Traffic: St. Paul/Minneapolis

The more melancholy John Steinbeck becomes in Travels with Charley — the more he realizes that he is missing certain sights, and perhaps that means missing them forever — the more captivated self becomes with his narrative. (Self has been there! There meaning: emotionally)

He hates traffic. Self completely understands his reluctance to enter cities. Like Steinbeck, self tends to panic and get lost. She feels every beat of the following section, p. 100:

Like a weakening swimmer I edged to the right into a pleasant street only to be stopped by a policeman, who informed me that trucks and such vermin were not permitted there. He thrust me back into the ravening stream.

I drove for hours, never able to take my eyes from the surrounding mammoths. I must have crossed the river but I couldn’t see it. I never saw St. Paul or Minneapolis. All I saw was a river of trucks; all I heard was a roar of motors. The air saturated with Diesel fumes burned in my lungs.

Steinbeck flees. He heads for US 10 and ends up in — of all places — “a German restaurant complete with sausages, sauerkraut, and beer steins hanging in rows over the bar, shining but unused.”

The ensuing scene is A+

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

In TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, Steinbeck is SO Discursive!

Travels with Charley, p. 31:

Very early I conceived a love for Joseph Addison which I have never lost . . .  I remember so well loving Addison’s use of capital letters for nouns.

An example of Addison’s writing:

I have observed that a Reader seldom peruses a Book with Pleasure ’till he knows whether the Writer of it be a black or fair man, of a mild or cholerick Disposition, Married or a Bachelor, with other Particulars of the like Nature, that conduce very much to the right Understanding of an Author.

Self confesses that she never heard of Joseph Addison before. Who knew that Steinbeck would admire Addison for stylistic Flourishes like the Use of Capital Letters for Nouns (Do you see what Self did just there, Dear Blog Reader? Lol)? She’d like to try that device (using capital letters for nouns) in her 18th century historical novel. At the very least, it would make for an interesting tone.

Stay tuned, Dear Blog Readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Poetry Saturday: Keith Tuma

excerpt from Tanka Notebook, in the collection Climbing into the Orchestra (2017)

On the sidewalk a giant onion perfectly peeled
tucked in a plastic baggie and still fresh
three days after I notice it.


Keith Tuma teaches at Miami University (Ohio), where he edits the Miami University Press. Recent books include On Leave: A Book of Anecdotes (Salt, 2011).

 

So Ironic, on So Many Levels

Self decided to throw out all her New Yorkers that are older than 2017.

She had them as far back as 2011, there were stacks and stacks of them all over the place. Who was she kidding? She’d be dead before she got to read through all the piles.

Now, she pulls out the 3 April 2017 issue and reads a piece written by Andrew Marantz for the Talk of the Town:

  • A few years ago, after he starred in Transformers, the actor Shia LaBeouf seemed poised to become the next Johnny Depp; instead, he started behaving more like the next James Franco.

Despite that opening sentence, the piece is not really about Shia. It’s about 4-chan trolls, the “men whose main goal is to be the chaos they wish to see in the world,” who “turned Pepe the Frog, once a benign cartoon, into a neo-Nazi icon.”

They infiltrated one of Shia’s performance art events. The actor confronted them “and got arrested.” The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, which was sponsoring the live event, “cancelled the project.”

The actor was undeterred and decided to continue his live stream from another venue, moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The trolls found him.

So Shia LaBeouf was actually one of the first people to tangle with the trolls and he showed plenty of gumption. He moved his project to Greenville, Tennessee. The trolls found him there, too. He moved to Liverpool, England, and the day after he resumed his live streaming project, “British trolls” found him and “the live stream went dark.”

They targeted the actor, and no one stood up for him. Not then. In the end, he simply ran out of energy (or money).

