Category: Blog


Hotel Breakfast?

17th August

Absent from Hotel Theory?

Ricardo Reis had told the manager, I would like breakfast brought up to my room at nine-thirty. Not that he intended to sleep so late, but he wished to avoid having to jump out of bed half-awake, struggling to slip his arms into the sleeves of his dressing gown, groping for his slippers, and feeling panic that he wasn’t moving quickly enough to satisfy whoever was standing outside his door, arms laden with a huge tray bearing coffee and milk, toast, a sugar bowl, perhaps some cherry preserve or marmalade, a slice of dark grainy quince paste, a sponge cake, brioches with a fine crust, crunchy biscuits, or slices of French toast, those scrumptious luxuries served in hotels.

 


What A Buzzword Taught Me About Healing

8th August

The English language lacks a tense for “was that – am this – will be.” We have the past tense, which is for revisiting old failures, and the future, for imagining a better self. But there’s nothing in our vocabulary for the condition of being in-between. For example, when I tell people “I ran seven miles every day,” or “I liked to drive on the freeway, by myself, with a Red Simpson record on the stereo,” or “I would go to the bagel shop for breakfast,” I don’t mean that I will never run, never drive, never get bagels again on an early Sunday morning. They see my wheelchair, my legs, and think that my past tense is a time beyond retrieval. It’s true that I can’t walk on my own right now, that I had an “accident,” and I …


John Cage to Elizabeth Bishop

5th August

Did John Cage read Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Letter to N.Y.”:

In your next letter I wish you’d say
where you are going and what you are doing;

I ask because Cage delivered a “lecture” at Pratt in 1961 titled, “Where Are We Going? And What Are We Doing?” A lecture that was actually four in one. A performance of “Where Are We Going? And What Are We Doing?” consists of three pre-recorded tracks played simultaneously while the same speaker reads a fourth script. For his collection of essays Silence, Cage printed the four lectures in different typefaces, mixed together incoherently. In a brief introduction, Cage qualifies the print copy:

The texts were written to be heard as four simultaneous lectures. But to print four lines of type simultaneously–that is, superimposed on one another-was a project unattractive in the present instance. The presentation here used has the …


My Maria

2nd August

He straightened and with his two arms around her held her so tightly that she was lifted off the ground, tight against him, and he felt her trembling and then her lips were on his throat, and then he put her down and said, “Maria, oh, my Maria.”


Heartland Rock and John Cage

1st August

Trailing the musical history of Tastee-Freez. Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s In Love With The Boy,” a story about Katie and Tommy, reworks John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane.”

Katie and Tommy at the drive-in movie
Parked in the very last row
They’re too busy holdin’ on to one another
To even care about the show
Later on outside the Tastee-Freez
Tommy slips something on her hand
He says my high school ring will have to do
‘Til I can buy a wedding band.

versus

Suckin’ on chili dog outside the Tastee-Freez
Diane’s sittin’ on Jacky’s lap
He’s got his hand between her knees
Jacky say “Hey Diane lets run off
‘Hind a shady tree
Dribble off those Bobby Brooks
Let me do what I please.”

John Cage, “Indeterminacy”:

Virgil Thomson and Maurice Grosser were driving across the United States. When they came to Kansas, Virgil Thomson said, “Drive as fast as possible, in no case stop. Keep on going until …


Close Up The Honky Tonks

27th July

Rhinestones, overalls, a tractor, trucker hats, tight jeans. Better than Buck Owens. I first heard Red Simpson perform this song, but Dwight Yoakam does it justice. Why he’s eating a raw tomato is beyond me: one beefsteak, salt, knife and fork, while your love rocks the jukebox: that’s loneliness? I love the country camp, even though Red doubtless imagined a grittier, Bakersfield scene when he wrote “Close Up The Honky Tonks.”

 


Convalescence

21st July

What have I been up to since I fell off a cliff in Utah?

I saw The Way, Way Back. It was way, way bad. And after watching Project Runway, I finally understand fierce.

Baseball Nut is a good reason to visit Baskin-Robbins.

Reading My Struggle (Karl Ove Knausgaard). Dare I say I don’t get Norway?

I like to exercise on my wheelchair. When it rains, I go to the mall in the morning, before the shoppers turn out, and zoom to the muzak. I can also support myself on my left leg, in a cam boot, and hop around using a walker.

I had a box of Chicken McNuggets, which were delicious.

Before my accident I had been reading Kafka on the Shore (Murakami) on the toilet. I finished it, listened to the “Archduke Trio” and “My Favorite Things” four or five times, and finally understood why Murakami has …


Denver Fieldwork 1

4th July

A Taste of Paradise is a donut shop in Ogallala, Nebraska. I made the Denver run on one sour cream fritter and 7 oz. of coffee poured out the percolator head.

Love for hops infused pickles at Euclid Hall. Good with iced tea and chicken schnitzel sandwich.

Increasingly interested in textile art.

I no longer want to visit the hippest and hoodest restaurants. These days I’m happy with horchata in a cocktail shaker, carnitas tacos, roomy booths for reclining after three margaritas. Salted maple pecan ice cream, half-finished.

This city is cleaner than Singapore. Do you get spanked if you litter a craft beer can?

 

Domesticated in Denver?

 


Nebraska Fieldwork 2

3rd July

In Seward, the world’s largest time capsule. The vault includes two cars, disco paraphernalia, and letters from members of the community.

 

Glass bottles full of Kool-Aid soft drink, from the Hastings Museum of Natural & Cultural History.

On either side of I-80 cornfields unfold like green corduroy. The distance between towns is incredible, the possibility of never leaving Nebraska terrifying. Insulated by the whine of tires and top 40 radio, a car turns into an island drifting to the end of the world. Once we get there, we’ll tumble off the edge, off the waterfall into a foaming void. The prairie has been nearly exterminated but seafaring metaphors are still appropriate for describing a voyage from one end of the state to the other. Other than the Platte River, which I crossed this evening, geographic landmarks are absent. The farmland might as well …



Nebraska Fieldwork 1

2nd July

Lost and running out of gas along the Missouri border, grinding rural road 420, 423, 426. To the nearest station, chugging gravel, coasting, guessing east to town. Praying against empty when I spit out from the spiral and find a pump in Savannah. One long walk averted.

John Brown’s Cave is closed on Mondays. Nebraska City, bust.

Legend Comics & Coffee on Leavenworth Street: Have hipsters made it to Omaha?

At Stella’s Bar and Grill, the burger is flavored with mayo and American cheese, served with no plate but plenty of napkins. Maybe Nebraska beef. The menu only helps with the question of fresh versus frozen.

From the town of Lincoln Nebraska / Holed up in a motel, / on the edge of the highway.



From the Notebook
The Ugly Janitors of America Official Credo

From the liner of Naked Teenage Girls In Outer Space (1985):

Music is the only thing that matters.

We do not care about being popular. ...

Halfpenny

Blest age! when all men may procure, The title of a Connoisseur; When noble and ignoble herd, Are govern’d by a single word; Though, like the royal German...

Welwitschia mirabilis

All Matter lives, and shews its Maker’s Power; There’s not a Seed but what contains a Flower: Tho’ unobserv’d its secret Beauty lies, Till we are blest...