Whoops, I forgot: Number 11
Kelly, can you handle this?
As I think I've used this space to proclaim a few times previous, all first-person stories are about their narrators, even if they're named after the person the narrator is ostensibly talking about.
This, of course, bears that out, with the narrator's recollection of his youthful love for â and alternately haunting and banal adult friendship with — the titular Clara betraying his cooled lust for life, disappointment and existential desperation.
But BolaÃ±o, ever so knowing about literary tradition, makes the story into more of a parody of the nostalgic, romantic remembrance of doomed loves past: the narrator is frequently oblivious to the tragic core of Clara's character, or else she's really that unexceptional. Or, likely, both. He, in that writing-too-fast-to-cohere-everything-neatly way of his, leaves gnawing ellipses in otherwise fairly schematic stories. There's the instinctual, unresolved images throughout, and that open-ended ending — an ending but not a conclusion. This is a phantom limb of a short story.
So by now you've maybe had a chance to look over our Summer Fiction Issue, and enjoyed the stories and all that. Or maybe you haven't but are curious. Well, dig: come to the KGB Bar at 7pm for a reading of stories from the issue. Ed Park will be there to read Variations on Original Sin; April Wilder will be there to read Bring the Heat.
And, because three is a magic number, we'll be filling out the roster of the reading with Distinguished Literary Upstart Spokesjudge, New Yorker editor, author and writer of topical musical theater Mr. Ben Greeman.
So you should come to KGB tonight and have some vodka-flavored vodka with us.
This is the Thursday List, in which I show you what I spend too much time looking up in my spare time. (Check out the 10 Best Hugs and the 10 Greatest Misspelled Tattoos for more Thursday Lists.)
So many toys are so creepy that it's impossible to pick just 10, but here's some I feel pretty good about being really creepy. Let's go!
10. Classic doll couple
7. Girl doll
Did anybody read this article in last Thursday's Times, about how local Chinese governments are forcing parents whose kids died in the Sichuan earthquake to sign (hilariously propagandistically worded) contracts granting them payoffs for the grief, in exchange for which they must agree to cease investigating or advocating for investigation of the surely shoddy construction of the schools in which their kids died? It's the most emblematic thing about China I've read in a while, and goes well with a couple more delightful news items from this week: The Chinese Government Is Putting Up Great Walls in Front of Rundown Parts of Beijing So Visitors Don't Get the Idea That It Isn't a Perfect City of the Future, Which Would Be Embarrassing to China, and Whoops, Rampant Unregulated Growth Has Left Beijing So Polluted That Olympic Athletes Will Have to Wear Masks While They're There, Which Would Be Embarrassing to China.
I find this all pretty fascinating. The New Yorker's been sending its critics all over China to review buildings and profile musicians lately, and the house-style cocktail party-chatter arts reviews and personality pieces can't help but illuminate the scene and character of the country (or rather, the cities), but I'd prefer more pieces like this one, about changes in the nature of the economy (but not the structure of the government or mindset of the people) and how it affects a single family and their rural town. It's the kind of on-the-ground reportage that gives a closer sense of the practical impact of the society's structure. Which reminds me: for exactly that perspective, relayed in often cinematic narrative arcs and tracing pretty much the entire trajectory of Chinese Communism from Mao to now, you simply must read dissident journalist (and underground phenomenon) Liao Yiwu's extraordinary collection of interviews, The Corpse Walker. And along those lines, Jia Zhang-ke's films The World and Still Life are gorgeous, formalist (and existential) portraits of China's place in the global economy, and how it trickles down to its foot soldiers.
Tomorrow, July 31st, Rififi, the grungy and lovable East Village party-and-comedy mainstay, closes its doors forever. Bye!
We at the L are very, very proud to present our third annual summer fiction issue, out now. In it:
"We wandered home from our jobs—tossing alfalfa bales into trucks and filing paperwork in legal offices and draining oil from diesel engines and serving steak-and-egg platters—we wandered home from our jobs here in Tumalo, Oregon, and opened our mailboxes to find, among the bills and catalogues, the same sand-colored envelope. In its center, slightly off-kilter, as if pressed there hurriedly, our names and addresses appeared printed on a label. There was no return address, but stamped in the top right corner we read the country of origin—Iraq." Run, by Benjamin Percy.
