Friday, March 5, 2010

Thanks BoingBoing!

Short but sweet from my side...

Another insightful post on caught my eye this morning...

I'll just let the fine folks at The Journal of Electronic Publishing that this interesting notion from here!

p.s. - joe hill just stopped by and signed copies of his new tome, Horns. get them while you can!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Inspirational Clothing

I hoarded absolute crap for a long time. In fact, I still do, but the most extreme of my pack rat tendencies have waned significantly over the course of many moves. I now allow myself to pass broken furniture and warped records on the street. I've even managed to part with much of my absolute crap collection. Of course a few precious items still remain, but these are the ones embody the whole reason I started rooting around in dumpsters and hauling all this whatever around in the first place (or at least that's what I tell myself). A fine example of one of these items is my crazy psychedelic cat shirt.

In the height* of my junk collecting days I found this shirt in a garbage bag on Polk Street, not far from where I worked at the time, Out of the Closet. I believe it was 2004 or so. I remember I had just started that job. When I found it I was on my way from OTC, walking toward my buddy Mike’s house. Mike let me in to his place, and upon entering his bed/living room I immediately focused on a book laying open on the bed, a psychology text with the exact image on the shirt printed on one of its pages. I made a comment about my find, showing it to him. He explained to me who Louis Wain was (note the kind of awesome typo in our website's description of the book I just linked to there), and told me the whole deal with his crazy cat drawings. A long obsession with outsider artists began for me, finding myself especially fond of art by the mentally affected. I became aware of the existence of a whole mess of intriguing painters and illustrators- Henry Darger, Adolf Wolfli, Alexander Lobanov** (my all time favorite next to George Herriman probably, but Herriman wasn’t a violent deaf mute) to name a few.

Anyway, the Louis Wain shirt has been on my back more than any other since its inaugural wash. It has traveled with me on just about every trip I’ve ever been on, and has won me compliments and interesting conversations with people of all walks (a pretty unforgettable one with a cop in Austin TX deserves honorable mention). Sadly though, it's now so torn up I can't be wearing it to Green Apple anymore. Too revealing. In fact it's so thin I'm going to have to slow its rotation down altogether. I’ll miss it when it totally goes, so from now until then it’s gonna’ have to be a special occasion shirt, treated with dignity and respect.

* “Height,” meaning I was still willing to root through a dirty garbage bag just sitting on Polk Street.

** As far as I'm aware Lobanov did not make enough art (or at least capture a large enough audience) for anyone to publish a collection of his work. Documentaries on him as well as images of his work are widespread online. I highly recommend taking a look.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A new book I like: Chasing the White Dog

We just received one of my favorite non-fiction books of the last year or two, Max Watman's Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine. I'm surely not the only who wonders why it's OK to make your own beer, cheese, wine, or jam, but not liquor. The answer, and so much history, chemistry, adventure, tomfoolery and even NASCAR, are within.

If you're at all interested in moonshine, southern culture, the feds, tax evasion, boutique liquors, or how to make your own hooch, I promise this book will be interesting and fun.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Poem of the Week by Kenneth Irby

Here's this week's poem. Enjoy.

[etude homage, Religio Medici]

How we outlive our notions of ourselves
and never know the others in there all along
give them away, become them
only at a stretch imagine
and the stretch is good
the old deep topaz Madeira glow
the pole of the day slowly turns on in its stared down into depths
taste the nigh noon pass!
the tongue decides
better than hands the layers of the day
for the other, I use it but like my Globe
and turne it round sometimes for my recreation
. . . yet to begin the Alphabet of man

by Kenneth Irby
from The Intent On: Collected Poems, 1962-2006 (North Atlantic Books, 2009)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Books In Translation...

To continue with my books in translation series I realized that I hadn't written about the last three books that I had finished, not to mention that they are all recent works in translation from New Directions...

The first was put out in the beginning of February- Bad Nature, or With Elvis In Mexico. It is part of their New Directions Pearls Series, containing short works in a small and sleek format for around ten bucks. Others in this series have been Federico García Lorca's In Search of Duende, Tennessee Williams' Tales of Desire, and the forthcoming Everything and Nothing by Borges...

Bad Nature is a short novel by the amazing Spanish novelist/journalist/translator of major English works into Spanish, Javier Marías. Marías is best known for his three volume trilogy Your Face Tomorrow (each word is a link to each volume) also published by New Directions...

Bad Nature
is a quick read, and definitely larger than its 57 pages. It is narrated by a young Spanish kid working on Elvis' 13th film Fun In Acapulco. It is short so I don't want to give anything away but this is a great read (and inexpensive at that).

Stay tuned next Sunday when I will talk about either one or both of the latest Roberto Bolaño novels to be put out by New Directions; Monsieur Pain and The Skating Rink.