F I N D E R "Now where did I see that, you know--that, oh, come on--it was somewhere near a graphic--I think . . ."
This search engine is for you, my friend.
A R C H I V E In terms of the Internet, there is no out-of-print. Here are posts that, like so many tattoos, seemed like great ideas at the time (which was often 2:00 AM as I recall). They're archived not because they're worth preserving, but preemptively--because you'd surely run across them elsewhere. As usual, Stewart Brand was right: You do own your words.
S C R A P S These are observations and rants from other times and other places. Neatly packaged as "Essays," they are, in fact, a greatest hits compilation culled from monthly columns, articles and--yes--essays. Inclusion here is driven by two dynamics: Either the piece pleased me greatly or resonated with the readers. (Sometimes both happened at once.)
C O N T E X T This site's theoretical photo collection. Like my extremely casual relationship with social media, I think I'm failing to understand the intense need to show strangers my photos. Dear god, in years past, all one had to do was feign illness to get out of those inevitable after-winter-holiday dinner parties that culminated in 123 mind-numbing slide carousels. Tell you what--If I've got something that absolutely needs exhibiting, it'll be here (although "here" may eventually point to Flickr).
A D D R E S S Click to send me email. While fawning kudos are almost guaranteed to elicit a response from me, well-reasoned differences of opinions are also welcome. I love the smell of debate in the morning--it reminds me of coffee. No, wait: That's because I'm drinking coffee. Anyway, you get the idea. Important: Make sure you replace the "AT" and "DOT" with the real things before you press "Send."
F E E D The subscription link for this site's RSS feed. I'm always reading about whole segments of users who can't seem to get their heads around RSS. And I, in turn, can't get my head around that. Paraphrasing Douglas Adams, RSS is your cyber-pooch who's fun to be with. Every morning he bounds out of the front door and brings you back an edition of The Daily You. What could be clearer?
While this site has been in suspended animation, I certainly haven't.
Over at culturehack.me there's a soft roll-out of a new, unified CultureHack website. And by soft roll-out, I’m suggesting that it’s best to see the next six weeks or so as a kind of beta test.
The question you’re not asking (though my ego insistently clings to the delusion that you are) is Why? To which the shortest possible answer is Twitter (the second-shortest response, however, is the much more pleasing to me: Fucking Twitter.)
Over the years, I’ve distributed content across an array of sites via a number of platforms and hosting services, including most recently the soon-to-be vaporized Posterous. And why is it about to vaporized? Because–wait for it–Twitter bought Posterous for the express purpose of shutting it down. So yes, Twitter is the reason I'm now at culturehack.me. Fucking Twitter. (It really is more pleasing with the adjective.)
The impending demise of Posterous has forced me to migrate a number of my sites elsewhere, and in in doing so, I decided to centralize the stuff I’ve been posting–well, the things worth preserving anyway. This time around, I’ve created one place for the iPhoneography, book excerpts, essays, political punditry, recent entries in my Twitter stream, rants expanded from tweets and, of course, my blog.
So yeah–you're cordially invited to my newest virtual atelier, brought to you by the crack Business Plan Division of Fucking Twitter . . .
Does the new site compile everything I’ve ever tossed online with trademark hubris and insouciance? Of course not–are you insane? Instead, I’m treating this centralization as a kind of reboot. The legacy content there can be thought of as a curation prior to moving forward into new territory. (I’ve given a lot of thought about what this terra nova might be, and there will be screed on that in due time.) But right now, it's me editing myself and blatantly eliminating the boring, the thin and the dated. And also–it goes without saying–anything that’s become embarrassing. Screw the inviolate rules of perpetual posts with retrofitted strike-throughs: I’m talking image management-cum-manipulation here.
A word of warning at the outset is indicated–lots of things there remain to be tweaked. For instance, in many cases, the multimedia links didn’t survive the migration from Posterous and will need to be tended to manually. So yes, there’s still a thin coating of construction dust on almost everything: typefaces, kerning, formatting and, of course, the aforementioned videos and music. (But to balance things out a little, there’s also the delicious New Site smell that we all love so much.)
I’m making April Fool’s Day my deadline for getting this fit-and-finish stuff done–which pretty much gives the game away, don’t you think?
