Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Charles Bukowski's "So You Want to Be a Writer?" from *Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way*:

I don't agree with all of it--particularly the part about rewrites--but it's my favorite piece about writing and I return to it again and again:

so you want to be a writer?

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!!! In case you needed another reason to freak the hell out:

From today's New York Times:

"Two of the city's subway lines - the A and the C - have been crippled and may not return to normal capacity for three to five years after a fire Sunday afternoon in a Lower Manhattan transit control room that was started by a homeless person trying to keep warm, officials said yesterday.

The blaze, at the Chambers Street station used by the A and C lines, was described as doing the worst damage to subway infrastructure since the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. It gutted a locked room that is no larger than a kitchen but that contains some 600 relays, switches and circuits that transmit vital information about train locations."


The New York Times > New York Region > Manhattan Subway Fire Cripples 2 Lines

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Don't worry, I won't start playing hacky-sack:

I'm a city girl and always have been. As Fran Lebowitz wrote, "To put it rather bluntly, I am not the type who wants to go back to the land--I am the type who wants to go back to the hotel." But some days I give into the gravitational pull outside my window. There's something about the bright ice blue of the sky today that just slays me. This last month has been a disaster health-wise, but I can't help but feel grateful for being here, ya know?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

In purgatory, you meet Al Gore and Katie Couric:

My McSweeney's list, "The Five People You Meet in Hell", is up--yea! They gave me the front page again, which was a nice surprise. (If I knew how to hyperlink it, I would, but I don't so you're going to have to take my word for it.)

McSweeney's Internet Tendency: The Five People You Meet in Hell.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Crank it up:

I went to hear my friend, the delightfully talented Suzanne Stockman, read tonight at a celebration for the literary journal, Cranky. I knew that I'd enjoy her work and that she'd rock the mike--right on both counts--but I was skeptical when I heard that twenty readers were scheduled. Lit readings are sometimes transcendent, but often they feature the kind of self-important wankery Bukowski so brilliantly skewered in "Scum Grief". (Fave line: "Fuck the salmon!") So, I was pleasantly surprised that the Cranky line-up was so strong, with nary a northwest-let's-all-hug piece to be heard. Issue #4 is on the stands now and it's definitely worth grabbing. More:

Cranky Literary Journal

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Unfettered heroism:

"TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi told Iran's hard-line Revolutionary Court on Saturday she won't obey a vague summons on her to appear for questioning, even if it means she will be jailed -- an open challenge to a powerful body that has tried and convicted many pro-reform intellectuals."

More: - Nobel?winner refuses Iranian court - Jan 15, 2005

Friday, January 14, 2005

Just when you thought things couldn't get any more fucked up--ha, ha--they do:

Someone recently told me that ancient Greeks would say, "In the face of stupidity, even the gods rail in vain." I don't know if they really said it--if you're Greek, people tell you these things all the time, as if you're pre-loaded at birth with knowledge of all things Hellenic--but the sentiment expressed is certainly true. Behold, folks are using the tsunami to get laid:


Thursday, January 13, 2005

The icing:

I keep laughing--in a dark, sardonic way--that my writing goes places that I cannot. So, after another day wherein my legs were numb as fuck, it's a kick to discover that The Slippery Fish has been linked to Cupcake ("the reading series for New York's best women writers") alongside Margaret Cho and Jeanette Winterson and several others whose work I admire. (Scroll down, bottom right):

Cupcake: Because you've had enough chick lit, and it's time for dessert.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Thanks: Part 1, Pete Townshend:

Sporadically throughout 2005, I'm going to write about artists who changed my life. I'll start with Pete Townshend.

In a recent Black Table piece, I described my adolescent self thusly: "...a teenage art-geek. Frizzy haired and studious, I hadn't yet learned to work a prodigious vocabulary and ample rack to my advantage." I had close friends, and for a brief while, a boyfriend, but I felt hopelessly out of place at the uber-prep Catholic high school that my folks insisted I attend.

At various points along the way I was class president and editor of the school paper and one of the leads in the annual musical (performed at The Intiman, natch) and a member of the honor society, but I mostly remember being bored out of my fucking mind. My friends and I were smarter than the teachers and it cast an air of absurdity over the proceedings. I wanted out so badly and I couldn't leave.

Enter Pete.

I was already well-versed in all things Beatles and Stones when said boyfriend gave me a tape of The Who's "Quadrophenia" one day at lunch. When I got home, I popped it in my fake Walkman, wrapped myself in my butterfly quilt and listened to both sides all the way through. I was transfixed. Suddenly, the world was a bit more light.

If I were writing this for publication and not for fun, I'd delve into the mechanics--to the degree that I understand them--of Pete's guitar wizardry, Roger's soaring vocals, John's throbbing bass, and Moonie's frenetic drum assault. But that's not why I'm writing this. What matters to me is that Pete felt like a friend, someone wiser and more scarred who got the joke. Twenty years later, the lyrics to "Cut My Hair" still make me crumble:

Cut My Hair

Why should I care
If I have to cut my hair?
I've got to move with the fashions
Or be outcast.
I know I should fight
But my old man he's really alright,
And I'm still living at home
Even though it won't last.

Zoot suit, white jacket with side vents
Five inches long.
I'm out on the street again
And I'm leaping along.
I'm dressed right for a beach fight,
But I just can't explain
Why that uncertain feeling is still
Here in my brain.

The kids at school
Have parents that seem so cool.
And though I don't want to hurt them
Mine want me their way.
I clean my room and my shoes
But my mother found a box of blues,
And there doesn't seem much hope
They'll let me stay.

Zoot suit, etc.

Why do I have to be different to them?
Just to earn the respect of a dance hall friend,
We have the same old row, again and again.
Why do I have to move with a crowd
Of kids that hardly notice I'm around,
I have to work myself to death just to fit in.

I'm coming down
Got home on the very first train from town.
My dad just left for work
He wasn't talking.
It's all a game,
'Cos inside I'm just the same,
My fried egg makes me sick
First thing in the morning.

Welcome to

The Who's Albums & Lyrics

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

As good a way as any to start the new year:

There's so much that I want to say about the holidays and the tsunami and the fact that my work is going to be heard on NPR later this month, but I'm exhausted and in pain. So, tonight I'll keep it short but no less heartfelt.

Like all of us, I'm praying for peace and an end to famine and disease. On a lighter note, I hope that all of us have an extraordinary year! May 2005 overflow with superb health, artistic and/or professional fulfillment, true love, dirty sex, oodles of cash, a cupboard full of Green and Black chocolate, and a letter from Marc Jacobs asking where to send the free couture. (Wait, that last one is just for me.)

My best to everyone! Good night!