest and funniest book of the last 50 years. Upset when Bill Clinton announced he had not inhaled a marijuana cigarette once handed to him, Hunter said: "It's just a disgrace to an entire generation."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The best Oscar party you'll never go to

Dani Janssen gives the best Ocar party in LA: 'I have an interesting story from last year. At some point a friend came over and said, ''So-and-so and So-and-so need a ride.'' And I said: ''There are a hundred people here.'' I couldn't be bothered with this. Half an hour later, she came back and said: ''It's fabulous, only here could this happen. They both got a ride.'' I said, ''Where were they going?'' and she said, ''Manhattan.'' I turned, and there were four guys at that table, and every one of them had a Gulfstream. That's a party, honey.' Read the full interview.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sex and cooking

"I see cooking for someone as maybe the most selfless thing—short of oral sex—you can do for somebody," says Anthony Bourdain of the book Kitchen Confidential fame. See interview. He says, "Mitterrand, the French president, had two days to live, and the last thing he wanted to eat was the traditional ortolan experience. They drown a little bird, an overfed bird, and you put a hood over your head, and pop this sizzling hot bird in your mouth and kind of crunch into it, and the hot boiling Armagnac and guts go rushing down your throat. It’s supposed to be fantastic—and, I believe, marginally illegal." Holy cow.

Why is prostitution still illegal?

Fuck me if I know. Interesting discussion here, including this: “The street prostitutes I meet regard the sexual behaviour of the call girl with horror. They think we have too much physical contact with the clients.”

Another reason to drop everything and masturbate before you go on with your life

"A radical life is not something that depends on Internet connections or Web sites or demos or even on politics, like having Green mayors. This may sound dull to people who think that having a really hot Web site is a revolutionary act. Or that getting a million people to come out and wave symbolic signs at a symbolic march is a political act. If it doesn't involve economic institution building, it's not." Peter Lamborn Wilson, anarchist, Brooklyn Rail (July/Aug. 2004). You tell 'em, guy.

All about the Brit novelist with the Jap name

Kazuo Ishiguro, acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day, has a new book coming out. Nice appreciation of him here. He says: "When you are young, things like your moral stance and political position seem very important. I'd spend long nights with my friends sorting out moral and political positions that we thought would take us through adult life. But as I've got older I've realised that while it's important to have principles, you don't carefully chart your way through life. You are picked up by a wind every now and again and dumped down somewhere else."

Contenders for Man Booker International

Just announced: a prize to rival the Nobel in publicity. The 18 contenders, 10 in translation, are:
Margaret Atwood
Saul Bellow
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gunter Grass
Ismail Kadare
Milan Kundera
Stanislaw Lem
Doris Lessing
Ian McEwan
Naguib Mahfouz
Tomas Eloy Martinez
Kenzaburo Oe
Cynthia Ozick
Philip Roth
Muriel Spark
Antonio Tabucchi
John Updike
A.B. Yehoshua
How many have you read? (I count 12 for myself. Oops, 6 to go.)

Sexiest use of cursor ever

Check this out.

The anti-Christo Gates

An artist has come up with the anti-Christo gates. They're cuter than Christo. Check them out on his website.

Beyond blogs: podcasts

"From a sofa in the basement of their friend Dave's mom's house, Brad and Other Brad, sock-footed pioneers in the latest technology revolution, are recording "Why Fish," their weekly show. Clutching a microphone and leaning over a laptop, they praise the beauty of the Red River, and plug an upcoming interview with a top-ranked professional walleye fisherman. Their show, mostly ad-libbed, is a podcast, a kind of recording that, thanks to a technology barely six months old, anyone can make on a computer and then post to a Web site, where it can be downloaded to an iPod to be played at the listener's leisure." Invented by MTV jockey Adam Currie, podcasts take to your air space. The full story.

Where would you rather grow up: U.S. or Europe?

From Tony Judt -- one of my favorite intellectuals:
"Consider a mug of American coffee. It is found everywhere. It can be made by anyone. It is cheap - and refills are free. Being largely without flavor it can be diluted to taste. What it lacks in allure it makes up in size. It is the most democratic method ever devised for introducing caffeine into human beings. Now take a cup of Italian espresso. It requires expensive equipment. Price-to-volume ratio is outrageous, suggesting indifference to the consumer and ignorance of the market. The aesthetic satisfaction accessory to the beverage far outweighs its metabolic impact. It is not a drink; it is an artifact.

"This contrast can stand for the differences between America and Europe - differences nowadays asserted with increased frequency and not a little acrimony on both sides of the Atlantic. The mutual criticisms are familiar. To American commentators Europe is "stagnant." The costs of European social welfare payments and public services are "unsustainable." Europe's aging and "cosseted" populations are under-productive and self-satisfied. In a globalized world, the "European social model" is a doomed mirage.

