F I N D E R "Now where did I see that, you know--that, oh, come on--it was somewhere near a graphic--I think . . ."
This search engine is for you, my friend.
A R C H I V E In terms of the Internet, there is no out-of-print. Here are posts that, like so many tattoos, seemed like great ideas at the time (which was often 2:00 AM as I recall). They're archived not because they're worth preserving, but preemptively--because you'd surely run across them elsewhere. As usual, Stewart Brand was right: You do own your words.
S C R A P S These are observations and rants from other times and other places. Neatly packaged as "Essays," they are, in fact, a greatest hits compilation culled from monthly columns, articles and--yes--essays. Inclusion here is driven by two dynamics: Either the piece pleased me greatly or resonated with the readers. (Sometimes both happened at once.)
C O N T E X T This site's theoretical photo collection. Like my extremely casual relationship with social media, I think I'm failing to understand the intense need to show strangers my photos. Dear god, in years past, all one had to do was feign illness to get out of those inevitable after-winter-holiday dinner parties that culminated in 123 mind-numbing slide carousels. Tell you what--If I've got something that absolutely needs exhibiting, it'll be here (although "here" may eventually point to Flickr).
A D D R E S S Click to send me email. While fawning kudos are almost guaranteed to elicit a response from me, well-reasoned differences of opinions are also welcome. I love the smell of debate in the morning--it reminds me of coffee. No, wait: That's because I'm drinking coffee. Anyway, you get the idea. Important: Make sure you replace the "AT" and "DOT" with the real things before you press "Send."
F E E D The subscription link for this site's RSS feed. I'm always reading about whole segments of users who can't seem to get their heads around RSS. And I, in turn, can't get my head around that. Paraphrasing Douglas Adams, RSS is your cyber-pooch who's fun to be with. Every morning he bounds out of the front door and brings you back an edition of The Daily You. What could be clearer?
While this site has been in suspended animation, I certainly haven't.
Over at culturehack.me there's a soft roll-out of a new, unified CultureHack website. And by soft roll-out, I’m suggesting that it’s best to see the next six weeks or so as a kind of beta test.
The question you’re not asking (though my ego insistently clings to the delusion that you are) is Why? To which the shortest possible answer is Twitter (the second-shortest response, however, is the much more pleasing to me: Fucking Twitter.)
Over the years, I’ve distributed content across an array of sites via a number of platforms and hosting services, including most recently the soon-to-be vaporized Posterous. And why is it about to vaporized? Because–wait for it–Twitter bought Posterous for the express purpose of shutting it down. So yes, Twitter is the reason I'm now at culturehack.me. Fucking Twitter. (It really is more pleasing with the adjective.)
The impending demise of Posterous has forced me to migrate a number of my sites elsewhere, and in in doing so, I decided to centralize the stuff I’ve been posting–well, the things worth preserving anyway. This time around, I’ve created one place for the iPhoneography, book excerpts, essays, political punditry, recent entries in my Twitter stream, rants expanded from tweets and, of course, my blog.
So yeah–you're cordially invited to my newest virtual atelier, brought to you by the crack Business Plan Division of Fucking Twitter . . .
Does the new site compile everything I’ve ever tossed online with trademark hubris and insouciance? Of course not–are you insane? Instead, I’m treating this centralization as a kind of reboot. The legacy content there can be thought of as a curation prior to moving forward into new territory. (I’ve given a lot of thought about what this terra nova might be, and there will be screed on that in due time.) But right now, it's me editing myself and blatantly eliminating the boring, the thin and the dated. And also–it goes without saying–anything that’s become embarrassing. Screw the inviolate rules of perpetual posts with retrofitted strike-throughs: I’m talking image management-cum-manipulation here.
A word of warning at the outset is indicated–lots of things there remain to be tweaked. For instance, in many cases, the multimedia links didn’t survive the migration from Posterous and will need to be tended to manually. So yes, there’s still a thin coating of construction dust on almost everything: typefaces, kerning, formatting and, of course, the aforementioned videos and music. (But to balance things out a little, there’s also the delicious New Site smell that we all love so much.)
I’m making April Fool’s Day my deadline for getting this fit-and-finish stuff done–which pretty much gives the game away, don’t you think?
So once again, in case you blew by the new address, you can follow my ongoing adventures at:
And while we're discussing changed addresses, know too that I'm also getting rid of my Internet provider and with it all of those legacy Mindspring email addresses. (Better to fix everything at once, rather than endless serial changes.)
Going forward, my email is being handled by Google (thus detaching it from any ISP) and my new email address is:
And that's it, really. Against all odds, I'm not dead and--at the time of this writing, anyway--still tattoo-free and more-or-less in command of my faculties and what I've always insisted in calling my prose "talent."
In which the Author tentatively integrates his distributed cyberself . . .
