25 Points: Boyhood

by Greg Hunter

boyhood-skip-crop

 

1. Boyhood resists most attempts to analyze it outside the circumstances of its creation. Richard Linklater has filmed a group of actors every year or so for more than a decade, collecting episodes that tell the story of a young boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), and his family. The success (and the complications) of this approach and the events depicted on-screen compete for our attention, inasmuch as we can separate them. There’s no easy engaging with Boyhood purely on the level of plot and character.

2. Linklater’s experiment gives him creative latitude with the coming-of-age story that storytellers don’t always have (or don’t always grant themselves). Mason’s mom (Patricia Arquette) marries and divorces an alcoholic, then marries and divorces an alcoholic once again. In another film, this instance of repetition might play as laziness on the part of the filmmaker; in Boyhood, it plays as a function of the film’s verisimilitude. (‘That kind of thing happens in real life,’ etc.)

3. Boyhood also complicates the manner in which a viewer distinguishes a performer from his or her character, especially in the case of the film’s child actors. We are seeing these people grow up—quite literally, if only to a point. This is unsettling at times, seeing the continued physical development of a person without having any insight into his or her actual life. And Boyhood is much better at persuading us to invest in what’s on-screen than the latest item on your Facebook newsfeed about a distant cousin’s kids.

4. Between Boyhood’s documentation of the year-by-year aging of its young actors and the film’s general verisimilitude, Linklater’s decision to preserve—on film—Ellar Coltrane’s unfortunate late-teens facial hair is at once cruel and perfectly appropriate.

5. The choice also demonstrates the perils of verisimilitude. We don’t often see facial hair this ugly in cinema; underdeveloped in a manner that makes it also appear somehow unclean, a manner that communicates its own basic misguidedness. Although Coltrane’s wispy attempted goatee makes contextual sense, it also registers (perhaps too intensely) as an aberration. Continue reading

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25 Points: Black Cloud

by Richard Brammer

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Black Cloud
by Juliet Escoria
Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2014
144 pages / $13.95 buy from Amazon

1. For some reason, I find this book really blackly funny sometimes. Maybe this is a strange reaction, I don’t know. More on this later.

2. Some of it is a bit like those bits in Breaking Bad where Jesse ‘falls of the wagon’ and goes back to taking drug and his house reflects it. I thought those bits in Breaking Bad were ok so this is a compliment.

3. This makes me think about something that may be culturally different between drug cultures in the US and drug cultures in the UK. In the UK, apart from in the eyes of the tabloid media, the law, etc., pretty much all drugs such as amphetamines, MDMA, weed, coke, acid, even, are all pretty much seen as sort of fairly clean-living party drugs and only heroin and, probably, crack are sites of visceral misery-literature style affairs, sites of crack-dens, heroin hangouts etc. The party drugs are just fine and clean-living things to anyone initiated into them with no sort of self-hatred or self-development or depression surrounding them necessarily because that’s reserved just for heroin and crack alone in the UK. This is my experience anyway but maybe everyone else in the UK would disagree. It just makes me wonder about the cultural differences as far as drugs are concerned and this book is a great example of that. Why not be honest about a common drug culture in US literature as this book and most Alt-Lit does, it screws up all those ‘wholesome’ Christian-Right bullshit images of religious-corporate America so that’s a good thing.

4. A point related to this. 12-step therapy seems different here in the UK compared to the US but also pretty similar. I like to feel these cultural differences.

5. Points 3 and 4 are maybe a thing for Alt-Lit more generally rather just this book but this book does do a good job of exemplifying something that I’ve been trying (and probably failing to articulate) and how wrong I was. More on this later. Continue reading

You’ll Know When I’m Talking to You: A Review of Michael Earl Craig’s Talkativeness

by Patrick Whitfill

Talkativeness_for_website_largeTalkativeness
by Michael Earl Craig
Wave Books, April 2014
104 pages / Buy from Wave Books or Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without relying on the word “reticence” to describe the work, I would have to say that the poems throughout the collection feel withdrawn, taciturn, almost. Lurking in each one, though, is a sense of something boiling, some untapped resource, and these poems, these are the spill-over that the speaker couldn’t keep from bubbling out, like pasta water before you put the wooden spoon on the pot to keep everything calm.

