Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brazilgate 2011

The most prominent daily newspaper in Brazil, O Globo, quoted government officials saying they'll request an apology for the US publication of Seven Days in Rio by Francis Levy, as well as write a letter to the US Embassy. The article elicited nearly 350 comments from readers of the paper, some outraged while others found the matter trivial. O Globo quotes Aparecida Gonçalves, the secretary for combating violence against women, a government body that reports to the presidency, insisting that all Brazilians must be "treated well, even in fiction."

We include a fiction disclaimer on the copyright page of all our books, but in addition, the author penned a prologue that kicks off the novel, stating:

"None of the characters in this novel are real, nor are the places or the psychoanalytic movements, even though the name Rio may conjure the real city of Rio de Janeiro. Lacanian analysis as described in the novel bears no resemblance to the branch of psychoanalytic practice initiated by the French analyst Jacques Lacan. Even the duration of time stated in the title bears little resemblance to what is commonly known as seven days. So don't start writing irate letters to my blog correcting this or that or asking for refunds."

We understand it to be natural for people to feel protective of their community. It was clear from the comments posted to the O Globo website that there is a greater cultural discussion ongoing, and we don't believe a work of satire by an American writer, never presented as anything other than fiction, belongs in that cultural discussion. It is also apparent from the O Globo article that the quoted official never read the book before demanding an apology, which is unfortunate.

Joshua Mohr pointed out to me that this all sounded familiar to when government folk in Brazil got in a tizzy in reaction to a Simpsons episode. According to BBC, "Simpsons father Homer was kidnapped by an unlicensed taxi driver, and he and son Bart were robbed by street children... Bart was at one stage swallowed by a boa constrictor, and Rio's slums appeared to be dirty and dangerous."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Big Ups, Brad Wojak!

Really happy to have as the 12th member of the tattoo club, Brad Wojak. We have listed in our criteria that we won't ship books internationally for the club, and Brad lives in Canada. But he sent us a really nice note and he seems like good people, so we agreed to make an exception for him. Tattoo courtesy of Art House Inc in Calgary.

In Brad's own words:
"I have worked in bookstores since I was in High School, and except for a brief decade when I also worked as bartender (to help pay the rent), I really don't know anything else besides books. I am super excited to join the Two-Dollar Radio tattoo club, as I hope it will provide an example to my 3 year-old daughter that you should always follow your passions."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Big Ups, Casey Jordan Mills

Big ups to Casey Jordan Mills, the latest member of our tattoo club!

Casey was inked by "Little" Brian Leebrick at Port City Tattoo Company in Wilmington, North Carolina.

In his own words:
"My name is Casey Jordan Mills. I live in Wilmington, North Carolina. I am a rising junior at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. I am studying English Literature, Creative Nonfiction, and Journalism. I get tattooed at Port City Tattoo Co. in Wilmington. I support Veganism, a drug free lifestyle, and Two Dollar Radio."

Thanks for the support. As a member of the tattoo club Casey gets free Two Dollar Radio books for life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Baby Geisha Galleys!

We now have galleys in hand of Trinie Dalton's forthcoming story collection, Baby Geisha, and they look mighty fine!

Any media/bookseller folk interested in perusing a galley, write to eric[at]twodollarradio.com.

Grace Krilanovich on KQED's Writer's Block

Today, KQED broadcast Grace Krilanovich reading a selection from The Orange Eats Creeps on their 'Writer's Block' program. Enjoy...

Fav Lines from Seven Days in Rio

Francis Levy's Seven Days in Rio got a killer-sweet review on Chuck Palahniuk's site, The Cult the other day.

From the review: "It's like an erotic version of Luis Bunuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Levy is matter-of-fact in his raunchiness, which is try-and-suppress-your-laughter-because-people-are-beginning-to-stare-at-you funny. The man is fearless in his exploration of human sexuality."

The review, by Joshua Chaplinsky, referenced the laugh-out-loud nature of some of the lines so we thought we'd revisit this original post featuring some of our favorite lines from the novel.

Seven Days in Rio, a novel by Francis Levy, will be out on July 4 of this year. Here are some meaty gems from the book that I thought I'd share with you to whet your appetite:

"Author's Note: None of the characters in this novel are real, nor are the places or psychoanalytic movements, even though the name Rio may conjure the real city of Rio de Janeiro. Lacanian analysis as described in the novel bears no resemblance to the branch of psychoanalytic practice initiated by the French analyst Jacques Lacan. Even the duration of time stated in the title bears little resemblance to what is commonly known as seven days. So don’t start writing irate letters to my blog correcting this or that or asking for refunds."