"Marjorie's father, Poindexter Bantam, was my philosophy professor at Rue University." Variations on Original Sin (from the novel-in-progress The Dizzies), by Ed Park.
"This Thursday, Berlie is the first to arrive at the Inn, guiding her mom by the hand." Kids Night, by Kevin A. GonzÃ¡lez.
"He jumped on the bed and copped a boxer's stance. He asked how she could sit by and let the country be taken over by a fascist regime. She said she sat by and let a lot of things happen. He asked if she thought he'd always work in a coffee shop." Bring the Heat, by April Wilder.
"I'd almost have hoped to be further on by now but it's been just so dark today." Security Grilles, by Adrian Hornsby.
And our Literary Upstart winner, My Dentist, by Lauren Wilkinson: ""Do you know that dentist that lives on the corner?" my super, Orlando, asked as he was unclogging the drain in my tub. "Of course. He's My Dentist."
PLUS, online-only, our other two very fine Lit Up finalists: Prairie Rocket Fire, by Jackie Thomas, and Pennsylvania: A Guide to Lodging, by Brian Booker. Read these, and pick up a copy so you can have the rest with you, always.
This is the kind of movie that should have midnight viewing parties, Rocky Horror-style. "Sixty feet of prehistoric terror."
You just walk around and clean your house with your feet, with the same cleaning power as a feeble, dry mop. For "dusting and wiping." Only $9.99. Machine wash warm or cold!
"Hey Stace, you just caught me wiping, I'll have to call you back in a bit. Scratch that--my feet mops let me talk while I wipe!"
The Animation Show, which is playing at the IFC Center through at least tomorrow, and features such titles as Yompi The Crotch-Biting Sloup and such subjects as "drugs, BDSM and disco-dancing pink elephants." You know, FYI.
By Benjamin H. Sutton
Short form animation might be the most accessible art form for imaginative computer-savvy minds working with less-than-Spielbergian budgets. The jumble of mostly wonderful shorts in this year's Animation Show â a mix of high-tech, high-concept, economic and low-brow currently showing at the IFC Center â certainly attests to that accessibility.
Let's start the day off with a bang. I had to make this image small so it would be SFW, but if you liked the 10 Greatest Misspelled Tattoos from thirteen days ago, you will love what is probably the worst and most amazing tattoo (NSFW). It's the kind of tattoo that makes you want to talk to its owner. Or at least follow the owner around like an invisible ghost and just see what they're like.
So today through August 14, the Walter Reade Theater will be paying tribute to the late advocate for Japanese film Madame Kawakita, by showing a selection of films by eight notable Japanese directors. This is significant to your life inasmuch as it means many good movies will be playing at Lincoln Center over the next two weeks. You like good movies, yes? Please don't answer that it was a rhetorical question.
The eight directors are Akira Kurosawa — whose movies I'd skip if unless you're there anyway because realistically you're only going to a couple of these and why have those couple be by the dead foreign filmmaker who is most available on DVD in this country — and the corrosive New Waver Nagisa Oshima (a career-spanning retrospective of whom will be presented as a sidebar of this fall's New York Film Festival), and the genre journeyman Kaneto Shindo, the world's second-oldest active filmmaker, and the late greats Shohei Imamura and Kon Ichikawa (both of whose deaths have done wonders for the projector time given to their works stateside, to my endless delight and edification), and the dance documentarian Sumiko Haneda and the prolific populist Yoji Yamada and the eternal mindfucker Seijun Suzuki.
"Movies in this series I am especially curious to see, taking their relative availability into account as well " would be Ichikawa's late-50s and early 60s stories of family and dubious economic opportunity Her Brother (one of his more lauded films; it helps kick off the series tonight) and A Full-Up Train (and I can vouch for Conflagration, his austere adaptation of Mishima's Temple of the Golden Pavilion featuring a scene-stealing Tatsuya Nakadai). Also Yamada's beloved When Spring Comes Late, about a family living off in secluded Hokkaido, and Imamura's tough-to-see Intentions of Murder.
"Movie in this series that you should really see because it is remarkable and also completely unavailable to rent in this country, a travesty well worth writing your congressperson about come to think of it" would be Oshima's devastating Boy (pictured), which plays on Monday and next Saturday.
With a roster full of concerts, dance performances and other cultural events, this summer's River to River Festival, at the South Street Seaport, has given lunch a new lease on life. With start times ranging from noon to one, many of the shows cater themselves to your lunch hour and provide just the kind of postprandial or just plain prandial excitement you need.