So once again, in case you blew by the new address, you can follow my ongoing adventures at:
And while we're discussing changed addresses, know too that I'm also getting rid of my Internet provider and with it all of those legacy Mindspring email addresses. (Better to fix everything at once, rather than endless serial changes.)
Going forward, my email is being handled by Google (thus detaching it from any ISP) and my new email address is:
And that's it, really. Against all odds, I'm not dead and--at the time of this writing, anyway--still tattoo-free and more-or-less in command of my faculties and what I've always insisted in calling my prose "talent."
I see the shapes,
I remember from maps.
I see the shoreline.
I see the whitecaps.
A baseball diamond, nice weather down there.
I see the school and the houses
where the kids are.
Places to park by the factories and buildings.
Restaurants and bar
for later in the evening.
Then we come to the farmlands,
and the undeveloped areas.
And I have learned how
these things work together.
I see the parkway
that passes through them all.
And I have learned how
to look at these things and I say,
I wouldnt live there if you paid me.
I couldnt live like that, no siree!
--Talking Heads, "The Big Country "
Though Beatrice doesn’t live at the end of the world, this is beginning to seem a technicality. Because so far it feels like you’re driving through an early Springsteen album: leather, denim and baseball caps inside too many tricked-out cars. And the endless succession of skinny kids hanging around on every corner, like that one, with his upended bike, kneeling next to the ratcheting gears. The town exudes a civic pride in being a kind of Wayne’s World simulation, and this guarantees the wink you’ve been waiting for is never going to come: each one of these chop tops is aspirational instead of a John Waters reference, and you’ll need to think hard about that tonight, with scotch and a long journal entry . . . .
Something never thought about; something almost forgotten: The whir of a push mower and the play of sunlight on leaves that will be gone in three years’ time. Which makes you what? Seven years old? Or very close to it.
Your father's mower whirring in the front yard, under the canopy of limbs that will soon be diseased. But all the memories of him have been too-long packed away, and so you have to make do with impressions: He’s conjured up as short, with darkish hair; in a white tee shirt, inappropriate pants and the smudgy suggestion of work shoes. All of this Sears-Catalog neat; it’s almost conceptual clothing. Because you can’t recall if he sweats while working out there--or if he perspires at all. Which, it now becomes clear, is also the reason you’ve parted and combed his hair.
Another season’s whirring, across a less-shaded lawn, as the last elms in the neighborhood begin their rapid decline. The kitchen’s still there; it can still be imagined, complete with its strange dimensions: too narrow and too long and then all at once wide in a way you remember as momentary. It's where the savage intimacies of the family had most often been exchanged; collisions leaving many more scars than that dangerous drawer full of loose German knives. In the kitchen the family had been too distant and at the same time much too close; it had been a place where acceptance widened-out, only to narrow and close ranks again. The dining room, however, has become theoretical--as detail-free as the interchangeable dinners that had marked each holiday and celebration. Reduced to an essence half a lifetime later, this room’s revealed to have been the kitchen in a chandeliered Sunday Best; where weekday dictates and intolerance had been served up on good china. But its mislaid appearance has also faded these uneasy memories: the narcotic blessing of forgetfulness, though late, has at last arrived.
Still later, on a stifling night long before there’s any air-conditioning, a spray truck whirs past your tight-shut window, fogging yellow-lit neighborhood streets. This last-ditch rescue of the trees comes at the songbirds’ expense, because the insecticide kills many more robins than the number of elms it saves. The Midwest, however, is equal parts of momentum and determination--there once something is put into motion, no price seems too high to pay. Which isn’t surprising, because a comfortable rut is the most costly thing of all.
And then your father’s mower, blades glinting in the bright sun, trims around the new birch, avoiding the stakes. But the whirring this time is your childhood receding, leaving you earthbound, stranded and ten.
In which the Author tentatively integrates his distributed cyberself . . .
Clearly you can see that I am bleeding
Clearly you can see my clothes are torn
Clearly this demands an explanation
Only I can offer none
My other life . . .
Analysis has failed to find a motive
Hypnotists have failed to beak the code
Journalists are camped out on my doorstep
Perchance that I might slip and drop the key
My other life . . .
