Posts Tagged ‘books’

Ballad of The Big Ass Skinhead, The Engineer, and The Artists Nearby

01 Apr


Structural Engineer


Alex Roehner romps around the room in her best crayon pajamas, "Use small words and carry a big ass skinhead," she smiles, a service mile of track sunk into the old skinhead she now wants to extend a quiet allegiance. "Hello, my friends," she writes as if she remembers the words of a song she never thought she knew, then quickly types out, "I meant friend in the singular, unless your voices are with you..."

"Allo! Admiring your boots. You caught me looking..." Virtuality, off the record I find myself thinking, is a keen instinct among particular early tribes of hunt and peck typists and rogue artists found in various regions of North America, but according to the latest statistics as compiled by a few former employees of Standard & Poor's—virtuality is not a new phenomenon, but has its roots in the early religious rites of ancient peoples whose archaeological traces can be found worldwide, although much disputed among professionals who chalk it all up as garbage character—lost and found, survival of the fittest, not the fattest, not the thinnest, but the fittest—and not worth the investment of digging for clues as to why this rumor persists while bonding together many populations otherwise stuck on it like barnacles on a favorite whale. That former associates of Standard & Poor's are or might be involved in this study is still a mystery. Then I think again of Alex in her victorious boots. I saw pictures. I think I can smell them heel to toe all the way up the calf in all their splendor from here on this page, despite odors of wet cellar wafting up from the stink below. What can one expect from a place built in the 1740s with beautiful 12" wide planks but no sub-flooring...


"Ha! And I was just writing about things that go kick in the night earlier in the day," say I.

"I will write to you tomorrow," she promises. "My brain is coasting on beer at the moment and I can't lift my unabridged dictionary to aide me in a witty and verbose reply to your wonderfully worded correspondence. I love that you make me think without a drop of arrogance!"

"It's a trick I learned years ago when I created a Zen koan in the form of a question which goes like this: what's the difference between arrogant humility and humble arrogance?"

"One you can hear," she states.

"Your response flew right on past me. Come again..." I am genuinely stumped. But Alex Roehner is no stone in the horse's shoe.

"Arrogant humility must be verbally identified whereas humble arrogance is silent and deadly," she explains in a way I had never considered but made sense at this time of night, and as I write this, so I give her sway.

"Wait a minute. If you're buzzing on beer moving west at forty miles an hour and another bloke is buzzed on atomic fireballs traveling in the opposite direction at fifty miles an hour, which detail do you find most arresting? Nevermind. A joke gone astray. Back to the original koan. I think it is simpler than what you have suggested. Think about it." Here I am trying to get her to land on my square, the one I had picked out for her, but she had been too clever for that.

"Did I tell you about that the other day? My answer is for them to call each other a coordinate." Word games can get silly awfully quick.

"Arrogant humility is like a TV evangelist on uppers and downers and a few dancing girls on the side. Humble arrogance is like the lion with a thorn in his paw." I made my point, but I am intrigued by hers, because it does actually fit the model I had prepared, which leads us to the question, are all squares alike? "Tell me what the other day?" Now, she's lost me in the crayons again. "Not that I recall, and while I recall reams, I might be overlooking something. Please clarify."

"About the Jimmy leaving the station going east at 10 mph with 16 apples and Janey leaving the salon going north with a sack of potatoes. You will get my Alan Aldaish humor in a bit." This girl hangs low. I just love that about her. I wonder if she knows.

"No, just another one of those eerie synchronicities we seem to have going right now," I tell her, remembering something about how she was going to jump off until tomorrow tired and bleary, but we were, lighting fox tails strung to long sticks, and running through the naked woods with only words to keep us armed against the bouncing brown bears and their hunters stoked with large guns, and a license to kill. "That is to say, no, you didn't mention that tale."

"I was going on about it the other day. I am forced to take math so my buildings don't topple and I can calculate bending moments. The problem with math is there is only one answer. In English hell, I can make Jimmy juggle those apples while driving with his knees going in the opposite direction of traffic..."

"LOL! Well, Heisenberg might disagree with you, but for building, stiff calculus will suffice under most conditions. My rebuttal signals a slight twinge of satisfaction. But even on that spot, she ups the cost of doing business with a girl strapped to the gurney forced to inhale the forces that exist in a non-literal world taught to call itself literal.

"So will calling a structural engineer. Aha!"

"You've heard that science now suggests that observing an experiment can change the course of that experiment, right Alex? But don't scientists observe ALL experiments? I guess the key, and I forget this insidious detail, whether observation of an experiment will change the course of that experiment in a PREDICTABLE or UNPREDICTABLE way."