"Besides sex, one of my obsessions is clean air, and I try to engage in sexual acts that don’t release any toxins into the atmosphere."

"I sometimes think that there should be a support group for people who, like myself, are always missing something."

"Our parting had felt a little like the last scene of Casablanca. There was no plane waiting to take her away from me, there was no heroic resistance leader standing between us, no war, and I wasn’t a hardened American expatriate named Rick. Yet I felt I could hear the strains of “As Time Goes By” playing on the piano in some beat-up North African café."

"“I’m a traveler who has become waylaid,” I said holding out a real. “I’m a little like Odysseus. I started out my journey looking for beautiful prostitutes, but I have been experiencing famine amongst plenty. Now I feel like Robinson Crusoe. Except I haven’t been washed up on an island, and consequently have found no Man Friday to show me the way.”"

"He looked like the kind of guy who had spent his life as a night watchman and now, in retirement, just watched over things on a recreational basis."

That's just a sample. Like the sampler appetizer you can order at Applebee's.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Q&A With Francis Levy

This Q+A was posted at some point last year, but with today being the official publication date of Seven Days in Rio, we figured we'd revisit it.

In 2011, we'll publish Francis Levy's second novel, Seven Days in Rio. In 2008, we published his first book, Erotomania: A Romance, which may have received the most amusing pull-quotes from reviews of any book we've published.

The Village Voice called Levy "Nicholson Baker and Mary Gaitskill's French-kissing cousin." Inland Empire Weekly said he was "our generation's DH Lawrence, Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski rolled into one." And the Los Angeles Times said "Levy's excellent too, like Miller and Bukowski, on the mechanics and energy and animal filth of rumpy-pumpy." (Rumpy-pumpy?)

Here's a brief Q&A with Levy to mark the occasion:

Erotomania made some year-end best-of lists and got some over-the-moon postive reviews, but there were places, such as the Seattle Stranger, who "abandoned" reading the book. As an editor, I found the love/hate knee-jerk reaction to Erotomania both exceptionally rewarding and enjoyable -- what is the point of art if not to inspire and provoke. What was your reaction as a writer?

FL: I'm a naturally provocative person. It doesn't take much for me to provoke and there was a time in my career when the provocation actually produced it's desired effect which I suppose was to steel myself up against anticipated rejection. I for instance had written a series of letters from Jews to Herr Hitler asking to be excused from the Holocaust.The letters played upon all the elements of Jewish self hatred that were evident amongst the ambitious, assimilationist crowd I grew up around. People in my little fiction would plead to be excused from the Holocaust because they didn't look or act like the other Jews. The piece by the way was called "Passive Resistance," a title that also got me into trouble since that mode of social protest was tied to folks like Gandhi and Martin Luther King who most educated readers idolize. "Passive Resistance" was appreciated by some, but reviled by others and managed to create the effect someone has when they walk into a room after soiling themselves, even though it never actually got published.

Then I wrote another parody "Joseph Mengele:Man of Science" and yet another one in which Hitler is in a rehab for recovering dictators and tells his story, how he took the Sudetenland, but it was not enough. He was portayed like a sexual compulsive who is addicted to conquests. In those years, I was actually enraged and the rage was barely sublimated so the net effect was to give the reader material they found hard to digest. Mind you others like Phillip Roth and Wally Shawn had dealt satirically with subjects like Jewish self hatred and facism. It's the same material that Mel Brook's dealt with in the original movie of The Producers with its infamous number "Springtime for Hitler."

Provocation is really the comic form of tragedy, or tragic comedy. Look Erotomania is a tragi-comedy. James and Monica exemplify evolution on an ontogenic basis. They start as animals and the overly developed cerebral cortex gets in the way. The higher brain activities cause them to lose all the fun. The only problem is they wouldn't have realized they were not having fun unless they had consciousness, nor would they have had the pleasure of getting to know each other and getting to experience other forms of enjoyments such as mimesis, such as art, such as food. Freud wrote about this in Civilization and Its Discontents. I don't know why that book is not a perpetual bestseller. It should be in the drawer of every motel room like the Gideon Bible once was, giving the lonely traveler a little bit of gospel and the solace of knowing why he is so torn.

