adventures in street garbage, cont'd.

The scholars spent little time rehashing the legendary première. The event is familiar even to those who know little of modern music: the boos, the whistles, Stravinsky leaving in a rage, Nijinsky yelling out beats, Gertrude Stein watching a man smash another man's top hat with a cane, Florent Schmitt's cry of "Shut up, bitches of the seizième!"

(alex ross, "primal scream," new yorker 11.19.12)


t-giv 2012 with the missus

thanksgiving gets a bit simpler every time we celebrate it, it seems. we decided years ago that we'd stay in town for the weekend from here on out, and we've settled into tasty vegetarian ways of observing a holiday which focuses in part on a big old dead bird. this year the meal was decidedly casual and local, the big pot of foreign cheese notwithstanding: we had fondue with fragrant baguettes from pain d'avignon at the essex street market (with absurd purple broccoli, math-glam romesco cauliflower, and brown cremini like fat little sparrows from union square), roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette (barefoot contessa, i salute you - i've already redeployed the recipe), and david lebovitz's butterscotch-pecan ice cream. a few of the veggies required a bit of prep, and i had to start the ice cream on wednesday night, but the heaviest lifting i did was at crate and barrel, for a proper pot (do not believe what snootier cookware-slingers will tell you about fondue vessels, internets; this cast-iron fellow got the job done for a quarter of what he would have cost elsewhere). joe conferred with our local wine shop for a few bottles of cava, i pulled our wedding dishes and a few vintage glasses down from our cabinet of favorites, and all was well on the lower east side.


this guy, columbus

The children had already been trundled off quarreling to distribute nut cups to veterans, Gerardo had already made his filial call from St. Moritz, Elena had already been photographed in her Red Cross uniform and had changed back into magenta crepe de chine pajamas.

(joan didion, from a book of common prayer)

It’s like, how did Columbus discover America when the Indians were already here? What kind of shit is that, but white people’s shit?

(miles davis, from miles: the autobiography)


dan perjovschi installation at the reykjavik art museum

i was reminded on the squeaky, stuttering F train this morning that i mustn't sigh about having a massive backlog of new yorkers to chew through, even if most of the talk of the town pieces and even some of the feature writing has been rendered hopelessly out of date by last week's election. for the november 12th issue (also pre-election, in magazineland), professor and poet dan chiasson wrote a thoughtful piece on his colleague, the formidable louise glück:
"The poet is supposed to be the person who can't get enough of words like 'incarnadine,'" Glück writes in her essay "Education and the Poet." "This was not my experience." Instead, a handful of recombinant integers—moon, evening, pond, hill—have to do all the work.
have integers ever sounded so fine? i've had the good fortune to have all kinds of poetry in my pants of late, from a solemn nocturnal bat-gift from my beloved gal amanda (the book came in a jack o'lantern full of swedish fish, plastic spiders, and wax lips; she knows me well) to balloon pop outlaw black, patricia lockwood's first book. from "the quickening" (a poem about a boy who goes fishing and catches a nibble and swallows it, and is then swallowed by a whale), from inside the whale:
A field trip to the seashore is in here, and the week of anticipation is in here, and the boy who got lost there is in here too. An early obsession with Lake Michigan is in here, and its shores of polished Petoskey stones. His newspaper kite is in here, and his struggle with the kite string. His spiral Vocabulary book is in here, and trouble telling the difference between the Atlantic and the Pacific, and a spanking he got for eating mercury, and a collection of 100 dimes all stamped the year he was born. The Presidency of the Fossil Hunter's Club is in here, and how he longed to find a femur of anything. A chapter of News of the World is in here: "America Swallows the Mermaid Hoax!" A shoebox diorama of the Chugwater Formation is in here, with flecks of mica and flecks of quartz shining between the layers, and its lack of a skeleton still in mid-swim is gleaming in here too.
His year in the school orchestra is in here, when it was his job to raise a hand high and bring it down boom on a drum, and make the sound a cartoon makes when it gulps down something good.
His jump-rope record of 24 continuous jumps is in here too, like 24 ribs of the whale.
The whale asks, "Aren't you happy at all? Think of the cramped handwriting you left behind, how it lives in a boardinghouse with low stained ceilings, how a train goes by day and night, how the walls are thin as you-know-what."

"How do you know my handwriting?" The boy closes his eyes and tries to remember it; he looks out at the waves and sees it slanting to the right. "You used to chew scraps of your notes," the whale says tenderly. "Your small gray spitballs fly through my blowhole all day and all night long."
And the boy feels a sudden substance in his mouth, and the stub of a pencil behind one ear.
it would be misleading to call tricia lockwood louise glück's opposite, though she feels like the opposite of the glück in chiasson's new yorker essay ("Every poem Glück writes seems one she has denied her adversary—that is, every other human being."). she has a wonderful, filthy, sprawling twitter feed, which is where i first stumbled into her. both there and in her poetry, her precision is generous: it tricks you into a better working relationship with your own brain, and it's where i turn when social media bullies me between the borders of its instagrams and tells what to follow. quoth she,
I have no problem thinking of tweets as poetry, because the really great ones function in the same way that poetry does to me. They are clear and cubic thinking, and they repay obsessive thinking-about. 140 characters is just about the right length to get inside your head, so if I walk around all day chanting “apnews: an girl go back in time to shhot cow that start gret chicago fire . cow say “i expect you” shoot her an start fire with i’ts cigaret” to myself the same way I walk around chanting “The milkman came in the moonlight and the moonlight was less than moonlight,” I see no reason to make a distinction, because I’m not some sort of taxonomy psycho. Honestly, when I think of the question “what is poetry” I picture Linnaeus and David Lehman absolutely making out, hands up each other’s shirts, while everyone who participates in modern American poetry watches.
balloon pop outlaw black is well worth your twelve dollars, is what i'm saying.



joe and i got up an hour early this morning, as we'd agreed last night, to straighten up our borrowed upper east side apartment, collect our things, and head downtown for the last time. the lower east side is still without power, so i took leave of my stepbrother's shower with titanic-grade drama ("never let go, andrew's dented old bottle of head & shoulders! never let go!"). when i emerged from the bathroom, joe was packing unenthusiastically. it made no sense to leave, he noted. our cats would be just fine without us for another day or two, we have no food and are halfway through our water and batteries, and we'd be returning with difficulty after nightfall to a neighborhood that was already getting sketchy when we left. why?

i told him that i was tired of being a fire monster, and that's true. the stress i didn't register when the storm was shrieking at us on monday night seeped into me just the same, and in unfamiliar surroundings, i've been short-tempered and even more scattered than i usually am. i've picked a fight every night over where we'll have dinner, and i nearly started crying at the drugstore when a turkey-shaped chocolate reminded me of steve. what the fuck?

the more significant truth is that i feel something like survivor's guilt. in our lively hand-me-down neighborhood of warmth and light, of packed restaurants and bars, one isn't asked if one is alright; everyone is alright. i think of the candles i saw guttering in the window at the little mexican restaurant down by where we really live, doors flung open on tuesday night even though they were lighting the stove with matches, and i feel sick. appropriating others' misfortune is even more unforgivable than ignoring it, i would argue, and that's not what i mean to do. one's home is simply one's home, even in the dark.


Daniel and I stood alone in the city. The sea of destruction lapped around our feet. We saw the starfall that broke the night up. The glass lights on iron went out, and the waves grew down into the pavements.

(dylan thomas, from "prologue to an adventure")