31 December 2009

Happy New Years

I've been busy. Holidays require focus and stamina.
Thank God they're not over yet.
So lift a glass with Ava here, and all the best for a new year.
Thank God the old one's over.


24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

As we hang our stockings by the fire with care, we hope that yours will be filled with whatever your hearts desire.

23 December 2009

From my treatment for Stripped

Vic sucks his Marlboro light as if it were a straw filled with some life-giving elixir instead of a mere cigarette, with a furious desperation that turns it into ash in just a few hard drags.
He sits at his desk, immobile except for lighting, smoking and putting out cigarettes, his eyes flickering from monitor to monitor. Nine monitors on the wall opposite him make up a grainy black-and-white mosaic of the sectors of the club: the parking lot, the front door, the back door where the deliveries, dancers and cash go in and out, the dressing room. The VIP room.
- Honey, says Nada, you really got to cut down on the cigs.
- Got the patch, what else do you want me to do?
His eyes skip from monitor to monitor.
- How’s it going?
Nada shrugs.
- Not good, not bad.
- You keeping your eye on that bartender?
- Yes, she says over his question.
- Edgardo’s crew’s coming in later, you remember?
She nods. She remembers. She knew before he asked, just as she’s already calculated the take at the door and can project, in her head, the likely profit for the evening, and for the week.
- Jesus fuck. Where’s Andre? Look at the corner there – that’s Melody, right?
Nada examines the smeared shadows on the monitor: the chair back, the pair of hands gripping its sides, a head bobbing up and down.
- I told them not to grind the guys longer than six seconds. That’s the legal limit, right?

Nada nods, equally intent on the closed circuit images.
- That’s already longer than six. Who’s she with?
- Some guy who thinks he’s a high roller.
- I’m taking care of this.
He hauls his bulk out of the cushioned leather chair.
- Sure you don’t want me to?
- I said I’ll do it.

22 December 2009

9' 79" by Thierry Marignac

I’m B.J. I fly like a bullet. I break records the way Casanova broke virgins. One hundred twenty five meters, hard core.
“Another fifty pounds, you’d be Mike Tyson.”
And Charlie busts out his worst fake smile.
But he’s right. I’m like a pack of dynamite.
I’m a bomb.
I tear down the track like a 440 Chevy peeling out.
Never give Charlie the last word.
I blurt, “But I’d rather be a Colt .45. That’s more like me.”
“Exactly. Come see.”
I put on my shirt. I climb in the Jeep. Charlie pulls out. We’re two hundred clicks from Toronto, in the woods. I’m just about the only one training in the camp. There’s only a couple of Soviet runners, competing in the 400, and their coach. I don’t like the shitty commies, but they fill up Charlie’s tubes, the tubes that matter for me. Me, the phenom.
And the commies are better than American faggots.
I’m going to make myself a Golden Boy, and they’re going to help me. . .
This stadium’s my turf. They’ll eat the dust flying off my spikes. Stay at your momma’s place, Carlito. Go back to college. Otherwise, you’re going to eat shit behind me.
Way behind me.

(from Marignac's story about the sprinter Ben Johnson, in

Le pays où la mort est moins chère)

translation (c) me

image via

Rita Hayworth & Fred Astaire

Astaire's biographers said he was smitten by Miss Hayworth. It shows.
Well, really: who wouldn't be?

More Cheer From Mr. Larkin

Philip Larkin

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,

Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
-- The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused -- nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear -- no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

21 December 2009


Persephone, by Rex Dupain

17 December 2009

How to Swoop Mad Fly Russian Models

My girl looks like her, probably for the same reasons -- a mix of the Mediterranean and the North. I'd post her real picture, but you know, that's too much like bragging and the dawggies are already circling around as it is.

This is just to say that I got mine.

But for those of you who don't, here are 12 tips for dating Slavics via the G Manifesto

I’m lushin Russian women, via satellite I’m watchin
I dare a n-gga say he want to battle me, I’ll crush ya
Even blind girls rush next to Hammera and scream out
“Oh my gosh, get the camera

~ Slick Rick (w/Rae), Frozen
These Russian Models (FTV, FYI) are mad, mad fly and I’ve been running into them (so to speak) more and more on the international scene. The distinguishing feature about Russian women is they are women in every inch. They dress for men, they expect gentlemen to be gentlemen, and they don’t take any bullshit. Unlike other haute couture model types, these enigmatic girls have a unique modus operadi that I dig. Or maybe it’s the sinister accent. Maybe it’s the ice cold attitude.

