30 April 2010

Fred Astaire in Swingtime

His tribute to Mr. Bojangles.

Old Guy Dancing

Godard, crayons

Diesel appropriates Godard in move calculated to make ahistorical hipsters swoon and the rest of us feel an unaccustomed sympathy for the old Marxist's humiliation.

How to do the Madison

22 April 2010

Falling slowly

We met in a bar close to his place. He looked a bit older. You check for that in middle age, who's aging how quickly, who's grey, who's dying their hair, the depth of lines around the eyes. Solid evidence, unwelcome.
He's holding up pretty well, though, takes care of himself.
After a few hours of discreet Irish whiskeys alternating with Bass ale, he coughed it up, something that'd been bothering him.
- So, my boss called me into his office (and immediately, in a flash, you think, oh, no, poor guy, to deal shock of unemployment, the weeks of networking, the struggle not to sink into pajamas and aimless Internet surfing, but no.) 
- He's a good guy.
He paused. 


 - So he tells me I fell asleep in a meeting the other day.
It's sort of funny. But I rushed in to buck him up -- 
- Hey, it happens. Did I tell you about my client's boss, the guy who had narcolepsy?
- He said it's happened more than a few times.
Delicate situation now.
- Well, you told me the job's boring as shit.
- Yeah, but I need the money. I need the insurance, too. You know.
- Sure.
- It's just that the meetings go on and on. Afternoon meetings.
- Maybe you need to get more sleep.
- Yeah. I try. Doesn't work. To much action around the house. Kids, dogs...
He has to get up early for a long commute, longer than mine because he's stuck in his house, can't afford to sell, can't afford to leave. I picture him, briefly, getting up every weekday before dawn, the quiet and loneliness of his house, the snap of the too-bright light in the bathroom in that moment when you shift from drowsiness to getting on with the day.
- I'm just going to go back to mainlining coffee. I dunno know why I thought I should give it up, anyway. 
- It was that health kick. 
- Well, I drink -- mostly red wine -- but that's gotta be worse than coffee. Some health kick.
- So no big deal. Get a thermos.
- It is a big deal.
I looked over at him, and he leaned into me over the empties.
- Now, no matter what, I'll be That Guy.
He didn't have to explain. But he did.
- The Guy who falls asleep in meetings. No matter what I do, it'll always be attached to that -- that falling asleep. If I score a big deal it'll be, yeah, he brought in Big Widgets -- can you believe it? Must've stayed awake during those meetings. Or, nice guy -- did you hear how he nodded off during the team session?
- Yeah.
It happens a lot. The standards of office behavior are still narrow. Quirks, petty rudenesses, a failure of etiquette can haunt you. I swear a receptionist I worked with got fired because she kept trimming her nails at her desk, driving her boss up the wall. Or, the vegan who kept farting. She became, Sherri,  nice girl . . . .wish she could just . . . And everyone nods right away, knowing what's coming. 
And there's also that fear. Maybe the biggest one of all in Office World (and in life, too).
That you get marked with the scent of a loser.
One day, a perfectly average person, maybe even above average will muff something, not learn a necessary skill, get stuck, blow an assignment. 
Then he or she starts getting nervous. They become overly cheery by the coffee machine. They make sure they contribute in meetings, which usually means they spout some nonsense. They compound their situation. They gradually become shunned. Firing is usually the last, least painful stage. If they're lucky, a new situation will blow that stench away.   
- I gotta get a new job. 

21 April 2010



Urns and Stresses


"Love Me"
Spondees are the best words to whisper in the dark.

Brad Johnson on John Keats, via



19 April 2010


If you’re not on the edge you’re taking up too much room.  
Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage


Georgie Girl

16 April 2010

M. Thierry Marignac reads "Racailles" by V. Kozlov

This is Thierry Marignac's French translation of the Russian novel; the title translates to something like 'Scum' or "Scumbags" in English. I believe that if M. Marignac wished, he could have a third career -- after writer and translator -- as a movie tough guy, along the lines of Lee Marvin, only, you know, French.)

(The camera operator should buy a tripod, though, and figure out how the white balance works; it'll look much better.)

Feminism, Triggers by Susanna Breslin

 (Didn't really know what a trigger warning was until I read this. . . )

I am intimately familiar with trauma, triggers, and post-traumatic stress disorder. That is precisely why the overuse of trigger warnings was of interest to me. In reality, trigger warnings are unrealistic. They are the dream-child of a fantasy in which the unknown can be labeled, anticipated, and controlled. What trigger warnings promise — protection — does not exist. The world is simply too chaotic, too out-of-control for every trigger to be anticipated, avoided, and defused. Even if every single potentially trigger-inducing blog post could be demarcated as such — a categorical impossibility — what would be the point? As one emailer put it: “To me, there is no better way to make someone think of the [trauma] than putting up a TRIGGER WARNING that will tell a person to avoid the post because it might make them think of what the TRIGGER WARNING invariably causes them to think about.”