"To a growing number of Europeans, however, it is the "American way of life" that cannot be sustained. The American pursuit of wealth, size, and abundance - as material surrogates for happiness - is aesthetically unpleasing and ecologically catastrophic. The American economy is built on sand (or, more precisely, other people's money). Contemporary mass culture in the US is squalid and meretricious. No wonder so many Americans turn to the church for solace."

Read the whole article. In related news, Yale Professor Craphogger has a new study out that shows doggie-style sex on the uprise in the U.S. His theory? Under the impact of our shallow modern lifestyles, we are reversing evolution and reverting to our animal origins. Outraged Creationists urge the nation to fight back with the "Christian" missionary position.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The U.S. Department of War

In 1947 the U.S. Department of War changed its name to the Department of Defense and then embarked on more than fifty wars to date that had nothing to do with defense. Orwellian, eh?

Novels on your cell phone (holy shit!)

From Moby Lives, the original lit blogger. “Banking on the theory that cell phones 'could become the latest outlet for books' via text messaging, Random House yesterday announced its purchase of a 'significant minority stake' in Vocel, a company that provides 'premium–branded applications for mobile phones.' Cell phone texts have already caught on in Germany, South Korea and Japan, where a cell–novel became so popular it was turned into a movie, 'Deep Love.' Richard Sarnoff, president of Random House Ventures, foresees other uses like 'using phones to transmit dictionary definitions. And when you learn a language, you can have the word appear on your screen and also hear how it's pronounced.'" Perfect for poems: read them and hear them simultaneously. Imagine a cell-phone slam.

In related news, Yale Professor Craphogger has launched "Toilet Novels" -- novels printed on toilet paper, so you can read a new bit every time you wipe yourself.

A slam for novelists

The Morning News picked a bunch of novels and gave them out in pairs for reviewers to read and pick their winner between each pair. Winners move up in rounds to slam against other winners, until one becomes slam champ. Click here for a matchup between Philip Roth’s "The Plot Against America," about Lindberg becoming President of an anti-Semitic U.S. in the forties, vs. T.C. Boyle’s "The Inner Circle," about Dr. Kinsey, the sex researcher.

"There are good marriages but no delicious ones"

So said French aphorist La Rochefoucauld. "As the French know, love -- like good food and wine -- is a stimulant best consumed in small, very pretty portions." Nice article on love as practiced by the French and a brief tour of their major love lit. The writer reminds us that “for many years Parisian lovers traditionally met between 5 and 7…and then went home to their spouses and children.” A civilized affair: why does it seem so un-American? We do our affairs like gym workouts: sweat, intensity, strain.

What did Harvard Prez Summers say to upset women?

He said women are underrepresented in science because of a "different availability of aptitude at the high end." The old "sure, some women are smart, but the best women aren't as smart as the best men" argument. In the most interesting comment, he remarked that "Catholics are substantially underrepresented in investment banking...white men are substantially underrepresented in the National Basketball Association...Jews are substantially underrepresented in farming..." Sure, and little old ladies are underrepresented in punk rock. Transcript here.

In related news, Yale Professor Craphogger has a new study out that shows most men's penises aren't big enough to satisfy most women, a genetic male failure that he hopes to correct by encouraging masturbation as soon as male babies leave the womb.

Serial novel ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN EAT, Chapter 6: Tiara's Charity Ball

To catch up, click here for the first 5 chapters and look under "previous posts" (chapter are short, you'll catch up in 15 minutes).

Within a week the news was all over town. Spriggy told Viviana who told Uwa who told Evaka who told Cantata who told Tosca who told Liz who told the world. At one point someone even told a publicist, although that was hardly necessary given the circles in which Spriggy moved.

Tiara Blaine’s latest extravaganza was going to be the biggest, most amazing and chic-est Charity Ball ever. The premise was simple. All the ladies who were going to attend were told to wear their most expensive evening outfits. Then, at the ball, their gowns were to be auctioned off. Since they’d have no clothes to wear after the auction, they would change in the Big Tent of Many Cubicles, where each could bring their own dresser to fashion an outfit on the spot from a simple piece of cloth woven by Ungungu women.

The name of the Charity Ball was The Ungungu Refugee Gala. It was rumored that the Met had agreed to a special exhibition of all the Ungungu Refugee Gala Garments later in the year, complete with the name-tags of their former and current owners. The money expected to be raised, conservatively estimated in the tens of millions, was to be donated to the Ungungu Refugee Relief Fund. As everyone knew, things had turned dreadful in Ungungu, what with children starving to death by the thousands since the Ungungu Civil War started with the genocide of the Tattas by the Humus – or was it the other way around? Click here to continue.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Three rude questions

What places besides a vagina have you stuck your penis in? (Portnoy stuck his in a piece of liver; the guy in "American Pie" movie in a pie.) And what besides a penis have you put in your vagina? (Carrot? Cucumber? Candle?) Or in your a-hole? (Lightbulb? Doorknob? Gerbil?)

