BLOG THIS! Highly Suspect Wisdom for the Widely Disinterested Masses
Is it just my imagination, or does this guy seem like a complete knob? And what is so best-selling about that "iconic" jacket, which looks like every other vaguely denim-ish jacket in a vaguely not-black color ever made? And why is he holding a can of what purports to be some artisanal small batch IPA brewed with fresh, clear mountain water that was no doubt actually mass produced beneath a YMCA in Camden? And why does his hair look like he just spent the last six hours standing directly behind the fan of a swamp boat somewhere deep in the Everglades? And why is he simultaneously wearing both black Chuck Taylors and what is clearly a twenty-thousand dollar watch? And did he borrow his mustache, at a very attractive per-hour rate, from TV's Tom Selleck, star of the highly underrated Magnum P.I.? And what is he staring off so balefully into the distance at? Some redneck tailgate before the Rapture kicks off? A squadron of Nazi attack dirigibles coming in for yet another strafing run? A charging caribou that just gored half the French photography team? Will the fey crook of his other hand and clear attempt to appeal to the crucial 19-29 Gender Fluidity market calm the snorting beast? Finally, don't you hate the name "Huckberry" for a clothing company? It conjures notes of Twain, buttery fingers with no napkins, marmalade, and bad harmonica. It sounds like the worst song on an album of terrible Mumford&Sons songs. It sounds like a misused ampersand. They keep putting this goddamn ad in my feed and for some reason it whispers to me, tells me that our culture is dead, thoroughly flatlined, crushed by a tsunami of ill-considered branding and the immorality of Indonesian labor. It tells me such culture as we have left will not, in fact, be revived like hipster Lazarus by a $280 waxed, flannel-lined trucker jacket now on sale plus get an extra 10% off by using code RONJEREMYSTACHE at checkout. Have you ever met a real trucker who wouldn't just shrug and calmly take a beating from twelve other truckers behind a Dairy Queen for just wearing the thing? But hey, as long as we're being brutally honest here, I am forced to admit that the main problem is the degree to which I'm secretly terrified, given the deep and evil Zuckerberg analytics, about what the endless repetition of this ad in my feed ultimately says about me.
Hey, I was reminded by my boy Mike Nesi and his very hip fam that it's been a long time since I posted this, and especially that it's now more relevant than ever. We've raised (unless something deeply weird happens in the coming months) over $700 for the Biden campaign. That's way more than it sounds, since the site prints and ships the shirts, and therefore keeps most of the profits. But you still get this killer Trump/Putin shirt, and at the same time toss some cash toward ANYONE BUT TRUMP. Link to order here. Every single penny from the sales will be donated (Go Val Demings!)
"Donald Trump is a seditious puppet, a mob money launderer sent by his Russian overlords to wreck democracy. This shirt was created as a fundraiser by Greg Olear (author of "Dirty Rubles", @gregolear) and Sean Beaudoin ("Welcome Thieves", @seanbeaudoin). Every single penny raised will be donated to the campaign of whoever runs against Trump in 2020. It's closer than you think. Buy one now and be part of the solution! Also, we chose the highest quality material. Who needs to man the barricades in an itchy, ill-fitting shirt?
Hint: gaze deeply into the skull's eyes.
Cool Stuff from Dan Wickett at Wayne State U:
National Short Story Month--2016 was the year I started really trying to track the short story collections being published. Through many avenues I found out about at least 220 that were published during that calendar year and amassed 106 of those titles. They are (well, minus the Dzanc titles) shelved together, so this was much less a random pull from the shelves: Bull by Kathy Anderson; both Coulrophobia & Fata Morgan, and The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street by Jacob M Appel; You Are Having a Good Time by Amie Barrodale; Swallowed by the Cold by Jensen Beach; We Show What We Have Learned by Clare Beams; Welcome Thieves by Sean Beaudoin; A Tree or a Person or a Wall by Matt Bell; Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett; The Expense of a View by Polly Buckingham; Transitory by Tobias Carroll; Pretend I'm Your Friend by MB Caschetta; Blood by Matthew Cheney; Letters from Dinosaurs by Leland Cheuk; Wild Things by Jaimee Wriston Colbert; Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins; Know the Mother by Desiree Cooper; and When Watched by Leopoldina Core.
Hey, my boy Greg Olear, who has, no joke, become a legit Twitter superstar (100,000 people read his last within 48 hrs) with a relentless and essential critique of the Trump presidency, has launched PREVAIL. It's a site on Substack that allows him to stretch out beyond the confines of threads and 280 characters. How the dude finds the time, let alone the intellectual/emotional stability to write multiple smart, incisive, and damning articles about everything from cow-suing (yes, that's a thing) Devin Nunes to Russian Mob Money every week is beyond me. You can subscribe for free, or buy a premium subscription to help Greg fund the enterprise, which her runs entirely out of pocket. Either way, PREVAIL will continue unabated, out of a mix of fury and pure patriotism. As a bit of respite, he's started posting "Sunday Pages", a chance to get away from Trump and the pandemic for a day, in which a novel excerpt or snippet of literature is run on the site Today one of mine is up, a short story from "Welcome Thieves." Check it out.
