I'll miss this guy. George Plimpton, Author, Dies at 76.
If I don't drive around the park,
I'm pretty sure to make my mark.
If I'm in bed each night by ten,
I may get back my looks again.
If I abstain from fun and such,
I'll probably amount to much;
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.
So, the Library Hotel is being sued by the people who own the Dewey Decimal system. First, I was floored that a company owns Dewey, and that they license it fo $500/library/year. Second...how ddi something created ANONYMOUSLY in 1873 not enter the public domain? Does that even make sense on any scale? I know we have some lawyers in the readership--if anyone can explain how a system created 130 years ago by a long-dead person who orgiginally published it anonymously doesn't enter the public domain? Or is it just the phrase "Dewey Decimal" which they have trademarked, which doesn't make much more sense? I'm perplexed.
Also, they want triple the profits the hotel has made since it opened as compensation. What? For using a filing system? And of course, they don't actually file books with that system--they just used it to dictate room themes. Triple the profits?
I'm typing this from Paul Robeson High School, just off Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, where I'm the visiting author for New York Book Week activities. The first class was waylaid by an assembly, so now that I'm off the hook a bit I thought I'd take a second and post, as it's been really light this week.
The high school has been fascinating and gracious so far--a far cry from the stereotyped "scary, scary" urban high school mythology. The librarians and teachers are ridiculously kind, and while it is certain that the physical plant and resources aren't what I've seen at other schools, there's a fierce independent streak that is terribly refreshing.
This week saw the second mounting of YOGA BITCH, the show created by Suzanne Morrison and Jean-Michele Daisey about Suzanne's adventures in pissdrinking and enlightenment. The short workshop was really sharp, and a lot of issues have been ironed out of the show--I am more confident than ever that we are going to be able to find a home for it.
In less than a month I will be back in Seattle, running DOG YEARS at Intiman and creating my new show, THE UGLY AMERICAN. I'm both nervous and giddy at the trip home--I hope that Seattle is gracious, and that I can bring back there work of value. It's been a long time since I created a full-length show, but this one has been basting for 3 years now, and I'm very ready to stick it in the oven.
My friend Colleen is in the new play at Playwright's Horizons, RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS. She's starring with Heather Graham, but all the press photos for the Times preview piece feature Colleen rather than Graham. Woo! Way to sneak in under the radar, Colleen! I'm hoping to catch this next week.
Finally, there is a piece of job-related news. I have accepted a position as a staff writer for the NATIONAL LAMPOON radio show, hosted by Richard Belzer of LAW AND ORDER fame. Work begins immediately, and while it isn't my only gig it'll be a lot of fun--meeting all the folks involved this week was a lot of fun, and now I'll have a home for all my low-brow, stupid-ass pieces too offensive to find a home elsewhere.
Well, I'd better get ready for the little darlings...next period begins soon. Man, a few hours here and I feel like I'm right back in high school, terrifying existential angst and everything.
View of Isabel from the sea:
From the same site, if you're a fan of GAWKER then this is interesting: A Brief History of Elizabeth Spiers. In the comments section it gets pretty heated, and Ms. Spiers chimes in with her own thoughts on the piece.
Extensive analysis of the latest WTC site plan.
A moving story of one woman's afternoon with Johnny Cash.
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, olny taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pcleas. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by ilstef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
"Ashcroft was bombarded by cries of 'Shame!' and the sound of the 'Imperial Death March' from the movie 'Star Wars' as he entered a meeting with law enforcement officials in Faneuil Hall."
The short but bizarre story of a 'heavy' ballerina. I think we all want to know just how big this ballerina is that none of those strapping young Bolshoi lads can lift her.
Courtesy of Ginger we now have a picture of this "fat" ballerina:
Hmmmmm. I'm not in ballet, but daaaaaaaamn...if that's heavy, I hate to think where I land on the spectrum!
Fred Kaplan artfully eviscerates Bush's military budget requests. Required reading.
From SeriousDanger: Thomas Aquinas drove a temptress from his chambers with a hot poker. Then angels appeared to him in a dream and gave him the "girdle of perpetual virginity" (+6 AC bonus against harlots and succubi). If he had shared his bed, though, this capital crime against god, man, and nature would totally have made his list.
Q. What is a millihelen?
A. The amount of beauty it takes to launch a single ship.
My God, I want some of these ray guns so badly.
You can buy these beauties here.
Maybe he wasn't considered the greatest actor, but I've always had a soft spot for John Ritter. It does need to be said that he was only good in movies--every TV show he ever created was simply awful.