What a difference a century makes

Here are some of the U.S. statistics for 1904:
The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years. Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub. Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home..
Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.
The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were: pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis, diarrhea, heart disease, and stroke.
The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30.
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.
There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
Two of 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated high school.
Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." 
There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

A soldier chooses prison over returning to Iraq

From Code Pink.
"I was deployed to Iraq in April 2003 and returned home for a two-week leave in October. Going home gave me the opportunity to put my thoughts in order and to listen to what my conscience had to say. People would ask me about my war experiences and answering them took me back to all the horrors--the firefights, the ambushes, the time I saw a young Iraqi dragged by his shoulders through a pool of his own blood or an innocent man was decapitated by our machine gun fire. The time I saw a soldier broken down inside because he killed a child.

"When I turned myself in, with all my fears and doubts, it did it not only for myself. I did it for the people of Iraq, even for those who fired upon me--they were just on the other side of a battleground where war itself was the only enemy. I did it for the Iraqi children, who are victims of mines and depleted uranium. I did it for the thousands of unknown civilians killed in war. My time in prison is a small price compared to the price Iraqis and Americans have paid with their lives.

"To those who have called me a coward I say that they are wrong, and that without knowing it, they are also right. They are wrong when they think that I left the war for fear of being killed. I admit that fear was there, but there was also the fear of killing innocent people, the fear of putting myself in a position where to survive means to kill, there was the fear of losing my soul in the process of saving my body, the fear of losing myself to my daughter, to the people who love me, to the man I used to be, the man I wanted to be. I was afraid of waking up one morning to realize my humanity had abandoned me."

Lovely love poem

From The Page.

TYPO by Franz Wright
(for Frank Stafford)

The scheming and chattering
mind's abrupt sense
in the night of its being

surrounded by mind,
unendingly, starrily
dwarfed and encircled

by mind whose voice
is silence, utter
silence unequivocally

kind. . .
               The first bird
talking to the last stars—

maybe it was you
who woke me today in the dark;
I know you're still around here somewhere.

I love you, therefore you are here.
For the first time in days I got dressed;
and I walked outside this morning,

and I saw a new heaven and a new earth.

Great article on Nobel Prize winner Jelinek

From the LA Times on Elfriede Jelinek by J.S. Marcus, author of "The Captain's Fire:"
'To the surprise of her fellow German speakers and to the creeping indifference, or hostility, of nearly everyone else, Elfriede Jelinek, Austria's third best-known contemporary writer, was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature. The choice of Jelinek — a harsh, prolific, undeniably gifted, scarcely bearable virtuoso — is beyond controversial. The work is difficult, violent and hopeless. And Jelinek herself is difficult: reclusive, or just evasive and — not unlike one of her masters, Sylvia Plath — entirely unrepentant. "Her work is brutal," Elizabeth Hardwick once wrote of Plath, "like the smash of a fist." And so it is with Jelinek. In her novels, plays, radio plays, poems, essays, polemical writings and interviews, she has depicted a world whose inhabitants are no longer capable of moral action. They suffer and they cause suffering in others, and that's about it. "I can't describe anything positive," she said in a recent interview.'

I haven't read anything of hers but saw the movie "The Piano Teacher," based on one of her novels, and it was amazing: sexually screwed-up piano teacher, who sleeps in same bed with her Mom, has screwed-up affair with pupil. In a memorable scene, she throws up after giving him a blowjob. His reaction is priceless.

What is it about Austria and its writers? Like Jelinek, the novelist Thomas Bernhard had nothing good to say about his homeland, and banned his own books from being published there.

Lynne Stewart, lawyer who represents unpopular clients, guilty of terrorism?

This from a New York Times Op-Ed.
"When Ms. Stewart sought to visit her client in jail, prison officials required her to sign an affirmation that she would abide by special rules requiring that she communicate with the sheikh only about legal matters. The rules also forbade her from passing messages to third parties, like the news media. Yet the jury found that Ms. Stewart frequently made gibberish comments in English to distract prison officials who were trying to record the conversation between the sheikh and his interpreter, and that she "smuggled" messages from her jailed client to his followers.

"But if the federal government had followed the law, Ms. Stewart would never have been required to agree to these rules to begin with. Just after 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft gave himself the power to bypass the lawyer-client privilege, which every court in the United States has upheld, and eavesdrop on conversations between prisoners and their lawyers if he had reason to believe they were being used to "further facilitate acts of violence or terrorism." The regulation became effective immediately.

