Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's been awhile since I spent much time around caskets and dead people, but after being thrown into a dark coffin last night and spun around (For fun! Really! Yes, way!), it reminded me of a story I once wrote that required me to work in a Detroit-area funeral home. At the time, particularly after observing my first embalming, I felt I had been damaged for life. But as my friend Dave recently reminded me, "Nothing lasts."

I just posted the whole text, which you can read here. (You may want to skip the New England Institute embalming description if you plan on eating any time in the near future.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

For the last year, I've been writing my way in and around this recession, attempting to take advantage of slower times, promising myself to finally spend time on "my own writing." I took off for California again, but instead of producing copious amounts of cohesive book chapters and scripts, I generated pages of fragmented, confused narrative, and really, just lived. I went to the ocean, often; I became fairly obsessed with hunting for wild fruit. I climbed fire trails, watched sunsets, prepared elaborate dinners involving caviar and saffron with friends and family. I tried in vain to answer a question from a child at the school where I volunteered: Why do clouds float? I touched melting glaciers, descended into craters, and yesterday, having returned to the city, witnessed the Tompkins Square Park dog halloween parade.

Today, as fall wrings out the last days of warmth, I sat on the front stoop of my new home-for-now and read John Steinbeck. "And although it has nothing to do with this story, no Abbeville child, no matter who its mother was, knew the lack of a stick of spearmint ever afterward."

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's a men's world.

This month on newsstands, I have two pieces out. For your convenience, you need only stop at the men's interest section. In Nylon for Men, a short profile about Danish rock band Mew. And in Men's Health, Go Fish!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

RIP Edgar Allen Poe, again. And again. And again.

Apparently nobody showed up at Poe's original funeral, so today, on the 160th anniversary of his death, Baltimore is holding two more.

Coincidentally, I sat in on a lecture by Michael Chabon up at Columbia University a few days ago, titled "I was Edgar Allen Poe" -- as a child, Chabon obsessed over the idea of being the reincarnation of Poe. I learned quite a few things during the talk -- that Chabon is a pretty funny guy, that singer Jeff Buckley did a recording of the ballad Ulalume, and that Poe is considered the first (well-known) person ever to try to make a living solely by writing. And so it follows, from a BBC News article today, that Poe "died an impoverished lunatic at the age of 40. His tombstone was destroyed. An enemy wrote his obituary and damaged his reputation for decades."

P.S. Asked if he had any mantras for when he hit obstacles while trying to write, Chabon answered with several, including: "This is it, this is the one that's going to kill me," "I'm not up to this" and "Help."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Clutter=Frugality=Virtue=NY MOMA. So there.

"My mother's idea is, 'If something is not broken, but we should use again, we can. If we waste them, maybe in the future-future, we have nothing.'" -Artist Song Dong, "Waste Not" exhibition at the MOMA in New York.

So don't give me funny looks when I have the compulsion to save those pink or green biodegradable spoons from Yogurtland. One could argue I'm not only participating in upholding traditional Chinese values, but an exercise in modern conceptual art as well.

Plus, I'm not the only hoarder. From burpandslurp.files.wordpress.com:

Friday, October 2, 2009

366 days, today.

This is an installation for Urban Play Amsterdam (2008) from Stefan Sagmeister's "Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far project." It took eight days, over 100 volunteers and 250,000 Eurocents. Less than a day after it was completed, a local started taking the pennies, and the police, in an effort to "preserve" the artwork, swept up the remaining coins for protective custody.