In 1984, a San Francisco police officer told me I should leave town and never come back. Seriously. Leave town, and never come back. I guess he didn’t like me very much.
Which was fine, believe me, the feeling was mutual. It was like this: I was in town with the Rock Against Reagan/Rock Against Racism Tour, driving and being the general facilitator for New York matinee thrash idols Reagan Youth. Singer Dave Insurgent (nee Rubenstein) was one of my best pals and he insisted I come on the tour and open their shows with the world’s most obnoxious comedy act, a Borscht-Belt Comedian as Satan-in-a-madras-jacket character that would tell one-liners about invading Nicarauga, a real sore point for lefties back then. Invaribly I would catch a hail of bottles and death threats before Dave and the band came on to deliver their message of peace and anarchy: Liberate yourelf, don’t be a reactionary, think for yourself, and get a fucking sense of humor.
1. Kendra Larson, Art Curator for Orlo, working the door with a stash of holiday pizazz. 2. Tom Webb, Bear Deluxe Editor-in-Chief, recaps the party options (sketch artist, etc.) and pulls a few raffle tickets.3. Just outside the spotlight, Evyn Oliver landscaped the air with the dreamy sounds I’ve heard near moments of exhaustion and later recalled as modern spirituals.
Friends of the Bear gathered and performed at Zoomtopia in SE Portland for Orlo’s 19th annual holiday party last Saturday. If all of your friends are some type of creative performer and you remind them to come because they’ll have an audience and you’re providing some drinks, you will be rewarded with this type of party.
The Bear Deluxe is just one of many outlets for Orlo to explore environmental issues through creative arts, so the party boasted a jam-packed, eclectic, four-hour line-up of entertainment, plus everyone’s supportive friends.
In case you haven’t overheard the outrage, Amazon is endorsing the nefarious practice of “showrooming” by offering discounts to holiday shoppers who essentially undermine brick-and-mortar stores (you can read our post about the controversy here).
Yesterday at the NY Times, Richard Russo asked some of his writer friends (including Stephen King, Andre Dubus III, and Ann Patchett) to respond to the news.
“These writers all derive considerable income from Amazon’s book sales,” writes Russo. “But when the responses to my query started coming in it was clear Amazon’s program would find no defenders in our ranks.” Basically, it’s all shock and awe at Amazon’s “scorched-earth capitalism.”
Nov. 10, New York City Punk Rock, Dirty Blues, and the Dark Side of Professional Wrestling: A Real Beat Happening
With the Midwest fading like headlights in our rear view mirror, Mickey Finn, The World’s Greatest Piano Player, and I are ready to take on the home town crowd in New York City.
The venue is none other than Manitoba’s Bar on Ave B and 7th Street, the scene of many of my favorite outrages. Once upon a time, I had a band called the New York Sheiks. It was a kind of a punk rock blues and dirty boogie band, a free wheeling experiment in gospel, glam and rock’n’roll terrorism, and back around the end of the century we played at this bar every Thursday for about three months getting ready to record our first record.
J. Davis Armistead changed the face of cool by hiding it behind a thick pair of glasses. Armistead, now retired, was Buddy Holly’s optometrist back when the musician was struggling to establish his identity (and struggling to see).
Holly’s vision was apparently so poor that he couldn’t read the ‘E’ at the top of the vision charts, but the nondescript glasses he wore weren’t helping his image. While watching an episode of “The Phil Silvers Show” (AKA Sergeant Bilko), Armistead discovered the iconic frames that would distinguish Holly and make it hip to be square.
At the Wall Street Journal, Charles Passy says the frames paved the way for other legendary celebrity accessories (Elton John’s goggles and — somehow — Lady Gaga’s meat dress). But Passy overlooked a few other notable credits to the spectacles: Weezer; bizarre literary crime; and, most importantly, a way for un-bearded hipsters to hide their faces.
1. Jezebel contributor Anna North, with friend and book scout Cathrin Wirtz. 2. Lindsey and Annie, drinking a few before the show.
The most recent installment of Freerange Nonfiction, held this past Wednesday at Piano’s, featured little nonfiction and few of the animals its name and that night’s beneficiary, the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary, might suggest. If you’re lucky enough to have attended Freerange events in the past, you’ll know that this is both unsurprising and irrelevant– this Sarah Lawrence alumni-created collective is known for attracting some of the most impressive writing resumes around, from bestselling novelists to New Yorker editors, so no matter what the content or occasion, there’s quality work to be found.
In high school and a few undergraduate literature classes, I remember my professors would instruct the class to identify and analyze the symbols in the texts we read. Poems, especially, were apparently so packed with symbols that I’d stumble through looking for meaning: was that parrot really a parrot, or was it actually the squawking spirit of America? Now, in graduate school, however, professor after professor has proclaimed that there are no symbols—or that if there are symbols, they are more the work of the reader than the writer.
At the Paris Review, literary archivist Sarah Funke Butler looks at a young writer who’d hoped to resolve the question of whether symbolism actually exists in literature and whether it was indeed the intention of the writer. “In 1963, a sixteen-year-old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. … Each responder offers a unique take on the issue itself—symbolism in literature—as well as on handling a sixteen-year-old aspirant approaching writers as masters of their craft.”
New literary magazine The Coffin Factory printed an inspiring interview with Barbara Epler and Tom Roberge of New Directions. In case you haven’t heard of them, for the last 75 years, New Directions has been publishing some of the most influential voices in fiction, and their back list reads like a roll call of literary legends: Bolaño, Borges, Céline, Nabokov, Neruda, Pound, Sebald…
Although these names are all recognizable now, New Directions took a risk when they first published them. “Really new kinds of writing can take twenty years to catch on, and the people [founder James Laughlin] published were considered very far out. Then, not too long afterwards, they became the canon,” says Epler, President and Publisher. New Directions’ strong back list has sustained the publishing house for years, allowing them to continue to introduce readers to exciting and diverse literature.
1. Reader Tim Ruddy tames the crowd. 2. PR trifecta: managing editor Nicole Rudick, admirer (and architect) Katy Barkan, and intern Emma Gallwey.
The Paris Review is nothing if not reliable. Last year, they released their winter issue with a no-nonsense, no-reading holiday party at their own headquarters. This year, they moved the thing to McNally Jackson for a no-nonsense program, followed by an equally serious after-party at nearby bar Sweet and Vicious.