"In the good old days, only Congress could write federal criminal laws. After 9/11, however, the attorney general was allowed to do so. Where in the Constitution does it allow that?

"Mr. Ashcroft's rules, with their criminal penalties, violate the Sixth Amendment, which grants all persons the right to consult with a lawyer in confidence. Ms. Stewart can't effectively represent her clients - no lawyer can - if the government listens to and records privileged conversations between lawyers and their clients. The threat of a government prosecution would loom over their meetings."

More comment here.

Pentagon supplies Ecstasy drug to soldiers

Where Do We Sign Up? The United States government has found a new way of recruiting soldiers for the Iraq war: It's offering them ecstasy. The trick is, the soldiers only get the free drugs after they have seen enough fighting to be experiencing flashbacks, recurring nightmares and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The usually tough-to-please FDA has given the experimental treatments an initial go ahead and scientists in South Carolina have quickly gotten to work. The idea is to take advantage of the touchy-feely effect ecstasy (the "happiness drug") has on people to get soldiers to open up about the trauma they have faced. In other news, the US government spends $20 billion a year on the drug war.

Chemically, ecstasy is known as MDMA and in the trials soldiers are given either the drug or a placebo and then undergo eight-hour therapy sessions during which music is played and they are encouraged to talk about their horrifying experiences. The team's leader is Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a South Carolina psychiatrist and longtime campaigner for the use of ecstasy in science. Mithoefer has given ecstasy to patients who were the victims of violent crimes, including rape, and insists on the drug's positive effects in helping them come to terms with what happened to them. He says there's even evidence that ecstasy can reduce tremors in Parkinson's patients. Possibly a whole new take on the 1972 David Peel song "The Pope Smokes Dope." (From Spiegel's Daily Take: thanks, Henry.)

Monday, February 14, 2005

The most romantic books of all time

Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is the most romantic book of all time, says the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the UK’s only professional writers’ association specialising in romantic fiction. In a Valentine’s Day survey, the 700-strong association polled its members to find out the most romantic novel ever written. The top 10: (1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (2) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. (3) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. (4) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. (5) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. (6) Katherine by Anya Seton. (7) Persuasion by Jane Austen. (8) Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy. (9) The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. (10) Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier. Hmm. One guy, and a gloomy one at that, made the list.

Where are the great women thinkers?

This question is asked by Charlotte Allen. "Ideological feminism has ghettoized and trivialized the subject matter of women's writing," she writes, in quite a fat projectile vom of rancid bile.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Monaco stands firm in war on terror

The tiny principality of Monaco has announced that its three harbor boats will soon be equipped with radios in its war against terror. “Our boat captains should know about any imminent attacks,” said Prince Ranier. “Next year we’ve budgeted for two-way radios, to co-ordinate our defenses.” Asked about Monaco’s readiness to interrogate terrorists, Prince Ranier affirmed: “We stand ready to adopt torture techniques from Guantanamo the moment we find a terrorist in any of our casinos. But instead of playing them heavy metal music to break them down, we have invested in a CD of Polish Polka music.” Asked whether it was true that many old terrorists retire to Monaco because of its laissez faire attitudes, the Prince replied: “It would be a better world if all terrorists retired to Monaco today. As part of our effort to lure terrorists to Monaco, every retired terrorist will receive a free stack of $5,000 chips. In the war on terror, Monaco puts its money where its mouth is.” Prince Ranier has been dead for two decades.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Sex Toys – expansion of sexual horizons or prostheses for the sexually handicapped?


What is it with sex toys? I see the point of those vibrating things that make hard-to-come clitties ping, but as for the rest, I say, keep high tech out of the flesh pit. What do YOU think?

Father-haters vs. daddy's girls

Interesting comment from a reader of the Father-Hating poem posted earlier:
"I think that women who are loved by their fathers in a satisfying way live in a different universe from those who hate their dads. It's almost impossible for the two nations (father-haters vs. daddy's girls) to communicate. We need simultaneous translation. Open borders don't work."
If you're a committed father-hater or a daddy's girl, what do you think of the other nation: do you envy them? or pity them?

Friday, February 11, 2005

1 in 3 teens says 1st Amendment goes 'too far'

A democracy is only as democratic as the people who live in it. There's a new study out. Some findings: "When told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes 'too far' in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories." Where do these kids get their ideas from?

Joke going round the Internet

Feb 2 was Groundhog Day and also President Bush's State of the Union Address. An ironic juxtaposition: one event involved a
meaningless ritual in which we looked to a small creature of little intelligence and limited capacities for prognostication, while the other event involved a groundhog.

Arthur Miller, 89, dies

Attention must be paid. The man who first nailed the nightmare of the American dream has left the stage. What a guy: he wrote two classic plays and married the sexiest woman in the world.