The poems have in them and around them the sense of a Williamsonian take on “no idea but in things,” but they sound and read like early Williams, not PattersonWilliams. The problem, if we can call this a problem, which I do not necessarily think it is, comes from how the music of the poems appear. Because the poet chooses to state the thing and not the idea, not the flourish or the afterthought, the thing itself yields only what it can yield:

It is always like this.
I wear a light brown suit.
When I come upon you I grope you
for what seems like ten minutes.
As you have noticed.
— from “Sleepwalking through the Mekong”

and

While sitting in the plane a man
struggling with his bags puts
his ass against my head for what
(corduroys) feels like a full
minute.
— from “What Will I Call This Poem”

Two things to note, here: first thing is that, because of his reliance on the pedestrian language, on the language of the thing and the action itself, it requires a certain precision, a boldness, even, to not inflate the action or the thing, but let the thing and the action remain what they are. This isn’t a poet hiding behind his pen. This is a poet incredibly stark and revealed to us, which allows the second realization to occur: He’s funny. That small twist of, “As you have noticed,” sounds remarkably like the joke in “This Is Just To Say,” that, yes, she probably noticed the ten minute night-groping session. Same goes for the parenthetical “(corduroys),” because it’s placed exactly where it should occur to make the joke work.

When you’re working with the onliness (to invent a word) of the thing and the action, it requires great skill to know how to place it where it should belong, to actually get more out of it than what it seems to present.

The strongest parts of the book come when the speaker doesn’t hold back too much and doesn’t reveal too much, either. In poems such as, “Wild for the Lord” and “Poem for Manda,” so much emphasis is put into the white space, into the silence, that the language seems nearly superfluous to the event. These are the words used, yes, but the feeling you need for the piece exists almost entirely within the title. Take the entirety of “Wild for the Lord”:

Someone is sitting on a tall stool before me.

I have just very carefully cut
my best friend’s wife’s bangs.

My watch feels like a small corpse on my wrist tonight.

It is a haunting poem, with the mystery of the guest, the setting, the motive behind what sounds like a charged confession of an intimate moment (given that alarming quality, that sultriness, by the build-up and distancing towards “bangs,” which serves as both the language for the hair and a colloquial, albeit immature, expression for an affair). The poem relies on the title so heavily, though, that, without it, or with a different title (to play: Let’s Ruin a Poem I Didn’t Write), it would leave the reader to assume that this is a sad man, and not much more.

And here lies the issue, if I can call it that, with the book: when the poems work, they disturb me on an emotional level, on a psychological level, and, more importantly, they disturb my sense and understanding of what a poem can do. Or should do. Take, for instance, the set-up and opening lines of “Tap Water”:

I live in an experimental town.
We have 17 cops and the only thing
any one of them can say, ever ,is
“That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

The poem continues to develop this surreal, experimental, almost Philip Dick-ianesque reality, where he is shushed each day by a librarian (her one job). But, it’s important to note that,

The librarian is a hot little number.
It is said she wears only tattoos beneath
her cardigan. To which Officer Chandler syas,
“That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
“Yeah,” says Officer Wainwright,
“that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
“Yeah,” says Phelps.
“Yeah, definitely,” says Hochwalt.
“Oh yes,” says Phelps, “that’s the way the—”
“Oh most definitely,” says Hochwalt.

The absurdity of the townspeople combined with the arguably boring title is what, when Craig does it well, he does better than anyone I’ve read. It’s all tongue-in-cheek, the way the speaker presents his “experimental” town, a town that it’s important to note he plays a role in, maybe even an integral role, seeing as how all roles feel scripted, jotted down on a napkin at a not-too-busy lunch table.

But he’s laughing at it, though the laugh is mirthless, uncomfortable enough that I feel the discomfort along with the absurdity, the almost boiling anger to yell at these people to shut the fuck up, please.

But that’s when it works.

