Somehow our collective modern tendency to take shitty video of every little thing in our lives but especially live shows has not resulted in anyone posting footage of The Everybodyfields covering “Helplessly Hoping” at Rhythm & Blooms back in April, but I’ve just realized there’s this Live & Breathing video of them playing the song, filmed that same weekend. It’s not quite as, I dunno, what’s the word, SOUL SHATTERINGLY PERFECT, as the version I saw but if you didn’t see that you wouldn’t know the difference. My totally measured and circumspect opinion is that they kinda hand the CSN version its own ass here.
Take snails and sponge them; pull them out of the shells by the membrane and place them for a day in a vessel with milk and salt. Renew the milk daily. Hourly clean the snails of all refuse, and when they are so fat that they can no longer retire to their shells fry them in oil and serve them with wine sauce. In a similar way they may be fed on a milk porridge.
BLVR: Are we just swamped by fear? I mean, is that what is really going on? Not that we actually think that what happened in our lives is less meaningful—just that we’re overwhelmed by fear and that’s how we translate it to ourselves?
TM: That could be. It could be. It could also be that things feel meaningless to us not because the alternative to their ending is their going on forever, but because the alternative is their going on a little bit more. You know what I mean? But then, we come back to the same question—why should it go on a little bit more?
My mentor once told me a story about a plant that is in the garden of some of his relatives in Singapore. The plant blooms for an hour every, I don’t know, four or five years, and it’s a beautiful bloom. And he describes what happens when people gather around the plant. They know when it’s going to happen; I guess it’s kind of like clockwork. And he says they all come and they have cameras, and it’s so urgent for them to capture this thing. And he said that it’s as though they don’t see it, because they’re so busy capturing it, instead of just sitting there and allowing this thing to happen. … But I suspect that that idea of the momentary beauty somehow just isn’t enough and perhaps is connected to that fear that you talked about. There is that sense that for it to be more meaningful, it has to last at least a little longer.
A smart, kind conversation about dying and not-dying.
Things that happen at work, sometimes: My deeply crappy magazine cover mock-ups (complete with ludicrous fake math equations, please do not look too closely), become really super beautiful for real-real magazine covers. Also: I write about coffee, corn fungus research, balancing judgeship and parenting, and how to be wrong. Hey!
Uncle Tom was to walk at the head of the procession blowing his squealing horn, while Tuck came just back of the trumpet blower dragging the remains with a borrowed plow line. Next in line was Dan, crying like a woman on her 30th birthday, but keeping an ear cocked for the fine things we were all saying about what a great dog that Drum had been. Prof. Sam Jared, being better educated than the rest of us, walked at his side and gave both moral and physical support while the less talented of our members straggled along behind with handfuls of wild honey suckle that Joe Rollins had gathered as he came over Pilot Knob that morning. We were disputing among ourselves as to the advisability of letting Bro. Jeff Wall sing, but finally agreed that Drum had suffered sufficiently already and might not be dead enough to stand the strain, so we dropped him into a sink hole on Capshaw’s branch without further ado.
I’ve had really smart agents and unnervingly good editors, but I don’t need THEM to lead me astray; I will happily do that to myself. I write about culture, and sometimes I’m soaking in that shit so much that I don’t notice how flaccid and limp my prose has become, how bland and dumb I’m getting, how little faith I suddenly have in my voice. I start thinking I should write shit that I hate, in a tone that I cannot fucking get behind, because maybe that will make my financial picture a little less stressful.
That’s when I call my friends and talk their sad ears off, and mewl and moan and piss myself until they have to pretend their cell phone connections cut out just to get off the fucking phone with me.
You know what I need to do though? Put the phone down and ask myself who in the whole wide world is supposed to take responsibility for what I write if I won’t do it myself.
The above, by Heather Havrilesky, contains some of the best writing advice (or, maybe more specifically, living/working advice for people who write) that I’ve read in a very long time. Lately I’ve found that the more questions I’m asking, the more I’m throwing my messes at other people in hopes that they will be able to name and untangle them for me, the more it’s time for me to shut up and just do the work my own damn self. See also: Renata Adler, “Writers rant. Writers phone…” I tend not to phone—it’s more frantic, long-winded emails—but the work-averse impulse is the same. Having good, solid friends and mentors and various other types of ears you can put bugs into at all hours of the day and night is hugely valuable, of course. But undersold, I think—to young writers at least—is the importance of being able to call your own self on your own self’s probably very real and abundant bullshit.
Here is the great video for Pistol Annies’ “Hush Hush,” which has been lodged in my brain for more than week now. And here is something I have written for Slate about the seemingly unlikely but increasingly cozy relationship between weed and country music. And now I would like some green bean casserole please.