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A favor, from you to me:
My friend Per Jambeck has co-written a new book called Developing Bioinformatics Computer Skills. If you have a minute, please write a review for Amazon.com, whether you've read it or are willing to believe me when I say that Per is a top guy, a defender of justice and a friend to children. You don't have to know anything about science to write a review; just be creative and spread some love. Thanks.
self-portrait, with floating heads.
self-portrait, nude, in the box store.
self-portrait, wet, in mouth of whale, with fish.
This web page is the work of
Marc Heiden, 23 years old, who . He lives in Chicago.
My work voicemail cries out for you:
Players Workshop (Term 5).
Keeping act one under control.
Quitting my job on Monday.
Dizzy for the foreseeable future.
sometimes, I also write for
Thinking of Hesterman,
because I'm like that.
Kill Less of Me
Man Cutting Globe
Funny Paper (M)
Notes From Jail
the Onion (W)
This Modern World (M)
1 The Body Artist
As probably every review of this book noted, this is a very short book from an author whose books are usually not short. It's kind of uneven: scenes set and inhabited quite well, with a compelling languid tone throughout, but there's also some RHET-class wankery where the technique shows and looks awkward (e.g. pointed diversions into the second person, or sentences with a word lopped off of the end in a weak attempt to replicate the character's thought, like "She went right to the fridge and there was no ice in the fucking.")
2 Divided Soul:
The Life of Marvin Gaye
This is a phenomenal biography. The author had complete cooperation from Marvin Gaye over the course of five years to conduct the extensive interviews that provide the core of the book, and Marvin gave sharp, honest and compelling self-analysis (though the author notes that Marvin was high during every session); the writing is equally honest, unflinching about the good and bad sides of Marvin Gaye as an artist and person. It winds up serving as a decent history of the Motown label as well, with participation from nearly everyone involved. (And if you ain't down with Motown, I got no time for you.) It's just such a well written book. The interviews with Marvin Gaye's father and the analysis of the father-son relationship - which ended in Marvin's murder at his father's hands - is deeply chilling, and a compelling story above and beyond the music. Vital study for aspiring artists and sex symbols.
3 Dada and Surrealism
Phaedon Press does some very nice brick-sized books on major (and minor) artists and art movements. They feature a good selection of full-color reproductions and fairly good essays that tend to be better at history than art criticism. This book is on the weak side so far (I've paused on it halfway through). The Dada sections don't rate with Robert Motherwell's Dada Anthology - they're actually kind of boring, which is an achievement in itself, given the topic.
Robert Smigel, Adam McKay
I've never seen the SNL cartoons because I haven't been able to make it through an episode of SNL for years. Adam McKay co-wrote the book, though, so that was reason enough to buy it. He was one of the major players during Second City's mid-90s golden era. If you've listened to the CDs that came with that (bad) coffee-table SC history book, he played the "hapless fellow from human resources" in the "Gump" sketch with Scott Adsit, which is only the best piece of comedy ever. Adam McKay introduced my impressionable teenage self to Noam Chomsky during a framing sketch where he played Chomsky as a substitute kindergarten teacher. The book is pretty good. Pump-your-fist and cheer smart moments alternate with the fucking stupid ones like they do on Robert Smigel's own "TV Funhouse", but there are more of the smart ones here. The 1960s Marvel Comics feel is done perfectly. The art is pretty bad, and it makes a few of the jokes incomprehensible. The ads are easily the best parts.
WEFT 90.1 FM
art 'n resources:
b-side wins again 2001
010601 June, June, I'm singing a different tune. I didn't go into work today, and I plan to quit on Monday. I don't have a new job yet, but I will. The hills are alive, and they're quitting their jobs too. Yes, it will be a different world with hills sitting around all day in their underwear, but you have to understand, there are some tough parts about being a hill. It's not all sleds and sunsets. Sometimes they build a highway through your perfectly nice valley, and all you can do is wait a few decades for suburban sprawl to collapse upon itself and abandon the land, like in Kankakee, which should be quietly studied, because that place is really quite grim, except for its hills, which are beginning to show the first traces of a smirk.
Hank Ketcham, who created "Dennis the Menace", passed away yesterday. Shh. It's okay. He can't hurt you any more.