Serial novel ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN EAT, chapter 5: Domino wants Slave

(To catch up with the first 4 chapters, click here and look at "previous posts." The chapters are short: you'll catch up in ten minutes.)

Domino sat with Slave in the helicopter, Xavier and Alfred in front of him. The bodyguards and Hlabla, the interpreter, had been dispatched by car to Brooks Brothers to get the interpreter a good suit until Domino’s personal tailor could stitch up a few ensembles for him. Domino picked up Slave’s hand and showed it to the others.

“Even her hands. Look at her hands. They’re flawless. Look at the thumb. Have you ever seen a more beautiful thumb?” He smiled at Slave. She flashed a demure smile back at him.

“My god, we won’t even have to fix her teeth.”

“I told you,” said Alfred.

“Generations of genes have conspired to produce the perfect human specimen.”

“We will be able to make her famous in three months flat. Just in time for your show.”

“We must teach her English, too.”

“We have a choice of two accents. Upper-class British or French.”

“Upper-class British,” said Domino. “A French accent sounds too coquettish and cheap. We want the hauteur of the British. It will make Slave more exotic and aloof. Dignified like the goddess.”

“The hauteur of the oppressor combined with the name of the oppressed, all in one being.”

“Exactly, my sweet cherub. And we will also need someone to fuck her. A frustrated beauty is the most dangerous thing on the earth.”

“Some giant macho hero from the world of sports.”

“No, we must find a male model. Someone we can control with a big penis. Who has a big penis?”

Click here to continue.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Umberto Eco on how to tell a fascist

Eco has a list of 14 things that distinguish a fascist. See how his list reflects our current dystopia.

Sample: "No. 12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, like homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise."

He wouldn’t have made it as a TV writer

Faulkner on being edited: "I get drunk, I get mad, I get thrown from horses, I get all sorts of things. But I don't get edited. I'd rather see my wife get fucked by the stable boy!"
Via Maud Newton.

Tomorrow: new chapter of serial novel

Get ready for the latest chapter in the hilarious serial novel ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN EAT. Oh, the depths to which we'll sink, the knots of twisted sickness.

Hoffman launches fat projectile vom of rancid bile

I must have a mean streak, because I get a kick out of reading reviews that nuke books. See this evisceration. Sample quote: “The experience of reading Conspirators is like being argued with by someone with whom one has no disagreement, over something in which one has no interest. Characters, setting and plot all seem to come with borrowing slips still attached.”

Performance poet gets residency at posh Eton

She's written about drugs and gender-bending. "I'll be talking about poetry and tattoos to the boys while I'm there," says Learning Patience. "I don't think any subject will be out of bounds."

First he wanted to be her tampon

Now he wants to marry her. Remember the cellphone tap, when Prince Charles was overheard telling Camilla that he wanted to be her tampon? Talking dirty has to be the best foundation for any marriage. Go choke on a tampon if you don't agree.

See me perform

Monday Feb 14, 8pm.
THE FIRST ANNUAL WIFE OF BATH FESTIVAL OF EROTIC POETRY!
A Valentine evening of raucous rhyme to fill your heart with love.
Featuring Evert Eden, Regie Cabico, Tsaurah Litzky, Thad Rutkowski, Amy Shapiro, Hal Sirowitz, Jackie Sheeler. Hosted by Tsaurah Litzky, with special guest Sherwood Forest, and Magistrate Moonshine Shorey doing a medieval striptease that will titillate your madrigals and tickle your knees.
Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery at Bleecker, NYC, 212-641-0505. $6.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Poem for all you Father Haters

Poet directs projectile vom of rancid bile at poet Louise Gluck for being her Dad’s stupid girlfriend. From Identity Theory.

"The House on Marshland" by Nora Chassler

Could someone have loved you?
Only a woman without senses
with a mouth as big as a melon
agape for melodrama
buttered up with married parents
suburban okayness.
I find a book of poems
by the famous poet Louise Gluck
everything is a named plant
then there's some sex
gingerly set in among the leaves.
I try to think,
Am I a poet too?
Am I if she is?
Comfortably wallowing in self-pity
the skinny book falls closed to its flyleaf
a blank page
I notice it's inscribed to you
"Fifteen years later I still know that you taught me
to speak."- Louise
No wonder her poems are asleep
Only a false person
a misguided Long Island duck
could mistake you for deep
you didn't teach us to speak
you didn't teach anything
except how to laugh about misery
there is no truth in you

If you taught the famous poet, Louise Gluck to speak,
as her
inscription on the front cover of her book, The House
on Marshland,
would have me assume, then why didn't you teach me
anything. I think,
she doesn't know, she thought you taught her something
because she's
nostalgising or worse. She thought that because she is
from a sweet
suburban home and academics build their lives around
melodrama which
can produce malodorous love in them until well into
their sixties. In
other words I thought, this Gluck, she must be a big
fool, teaching
poetry, romanticizing my father. Because my father is
a bad man. He's
irresponsible. He's sleazy and when he speaks of love
his mouth curls
up like a villain. He has turned away from love and he
doesn't know
what it is.