Clearly you can see that I am bleeding
Clearly you can see my clothes are torn
Clearly this demands an explanation
Only I can offer none
My other life . . .
Analysis has failed to find a motive
Hypnotists have failed to beak the code
Journalists are camped out on my doorstep
Perchance that I might slip and drop the key
My other life . . .
I slip away to my other life
With no regret or remorse
Happy and gay in my other life
No need to wake me Monday morning
From my other life
--Lloyd Cole, "My Other Life "
In case it isn't noted, your attention is called to the new additions at the top of the right-hand sidebar. There you'll find both daily and occasional updates that feature material that (to me) doesn't necessarily fit into whatever it is this blog does. (Posts like this or maybe even this one.)
I'vealso added "Playlist" to the right-hand sidebar, which links to my selection, programming and annotation of songs over at Blip.fm. This list of tunes will be growing--thus, if you're interested in my Other DJ Life, periodic visits to "Playlist" may be indicated.
Currently there remains artifacts of cross-posting between this blog and the Posterous account. This represents a period of testing to make sure this integrated scheme would actually work. Going forward, new and exclusive Posterous material will dynamically push the cross-posts off the sidebar and three distinct types of content will be displayed, each according to their own posting rhythms. At least that's my hope. If in practice creating a link-hub to Distributed Me proves not as intriguing as it initially appears, then I'll simply pull the plug and the song demos will once again take their place at the top of the sidebar.
This integration isn't really about visitor convenience or online brand management; I'm operating on a more intuitive level--feeling my way to something I can't quite articulate. Perhaps, since the material really does differ in each source, I'm hoping to create the cubistic 3-D of a Hockney polaroid montage, hoping that epigrammatic daily observations juxtaposed to less-frequent, Tumblr-esque notes, links and media and then parked next to the longer, improvisational essays here might create a kind of triangulation that could be interesting. Or not. We'll just have to see . . .
Update: I've also added "Bricolage" to the right-hand sidebar. It links to CultureHack, Tumbled--a digital commonplace book for stuff that catches my eye as I careen through the InterWebs.
In which the Author bitches about writing and ponders a dangerous flirtation with Boom . . .
There is only one good thing about small town
there is only one good use for a small town
there is only one good thing about small town
you know that you want to get out
When you're growing up in a small town
you know you'll grow down in a small town
there is only one good use for a small town
You hate it and you'll know you have to leave
--Lou Reed, "Small Town" Train entering the city
I lost myself and never came back
Took a trip around the world and never came back
Black silhouettes, crisscrossed tracks, never came back
--Lou Reed, "Forever Changed"
A Note Regarding Weblog Reincarnation
If you're curious about what I'm doing back here, these are the tenuous explanations. But be forewarned--I still don't have a clue about the latest purpose of this blog. Not yet, anyway. The only certainty is that what I write here will be thoroughly Not Like My Book--although I suspect it may often be about my struggles with it.
William Gibson famously said that "The street finds a use for things." And similarly, I'll eventually understand what to do with CultureHack (Mark IV). I'm guessing we'll all find out what I'm up to at the same time, when whatever this site is supposed to do reaches critical mass and manifests. But in the meantime, I'm not worrying about it: After all, I always do my best work (and feel most comfortable) in interstitial spaces . . .
I'm just going to put it out there: The process of writing the book currently sucks. Oh, there's been a halcyon period, and before final revisions there may be some kind of Late Golden Era. But right now it's effing hard work, and it's been made even more difficult by the escalating requirements of the writing.
Here's the effing hard work part: I've just spent six days writing a sequence insert of 2,000 paltry words. And yes, it was worth it but that's not the point--as a writer I'm a marathoner, and single-digit daily page counts drive me crazy with frustration. As if this weren't enough, the latest of the escalating requirements is a killer: At this stage in the writing, I need to work in silence--the rhythm and sound of the sentences have become as important as images, word choice and structure. But also know this: Music is monumentally important to me--take it away and, well, I'm in a state too grim to describe.
The sheer suckage of the past week is best understood by putting all of this together: I've been averaging just over a page per day, surrounded by a silence so tomb-like the Dieter Rams desk clock sounds like the Cosmic Metronome of Doom. So yeah, lately writing the book in something like a state of auditory hyperesthesia has been very House of Usher.
Thus bashing out something that's so-not-the-book--even if it's blog-ish--is psychological balm, and not my attention wandering. I may not know exactly why I'm here, but this much is certain: It feels good not to slam into the manuscript. At least for a while.
I'm blasting Live a Little at concert volume level, with the other installments of the Pernice Brothers catalog neatly lined up waiting their turns. And given the recent Period of Great and Absolute Quiet, it's oddly consoling to see the bass lines rattle the window panes in their muntins.
