Sadly, I filled in more than ten of these and have now lost the missing text. Fitting punishment for an archivist, I suppose. "Jewel, you must never listen to this tape."
LJ Interests Meme
Great bookstores, great music, great food. That's what Berkeley means to most of the people who don't regard the place as the name for everything that's gone wrong since the 1960s. And it means that for me too. But my Berkeley also includes "The Flats," everything west of Grove/MLK and south of Cedar. It means walking aimlessly up San Pablo looking at all the petrified businesses that look like they haven't changed since the 1970s. It means the grassy median in Sacramento, the outdoor basketball court at Malcom X School where I used to play with Roy, the oddness of Serendipity Books, the old man who sold me my Ben Davis and the strange mixture of luxury and grunge that is Café Fanny and the Acme Bread Co. Berkeley is air that would be fresher somewhere else, a scent of dreams decaying, the glare of sun on fog that misses the sea.</li>
My friend pants007 was over once for dinner. I kept slipping into my home office to "watch" a Cal game against Oregon on the computer. It went three overtimes. Sean Lampley hit an improbable three and the Bears won. Afterwards, my friend said, "Wow, you really do take this seriously!" Yes. I'm already worrying about the away game at Washington State. "Go Bears!"
I was reading DeLillo's massive Underworld when I came to Arizona for my on-campus interview. I taught it during my first graduate semester the following spring. I think about it or White Noise on an almost daily basis. But it's The Names, which I was reading at the height of my coughing-up-blood pneumonia during the semester in between that haunts me most. When 9/11 happened one of my first thoughts was "DeLillo prepared us for this."
In the summer of 1997 the Pacific Film Archive and Castro Theater hosted the traveling Fassbinder retrospective sponsored by the Goethe Institute. Kim saw 27.5 of his films. I saw 25.5 plus Germany In Autumn. The experience was transformative for all of the regulars. At the beginning the PFA's super-strict rules were solidly in effect: no talking, no eating and drinking, no moving at all. By the end people were leaving the theater, walking down Durant to the liquor store, and coming back with six packs they brought blithely into the theater. The crowd cheered the appearance of a familiar actor or actress. The pristine space had become the living room in a group home filled with characters in a Fassbinder film.
I love to think about time, how the still and motion pictures we make document its passage by not changing. Some day, when I have the time, I'll spend the time at the computer I need to transform all our "footage" -- I guess the unspooled tapes would be long enough to still merit that term -- into something arty that's not simply a record of what the camera saw. For now, though, I spend hours and hours thinking about how I'd go about doing this when the time finally comes.
I wanted to take Butler's first full-length seminar in the fall of 1993. I walked into the classroom to find three times more people than the course could accomodate. We spent the first class writing essays explaining why we wanted to get in. Since I'd spent the preceding five hours reading her work, anticipating just such an application process, I made it. The first five weeks of that course made me grow intellectually like a magic potion. I never had another course with her. But I talked to people who worked with her, read all her books, and incorporated her approach into my own in several different ways. My favorite memories, though, are of seeing her talk to a crowd of non-academics at a Mission District bookstore, having her recognize me and say, "Hi," as she and her family walked by the Harvest Market on "Parade Day," and hearing Kim talk about how she read Gender Trouble on the Stairmaster at work. People I respect enormously give her all sorts of shit for being difficult. I don't see her that way. There's a clear difference in my mind between people who know what they're talking about and those who just make things up to fit in. Believe it or not, academia is full of the latter. Butler is the exception to that, because no matter how dense her prose, she always understands what she's doing, where, and why. I'm so glad to have known her, however remotely.
lord of the rings:
I've read Lord of the Rings more than any other books. I read them repeatedly in my junior-high years. I read them in Germany when the only other English-language books at my disposal were Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. And I revisited them, in bits and pieces, when the movies came out. There's a part in Dennis Cooper's Frisk when one of the characters, Kevin, is engrossed in the trilogy. It's the cornerstone of the argument I make about that novel, because the space of adolescent fantasy is nowhere more clearly delineated for me than in Tolkien's work. We are all adolescents.
Back in the fall of 1988, my partner Annalee was taking the English Honors class, being exposed to literary theory for the first time. She resisted, only later discovering its appeal. But I would pick up the articles she derided and search, somewhat perversely, for a reason to not deride them. By the following spring, I knew that there was a world out there called "Theory" -- see below -- out there that I wanted to find a passage into. One day at Cody's I asked my friend Keith, the all-but-dissertation philosophy Ph.D. student from Oklahoma, which of the many books by Michel Foucault -- Keith talked about him all the time -- I should start with. He put the Focuault Reader in my hands and said it was as good a place to start as any. I promptly preceded to read "What Is An Author?," where Foucault ponders the limits of authorship, asking whether Nietzsche's laundry list could be considered one of his "works." I'm not sure what answer Foucault was after, but from that point on I started saving every list of consequence for my archives, sure that they would one day morph into something significance. And they have, though not quit the way I'd imagined. Every discussion of my archival impulse on De File, though, bears the shadow of Foucault's shiny bald head.
I've tried to write something about what Pavement means to me many, many times. So far, though, I've only ended up with lots of half-finished pieces and a blog entry that tackles the problem obliquely. Suffice it to say that not an hour goes by when the words or music -- usually both -- to a Pavement song do not go through my head. I understand all the reasons why my devotion is particular, conditioned by the privileges and period of history I share with the band's members, but this knowledge does nothing to temper it. We all need something that's "ours" to love and Pavement is that for me. Besides, there's more creativity in the ten-second outro of one of their songs than in 95% of the music you can buy on iTunes.
san francisco giants:
This has been a hard year for me. It might have been easier if the Giants weren't so bad, because I would have been focused on things that don't matter instead of things that do. Then again, maybe that would have made things worse since I would have retreated into sports mode instead of confronting the situation directly. I can't tell you how happy it made me to see the much-reviled Barry Bonds return to the field this past week and hit two home runs. And I also can't tell you how fucked up it was that the bullpen blew a 5-0 lead on October 26th, 2002. It would have been the perfect dessert to our wedding anniversary aned Skylar's birthday if they had held on. But they didn't. And I still chew on myself because they didn't.
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