Pale Blue Auto-Mobile
You need no ticket to make a place for yourself here where humor, black and otherwise, comes to you from the stage where the human comedy itself is being played, its performance trumping the things dark and tragic and found in the world of literature.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
No Hodgman No Cry

Well folks, it appears to be time to turn off the lights on this one. As Mr. Hodgman continues to play Godot, I’ve no intention of meeting him with my Estragon. As a proper spanking I think we should all invite our favorite scribes to our blogs for a few words, creating a new genre where Mr. H will live in infamy as “they guy that didn’t show.”

I haven’t forgotten that he is the great white hope for the ironic hipster lit scene that some refuse to let die a dignified death. As mildly intelligent Gawkerette J. Coen herniates her frontal lobe trying to understand it and Hodgman mans the life support pumps (while perfecting his “email spam could wreck my career: boo-hoo!” too timid to be bemused/too intelligent to look smart shtick) we hear Willie Nelson crooning in the distance…

“Mamas don’t let your baby girls grow up to be gossips...”

Anybody know any good hobo songs? Surely They Might Be Giants must have one for just such an occasion.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Chairman Of The Bored

Gawker Sez: "Tao Lin and Whitney Pastorek star in the world's most boring literary feud."

I say:

The problem, in my opinion comes down to AKS -- ass kisser syndrome.

Something happened to the generation before Tao, who is a twenty-something: the education system finally figured out how to breed a generation of sheep. It had a lot to do with taking the focus off of the humanities and placing it on business. The promise was: if you stay in line and be good little business people you'll get rich.

Well a lot of things -- the bursting of the tech bubble, constantly changing templates in how business was done (see Fast Company, Business 2.0), etc. -- got in the way and a lot fewer people got rich than Harvard Business School and others said would. But the sheep had been bred...

Some of them, who saw that the business world wasn’t working, or perhaps more likely couldn’t -- or simply didn't want to -- keep pace with the changes, decided to become artists, writers, etc. But they needed a leader. Timing being everything, Dave Eggers showed up and was crowned downtown at the litbeggars bash, to paraphrase Mr. Springsteen. And the reason he was crowned was because he had the moment; he had the vibe; and he had the indefinable something that would allow him to sell books to fans, many of them unquestioning followers. He was the one of the new artist/business people who became an unqualified success.

But back to my discussion of ass kissing…

Do you think Hemingway kissed ass? Mailer? Of course not. And Tao doesn’t kiss ass. Look: I was getting a nice little groove going at McSweeney’s and gave it up and joined the Underground Literary Alliance so I wouldn’t have to pucker up just to get something besides a cute and funny little list published online every now and then.

Maybe the sheep aren’t even aware of where they are in this game. But they seem to be happy. The existence of Pindeldyboz, Hobart and a few others riding on the seemingly commodious coattails of the McSweeney’s thing are fine with me: the more lit journals the merrier. That they mostly don’t publish the type of thing that I enjoy is neither here nor there. They’ve got plenty of fans and they’ll survive, even if it means getting an infusion of charity every now and then.

But really, anybody who thinks that they’re the only lit game in town – from the same lot that thought business school would ultimately make them rich – are maybe starting to get the message, through the ULA and pranking (which is what it looks like from here) like Tao’s, that they are becoming more wrong with each passing day.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
In "Reason to Vomit" over at his Demi-Puppets blog King Wenclas made a good point about privilege vs authenticity.

My take here at Pale Blue Auto-Mobile:

I’ve got The Outlaw Bible of American Literature in front of me right now and it is filled with writers, who, if still around, would be firmly in the Underground Literary Alliance's camp.

The book is pub’ed by Thunder’s Mouth Press, which sounds pretty indie and DIY, right? Whoops, it’s “An Imprint Of Avalon Publishing Group” which is itself…well, you do the Googling. (They call themselves indie, but can any publisher that includes Carroll & Graf as an imprint really claim that with a straight face?)

From Kerouac to Acker to Lester Bangs the book is filled with outsiders, Beats and marginalized writers, who in their lifetimes were spit on by the establishment. Now dead, they’ve been co-opted. (Oh, and Dave Eggers is also in the book. Now there’s a real outlaw! Huh?)

It’s ridiculous that Moody, perhaps the ultimate insider, has bothered to paint himself as a literary outsider in his intro to the small press directory King considers. The reason why he does it is the better to get those who appreciate outsider/transgressive lit to buy the stuff he and his friends churn out.

One of the best things the ULA ever did was protest the HOWL reading at Columbia this past spring. The nabobs’ event was typical of how establishment publishers want to silence real outsider writers as they honor one of their heroes and then put them all back in the darkest corners of libraries and bookstores while they and their publishing machines glut the market with what they have told an all-too-ready-to-believe public is authentic literature.

I’m not naïve: I know that the Beats worked to make themselves a brand. I’ve been reading “Family Business” which contains correspondence between Ginsberg and his father Louis, also a poet, though of the old school. The way he shares in Allen’s excitement as he makes his name while changing the landscape of American poetry and lit at the time (even as he disagrees with some of his son’s choices) is a great example of how two opposed forces can work together to the personal benefit of both, as well as that of the world.

The Moodies of the world seem to want to work with no one but the other Moodies. I choose not to be a clone and am perfectly happy to be on the outside. If I get co-opted after I become worm food, so be it. I just want it to be on the record that when the patronage awards were handed out I was trying to tell the truth about the tangled pay-as-you-go mess that American lit has become.