Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This One's On Me

After a series of podcasts and two more polished posts yesterday, I want to do a bit of a mixture of comments and thoughts, some links and then a  little more of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt, which is currently being pitched to literary agents around New York City - we will see if anyone bites. Now to the random assorted thoughts:

- The picture above is courtesy of the blog jonberrydesign. This guy has a pretty entertaining blog with some good photo documentation of his life.  And I mean, that picture - you don't get any more ridiculous than that.

- As if you couldn't tell, I loved the Allen Iverson documentary No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson that aired last night on ESPN as part of the 30 for 30 documentary series.  I thought it was just absolutely perfectly done and was riveted for the entire sixty plus minutes.  To hear some insight on the making of the documentary, you can hear a podcast that Bill Simmons conducted with the director, Steve James at his website.

- While you are there, also listen to Bill's podcast with TV critic Tim Goodman from the San Francisco Chronicle.  Bill and Tim breakdown Conan's decision to choose TBS as his home over potential suitors in FOX and FX.  There are some really insightful comments to listen to. Its the second best podcast on the internet after Podcast of Myself.

- Going back to No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, I have been getting some positive feedback on the post and I just want to thank those of you who have sent your comments. Especially Adam Kalker who sent me a Facebook message out of the blue when he found the write-up via a Google search.  Its good to get that kind of news, so thanks again, Adam.

- Tomorrow the next episode of Podcast of Myself will be going up and it is a discussion with my friend and artist Janelle Sing. On the podcast, Janelle mentions a few websites that you may want to check out, so I am going to plug them here.  The first is her colleague and collaborator Andrew McNay who I have had the pleasure of meeting once or twice.  He also has another website that you can view here. The second reference that she makes is to Poppies and Posies, which is an event planning enterprise she recently did some work with, which we discuss on the podcast. So take a look at a few of these things and then take a listen to the podcast once it is up tomorrow.

- During my podcast with Janelle Sing, I left out a discussion that we were having prior to the actual recording and I want to connect that to my post on Joanna Newsom and She and Him from yesterday.  Now, prepare to indulge me here.  Janelle and I had been discussing the state of an "independant woman" in today's world and when a girl/woman is indeed an "independant woman."  Now, I am no feminist scholar and I have always been attracted to women who are strong and independant, but that term seems to have become lost recently.  When I say lost, I mean lost in the following way: Take the Joanna Newsom song "Good Intentions Paving Company".  That song ends with the following line "when I only want for you to pull over and hold me until I can't remember my own name." Now, of course, Newsom is a recording artist and she may be inhabiting different characters and speakers when she sings, but if we are to take the lyrics on face value, then it would see odd that a woman who I find to be bold, intelligent and in every way independent (though, of course I don't know her personally) is espousing losing herself in another identity. If you follow the narrative of the song, this identity is a man, which strikes one as absolutely dependent.  The point is this, that in the past 20 years or so, the idea of an independent woman has become such a commodity, a good to be stocked up, a badge to wear (Destiny Child, Beyonce, etc.) that is has lost the original ability to encapsulate a tender moment that all people share - a moment of true interaction, love, a moment of rest and solace with another person.  It is OK to lose yourself with someone else that you feel love for or are in love with and in doing so, you will not lose your independent woman badge. All you have to do is retain that terrific intelligence, boldness and passionate nature that so many independent women have.  I'd like to think that those items are beyond becoming commodities, but then again, no sentiment, idea or theme truly is beyond objectification.  In any event, that is a muddled thought for someone to get angry at or agree with.

- Sticking on the topic of podcasts, if you don't watch the Ricky Gervais Show on HBO, which is essentially an animation of his extremely popular podcast with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, you should really try to locate an HBO distributor and watch some of the episodes or track down the podcasts.  The most recent episode where Stephen and Ricky read out of Karl's diary is absolutely terrific.  They even make mention of a classic literary figure that gets overlooked (except in Joyce) Samuel Pepys.

- Baseball season has started.  Yankees vs. Phillies World Series rematch is imminent. Who is going to beat either of them honestly?

- Finally, the NBA playoffs start this Sunday.  I am going to try to give a comprehensive rundown and some picks either by Sunday or soon after before the series really start to dig in and take shape.  However, my initial impressions are that the Celtics look terrible; the Thunder are going to give the Lakers more of a run than people are letting on; Orlando may just upset Cleveland again because the offseason speculation is going to build and build to a fever pitch as the playoffs go on; the Spurs and Mavericks are poised to make a run with the Mavericks possibly coming out of the West. The Lakers may pull it all together, but they are going to have a tougher run this year than the past two years.  Every series is going to be entertaining as hell, though.  Watch it.

Now, the next installment of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt:

The traffic slowed up again at the turning light onto Nicolls Road.  Mr Kosciuzko looked at the Domino’s Pizza out of his window.  He focused on the logo and realized that it had been changed to Papa John’s – he’d passed it so many times. He leaned back in his driver’s seat and pushed his cap up as they idled. He caught Maggie O’Donnell’s red hair once more, it was almost unavoidable, just as was thinking of his daughter.  The fact that they did not speak, did not stop him from thinking of her. 
He rememered the phone call. She called him in the middle of the night.


