I'm listening to Ned Rorem and related stuff on Pandora. Did you know he's from Indiana? I just learned that. He was one of several famous people on hand last night at the Poetry Project to celebrate Kenward Elmslie's 80th birthday. A nice old-school-New-York-school evening. Ron Padgett and Ann Lauterbach also read some Elmslie things. As did two Bills, Berkson and Corbett. Padgett read from The Orchid Stories, a novel or maybe story collection that's going to be reissued soon. The bits he read sounded insane, so I'm very much looking forward to acquiring this book upon its publication.
John Giorno May 13, 2009 8:00 pm Wednesday Poetry Project
John Giorno was born in New York and graduated from Columbia University in 1958. Four years later, he met Andy Warhol, who became an important influence for Giorno’s developments on poetry, performance and recordings. He was the “star” of Warhol’s film Sleep. He has collaborated with William Burroughs, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Mapplethorpe. In the decade of the 2000s he has collaborated with Rirkirt Tirvanija, Pierre Huyge, Elizabeth Peyton and Ugo Rondinone, who is his partner. He is the author of ten books, including You Got to Burn to Shine, Cancer in my Left Ball, Grasping at Emptiness, Suicide Sutra, and has produced 59 LPs, CDs, tapes cassettes, videopaks and DVDs for Giorno Poetry Systems. He founded the AIDS Treatment Project and is an important force in the development of Tibetan Buddhism in the West.
I'm reading the stories of Breece D'J Pancake. So far I've learned that West Virginia is beautiful but depressing. Will I learn anything else? I'm a couple pages into the third story. This guy died thirty years ago this month, and this is his only book. Supposed to be really good. Probably not my thing. Why do southern characters always sound fake in their dialogue? And as is almost always the case with short stories, the endings tend to just sort of fizzle out.
So now instead of carrying my whole bag around with me I've been experimenting, these last two days, with a new approach: I leave the house with no more than two books. I leave the backpack at home. This way I'm not burdened with choices as I sit by the water or inside a coffee place trying to decide what to read. I just choose one book or the other, and that's it, there's nothing else to do. It was a very liberating feeling I felt when I tried it these last two days. Another thing I like is that it frees you up physically—you can run if you feel like it, not having a backpack weighing you down and bouncing around. I like to run sometimes on the city's sidewalks. Not jogging—I don't like that monotonous chugging along. I like to sprint, maybe two or three blocks at a time. I like to just be walking along, and then sprint two or three blocks, then resume walking.
The two books I had with me tonight were Laird Hunt's Indiana, Indiana (which I recently re-checked out after having had to turn it in before finishing it) and Richard Hughes's A High Wind in Jamaica. The latter I'm enjoying very much; the former just as much. I very recently came to think of a new binary in literature: micro and macro. Like how you have microeconomics and macroeconomics, that's where I got the idea. I started thinking about this when I saw Scorcese's After Hours. I tried to think of why it was different from GoodFellas. I "realized" that the difference is that After Hours is micro and GoodFellas is macro. I put "realized" in quotation marks because this is all probably just in my imagination. It's probably irresponsible for me to even be discussing this "theory" in a serious way. Someone of you out there might take it seriously, and I don't want that on my shoulders.
Anyway, I was thinking that I might prefer micro works over macro. I was thinking that Indiana, Indiana is micro. Or, another way to put this is, "off to the side", something that hovers in your peripheral vision, rather than squarely in front of you. Tonight at S'bucks I thought that Hemingway was basically macro, and that's why I don't have much of a desire to read him. I was thinking that if literature were a dartboard, with different authors and books being different darts spread around the board, that Hemingway was basically in the bull's-eye, while somebody like Henry Green was in one of the outer circles. The Godfather movies are in the bull's-eye, I think, and that's why I haven't seem them yet. I don't think I'm being a snob—Citizen Kane is surely a bull's-eye, and I enjoyed it (though it did take me years to get around to watching it), so I'm open-minded about these movies (and books), but I think I'm just more drawn to the outer edges, the obscure stuff. I'll get around to the macros if I have time. (I'm talking about books in that last sentence; I don't worry about running out of time to watch all the movies I want to.)
Yet another way to think about this binary is that "micro"=bottom-up approach, and "macro"=top-down.
[Aside: I'm listening to WFUV, some guy interviewing M. Ward (did you know the M is for Matt?) and M. Ward said something like "I never know if my songs are any good." I'm always reassured when I hear an artist say this because it's exactly how I feel about my stuff (poems).]
Disappointingly cold today. Winter will not let go. Tomorrow a high of 47° and rain. But spring is s'posed to be back by the weekend, so that's fine.
When I hold one of today's tiny cameras, I'm worried about pressing the button too hard and having the camera slip out of my hands like a bar of soap in the shower. Tonight I took two pictures of three girls at S'bucks, one picture each on two cameras. They were the girls' cameras.
Also tonight, in addition to thinking of my recent intense enthusiasm for reading as a distraction from the sex I'm not having, I thought up something I decided to call "method reading", like method acting. Basically, trying to put yourself in an environment that resembles the one in which the characters in the book you're reading are living. If it takes place in a tropical climate, read it in the summer, in your humid room, sweating. If it takes place in cold weather—well, you get the idea. I can't wait for the weather to warm up again so that A High Wind in Jamaica will feel more real (not that it needs help in that department, really, it's very evocative, if that's the word I'm looking for). By the same token, though, I need to hurry up and finish Indiana, Indiana, which takes place in cold weather mostly.
What does any of the above have to do with Mila Kunis, you ask? Nothing (nothing intentional, anyway). But did you know that she
"auditioned for That '70s Show (1998) at age 14. Though actors had to be at least 18 to get the part, she truthfully claimed she would be 18 on her birthday, not specifying which birthday, and won the role." —IMDb
She also has different-colored eyes (like me!) and her mom's name is Elvira. Also, she learned English from watching The Price Is Right.
Mila Kunis speaks more languages than I, and probably you, do.
Help us celebrate the great poet and librettist Kenward Elmslie at 80. Friends and collaborators will assemble to read their favorite Elmslie poems, sing their favorite Elmslie songs and pay tribute to the master showman. With Bill Berkson, Maxine Chernoff, Bill Corbett, Ann Lauterbach, Chip Livingston, Ron Padgett, Ned Rorem, Michael Silverblatt, Steven Taylor, and more to be announced.
Have you seen it? I saw it the other day. I watched it at around 3 AM Saturday night. It's from 1985 and I only learned of its existence a number of days ago when Netflix told me about it and I added it to my queue.
It's a dark comedy. There's something uncanny about it. It's one of those movies where the hapless main character stumbles through an unfortunate series of events and things just gradually spin out of control. It's probably one of the best of this type.
It takes place in SoHo. Today I walked around SoHo and actually found by accident one of the locations in the movie. (I'm pretty sure.)
You should rent it. And then watch it. And then return it, so that other people can rent it.