Even better, there are no outlines, flow charts or research databases guiding these words--just a vague idea of a subject. Which, paradoxically, is directly connected to the interminable sequence insert from the past week. Proving, I suppose, that there's no insight without pain.
While putting final touches on a section where Tony visits Beatrice, I suddenly felt the need to add a flashback showing that Tony's childhood hometown is almost identical to where Beatrice is living. Though a structuralist, if I feel strongly about a divergence from the narrative plan, I usually follow the impulse and decide about its inclusion afterwards. In this instance, the insert worked quite well--but initially I couldn't articulate why.
At first it seemed a way to blunt Tony's savage assessments about Beatrice's town; a he's-actually-like-her interlude. But I don't believe that characters necessarily have to be likable or conventionally motivated--my only obligation is make them interesting. After more coffee and pondering, I suddenly had it: I'd intuitively emphasized that Tony had long ago moved on to more vital, open environments, while Beatrice has willing embraced the same small-town claustrophobia that had caused him to flee. The inclusion of the insert extended Tony judgments past the town to Beatrice herself. Which neatly made him even less likable and a bit more interesting.
That's how it worked, but it didn't explain why it was effective. So I kept analyzing: Tony and Beatrice regard her town in significantly different ways not because of Tony's past, but by the amount of distance he's placed between himself and small-town insularity. Tony has literally and figuratively moved while Beatrice has not. And there it was: parallax. I had allowed Borges' territory below the map to poke through. Which is as worrying as it is pleasing.
Wherein the Author explains his return to dry-marker exhibitionism in four tentative acts . . .
Can't you hear me talkin' to you
I'm callin' you one more time
All night operator, dial me a better line
--Bryan Ferry, "All Night Operator" My mind is an antique room
There's overstuffed chairs and carpets too
Where nobody ever comes
It's a good place to run away from
And I'm runnin' from a love
With every step I take
And if I can fall for you then
From the last one I am saved
And it's a cold, grey, wet December
Shitty, shitty day
And I'm waitin' for another friend
Calling long distance again . . .
--Iggy Pop, "Long Distance"
Tap-Tap. Is this on? Testing . . . Testing . . . Can you hear me back there? How about over at the edge of The InterWeb? Give a wave if you can hear . . . Someone bring up the lights. Okay, a show of hands one more time . . . Good. Then let's get started . . .
Welcome back, friends, to the show that just won't end (though not for a lack of trying). However, don't expect too much--I'm still getting my cyber-legs back. The whole speed-lashed, one-draft-only, improvisational dictate of this place is so not what I've been doing for the past year. Which, on reflection, is probably one of the reasons I've wandered back here: A need to blow-out my screedy carburetor; to sporadically step back from the cooly meticulous prose I've been distilling during the past 12 months. To let 'er rip and wail strange music in the online equivalent of an after-hours club. Thankfully, the odd wisdom of Jim Steinman remains carved above the virtual entrance: Everything Is Permitted. (Speaking of which, did you catch what I did up there? Screedy. After so long, minting recombinant words with impunity feels so good.)
My book is in its Power Plant Reactor Phase--that unavoidable stage in any piece of writing. Go ahead and call it revision, but it's more like carefully adjusting nuclear fission control rods. At this juncture, the price of larking about with the novel is narrative meltdown--or worse. I've been working at an insanely granular level: Worrying about a word's syllabic stress in the context of its entire paragraph has sadly become business-as-usual.
What began with more creativity than craft (witness the early-draft excerpts originally posted here), has inevitably become a surgical exercise. Could it have evolved in any other way? Initially there were What and Why; now it's all about the How. I'm long past those heady moments where I surprised myself; where a character might suddenly say or do something that made me catch my breath. And, too, the swirling motivations and themes have all been neatly isolated and duly mapped. These days what happens is less problematic than how it occurs. But the real difficulty is that once again I'd like to be astonished . . .
But evolutionary arcs aside, How has also moved to fore because I'm an unapologetic structuralist. French culture is not my favorite by any stretch, but somehow Franco-Structuralism slipped into my Irish / Hungarian DNA. I can only imagine the genetic bouncer at Club Sheridan must have been momentarily distracted.
CultureHack, Tumbled Cultural core sampling and sidelong glances at pop debris. An improvised miscellanea for those with more oblique and idiosyncratic tastes; a digital cabinet of curiosities.
CultureHack, Tracked See this as yet more context, albeit sonic: A slowly growing list of annotated songs added to online rather than in a Moleskine. I make no assurance about the absolute quality of these tunes, only their ability to resonate with me--often in unintended ways.
Formal Absences is a theater-piece companion to the forthcoming CD release, The Formal Absences of Precious Things, and Formal Absence, a novel. This sidebar section will feature the most recent versions of the song demos as they become available.