In 2010 author Zadie Smith offered these 10 tips for writing as part of a project for The Guardian inspired by a similar list Elmore Leonard provided The NY Times 10 years earlier. Other authors participated in this exercise, but Zadie’s was the one I found on Tumblr today, and it stopped me dead in my tracks with it’s leveling wisdom. Numbers four, nine, and ten can apply to absolutely anything in life, but number three gets down to the core of it: “You can either write good sentences or you can’t.”
The Room’s auteur Tommy Wiseau is an American. That’s the first thing he’d probably want you to know about him. And he’s right, he is American, and like most Americans and their ancestors, Tommy is an immigrant, but he doesn’t like to talk about that. He’d prefer that fans of his magical film experience believe he’s from Louisiana, where he spent some time with his aunt and uncle before settling down in San Francisco in the 1970s, but his broken English and tangled accent are embarrassingly obvious tells. It’s been tracked down that Tommy was probably born in Poland and he has often said he spent a good part of his younger days in France, which accounts for his mixed accent. Most people would think nothing of mentioning their native country even if they want to keep some details private. For Tommy Wiseau, all details are private and the truth is something that you construct for yourself. Tommy isn’t interested in the wonderful mixing of cultures in the United States, instead he’s locked on with a vice-grip to an important American trope: The Self-Made Man. This dude is vampiric absurdist Don Draper who everyone knows is really Dick Whitman.
For Ushio Shinohara, one of the subjects of the 2013 documentary Cutie and The Boxer, art is more than a passion: it is a dire fight. Figuratively, yes. But also literally. He makes his signature pieces by strapping sponges to boxing gloves and aggressively attacking the canvas. The finished product is captivating and reflects the violence of its making, but watching Ushio making it is a visceral performance art in itself. The tiny self up against the vast and awful and sparkling world, fighting for a piece of it. Wanting to snatch the marrow out of it, wanting to eviscerate the disappointments of it. Wanting to be rewarded for the fight. Punching at the demon at his heels, making it stronger all the while. Ushio kind of likes his demons. We all do to an extent.
David Sutherland’s three part documentary Country Boys is one of my favorites. It lasts six hours, but I wish it went on for hundreds. The series follows two interesting young men growing up in Appalachian Kentucky: Cody Perkins and Chris Johnson. While Cody has a tragic back-story and is extremely open-minded, thoughtful, and articulate, Chris is the one who truly haunts me. I hope and I wish that Sutherland films an update about these two since it’s about a decade since he first embedded himself in their lives. Spoilers ahead.
The second I caught a glimpse of John William Keedy’s It’s Hardly Noticable series, my heart skipped. This is what anxiety looks like. Anxiety is about our futile attempts to control the uncontrollable. It’s a human reaction to chaos. This fence looks like notebooks I kept in adolescence (thank god I’m over my counting shit.) The clocks piece one is not my favorite visually, but it resonates with me. We’re all helpless against time. “At its worst I had a… Read more »
Immediately after Orson Welles’ legendary 1953 War of the Worlds simulated live newscast, which was up against a much more popular variety show “Chase and Sanborn Hour,” newspaper headlines spoke of a panic. However, there’s not a lot of evidence that a panic even occurred according to a University of Maine professor. One reporter for the New York Times remembers riding in the streets of Manhattan to the office while the play was winding down, and seeing no one in… Read more »
The world of science and invention and literature collided when this photo taken in the spring of 1894 and published in 1895 with Century Magazine‘s article “Tesla’s Oscillator and other Inventions.” Mark Twain visited inventor Nikola Tesla’s lab and held the power of electricity in his hands.
Some photos truly capture the essence of what it’s like to be human. The above was taken by photographer Suzanne Tylander Thursday, April 26, 2012 at the 2012 CCCA Swimming and Diving State Championships at East Los Angeles College Swim Stadium. The diver pictured was expected to win the entire event, but he knew the moment he hit the water that his form was off. He spent a brief moment at the bottom of the pool grieving what he’d lost…. Read more »
The latest Beat Generation movie focuses on the murder that looms in the background of all Beat literature and lore. Kill Your Darlings is about when Lucien Carr, (Dane DeHaan) a Columbia student who was friends with Beat Generation superstars William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Allan Ginsburg, murdered David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall,) an older man who was obsessed with him. Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs both played a role in the murder that landed them briefly behind bars.
On October 12, 1978 20-year-old Nancy died of a knife wound to the stomach. Just a few months later her 21-year-old boyfriend Sid died of an intentional heroin overdose while awaiting a trial for her murder. Already notorious for their bad behavior, they became a myth of a couple, a punk rock Romeo and Juliet. Sid was a rock star who couldn’t really play music, but Nancy was more than a rock-n-roll groupie. She was a force unto herself.