The poems in the collection have either so much reticence in them, as if the speaker’s struggle to find any words, much less the exact words to convey the exact emotion, is so taxing that, at times, we—and by this I mean the speaker and the reader—have to settle for what we can get:

Tea
you fucking tea I shout
hurling the ceramic cup across the room.
— from “Tomatoes Disrespect Us”

or

someone’s crayons, dumped out on the table before me
most Danes cannot dance
a lewd moniker opens doors
this glove fits you like a smock, said the autodidact, lightly
tapping my hand with his cane
— from “Deep Purple Stamina”

But behind each of these poems, I hear what I would call a contemporary, American haiku, in that I hear the white space, the desire to say it with just the right amount of words at the right time. And, as with any haiku, the stronger ones truly capture the moment and transport it to the reader, making us want to repeat it over and over, feeling each syllable, knowing that these words in these lines were conferred over, were given the Yeatsian inner-argument touch to make them into poems.

Your nose on my face might open a door for me, a door I didn’t
want openend.Right now my nose feels fine, feels like it always has, but maybe
if compared to your nose, to how your nose would feel on my
face, mine would feel like it shomehow pulled on my face a bit.
Am I addressing your question here?

Now when I walk through the market looking for water chest-
nuts I feel something different.
— Now When I Walk through the Market

And while a handful of poems have a type of verbosity—most notably the revelry in “The More We Think about I”—it is when reticence meets talkativeness that Craig’s poetry takes on a wonderful dimension, deepening the work, so that the poem feels as if it occupies a space that goes beyond the limits of the page, the limits of the language, and the inevitable limit of any one speaker trying to discuss the whole:

When I come home from work it looks
as if a tortoise has trashed my apartment.
Everything has been knocked over just so.
I stand a lamp back up, pour myself a glass of wine,
and pretend to start going through the mail.
I hear what I swear sounds like a tortoise
bump the wall once in the coat closet.
It is a soft, muffled, knocking sound.
An almost polite sound. A single knock.
Like the humble knock a shoe or boot
might make on the side of a church pew.
— Glass of Wine

The humor of the situation, the way in which Craig allows the reader to follow along with the thinkingness of the speaker, the presentation of the situation without any attempt to inflate the significance, or suggest the potential of significance, all serve to mystify the simple event, to show how impossible having a reaction is. And while this is a slightly more “talky” version of a Craig poem, what I love about it is the discovery, and the process of discovery, delivered without any sense of false gravitas.

In the end, these are poems highly aware of poetic tradition, combined with a contemporary, 21st century, distinctly American tone. What we have is a speaker who knows how to sound, how to speak, depending on what needs to be said or left unsaid. That alone shows us the maturity of the writer, the ability to discern when silence matters more than plugging the discomfort with a wad of useless words and images.

***

Patrick Whitfill‘s poetry appears or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review Online, Ninth Letter, Unsplendid, The Equalizer, Painted Bride Quarterly and other journals. He is the co-curator of the New Southern Voices Reading Series, and can be reached about future readings at nsvreading@gmail.com.

 

Garage Sale Reads (1)

by Rauan Klassnik

the chosen
******************

From now on, let’s say, I’m only going to acquire my books at Garage Sales. And then I’m going to write about them. This, then, is the first in a series I’m super psyched about. And I think I’m going to use this opportunity, also, to get serious and personal. Well, kind of,….

******************

price bros

Okay, so a few days ago I bought Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen” at a yard sale close to my house. (Lately, on weekends, I’ve been trolling the neighborhoods because my wife collects teapots and it’s romantic to bring her home something nice. Last week I found a teapot it turns out was made in 1906. It’s worth about $20. Sometimes my wife, Edith, and I go hunting together and that, maybe, is the best).

When I asked the old man standing behind the table with just six books spread over it  how much he wanted for “The Chosen” he took a few moments and then replied, “I dunno, how about two bucks?” I quickly countered with a shrug. And then: “how about a dollar?” And the book was mine! (note: this is how “the game” works at Garage Sales. Plus, I’m Jewish. Well, I was born into a Jewish family. I still identify, culturally. Blah. Blah. It’s complicated.)