So cold I need theraflu,
I’m so high I need parachutes,
I’m error proof, I’m never spooked,
and my suit, heaven blue.

Let me share with you some personal maxims I live by when swooping these krutay dorogaya’s… check the technique so you can come correct:
• You have to have G appeal. Scratch that, you have to be G… 24/7
• Always be a polite and well-mannered G. Real Russian women dislike men being rude and ill-bred.
• You are intimidated by nothing. Fearless. (Russian woman do not tolerate weesh suckas.)
Illicit substances are a bonus.
Thick bankrolls & pockets stuffed like Thanksgiving; ability to flash cash like Coltrane brass, but not sweatin’ it like trendsetting it. (side note: don’t count $$ in front of them — cream on the inside, clean on the outside.)
Grits. Keep it pugilistic (or ballistic, in the case of my .38 snubby), ie. Must be able to kick-ass in a fight, because with girls this fly it’s gonna go down (frequently) with douchebags attempting to cramp your style.
• You have to be able to drink like a man, as in, you have to be able drink more vodka than a Russian Grizzly bear (and still be able to handle yourself). Zapoi.
• Russians, much like the French, have an admiration for outlaws, mafioso types and G’s.
• Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness.
• Stay unpredictable (but thinking of a Master Plan, like Chilly Tee said, gotta keep ahead, gotta keep my head).
• Don’t supplicate (I’m not even sure that word exists in Russian vocabulary).
• Aggressive, yet mellow and cool.
They look at me as that cat that know how to box, know about glocks, know about runnin’ from cops and switchin’ up spots.
High Heels and Dirty Deals
~ Tafari
aka The Poster Boy
aka Fly Fresh to Def
aka Xoroshen Ochen

And now --- music!

Da, motherfuckers. Da.

One for S

16 December 2009

Happy Birthday, Joe!

If you're wondering what connects Don Menza, Percy Grainger and Igor Stravinsky, I'll tell you: They're all currently on my son Joe's hit list. He is a man of obsessive and grand enthusiasms. These are his right now.

He has the gift of being absolutely himself, of being comfortable in his own skin. Even the onslaught of high school hasn't made much of a dent in that.

He's a gifted musician and artist -- the kind of person who will happily spend all Saturday night composing music for the sheer joy (and occasional frustration) of it.

And I'm lucky to hear every note.

14 December 2009





Where would you rather you live or work?

My point is not that Nazi architects were great. Or even particularly good. It's more that even the Nazis were not capable of producing the eye-searing, soul-destroying fuckshit buildings that surround us like oozing zombie wallpaper: ugly,hungrily sucking every twitching fiber of life they can find. Beige sinkholes draining the last bit of goodness out of existence.

Like a lot of items in American life, we have taken the initial Nazi impulse and refined it to a stupefying perfection. The Autobahn has become the Interstate. Meth doled out to Panzer commanders has become the meth trafficked all across the country, to truck drivers, nurses, and factory workers in small towns. (And with the tank commanders, a lot of meth heads started tweaking to stay awake at their grinding jobs -- not for three day debauches of sex orgies.) The abject worship of the military and police.

I suppose someone could make a case that these strip malls strewn around represent "vitality" and "entrepreneurship" and happy chaos. They'd be wrong. It's simply greed, the valuation of money above anything else -- common sense, functionality, intelligent design all go by the way side. Note that I don't even introduce the notion of "beauty" -- a word that has become richly fruity and suspect even to the arts establishment, let alone some contractor trying to flip a property for a quick buck.

Self Portrait

Self Potratit by Horvath

13 December 2009

Do you suffer from RDS?

(by Jerome Leroy, via)

He went to the doctor who examined him briefly, then asked:
- What's the color of the sky?
- White, doctor.
- For how long?
- Forever.
- C'mon. No way.
- Yes.
- You have an explanation for this?
- The absence of color is a reflection of the soul.
- So you're white?
- Yeah.
- Like snow? Like a new-born lamb?
- No -- white like anguish. White like fear, sin, nothingness. White like death.