I slip away to my other life
With no regret or remorse
Happy and gay in my other life
No need to wake me Monday morning
From my other life
--Lloyd Cole, "My Other Life "
In case it isn't noted, your attention is called to the new additions at the top of the right-hand sidebar. There you'll find both daily and occasional updates that feature material that (to me) doesn't necessarily fit into whatever it is this blog does. (Posts like this or maybe even this one.)
I'vealso added "Playlist" to the right-hand sidebar, which links to my selection, programming and annotation of songs over at Blip.fm. This list of tunes will be growing--thus, if you're interested in my Other DJ Life, periodic visits to "Playlist" may be indicated.
Currently there remains artifacts of cross-posting between this blog and the Posterous account. This represents a period of testing to make sure this integrated scheme would actually work. Going forward, new and exclusive Posterous material will dynamically push the cross-posts off the sidebar and three distinct types of content will be displayed, each according to their own posting rhythms. At least that's my hope. If in practice creating a link-hub to Distributed Me proves not as intriguing as it initially appears, then I'll simply pull the plug and the song demos will once again take their place at the top of the sidebar.
This integration isn't really about visitor convenience or online brand management; I'm operating on a more intuitive level--feeling my way to something I can't quite articulate. Perhaps, since the material really does differ in each source, I'm hoping to create the cubistic 3-D of a Hockney polaroid montage, hoping that epigrammatic daily observations juxtaposed to less-frequent, Tumblr-esque notes, links and media and then parked next to the longer, improvisational essays here might create a kind of triangulation that could be interesting. Or not. We'll just have to see . . .
Update: I've also added "Bricolage" to the right-hand sidebar. It links to CultureHack, Tumbled--a digital commonplace book for stuff that catches my eye as I careen through the InterWebs.
Being the Author's contemplation of the anti-pastoral and reconsidered through-lines . . .
I saw you this morning.
You were moving so fast.
Can’t seem to loosen my grip
On the past.
And I miss you so much.
There’s no one in sight.
And we’re still making love
In My Secret Life.
I smile when I’m angry.
I cheat and I lie.
I do what I have to do
To get by.
But I know what is wrong,
And I know what is right.
And I’d die for the truth
In My Secret Life.
--Leonard Cohen, "In My Secret Life"
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.
--Leonard Cohen, "Alexandra Leaving"
Prior to settling into my recent season of doctors and campaigning for Obama, I was on extended holiday in the American Rocky Mountains. Being Otherwise Engaged on multiple fronts is the reason for the lack of posts to this blog and also accounts for a recent sense of intercut reality. The past few months have smudged together in interesting and surreal ways: impressions of myself holding a kind of meta clipboard containing hybrid medical/political/revision questions (Does your family have any history of internal bleeding while convincing uncommitted voters to go Democratic in a perhaps-too-confusing and staccato flashback sequence?). That sort of thing. The culmination of this oddly recombinant period was waking up in the recovery room demanding assurances that (a) Obama was still president-elect and (b) fucking Chapter Seven remained finalized . . .
But back to the vacation: It worked liked a charm--much-needed distance was inserted between me and the book (especially fucking Chapter Seven); despite appearances, I actually feel recharged, though slightly worse-for-wear.
And since I can already sense the uncomfortable shifting, you have my word that this isn’t the preamble to an endless sharing of holiday snaps (As you can see, this picture of the Rockies is slightly bluer and less hazy than the previous vista of mountains--but a lot grayer and more distant than the range in the next shot). Rather, I’d like to explore a variant of that Arthur Conan Doyle passage about a mute canine:
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
In my case, the curious, attention-worthy incident is the non-inspirational nature of--er--nature: All the splendor had absolutely no affect on my writing. There was, of course, the obligatory amount of Wonder, Scale and Taking-of-Breath. As a civilian, I respond to nature (though I suspect in a more clinical way than most people), but as an artist, well, not so much. However, this still seems too cagey, so know this: In terms of art, I’m completely disinterested in the natural world.