******************

The book is about fathers and sons. About duty. Forgiveness. Friendship. War. Inheritance. And respect. I mean I’m only about a quarter of the way into it but this is what I think it’s about. . . . And, o, yeah, it seems to be about religion and patriotism too. . . .And it’s made me think, more than usual, of my own life!

Of my childhood. Of my upbringing. Maybe this is because the narrator’s name is Reuven. My Hebrew name is Reuven too. The book (The Chosen) was published in 1967. I was born, also, in 1967, in Johannesburg, South Africa, where, several years later, I attended King David Victory Park. And there, as a matter of course, the essential importance of Judaism as well as Israel was strongly impressed upon me and the rest of the young students. Continue reading

An artic fox interviews Andrea Coates

by Alexandra Naughton

On the surface, the lit scene seems pretty nice. It’s nice to play nice, right? It’s nice to play nice when you’re satisfied with the state of things, because not playing nice would upset the order. But sometimes we need a kid in the sandbox to kick some toys around to remind us that things are pretty fucked up. No matter how fun the new swing set looks. No matter how big little Danny was able to build his castle.

Andrea Coates is that kid. Love her, hate her, you probably have a strong opinion on the Canadian writer so discontent on the state of things in the writing world, even the language she uses on her blog is dismantled and reformatted to bring greater meaning.

And it’s greater meaning for a greater cause. Andrea Coates’ struggle is not a personal one, though she has used her self personally as a sort of bait to prove her point: the writing industry is inherently sexist. This is something a lot of us realize but can’t always articulate. Coates calls for accountability, the dismantling of our existing sexist infrastructure. Let’s get more excited about women and their writing and less excited about what writer dudes they’ve slept with.

This is part in parcel of Coates’ mission, based on my reading of her work, and my personal interactions with the writer. Some may not agree with her methods, but I think it is clear that she is trying to do good work.

When I was in Nashville during my poetry tour, I was approached by an Artic Fox. Well, actually, I was approached by Josh Spilker, because the Artic Fox came to him first to ask if he would publish an interview, and Josh pointed to me and said, ‘ask her, she has a bigger following,’ or ‘ask her, she writes for HTMLgiant,’ or something like that, sorry if I’m misquoting you, Josh. So the Arctic Fox told me about this interview he did with Andrea Coates last year and I was like, ‘yeah, send it to me.’ I like Andrea Coates. I think she is a fascinating mind, so of course I jumped to publish the interview. Here it is, live and uncut.

Arctic Fox: I’ve been reading Your Blog, and I how you feel about T-Lin. I’m pretty curious about whether or not you’re familiar with Mira Gonzalez and or Moon Temple also sorry if it’s not cool to message u as a strngr

Andrea Coates: Its Fine. I have heard of Mira Gonzales and her book of Poetry – I haven’t read it – it seemed like More Tao LinTM minimalism. I have heard of Moon Temple but dont know a great deal about her work.

Arctic Fox: A major curiosity about it is her Alleged TL TM morphology. I’m about to do some investigating of my own. But i thought might have some insight i could have! I feel suspicious of what’s going on with these two so far. I am only just beginning.
Thanks for responding! Continue reading

Notes on the Contemporary Horror Flicks I’ve Watched since May

by Impossible Mike

Another round of catch up, periodically interrupted when I say I’m going to stop wasting time with bullshit and actually watch the legions of “art house” or “experimental” films that I’ve accumulated over the year. Despite the urge, always end up wanting to watch contemporary horror, something easy and fun about it with occasional surprises. Half of these are probably on Netflix, who knows.

Devil’s Due
dir. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett

Found-footage is all the rage right now, but I don’t actually mind that because I think it’s a totally effective mode of storytelling when it comes to the super-natural–also, it’s never really a surprise to consider people filming everything at this point (have you been to a concert lately? more people are watching whoever is performing through their phone-cameras than actually watching the stage itself). I also always love movies that deal with satan/the devil/satanism or some half-baked idea of such. And so, this is fun, though I’m always struck by the hilarity of newlywed heterosexual married couples and how ultimately futile these relationships always are. Invented symbols are also always a plus for me, as it adds a sort of abstracted flair (see also: Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones).

