March 30, 2006

everybody has their own thing they yell into a well

slanted and enchanted, by dronepop.

* A favorite bit from John Fante's Ask the Dust:

"There was a letter from Hackmuth in my box. I knew it was from him. I could tell a Hackmuth letter a mile away. I could feel a Hackmuth letter, and it felt like an icicle sliding down my spine. Mrs. Hargraves handed the letter to me. I grabbed it out of her hand.

"'Good news?' she said, because I owed her so much rent. 'You never can tell,' I said. 'But it's from a great man. He could send blank pages, and it would be good news to me.'

"But I knew it wasn’t good news in the sense that Mrs. Hargraves meant it, for I hadn't sent mighty Hackmuth a story. This was merely the answer to my long letter of a few days ago. He was very prompt, that Hackmuth. He dazzled you with his speed. You no sooner dropped a letter in the mail box down on the corner, and when you got back to the hotel, there was his answer. Ah, me, but his letters were so brief. A forty page letter, and he replied in one small paragraph. But that was fine its its way, because his replies were easier to memorize and know by heart. He had a way, that Hackmuth: he had a style; he had so much to give, even his commas and semi-colons had a way of dancing up and down. I used to tear the stamps off his envelopes, peel them off gently, to see what was under them.

"I sat on the bed and opened the letter. It was another brief message, no more than fifty words. It said:

Dear Mr. Bandini,

With your permission I shall remove the salutation and ending of your long letter and print it as a short story for my magazine. It seems to me you have done a fine job here. I think "The Long Lost Hills" would serve as an excellent title. My check is inclosed.

Sincerely yours,
J. C. Hackmuth

"The letter slipped from my fingers and zigzagged to the floor. I stood up and looked in the mirror. My mouth was wide open. I walked to Hackmuth's picture on the opposite wall and put my fingers on the firm face that looked out at me. I picked the letter up and read it again. I opened the window, climbed out, and lay on the bright hillside grass. My fingers clawed the grass. I rolled upon my stomach, sank my mouth into the earth, and pulled the grass roots with my teeth. Then I started to cry. Oh God, Hackmuth! How can you be such a wonderful man? How is it possible? I climbed back to my room and found the check inside the envelope. It was $175. I was a rich man once more. $175! Arturo Bandini, author of The Little Dog Laughed and The Long Lost Hills.

"I stood before the mirror once more, shaking my fist defiantly. Here I am, folks. Take a look at the great writer! Notice my eyes, folks. The eyes of a great writer. Notice my jaw, folks. The jaw of a great writer. Look at those hands, folks. The hands that created The Little Dog Laughed and The Long Lost Hills. I pointed my index finger savagely. And as for you, Camilla Lopez, I want to see you tonight. I want to talk to you, Camilla Lopez, and I warn you, Camilla Lopez, remember that you stand before none other than Arturo Bandini, the writer. Remember that, if you please."

* Don't fuck the vapid: First two parts (part one; part two) of a three part piece by Kevin Smith on his relationship with Jason Mewes, who is about to celebrate his third straight year of living completely drug and alcohol free. excerpt:

"On a mid-December early morn, circa 2003, on the balcony of my house in the Hollywood Hills, Jason Mewes, my friend of seventeen years and co-star in five films at that point, dropped a bomb that shoud’ve repulsed the shit out of me, or at the very least, made me vomit a little in my mouth.

"'Last night, at the Spider Club, Nicole Richie dragged me into the bathroom and fucked me.'

"And yet, instead of retching, I found myself battling another type of growing lump in my throat – the kind induced by watching your child enter the world, or the last ten minutes of 'Field of Dreams.' I was suppressing tearful joy, momentarily setting aside the compulsion to smack Jason upside the head, hollering "Don’t fuck the vapid, dammit!" due to the fact that I was so insanely proud of how far the boy had come and relieved that we were having this conversation at all."

"See, for years, Jason had had what seemed like an unbeatable, untreatable addiction to, alternately, heroin and oxycontin. It was a heartbreaking, trying and puzzling five-year stretch for me, so I can’t imagine how bad it was for him (well, that’s not entirely true. Mewes would periodically flash self-awareness with statements like 'If I’m still like this when I turn thirty, I should probably kill myself.')."
"It was in this fashion that I sort of reluctantly inherited Mewes. And while I had volumes in common with Bry and Walt, on the surface, Mewes and I were about as different as could possibly be. Without Bry and Walt around, I bristled at his what-if scenarios. I’d spend double or triple time in a conversation with the kid, as I’d have to define over 50% of the words I used for him. And all the while, I remained resistant to his charms.

"Until that day at the Rec Center.

"Walt and I had just come back from our weekly new comics run, and were quietly sitting in the Rec library, bagging and boarding our books. The kids hadn’t gotten out of school yet, so it was deaf-child silent in the building, save the metal rantings of King Diamond emanating on low volume from a nearby boom-box. Then, suddenly, the stillness was shattered, as a sent-home-from-school-early Mewes kicked the Rec door open, marched into the building Groucho Marx style, and proceeded to fellate everything somewhat phallic in the room.

"Walt and I watched with wonder as Mewes grabbed a pool cue and pretended to suck it off. Losing interest, he ran up to the phone on the front desk, grabbed the receiver from the cradle, and pretended to suck that off. He grabbed the flag pole and did the same. He grabbed a whiffle ball bat and did the same. This went on for twenty minutes, with seemingly no regard for our presence whatsoever. He never looked at us as if to say 'Are you seeing this shit?' He never looked at us at all. He didn’t seem to care that we were even there. This wasn’t a show for our benefit. It was as if he’d been walking around Highlands moments earlier, took a gander at his watch, and was like 'Wow – it’s two o’clock. I’d better get down to the Rec and suck everything off.' The kid had an agenda, and he was actively fulfilling it.

"It was when he finally reached the Rec’s only video game – a standard 'Asteroids' kiosk that time had forgotten – that he finally paused. Studying it momentarily and finding nothing dick-like to pretend to suck off, he seemed stymied. There was no joystick to give him purchase; just a roller ball and a fire button. Walt and I watched with great curiosity, waiting to see how he’d overcome this unforeseen obstacle.

"After what felt like five minutes, Mewes shrugged, bent down to the game controls, and started working the roller ball like it was a clit - his tongue darting in and out of his mouth, lapping at the orb as he spun it with his finger. That’s when I finally caved and fell completely in love with Jason Mewes."

Read the whole thing. Part three will be available soon.

* A interview / podcast with David Berman, featuring an acoustic version of O Captain! My Captain! played in his hotel room.

* "Criticism's first duty is to follow and stress the complexities and only after this is done to say, if necessary, genius is simplicity." -- Veronica Forrest-Thomson


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