For those of you keeping tabs on my growing infamy:
The new issue of MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine is now available, and it contains an essay of mine called “New Strategies for Invisibility,” the writing of which sort of indirectly gave me the notion to start the blog you are now reading. (This was back when I expected to focus here on issues of authorship and interpretation, rather than the output of pop stars with dollar-signs in their names, but our beginnings never know our ends.) Having just now finished reading my contributor’s copy of MAKE, I can highly recommend that you check it out, and not just because I’m in it. The thing looks great, not only in terms of the visual art it includes—though there’s a bunch of great art, including an illustration for my essay provided by my friend and personal hero Carrie Scanga—but also with respect to its design and production. As much as I admire journals that present themselves as rare and precious objets d’art, MAKE looks like it actually expects to be read.
It ought to be. High points for me: 1) a short essay by Jenny Boully—it’s the source of the text on the issue’s cover—that manages to be both affecting and almost entirely unconventional in its structure; 2) “poetry” by Nate Zoba that consists of a copy of Tough Guys Don’t Dance by Norman Mailer with almost all of the text razored out of it; 3) a frank masochistic reading of Gone with the Wind by Kate Zambreno; 4) poems by Brandon Downing, some of which are collages in which cut-up text (taken in part from George Meredith’s The Amazing Marriage; I can’t figure out his other sources) are pasted over old Earth Science illustrations to unsettling effect; 5) a short story by Luis Sepúlveda (translated by Paul Grens) that got from me at several points the same head-shaking seriously? reaction as when I read Michael Chabon, or Paul Auster, or Raymond Chandler, and I do not intend this as a criticism; 6) poetry by Dara Wier and Cathy Park Hong and Nick Demske that I will not embarrass myself by trying to describe succinctly.
The issue also features work by people I actually know: a great collaborative story by Lily Hoang and my spouse-person Kathleen Rooney—which takes some surprising liberties with the Book of Ruth—as well as an essay on Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising by Michael Kobre, with whom I studied in grad school. For my money, Mike is one of the best writers presently working the art-&-democracy beat—certainly a major inspiration for what I’m trying to do here—and I am honored to share a binding with him.
In other news . . . to my almost-entirely-pleasant surprise, my “TiK ToK” post got picked up by Metafilter, and then in rapid succession by the L.A. Weekly blog, by the Hathor Legacy, by Chicago’s own Gapers Block (glancingly, but still), and also by prominent Iowan John Deeth. Responses were less savage than I might have anticipated. (I AM a little blown away by the alarm that many, many folks have expressed at the length of the post . . . alarm which in some instances shades past bemusement and even irritation into what sounds like concern, as if I might be using the internet wrong, in much the same way that one might recklessly apply, like, a belt sander or something. Dude, you are in no danger.)
My thanks to everybody who has contributed to the “TiK ToK” discussion, and thanks too to the folks who were kind enough to bring the following treasures to my attention:
My sis-in-law Megan (via my spouse) mentions a recent post on Jezebel about Ke$ha’s recent SNL appearance; the post’s author notes—not without sympathy—that cracks are starting to appear in Sebert’s popstar armor. (She also positions Ke$ha in relation to Lady Gaga in a way that’s interesting, if not completely satisfying. If nothing else, it indicates solidifying consensus that Gaga is the new pop gold standard.)
Megan also reminds us that Ke$ha made a surprise guest appearance on NPR’s Planet Money awhile back, offering her professional assessment of a rap video designed to present contrasting Keynesian and Hayekian economic perspectives. The Planet Money team presents this as a zany collision of disparate worlds; those of us who’ve spent time with “TiK ToK,” of course, understand that Planet Money is EXACTLY where it belongs. The party don’t really start until Ke$ha walks in at about 10:45, but the front end is worth a listen, too, if only so you’ll understand what the hell is going on. Quibbles: Alex Blumberg completely misses the joke at the beginning of the “TiK ToK” video—dude, it’s not her house!—and the discussion of the economic implications of the song fades out just as it’s getting good. Still: cute.
Also cute—from the Princeton Tiger, via C. Dale Young’s blog, via my spouse—is this:
Paul Muldoon: too good a sport? Discuss.
Finally, the intrepid Tim Jones-Yelvington directs our attention to The Rumpus, where Ian Crouch examines the recent country-music ascendancy of Darius Rucker, late of the much-reviled Hootie and the Blowfish. Crouch basically nails the way contemporary country music works, and the circumstances under which it can traffic lucratively with pop; there are interesting parallels and perpendiculars to be drawn between Rucker’s career and those of Kesha “Love to Make a Country Album Someday” Sebert and Miley “Never Heard a Jay-Z Song” Cyrus . . . but you don’t need me to sketch them for you, I’m sure.
Okay, that’s enough for now. In the pipe: the long-promised return to The Birds, at least one post on Dave Hickey, and—how long can I resist?—maybe something on Lady Gaga. But of most pressing concern at the moment is, of course, Gold Diggers of 1933. I hope to weigh in on that landmark of film within the week. Contain yourselves!