In a nutshell, Erotomania wasn't provocative because of the sex, though there was almost as much of it in the book as there is in life. It was provocative because of its rather upsetting message, which is again Freud's message i.e. that in the course of being human and socializing, man must forego certain things. Instinct will become compromised by the inhibitions that accompany consciousness. The book was also upsetting because my couple, who I really fell in love with myself, eventually embark upon a project which causes them to explode. Here again, hyperbole was simply underlining a truth: that we all separate and individuate only to be reunited again with common matter in death. My feeling is that some people simply don't want to read these things. It's like Spielberg's A.I. A lot of filmgoers didn't like the movie, but not because it was a bad movie. Rather the movie said something that was upsetting in the case of A.I. that the species could perpetuate itself, consciousness could exist without the body.

On the surface level, Erotomania was the arc of a couple as they perfect their relationship, is Seven Days in Rio the story of a man searching for the perfect relationship . . . with a prostitute?

FL: Not really. In essence Seven Days is about a sex tourist who gets waylaid at a psychoanalytic convention. It's not an autobiographical novel in any sense of the word. To begin with, I have never been to Rio, but it's far more more personal in a poetic way than Erotomania was. In essence I'm the sex tourist who got waylaid at the psychoanalytic convention, though to bookend I have never been to a psychoanalytic convention either.

However basically in some harum scarum way Seven Days tells my story. I recently published a piece about my own analysis in American Imago, a scholarly journal founded by Freud and Hanns Sachs in l939. It's called "Psychoanalysis: The Patient's Cure" and it tells the story of my own analysis. In one of the early parts of the piece I describe how I was beaten up outside a bottomless bar called Diamond Lil's which was on Canal near White Street in the 70's. I don't know what caused me to get worked over by the bouncers. I must have done something provocative to get back to the subject of the kind of provocation that doesn't delight audiences. For instance back in those days I had the habit of getting blind drunk and doing things like pulling on a fellow nudie bar aficionado's beard. People don't like that kind of provocation, but I didn't know that. I had to be told, in fact, that this was very naughty, very bad and that it would provoke the ire of those to whom it was done. That same night I went down the street to a famously violent Punk Rock place called the Mudd Club where women and I suppose some men were routinely raped in the bathroom. I had been knocked out during the beating and when I got up my arm was hanging out of its socket, but I thought "this is pretty cool" and proceeded on my merry way, drinking and using my dangling limb as a conversation piece with bug-eyed women blasted out of their minds on who knows what. In any case, the incident was one of many in which I was playing around with my own death. My self undoing had reached a certain pitch were it became apparent that I might truly succeed in having an ending like that of some of my idols, from Jackson Pollock who rammed his car into a tree, to Janice Joplin and Sid Vicious and in a more literary vein, John Berryman and Sylvia Plath. I had to really think about it at the time: did I want to live or die?

In the Myth of Sisyphus Camus says this is the only real philosophical question, but this wasn't intellectual matter for me. At the time, I simply hated myself and every night I went out on the town in the pursuit of so-called pleasure, I had yet one more opportunity to tempt fate. That's the odd thing about the thing that people call pleasure. Often what people call pleasure or ecstasy masks the search for oblivion. Epicurus is a philosopher whose name is often associated with pleasure, but he believed in the golden mean. Pleasure for him was not indulgance in excess, but a realization of limitation. These are some of the themes are set out to explore in Seven Days.

Seven Days in Rio begins with an amusing disclaimer of sorts: "None of the characters in this novel are real, nor are the places or psychoanalytic movements, even though the name Rio may conjure the real city of Rio de Janeiro. Lacanian analysis as described in the novel bears no resemblance to the branch of psychoanalytic practice initiated by the French analyst Jacques Lacan. Even the duration of time as stated in the title bears little resemblance to what is commonly known as seven days. So don't start writing irate letters to my blog correcting this or that or asking for refunds."

FL: Kafka wrote a novel called Amerika, though he never visited America. I was studying romantic French literature of the l9th Century like Chateaubriand's Atala. I started to read certain kinds of novels based on the writer's imagination of places they only partially knew. I suppose the advent of the New World inspired much fantasy. Being a person who baths in a world of sexual imagery (like most human beings, even if they might not always realize it or want to realize it), I am always imagining my Erewhon, my Utopia, both in terms of sex and its cousin therapy. I have no illusions about Rio or Bangkok or anything. In fact, after all these years of living what many people might called a hum drum existence (being a father and husband and parenthetically loving these activities), who at the same time conjures up altenative universes (I hope none of the family of man takes offense at my claiming that this is also being a trait of the species), I think I might commit suicide were I to confront the banality of pleasure.

