sights seen at burning man

August 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

  • giant space dandelions
  • a drug confiscation unit
  • a gallon sized jar of mayo, white with dust, chained to a stake, sat in front of a sign that reads “$5 MAYO!”
  • a ten story ladder leading to nowhere
  • a steampunk snowman
  • big rig jig
  • playa roaches

Sorry haven’t been posting well. Apps continue to stunt my productivity. And I’m falling into the rut that I’ve chided myself, a hundred times over, to avoid. I keep consuming articles, blog posts, books, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, sure, but these last few days I’ve also felt too lazy to talk to myself about them, to talk myself into a deeper understanding of them. A regrettable state of affairs.

So. Still to post about: this weekend — the all-smiles cute boy with the smooth moves, drunkenly earnest conversations out on the lightless patio, stunning beer pong upsets, and more; Leguin’s Steering the Craft; Chinatown poverty; Alice Sola Kim?; and why I find myself drawn to names like Dominic and Quinn and Isa and Eli (because, apparently, they can be caused to grow, with minimal effort, the show-stopping, plot-rocking personages that they most sound like, like the arm of a starfish that is cut off and then coaxed into regenerating a duplicate of the body, from the central nervous system on up, to which it had only until recently been attached. to my ear, certain names come prepackaged with character traits. a specificity I find pleasing and that helps to halve the amount of work I have to put into piecing together OCs from scratch).

I’m think of dredging the bay at NYT’s obituaries section for items of interest. Jungle adventures, aviation, the first man to import luxury Cuban cigars. A worthwhile exercise?


personal statements

August 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

D: hit 3K yesterday but none of it for personal statement stuff, so i’m feeling massive guilt
D: if i hired you to write this for me would you do it? XD
N: …only to infuriate you enough to become a lawyer to sue me
D: natalie, natalie, natalie, of course that would never be the case
N: My name is Danica Verchowski and I will be a fucking fantastic lawyer, because I am smart, cute, and bred to excel.
N: My ancestors were peasants in rice paddies and I love underdogs.
N: Fuck, I am an underdog.
N: And I speak Chinese, which is the way of the future.
N: Bitches!
chat truncated due to inability of correspondent to continue typing as she is laughing too hard

D: if only i were judged by my ability to write hilarious lesbian shenanigans i would get into law school for sure
sent at 3:14 PM

saturday night conviviality, august 20, 2011

August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Cups ringing on the table, forks scraping plates bare, waiters floating in brightly colored drinks with that enviable way they have, of turning their bodies thoughtlessly and avoiding all collisions without effort. We are served blocky glasses topped with straws and spoons for stirring, the rims overfull with ice. Each arrival is exclaimed over. People stand to say hi. Other people come in at regular intervals, spot B. presiding over the table, and immediately make a beeline for him, arms generously spread, all ashout with pleasure. Their faces when they see their friend is something that I envy.

But isn’t it nice? The evening. Earlier I vowed to drop by, wave hello, and go. But now I keep staying. It is 10:30, then 12:00, then it is 1:30. Someone who I have just met stands to order his sixth drink from the bar but is diverted by the arrival of his friend, a pale boy wearing chunky black glasses of the sort popular with either the very hip or the liver-spotted dying, and a distinctive yellow hat whose width is encircled by a broad white ribbon. The hat he retrieves from the head of his friend; in doing so he tenderly brings his palm up to hold the guy’s cheek, probably telling him in crude terms what he thinks of poseurs who wears hats in public. Meanwhile, B. accuses me of being a recluse, then pleads with me to come out and, in his words, “do shit with this underemployed motherfucker”, that is, himself. I am so struck numb with gratitude that I mumble the first thing that comes to my mouth, and of course it ends up sounding pedantic, although I don’t mean for it to be. “Oh man,” I say. “I’m underemployed too.”

“Well maybe I’m not using the word right,” he says, immediately uneasy, knowing that I work fulltime. No, no, you are, I want to assure him, but the moment for it has passed.

People are like that around me; I think of changing this by smoking more, to mellow me.

The easy banter, the hours quickening by, the reflective table top on which we clasp hands, drawing figures in the condensation with our pinkies. Isn’t this so enriching? Don’t you miss it?

What is this clarity,
in the shingled
music of bright mouthed finches —

the colours, salts, tones of existence

August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Fear no more,” said Clarissa. Fear no more the heat o’ the sun; for the shock of Lady Bruton asking Richard to lunch without her made the moment in which she had stood shiver, as a plant on the river-bed feels the shock of a passing oar and shivers: so she rocked: so she shivered.

Millicent Bruton, whose lunch parties were said to be extraordinarily amusing, had not asked her. No vulgar jealousy could separate her from Richard. But she feared time itself, and read on Lady Bruton’s face, as if it had been a dial cut in impassive stone, the dwindling of life; how year by year her share was sliced; how little the margin that remained was capable any longer of stretching, of absorbing, as in the youthful years, the colours, salts, tones of existence, so that she filled the room she entered, and felt often as she stood hesitating one moment on the threshold of her drawing-room, an exquisite suspense, such as might stay a diver before plunging while the sea darkens and brightens beneath him, and the waves which threaten to break, but only gently split their surface, roll and conceal and encrust as they just turn over the weeds with pearl.

— Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

snakes swallow crows whole

August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

01. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

02. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

03. Do you remember that time five years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now?

04. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

05. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

06. What are you grateful for?

07. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

08. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

giovanni’s room, by james baldwin

August 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Oh this is so damn good.

I think what keeps this book from working to perfect effect is the fact that it’s essentially a story with one extended climax. Tragedy upon tragedy, every little romantic artifact offered up for the viewer’s contemplation and then cast dramatically aside. All that stuff about the room and being in it and not being able to get out of it and how it is tiny and stuffy and full of gross mouse pellets. The voiceover — and, oh, boy is there one — works best if you imagine it in the mode of Morgan Freeman, gloomily narrating the end of all civilization. And the events of the story are, au naturel, really, really depressive. It gets tiring fast, hardly being alowed to breathe. The problem continues in In Another Country, which I’m working through right now.

I think this effect of breathlessness can be attributed in part to Baldwin’s prose style, which is really so wonderfully rhythmic it is like being rocked by swells in a moonlit, mist-dampened bayou, lulling you with its beauty, AT THE SAME TIME that it is jacking you up on these incredible, brain-jolting images, turns of phrases, ways of evoking character, tragedy won’t-stop-can’t-stop!, and heart-cracking conflict. I want to keep reading because I want to see how Baldwin views the world; his vision is so intoxicatingly meaningful. Everything! I would read his description of a phonebook, a desk lamp, a snub-nosed pencil! Whatever lets the novelist zero in on emotional reverb as he chronicles life’s foibles, absurdities, moments of levity and joy, Baldwin has it. He has it in spades. It is all over him, it emanates from his pores and is apparently an effortless thing that you won’t be able to duplicate or even shabbily imitate because HE’S A GENIUS and you are not. This man’s the real thing. One can only clutch one’s head and moan in abject jealousy.

Representative quotes:

“What happened was that, all unconscious of what this ennui meant, I wearied of the motion, wearied of the joyless seas of alcohol, wearied of the blunt, bluff, hearty, and totally meaningless friendships, wearied of wandering through the forests of desperate women, wearied of the work which fed me only in the most brutally literal sense.”

“She wore the strangest smile I had ever seen. It was pained and vindictive and humiliated but she inexpertly smeared across this grimace a bright, girlish gaiety – as rigid as the skeleton beneath her flabby body. If fate ever allowed Sue to reach me, she would kill me with just that smile.”


August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

“There were no assigned seats, and Besiktas fans made it a mission to keep their rivals out of the covered stands, which were considered to have the best views and the best acoustics. In what became known as the Inonu War, as many as two hundred Besiktas supporters would sleep in or around the stadium before a match, in order to defend their seats. They used fists, sticks, and rocks, and as hostilities escalated, switchblades, meat cleavers, and the razor-sharp, sword-size knives used to slice doner kebap. … By the mid-eighties, people were using Molotov cocktails and guns.

“There are stories of Carsi members striking up friendships with players by first slashing their tires and then giving them a ride home; of trashing the players’ facilities, and then turning up the next day with baklava and flowers.”

From Elif Batuman’s article on Besiktas fans. So sardonic without ever being explicitly so. I keep getting emanations of this vibe from New Yorker articles; perhaps it is the famed house style? The last one I remember reading where this also happened was Ariel Levy’s piece on Silvio Berlusconi, where she, very adroitly and without a hint of anything you could detect in the text, lays out all the foibles and absurdities that have accumuluated around the life of Italian television’s ruling media mogul cum prime minister, he who is besotted with underaged prostitutes, and does so in a completely condemning way, while never raising the stylistic pitch of her voice to a level above reasoned neutrality. It’s quite effective! This equivalent of saying something incredible while keeping a completely straight face. All the feelings of horror and disgust lie within the reader, and nowhere on the page.

I like the stories about the schizophrenia-prone Carsi members, I’m plotting things for it already. The ground down working class fan whose whole life is his team, and Cesar the rising young star, with his careless blonde hair and the apple shine of promise on him. If only he weren’t so volatile, so fearsomely bad-tempered, his mother always laments…. The background: a massive strike that has nixed all economic activity and thrown the whole city into disarray. Railways idle and trash goes uncollected. Shops shutter. At night, power lines cut out without warning, and important neighborhoods, not just poor ones, are plunged into darkness. In meeting rooms and at negotiation tables, tensions rise after a power outage results in a spate of robberies and several deaths; suited men confer, speak to each other in increasingly shrill voices, storm off. Hostility edges every exchange. The cashier at the market is surly, tosses your peaches into the bag without a regard for if they’ll bruise. Even Cesar in his remove feels it. One game is canceled. The crowd’s chanting gets nastier. A broken-necked glass bottle, craftily aimed, sidelines one of his teammates for he doesn’t know how long it’ll be. And he keeps seeing the same fan: at games, during training, standing back from the hubbub, gazing at him. At the same time that he is annoyed he feels pity and curiosity; he is at that age where both come to him easily. Why does the man look so sad?

That was before he left practice the day after a bad loss and found his car’s windshields smashed in, of course.

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