Mar 14, 2012

Reasons to Live

Last post today, I promise.
I'll level out soon. But I am really glad to be back doing this.
Next time I post something, it will be a full-fledged piece. Coming soon.

Among the Extraordinary Moments in Human History Are These Events. They are comparatively small perhaps, but large in the sense of the human spirit itself... and somehow as striking as small poignant knives straight to my little heart addled with the mystique of celebrity.

1. When he was just starting out as a doctor and trying to make a name for himself, Frederick Treves (London physician, savior of the Elephant Man) would get up every morning at 5 or 6 to answer correspondence and settle personal papers before beginning his ample day's work.

2. In the last interview he gave before he committed suicide, Kurt Cobain confided how lost and overwhelmed he felt by his own fame. He said that people kept feeding him "fine French meals" when all he really wanted was some macaroni and cheese.

3. Salvador Dali, as a young man in his twenties who had just had sex for the first time (with Gala, his lifelong muse) and was making great shakes with the Surrealists of Paris, was officially banished from his father's house. So he shaved his head, buried his black hair on the beach along with the urchin shells from his lunch, and then sat under some olive trees on a hill overlooking Cadaques for hours... "contemplating that panorama of my childhood, of my adolescence, and of my present."

4. Hubert Selby Jr., a poor and nearly-unknown working-class Brooklyn writer, was so happy when he finally received a cane issued to him by the state of New York. He was an old man at the time, with ensuing health problems. He kept telling his friends, "Finally! Finally the government did something for me!"

5. Sammy Davis Jr. was born in Harlem and died in Beverly Hills.

6. Liza Minnelli howled out "We Are the Champions" with the remainder of Queen at a stadium-sized tribute concert to Freddie Mercury. It was magnificently sweet and as over-the-top as anyone could ever hope for. Afterwards, before the final guitar blast and crescendo of jubilation, she called out to the sky: "Hi Freddie! Just wanted to let you know that we're thinking about you. Stay safe!" Like an aunt's answering-machine message. Blam. Feel-good roar.

7. Frank Sinatra's last words were, "I'm losing."

8. The last words that William S. Burroughs ever wrote, in his journal (published as Last Words: The Final Journals in 2001), were: "Love? What is it? The most natural pain-killer what there is. LOVE." 

Moments like these are why I will never get bored or dispassionate writing non-fiction.

Liza Minnelli

I have no reason for posting this, other than it is absolutely amazing. This is an 18-year-old Liza Minnelli, singing and dancing and flinging herself all over stage on her mother's television show, in 1963.

My favorite moment is when she's hoisted up on the men's shoulders and screams out, "Smile!" like a newborn baby chick squawking for a worm. Not a flattering image, I know, but that's what it looks like.

I have so much fondness for Liza Minnelli and whatever it is that she embodies -- glamour and cheesy decadence, camp theatrics, sexy neurotic megalomania, overdoses and instability, boas and lipstick and fishnets and rhinestones (what became drag queen culture, basically)... and most of all, pure old-school showbiz. But I'm also the kind of person who insists that the hyperbolics, hysterics, and hydraulics of musical theatre are actually great emotional communicators and can make for an enriching entertainment experience.

I really miss the New York that used to be defined by Liza Minnelli; and along with her Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, all those other performers who operated on this glittering delusional basis.
Maybe it only exists in my imagination...

Transmission from the Realms of Uncertainty

I created this blog with the exact opposite intention of writing what I am about to -- a candid, diary-entry-style transmission from my own babbling consciousness to the infinite Internet. Hello, Internet! Hello to the unknown, the Great Perhaps; with all its wanderers, forlorn, howling among the empty eternities. But I really do feel that some kind of update is needed, if only to prove that I am not dead and neither is this blog.

I haven't done this for a while, so bear with me. I might sound like an Romantic poet robot for a while, or Jack Kerouac on downers (more hopefully the latter). These sentences will form, hopefully will begin to coalesce, hopefully I will figure out what I'm trying to say. Or maybe I'll just dispense with trying at all for now and just stick to a page of notes.

This is the upshot of my excuse for being absent for so long: I have left school and have been living in New York City for the past 2.5 months. I've been very unstable and having a lot of psychological problems, some of which were what made me decide to drop out, so I haven't really been focusing on writing very much. But I feel like I'm coming back to life a bit and now that I'm in the city that enraptured me so much over the summer to write about, it would be a horrific waste to not at least try to wrangle something out of my freaked-out mind.

Things I Want To Write About Soon:

 - The Drake Hotel in Chicago, at Christmastime.
 - Coney Island in the winter
 - Looking Like a Mess in New York: the importance of fashion, The Look, what image you present walking down the street in this city. Patti Smith, Tom Wolfe, John Waters, and Lady Gaga all have a lot to say about this, and I have had my own sorry experiences of feeling subhuman in a Starbucks for having greasy hair and a plain, off-kilter shabby coat on.
 - McSorley's, the oldest bar in the city, where we met Monk. Who stays forever young.
 - the Haruki Murakami craze: review of After Dark (entrancing), Kafka on the Shore (overlong), Norwegian Wood (cloying and addictive)... maybe take a look at 1Q84 so I might have an idea of what I'm talking about in a contemporary, up-to-date context
 - the hopeless message running above subway commuters' heads -- literally -- that no one seems to be confused about the origins of but me. It begins, "OVERSLEPT, SO TIRED. IF LATE, GET FIRED."
 - Babbo's Books in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn
 - midnight movies at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village -- ranging from cheesy to classic to cult in horror and the occasional basic American blockbuster (I'm not sure if you could call Jaws a horror movie...)
 - David Shields' 2010 book, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. The front and back cover is a Christmas wrapping-paper-style pattern of glowing, ecstatic, excited blurbs and calls-to-arms from fellow writers... but did anyone really pay attention? Everyone is still stuck in the slow, lukewarm, milky tide of bland modern fiction. One thing he proposes: everything should actually be written in segments, in list form, not according to conventions of plot but by the haphazard insistent barrage of ideas as they pop up in the mind. Nothing horrific like a Twitter feed of a novel, just something that feels more like messages rather than one long streaming story. Maybe it's true that we don't have the patience for that anymore, who knows. Many decades ago, Carl Solomon (dedicatee of "Howl" and a reasonably fantastic writer himself) tried to start something similar with a book called The Messengerial Revolution; not by stating his stylistic aims outright, but by example. It never took off, the book is out of print and obscure. But still, an interesting idea... and one that speaks to my own mania for making lists/notes
 - It may be an easy/obvious one, but --> RETROMANIA, anyone?
 - Also, what the fuck ever happened to Lady Sovereign?
I love one-hit wonders. I could write a book. In high-school, I created another blog solely about the '80s synth-pop duo, Soft Cell (known only for "Tainted Love", except among the hopelessly nostalgic or insanely retroerotic):

I don't know if anyone remembers this...