The allusion to Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil," the famous phrase she used to describe Eichman is not coincidental and in part explains the disclaimer at the beginning of the novel. Were I to journey to a sexual and/or therapeutic paradise where I could finally meet a beautiful analyst who consented to sleep with me I would in all likelihood be disappointed. It's much better to write about these things. Then I'm free to come and go as I please with minimum destruction to other human beings.

You recently published a very thoughtful and reflective piece in American Imago on your relationship with your own psychoanalyst. How has psychoanalysis informed and furthered your fiction writing?

FL: I have already inadvertently answered this, but let me approach it from another angle which is to say the general question of the inner life. Analysis places a great amount of importance on the inner world. This may sound like a simple idea, but think about it. Most people go into therapy to solve a problem. Some men for instance go into therapy because they are having problems with sex; they have performance anxiety which leads to erectile dysfunction, in lay terms not getting it up. This is a serious matter for a man. I have a feeling that this is what Goethe's Faust is all about. Men will do anything for knowledge about how to solve this difficulty, even going so far as making a Mephistolean bargain.

Okay, I'm being facetious, before the lynch mob of comp lit scholars comes after me, I'm only kidding (not!). In contradistinction to this the analytic enterprise, looks at the whole human character. It's not that some symptoms aren't treated, rather it's a cart and horse matter. Instincts and desires are a part of the humanity of the individual. The idea is that something is getting in the way and that something becomes the subject of the analysis. In the course of this, you embark on a kind of inner life party. I was already fairly practiced in doing emotional striptease before I got into analysis, but the analysis opened up a rich territory which became my palette and eventually the raw stripping, in which I would get attention by exhibitionistically revealing everything, got turned into a ballet, then a piece of modern dance, then a tableau vivant a la Robert Wilson and then novels like Erotomania and Seven Days. I also started to produce a blog called The Screaming Pope. I've also written over 2000 poems, numerous humor pieces and short stories. I don't know if my analyst is totally aware of it, but all his years of treatment created a Frankenstein.

As co-director of the Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination, you come into contact with some of the most relevent thinkers of our time -- what are some of your memorable moments from the Center?

FL: I'm a bit of an intellectual groupie. I like all kinds of weird thinkers known and unknown. I've become friends with several writers published by Two Dollar Radio. Larry Shainberg, the author of Crust, and the classic Ambivalent Zen recently joined a panel on religious extremism called "The Politics of Ecstasy." Barbara Browning, whose The Correspondence Artist, you are publishing this year, was on the David Shields panel "The Lure and Blur of the Real" and that's an example of the the kind of thing that thrills me. The fine line between reality and fiction was what Shields was writing about and along comes Barbara Browning whose fictional characters (are they fiction?) engage in dialogues with real people on line and elsewhere. We had touched on something in the zeitgeist and it was a very exciting and contentious too. Shields and Rick Moody really fenced off on the issue of fiction qua fiction as opposed to reality as fiction or fiction as reality. John Cameron Mitchell who directed one of my favorite movies, Short Bus, was also on that panel.

Okay now I'm going to behave like the kind of asshole I hate. We had Turturro and Edward Albee talking about Beckett. We had Nicholson Baker and Judith Thurman on biography and autobiography. We had Dan Rather on civil wars in Afghanistan and Bosnia. We had the astrophysicist Brian Greene talking to the Harvard esthetician Elain Scarry about math and beauty. We had Christopher Ricks and Sean Wilentz on Dylan, the Nobel prize winning Neuroscientist Gerry Edelman talking about disenchantment in a panel on norms, Phillip Pearstein, Chuck Close, Kiki Smith. The list goes on. I'm proud of it so fuck me if I'm namedropping. Fuck me, fuck everyone. How's that for provocation?

Here's the opening to Seven Days in Rio:

"I went down to the Copacabana on my first night in Rio. I was told that most of the women were prostitutes who would gladly sleep with me for a hundred American dollars. I saw a sexy looking woman wearing high heels and an abbreviated bikini and decided that there was no sense in discriminating, since all the women were going to turn out to be whores and, from what I’d heard about the lovemaking habits of Brazilians, one would be as talented as the next. I pursed my lips and made purring sounds like a pussycat to get the idea across, but the woman didn’t seem to notice me, although I was wearing a seersucker suit from the Brooks Brothers 346 collection. There aren’t too many men, or women, wearing Brooks Brothers suits (or any suits for that matter) down by the Copacabana, and I would have thought I stood out from the crowd.

