Archive for August, 2009


bleak and blue and sad-eyed

August 28, 2009

this is what art does for us. everyone has had those moments where a painting, a poem, a line, a song just perfectly crystallizes a moment for them, a feeling. whether it slams into you like a freight train or slips delicately between your ribs like a breath, it breaks your heart and fits into a place inside you, shows you your lies and your truths, all at once. 

There is a saying that to understand is to forgive, but that is an error, so Papa used to say. You must forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding. […] If you forgive, he would say, you may indeed still not understand, but you will be ready to understand, and that is the posture of grace. 

–Marilynne Robinson, Home

my mom keeps telling me that my dad is open to whatever conversation i want to have, whether i have questions or i want to yell and scream, whatever. and i am steadfast in my refusal to even start that conversation, because if i allow it, if i open myself to hearing explanations or apologies, i open myself to the possibility of forgiveness. and, conversely, if i forgive, if i try to put things in the past and move forward, then i open myself to the possibility of understanding.

whichever direction understanding and forgiveness flow, i am not sure that i want either of these things. i am not sure i want to feel sympathy or empathy or anything else with my father. 

i have said before that i love sad songs, i love tragic art. beautifully rendered songs about heartbreak soothe me somehow, and i find it easy to sympathize with flawed characters. i passionately loved jack kerouac regardless of the fact that he denied his child and drank himself into an early grave. in some ways, i think i love these tragic, fucked up figures because they are not mine, because their pain is not mine, because i can understand them, forgive them, while giving up nothing of myself. i forgive them because i cannot forgive the flawed, fucked up people in my own life. i forgive kerouac his relationship with his daughter because i cannot forgive my own father without ripping open wounds long buried.

i am a long way from grace.


awesomeness trifecta in play

August 27, 2009

ok, i really, really do have like 2 (wait, maybe 3) semi-serious or serious posts rattling in my brain. one of them is even related to this bit of awesomeness:

seriously, people, WTF did we do before the internet?


sounds like a drive-by truckers song

August 25, 2009

i know i haven’t posted anything of substance lately. i have a couple things rattling in my head. i’ve just been busy.

but this amused the hell out of me:

MARION, Ala. (AP) — Two Alabama families that had been fighting for years turned their feud into a full-scale riot Monday outside a small-town city hall, with up to 150 screaming people hurling tire irons and wielding baseball bats. Eight people were arrested, and at least four were hurt, Trooper John Reese said. Two were taken to hospitals. The town’s police chief was hit in the head with a crowbar but was OK.

specifically, it sounds like this DBT song:

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August 21, 2009

for those who want longing more than love

August 18, 2009

so, over at the av club, nathan rabin has been taking on the giants of country every two weeks. the write ups are actually quite good, and i enjoy a) seeing much-beloved artists through the eyes of a newcomer, and b) rediscovering those same artists. this week, emmylou harris, which delivered this fabulous commentary:

In a sense, Parsons was reintroducing Harris to her own heritage, since she grew up on country throughout her tragically non-misspent youth. … I’ve written extensively about Harris and Parsons’ collaboration elsewhere, so I will limit my observations here to arguing that there are five steps to becoming a country legend. They are, in order:

  1. Suffer
  2. Suffer some more
  3. Continue suffering
  4. Suffer through a horrible divorce related to your epic substance-abuse problems and preternatural gift for self-destruction
  5. Die an agonizing death, then enjoy posthumous martyrdom

Growing up tragically functional, sane, and well-developed, Harris was at a terrible disadvantage when it came to pursuing country glory. 


family matters

August 14, 2009

update: grandma has apologized; she says she had a bad day and went off and she should never have sent it.

last night i went to the city with some friends. we saw the robert frank exhibit at the moma and then had dinner. at some point i’d like to wow you all with a deep, contemplative post about frank’s photographs (which i love), but at the moment my brain has been derailed.

see, i got home at 11 last night to find a letter from my paternal grandmother in my mail box concerning my behavior in re: my parents and their relationship (previous posts on the subject here and here). this letter was very bad; i’m posting it below (sadly, to do all the necessary redacting i had to screw up  the format; i’ve preserved the bad language though).

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suck it, whim, two in one night

August 12, 2009

This week in extremely occasional book reviews: English Creek by Ivan Doig. Before I really get into this, I should clarify that I respond to fiction and non-fiction in very distinct ways. I’ve always hated literary criticism because fiction tends to be very emotional for me, and when I love something and really connect with it, I don’t want to talk about syntax and symbolism and shit. With non-fiction, I respond in a more analytical way that allows me to be both passionately in love and capable of critique. So since this is about a novel, it’s not so much critique as it is personal response.

On that note, a quick recap: the book is set in the 30s, in Montana, and is a coming-of-age story told through the perspective of Jick, the 14-year-old son of a forest ranger (Mac), who is trying to sort out his family’s past. English Creek is a fantastic book, but it meant more to me than just great fiction.

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