Afflicted
dir. Derek Lee & Chris Prowse

More “found-footage”ish fun with the added bonus of jet-setting with a terminal illness? For what ultimately turns out to be a vampire movie, this is a remarkably interesting take, and avoids the pitfalls that the genre has fallen into over the last 10 years in the US. Also mostly lacking in machismo for a movie which is about “two bros travelling the world,” which is great, but the protagonist who is not afflicted is annoying as shit.

Resolution
dir. Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Bizarre movie in the sense that it’s part “get you off drugs buddy movie” and part “mysterious unknown forces are controlling some crazy shit and it’s fucking with us.” But, the absent nature of the unknown forces and their bizarre manifestations that tie into, in a sense, a sort non-linearity of events is interesting enough in concept to make the movie hyper-watchable despite not totally delivering on what’s promised.

Dark Touch
dir. Marina de Van

De Van was a director who popped up among the “New French Extremism” micro-movement in the early years of the 2000s with a gore-ridden “Is-it-or-isn’t-it-autobiographical” film In My Skin about a woman (played by the director) who becomes increasingly fascinated by self-mutilation after she suffers an accident, and ends with the woman covered in blood staring into the screen, basically (and from what I can remember at least). Dark Touch takes a super-natural approach to the issue of Trauma and child-abuse, which is really interested, but also gets weirdly marred near the end of the film when things are wrapped up a bit too pat. Regardless, this movie is still really interesting and worth watching.

Contracted
dir. Eric England

Fuck this movie. Continue reading

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

by Mike Sauve

81b6KKuWQ3LMr. Mercedes
by Stephen King
Scribner, June 2014
448 pages / $30  Buy from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like many writers my age (31), I probably wouldn’t be one if it weren’t for Stephen King. At 16, finding the idea of short story writing woefully unambitious, my early attempts at novels were thinly-masked Stephen King impersonations. Based on the malodorous work that turns up in self-publishing, writers’ workshops, and slush piles, I’m not alone in that my first fictional efforts reeked of The King.

His influence isn’t necessarily a bad one. King became a best-selling author thanks to his expert pacing, gift for metaphor, wry sense of humour, and a number of intangible talents. Adam Ross and Justin Cronin are recent devotees who demonstrate that even elite ‘literary’ writers can benefit (both financially and creatively) when they borrow from King’s bag of tricks.

The most important way that King aided in my development is that his work has always been littered with literary and cultural references. (In recent years, he’s been obsessed with Philip Roth, comparing the reception of his own work to Roth’s in essays, and frequently bringing him up in fiction.) In this way, King inadvertently sabotaged my love for him. He’d reference Jack Kerouac or Norman Mailer, and their writing would end up on the bookshelf in my childhood bedroom. With all those major works waiting to be read, I found myself in a situation described by Arthur Conan Doyle in The Magic Window, a short volume that celebrates the contents of his book collection.

“It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own. You may not appreciate them at first. You may pine for your novel of crude and unadulterated adventure. You may, and will, give it the preference when you can. But the dull days come, and the rainy days come, and always you are driven to fill up the chinks of your reading with the worthy books which wait so patiently for your notice. And then suddenly, on a day which marks an epoch in your life, you understand the difference. You see, like a flash, how the one stands for nothing, and the other for literature. From that day onwards you may return to your crudities, but at least you do so with some standard of comparison in your mind. You can never be the same as you were before.

As I began to read ‘better’ books, King became unpleasant for me. His heavy-handed foreshadowing, his loose women who invariably wore, “fuck me shoes,” the wise-ass protagonist who was certain to chummily say “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on,” at some point. It’s not that I wanted to outgrow Stephen King. I wanted to continue being entertained by him, comfortable in the knowledge that a new book was never more than a few months away. But a 1-2 punch of the mentally-handicapped Duddits character in Dreamcatcher (*shudders internally*)and the baby-talk that makes up the second half of The Dark Towerseries sealed the deal. Since that time I have tried and most often failed to read new Stephen King novels. I did get through Under the Dome, the high point of his later work. I got halfway through 11/22/63 before literally saying out loud to myself, “What am I doing this for?” That book is fucking terrible, and over 750 pages. Happily, King’s latest, Mr. Mercedes, is his first book I’ve managed to read with some sustained degree of pleasure since the rift occurred when I was about 20. Continue reading