"I have always found communication between myself and other human beings to be a problem, and often worry that I haven’t succeeded with women where I otherwise might because my words get caught between my teeth. So I just held out my hand to her as she waited for the traffic light to change. “I’m Kenny,” I said. “I have a big dick. Do you understand Anglais? I am new to your country and I wanted to introduce myself while also initiating myself into your highly permissive sexual culture. I will put my cards on the table. I’d be glad to engage you to perform sexual acts on me for a fee.”"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Immigrant Movement International

Here are the opening lines of Sam Dolnick’s Times story about the performance artist Tania Bruguera, a “have” whose work of art is to live like a “have not”: “Tania Bruguera has eaten dirt, hung a dead lamb from her neck and served trays of cocaine to a gallery audience, all in the name of art. She has shown her work at the Venice Biennale, been feted at the Pompidou Center in Paris and landed a Guggenheim Fellowship” (“An Artist's Performance: A Year as a Poor Immigrant,” NYT, 5/19/11). Many Times readers probably saw Dolnick’s story and thought, “I could do that. After all, it’s not Marina Abramovic, who has to sit totally still for 736 hours and 30 minutes. What if I simply go home to my apartment with the clanking steam pipes, turn on the CBS Evening News, watch coverage of the interminable Palestinian-Israeli struggle and crack open a couple cans of beer while reheating yesterday’s meat loaf, with its little squiggle of ketchup, in the toaster oven. What if I take out a package of frozen peas and put them in boiling water? What if I am totally alone or have a significant other who hates me almost as much as he or she hates him or herself, and what if we reenact a piece of performance art about this very fact over dinner every night? Will I get a Guggenheim for my troubles? Will I be invited to the Biennale? Will I be feted at the Pompidou?” Dolnick describes how Bruguera, who is Cuban, formed her artwork/advocacy group, Immigrant Movement International, and moved into an unheated, cramped apartment, living on a “minimum wage salary, which she wrote into the project description.” People usually get Nobel Prizes or MacArthurs for their contributions to peace or for original research. But why go to the trouble when misery is so munificently rewarded?

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weiner's Inferno

The representative’s wiener has been roasted, but hopefully he will not end up in Schwarzeneggerdom, deprived of the loving embrace of his wife, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. However, if he doesn’t mend his ways, he may descend to the 9th circle, reserved for only the worse sinners, and now renamed the Strauss-Kahn wing of hell. Yes, he was bad, but he didn’t touch like Arnold or force (allegedly) like Dominique. He didn’t drown like Ted in Chappaquiddick or cajole with power like JFK or with charisma like MLK. Nor did he hit a hole-in-one like Tiger or take part in monkey business like Gary or used illegal campaign contributions to hide his extra-marital family like Edwards. He certainly didn’t run after (and devour) child pole dancers like Silvio. No, all the democratic firebrand did was show his chest and wiener. Although he didn’t solicit prostitutes, Weiner comes from the same mold as Eliot Spitzer: he’s an evangelical reformer who fell victim to the very sin he railed against, hypocrisy. But what’s wrong about “holding up a handwritten sign reading ‘it’s me’” (“Weiner Admits He Sent Lewd Photos; Says He Won't Resign,” NYT, 6/7/11)? It could easily have been homework for a phenomenology course at The New School. It all seems about as harmless as a children playing doctor. But then we get into another circle of the Inferno, occupied by Martha Stewart, who was convicted not of the crime for which she was originally called to task, but of lying to mommy and daddy when they asked, “Martha did you do something bad?” Weiner’s wiener is being roasted because he didn’t bite the bullet from day one and make his “it’s me” sign visible to the general public.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On What Matters

by Francis Levy

Peter Singer is a great utilitarian philosopher and the author of a classic tome called Animal Liberation. He supports euthanasia for certain people, while decrying the confinement of pregnant pigs. In the May 20 issue of the TLS, Singer reviews Derek Parfit’s On What Matters, a book that takes aim at the ethical relativism that derives from Hume. Singer writes, “Reason applies to means not ends. Hence, Hume famously held, it is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of a finger, and equally not contrary to reason to choose my total ruin to prevent a trivial harm to a stranger.” What is so delightful about philosophical treatises like Parfit’s two volumes (which run to 1,400 pages) and Singer’s review-length response, are the examples used to illustrate the points themselves. You also find this in treatises that deal with the Trolley Problem or the Prisoner’s Dilemma, which try to parse the subtleties of ethics and morality. As Singer points out, finding objective truths about human action inevitably leads back to “…Kant’s famous but imprecise idea that it is wrong to act on any maxim that could not be a universal law….” But this is too broad for Parfit, who adopts what Singer describes as an “intuitionist” approach. What if the earth is destroyed by some natural phenomenon? Was the advent of human life and culture worth it? “Our answer may depend,” Singer says in summarizing Parfit’s thinking, “not only on how we balance the suffering that has resulted from human existence against the happiness it has brought, but also on what weight we give to the badness of the fact that some people suffered greatly without having anything to compensate them for their suffering.”

