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JD Salinger Portrait Session

In “Just Before the War with the Eskimos,” a story in J. D. Salinger’s second book, Nine Stories (1953)—his first was his novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951)—all four characters, two girls in their teens and two men in their early twenties, are so vividly drawn and speak in such perfectly rendered idiomatic American English that the reader might be watching them in a movie.  These days the story also has the quality of a faultless antique: a Manhattan taxi fare, for example, comes to 65 cents.

LITHOPSIGN

On Oct 2nd, the first LitHopPDX literary pub crawl, organized by Kevin Sampsell, Jeff Alessandrelli and Bryan Coffelt, served as a prelude to PDX Literary Festival Wordstock. LitHopPDX commandeered six venues to host 56 readers on Hawthorne Boulevard in Southeast Portland. It was a literary trick-or-treat for writers and their lovers, and it was all about dreams and selfies with Zachary Schomburg.

9780060391683_p0_v1_s260x420-1“You should read Story by Robert McKee,” Nico said.

This was 2010. Nico had agreed to produce the screenplay version of my first novel, Stuck Outside of Phoenix–a screenplay I hadn’t started yet–and he was no doubt concerned about what I might hand over. I’d never written a screenplay, but with more than a decade of daily writing under my belt, I felt I had what it took to crank out a feature-length version of my own novel. Still, I bought a copy of Story as insurance. It lingered in a pile of books for a few months, and after the first draft of the screenplay was finished, I sold it back.

 

San Diego City Beat has reviewed the Other People with Brad Listi podcast:

What matters to Listi is insight and inspiration. He wants to know how they got their start as writers, what they were like in college, what obstacles they overcame. Listi doesn’t dance around his subjects. Were you a fuck-up? A prodigy? A jerk? Eventually, even the most reticent writer opens up. The result is something that book culture usually is not—lively, timely and incredibly entertaining.

Building an entire pop-cultural universe after its inception in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, these days the modern zombie tale shows more resilience than its shambling horrors, especially at the box office—the first new wave of zombie films made its arrival with Resident Evil, 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead, and subsequently led directly into Zombieland, The Walking Dead, and 28 Weeks Later on the big and small screen. Zombie video game icons Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead received rave reviews from gamer mags and fans alike, and even pillars of the literary canon, most famously Pride and Prejudice, have felt the clamp of rotten teeth around their skulls. No matter what the medium, in today’s publishing climate, zombies make for good storytelling and better business.

There have been many crucial years in the forward lurch of humanity but today I’d like to tell you about one of the biggest: 1971. For those of you who might argue for a showier year with zeroes in it or repeating decimals let me remind you that in 1971 Led Zeppelin released “Stairway to Heaven.”

Forget Johnnie Cochran, F. Lee Bailey and Gerry Spence. The greatest trial lawyer in American history was the incomparable Clarence Darrow.

For that matter, forget Perry Mason, Matlock and Atticus Finch, too, because Darrow was also our greatest fictional trial lawyer.

My parents have had subscription tickets to the New York City Ballet for over thirty years, dating back to when the company performed at The City Center.  They moved up and up as better seats became available and settled in the exact two center seats of the eighth row.  Until the recent renovation, courtesy of David Koch, one ticket read “enter from left,” the other “enter from right.”

I’ll get one thing out of the way first of all, to address whose in the know, and as a point of interest for those who aren’t. “Akata” is to some a pretty nasty word. It’s Nigerian Pidgin deriving from the Yoruba for bush civet cat, and is used as an epithet for Americans of African descent. Some people claim it’s not derogatory in intent, but I don’t really buy that given the context in which I hear it used most of the time. It certainly leaves an offensive taste in the mouth of many Nigerians, especially in diaspora. Yeah, taboo language sometimes marks the most superficially surprising vectors. Nnedi Okorafor, author of the recent fantasy novel Akata Witch (Viking, 2011 ISBN: 978-0-670-01196-4), is well aware of the controversy she courts with its title. It takes an extraordinary book to put such an abrasive first impression into the background, and in short, I think Nnedi has well accomplished this.

Three things prompted me to read and review Infinite Jest. First, today marks the fifteenth anniversary of its publication, and that seems worth more than a mention. Second, David Foster Wallace’s unfinished novel The Pale King is forthcoming in April, which begs a look back at his previous work. Third, the jealousy conjured in me at the time of the novel’s release has diminished, allowing for a fairer assessment. Combine this passage of time with Wallace’s suicide over a year ago and all jealously now seems, at the very least, misplaced.