Turning my attention away from urban decay and dead people, then, I would like to speak for a moment about the bastards. My soon-to-be former job involved cutting articles out of the newspaper - and if you can cut along the lines really straight, my supervisor will soon want to talk to you - and making photocopies of them to assemble a weekly reading packet for the heads of marketing (1) to bring into the bathroom and forget. One of the articles last week was about a new advertising strategy wherein the newest technology is used to digitally insert new product placements into old television shows, i.e. Archie Bunker drinking a Mountain Dew Code Red, Seinfeld passing a movie theater playing Pearl Harbor, Lucy trying to slow the bleeding with Johnson and Johnson bandages after Ricky beats the crap out of her. Apparently, it has already been done with re-runs of Law and Order, and no one was too bothered about it. The article was in either the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal if you think I speak falsely. The past used to be the one place that no one could advertise. Time to dust off the ol' oral tradition, I guess, because what's the point any more?
What's the point? I'll tell you what the point is. Go to Google and search for Manute Bol nude. Look who comes up top! Holy shit, I am the greatest.
(1) Many heads, one body.
010531 There is a broke-ass art gallery down the street from my apartment. I can never tell when that guy has an exhibit up or when he's between stages. For a while, the piece in the main window involved pieces of fruit sitting on small mirrors. After a few months of that one, he took the fruit away, kept the mirrors and used them as the terrain for a model train figure world. Late in that exhibit, he began letting his cat sleep in the exhibit. Now everything has been disassembled and put away, so I think he's between exhibitions, but I wouldn't put anything past that guy. He owns two storefront windows. The second one used to have curtains, but now it has a big painting of white people spinning in a grey vortex. I can't tell if it's done or not. Nothing seems to have been done with it in a while, but it's sitting in a position where it wouldn't be hard to work on it, and the style is definitely an unfinished-type. Again, though, you really can't tell with that guy. The sign on his door refers to his gallery as "The Wildman Project" and restricts inquiries to "serious" ones.
I helped out on an envelope-stuffing project this morning / afternoon, and the person in charge of it ordered Big Bowl chinese food for lunch as thanks. Now that I am back at my desk, I have no qualms about making stanky around my co-workers. It was terrifying, though. There were extra fortune cookies, and they were reasonably edible, so I had two. The first one warned:
No man is without enemies.
Which was, you know, rather grim. I'm certainly aware that I have enemies, because I am very charming, and there are people who are jealous of my powerful charm and seek to destroy it, but still, you don't expect fortune cookies to harp on stuff like that. The second fortune cookie, however, was empty. Nothing inside. A labyrinth without center. I curled into the fetal position on the floor of my cubicle. No. I peed all over the place. No. I did wonder why there wasn't a fortune, though.
There are new photocopiers in the office, so everyone's talking about that. I ran out of things to say about the new photocopiers pretty quickly, and have been telling lies about them for most of the day: claiming that sometimes they produce photo negative versions of my photocopies and I nearly got my finger cut off trying to refill the paper. I don't know why. It's kind of mean. I guess I'm just tired of talking about the photocopies, so I decided to take it out on anyone who brings them up.
Watching The Simpsons when I get home from work is a major part of my daily psychological maintenance. There are two episodes back to back in the Chicago area, at 5:30 and 6. It's been very stressful lately, though, because they've been showing the very early episodes, and I find it hard to watch those. They're probably pretty good, but the animation is off, and the voice actors haven't settled on the right voices yet - Homer is especially hard to listen to. I try to explain to the TV all the things that they figured out on their own. Then I feel sheepish, stop, and pretend I was talking to my cats. Then I feel sheepish about that, so I pretend I was mumbling along to some post-rock. As ever, I am enmeshed in a web of lies.
010530 I am a very charming and intelligent person whose influence is felt across the world in many powerful circles; I am also widely respected and admired by a vast range of social groups. You may want to bear that in mind as you consider buying a milkshake for me.
whatjailislike.com and its many fine offerings were unavailable to most of the world yesterday. We never really figured out why, but the tried and true tech support tactic of stare (step one), walk away (step two) and come back later (step three) did the trick. Good thing I'm a genius.
I'm being very complimentary toward myself today. I don't know why.
There is a big three-hour going-away party today for the executive who was in charge of all those fucking zany time reports memos that I had to do. She's going to London. Hiro and I peeped the preparations, and it turns out there's a lot of wine. That's crazy. I came to work two hours late today so I could make up the hours by billing them for the time I spend at the party, eating things and possibly peeing all over the place, I haven't decided yet. Anyway, if anyone wants to come down here and booze it up for free, email me. I can get you in. I'll tell them you're my assistant. No one knows what I do anyway. Baby, I'll eat the cookies, you drink the wine, we'll be kings.