This week at the South Street Seaport: the 360 Dance Company makes the US premiere of their new performance, Maktub. Combining modern and ballet, choreographer Lauri Stallings highlights her dancers' speed and versatility. If you're like me and not so savvy with the aesthetic whatnot of modern dance, assemble your favorite co-workers and head to the final performances of Maktub tomorrow at noon and one. You'll be more savvy and versatile. The performance is free, no reservations required, lunch boxes not included. (Wednesday, July 30, 12 and 1pm. FREE.)
The Persuasions serenading diners with their harmonies and doo-wop beats. (Thursday, July 31, 12:30pm. FREE.)
Damn you, Flux Factory. Are you really that good? Can you truly tell the secret whims and desires, the wants, needs and must-haves of a bunch of New York City artists/adventurers/self-proclaimed geeks/cheese-bus aficionados/travelers/cheapskates/ and those in the know? It seems that way — and 54 people can prove it.
Two weekends back, Flux hosted another one of their fantastically popular, terrifically peculiar, all-day extravaganzas titled Going Places, Doing Stuff. The premise behind GP, DS is that there's a whole lot of awesome to see in our city. And yet, people generally take this city for granted. Since Flux lost its lease on their gallery-cum-home in Long Island City (they have to move by October), lead curator Jean Barberis (full disclosure: a fine friend of mine) came to the realization that one doesn't need a static indoor gallery to display the art or performance of New Yorkers — one can do just as well in the city itself. So Flux asked a half-dozen writers, artists, historians, and so forth to create an adventure-slash-tour, on board a yellow cheese bus, in which participants would have no idea of where they were headed — just a title, a list of supplies to bring and a departure time and place. Get on the bus and take off to points unknown.
So there's this thing happening tonight called Ignite NYC, which is a series of talks about anything and everything that relates to the internet or computers or generally doing things. Plus an iron soldering contest. Anyway, L Mag contributor Andrea pointed out one of their lectures:
L Mag Fearless Leader Jonny Diamond points out:
Dear New York Times reader, please enjoy this article about the tragedy of debt and the scourge of predatory lending. When you are finished, please click on the Freddie Mac ad and live the American Dream.
There's a big rap and dub party at the Chelsea Art Museum this Thursday, July 31st: it's Summer Soiree II: Rapalicious! Rap and dub stars from all over the planet come together for one night of big music and hot dancing. Featuring:
It's $30 to enter, but that buys you 3 drinks and museum admission, if you care to peep around. Should be hot and steamy. Suuuummmmmerrrrr paaarrrtttyyy.
We just got this email from a reader:
My name is Vince, a 25-year-old gay guy living in NYC. I thought I'd touch base with you about my blog, Better Than Sex. The premise of the blog is that I don't have sex for 100 days, but for each of those days I have to find or do something that is, you guessed it, Better Than Sex. I started it a little more than a month ago as a social experiment and a way to explore the art & cultural offerings of New York City. It could be food, a play, concert, a hobby or practically anything under the Manhattan sun. Some of the fun things that I've done so far include going on a silent date at the Cloisters, dressing up as a soccer chick for the Pride Parade, the chocolate cube dessert at Park Avenue summer and randomly going to City Hall to be a witness to a wedding ceremony. Anyway, I thought I'd ask you for suggestions/recommendations on things/events that would be Better Than Sex (or really bad sex, at least!) that I can explore for my blog.Well, off the top of my head:
So Summerscreen, our free outdoor film series at McCarren Park Pool, seems to be going pretty well, right? You should come tonight, if you haven't yet, or if you have.
You know the drill by now: the gates open up at 6pm so you can lay your blanket out and commence your outdoor drinking (and enjoy the food and drink sold on-site by San Loco, Smoke Joint, Blue Marble Ice Cream and Brooklyn Brewery); at 7pm there'll be music (by Brooklyn's Second Dan), and the movie starts at dusk. The movie tonight is Marty Scorsese's Mean Streets, because Catholic guilt and violence in grungy 70s-era downtown is exactly what you should be watching while you hang out with your friends under the stars (that you cannot see because city). It is a fun, singalong type movie, totally:
Finally a good break from hectic weekdays..
I would normally agree with the other comments on this board. Or I'd simply stop…