Geeking Out

On Sunday, I met my friend Alli in my old neighborhood to do some writing. I’d intended on working on a short story that I’ve been revising – well, mostly deleting and rewriting – for a few months. Of course, I didn’t end up deleting or writing another word of it. Instead, I started writing a sort of sad sack essay on being lonely in Paris when I was studying abroad there in the fall of 2007. I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently because, well, it’s fall and I was in Paris in the fall and I just happen to be thinking about that time rather than the falls of my childhood or high school or college. Anyway, I mention this because someone else published an essay on Paris and loneliness this week. You can read the beginning on The Hairpin but to read the rest you have to buy the story – it comes with all of the other ones in the same series about travel – on Amazon. (After I’m done writing this post up, I will go back to trying to turn my own essay into a not-super-depressing piece of garbage.)

Also on Sunday, I went to The Strand, as I like to do when I’m in that neck of the woods, to buy my book club’s next read. We’re reading Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, which I read, I think, after my freshman year of college. It’s one of my favorite books, but somehow I’ve never acquired my own copy. Now I do have one of my own, which I got by asking one of the booksellers at The Strand to climb a ladder and take it from one of the higher shelves. I usually don’t even get books from the high shelves because I mostly  go to the Strand to browse and end up with too many books anyway, so I always tell myself that I don’t need the ones I can’t reach. (Also, I am afraid of ladders.)

Anyway, I started rereading Geek Love yesterday and was flooded with memories. First of all, I am still in awe of the prose. I think I got the same giddy feeling I had while reading the first chapter when I was 18 or 19. And secondly, I have been thinking about Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea pretty much constantly since I opened the book. I happened to be super into that album while I was reading Geek Love the first time and it was perfect. Like, I have never been simultaneously obsessed with two pieces of art that, I thought, so complemented one another. But I’m staying away from that album for now. Making the same magic happen again seems pretty unlikely and I don’t want to be disappointed.

While I’m on the subject of music…I don’t write enough about it. I usually write about what I read here every week, but what I’m listening to takes up just as much space in my brain. My fall soundtrack has been inspired by a few things:

1. Music for Maniacs: I’d totally forgotten about this blog. But then I noticed that WFMU was linking to it on Twitter and…I fell down a Music for Maniacs black hole. This dude mostly covers eccentric/outsider music and puts together some pretty great mixtapes. He also made me see Annette Funicello in a whole new light.

2. Kurt Vile’s KV Mixtape: I saw this on Stereogum yesterday and haven’t stopped listening to it. Well, haven’t stopped listening to most of it. The songs on here inspired his recent album, Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze, one of my favorite albums this year. (Back in April, I wrote something about going to a Kurt Vile show.) I highly recommend! (The mixtape and tracklist are at the link, on Soundcloud).

3. Wikipedia: Sometimes I just re-go-through this list of Jangle Pop Bands. Like you do.

4. Modern Vampires of the City: I have listened to and seen a lot of Vampire Weekend in the last few years. (Most recently, I saw them perform at the Barclays Center this past Friday.) I didn’t really listen to Modern Vampires of the City until the middle of this summer, but I’ve found that it’s one of very few albums released this year that I keep going back to, so.

5. Stuff that sounds like Broadcast: So, mainly Broadcast. And also The Postmarks. (Who, incidentally, I was very into when I was in Paris six years ago.)

That’s that. Except I have a few other quick links to share today!

I read a two week-old New York Magazine on the elliptical last night…I got through an article on the GOP’s plot to kill Obamacare and this other one on Rebel Wilson (which was not as good or as enlightening as I had hoped, though I found out that she also likes Hello Kitty, so that’s a thing).

And today I’ve been reading this Paris Review interview with Woody Allen, which was conducted between 1985 (mostly at his table at Elaine’s) and 1995.

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Friday Roundup

Oh man! This week. It was a short week, but a long week. And a cold week. I don’t even remember what I did this week, other than eat everything edible that I encountered and read the following things:

The Rules of the Game: A Century of Hollywood Publicity (The Virginia Quarterly Review)

Anne Helene Petersen – who writes Scandals of Classic Hollywood for The Hairpin, which I very much enjoy – explores the evolution of Hollywood publicity. (If you read this and then fall into the deep, dark hole of Wikipedia articles about old Hollywood stars, call me. I had a similar experience.)

Family Full of Pretty Good Skiiers (The New York Times)
Reading this made me think about how it’s probably every yuppie parent’s dream to have a brood of athletic (or whatever, really) phenoms and at least one person is going to read this article and move their family to a remote compound where they practice fencing for hours on end, expecting results and success without realizing that they’re going to be unfulfilled by living vicariously through their children and also pretty disappointed when at least one of their kids sucks. Anyway, it seems that ‘the Skiing Cochranes’ happened pretty accidentally and that’s cool.

Why You Never Leave High School (New York Magazine)
Haha! So this is why I felt really emotional while listening to Rilo Kiley’s The Execution of All Things? (I don’t feel like I have to justify it – the act of listening to The Execution of All Things – but the reason I did is that I read about someone having a tattoo of the cover, which I now wish I had thought of doing while I was a teenager.)

How Lives Begin (The Awl)
Read this. I thought it was neat.

The McDonald’s at the Center of the World (The Awl)

This is fun. And really made me regret not getting a McHomard while I was on my food tour of Montreal.

And finally, OMG, I don’t even care if this is a duet and it’s for someone else’s album, a new song featuring Joanna Newsom:

Friday Reads: Stuff I Read That I Liked This Week

Around the internet:

– Edith Zimmerman on Joseph Kennedy III (The New York Times): From this weekend’s Magazine.

– “A Teenager Tries to Make the Best of Hosting Her Middle-Ages Party at the Same Time as Her Older Brother’s Lacrosse Team’s Kegger” (McSweeney’s)

– “After the End of Men” (The Awl): What happens when men disappear.

– Michael Lewis on Barack Obama (Vanity Fair): Probably the best Obama profile I’ve read…maybe ever?

– “Is This Book Bad, or Is It Just Me? The Anatomy of Book Reviews” (The Millions)

– “The City That Pays For College” (The New York Times): Another New York Times Magazine article. This one’s about the city of Kalamazoo, MI’s Promise program.

– “The Land That Time and Money Forgot” (New York Magazine): Mark Jacobson writes about the current state of the New York City Housing Authority. (Actually, I read this one in print but it’s available online.)

Books:

Best European Fiction 2012 ed. by Aleksander Hemon: I’m probably 2/3 of the way done with the short stories in here and I’ll definitely write more about this later.