"Sounds like every word that leaves your mouth is history."

"Or history repeating itself, ha! Besides none of these words are leaving my mouth. I am typing." I pop her a good lickin' with that hit, I think. She's a slammer, alright.

"You're a funny man," she counters.

"Not only that," I type. "I paint pictures few can decipher, or even try. So I guess perfection is not as funny as math."

"But just as confusing."

"Just to be clear, said Confucius, before boarding the train, I have no seeds..."

"Where ever you go, that is where you will be, young grasshopper"

"Oh, that one's old, must be history repeating itself." We are both wearing thin, obviously, nervously fingering our crayons and our last few consonants in the stack we kept near the water tea glass, and Vitamin D pills I took because I never left the terminal long enough to get any sun.

"Or I haven't gotten there yet, wink wink." Another stinker, we're falling out of love with the words that brought us this far, now mere alphabet slaves to routine and obligation. I wonder if there will be a resurgence of energy, of creativity, of probing, thrusting, bouncing unfettered words strung out on string, made for you, played for me. I wonder.

"Oh, you're there alright." You're a buttercup solo in a runaway dandelion field, I murmur to myself, now, as I consider that night when we were living at the Farm. Those were good days. Too bad the old man had no vision. Being an old stuffy government lawyer got the best of him, so I add the next lines to deflect. "And that's me in the corner, losing my virginity. But only because I'm a Libra. And there is no way a Libra can be a free spirit. Am often called one, but they just don't understand the conflicted soul the way us Librans do."

"Thats funny most people say I'm not there, or home, either."

"Silly wabbits. Home is there."

"In a Westinghouse."

"Such an illustrious past, the Westinghouse name." And brand. Surely Alex is too young to remember that tagline from the days of black & white television. She's an inspiration, quick and rich in symbolic references that have specific meaning to me, even this reference to Westinghouse. I give her that. But of what long term use is she to me, or I to her? But I don't have the opportunity to follow up the Westinghouse gem, as she is flagged as offline. Ah, she's back.

"Sorry to flee momentarily but Ive been on this silly FB for a bit too long for one day. I have some serious thinking to do if I am to reply to my friend Gabe and discover Suess' dark side. Dream Grand."

"Okay, thanks for chirping in..."

"Chat tomorrow?"

"Most likely. Bye, and hang tough..."

"Which is safer than Hang 10."

"Especially when you've only got eight."

"Just know I'm smiling."

"Skipping all the way to the building that never falls down...somewhere...and it ain't over some ephemeral rainbow. Just so you know."

"The vision of you skipping with "Skip to the Loo" (haha) is well, well, worthy of some angry art. You are such an inspiration."

"Guess my work is done, he smirks." And I meant it. That was a playful exchange. It's getting late, but not too late to keep the lights on for the honey pot to catch the next fly...

"Meanwhile back at the homestead..."

Are you still here?

"No. Gone home. Clocked out and gone home." I presume Alex Roehner, the girl with the most curious hair I know (with nod to D.F.W.) is working from home. A minute has passed...

"Can't pull yourself away from the little screen?" I tease.

"Busted again," she types. But actually I was the busted one the first time these words were used tonight, or so I'd originally thought, busted for peeping her in her hip boots. But I carry on.

"Home is where my laptop is, tiny dancer..."

"Like a candle in the wind" To have both tapped Elton John was a subtle move, but I realize that in saying that I have be giving people the wrong impression. I can live with that. But, I was just a big fan for a string of four or so albums.

"Caught between the bull and his Picasso. The taxi girl and the sneaker in the rye. Forty secrets the Dali Lama failed to mention on his way down the mountain. Anyways. I'm gone. You take it away. We'll meet up again tomorrow." That's should up the ante. Can't wait to see her next move.

"I have a suspicious feeling this banter could be documented."

"Copy and paste into a text doc. Only way I've found."

"Naw, that's falling in the misconceived trap that genius is gone for good. DONT DO IT!" she cajoles. Surely she doesn't think I'm going to pay attention to that big fat lie. Documentation no way belittles genius. Nor suffers it lightly. Nor uses up all its eggs. As you see, I kicked against Roehner's grave wishes, for better or worse, and I trust she will be happy to bounce through this moment of time. Hell, that's what writers and painters do. They document. Enter the readers.

"Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word has a dilemma for you. On that topic, have you checked out Goodreads yet? No? Chagrin."