He got a prescription, but came back a few days later.
- So the sky's still white?
- Still.
- You've come down with it, my friend.
- Oh yeah?
- Yes. Classic. You've been in The Spectacle too long. RDS.
- What?
- Rigaut-Drieu Syndrome. An illness for the end of the world. My colleage Michel Bouna also calls it alexthemia. He diagnosed it in Life Unnamed.
- Symptoms?
- Not having "words to describe it", finding yourself in the horrible situation where it seems like you have to participate in the system that's killing you. An untenable paradox. Finally, you'd have to say you're in a high-risk group.
- Is there hope? A cure?
- To write. To write some more. To write always. But I don't guarantee anything.

More about the surrealist poet, Jacques Rigaut

More about the writer, Pierre Drieu de la Rochelle (but beware, it's shabby and imbalanced, but has some links and titles)

(my translation from M. Leroy's infinitely better original in French)

image via

Francophones: il faut que vous lisiez Le pays òu la mort est moin chére

Eleven short stories.

Eleven shots right in the jaw. Eleven wake up calls. Violent, intense, lyrical, the subjects range from steroid martyr Ben Johnson to bitter officers curdling with jealousy. 9'79" in particular is like a long thumping riff on hunger, ambition, and the limits of the flesh.

Other characters in other stories howl into full blooded life: petty theives, scheming military officers, playing their roles in Belgrade, Vilnius and a shadowy, muscular Paris far removed from postcard clichés.

You'll enjoy this book even if, like me, you've got a handle on French but aren't necessarily fluent.

(Plus, she says it's good, and she has impeccable taste.)

Publisher's web site

Available from:


The French Amazon

11 December 2009

09 December 2009

poor and rich

Pic of Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan from The Awl.

decline and fall

Picture number one: jobless man and wife at bean harvest, late 1930s.

Image via
Picture number two, anonymous shopper at Walmart, from the site, People of Walmart.

Now, you tell me: who's number one? The guy in the tent, one step up from the soup kitchen? Or the guy with the "I'm Number One" t-shirt?

08 December 2009

Geography lesson

I guess, as a native, Zizek would know, but it seems . . . lacking.
Plus, it doesn't at all look like the Mason-Dixon line -- y'know, the one that divides the US North and South.

Sylvie Vartran

Her parents were from Armenia and Hungary, which seems to prove that being French can be an existential condition.

Sunny Phillip Larkin Explains It All

This Be the Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't have any kids yourself.

Out of the past

"Using techniques she picked up with the Miami Forensic Imaging Bureau, photographer Angela Strassheim captures black and white bloodstains. After a violent incident at the college where she taught, the Manhattan-based photographer began researching crime scenes and convincing new residents, some oblivious to the unpeaceful past, to let her photograph their homes. Sprayed down with “Blue Star,” hidden spatters and streaks of blood are illuminated and captured through long exposure photographs"

I've often walked into rooms and felt . . .not blood on the walls, necessarily, but traces of things that may have happened.


03 December 2009

John Waters on Christmas

I talk to people about how you can’t ignore Christmas. You can love it, you can hate it, but you can’t ignore it. I love it without irony, but I understand why some people hate it. It’s a financial burden, it’s an emotional burden, it’s a decorating burden. But it’s a happy time for criminals and a happy time for people who are attracted to elderly men who are overweight and wear velvet. It’s a time for perversion.

Giving gifts is incredibly difficult. The smarter you are, the easier it is to find a gift for you, because you have interests. And if you’re really smart, you tell people what you want and they get it for you. If you leave it up to people who you know are going to get you bad gifts, that’s your own stupid fault. Basically, a lot of the time people want to be told what to get you, because then they don’t have to worry if you’ll like it. But the best kind of presents are when someone you know collects something, and you find something that they never even knew existed. That’s the top present, even if it costs a nickle. It’s just finding something that they want that they didn’t know existed.
 I'm suddenly feeling better about Christmas.


Anouk Aimee


Photo by William Klein


Photo by Mark Sink

I'm shocked. Shocked!

"We started our research seeking men in their twenties who had never consumed pornography. We couldn't find any," says Simon Louis Lajeunesse, a postdoctoral student and professor at the School of Social Work.

Canadian researchers studying the effects of porn encountered that obstacle. Still, they say it doesn't seem to damage people.

Of course, they can't really make a comparison with guys who haven't watched porn, because they apparently don't exist.

Read the article.

01 December 2009

Put the Blame on Mame

Rita Hayworth's "clothed striptease" directed by King Vidor.