Who would have thought it would be Shia to become an early target. What this piece shows is that, even for someone with gumption and determination and resourcefulness, it is difficult to endure this kind of intense, organized hatred. Self is sure Shia was taken aback. As self was taken aback recently when someone on Facebook posted that the Red Hen owners had been visited by the Secret Service. She went over to yelp and saw that the restaurant’s reviews had been hijacked by hundreds of tweets bearing the Nazi swastika. Using the same tactics they used to call David Hogg, a Parkland school shooting survivor, a Nazi, these trolls were now calling the Red Hen owners Nazis.

And today someone in the GOP had the nerve to put out a hashtag called ‘civility’? Seriously? Our communities are under attack, our kids are under attack, and they want us to be ‘civil’? Trevor Noah was right: the way to deal with a lying, self-proclaimed martyr like Sarah Huckabee Sanders is to present her with an empty plate and say, there’s your order. She’d say, there’s nothing on this plate. The comeback would be to feign total shock and amazement and insist: There is. You’re just too simple to see it.

Because, no joke, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is on tape saying, “Let me try putting it into simple sentences, which is apparently all you can understand.”

A White House spokesperson actually said this to the White House press corps. And, maybe they were too shocked or something, because not one reporter took her to task for this insult. They just let it go.

It would be wonderful if, at the next White House Press Briefing, none of the press showed up. Sarah Huckabee Sanders would be left talking to an empty room. Let’s see what she does then.

She tweeted after she was turned away by the Lexington, VA restaurant, using her official (i.e. White House) twitter account.

There is not one single professional public servant in the current administration. They all assume a personal slight is a matter of national security. Oh please.

Let’s be clear: Sarah Huckabee Sanders earns 165k a year. And she resorts to Twitter knowing full well that trolls will descend and overwhelm the restaurant. She knew it would happen, and she used her official Twitter account. Is this not a horrible, horrible mis-use of public (official) twitter accounts? Yet Huckabee Sanders did it, which shows her vindictiveness and pettiness and meanness.

The President sends out tweets at 3 a.m. and rains insults on everyone. Is this not also a mis-use of a public (official) twitter account? Where is the respect for the office? No, Donald et. al. These accounts are not simply for your personal use. Your tweets may be entertaining but surely the American people have better things to worry about than your feelings of rejection.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Jay Parini, from the Introduction to the Penguin Classics Edition of TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, by John Steinbeck

Finished In the Lake of the Woods in the wee hours. Got back past 11 p.m. from the City, resumed reading and just could not put it down until she knew what became of the missing wife.

She then turned to the next book on her reading list, Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck. She’s still on the Introduction, by Jay Parini:

  • East of the Mississippi, the conversations he overheard usually revolved around baseball; west of the Mississippi, the topic was hunting. Even though this was the autumn of an election year — Kennedy versus Nixon — there was no rigorous political debate to be heard anywhere.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Beginning IN THE LAKE OF THE WOODS, by Tim O’Brien

The recommendation is six years old, from a print-out she took home with her during her 2012 residency in Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers. We six writers in June 2012 did a lot of sharing of our favorite books. Someone decided to type them up. Self took the list home, and promptly lost it. She found it again, just a month ago, stuck in the back of a drawer of her writing desk in Redwood City. There, on p. 3, were two books by Tim O’Brien: The Things They Carried and In the Lake of the Woods.

Self began with The Things They Carried. She read it decades ago, taught it to classes. It’s held up. She liked most of the stories.

She decided not to do too much advance research on In the Lake of the Woods. She assumed it was another book about Vietnam.

She loves that O’Brien begins with descriptions of the lake. The lake is in his short stories, too — there is such a lyricism to his descriptions of it. She loves that In the Lake of the Woods is about a wounded candidate, a man who’s lost an election by a landslide.

Also, she loves (so far) the mystery.

  • Anthony L. (Tony) Carbo: Show me a politician, I’ll show you an unhappy childhood.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Week in the Life

Watched the RBG movie.