"Not yet. Tiny magnetizing screen remember? Oh, and Structural engineering class and new NY Sunday times x word puzzles. Trés busy á demain."

"Goodreads is simply a space where you post your own favorite literary experiences. You rate them. You critique them, et cetera, yada yada, dada. It's similar to Facebook and the two services actually interact but Goodreads is ALL about books, your books, and other people's lists. Take it or leave it. Wish it were around about fifteen years ago when I was trying to catalogue my personal library, and had few tools worth fussing over. Well, she's off the clock now. Time to turn the lights out, methinks. Bye dark angel..."

My Only Book Review

16 Oct




Nearly two years after its publication, and despite the dissemination of forty or so copies among the few friends, family members, and strangers beating back the night sweats of literary intent, I have come to accept the fact that I write in such an outlandishly dull way as to render this special class of improbable bibliophiliacs completely and utterly devastated to the point of unleashing their inner mute upon the very grains of sand upon which I stand.

Now, I have not handed this book away to just anybody with a cap size or a Big Gulp to spare, but only to those who pleaded, cajoled, paid for in the case of some of the more deep pocketed critics, wished for, promising a review each and every one of them, and if cool beans are a good source of protein, threatened my well-being for a personal copy of this collection of visceral sweat and tears, bloody for the twenty-five years it stewed in the making, usually a signed copy, and usually accompanied by some petty insolence that they loved poetry, or some such glad-handing gush as that. Notions of the silent rejection, notwithstanding, The Silent Cull & Other Mechanical Ideas, Collected Poems 1980-2005 is not your usual thin volume of contemporary poetry, but is four hundred pages of seething canonical arrest, and I use the word "canonical" and "arrest" in all their usual connotations plus a few more that I insist are both canonical and arrested within the pages themselves, banking on subtleties of style and insight that are only coming apparent to the ill-prepared general public in these, our own spectacular terror-driven chaotic times. Well-minced words are a swallower's delight, and this book rarely portrays paradise, or other romantic follies of the past or future tense of mankind, but in its own galloping way wraps itself in the contemporary physics of time and thought itself, tackling its author as much as the culture that spawned him.

But this entry is not about describing the book. It has been aptly described elsewhere.

Here I wish to fan myself with those few words of praise, or words of any kind that have wafted my way in the context of this inpenetrable book. The following paragraph was sent to me by a local artist, a young painter of some early renown, still in his late twenties, whose first son was to be born on my birthday (the second of my friends whose firstborn sons arrived likewise) named James Coleman:

I really like the book man, I read it out loud to Christie at night when we go to bed, they say the baby can hear it and its good to read to him, but I dont know. I really love it man they say if you reach one person, blah blah blah, well thats me. I can sit on the roof and smoke a cigarette, lay in bed at night, damn i would even take it to the beach. It flows it pulsates, it moves me. Im not kissing your ass, I have no reason to. Just wanted to give you an honest opinion, and for whatever reason, it speaks to me. When I read it I feel like I did when I was in college smoking opium and reading boulbelaire or at the coffee shops reading dylan thomas, thinking I should start a fight. What I am trying to say is that at this point in my life your book works for me. Great job man, Im not a literary figure or even a good writer but just wanted to tell you. If I see you and I am drinking and tried to tell you all this, you would think I was full of shit.

What can I say? For all the silent pretenders haunting my crude ambitions, this single review is just about the most stirring string of thoughts an old poet, fat on the failures of inertia, far past his gameface prime, could ever hope to absorb.

Thanks JColeman...

Get Lost In Translation, You Creep

11 Jul


All These Years Later


Or, in other words, "Don't Idle On The Grass" I thought to myself as I wondered what kind of person started communications like this girl did. Australian punk rock girls? Just my luck that she was on the other side of the planet. Okay, I'd give her a shot at sanity.

The following record tracks the well-worn path of most of my ordinary attempts at communication with the generalized world, whether online, in print, or over a beer in the barnyard back in the day. I will attempt to re-create the original form of the communication, in this case, to shine ample light on a very swift but exciting blitz of misunderstandings and its ultimate smiling defeat, by including both sides of the exchange until the point of what was lost in translation is more clear. These amusing messages shot back and forth across the globe from Washington, DC to Australia over a few weeks in May & June, 1998, initiated when a young lady named Olivia Pantelidis found my online bookstore, and filled out the suggestion box form.