You know what really bothers me?
That I can't be as bitter as I am
without feeling ashamed
things that other people have forgotten
I never had
then I find a book of poems by Louise Gluck
an old girlfriend of my dad's
it is inscribed
"All these years later I still believe you taught me
to speak."
How can she be so stupid
How can all these poetesses sleep at night
with their dime-store fantasies
of men as men
Men are an impasse
my father is a rubbery clam
because of him I can't feel softly about people

Nora Chassler is from New York but lives in Brighton on the south coast of England. She got a masters in creative writing from St. Andrews. She is writing a novel, a love story that she started when she was on jury duty.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Best things to do when stoned

Listen: Pink Floyd or Arvo Part
Taste: Oatmeal and raisin cookies
Smell: Marzipan
Feel: Fur i.e. stroke a cat; or have sex
See: Robert Carswell’s Pathological Anatomy: Illustrations of the Elementary Forms of Disease. Check 'em out. Horribly beautiful.
What do YOU like?

Books for Valentine's Day

The Christian Science Monitor asked 19 writers to pick their favorite romantic reads.

Recently read and recommended

"The End of Faith" by Sam Harris. He says the sooner we get rid of Christianity and Islam, the quicker we’ll stop war and terrorism, because like most bad things, they’re caused by religion. He shows how violent, exclusionary and evil Christianity and Islam are.

“Imagine a world in which generations of human beings come to believe that certain films were made by God or that specific software was coded by him. Imagine a future in which millions of our descendants murder each other over rival interpretations of Star Wars or Windows 98. Could anything be more ridiculous? Yet, this would be no more ridiculous than the world we are living in.”

Will we ever get rid of religion? In the U.S. it’s more likely assholes get cloned with roses so our farts smell like Chanel No. 9. But in Europe they’re secularists, and they don’t start wars.

Harris’s projectile vom of rancid bile at the idiocy of faith also includes two interesting points: you can be more moral without religion, and more spiritual, too. The discussion on spirituality without religion may change your life. Check this out, too: a mother’s speech about raising her child as an atheist. For a view from a moderate Christian (whom Harris despises more than extreme ones, because moderates create the context in which fundamentalists thrive) see "God's Politics:" Why the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn’t get it” by Jim Wallis, “a sort of Pat Robertson for the religious left.”

Monday, February 07, 2005

The best Cyrano translation

Jonathan Yardley writes about the best translation of Cyrano de Bergerac, the only play I know that’s right up there with Shakespeare. Rent the movie with Gerard Depardieu as Cyrano. It’s like watching Hamlet, Sweeney Todd or Streetcar Named Desire: the greatest of the great.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Fucking for money: Sex rears its yummy head 2


A friend of mine who was mildly flirting with a friend, was suddenly offered money to have sex with him. She knows him quite well; wouldn’t mind fucking him; knows she can keep it a secret from her husband; and the money is quite a lot.

So she’s thinking about it and wants to know:

1) Should she do it?
2) If she does it, does that make her a whore or a prostitute?
3) If it makes her a whore, is that so bad?

What do YOU think? If it’s too much hassle to post a comment here, email me at everteden@earthlink.net and I’ll post your comment anonymously for you.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Why you should welcome the Bush attack on Social Security

It’s more likely a gnat will butt-fuck a whale and produce offspring than that Bush gets to “reform” Social Security. Be thankful he’s trying though: every second spent on this issue is time he’s not spending on butt-fucking the environment, healthcare, or our international reputation.

Lovely quote

"When a lot of people agree about something, it's either a stupid idea or a beautiful woman." - Ortega y Gassett

The sexiest writer you never heard of

Nice interview on Guernica with Edith Grossman, translator of Marquez and Don Quixote.
Guernica: Who’s the sexiest writer you can think of?
Edith Grossman: Hm. The sexiest writer. Well, I’m going to offend everybody in the entire world: Alvaro Mutis is the sexiest man and the sexiest writer I can imagine. And he’s over eighty years old.”

Ossie Davis, 87, dies

What a voice he had. And was. Read the obit.

Architect and anti-Semite Philip Johnson dead

T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Joseph Campbell, Charles Lindbergh: there’s an endless list of famous anti-Semites. Johnson helped organize a U.S. fascist party. He worked for the Nazi sympathizer and radio broadcaster, Father Charles E. Coughlin. He attended one of Hitler's Nuremberg rallies in 1938, and in 1939 he followed the German army into Poland. "We saw Warsaw burn and Modlin being bombed," he wrote. "It was a stirring spectacle." Get the full dirt.