27 November 2009

Brian Eno, and the fine line between clever and stupid

We’re living in a stylistic tropics. There’s a whole generation of people able to access almost anything from almost anywhere, and they don’t have the same localised stylistic sense that my generation grew up with. It’s all alive, all “now,” in an ever-expanding present, be it Hildegard of Bingen or a Bollywood soundtrack. The idea that something is uncool because it’s old or foreign has left the collective consciousness. (via)
So, this is a decently perceptive comment, altough I doubt very many people are taking advantage of the ubiquity of culture to access Hildegaard of Bingen, to use his example. Or that it's made her more or less "cool."

Why is Brian Eno, of all people, framing things in terms of cool/uncool as if he was a tweener from Dubuque?

Celebrating the end of the division implies that it mattered, once.

And it should never matter to genuine adults. (You could cite the exception, perhaps of  marketers and the sellers of culture who could make money out of the notion that consuming something makes you cool.  But that's not paricularly cool, either.)

26 November 2009

Crazy Uncle Bill's Thanksgiving Prayer

From Mr. Bridge, by Evan Connell


That night he was sleeping when he realized his heart had stopped. Instantly he opened his eyes, and just then it resumed beating. He laid both hands on his chest, licked his lips and waited for what would happen next. But his heart pumped along, and after a while he dropped his hands on the blanket and shut his eyes and tried to sleep, but sleep would not come.

He could not stop thinking about his heart. He did not think there was anything seriously wrong, yet these seizures were occurring more and more often. He resented the fact that his heart was not in perfect order; and because he was unable to sleep or to forget about it he got out of bed and sat down in a chair beside the window where he plucked at his wrinked pajamas and meditatively observed the dark street.

Leaves were dropping from the maple trees, fluttering like butterflies in the night wind. He watched them and it occurred to him that they were trying to tell him something. As a leaf flattened itself against the window beside his head and leaped away into the darkness, a feeling of profound despair came over him because everything he had done was useless. All that he believed in and had attempted to prove seemed meager, all of his life was wasted.

(photo credit: unknown -- did a tineye search and didn't find the source -- if you know, please note it in the comments.)

24 November 2009

From Mr. Bridge, by Evan S. Connell

(From the brilliant novel, just a scene or two to give you a hint of the book. In this one, Mr. Bridge's daughter as asked him for $250 so she can accompany her friend to Tijuana. It's the late 1930s.)

Then he inquired, jokingly, why her friend wished to go to Tijuana, and Ruth answered that her friend was going to have an abortion.
Before he knew what he was about to do he jumped up from behind the desk and slapped her across the mouth; then he sat down again as though nothing had happened, and ruth walked out of the study. He noticed with astonishment that the hand which had slapped her was dancing around on the desk as if it was attached to a string. He seized it with his other hand and bowed his head. 
He could not believe he had struck her. His fingers burned at the memory. When she was a baby he had held her in his arms while she was falling asleep. There were nights when nothing more than the knowledge of her existence had been enough to waken him so that he had gotten out of bed and gone to the crib to watch over her.

20 November 2009

toulouse lautrec


The Moulin Rouge is celebrating an important anniversary this year. Today, the actual club is hard to find behind all the German, Italian, and Dutch tour buses parked out front, and, last I checked the prices, was too expensive, even for a spendthrift like me.  Dauntingly prosaic, but, you know, it's still holding up, a kind of trashy glamor seeps out of the doors. Like a girl with torn stockings.

off stage


17 November 2009

James Wyeth

Pumpkinhead, by James Wyeth

If once in your life

If once in your life you have slept on an island, James Wyeth

The Author Speaks

 “Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.”

— Mr. Cormac McCarthy

From an interview in the Wall Street Journal

13 November 2009

The Oxford Project

Peter Feldstein photographed all 600 residents of Oxford, Iowa, in 1984. In 2007, he went back and photographed his subjects again, at least, the ones who were still alive and willing. The second time, a writer went along with him to interview the subjects. Their stories appear between the '84 and '07 portraits, a tryptich of time past, time recalled and present time.

You find out, for example, that this man was a buckskinner, some kind of alternative lifestyle where you lived as in the olden days, hunting with muzzle loader guns, fishing, skinning animals. He was born again and became a preacher. He has visions of demons and angels. He wrestled a demon once in a hotel room, a literal demon with horns. He also preaches on a public access TV.

It's moving and not a little frightening to see how time wears on people, mangling them, twisting them, and in some cases, purifying them -- making them more individual. (Before, of course, it obliterates them and us into anonymous molecules).


This guy's 38. On the left, you see him as a rodeo star. Now, he says, getting up is like warming up an old car. It takes time to get everything moving again.

