Embarassment … An oath … A second oath

current source(s) of belittlement: the men’s room urinal. if i want to be splashed with my own urine, i don’t think i would be in the bathroom at all, now would I, unless i wanted some privacy. i’ve been beaten down pretty badly on this one and i don’t expect to mount an offensive anytime soon. handicapped stall it is. as far as i can tell there are no handicapped people in the building, so i’m not bothering anyone as i relax with periodicals such as “Bookforum” (secretly bad? final judgment pending) and “The London Review of Books” (i read it on the bus to impress blue collar types)

committment, newfound: tacked onto earlier resolutions regarding a new dress code, i’ve more or less decided i should only wear clothing from brooks brothers, especially sneakers from brooks brothers. unfortunately for me, and for brooks brothers, everything they sell costs c $300, except for the sneakers, which thank god for that. i think we need to cobble together our resources, we merry graduates of the soon-to-be dissolved college of the university of chicago (cross your fingers), and look into starting a brooks brothers bootleg emporium. write for details.

i promise to write about literature later today. i only have 20 mins before work to take my digestif and oil myself for office combat.

the goodbye look

every time unmarked cop cars drop me off in front of my apartment i worry that people are going to start thinking i’m an informant. i don’t know who those people would be. it was all worth getting robbed if only for sunday, when a detective came upstairs to fetch me and i greeted him at the same time as the guy who is *always* smoking weed on our hall walked outside and audibly almost peed himself when i said “hi detective.” also, i failed to keep stop snitching pretty drastically. in fact i snitched about as much as you can. we got him dirk. it only took me about two seconds to pick dude out. unfortunately if he gets served like the cops predict it will take him in the vicinity of 120 years to get over it. the lesson, as always, is don’t rob me.

forthcoming: we discuss JM Coetzee, racism, business casual dress.

Satin sheets to cry on

If anyone wants to take the liberty of translating the german in that picture (i think it’s something from wagner) go ahead and go nuts, all i care about is that they used a collie. there was also a picture of a girl, dressed up as captain ahab, except in a bikini, stabbing some guy who was supposed to be moby dick (he was just wrapped in a white sheet) with a sword, everyone knows swords were a popular way to kill ways. maybe weird german bad conceptual art whales can be killed with swords.

i think someone needs to start a hyde park crime tracking and response blog. just so we can go ahead and finish turning into west rogers park while the u of c turns into a bad ivy league school, right down to people getting rolled on campus and kids having weird racist-themed bacchanalia in the halls of academe. i’m about as indifferent to my personal safety as about anyone else, but i don’t like it when other people start adjusting my personal paranoia.

media review, week of 10/31/05
Operation Be Human expanded to my watching house MD for the first time. i figured i could probably run the risk since i had already seen more than an hour worth of commercials for House MD over the last two baseball playoffs, so might as well trade that in for an episode. Shock outcome: House MD is actually kind of funny, although the plots are um, stupid, and i’m guessing repetitive (This week: House refuses to make an easy diagnosis and instead almost kills the guy but then everyone sees he was right almost all along at the end). I give House MD the halting one snap of approval. I approve because i laughed at it, i disapprove because i was probably half in the bag at the time and more concerned about when i would get to play scrabble next. also, i am sh1tty at scrabble.

New rules of living:
1. We tuck our shirt in, every day, unless it is a sport shirt, in which event do not wear it to work
2. Soup as part of at least 9 meals a week
3. No gum chewing
4. Only walk down streets with businesses on them. When not an option always jog.
5. No more paying for storebought haircuts except as a form of therapy
6. introduce yourself to everyone. no exceptions for awkwardness.
7. jacques demers

Things I would do if I got medical coverage soon
1. Eye exam
2. semiprecious gem inserted into front tooth
3. mouth inspection, intermediate intensity
4. divert some funds into purchasing DVD of miller’s crossing, other films
5. lots of unnecessary prescriptions