At 9:52 PM -0700 5/20/98, WWW-server wrote:
mail_dest = storemaster
rmailreq = true
subject = Suggestion Box
name = olivia
rmail = okimmikko
bookworm = 3-5 books
author = grass, i am trying to contact him can you help me
title =
topic =

Sorry Olivia. I sell books. I am not a literary agent or detective. You'll need to find Gunter yourself, and do learn to spell your words. I hardly think GG is your "IDLE", but rather like Billy he might be your "IDOL."

Literary folk don't usually cotton to such linguistic haziness. But on the positive side, you are now entered in the Bookskellar Book Giveaway.


Gabriel Thy
Graphic Solutions Ink Systems

At 9:16 PM -0700 5/21/98, Olivia Pantelidis wrote:
How dare you!!!!!!! I ask you for help and you come back at me like some kind of know it all. Well fuck you!!!!! People like you are so above arrogant it is amazing. Don’t flatter yourself either it is quite obvious that you have a high estimation of your own worth well you can shove it up your arse!!!!

Bye for now shithead, and take me out of your stupid contest or whatever it is.

How dare ME??? Get a life Olivia! Do you storm into a bookstore and DEMAND they give you all sorts of information on some author you are asking about? Hell no, they might DIRECT you where to get it, if at first they understand what you are asking (after all, you did say please). I had to take pause at your language because your orthography was a bit out of kilter (and I saw a handful of jokes just waiting to be mined). But you, in turn, decide to drop your pants, aim, and squirt wickedly juicy darts in my direction when I gently point out what was rather obvious in the context of my website. Well BABY (HERE'S WHERE YOU SHOUT BACK, FUCK YOU MAN, I AIN'T YOUR BABY!) you dear Olivia are on record as behaving according to your own nature. Punk THAT little sister! I'm sorry my reply offended you, but I guess YOU know how to take care of YOURSELF. You certainly SHOWED me, didn't you?

I get two or three notes a week similar to your first request from kids obviously wanting me to do homework and all sorts of tasks more suited to themselves, when my site is so obviously a bookstore. Perhaps since I so angered you, I should resort in all these cases to the standard reply most folks would use—indifference, simply ignore the letterwriter. Then I guess I could just dance with myself, and nobody would notice. But go ahead and FLATTER yourself all you care to indulge. And are you saying that you don't have a high estimation of your own self-worth? Ummm, that's odd, I would SWEAR that you do.

Nothing I say is ever enough...


"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
—Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure."
—Buddha (B.C. 568-488)

Quite the wit you have there Gabe, I must say i am impressed. Takes a lot for me to get shitty and well hey you did it. I enjoyed your email so thank you for pointing out to me what I so stupidly neglected to see. (I guess it’s a chick thing). I was wrong about you I admit it. I was hoping to speak to somone who would be a little more sympathetic and not someone so caught up in my grammar, (who’s the one telling WHO to get a life?) I think it is you my friend who requires a little more excitement in your life if when a person comes to you for honest help all you can give them is grammar lessons. So I apologise for the harsh language but I still believe that you were exceptionally rude and should consider apologising to me. If you do not feel you need to apologise that is fine because then my point will be proven. See ya Grammar Geek
Olivia 😉

Whew! We made it past the swirling torrents of raw personality nerve and now can smile and laugh like old friends. That was SOME ride, Liv. Now that we're on the same page, I hope you continue to check back at the Bookskellar, but tell me, who is this Calvina you mention? Perhaps you could recommend a few authors to help supplement my online shelves. It takes a lot of work to put an author online, so I AM selective of course, but in turn I'm always looking for new names I might have unintentionally missed, or authors I may not have previously known, but might welcome to the Skellar, if certain criteria according to my secret list of intangibles no one can decipher but myself [inane iconografia], are met. Anywaze, glad to have weathered the storm with you. And by the way, I love your name!

Gabriel Thy
Creative Director
Graphic Solutions Ink Systems

Thanks so much for your email Gabe it put alot into perspective i Guess you are right in a lot of things and i am sorry i took your humour the wrong way. (This cyber world muddles everything sometimes. I do agree with you my knowledge of grammar and spelling is not the greatest but i have an enormous passion for reading and i know that counts for something, to me anyway and i hope you can understand that. You should read ‘the tin drum’ it is one of his finest books ever. I have not read them all but a few more and i’m nearly there. I don’t contest to being some kind of know it all but i do know that I admire him tremendously and he too would find your wit quite amusing, now that i understand it i find it very funny. If you have any books you could suggest let me know, i am a big fan of European literature. Thomas Mann, Milan Kundera, Calvina etc
Liv (my friends call me that)

Hi Olivia! I'm not avoiding you. I've been very busy, exhaustingly, work til I drop busy, no damn room at all on my plate for plain restful relaxation or literary chat, but I did appreciate your last letter, and will respond in kind very soon.


