“He has been called a fraud, accused of posturing, damned as a writer of caricatures. “I have found that anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic,” said Flannery O’Connor. Some of Crews’ detractors have been Southern, but, contra David Brooks, there are many different Souths. Crews’ rings true to me.”—Maud Newton on Harry Crews (another person death has brought to me).
Recognizing and continually reminding myself about the ineffability of other humans has become one of the the greatest accomplishments and ongoing challenges of my adult life (especially the part of my adult life that involves writing about other humans and the work they produce and what that work might mean to both myself and other other humans). I guess this will probably be an indefinite endeavor. And I so very much appreciate what Nitsuh Abebe has written about it here.
“My appointment first. Initial impressions are worrisome: just past the scales and blood pressure cuffs, eating most of the wall on the way to the exam rooms, is a massive, hideous, fussily composed oil painting of Jesus standing over a doctor’s shoulder, pointing out something on a patient’s chart, both He and the doctor wearing a look of constipated dignity and lit both by lamplight and by a glaring Messianic effulgence.”—
This piece is beautiful, heartbreaking, sickening and surprisingly very funny. I don’t remember the last time I read anything like this, don’t remember the last time I felt so blessedly far removed from but still entirely entwined with a story like this, don’t remember the last time I felt such strange joy (Dr. Jesus! otter bite!) and fear (Dr. Jesus! otter bite!) and actual nausea (nearly passed out during the blood-drawing passage) all in rapid succession. There were several times I almost cried, including, I kid you not, when I realized I had reached the end.
“When given the choice between watching Babe, Jumanji, Now and Then, or Casper in 1995, children across the country would black out, become comatose, and wake up days later in the hospital after being diagnosed with stress-related exhaustion. As the rats on Hoggett’s farm sang, “If I had words to make a day for you, I’d sing you a day filled with repeat viewings of Babe, Jumanji, Now and Then, and Casper. Then I’d order us a Bigfoot from Pizza Hut.””—
THIS IS ALL TRUE EXCEPT THE JUMANJI PART. Jumanji is the worst. I know I am alone in holding this opinion—apparently not EVERYONE had their first panic attack while seeing the movie in theaters on New Year’s Eve with their parents—but I stand by it. The Chris Van Allsburg book is just lovely, though.
…And here comes the dawning realization that my first panic attack may have resulted from the horror of seeing, for the first time, a beloved book thoroughly bloated and mangled in its big-screen adaptation. Oh my god, I was a total snob! Such a little high-strung snob!
In regards to my 7.9 Gentleman Jesse rating, people* have scoffed, "Stingy with that extra .1?" So I thought I'd let you know what the little guy has been up to!
That extra .1 is having kind of a tricky week. Ever since Sunday night when I decided, mostly arbitrarily, not to stick him on the end of the rating, he’s been following me around. At first he was kind of cranky! He was like “Dude, WHAT? Are you SERIOUS? Why couldn’t you just throw me in there with the rest? What’s the difference, really?! It’s a good record and it sounds like you really dig it! I don’t know why y’all care so much about us anyway, but jeez, at least don’t leave me hanging like this!”
But since then he’s chilled out a bit. He’s even come to work with me! He’s real tiny so he just sits on my desk and hangs out and watches me do my thing. Not a bother at all. My boss is totally cool with it, too.
That extra .1’s favorite part of the day is the MARTA ride to and from the office. He generally stays put in the inside pocket of my purse where I keep my iPhone and work ID—he’s new to taking the train so all the people and smells and noises kinda make him nervous, and the pocket’s so cozy! Plus he can check Twitter. But a couple times I’ve seen him poke his lil head out! I think he’s coming around, which is great, because Atlanta needs all the support for public transit we can get.
But, honestly, I’m not sure how much longer this can last. He’s so tiny and delicate, just this little insignificant thing, really, and it seems like he’s kinda fading. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s gone by the end of the day. When he goes, though, I’ll make sure he’s not forgotten like so many other extra .1’s before him. I think he’d be lovely strung up like a charm on a necklace, that way I can wear him around all the time, always be reminded of what could have been.
Now that I think about it, maybe I should’ve given the record a 7.8. Then I would’ve had two extra .1’s, and I could’ve made earrings. DAMMIT.
“Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions”—
“As Sedaris told me, the Dusty quote is partly fabricated and the other two are made up. So what? Well, it’s one thing for a humorist to recreate dialogue that captures the general spirit of how a conversation unfolded. It’s another to manufacture lines like a playwright, a technique that lets you sidestep a problem that hobbles nonfiction writers all the time: Often, nothing interesting happens when you report a story. But that’s exactly what Sedaris does. When reality sags, he opens the funny-dialogue nozzle. Sometimes in Naked, these rants aren’t just the glue holding his stories together; they are the story.”—
This is fascinating. I’m under no impression that Mike Daisey’s piece is the first story This American Life has broadcast that has contained major factual inaccuracies or outright fabrications—they’ve done more than 400 episodes; that seems impossible to avoid. It does make sense to me that his would be the first they retracted in this way, given that it was a massively popular episode and that Daisey’s show has factored so heavily into the conversation about Apple and its Chinese factories and labor practices in general. I think the stakes are just higher when you enter into that kind of terrain—and they’re less high when it comes to dealing with depictions of your adolescent music teachers or old summer jobs. Still, a nagging feeling that David Sedaris’ wild, true stories were actually not all that true has kept me from loving his work as much as many people have probably thought I should/would, and I’m glad this New Republic piece has been churned up by the Daisey stuff, because I missed it the first time.