Ergo, the trigger warning is its own trigger. Trigger warnings are a falsehood, a contrivance that pretends if triggers can be controlled, the trauma never happened, a National Enquirer-esque headline that screams in all-caps and big red block letters, but, in the end, signifies nothing but a preoccupation with its own salaciousness.

Perhaps most significantly, trigger warnings crystallize everything that is wrong with the current state of the feminist movement, if it can be called that. These days, feminism isn’t a movement at all, really, but a collection of blogs obsessed with the pop culture it claims to be victimized by, a forum for women who promote themselves as victims of a patriarchy that no longer exists, a pretend movement that contains within it no forward movement at all, only a fetal-like desire to curl up on itself, muttering Women’s Studies jargon, and handing out trigger warnings like party favors at a girl’s-only slumber party.


Coppola's notebook

Photo by Lauren Child

 Very familiar scene.


15 April 2010

Stromae: ‘Alors On Danse’

“Qui dit étude dit travail, Qui dit taf te dit les thunes,

Qui dit argent dit dépenses, Qui dit crédit dit créance,

Qui dit dette te dit huissier, Oui dit assis dans la merde.
Qui dit Amour dit les gosses, Dit toujours et dit divorce.
Qui dit proches te dis deuils car les problèmes ne viennent pas seul.
Qui dit crise te dis monde dit famine dit tiers- monde.
Qui dit fatigue dit réveille encore sourd de la veille,
Alors on sort pour oublier tous les problèmes.

Alors on danse…”


Poltava, Panyanskiy Boulevard

Poltava, Panyanskiy Boulevard, 2005 (Ukraine).
Photographer: Eduard Stanadko


Taibbi on David Brooks

I would give just about anything to sit David Brooks down in front of some single mother somewhere who’s pulling two shitty minimum-wage jobs just to be able to afford a pair of $19 Mossimo sneakers at Target for her kid, and have him tell her, with a straight face, that her main problem is that she doesn’t work as hard as Jamie Dimon.

Only a person who has never actually held a real job could say something like this. There is, of course, a huge difference between working 80 hours a week in a profession that you love and which promises you vast financial rewards, and working 80 hours a week digging ditches for a septic-tank company, or listening to impatient assholes scream at you at some airport ticket counter all day long, or even teaching disinterested, uncontrollable kids in some crappy school district with metal detectors on every door.

Most of the work in this world completely sucks balls and the only reward most people get for their work is just barely enough money to survive, if that. The 95% of people out there who spend all day long shoveling the dogshit of life for subsistence wages are basically keeping things running just well enough so that David Brooks, me and the rest of that lucky 5% of mostly college-educated yuppies can live embarrassingly rewarding and interesting lives in which society throws gobs of money at us for pushing ideas around on paper (frequently, not even good ideas) and taking mutual-admiration-society business lunches in London and Paris and Las Vegas with our overpaid peers.


14 April 2010

God is, in fact, a pretty good playwright

It's a lesson you learn early in the how-to-write-a-play manual.

Some guy, probably Jewish with a Brooklyn accent, said, "God's a lousy playwright." The meaning for novices is clear. You can't just take real-life events and string them together and call it a story or a play. Life is baggy, shapeless, good raw material, but you have to shape it. So there's the aesthetics of the quote, which look solid.

Then there's the metaphysics of it, if you like, and they look well founded, too. It's easy to see the imperfection woven throughout the base of life. Science continues to make it look even more ugly and chaotic. And if you were God, would you let all those villains just get away with their evil? Sure, if you believe the whole Bible, they'll get roasted in Hell for all eternity. But the Old Testament is vague about the afterlife, and even the New Testament doesn't spend nearly enough space on it -- mostly in the Revelations of St. John. Now, that section is juicy and amazing, but short, given it's relationship to the rest of the book.

But. Consider the revelations of priestly pedophilia lately. These scenes are truly the work of a talented, if deeply perverse, imagination. Almost as if Jean Genet and Pasolini, up in Heaven where they surely belong, collaborated  on a project.

A priest, breathing heavily, smelling slightly of sweat. He draws the seven year old boy, angelic, rosy cheeked into the Confessional (!). The boy, of course, suspects nothing. It's . .  The Priest. The man with a vocation, holy, the one who calls forth the Holy Spirit, who transforms the wine and wafer into the blood and body of Christ.