The world war against U.S. cultural occupation

Unesco’s 190 members are embrawled in a fight about cultural diversity. On one side are France and Canada, who want to protect their culture from America and insist on "the cultural exception" in world trade. On the other side? America, who says culture best flourishes in “the freedom of the globalized economy.”

“So is this another example of anti-Americanism? The Hollywood lobby has long complained about the protection of the French film industry. But because of that help, France has Europe's only thriving movie industry: Hollywood accounts for about 65 percent of the French box office, compared with 90 percent elsewhere in Europe. Now Denmark, Germany, Britain and Spain are also looking to help their film businesses.”

Books or men?

Over at Booklust, a woman asks: Books...Men...Books...Men...?

“Don't get me wrong. I love men. Especially the one I have. But sometimes, all I want to do is cuddle up with a really good book, and nothing else.

“I mean, let's be honest. Books are a great comfort. And there are so many of them. If you don't like one, you can easily find another. If you don't like what a book is saying, you can just close the damn thing. Try doing that with a man. And it's a hell of a lot easier to organize your books than to organize a man.

“And heh. The average book is 7 inches long. So what do you think? Books or men?”

Friday, February 04, 2005

Serial novel ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN EAT Chapter 4: Alfred and his model face U.S. Customs

There were moments when Alfred wished America were as corrupt as other countries when it came to the picayune matters of everyday life. On the grand scale, of course, America was more corrupt and venal than all other industrial countries put together, with the greediest elite that ever sucked up a nation’s tax dollars. But when it came to the little nuisances of petty officialdom, things were different. You could never be sure, for example, how an immigration official would respond to the minor hint of one hundred dollars.

Click here to continue. If you need to catch up, you'll find chapters 1 to 3 by scrolling to the end of Chapter 4. The chapters are short -- you'll catch up in under ten minutes.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Do you like sexy books?

Where are they? Splinters says: “Chuck Palahniuk's Choke is a great example.” And then he gives the best raison d’etre for sexy books: “There must be hundreds of other books that use sex as an exploration of being alive rather than simply life being the byproduct of it. I want to find those books.”

So do I. Email me at everteden@earthlink.net about your favorite sexy books. I’ll post them. There’s room for serious pornlit in this world, dammit. Where is today’s D.H. Lawrence or Portnoy’s Complaint?

Meanwhile, here’s an interview with Susannah Breslin, a writer who is also a porno pundit. She says about her short story collection: “There's a story about a midget porn star, a story about a woman whose husband gets turned on when she pretends to be a lamp, a story about a man who has his penis cut off.” Sounds good.

Also, check this Amazon page for books about porn and its industry.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Poetry and the joy of bile

August Kleinzahler launches a fat projectile vom of rancid bile all over Garrison Keillor’s head for having publish an anthology of poems. This is how the critic opens his fusillade:

“Readers may remember how the U.S. military blared Van Halen and others at the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, when he took refuge in the Vatican Embassy in Panama City during our invasion of Panama years ago. This method of rousting the wicked proved so successful that it was repeated during the recent Afghan experience, when heavy metal chart-busters were unleashed on caves thought to be sheltering Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. The English Guardian newspaper reported last year that we were breaking the wills of captured terrorists, or suspected terrorists, by assaulting them first with heavy metal followed by "happy-smiley children's songs." The real spirit cruncher turns out to be the "Barney, I Love You" song played for hours on end. Even the most hardened, sadistic killers buckle under "that kind of hell," or so asserted a reliable source. But if that fails to work, I suggest a round-the-clock tape of Garrison Keillor reading poems on his daily Writer's Almanac show.”

He bemoans the current state of poetry -- one of those perennial kvetches, like the death of the novel, how TV makes us all mediocre, and the terrible algebra score of our schoolkids:

“Ninety percent of adult Americans can pass through this life tolerably well, if not content, eating, defecating, copulating, shopping, working, catching the latest Disney blockbuster, without having a poem read to them by Garrison Keillor or anyone else. Nor will their lives be diminished by not standing in front of a Cézanne at the art museum or listening to a Beethoven piano sonata. Most people have neither the sensitivity, inclination, or training to look or listen meaningfully, nor has the culture encouraged them to, except with the abstract suggestion that such things are good for you. Multivitamins are good for you. Exercise, fresh air, and sex are good for you. Fruit and vegetables are good for you. Poetry is not.

