Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Internet Lovelies

With the lone exception of George Clooney, no one in America ever comes out and says that not everyone wants to get married. The social compact, as expressed in political platforms, revolves around marriage and family life. The acceptance speeches at both of last summer's presidential-nominating conventions were addressed to only two demographic groups: "working families" and "families who work." That's fine, working families need the lion's share of social programs--the housing, the schools, the health care, the roads to get from the housing to the schools and the health care. But what about a shout-out to those of us single professionals who shell out gazillions of dollars in taxes to educate and care for all the working families' progeny?
Sarah Vowell, Link

Being a single, working tax payer is one of the most socialist things you can be. Add to that having a job providing free books to the public and my faded Communist Party tee (featuring Karl Marx with a lamp shade on his head and martini in hand) is looking more and more appropriate. 

I was able to meet Sarah Vowell last week, which was a pretty big highlight in what has been an overwhelmingly lightless winter. February and March can go straight to hell. Sarah is one of my favorite writers. I've read all six of her books, a read-count only surpassed by JK Rowling in terms of author loyalty (though that's more to do with addictive tales of child wizardry). She made an appearance at my alma mater, where she read from her most recent book, Unfamiliar Fishes. I was hoping she'd mention something about her next project, but she told the audience she wasn't ready to discuss it publicly. However she did read from something new, discussing the diaries of a grumpy cartographer who helped map the newly expanded western United States. It was absolutely hilarious, and I'm hoping it's a hint at what her next work will be. Books about cartography and map obsession are pretty big right now, with last year's publication of Ken Jennings' Maphead and Simon Garfield's On the Map. I'm not mapped-out yet, so bring it on.

Question: when you meet an artist, writer, musician, etc., you admire, what are you supposed to say to them? Other than blurting out something along the lines of I LIKE HOW YOU PUT WORDS TOGETHER. Or THE NOTES YOU PLAY SOUND GOOD. Because I'm lost when it comes to proper creator-fandom etiquette. They're just human beings, after all. Human beings who've heard from a thousand other nerds that they enjoy the things they've created. If you have legitimate questions, maybe that's different.

I remember several years ago when I went to a Rob Zombie concert (this librarian used to be pretty metal, albeit not with the best taste), my friend and I payed major dough so we could be the first ones let into the pit, to secure the coveted first "row," center stage. We did, along with about 50 others, and were so early that the band was still on stage doing sound check. There they were, and there we were, 10 feet away, in broad daylight and silence, and all 50 of us had no idea what we were supposed to do. There was a lot of feet-shuffling and checking of watches. Then two hours later when they took the stage, we all screamed our heads off because they were actually performing. Meeting artists when they're human, outside of the music, books, paintings or films in which they usually reside, just seems so awkward and surreal. Like you've suddenly been confronted with the fact that you're actually a stalker. A creepy stalker who's been paying for years to gain access to their inner-thoughts and emotions through the fourth wall of artistic creation.

Or maybe I'm over-analyzing this, and should just stand in line to get my book signed like everybody else.

Here are some more internet lovelies.

I don’t know about you, but any given week, I associate with, hang out with, deal with, talk with, laugh with, put up with, experience life with people who are gay, straight, bi-, brown, white, black, male, female, trans-, old, young, comfortably well off or strugglingly poor, and every mix and match possible. We are real people and we have real issues. Our lives are just as complicated as anyone else’s and just as ripe for storytelling as anyone’s.

The books I read growing up, the role model my uncle became, my own experiences and those of the people I loved, all of these conspired to make me hungry for stories, and I don’t want to be meeting the watered down worlds that don’t include facets of people that I know exist.
 Karina Cooper, Link 

Last year, when I was 33, people kept mentioning that it was my "Jesus year," the age Jesus was when he died. As in, I guess, if I hadn't saved mankind by the time I was 34, I could pretty much be counted as a failure. I'm much more concerned about my "Byron year" of 36. As in, if I haven't committed incestuous acts, gone to war, scandalized an entire nation, driven past lovers insane with jealousy, and written a few half-good manuscripts, then what the hell am I even doing with my life?
Jessa Crispin, Link

We played things on vinyl, because we were 22 and thought we were the first people to appreciate a variety of things, including wooden floors and theories of translation and our old telephone. Our landlord from upstairs would ring the phone at unsociable hours because all hours were unsociable and speak Quebecois French that I brain-translated into my-French then brain-translated into English and I have no idea what it meant but I think it meant, “Are you cold?” We called into work or university sick or university or work called into us sick — let’s just not move, either way. We made a lot of fried eggs and took it in turns to moonwalk out to the d├ępanneur two blocks away for cigarettes. I wore my yellow knitted socks and my pink silk dress and my grey woollen jumper and had my first encounter with the brain-dentistry of clinical depression. Once we didn’t leave the apartment for three days. The experience snowily, sleepily dusted all surfaces of human interactions — at breakfast: “We haven’t left the apartment for a week!” This was conversational exaggeration and at the same time possibly true.
Heather McRobie, Link 

That whole essay is wonderful. Check it out.

The division V.P. offered me a job after my two-week gig, which I cordially declined. I imagined myself waking up before dawn, raking bristles across my teeth, and taking the train eastward towards a spoiled sun which believes it is the center of our universe. We tell it stories of other stars, and it spits flames. Every downtown is a Jenga game about to end. Part of me wonders, regrets, what I would have become had I repeated yes like Molly Bloom. I will admit this world makes me, sometimes, want to put a rat inside someone’s asshole and record the contortions of their face simply out of aesthetic curiosity. Fortunately there is the internet, where I spend my time refreshing. The office was on the 36th floor, its spotless floor-to-ceiling windows pretending not to exist. I saw myself calmly walking to the edge and jumping off, my shadow morphing into the exact shape of my body the moment before the moment. “Sorry, waking up would be too much,” I say, unaware of the ontological metaphor. I exit his office in silent Cole Haan loafers.
Jimmy Chen, Link
Taken out of context the rat statement may not make sense in the passage above, but it's a reference to American Psycho. Click the link to read the entire essay. Or just go ahead and read everything Jimmy Chen's ever written, actually. I like the way you put words together, Jimmy Chen.

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