Only a week later, RBG would make the news again for a dissenting opinion: She and Sotomayor were the two dissenting votes when the Supreme Court of the United States voted that the baker in Colorado could refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Afterwards, people asked:

Why couldn’t they have gotten someone else to order the cake? The baker would never have known . . .

lol

Self would like to point out that on the basis of the cakes in the bakery (from TV clips), that baker is not particularly good at cake design. So, not much of a loss there (at least, not in her humble opinion). Self wants to offer to pay for a REALLY REALLY fabulous cake and send it to the couple. Even though, of course, the occasion now belongs to a distant past.

Then Kate Spade died.

Then she watched the testimony of the former President of Michigan State to a committee, and heard that Dr. Larry Nasser “volunteered” his services, therefore he never presented a medical bill, therefore there was no accountability either for what he was doing to the female athletes he examined.

One commenter on The Daily Beast pointed out that Dr. Nasser was doing pelvic examinations for ankle injuries. Self thinks that one of the reasons he operated so freely for so long was that Michigan State didn’t want it revealed he was providing all his services for free. And mebbe something about that struck them as mildly un-ethical? The tragedy was that Michigan State was so easily manipulated, when all they had to do was find a competent doctor who was not providing free services. Were they experiencing a budget crisis or what, for 20 years? Definitely the Michigan State president and the US Olympic Committee are culpable. For not just failing to provide oversight, but also for being so stunningly cheap that they thought of Dr. Nasser as a real find! (Well, he was a real find all right: a stalker in sheep’s clothing)

Then she watched Rose McGowan on Dr. Oz.

Then there was an election.

In San Francisco, the mayoral race was (and remains) tight: between a woman and a gay man.

Judge Persky was recalled, with votes in favor at 60%.

The day of the election, self was on the Stanford campus, attending a Feminist, Sexuality & Gender Studies event at Stanford. She learned a lot. Especially from that young woman who did a study of the number of abortion clinics in Texas, and showed that year by year the numbers declined, so rapidly that from a high of almost 300 in 2013, there are only a few abortion clinics operating today in Texas.

The night of the elections, self was so elated over the Persky recall that she stayed up all night, following tweets. In fact, it feels like she hasn’t slept since Tuesday.

Then she had to look up the term “carceral feminism.”

Then she read on Twitter that the recall will have a negative effect on “black and brown people.” (Count self in on one of those categories. Self is definitely not white) So nice to know self is part of that undefined sea of black and brown!

Then she heard Bernie Sanders was weighing in and self thought: No, go away Bernie Sanders.

Then a lot of judges weighed in and said the recall was a threat to judicial independence. Which Persky brought up himself. Which makes no sense because if there really was such a need for judicial independence, why are all county judges elected? Shouldn’t they be appointed?

Also, it’s interesting that most of the people who clamor the loudest against the recall result only spoke up after the fact, when the recall became successful. Which means there is nothing at all wrong with the process. Only, self guesses, the result.

Regarding “concerning blow to judicial independence” and how the recall effect is that now judges will feel “pressure.”

Since Persky was up for re-election in 2022, there was always that pressure. But what the recall did was save many victims who might have come before him between now and 2022. Because self has no doubt that had he remained in office four more years, Persky would have continued to sentence criminals with maximum leniency (especially if they were white Stanford males, like Brock Turner). Digression: Self read somewhere that Turner’s dad questioned why his son should be punished for “20 minutes of action.” Right? The apple does not fall far from the tree.

Then Bourdain died. Self was very, very sad. While he lived, she knew the world could not be a totally bad place, even under 45. Now another iconoclastic voice has been snuffed out, and self is really afraid for what will happen in 2020.

Then self learned from the news that Bourdain was dating Asia Argento, who was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. And Bourdain, bless his heart, spoke passionately on behalf of the #metoo movement.

What a loss. Mr. Sardonic, Bourdain, was 100% behind #metoo, we could have used more of him.

Then self discovered that Persky is a Stanford grad, so he and self have something in common. She loves the school because she studied Chinese there, and afterwards spent two years as a Creative Writing fellow. That Stanford Law School professor who led the recall movement made her feel truly, truly grateful and proud to be a graduate.