I can't believe that in the same week we lost Zevon, Cash and...Ritter? God has a dark, dark sense of humor indeed.
Louise Gluck, who taught me poetry once upon a time in another life, is now poet laureate. Congratulations, Louise--the press won't say this about you, because they don't think it's proper, but you rock.
No Americans Need Apply. Sign of our age...people killing themselves after training their overseas replacements.
ABC News shows the government can't detect uranium that's shipped into the country. Government responds not with humility or spin control, but instead begins felony investigation of ABC News for daring to humiliate them.
Well I'll be damned. Pixies To Reunite For Tour, Album. Everyone else does it, but i really didn't expect them to ever reunite.
Could they be bigger hypocrites? After the RIAA has cried that P2P services kill their sales and they are "forced" to sue children, WIRED publishesthis article about BigChampagne, a company the labels are using to track P2P downloads. Not to prosecute--they track the stats because it may be the best way to see where the tastes and trends of the country are.
So the "pirates" they endlessly cry about are the same people who establish what is hot and what is not? And we're supposed to feel *bad* for this corporate behemoth?
Fred's right on in this Slate piece, much as I wish he weren't so damningly accurate with the luxury of hindsight. While I don't feel happy about the treatment the world has given the US, there is little doubt to me now that the PR angle of the attacks could not have been handled more ineptly by the administration...and that failure is an absolutely damning one. There's no reason that the US should not have been able to do everything it has done in the last two years and keep its allies on its side.
Andrew Sullivan disagrees, of course, and while I see his side of things, it's clear that a little sugar here would have gone far. But Bush is a non-sweetner kind of a guy.
I laugh at the French on a regular basis--hey, who doesn't?--but that doesn't preclude wanting them on your side in a fight.
After all, these guys invented the Maginot Line--they're bound to have more great ideas on defense any minute now.
"Saudi Arabia's religious police have declared Barbie dolls a threat to morality, complaining that the revealing clothes of the 'Jewish' toy." Between connections to Al Qaeda and this kind of racist ass-clownery will someone explain why, if we are so damn militant, we can't simply lob a nuke on Riyadh? Or, if that's too mean, a bomb filled with thousands and thousands of Barbies in it?
I read this evening as part of the Tuesday Night Non Fiction Series at KGB Bar, located at 85 E. 4th Street. I will be reading with Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and militant onanist. The readings begin at 7pm...come on down if you're in the hood.
Another bad move for the RIAA. Are these people ever going to run out of feet to shoot themselves in?
The government's plan for air safety with CAPPS II is fucked. My favorite part is the threat assessment...if they really tag 1-2% of air travellers as "red' and prohibit them from boarding, this equals out to around 500,000 per year at JFK, based on the 50 million that move through that airport. That's over 1,300 travellers per day, or about one traveller a minute. Who is going to interrogate all these detainees? No one, that's who...because as the system proves itself unwieldly, it will be bypassed, and the only difference in security will be that the government is collecting and analyzing your credit and purchasing records.
"At Vanity Date we have a vision of creating a database of the world's most good looking, rich and superficial people we could muster."
My Ride's Here
by Warren Zevon and Paul Muldoon
I was staying at the Marriott
With Jesus and John Wayne
I was waiting for a chariot
They were waiting for a train
The sky was full of carrion
"I'll take the mazuma"
Said Jesus to Marion
"That's the 3:10 to Yuma
My ride's here..."
The Houston sky was changeless
We galloped through bluebonnets
I was wrestling with an angel
You were working on a sonnet
You said, "I believe the seraphim
Will gather up my pinto
And carry us away, Jim
Across the San Jacinto
My ride's here..."
Shelley and Keats were out in the street
And even Lord Byron was leaving for Greece
While back at the Hilton, last but not least
Milton was holding his sides
Saying, "You bravos had better be
ready to fight
Or we'll never get out of East Texas tonight
The trail is long and the river is wide
And my ride's here"
I was staying at the Westin
I was playing to a draw
When in walked Charlton Heston
With the Tablets of the Law
He said, "It's still the Greatest Story"
I said, "Man, I'd like to stay
But I'm bound for glory
I'm on my way
My ride's here..."
Potentially very useful: A step-by-step guide to destroying your computer.
World's Biggest Salad!
Erupting volcanoes rock.
