SURVIVOR: let the great world spin (colum mccann)*
CHALLENGER: further tales of the city (armistead maupin)

now that i've finished my third volume, these things of the city...are making my soul tired. my emotional commitment to armistead maupin follows a sine wave, i think: tales of the city's dishy jokes left me cold, more tales of the city won me over with its weird coming-out-and-cannibalism (different characters, mind you) two-fer, and further tales of the city - the last collection for which there's a corresponding showtime movie - squanders the goodwill of the international community, or the outgoing administration's surplus, or...it's tired and confused, my soul. this imagery, for one thing.

i tiptoed around most of the big plot points in tales of the city and more tales of the city, but it's hard to talk about this book without going ahead and saying that it's mostly about jim jones (not the rapper, the cult leader). maupin has been praised for incorporating local happenings in his series, and he could hardly ignore the subject: jones's temple moved its headquarters to san francisco for a number of years, mayor george moscone named jones chairman of the san francisco housing commission(!), and, well, the jonestown massacre happened just four years before the further tales columns were collected and released. that said, i feel distinctly strange about an alternate reality jim jones story line (in further tales, he doesn't die in guyana with 900 of his followers; after a double dies in his place, he has plastic surgery, moves into a shack in a rhododendron dell in golden gate park, and trains chipmunks**) being part of a story that's occasionally packaged with a condom (that's the showtime movie and it's a french dvd, but still). too weird.

VICTOR: let the great world spin. your three-volume zerg rush was ineffective, maupin! the irish are defended!

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 had you ever heard of jim jones the rapper?

02 could you approve of a quasi-comic novel about jim jones?

03 have you ever been to golden gate park? what did you do there?

*previous battle here.

**not the animated musical group, the rodents.


furiousmuse said...

1> You mean my uncle, Jim Jones? I know he's tried raising tropical fish before, but my mom never mentioned  the rapping bit.

2> I'm liking the graphic novels I'm getting exposure to. It could work. They're making a graphic novel of "The Last Unicorn" I hear. Or it might be out already. I'm a baby in the comic world.

3> Golden Gate Park. I have mixed memories there. I remember Japanese Tea Gardens. Those are good memories, both times I went. :)

Milkmaid's dumb friend said...

01: Baaalliiinn’!
02: Nothing is off limits.  There is sympathy available for, say, someone like David Mamet when he makes his case against renderings of The Holocaust as popular entertainment (exploitive he says in an interview, no matter the good intentions), but in the end it’s just a flat-out unrealistic expectation.  And if an event as toxic as The Holocaust is fair game, how can anyone hope to resist something so completely odd as The Jonestown Massacre, what with all the grotesquely droll details: refreshing Kool-Aid suddenly all but synonymous with mass suicide; Jim Jones as piss-poor avant-garde Elvis impersonator, or as early fashion victim of the carcinogenic 70’s leisure suit; all those Reebok shoes in the aftermath photos; and who in the hell came up with Guyana for home base?  So… I think I could approve.  Condom optional.
0?: DFW loved Johnson’s Angels, but B R Myers loathed Tree of Smoke; ordering my tickets to Thundertome IX (?) posthaste.

kidchamp said...

S, i meant comic ha-ha (unclear after the chipmunks reference, i realize); i was trying to imagine a modern equivalent of contemporary satire about jim jones, which would be something like sex and the city resurrecting one of the world trade center hijackers in a samantha plot, and it seemed crazy to me. with the buffer of a few decades, maybe, but when it's just happened? ballsy of maupin to address it, for sure, but...training chipmunks?

DFW, i read already dead a few years ago and seem to have completely forgotten how i felt about it. this disturbs me.

jacob said...

01 nope, though i'm not really the go-to person on hip hop.

02 i would recommend watching the documentary on jim jones that pbs put out a few years ago. what i found particularly interesting about the people's temple movement was its really, really progressive stance on race given the time period. in any case, i'm sure something in the realm of hollywood entertainment could be made out of jonestown, and it might be pretty good. funny ha-ha, though? that's one bleak narrative to wring jokes from.

03 pass.

g said...

01 vaguely

02 comic ha-ha?  emphatic no.  even the casual use of the phrase "he/she drank the kool-aid" pisses me off.

03 drove by it once.  i didn't notice any trained chipmunks as i went by.

kidchamp said...

i should emphasize that by comic ha-ha i don't mean that there were flavor aid one-liners; however, i don't see how the romantic part of the story line could be anything other than satire, though (prue giroux, the ditzy local society columnist, falls in love with jones in his shack after stumbling upon it while hunting for her wolfhound, vuitton); if the passages about their romance aren't a joke about cultists at her expense, they're deeply strange writing. 

Peonies said...

01. Of course, he was one of the original members of The Diplomats was he not? (Actually, um, no.  But I have heard of Wikipedia) 

02. definitely not.  I can't get on board with rewriting tragic history in any media.  Inglorious Basterds made me very very angry. 

03.  Yes.  I don't remember.  It was a Bad Holiday and I've blanked most of it.  

Amanda said...

01 No.
02 Perhaps. But perhaps not the one described above.
03 C. and I fully intended to go there for archery and tea one day a few years ago, but instead decided that San Francisco was the worst place on earth and fled tearfully to Napa by way of the Emeryville IKEA.

Milkmaid's dumb friend said...

0?(a troubling addendum): Fun fact, and evidently new to me- you label all the Thundertome ™ bouts with a numeral at the start of each round.  Ergo the next potential bout is 17 (McCann VS Johnson, or: The Wham Bam in New Amsterdam) and not my oblivious guesstimation of 9 (previous legendary battle McCann VS Updike, or: The Puppy Neck Mania in Pennsylvania).
Conclusion- I’m unobservant.  Or like David Hare said to Frank Rich: “Frank, you are lord of all you survey.  What a pity it turns out to be ashes.”
Additionally- I’m no doctor, but damn homie, you better get your mezcal consumption down from Under the Volcano levels if you can’t remember about Already Dead, because the Chip Kidd cover is the least of it.

kidchamp said...

we let people count as they like here, man, as long as they spell things properly. has a dirty dozen ever actually consisted of twelve things?

one can be selectively observant; that's how i justify getting lost on the lower east side every other weekend, anyway.

i do remember that my already dead had the plain old b/w cover. would you judge me if i said i picked it up for that reason? (not because i was anti-kidd - was pre-kidd, in fact - but because it cut to the chase in a way that pleased me.)

LPC said...

01. No. You thought otherwise?
02. Yes. Always say yes in ignorance.
03. Many times. Wander. Sit. Watch my son play soccer and the opposing goalie get his leg broken and howl in the goal for an hour as we tried to remotely navigate an ambulance through the park to find us and I shrieked internally about the incompetence of some parents and held my chin high and showed my son he is lucky to have a mother who does not lose her wits. So a good day all in all.