“What’s up, honey?” He pictured her in some sparsely furnished San Franciscan apartment with a red spiral staircase.

“I’m at the train station.”

“Where? Stony Brook?”

“No, Dad. Here.”

“What’re you doing there?” He’d felt the dryness of his throat.  He padded to get a drink of water.

“I don’t really know, Dad.”

The electric green light on the stove shone 2:14.  That meant 11:14 there.

“Are you alright?”

“I think so,” she’d sounded tired. He heard the station noise behind.  The sound of people talking in a large room with a high ceiling.  The sound of ongoing sound.

    “You sound tired.”


    “Is Lee alright?” He held a glass under the faucet.  It had nutcrackers on it.  Ellen brought them out when the weather turned and the holidays approached.

    “That’s the first time you’ve asked that,” she’d sounded impressed.

    He took a drink and pressed his hand on the counter.  His feet were cold.

    “Well, you don’t call me at two that often.”

    “I’m pregnant, Dad.”

    Peter cradled his glass against the armpit seam of his t-shirt.  He hadn’t known how to react.  He looked at his water in the dark.  He felt a great joy fill him – the same joy he felt when reading an eloquent sentence or seeing white blossoms on a tree in mid-April.  It was the feeling he had always though of as the melancholy of creation.  That same feeling Little Chandler had considered the melancholy of the poet’s soul or the artist’s soul as they stood before the easel or page.  He himself had never created anything but his children and he had not felt a melancholy at those moments – it was more duty and the heat of his loins.  But then, maybe the creation of a child was a prolonged melancholy – a melancholy of creation and of life.  Perhaps the throbbing he felt with the blossoms, the refined language and his children were all in fact that melancholy that is life.  Peter had sipped his water. He felt the moment he was in fill around him – his wife’s choice of glassware, the small window above the sink, the  draft on his feet.  He remembered to speak.

    “Oh, honey.”

    “Don’t worry, Dad. I’m going to take care of it.” Her voice had an edge.  She was attempting to assume responsibility, but it didn’t fit.

    “What does that mean?”


    “Does Lee know?”

    She was quiet and the noise of the station returned to fill the space. “Now you’re so interested in Lee.”

    The wind rattled the windows.  He’d heard the sound of branches brushing each other.  The last remaining wind chimes struck and sounded like a ghost.  He walked away from the window.

    “Honey, I can’t say I approve of this.”

    More station noise had filled the receiver; he thought he heard a woman announce a train going to Los Angeles.

    “I can’t stay here. I can’t have this.”

    “Why? Why can’t you?” He sat on the floor with the glass of water between his legs.  It hurt his knees and his lower back to sit on the floor.

    “Because I’ve got to go. This is who I am.  My train is here."

    “Sonya,” no response. “Sonya.”

    Mr. Kosciuzko picked up speed as the light showed a left turn signal.  He followed the slow sloping turns of the drivers ahead of him as they merged onto Nicolls Road under the train trestle and past the North Entrance to the university.  There were white flowers spelling out “SBU” by the North Entrance sign.   Peter pushed the limo up to sixty.  He imagined his daughter driving from the cornfields of Iowa across the Missippi, through the long blue grass of Kentucky and the mountains of Virginia before she landed snug in the nation’s capital.  She was like one of those wandering men from Old America, from the Depression or earlier, that he’d admired in old movies.  He imagined her, with her brown hair in a bun with hairpins, innocent, and a satchel over her shoulder. The difference was that she was his daughter and she wasn’t innocent and he didn’t want her to wander.  She had to wander and that was what he had wanted to encourage in her, albeit simply intellectually.  She wandered in her action and her decision and Mr. Kosciuzko saw that as a fundamental reaction to her pregnancy.  Sonya had loved Lee – maybe – but when she knew the child was inside of her, instead of life she saw the nails being driven in, the force of circumstance and responsibility.

Peter pushed the limo through stoplights until it reached the intersection of Nicolls Road and Nesconset Highway.  The trees on the side of the highway were still lush wth their deep summer green and Mr. Kosciuzko’s back felt hot.  He adjusted the air conditioning.  Sonya was like the rest of the kids of this new generation.  She was intelligent like Maggie O’Donnell sitting behind him.  Sonya was full of the same ambition too.  She wanted the entire experience of the world and had enough education to have a tangible view of the earth and history – the sphere of the plane graspable in ones hands, so that if you squeezed hard enough, the ruins of Rome, the pyramids of Egypt, the secrets of Confucius and Christ, the prehistoric mystery of a morning haze would all come bursting out, like the nectar of a fruit; they could drink it all.  However, it did not always work that way – more often than not, it was you that was gripped and compressed to the breaking point.  There were governments and taxes, financial institutions with mortgages giving you a way to buy a home and build a dream, but making you a servant to payments towards established orders.  The dreams of being a philosopher or musician died with the grocery bills and a leak from the upstairs bathroom.  He thought of Sonya coming home to her apartment after a day of work. What kind of kitchen table did she have? Did she have one? And if so, what bills lay waiting for her there?  Would these children know the value of something simple to get them past the vicegrip, the mess of their nectar?  Would they know the pleasure of a cold beer and the feel of finished wood on their forearms and wrists?  The stupid things that had shape and were real and not made out of the stars and spirals of imagination and ambition?

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