"Benji explains that every square inch of Disneyland has its own obsessives. There are people solely devoted to Ron Miller, the man who plays ragtime piano in Refreshment Corner at the end of Main Street. There is one woman who comes to the park every day and just rides the Indiana Jones Adventure over and over. Its crew gave her a crystal bowl to commemorate her thousandth time. There are Haunted Mansion people, Matterhorn people. Benji and his closest friends don�t focus on one attraction, though; they are generalists, they like everything at the park."
Fantastic news, hot off the presses...I couldn't talk about this before, but now that it is in Playbill, it's fair game. My manager David is bringing SLAVA'S SNOWSHOW to Broadway next year. Slava is a fantastically inventive Russian clown, which is to say he's as much Samuel Beckett as he is funny with strains of both wonder and melancholy woven together.
He creates a haunting landscape in this show, and through his play he illuminates real theatrical spectacle...the show is breathtaking to behold, and I am thrilled to be working with someone bringing it to Broadway.
Tonight we're toasting success to the project at the Russian Vodka Bar, and in advance of all the sloppy drinking and toasts I wish David, Ross and everybody at Foster Entertainment lots of luck with this fantastic undertaking--they're very excited, and they should be.
It's funny because it's true: An Open Letter To Paris Hilton.
Psssst. Ever wonder why all your computers have virus trouble. Read a simple, clear article: Microsoft Does Not Understand Security.
Or, you could simply get one of these. Whatever floats your boat...but for the record, other than deleting emails from compromised WIndows machines, my system has been bulletproof.
That's our Puffy!
Wonderful article in The Stranger today dissecting and slamming Richard Florida's book, whose central premise is that artists and "creative types" (i.e. computer programmers, scientists, anyone else he wants to glom together) run society now. Ms. Hall does a great job breaking down Florida's arguements, which is important because artists currently, and have always been, treated more or less like shit and I don't think we're running society in any way.
It is just after midnight, and I just got home after performing at the
Little Gray Book Lecture #21: How To Understand Misunderstood Genius.
Nifty graphic. I've already had a few irate people ask why I didn't give them fair warning on this blog of this performance, and that's a good question--after all, isn't that what this website is ostensibly for? There are a number of reasons why it was not publicized here:
a) Accursed avoidance...since returning from Scotland, I have been working on the screenplay and life and avoiding thinking about the LGB lecture, which prevented me from alerting others to its presence.
b) Taking care of business...also since returning from Scotland I have been investigating health insurance plans, learning too much about PPOs vs. HMOs and a whole sordid mess of info. This has made me crabby, busy and also helped prevent me from posting on the event.
c) A small degree of trepidation. I have begun rebuilding the way in which I construct my pieces, taking a radical shift away from total intuition and lingual shamanism and actually using established narrative elements (like notes) to build a framework first. This is something I had never done, and some part of me wanted to perform it without fanfare...so I said nothing.
The long and short is that it went very well--there were some great performers, and as an ardent admirer of Billy Joel's work and somebody who did a one-man show on Brecht's life the evening seemed tailor-made for me. Jonathan Coulton, who is usually quite excellent, really outdid himself tonight with songs that were both smart, catchy and totally funny. Hodgman had to move the proceedings to the front rooom at Galapagos but it was better for the change--more freedom, better positioning for performers and made the whole thing more festive.
Then we got some Polski food with Ginger and caught the L to the G and here I am. I'll spare you further ramblings on my performance style, and simply post that I am reading at KGB Bar on the 9th of this month, just myself and Chuck Klosterman. It should be a lot of fun. I don't know the time just now, but i believe it is in the evening...I'll give a *real* update soon, but this is my Cover Your Ass notice.
Article at SFGate.com on solo performers--focuses on SF types, especially the delightful Mr. Kornbluth. Check it out.
John sent me this great article on Star Trek punk cover bands. An excerpt: It's close to midnight when No Kill I finally implodes. �Don�t fucking look at Kirk�s face! If you look at his face, he�ll kill you,� the Mugatu is shouting.
If you are a Salon subscriber, this is a very pleasant interview with Garrison Keillor. I found his comments about fame, and the temptation to "slide by on charm" very apt. My favorite part:
KEILLOR: We want to be rich, to be admired, to eat like a horse and be skinny as a snake, to have small children ask for our autographs, to be on terrific medications that make us calm and witty and sexy, to be able to give George Bush a piece of our minds, to sing Irving Berlin and Gershwin and Porter at the Oak Room and be described in the Times as "luminous," but in the absence of all that, it's enough to be loved.
Hope everybody had a better Labor Day than I did. At the same time, sitting in my home in Brooklyn, drinking coffee and watching my wife take a nap, I don't think I'd trade with anyone at any price.