010529 Here is what Memorial Day means to me: Memorial Day means that I do not have to make any food for myself. All those soldiers didn't die so I'd have to figure out how to cook things and add ingredients and deal with open flames or any of that. I celebrated Memorial Day weekend by making no food for myself. There were various barbecues, which were entirely pleasant, and the store sold me cookies, which I ate, and the ghosts of all the dead soldiers said thanks, it's nice to see that someone gets it. After midnight on Monday, I figured that I was in the clear and made some rice. Rice, you see, is a staple food.
I am reprinting this paragraph because it is hysterically funny, and another thing that all those wars were fought for was so that you wouldn't have to click on a link and go hunting around some strange webpage to find something I think you might enjoy:
5) Jonathan Franzen, "Freeloading Man," review of Colson Whitehead, "John Henry Days," New York Times Book Review (May 14)
Novelist Franzen leads with the declaration that he was "irritated" by Whitehead's having made the hero of his first novel, "The Intuitionist," a woman: "Although it's technically impressive and theoretically laudable when a male novelist succeeds in inhabiting a female persona, something about the actual practice makes me uneasy. Is the heroine doing double duty as the novelist's fantasy sex object? Is the writer trying to colonize fictional territory that rightfully belongs to women? Or does the young literato, lacking the perks of power and feeling generally smallened" -- smallened? -- "by the culture, perhaps believe himself to be, at some deep level, not male at all?" Leave aside the assumption that women are by definition "smallened," or, for that matter, the case of Henry James (who, some have argued, was, you know, not exactly male at all, at least as Franzen seems to define male). By the lights of Franzen's argument, Whitehead, who is black, should also not attempt to inhabit white characters, which he does throughout "John Henry Days," and Franzen, who is white, should certainly not be judging the work of a black novelist. But since he is, we can fairly ask: Is he using Whitehead as his fantasy sex object? Is he trying to colonize territory that rightfully (at least as Franzen defines "rightfully") belongs to black writers? Does he perhaps believe himself to be, at some shallow level, not white at all? Or is he simply a moron who should never write about anyone but himself?
Here is a brave crusade: I am going to take a stand against all of the freeloaders who have been cruising Memorial Day for credit when it is not for them. America, which has fought various wars so that various things might be preserved, has two holidays dedicated to people who fought in the wars: Memorial Day and Veterans Day. I found that sort of confusing, because even Jesus only gets one holiday for when he fought in a war to save the same damn hippies who won't get off his lawn now (Easter), and how come the other guys get two? Well, I expressed that confusion at a barbecue once, although not exactly in those words, and I found out that there are two holidays because Memorial Day is for people who have fought in wars and died whereas Veterans Day is for people who fought in wars and did not die. Here, although I never tell lies and you know I don't because I've got a very sincere expression on my face, is evidence of that:
Memorial Day May 30, observed in the United States in commemoration of those members of the armed forces killed in war. It is officially observed on the last Monday in May. Also called Decoration Day.
Okay, so there you go, evidence. You can imagine, then, the look on my face when I turned on my TV and saw these monkeyshammers marching around for Memorial Day like it was for them -- when they were clearly not dead! I couldn't believe it. How dare they? Those other guys didn't die in a war so these guys could come and march around and steal the dead guys' thunder! I was pissed. The guys who are still alive have their own day and it's perfectly good. Just because they're old and they might not make it to their own day doesn't mean they can be impatient and rude to the dead guys. It's not like the dead guys try to horn in on Veteran's Day. I considered the possibility that these were re-animated corpses marching around, you know, to dramatize the parade and really bring the effect home to this jaded generation, but no, those were not re-animated corpses. Wrinkly in many cases, but the motions were too smooth. Re-animated corpses move in a stiff, jerking fashion, which has a lot to do with rigor mortis, which is basically like when your foot goes to sleep, except forever. I could have expressed outrage in public, but I was sitting down, and all those dead guys didn't fight wars so I'd have to stand up.
I think that's all I have to say about Memorial Day. You can let your grandfather start reading this webpage again. He will like this picture, unless he is a jerk, because it's got a tricky monkey!
Oh, shit, I'm dizzy.
(boxing news) And Ali seems to have passed on his old ability to float like a butterfly, sting like a bee and insult like Don Rickles to his daughter, who has seen fit to label Frazier-Lyde "ignorant" and "ugly." "It's not like this fool even belongs in the same ring with me," Laila tells the magazine. Frazier-Lyde, for her part, has mastered her own pugilist papa's prattle. "She hasn't been smashed like I am going to smash her," she says.
SMOSH! SMOSH! SMOSH! SMOSH! SMOSH! NEVER BEEN SMOSHED, GONNA BE SMOSHED! SMOSH! SMOSH! SMMMMOOOOOOSH !!!
Back in the day.