So, right, I’m not shocked at all that many of the most fantastic details of Sedaris’ most beloved pieces aren’t wholly true, or even a little bit true, but this still bugs me so much. Really makes me sick, on kind of a stupid personal level, because it would be pretty great if I could make a career out of writing books full of funny, true stories about my dumb weird life (dreeeammmzz!), but more and more it’s seeming like in order to do that a person has to be able to stretch her own truth much, much further than I’m willing. Whomp!
It’s interesting, too, that Daisey and John D’Agata have been painted, or at least received, as raging egomaniacs, but Sedaris is still very much beloved—I guess this New Republic thing hit just before the Internet As Public-ish Evisceration Forum really congealed (oh, 2007—sweet, sweet 2007). He should be grateful for that, I suppose.
“Ira Glass: I have such a weird mix of feelings about this, because I simultaneously feel terrible, for you, and also, I feel lied to. And also I stuck my neck out for you. You know I feel like, I feel like, like I vouched for you. With our audience. Based on your word. Mike Daisey: I’m sorry.”—
An email from my mom has reminded me of this ridiculous thing that happened when I was fourteen.
Each fall my middle school had a “spirit week” where each day was some themed thing and we could all break dress code and dress up for class. I think this usually happened around football season and I guess was one of those things somehow meant to “inspire” “the team” although I’m not sure thirteen-year-old boys ever really need much inspiration to wail on each other. Anyway, this was a big deal because I went to a public school but we had to wear polo shirts and non-denim pants every other day of the year—yeah, I know. And this was all before the Columbine business (that happened the spring of my eighth grade year), which only confirmed the notion that kids allowed to make their own sartorial choices were doomed to shoot or be shot by their peers (I remember seeing footage of kids fleeing the school and being like, oh my gosh, they get to wear JEANS to class!). Pointless and stifling.
But, OK: In eighth grade one of the spirit week theme-days was the pretty standard “Career Day,” on which we were supposed to dress up like whatever we wanted to be when we grew up, or at least some reasonable proxy of a respectable adult occupation. There were doctors and nurses and firemen and rockstars and stuff like that, mostly just costumey stuff. I am sure there is about a 13% overlap between What People Dressed Up As On Career Day At OMS In 1998 and What Those Peoples’ Careers Actually Are Now. I wore jeans and my favorite t-shirt. When my homeroom teacher—who was also my science teacher, who I think was only like 24 and just biding her time in the wasteland of public middle-grades education until she got knocked up (I feel relatively OK saying this because the next year she became pregnant and left and never came back)—asked me what I was supposed to be dressed as, I told her I was dressed as a writer.
I would like someone to illustrate the literal meaning of all of Bradford Cox’s pronouncements here in the style of Stefon’s hottest nightclubs, this one in particular, although perhaps an animated approach would a more ideal approach. (Mental images of mouthpeeing notwithstanding, dude makes some damn salient points.)
“I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on,” Mr. Obama said at a televised news conference at the White House. “I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way, and I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”—
Joe and I finished season four of Breaking Bad last night (nb: HOLY SHIT AAAAHHHRRGGGHHHAAAAHHH FAAAACE!!) so now I’m Googling all the things I wanted to Google but was afraid to Google for all the lurking spoilers and whatnot. I was really itching for some resolution re: Anna North’s wildly evolving face/body situation (I figured she was pregnant at some point but she doesn’t appear to have had a kid since 2006 so now I am feeling like an awful bodyshaming asshole but seriously what is going on she looks like a totally different person which is weird for a show that’s supposed to take place in a compressed period of time when no one else looks markedly different except I feel like Walt’s goatee was looking a little glued on a few times in the last season) but oh well. This is really sweet, at least! Also Aaron Paul was in some Korn videos.
I don’t know much about these guys except that they put out an album in 2005 that I’ve always liked OK and that this song was on it and that any time I so much as think about one sliver of the song’s existence I have to go listen to it and that it has rarely ever disappointed me. Also they made this video, "Shit People At SXSW Don’t Say," which I thought would be really dumb and that I would just try to avoid, but then I had a moment of weakness and watched it and it actually made me laugh—like, actually “LOL”—and I will probably listen to their new record when it comes out, not that I have high hopes that it’ll live up to this song, but that’s alright.