Portland Oregon is a city of overeducated, underemployed white people who have forgotten to leash their dogs.

It’s true, and absurd, and there are a thousand other true and absurd stereotypes that fall short of capturing the city.

IFC’s “Portlandia” is an attempt at sketch comedy based on the peculiar nuttiness that emanates from the City of Roses, which is a difficult proposal, because the people who best reflect that nuttiness are offended, and everyone else is annoyed that their particular tribe wasn’t included. Then there are those things that only outsiders find funny. Yes, in Portland 30-something men ride skateboards to take their kids to school. I only notice this as part of the natural landscape, like a resplendent fall Chinook, writhing its way upstream to spawn and die.

Keef

By J.P. Smith

A&C Reviews

Musical autobiographies—apart from those by, say, Berlioz and Stravinsky, Art Pepper and Anita O’Day, which are genuinely enlightening—have always struck me as being about as helpful as interviews given by athletes after a game. Very little is said in a coherent fashion about an activity that has little to do with language. Being a rock star, however, is much more than the music: it’s the look, the attitude, the degree of untouchability one assumes. So I came to Keith Richards’s book (for which Little, Brown reportedly paid over seven million dollars) with heightened interest—this is Keith Richards, after all, not just a rock icon but the walking embodiment of a slow shrug and an extended middle finger—and, thanks to his choice of editor, with some very high hopes. James Fox is an old Etonian (i.e. nothing like Keith) who wrote White Mischief, a much-praised work of nonfiction dealing with the 1941 murder of the Earl of Erroll in the debauched British colony in Kenya known as the Happy Valley. At first it seemed an odd match (though the two men have known each other for years), but for the fact that the Rolling Stones are yet another colony of people who have been thrown into close proximity for so long that something had to give. If there’s been a murder, we haven’t heard about it yet. Oh wait: Brian Jones.

Christopher Russell’s first solo show for the Luis de Jesus Gallery at Bergamont Station in Santa Monica, is an exploration into how images make up a narrative. It starts off with some abstract prints: a pattern motif encapsulated by a series of X-Acto knife slashes that form a “frame” around the image. The borders are spray-painted and blurred, turning the whole thing into a vignette – a memory of nothing. Along with the collage-like illustrations in the back room, these pieces resonate like a confused echo of the decadent romanticism Russell displayed last year at the Hammer Museum. The show includes a giant, hand-illustrated, hand-bound tome, behind which hang monochromatic prints of varying sizes, each one a different version of a ship lost at sea or sinking into a foggy gray backdrop. Unencumbered by spray paint and X-Acto knife slashes, they seem to bring a bit of peace to the show, even if they fail to deliver an emotional impact with sail ships boxed into a postcard-sized frame or placed almost cartoonishly aslant on a larger print.

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA tries hard to bring art and people together. They are unpretentious, have relatively low ticket prices (with discounts if you take public transportation), and programs that invite the public’s participation. For example: the Engagement Party series – a public program funded by the John Irvine Foundation that promotes new work from emerging Southern California-based artists. The latest artist to take up residency in the series is Ryan Heffington. Heffington is a performance artist, choreographer, designer, and “self-described dance guru who makes highly theatrical works exploring dance’s aesthetic and socio-cultural possibilities.” Seems like a perfect match for the Geffen’s social aspirations.

How does the new Lynda and Stewart Resnick Pavilion fit into the LACMA family? Surely you must remember the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito movie “Twins.” I will not go so far as to suggest that this is what the worldly architect Renzo Piano had in mind when he designed the Resnick Pavilion at LACMA and placed it right next to his other contribution to “the campus:” the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. The resulting effect, however, is not far off. As viewed from the Entrance Pavilion, the Resnik Pavilion looks like the less-developed sibling of the taller, more imposing BCAM. It’s, well, the grand Piáno and the baby Piáno (insert restrained, WASPY laugh here). Both buildings are topped by a saw-tooth roof, are constructed from the same pale travertene marble, and are embellished with this or that functional accent in fire engine-… sorry, “Renzo-Red:” a staircase (BCAM) or an air-duct (the Resnik).But these are just surface details. As LACMA CEO and director Micheal Govan assurs us, the Resnik Pavillion is nothing but grand when viewed from the inside.