The first time, Feldstein only used one shot to capture each person. This lead to happy/spooky accidents that make many of the earlier portrait that much more effective. One set is told by a man who was an infant in the first picture. You see him held by a large, bearded guy, but the man's face is blurred, just as his face must be slightly blurred in the memory of that son who was too young to form much more of a memory of him beyond a voice, a smell and the feel of his beard.

It's currently showing at the Belger space, in Kansas City where I saw it.

The show reminds me of one of my favorite books, Winesburg, Ohio, a series of linked short stories that make up a novel by Sherwood Anderson. One of the themes of the book is the secret and surprising interior lives the characters have -- it's set in a small town, a town like Oxford, probably. You'd think the stories would be banal. Each character, though, has a rich or surprising secret life. Among the 25 people shown you meet in the Oxford Project are: a lesbian, a mystic, a rodeo star, a vet who liberated Buchenwald, a Vietnam veteran, a devout Buddhist, and some more ordinary men and women.

In some respects, it's much like Michael Apted's documentary series 7-Up, where you meet a set of people at distinct moments in their lives. Only this is compressed: a moment, a short bit of narrative, a second moment. It gives you the chance to contemplate, to wonder, and to fill in the blanks. To shake your head, once more, at the ceaseless noise of time.

Check out the Smithsonian Magazine article.

Mr. Raft

“I must have gone through $10 million during my career. Part of the loot went for gambling, part for horses, and part for women. The rest I spent foolishly.”

-George Raft


03 November 2009

photo -- smoking

Sean Marc Lee

Guy Richie's Nike Commercial

I don't care about Nike or commercials. But this is hard to resist in all its butchy glory.

02 November 2009

Worth remembering, here and there

The ever-cadverous Mr. Cage and the dentally challenged Mr. McGowan sing it.
I'm sending this out to a special person. And she knows who she is.

01 November 2009

Jerry Lee Lewis, Original Punk

(Sid with his mommy after stabbing Nancy.)

It is more punk to start your own band than to be in a boy band put together by a producer.

It is more punk to make up your own music than to play along with whatever the band's doing.

It is more punk to marry your 13 year old cousin and have two of your six wives drown in your swimming pool than to stab your girlfriend.

It is more punk to make a piano shake, rattle and roll than to wank on a bass.

It is more punk to believe you're going to hell because of your music, and play it anyway instead of being some bargain basement atheist.

It is more punk to be original in 1957 instead of copying the Ramones in 1977.

31 October 2009


I'm not afraid of my own so much, anymore – at least, that's what I think in my safe room. This has something to do with middle age: the saying has it that when you're more afraid of old age than death, that means you're middle aged. It holds for me. Still, it's rather too easy to say.

I did some work on this as well. I took to heart Seneca, who said that to be afraid of death is worse than dying.

Better than that is the exercise outlined in the Hagakure, Yamamoto's handbook for the samurai. Yukio Mishima wrote a commentary on it. The exercise is to start each meditating on your own death; more specifically, you visualize the circumstances of your dying a heroic death. This is an excellent way to begin the day, better than a cold shower.

My visualizations tended to be garish, like the climax of some cheesy 70's cop drama. But this practice did reduce the gnawing angst of my inevitable death.

No, what I fear most is the death of the people I love.

I have found no meditation, no motto, no religion or faith to overcome this.

painting: The Race, by Albert Pinkham Ryder

Terrors: Scary Movies

Real life terrors, continued: Snakes!

     From as early as I can remember, I loathed snakes. I found the patterns of their skin ugly. The unbelievably smooth contraction and relaxing of their muscles as they slithered across the ground was the stuff of nightmares. The vertical slit of the pupil. The flicker of the tongue. All horrible beyond belief provoking a physical reaction would seize me almost before I knew it.
     It made complete sense to me that Satan would take the form of a snake to fuck everything up.
     Early on, I learned to stop screaming and crying like a girl upon sighting them in the yard or on a trail. It was simply too shaming, even for a little kid to behave that way, and I knew it.
As a teenager, I undertook the project to get over my repulsion. I went to the zoo and made myself stay in the herpetology room for as long as I could stand it.
     In college, among the many moronic vogues, was a fashion for reptiles and particularly snakes as pets. I made myself stroke their oddly dry scales with what must have been a hysterically fixed grin on my face. I could take it. But even after all the hard work, that flinch left over from my early fear never quite left me.

image via