Everyone’s a Critic

  1. David Howe’s “Everyone’s a Critic” Class at Pioneerworks
    April 4, 2017
    https://pioneerworks.org/education/everyones-critic-writing-reflex/I’m a fan of David Howe as a person; he’s always provides some insightful commentary when I run into him around the neighborhood, more bombastic in the late night at the Ice and more erudite during lunchtime at the Fort, though I’m not sure the content might be interchangeable if not the tone, so taking his class at Pioneerworks—the first class I’ve wanted to take there—seemed like it would be a good way to get me thinking and writing more critically about art. (And by critically I don’t necessarily mean negatively—although I often hate, I love just as often—I mean by using strong words to express thoughtful ideas, not just childish nos.) I think that I’m pretty good at this, expressing why I feel what I do, but sometimes I think it can come out as just—as the cokehead/lawyer says “being a hater.”
    I don’t know anything about contemporary art. Each month ArtForum arrives and I look through about half of it and then get overwhelmed by the pile of magazines. If I wanted to know more I could, I think, so why don’t I? A lot of it is free. Just go see it. Perhaps I will commit because of this class.
    I don’t know what I expected, but I have found several times that taking a class like this, involving students choosing to take a class for personal interest instead of necessity, that the breadth of the students impresses me more than any at Columbia. I don’t know why this surprises me; It’s New York Fucking City after all. Smart people in this class. Effective insight.
    I think it’s going to be good.
  2. S-Town Podcast by Brian Reed and This American Life
    April 4, 2017 (released March 28.) Episodes 1, 2, and half of 3
    https://stownpodcast.org/Ok, I’m into it.
    So this isn’t going to be anything but one or two observations so far, because it’s going somewhere, right? It’s telling enough of a story that we know is not the story that we’re drawn in, but why?
    Reed introduces S-town by saying a guy, John, contacted him with several newsy horror items from his hometown in Alabama and thinks someone should come investigate this. Reed blows it off, but does look into the stories, one that a police officer has been arresting women and then sexually assaulting them, either on the side of the road or in jail, the other that a rich kid killed another person in a bar fight and got away with it. When he confirms that the first story is true, he is intrigued, not because it’s totally fucked up that women are getting systematically raped and/or assaulted like its fucking Santa Maria from fucking 2666 (read: Juarez, Mexico) but because it might mean the crank writing the letters could know about a real murder.
    Now, I’m coming from watching 2 straight weeks of Buffy  so I’m pretty numb to “fictional” death, so maybe I don’t think one white trash guy beating another white trash guy to death in a bar fight is as big of a deal as A SERIES OF WOMEN BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY ONE POLICE OFFICER AND MANY PEOPLE KNOWING ABOUT IT AND IT NOT BEING STOPPED.
    Fuck you and your casual misogyny. The story barely even registers with Reed. It’s like he’s been told that there was a teenager stealing condoms from the Duane Reade who is getting away with it no big deal.
    The world really thinks it’s more outrageous that two inbred idiots beat each other and one of them perhaps died–even if it sounds like both of them earned death–than that a person with a gun systematically raping innocent women?
    The “murder” interests Reed, not the other story, although we can tell from episode one that the podcast is not about a murder—or that murder, I am only on episode 3—it’s about John.  About John and the wacky ways of the white trash in Alabama?  Is that what I’m hearing? Because I think I might be watching daytime TV, just told with an NPR voice.  And we know what I think of NPR.  I’m not sure yet.
    Like I said, I’m only on episode 3.
  3. Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run
    Book and audiobook. Read April 5, 2017, listened to the beginning last week

    My sister checked this out of the library in Santa Cruz a couple of weeks ago and texted me how good it was, so I ordered it to the Red Hook library; (I’m getting good at using the BPL for fun books, not just history books.) Anyway, the day I picked it up, I ran into StJ and showed him what I am reading, him being a Jersey boy and all, and he said: Great Idea, but I think I’ll listen o the audiobooks so I can listen to the Boss read it.

    They’re different experiences and I wasn’t sure how I wanted my Born to Run experience to go, especially because I meant to share it with Molly, who had read it.
    I do feel glad I listened to Bossypants, and Springsteen’s career is about his voice.
    So I got the audiobook, too.

    Kinda wish I hadn’t.

    Because, in the first three sentences he says he grew up “literally in the bosom of the catholic church.”
    Except that the church was two blocks away.
    I know he’s a rockstar, not a grammarian. But come on.
    I KNOW the literally issue is a boring old issue for word nerds, I know one of the dictionaries, I hope it’s just Webster’s and not the OEC, put literally in to mean, i don’t know, whatever the fuck lazy people want it to mean, but it still means literally and not “kinda.”

    Because if words don’t mean anything then they mean nothing.
    I know it’s a conceit that we have agreed that this symbol: “3” means the number three (and can get more metaphysical than that.).  But if literally means anything it means exactly that one thing.  The Catholic Church doesn’t have a “literal” bosom. Women can’t even be fucking priests. And we won’t even get into the idiocy that the only woman Catholics consider good was the one who never had sex and somehow got herself knocked up anyway. I don’t know why anyone is even considering this malarkey.  But,  I would let him have it, “literally the bosom of the Catholic Church” if he were raised by nuns or something. Which he wasn’t.

    So maybe if I had read it, and I hadn’t heard his voice say “literally” out loud, I might have not been so put off by the use of literally when he meant nothing. He could have just used the bad metaphor and skipped the adverb.
    …But then…
    What the fuck is up with all the flowery language in this book?  I know he’s the boss, but is he a really bad writer? I’d figure him for some laconic Raymond Chandler or  bad? I’m only to the chapter when he first sees Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, but that’s a bad chapter.
    and Caterwauling? The Boss does not use the word “caterwauling.”
    Unless….unless that was something his mother yelled at him, which isn’t impossible.  His mother was a legal secretary; she probably had a decent vocabulary.
    The jury is out.