 [This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Monday, August 08, 2011

Francis Levy: Ship of Fools

by Francis Levy

Herr Boehner looked out at the storm clouds on the horizon. He couldn’t see land and in a way he didn’t want to, since he knew that when they pulled into port he would have to deal with the angry crowds at the docks. He had ordered his favorite schnitzel and a glass white wine and after dinner he would sit on the deck with his digestif and his bible as he did every night. Herr McConnell sometimes joined him and they would laugh heartily at the sight of Herr Reid and Frau Pelosi, their old rivals, who took their nightly coffee at the Captain’s Table. Herr Boehner had been jealous of the obvious affection that the Captain had for Herr Reid and Frau Pelosi, but he consoled himself with the notion that the crew would likely undergo a change once the ship pulled into port. He imagined himself at the new Captain’s table, maybe even being the Captain himself, and regaling Frau Bachmann with his tales of the rough seas and huge swells he’d had to cross before finding his way back to the land, where the intent of the original signers of the Constitution was reestablished as the law of the land, and where the deficit was no larger than it was 234 years before. Herr Boehner had never understood why his children should suffer the sins of their parents. He was thinking how unfair it was to saddle future generations with so much debt when all of a sudden he heard a sickening crack. In the darkness of the night, the unthinkable had happened, and before the Captain, Herren Boehner, McConnell and Reid  and Frau Pelosi knew what was happening to them, the ship sunk in the icy waters, leaving only a few bubbles where the proud vessel had once stood.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Francis Levy's second novel, Seven Days in Rio, is out next week. Publishers Weekly called the book "hilarious," "riotous," "intellectually provocative," and "ridiculous."

Rush Hour

by Francis Levy

Thankfully, the Alexander McQueen show at the Met is finally ending. Under the right conditions, it might have turned into another Happy Land disco, where a fire took the lives of 87 New Yorkers back in 1990. Even the threat of fire could have caused one of those mass stampedes like the one that killed a Wal-Mart worker and injured shoppers on Black Friday in 2008. The most significant esthetic effect of the show is the way it so accurately duplicates the claustrophobic experience of an MRI. Once you have entered, you realize you are not getting out until, like sludge, you finally make it to the end of the sewage pipe. Alexander McQueen made clothes, but is this an example of the Emperor’s New Clothes? Oh, you Philistine, this accusation is like saying that anyone could paint a Pollock. No, it’s worse! It takes great talent to put one over on the public. Romanticism and Scottish nationalism are constantly used to tout McQueen’s work, which is more reminiscent of the Addams Family than anything else. One keeps waiting for the articles of clothing to come to life and reenact the famous Forth Bridge scene from Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. Instead one is inflicted with a mirror behind which one finds video of a naked woman blanketed by moths, which is arguably the most fashionable image in the show. As you may glean, behind the disruption his work caused at the normally serene old Met, McQueen had things to say, but this is neither the time nor the place to preach to the ever-increasing choir of admirers.  Getting back to the experience of actually attending the exhibit, what other comparisons can be made? Rush hour on the 1-2-3, Heathrow during one of its frequent work stoppages or after the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. Oh what fools these mortals be!

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.] 

Friday, August 05, 2011

Get Your Customized Book Recommendation

So an interesting thing happened when I did this barter deal with the nice folks at Drag City (who are reissuing Rudolph Wurlitzer's Slow Fade in hardcover, paperback, and audiobook). I was poking around their site, unsure of which CDs to ask for, pondering a couple, when their publicist just asked me for some bands that I liked. She sent me a couple books they've published, along with an album by Ty Segall called 'Goodbye Bread' that I love.

It struck me that we should offer a similar service on our website. Say you've landed on our site, poked around some, found several titles interesting but are unsure where to start. We'd like to encourage anyone to drop us an email to twodollar[at]twodollarradio.com mentioning a few writers, books, or even movies that they like, and we'll respond with a customized Two Dollar Radio book recommendation. We'll also do this through Twitter (@TwoDollarRadio) or Facebook.

Have a fantastic weekend.