There was a tweeter who said that the Stanford law school professor had no credentials, and was not even a real lawyer. Good thing self checked and saw the tweeter had only 50 followers, she would have responded.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Bourdain: Ugly Crying

Not real. Not real. Not real.

In celebration of food, community, and life, all the food pictures self can pull from her archives in 15 minutes:

  1. Cherries, Belmont Farmers Market, May 2018
  2. Leeks, Palo Alto Farmers Market, April 2018
  3. Giant Tomato, Mendocino Art Center, March 2018
  4. Buko Pie, Philippine Airlines, January 2018
  5. Dearest Mum’s Lunch, Manila, January 2018
  6. UP Town Center, Diliman, Quezon City, January 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

George Saunders! Such a Card!

There is something about reading George Saunders that makes self want to laugh in irrepressible delight (Sorry. There was a time when only self knew the two words: George Saunders. She decided he would be her secret indulgence, for the rest of her life. Then he became quote unquote famous. Now, when she shares her love for a George Saunders sentence, she sounds overly enthusiastic, like a groupie)

Nevertheless! Here she is reading Lincoln in the Bardo Page One:

On our wedding day I was forty-six, she was eighteen.

. . . .

I proposed that we should be . . .  friends. Should behave outwardly, in all things, as if we had consummated our arrangement.

(Har Har Har)

Page Two:

She is here, still here.

(Har Har Har again!)

I was not an inexperienced man — had been wild when young; had spent sufficient time (I am ashamed to say) in Marble Alley . . .

(Har to the nth!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Lynchings: AS LIE IS TO GRIN, p. 30

DSCN0035

Currently Reading

Very stream-of-consciousness, this novel is. Self likes it. It’s something like Francoise Sagan meets disaffected young black man in the University of Vermont.

It’s been a long time since she’s read about lynchings in a work of fiction. She certainly wasn’t prepared for the subject to be in the middle of a paragraph about the narrator trying to hook up with Delilah. But there it is. The young man’s personal pain conflates with his memory of a particular story in Jean Toomer’s Cane (A reader somewhere detests Marsalis and calls this entire book a pack of lies. Of course it is. It’s fiction)

  • There were little things that I did not know about her, which made me realize that I had not taken a serious interest in Delilah. I tried to remember more of what she had told me about herself, but was distracted by the thought of a story Jean Toomer had written in Cane, called Blood Burning Moon, about a black man (Tom) who killed a white man (Bob) over his continued dalliance with a young black woman (Louisa) whom Tom hoped to marry. It ended with Tom’s hanging by lynch mob. What gave the story life were the horrible questions that went unasked by the narrator. Why had Louisa chosen to continue seeing Bob, why wasn’t Tom given a fair trial, what did Tom truly desire?

After a while, the narrator’s silent ruminations make Delilah uncomfortable and she asks him to leave. “Why?” the narrator asks.

  • Delilah: You are acting weird.

Then Delilah goes to sleep.

Wow! What. A. Scene.

It’s like this fan fiction story self read, where Gendry sleeps with Sansa. After, she turns him out of her bed and he wanders into a very cold dawn.

Here, the narrator ends up welcoming the dawn “in the little amphitheater between Mills and Austin Halls, twenty yards from the footpath, and stared out at the Green Mountains of Vermont.” (Young men always seem to welcome the dawn after being turned out-of-doors by their paramours or ex-paramours, self notices. Welcoming the dawn = angst/unhappiness/disappointment/frustration)

Later, Marsalis delves further into the life of Jean Toomer and finds that he “looked white.” Is this an echo of the narrator, who is attending the University of Vermont while black? Self guesses there aren’t too many blacks in the University of Vermont. At least, that is the impression she gets (so far) from As Lie Is to Grin.

BTW, is it significant that son has kept his cell turned off for days? It doesn’t even finish one ring before it turns to voice mail. That means the cell is turned off. Right? She hasn’t heard son’s voice since Mother’s Day, and he placed that call in the evening. Self thinks a Mother’s Day call that doesn’t happen until the evening is not really a Mother’s Day call. Right? But it’s better than no call at all. Maybe.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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