america looks at itself in the cough

Heard a song in KFC the other night whose hook goes "That's not my name. That's not my name." This is preceded by "They call me Jane, they call me her," etc. A sort of feminist dancehall rally, which is great, but also kind of amazing to remove the song from that context and think about all these people in the KFC just soaking in this very decisive mantra of disorientation. What is it doing to them, what is it doing to their fiesta bowls (it's a KFC/Taco Bell). When I looked up the video for this song, I discovered 1) the people who made the song are very conventionally attractive, and 2) it was used in some sort of Victoria's Secret show, which like most of the world is its own joke.

Where is the boogyman and why is my chair orange? Why are there pipes mysteriously falling on our desks when we're not there? One student told me how kids climbed on top of the cafeteria when Osama died and asked each other to show each other their boobs. Another student told me how kids were printing out pictures of Osama's face just so they could throw them into a bonfire, which makes me think of a lot of thinks, including the way the university ID card website encourages you to ask a "friend or relative" to send you money as often as possible. It also makes me think of those "news organizations" that misprinted Osama as Obama, which is actually pretty forgivable, considering the insanely pat shadow/empty mirror narrative space Obama occupies in the national psychology. If America were a workshop story, people would be like "Come on, the president is named Obama?" But all the workshoppers want to do is eat fancy cheese, so whatever. Also I think of how Yahoo is listing bullshit articles from its "contributor network" in the same "top stories" space they list actual news stories, which makes me feel like I will need to drink a lot of iced coffee and stare at a lot of beautiful bodies of water if I'm going to make it through the weekend.

Onto good news! We Are All Good was voted as #18 in The Believer's Top 20 Poetry Books of 2010. Very honored and surprised. Kudos to other awesome writer-friends listed in the Poetry & Fiction lists: Rachel B Glaser, Alex Phillips, CA Conrad, Ben Mirov, and Nick Demske. Thanks Believer readers.

Over at the GIANT, Gabe Durham wrote a really generous and comprehensive breakdown of "The World Doesn't Smell Like You" from Look! Look! Feathers. Why don't I go ahead and quote at length the most flattering thing he says! Self-esteem! When self-esteem's on a bagel, you can have self-esteem anytime! Here we go: "Mike’s stories, poems, and songs, taken together, form an America that doesn’t know that its beating heart is the hungry cluttered small towns of the Pacific Northwest. It’s the fiction, though, that for me does the most at once: Language, character, plot, place, inventory, experiment, emotion, and ambition are inextricable from each other in this book. Look! Look! Feathers does the old things and the new things. We can have it all, and should." Holy goddamn, Gabe Durham. You are a sky pie. Come back to Massachusetts but force your kids to have Southern accents anyway.

Final item of business: the beautiful Carolyn Zaikowski and I recorded a version of Chelsea Hotel: I play guitar and she sings. Carolyn has written two novels that are as beautiful as her singing voice, so someone should up and put those out already. When that happens, I will celebrate by taking her to a bed in the Chelsea Hotel and making sure it's unmade.

1 comment:

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