5.23.2011

when will the long-play video community embrace this adventure game i'm making by breathing on you when you can't see me

Went to the attractive Salem, MA the other weekend to participate in the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Ate a delicious sandwich with pickles in it. Androgynous old people played bluegrass in overalls. There was a statue of the attractive Samantha from Bewitched. No statues of the attractive Darin. Free antipasto, lots of cobblestone. Cold because of the attractive ocean. I could see why you'd dress up in black and put things in a cauldron. Ambiguous suggestions on the train platform. Spoke on MFAs, encouraged people who wanted alternatives to MFAs to just find people on the internet who like to write and read the things they like to write and read. Made an impassioned argument about the absurdity of all writing/reading and its roots in a peculiarly egotistic form of loneliness, a broom knocked against the wall between the soul and the world, blah blah blah. People raised their hands and asked about summer writing camps. A woman in a wheelchair asked, during the Q&A, if we knew that her first book was coming out. A bee played the piano. I told the story of how the attractive Chris Cheney tried to run me over with his car, and how MFA programs encourage this overly romanticized disengagement with the world, but my fellow panelists provided welcome dissenting maturity and stressed that, don't worry, the pursuit of an MFA can be a very adult activity indeed. Later the attractive Gene K. asserted that I was obsessed with cars that have red spoilers. As usual, he's right. Many thanks to the attractive Danielle Jones-Purett for inviting me to the festival/panel.

Before I left Eastern Mass I ate some Indian food. Cold coconut chutney, very refreshing. Friendly cops came in and talked with the dishwasher. Orchids floating in tall glass cylinders. Boxes of copper pots, a sign that says DO NOT OPEN THE BOXES. WE ARE WATCHING FROM CAMERAS. YOU OPEN YOU BUY. Bollywood music videos that rival mid-90s MTV: sexy, corny, so much spent on the video there was no budget for good beats.

Someone where I am just said "The bleeding edge or the leading edge?"
Then she said "It's magnetic. You can take it off or leave it on."

The attractive Gabe Durham visited Northampton mostly while I was away, but we got to hang out a little bit and eat couscous. We talked about plagiarism and American Idol. Recently Gabe interviewed the attractive Chris Bachelder for The Rumpus and then followed up with him on his blog. Lots of terrific probing about wives and dogs. On the bus back from Eastern Mass, it was raining very hard and I was reading the attractive Lydia Davis's translation of Madame Bovary and thinking about doing something called ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING LAVISH "REALISTIC LITERARY FICTION" YOU CAN LEARN BY ATTENTIVELY READING THE LYDIA DAVIS TRANSLATION OF MADAME BOVARY, but maybe I won't do that.

The attractive Dennis Cooper recently and very generously included Look! Look! Feathers in one of his 3 Recent Books I Loved posts. He included a video of me in 2006 in Ashland telling a story about Tom Waits murdering me. Thanks, Dennis!

On June 5th I'm going to NYC to read in celebration of the attractive Chris Toll's new book from Publishing Genius, The Disinformation Phase. Click here for details on the reading. I will post again about it before June 5th gets closer. Gawd there are so many things to post! And here I am just waiting for Massachusetts to realize it's spring. About The Disinformation Phase, I wrote a note in my reading log that says: "Pop sci-fi Lorca waiting in line to mail Tom Waits some tom tom drums and muttering invocations while he waits." So that's two mentions of Tom Waits, which means I should put a picture of him in this post, but I decided to put a picture of Dennis Cooper instead.

5.06.2011

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.