This man draws him into the narrow closet. He forces the boy to suck his prick, then threatens him, tells him not to let any one know.

I mean, really. DeSade could hardly do better (and speaking of Alphonse-Donatien, there's enough sodomy in the legal documents to please even a dedicated analist and roué like him.)

You can't beat that for horror. Child rape is a crime so heinous, so vicious, so depraved and vile that it's hard to imagine another crime short of murder or cannibalism that matches it for sinfulness. That the crimes so often took place in the church itself, in places most associated with sanctity, is another touch of genius.

To add to this, let's make the children handicapped -- deaf, say. Unable to speak. Twice vulnerable. And have some bloated pervert in a collar rape more than 200 of them.

Again, this is very hard to top. But there's more -- almost as if God had Dostoyevsky whispering in his ear.

The very institution charged with moral clarity -- if nothing else, the Church has been pretty clear about the evils of, oh, birth control and abortion -- yes, the very collection of bishops and cardinals ranged in ranks like the Medieval paintings of Heaven above, these princes of the church and shepards of the flock, what do they do when confronted with incontrovertible evidence of the Sadean perversion? 

Hide it. Lie about it, until the facts contradict the lies. Shuffle parishes and priests.

Beautiful plotting. For what else could you do to illuminate the festering hypocricy and cowardice of them? How better to show the abject betrayal of a mission?

I like to think of myself as hardboiled, a student of history, and therefore, of the catastrophic and unending cruelty of man. Still, the stagecraft of the pedophile priests and their supporters among the hierarchy shocked even me.

Just like a  piece by some raging anarchist, someone disgusted with the filth of institutions. Someone like Alfred Jarry, for example.

So, hat's off everyone. God did a pretty good job this time out.

photo illustration: Jill Greenberg

12 April 2010


For there is nothing dreadful in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living.
Becoming accustomed, therefore, to simple and not luxurious fare is productive of health and makes humankind resolved to perform the necessary business of life.

No pleasure is evil in itself; but the means of obtaining some pleasures bring in their wake troubles many times greater than the pleasures.
If every pleasure were [maximized] and existed for a long time throughout the entire organism of its most important parts, pleasures would never differ from one another.

Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.

We do not need the help of our friends so much as the confidence that our friends will help us.

Speaking frankly, I would prefer, when discoursing on nature, to utter useful things, like oracles, to humankind, even if no one should understand them, than to agree with popular opinion and enjoy the constant accolades offered by the crowd.

Some men spend their whole life furnishing for themselves the things proper to life without realizing that at our birth each of us was poured a mortal brew to drink.

The voice of the flesh cries, “Keep me from hunger, thirst, and cold!” The man who has these sureties and who expects he always will would rival even Zeus for happiness.

The wise man who has accustomed himself to the bare necessities knows how to give rather than to receive. So great is the treasure house of self-sufficiency he has discovered.

There is also a limit to frugality. The man unable to consider this suffers a similar end as the man who indulges in excess.

You ought to do nothing in your life that will make you afraid if it becomes known to your neighbor.

The following method of inquiry must be applied to every desire: What will happen to me if what I long for is accomplished? What will happen if it is not accomplished?

If the gods listened to the prayer of men, all human-kind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another.

He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing.

Many men who acquire wealth do not find deliverance from evils but an exchange of their present evils for greater ones.



08 April 2010

“Cultivate hatred, it’s your greatest asset”

image via
RIP Malcolm McLaren

You taught me about the Situationists.

You may have saved my life, or, at least, a part of it.

Maybe your later incarnation as a dandified cultural trickster/clown/provacateur/ was less substantial, but that's the nature of the true dandy -- to find the profound in the superficial, to shift shapes while wearing a Saville row suit.

If there is a heaven, I'm sure yours looks like Paris, St. Germain, c. 1962.

Say hi to Sid and Miles for me.

Tumblr explained

Tumblr explained. The 1:9:90 rule aka “Nielsens Law” of social networks. Which are you, hipster underclass sharecropper?
    * 90% of users are the “audience”, or lurkers. The people tend to read or observe, but don’t actively contribute.
    * 9% of users are “editors”, sometimes modifying content or adding to an existing thread, but rarely create content from scratch.
    * 1% of users are “creators”, driving large amounts of the social group’s activity. More often than not, these people are driving a vast percentage of the site’s new content, threads, and activity.

via Feasting on Roadkill

America: 44 presidents -- but only one King

02 April 2010

Happy Birthday, Miss S

I hope you have time to dance. . . .

. . . to spend time with your friends . . .

. . . listen to some great songs. . . .

heck, say hi to the guys, even.

and here's a toast from us -

- have a beautiful time.