<= 2001.12.11

2002.01.08 =>


Christ. We're out of the ABM treaty, Bush says. Hope you're set for the new Asian arms race, you bellicose fuck.

So Juliet reveales that Google has posted their Usenet archive—I would find this merely embarrassing, since I haven't posted since high school, if it weren't for the unearthing of this gem by Matt McNeil. He recounts an evening several years ago in San Jose, wherein we tried to retrieve laserdiscs from a young man who claimed to be John Travolta's illegitimate son. The only thing Matt doesn't mention is that as we were driving back to Palo Alto on the 280, we saw a guy masturbating in the car next to us. When he realized we were watching, he smiled nonchalantly and waved.

Anyway, final workshop dinner at Frank's last night. Frank has a big beautiful house and a big beautiful dog named Gracie. Gracie is one of those great beasts who, despite being built like a draft horse, is the most gentle creature imaginable. She will come up and lick your hand with a tongue the size of a salmon fillet.

Frank on Harry Connick Jr.: "The Sinatra impersonator? Well, someone's got to do it. I'd rather listen to him than to Screaming Pumpkins."

Frank on poverty: "The myth persists that there is something ennobling about it... all it does is limit your experience. And a claustrophobia creeps in—minor problems become major problems, because you can't afford to call the plumber or get your car fixed... fuck poverty."

Frank on profanity: "The only person I know who is more foulmouthed than me is Phil Levine. He's written so many poems of incredible sensibilities, such delicate language, but get him in a room and it's fuck this, fuck that."

We also asked him about that part in "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" where David Foster Wallace calls Frank to ask why he wrote ad copy for the cruise line brochure, and Frank admits that he prostituted himself. "Yes," Frank said, "well, David called me up and I told him something to that effect... you know, I was paid to go on the cruise and write about it, and what David didn't really mention in his article is that he was doing the same thing... I actually saw more of the cruise than he did. I went into the kitchens and followed a meal from the order to the dining room, saw the whole process: fascinating stuff. I met the pilot and, for one glorious moment, held the wheel. And you know, everything I wrote was true; it was really good food! The cruise line could have been screwed—I wasn't bound to write anything complimentary. I'm sorry David felt I was compromising myself, but I don't mind if it was a bit of an attack... you know, it was a loving attack, in a way. I'm a bit older than he is, and in his article he said something—I forget the exact word, but he expressed admiration for my prose and was disappointed that I would use it in a commercial context... but I didn't think it was so great a sin."

"Hell," said Vu, "I'll do a Burger King commercial!"

Frank has great respect for Wallace's writing, he says; he mentioned, of all things, The Broom of the System, which most people dismiss as a Pynchon knockoff these days. "But especially considering when it first came out," says Frank, "it was something really new, really innovative in a lot of ways. I haven't had the opportunity to read the seven-thousand-page one yet. Maybe when I retire."

Then Julia got him to play the piano. He performed this bebop piece he wrote when he was nineteen, using it as a template for an impromptu theory lesson: he showed how bop could modify twelve-bar blues by substituting the flat fifth for the root note in the tonic chord. Then I got this old classical guitar from the other room and we went through a few bars. I don't have a sufficiently trained ear to hold my own with a jazz player of any caliber, but it was fun, and now I can say that I have played with a man who played with Mingus. I mean, hell's bells.


<= 2001.12.11

2002.01.08 =>

up (2001.12)