With the exception of Turner, my appreciation of painted landscapes is entirely technical; minus my fascination with brushstrokes, composition and light, Monet haystacks would die in their amped-up attempts to Make Us Notice The Literal And Spiritual Benefits Of Rural Life In A Way That We Would Otherwise Entirely Miss (And So Thank You, Claude). I remain unmoved by landscapes in the same way I patiently wait for Springsteen songs about The Myriad Aspects of Blue-Collar Life That We Would Otherwise Entirely Miss (And So Thank You, Bruce) to finally end. In each instance, the very obvious has been made epically intense. And, because of the narrowing affect of the obviousness, it’s also about mind-numbing redundancy. (Pop Quiz 1: Explain how “Thunder Road” is in anyway different from”Born To Run” with the exception of tighter focus. Pop Quiz 2: Thematically differentiate three of Monet’s haystack paintings. See what I mean?)
My disinterest in Artistic Nature extends to other disciplines. In most cases, I’d rather saw off my leg with a dull butter knife than read pastoral poetry. Again, it’s the sheer predictability--despite all the passionate attempts to find the new, surprising and oddball detail-cum-angle. I get it--mainly because I got it: a long time ago, reading 400-year-old poetry. Nature is Big. I am Small. Natural Metaphors for What Is Churning In My Soul are somehow more resonant for being externalized (though no one really explains why nature-as-mirror is inherently better than self-examination). Nature is Authentic, whereas Civilization Is Artifice.
(Full disclosure: I have been a hypocritical enabler. At one point, I critiqued some pastoral poetry as a politely down-played but huge favor. What I still remember is the dumbfounded respect of the writer--as if it took special intelligence to discern that, yes, geologic time was being used as a metaphor for a relationship; that, um, Things Change Just Like In Nature. Whatever. My critique was in no way brain surgery, and yet I was deemed Yoda-like for the “insights.” However, the real reason for my carefully chosen, seemingly Zen-like advice had much more to do with me being too polite to explore the author’s psychological reasons for projecting personal feelings onto geological forces. The resulting deflection, disguise and avoidance produced the opposite of truth, which, I finally realized, had been the unconscious intent of the pieces.)
For me, nature-based art is inescapably hackneyed in terms of theme; the metaphoric natural world has been stripped-mined of meaning. Which places it in the same relationship to me as the Blues--so rigorously ritualized in both form and topic that any relatively recent stuff can only be significant in terms of bravura performance. (And, as I learned in my season critiquing pastoral poetry, talented nature poets are as rare as Glenn Gould caliber pianists--journeyman versification of cliched beaches/clouds/flocks of birds/rain/waving grass is as deadening as a cocktail-lounge piano player vamping his way through predictable pop standards.)
All this is a very circuitous way of saying that I inserted myself in the Rocky Mountains to get away from my writing, and not for inspiration. Artistically, I thrive in big cities and interstitial neighborhoods: Fringe-dwelling urban neurotics--my inescapable tribe--give me the ideas and energy that make the words flow.
In this Age of Palin, where “elitist” is the new sneering code word for being smart--dismissive of intelligence in the same way “faggot” denigrates gays-- Blue-Collar Authenticity is all the rage. And, being noble savagery with a new coat of political paint, Blue-Collar Authenticity is especially shrill if the Proudly Uninformed also happen to live near equally Authentic Nature (cough--Alaska--cough). My problem is that I don’t see authenticity in the leading of a patently “low-information” life, and the Rockies are no more or less authentic than Manhattan. (And with a scotch in me, I’ll probably confide that Manhattan is actually more impressive, being the product of human aspiration and design rather then entropy and tectonic plates.)
I also went on a walkabout through the mountains because I’ve been forcing myself to do things I otherwise wouldn’t: Ranked absolutely on my personal Things To Do Before I Die list, the Rockies don’t even figure in the top 100. Which made them a perfect choice because they were sufficiently outside both my desire and comfort zone to be perversely intriguing.
CultureHack, Tumbled Cultural core sampling and sidelong glances at pop debris. An improvised miscellanea for those with more oblique and idiosyncratic tastes; a digital cabinet of curiosities.
CultureHack, Tracked See this as yet more context, albeit sonic: A slowly growing list of annotated songs added to online rather than in a Moleskine. I make no assurance about the absolute quality of these tunes, only their ability to resonate with me--often in unintended ways.
Formal Absences is a theater-piece companion to the forthcoming CD release, The Formal Absences of Precious Things, and Formal Absence, a novel. This sidebar section will feature the most recent versions of the song demos as they become available.