Venus & Jupiter: The Conjunction of Brown & Powell

by Reynard Seifert

Frederick Douglass argued against John Brown's plan to attack the arsenal at Harpers Ferry," Jacob Lawrence

One hundred and fifty years ago, a man named John Brown was put to death by the state. He was not gunned down in the street, nor was he unarmed. He was arrested by Robert E. Lee for leading a raid on the national armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. He had planned to arm America’s slaves with a hundred thousand guns. He was a white man, a preacher. Newspapers called him “a madman.” In most pictures he had “crazy eyes.” Abe Lincoln declared him “insane.” One thing’s for sure, he was mad. His rage boiled over.

American poets compared Brown’s life to a meteor that tore across the sky as he sat in jail, very nearly bisecting the interim of his conviction and execution. Emerson called him a saint, “whose martyrdom, if it shall be perfected, will make the gallows as glorious as the cross.” Thoreau said, “When a man stands up serenely against the condemnation and vengeance of mankind, rising above them by a whole body . . . the spectacle is a sublime one.” Both had attended his speeches and probably knew about the raid before it happened. Years later, Melville wrote, “the streaming beard is shown / (Weird John Brown), / The meteor of the war.” Whitman, who was there, put him in Leaves of Grass: “YEAR of meteors! brooding year! / I would sing how an old man, tall, with white hair, mounted the scaffold in Virginia; / (I was at hand—silent I stood, with teeth shut close—I watch’d; / I stood very near you, old man, when cool and indifferent, but trembling with age and your unheal’d wounds, you mounted the scaffold;)” The actor John Wilkes Booth was there, too. He wrote his piece in Lincoln’s blood.

Even Victor Hugo, in exile, called for Brown’s pardon. “There is something more frightening than Cain killing Abel,” he said, “and that is Washington killing Spartacus.”

While planning the raid, Brown asked Frederick Douglass to join him. But Douglass thought America needed a nonviolent revolution, and he tried to convince Brown to stay in the pulpit. He thought slaveholders could be “converted.” But Brown refused to believe that people of such moral debasement could be saved. According to Douglass, Brown said, “they would never be induced to give up their slaves, until they felt a big stick about their heads.” Douglass later wrote that Brown’s cause was “the burning sun to my taper light – mine was bounded by time, his stretched away to the boundless shores of eternity.” The raid, and Brown’s execution, arguably sparked the Civil War.

At the end of the war, a black college was founded a few miles from the armory at Harpers Ferry. Douglass was asked to speak at its fourteenth anniversary. Sharing the platform with Brown’s prosecutor, he answered a question that had been asked of the raid many times before:

… the question is, Did John Brown fail? He certainly did fail to get out of Harpers Ferry before being beaten down by United States soldiers; he did fail to save his own life, and to lead a liberating army into the mountains of Virginia. But he did not go to Harpers Ferry to save his life.
      The true question is, Did John Brown draw his sword against slavery and thereby lose his life in vain? And to this I answer ten thousand times, No! No man fails, or can fail, who so grandly gives himself and all he has to a righteous cause. No man, who in his hour of extremest need, when on his way to meet an ignominious death, could so forget himself as to stop and kiss a little child, one of the hated race for whom he was about to die, could by any possibility fail.

On August 9, 2014, as the Missouri sun crept past its zenith, a white police officer named Darren Wilson pulled up behind two black men, Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson, who were walking on the street. The officer ordered them to get on the sidewalk. After a confrontation, Wilson shot Brown six times. Five of the shots were fired after Brown ran away. According to Johnson, Brown had his hands up and stated that he was unarmed. One of the bullets entered the top of Brown’s head. He was 6’4″.

The next day, protests began, as did civil unrest. The situation intensified when Ferguson Police refused to identify the homicidal officer for six long days, during which time a meteor shower danced softly in the night. Three days later, Venus and Jupiter formed a conjunction. They appeared, like very bright stars, side by side. But of course, they are not stars — they are planets. Their light shines not from within, but without, reflecting the ancient light of our own bleeding sun, about which we relentlessly sway.

