Slack motherfucker

21Jun10

I ain’t been doin’ shit.

That is, I’ve been reading but not writing, and also not much of anything on my list. I’ve been enjoying the books I’ve been reading but have been lacking much of anything to say about them. So in the interest of completeness, I will replace several well-crafted medium-length entries with one long dashed off one, thus clearing the decks and letting me start stockpiling more themes for engaging entries I will replace with long unsatisfying summaries.


Farren, M. (1981). Phaid the Gambler. New York: Ace.
Farren, M. (1987). Citizen Phaid. New York: Ace.
Not particularly ambitious and thus more or less successful chronicle of a rambling gambler. The post-apocalyptic setting is pretty interesting, but I wanted more background. It’s strange to see a “series” consisting of two books, rather than a trilogy (or more). Still, it killed some time.

Licht, A. (2002). An emotional memoir of Martha Quinn. Chicago: Drag City.
This one’s a reread, inspired by the fantastic Robyn Hitchcock show at Coolidge Corner a few weeks ago. In this more or less latter part of his career, Hitchcock is consciously locating himself as a bit of a historical relic, at the end of one line and grappling ambivalently with the beginning of the next; yet his music remains consistently innovative, challenging, and enjoyable. Why do some established musicians (Nick Cave is another example) manage this transition whereas others (Pete Townshend, Lou Reed) fail? Licht spends a lot of time talking about this:

I truly believe that Pete Townshend and Lou Reed have as much talent today as they did in the Sixties — but the lives they lead as established rock stars aren’t as interesting as the lives they led as young writers and performers, which is why their music isn’t as inspired or interesting.

This little book from Drag City is out of print but easily found online (I bought another copy because I thought I’d lost mine; now it turns out I have two). Worth checking out for any rock fan or cultural critic. (I may do an entire post inspired by this show and book; then again, maybe I won’t).


Tarrant, S. (2009). Men and feminism. Berkeley: Seal Press.

I read this on the bus to and from NYC. Basic but useful, as it discusses the relationship between men and (you guessed it) feminism. It made me start thinking really actively about certain passively-held principles, and the difference between passively-held principles and action. Several weeks later, I’m still thinking about it, and taking small steps toward implementing some of these thoughts. It feels good.

There was something I didn’t like about the book, but I can’t remember what it was, and I can’t find my copy at the moment, so it probably wasn’t that important.


Olin, J. (2010). Hold tight: The Truck Darling poems. New York: Hanging Loose.

So far this is the only book of poems I’ve managed to make it through this summer. Jeni Olin is fast becoming one of my favorite poets: gorgeous, harrowing, raw, and tender. Here’s one:

PILLOW TALK

As an insomniac compulsively flips a pillow
to cool the cheek, I turn you over again & again
& again in my mind when I need the cold side
of the said affair to rail against
“the ruinous work of nostalgia.”
If life imitates art, then each stillborn
has its own mucus-bright Blue Period.
Sharks keep moving to prevent dying.
People keep moving too, unwittingly staving off
the comfort of stasis, the virility of expiration, blah, blah…
But Death, the great highlighter, makes us all shine
a bit more dearly. I’m a widowchild who needs sunblock
against your blinding legacy. I used to get my cardio up
by just sleeping next to you. In a sane world,
I’d be bumped off to warn the others of a sky
so blue at the end of the working business day
if your veins hadn’t stolen the purest
Pearl Paint blue first. A broken thoroughbread –
I need a passport & vertigo pills to reach you.
Godspeed, galloping into your Misty Blue
OMG I miss you.

Other than these, I don’t think I’ve finished any other books, though I’ve started several form my list. Karen Horney’s Our Inner Conflicts, which after a chapter has taught me that it’s really hard to read psychoanalytic theory without people to talk about it with; Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, where I’ve been stalled with exactly 100 pages to go (out of 600), hung up by a combination of timing and a shift of narrative; Eating Pavlova, D.M. Thomas’ fictionalized version of Freud’s final days, which is proving too hallucinatory for me to follow. Also (not from my list) Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, the first chapter of which I enjoyed fairly well, but which hasn’t proven sufficiently interesting to continue.

And I’ve been watching a lot of TV and movies, mostly via Netflix. House of the Devil, one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in some time; Heat, which somehow I’ve never seen and which blew me away; Arrested Development, for kicks, which I like a lot but has never really grabbed me; and I’ve finally started 30 Rock, after a couple years of resistance. I’m enjoying it immensely.

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2 Responses to “Slack motherfucker”

  1. 1 Kevin

    I remember seeing that Martha Quinn book at Twisted Village years ago and taking note of the title. Never bought it, because if I’m weighing what to buy at Twisted Village, records always win.

  2. It is excellent. I actually have an extra copy if you’d like it.


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