Now, you two kiss

Adventures in literature, late October ’05

H. Melville, The Confidence-Man
I one-million-percent support the idea and prosecution of “secret writing” if post-Pierre Melville (so like, this book and some short stories) is actually secret writing. i’m willing to buy that Bartleby is a extensive dig at Thoreau and i get that Melville basically made and shared large volumes of hatorade for people, himself included. anyway, the whole secret writing thing tells us that Melville conceived several of his later prose works as elaborate gags in which outwardly he’s writing straightforward Melville novels about the strenuous life or something, but inwardly, for those who *know*, the novel(s) are a hilarious takedown of pretty much everything except Nathaniel Hawthorne. I don’t know; not that the book isn’t perceptibly an attempt at taking the entire world down several pegs, it’s just that it’s not so secret. if anyone tried to read this book for the surface narrative, they would stop about 10 pages in and not remember those 10 pages terribly fondly. they’d stop because this book is clearly at least 40% bile. but it’s really nice bile, is the thing. i bought this book almost six years ago, and it took me almost then entire time to get to the halfway point of it, reading it on and off. I don’t think I have such a complicated relationship to any other work of fiction. pr’ecis: the devil gets on a steamboat at st. louis and proceeds to assume various wacky personalities, all of which spend their time convincing people to give him their confidence, either in the form of money, faith, agreement, relenting on their own beliefs, or some combination of all three. the moral privateering of con games is an excuse for melville to unload on pretty much every single social/personal phenomena of developing american cultural character, which he does, along the way hilariously misquoting the Bible, blaspheming and generally being a bilious asshole. this is so incredibly evident as a good and worthwhile project, esp as a kind of uptempo companion piece to the interior novel of Pierre. Unfortunately, and actually literary critics might actually not agree, it’s a horrible turd to read, which I would venture is part of the point. If you enjoy novels of ideas where the author clearly disagrees with almost all of the ideas promulgated, you will thrill to even smell this. also, I have three copies of this, two of which are Norton critical editions, so if someone wants one, i got that snit.

Richard Stern, assorted stories: the jacket contains a bizarre baseball-connected endorsement from saul bellow (“his control is perfect, his fastball is devastating. nobody walks, nobody steals a base”) so i will honor that by saying that richard stern is clearly the derek lowe of post-WWII american intellectual novelists. he certainly looks the part (bald, smiley, big glasses) and has the pedigree (teaching jobs, u of c connections, generic name, orig. from NYC). also like derek lowe, he is only good approx five times a season but they are all relevant times. richard stern can clinch the world series for you provided you get richard stern to the last game of the world series. left to his own devices to write way too much about weird obscure slovaks and divorces and coughing at feminism, he will do all of those things. still, you give me a guy who sets short stories in hyde park and you have given me a guy that i will read. maybe in the end result a lesser light of U of C culture wehrmacht. but i read this, so, there you go.

Jesus Not Caesar

My prediction that that white sox would dogdirt the bed, which i have reiterated over and over again since roughly April, when the white sox scored like four runs in the ninth to beat the indians and derail the first month of the season for them, turned out to be exactly 100% wrong, basically once they made the playoffs, but the fact that they reached and subsequently won the World Series definitely rachets it up to like 100+% incorrect. I still don’t feel bad about makign the prediction, since by a good many semi-relevant metrics, the white sox are/were not as good at baseball this year as many other teams. then again, if you buy some of the metrics i buy, the mets should have won the NL East and brian fuentes is the MVP/cy young winner. the main thing is that i don’t feel bad about it, which is the important thing. i’m glad to see the white sox win, because white sox fans deserve it, since a surprising % share of them really do give a snit and play the right way. although i maintain that “no one gives a shit about the white sox” is empirically true and is proven by the exceptions.

i still have opinions about this baseball season and will drop them sometime this weekend. right now, though, i am going to sip cordials and read melville and stroke my chin hairs. because i have a job, with benefits, starting monday, at a real office with elevators and nice furniture, in a field i like, in a thing i like, with a prairie-school-themed cafe in the building, and i have my dignity.

There is no god but God

:: One nice thing about the White Sox doing well is that people are being honest with each other about certain disparities, at least in public discourse. Normally, you couldn’t get away with saying stuff like “no one, including people who live there, gives a shit about the south side” or “you’re all black and mexican, of course you’re poor and too busy killing each other to pay appropriate amounts of attention to your 2005 AL Champion Chicago White Sox.” still, certain myths are not being examined, the primary one being that there is actually a white sox nation and it’s not just the 80,000 people who took advantage of the dan ryan and mayoral protectorate status to keep bridgeport white, or white enough anyway. i have to grudgingly approve of the white sox of 2005, or at least the vaseline-lens version of the white sox, because this is after all a team powered by a black GM, hispanic manager and a startlingly untalented batting order of mixed-purpose white and black guys. being bad at your job but getting away with it is the new cleavage, at least to my tastes.

it doesn’t really matter whether or not the white sox can salt away two more wins; they’re already the prie-dieux in front of the tampa bay lightning/2001 patriots/detroit pistons triptych that completes your living room self-mortification altar set from ikea. just like joe crede can go from being “ex-prospect” to “quasi-competent” to “systematically underrated stud” with two lukewarm weeks, the white sox can go from “weird lie devised to torture indians fans” to “feel-good story about the triumph and perserverance of the will of blue-collar chicagoans.” i’m going to become an english teacher, by the way, just so everyone knows this. specifically one who teaches trembling children of privilege to disown their cultural inheritance for no real reason other than they might look good doing it.