Today In Sad Wax: One of my top three piano players of all time, and as part of the Classic Quartet, was for many years the right (and left) hand of the giant that was John Coltrane. Was fortunate enough to see him live a few times. An absolutely beautiful player who recorded uncredited on innumerable Blue Note sessions to avoid contract issues with his regular label Impulse. You've heard him way more than you thought you heard him, and always to the great benefit of whatever song he sat in on. I was going to link to "A Love Supreme" in tribute, but went with this instead. I particularly love this record, his astonishing chops on full display.
Today In Only The Fattest Wax Will Save Us: orig 1972 promo The Emotions "Untouched" on Volt. Top notch funky gospel-soul. In the end, it will the spiritually-tinged harmonizing of three women over a preposterously thumping baseline that will lead us to sanity, or we will fall into the Souza-approved martial Michael Bolton chorus of authoritarianism. As an antidote, I suggest listening to this loudly and aggressively in public. As William Butler Yeats once said, "Open their eyes with the jubilations and laments of uplifting gutbucket Memphis, or let them lay dormant in the fields to stagnate, apathetic and fly-ridden, cowed by their malignant leader."
This is what it's like being on a big-money, packed-house, mega-promo book tour. Exactly what it's like.
Twelve years ago I paid WAY too much money to have a local company build a website for me. To be fair, despite the price, it actually was pretty cool, with lots of bells and whistles. And then a year ago it just stopped working. I gave them a call. "Yeah, the architecture is primordial" they said. "It needs to be fully upgraded". Okay, I said. What are we talking about here?" "Well," the local company said, "We don't do websites anymore. That's so last century. We're more into viral branding now." Okay, I said, then what should I do? "Well, we're sending all our business to a company in Malaysia." So I dialed up Kuala Lumpur and got in touch with that company and they were like,"Yeah, your architecture is antediluvian. Fortunately, we can can strip it down and redo the entire thing for just under five grand." After I got done laughing, I called my sister, who, like the protagonist in any number of Heart and Bonnie Raitt songs, is a woman of many talents. She said "Oh, I can do it for free. Give me an hour." And lo, I have this whole new website which is fresh, clean, optimized for phone, and approximately 188k times better. So cheers to the amazing Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz for bringing me into the new century. I love how it looks! Also, on the main page my head is behind a paywall. Trust me, it's worth it.
So I'm In This Cafe #62: So I'm in this cafe that's mostly empty, except for a few random dudes on their third hour of hunkering over the same cup of un-purchased creamer while muttering to themselves. There's also a young mother with her daughter at the counter, ordering. I’ve just completed yet another morning of exquisite literary alchemy, so I get up to use the restroom. Just as I lock the door, someone knocks. "I'm in here" I say. They knock again. "Occupied," I say. They knock again. "Hey listen-" I say, and then the banging really starts. KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. The handle is jiggled. KNOCK...KNOCK...KNOCK. The latch is fiddled with. KNOCKKNOCKKNOCKKNOCK! On the verge of genuine anger, I decide it has to be the little girl. Which is strange, because she's not three years old, more like nine. On the other hand, maybe it's Charlie Manson. Maybe it's the ghost of My Dipshit Twenties Past come back to rattle chains and then show me how if I’d spent less time shooting pool in filthy bars I’d be Secretary of State right now. Or maybe it's David Lee Roth about to bust out a few scissor kicks before doing an acapella version of “Eruption.” Either way, the pounding continues. At this point I've been in the bathroom for 38 seconds and someone has been knocking for 37 of them. I wash my hands and yank open the door, figuring if it's one of the creamer dudes, someone's going to get stabbed. And it's almost certainly going to be me. But if it's an oblivious hipster I'm going to say something so cataclysmically acerbic they’ll immediately renounce all their belongings and move to Nepal to become an apprentice monk tasked in silence to prepare celery root stew each night for elders and random Lamas. As it turns out, there’s no one there at all. The café is now empty except for the young mother and little girl. She doesn't look over, kicking her legs happily, chatting away. There seems to be nothing cognitively wrong with her, just a perfectly normal recitation of things about school, various toys she would like to acquire, how weird it is that some people pronounce her name an-dray-a, when clearly it's an-dree-ah. The mother doesn't answer or even look up, stares at the screen of her phone. While she rapidly texts. TEXT TEXT TEXT. TEXTTEXTTEXTTEXTTEXT. Of course, even for an espresso-addled, bagel-swollen donkey like me, the parallel is undeniable: rampant cell phone usage is directly responsible for a modern brand of sociopathy that, although yet to be cataloged in the Physician’s Desk Reference, is insidious and pervasive. I've already decided on a name. Research hospitals and larger branding firms are welcome to contact me with offers in terms of a usage fee, as well as my bio for the footnotes. Insensate Crack-Thumb Disgruntlement By Proxy Disorder. You’re welcome.