HERE WE GO AGAIN
I won't say the same thing I've said every week. I'll only say that this new normal of going from abject disgust to boundless patriotism (like, several times a day) is going to take some getting used to.
It honestly made the prospect of this installment pretty daunting. Not only was a good chunk of this week buried in despair, fear, and hopelessness, it was also spent nearly exclusively refreshing and posting on Twitter. I spent very little time consuming things that I loved or even thinking about them. Things moved so fast and so recklessly that I just felt obligated to keep up. Stay aware of what was happening. This weekend was, of course, another strong sign that the America I've always believed in is the America we all happen to live in. Things are still bad and they're probably going to get worse, but we're not alone, and that's enough at least for now.
(Also, I agree with Alyssa Rosenberg here [as I usually do]. This isn't resistance. It's our basic jobs as citizens. Don't let them radicalize it.)
Usually I come to this column with a pretty good idea of what I'm going to write about. There's usually one thing that stands out every week, the best thing I read or saw or listened to. But because this week was so crazed and distracting, I didn't really finish anything. I started a lot of things:
- The script for Annie Baker's The Flick because I didn't get to see it
- CivilWarLand In Bad Decline by George Saunders because, if you could believe it, I never read it
- The Young Pope, which has singlehandedly brought Cherry Coke Zero back into the public conversation
- Sneaky Pete, which I've been told is very good
I also read a whole bunch of comics. I reviewed one of my favorites, Ether #3, and took the opportunity to really go off on what I consider to be honestly some corner-cutting trends in lettering. Because that is something I clearly care about.
I started up CivilWarLand In Bad Decline because I picked up tickets for Saunders' Brooklyn reading next month and, really, you don't have to look much further to find a writer who communicates optimism alongside pragmatic realism about the human condition. His stories display a believe in the core decency of human beings, that nearly all of us are just trying our best to do good.
True story, I wanted to fill up most of this space with one of my favorite passages of his, so I looked through "Jon" and I looked through "Tenth of December" and I looked through "Fox 8" and I looked through "CivilWarLand In Bad Decline" and I looked through "Mother's Day" and all of them end in these perfect and gorgeous extended moments but none of them really work on their own. They're all tied into, obviously, the story that comes before them, that's built into their beautifulness.
So just click here and find all of his New Yorker writing. A ton of his short stories, a bunch of fantastic non-fiction, read as much as you can.
I think I will "play" one "clip," as it touches on why I'm driven to do this sort of thing, focus on what I love so I can write more and write better. This is from his essay "My Writing Education: A Time Line":
WOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC!
So I could keep making protest mixes probably the entire year, but we'd all get bored, so instead, I'll go back to the great stuff I listened to this (and last) week.
- "Daytona 500" by Ghostface Killah. Thank god for Facebook, right? Someone mentions Ironman and then you get to listen to this.
- "Hide Ya Face" by Prefuse 73 (feat. Ghostface Killah and El-P). True story, I put this on the mix because I love this song and I didn't realize until just now that it also has a Ghostface verse.
- "Fault Lines" by Beacon. I don't think I've had a Ghostly International artist on a playlist yet! And I love them! Weird.
- "Little Johnny Jewel" by Television. Same goes for Numero Group!
- "The Ice of Boston" by The Dismemberment Plan. I've been listening to a lot of what I call "Oxford Songs" lately, which are basically the stuff I listened to between 1994 and 1998 in Oxford, Ohio. It's all part of the long process of me trying to write something genuine about that time. We'll see.
- "I Let It Go" by The Thermals. This is a song I come back to a lot when it feels like there's a decent chance that, say, the entire world could fly apart at any moment.
- "The Bully Boys" by Chavez. BUT WHO CARES, THERE'S A NEW CHAVEZ EP.
- "Tender (Cornelius Remix)" by Blur. I don't know about you, but I think by the time I'd heard "Tender" the third or fourth time, I was pretty much okay never hearing it again. But this Cornelius remix? It's the best thing anyone's done, ever! Isn't that weird?
- "Jimmy's Lament" by Romare. This guy's stuff is so weird and pretty, I love it.
- "What About Me" by The Exceptional Three. I have this weird desire to create a lip sync night somewhere in Brooklyn, just so I can lip sync this song (with I guess someone else because it's a duet? and fake backup singers?). Isn't that weird?
- "New Disaster" by Elliott Smith. I don't know, the name just kind of jumped out at me this week. Isn't that weird?
- "Almost Everything" by Hayden. A perfect song about making music and growing older. Or making anything, for that matter.