I, for one, have never in my lifetime seen the situation of poetry in this country more dire or desperate. Nor is the future promising. Cultural and economic forces only suggest further devastation of any sort of vital literary culture, along with the prospects of the very, very few — it is always only a very few — poets who will matter down the road. What little of real originality is out there is drowning in the waste products spewing from graduate writing programs like the hog farm waste that recently overflowed its holding tanks in the wake of Hurricane Isabel, fouling the Carolina countryside and poisoning everything in its path.

Let me put it starkly: the better animals in the jungle aren't drawn to poetry anymore, and they're certainly not tuned in to Keillor's Writer's Almanac . Just as the new genre of the novel drew off most of the brilliant young writers of the nineteenth century, movies, television, MTV, advertising, rock 'n' roll, and the internet have taken the best among the recent crop of young talent. Do you suppose for a moment that a spirited youngster with a brilliant, original mind and gifted up the yin-yang is going to sit still for two years of creative writing poetry workshops presided over by a dispirited, compromised mediocrity, all the while critiquing and being critiqued by younger versions of the same?”

The Iraq election

No matter how inspiring the election or the Bush rhetoric, the U.S. project is about getting control of Iraq's vast, virtually untouched oil reserves, and extending our military reach over the region. "Think of Iraq as a military base with a very large oil reserve underneath; you can't ask for better than that," the Wall Street oil analyst Fadel Gheit has said.

If democracy comes to Iraq, it will be because events forced a jigger of idealism down the throats of the Bushies. They wanted Chalabi to run Iraq, remember?

Read Why the Children in Iraq Make No Sound When They Fall for a cold-shower view by one Bernard Chazelle. He writes: “With Bush's reelection, America now has the president it deserves. And should you find that Lady Liberty, all dolled up with the latest in fashion from Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, looks a bit like a used-up hooker, you won't need to ask who hired her pimp: We did.”

A friend from Amsterdam: "Europe is so sick of USA, and the 40 million dollar inauguration party was the last straw, basically." Hopefully our prestige will be restored when Hillary becomes our next president.

A poem about poetry's terrible effect

Scottish poet Gael Turnbull:

"Transform your life with poetry"
the card said, and briefly I fussed
that this overestimated the effect
until I remembered how it had thrust
several old friends,
plus near and dear,
into distress and penury,
how even I, without the dust
of its magic, might have achieved
peace of mind, even success

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Lovely quote

From the masthead of an Indian bookblogger :
"Life happened because I turned the pages" – Alberto Manguel.

Cheating on your lover: a woman's response

"Anony-Miss" responds to questions in previous post (Sex rears its yummy head 1):

The condom question:
"I don't cheat because I love the sex I have with condoms, and I don't want to subject myself to endless negotiations with new talent who will perhaps... try to have sex without a condom! My current man is excellent in bed, most compatible I ever had, and I have better sex with him wearing a condom than I ever had pre-condom. (Yes, I came of age during a condomless summer.)

For me the whole idea of sex without condoms is quite boring and off-putting, but I'm still fertile and I'm also opposed to abortion. So... I don't think it would be right for me to increase my risk of pregnancy... and that's my other reason for using condoms. My boyfriend understands this and I don't know if other men would -- a lot of guys today are not sophisticated about abortion; they assume that someone as liberal as myself will also be willing to have an abortion. I appreciate my boyfriend for being civilized about that and not putting me at risk. Strangely, this affects my libido."

The love question:
"I also -- this is really boring! -- find true love, the tenderness that comes from a man's heart, a major turn-on. You can't find that everywhere, and I know that other sex partners will be friendly or fun, but not so deeply involved with me. And, though I am a rather healthy girl (I can come with almost anybody), I don't really crave another casual orgasm.

I do however crave the intrusive emotional orgasms that I have with my darling boyfriend. And the idea of sex with someone who doesn't care about me very deeply leaves me cold. I know this is quite old-fashioned, but I wasn't always like this."

The age question:
"I will never be "too old" to cheat -- what the hell is THAT? But I don't want some other man walking around thinking that he's getting away with something behind my boyfriend's back -- no matter how much free love or liberation, there is some primal stuff going on in our hearts.

When you have sex with somebody else's man or woman, you have scored a point: you feel a bit sorry for a wife if you're fucking her husband; you "have something on them." People who deny this are either midwestern swingers or totally in denial."

Another ex-cheater:
"I have cheated on all my other men, but for the first time I am with somebody whose reputation and status I cherish -- as far as I'm concerned, he is king of my jungle.

But this is also a vanity issue -- if you value yourself as a female, and see yourself as a prize catch instead of just another sexual citizen in the democratic republic of pussy... you can enjoy practicing some restraint. You feel like you are giving him something special that you never give to others, and it's a huge ego trip (for the female) ... but years of cheating and experimentation have gone into this highly evolved stance."

Thanks, "Anony-Miss."