A day later, two St. Louis police officers shot and killed Kajieme Powell a few miles from the site of Brown’s shooting. He stole two sodas and a honey bun, presumably ate the honey bun, put the sodas on the ground, then waited for the police. In a cellphone video, he paces back and forth, saying, “I’m on Facebook. I’m on Instagram. You know who I am? I’m tired of this shit.” Someone yells, “Yo this is not how you do it, bruh.” When the police show up, they immediately draw their guns. No attempt is made to talk him down. They just yell orders at someone who is clearly tired of being told what to do. He approaches them, shouting “Shoot me, shoot me.” And they do. Then they roll his dead body over and handcuff his lifeless wrists. They willfully ignore the potential witnesses, including the man with the cellphone. “Someone should call the police,” he says, as they pull yellow tape across the screen. Continue reading

25 Points: On the Road

by Connor Goodwin

ontheroad
On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
Penguin, 1999
304 pages / $17.00 buy from Amazon

1. First thing I read by Kerouac was On the Road.

2.  After that I read Dharma Bums, Big Sur, Mexico City Blues and a lot of other Beat shit (the most obscure of which was this poet Bob Kaufman who didn’t write his poems but walked up to ppl in cars at stop lights and spouted them then and there.  After JFK died he went into a 10 year silence.  When it ended the first words he spoke were: “To all those ships that never sailed” and then some more.  I got that quote transcribed on my iPod.  The iPod broke last summer.)

3. Big Sur is my favorite.  The last few lines – that turn, that blink – I want it to be true and I think it is.

4. I first read On the Road my junior year in high school.  It was just what I needed.  I was bored.  I called it depression at the time, but really I was just bored.  I wanted to get my kicks.

5. When I got to college and read more “literature,” I grew wary of my early infatuation with the Beats.  It seemed juvenile.  I was eager to reread so I could dismiss it.

6. Then I reread it my junior year in college and  I still liked it.

7. Dean is a crazy motherfucker.

8. I want to “sweat” like Dean.  Of all the words I got from Kerouac (“blow,” “ball that jack,” “kicks”) I think sweat is my favorite. Dean gets going a hundred miles an hour just sitting there talking, scheming, licking his lips.

9. I’m not sweating. When I do sweat I don’t sweat for the reason Dean sweats.  I sweat because its hot out or I’m nervous.

10. On the Road is very much of its moment: cars, San Francisco, the attempt to lay naked the psyche. Continue reading

Cambodia’s Visceral Landscape: Drugs, Sex, Writers, Etc

by Rauan Klassnik

cambodia collage

Rauan: Why did you come back ???

Greg: I won’t have an answer to that question that I’ll like, at least not until I find some stability back here. Cambodia’s beautiful, warm, welcoming, collective, community-driven, adventurous, and so on. There are many magnets of ideas pulling you to stay, and you meet so many people who have stayed and after talking to them and hearing their story, you know, it makes sense. “Why go back to THAT?!” they say, referencing that capitalist hyper-consumerist society they once knew. One truthful reason I pulled away from the Kingdom of Wonder was to feel that reverse culture shock everybody talks about. That’s the selfish end. I also wanted to graduate from UW in person rather than digitally (we need to harness our tangible humanity when we can, no?), and I wanted to see friends and family, both in Maine and in Seattle, who I missed dearly. And Ethiopian food. There’s always that.

RK: You told me, in person, that it’s a great place for Westerners to visit. And then you mentioned Sex, Drugs and Food. So, let’s start with Sex. Can you please tell us about the sex culture and your personal experiences therewith?? (plz be as thorough as you can. gay/straight/trans.        animals??)

my friend Greg Bem (poet, photographer, performance artist) spent about 9 months in Cambodia. He came back I guess for the adventure. And that’s why, I suppose, he’ll return. Also, we had Indian Buffet recently: Goat curry (which seems terribly mundane, in a way, though I can’t begin to tell you how crazy good it tasted), Tandoori Chicken and a bunch of desserts: Kheer, Kheer, Kheer !!!

fisting my gullet cambodia

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