Hey Liv. Broadcasting from WASHINGTON, DC. Olivia Pantelidis is the name I immediately loved, and loved with the prattling passion of history. I presumed it to be Greek in nature. Perhaps I am wrong. Yes, Olivia Pantelidis, I just had to write it again, the other names are all so lovely and fine, Liv and Okimikko (Japanese-flavor I note), but it was your whole given name which drew first blood. Thanks for writing back. This has actually come to be much fun playing words like a deck of cards with you. Meanwhile I live in DC, a block away from the stadium where the REDSKINS footballers used to play until moving to a new expensive facility in the suburbs last year. Good riddance I say, but I'd really love to see a baseball team play there for many reasons which I will spare you for now.

Perhaps the title was not indicative of Gunter's other work, but it reminded me of Thomas Pynchon's Vineland, and although I love Pynchon's earlier work, Vineland and this latest book, Mason and Dixon (a much difficult read, and I have read very little of it frankly.) leave a lot to be desired. Vineland sucked as far as I'm concerned, a pale shimmer of past literary glory, this book. Mason and Dixon is something altogether different. Written in Olde Englische, I don't know if it's worth the read or not. But for now it remains on my shelf, a gift from Sue, barely opened, a scholar's maze.
There's also a public hospital, a large highschool, a single small Ma & Pa grocery store, and the National Guard facility in my immediate neigborhood. Nothing else but old rowhouses, many in slum condition, offer my life much urban immediacy. Litter and glass plague these neighborhood streets and alleys. Gunshots are not so rare. Graffitti slang, not EVEN artistic, is sprayed wildcat upon this wall or that building. Wearing my social engineering cap, I lust for new business sections to open up down here, designed heavy commerce worthy of a vibrant city just bursting to emerge from this neighborhood. My property is about half a mile from the River Anacostia flowing just the other side of the stadium. We are prime commercial, but alas, the city suffers and rages and dies, arguing poorly for residential nothingness. There are few wise men here. A city of imposters and ugly metaphors. Fakes and spastic manipulators. Tyrants and suit salad liars. The city is withering on the vine of potential growth. Down here they call it a race issue. It's really an ego issue. Meanwhile we wither.

It's no secret I too curl up among my words and the books that publish them. My own few favorites are scattered around my website. You can visit the Scenewash Project 20003 and click to THE LITERARY CHIP. Still not a whole lot there yet, but I aim to establish a little here, a little there, and take heed that I am slowly bringing it all together. This is practically all I do in my miserable life among the mobs of malcontention, but that might be exaggerating ever slightly, like a whisper among the rapids.

I write many words on many pages and build my websites one page at a time. Desperation is the poet's business. And my poems rot because I haven't put very many online yet, but the space is there, and some poems are there. Check around. Be my Australian friend. I don't have one yet. It seems like we've damned near established some sort of literary correspondence, and while I get really busy sometimes, I do appreciate an interesting correspondence. I freelance, and work several current clients on a sporadic basis. I work and take great peace and ponderance in my garden, and am enlisted in the minds that matter to fight back all the garbage entropy and grime have a way of bringing to my attention . . .

I do all this from home, and in fact, rarely leave the Dollhouse & Grillyard [our pet names for the house & yard], and am somewhat agoraphobic in that way. I live here with two others. Peter and Sue. You can read about them on the website as well. I'm currently trying to finish Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. You really should read this book, without question. It is a rare instant classic, better than Grass's The Rat, which I only mildly found amusing or interesting. In fact I was disappointed, I must say. Perhaps the title was not indicative of Gunter's other work, but it reminded me of Thomas Pynchon's Vineland, and although I love Pynchon's earlier work, Vineland and this latest book, Mason and Dixon (a much difficult read, and I have read very little of it frankly.) leave a lot to be desired. Vineland sucked as far as I'm concerned, a pale shimmer of past literary glory, this book. Mason and Dixon is something altogether different. Written in Olde Englische, I don't know if it's worth the read or not. But for now it remains on my shelf, a gift from Sue, barely opened, a scholar's maze.

Don't use Netscape, eh? Which browser DO you use? Tell me about your computer, if you've a mind to go there. I work from a Power Macintosh, an 8500/120, but I hope to upgrade to a G-3 soon. Anywaze, it's been fun chatting widja . . . keep it cool, and we'll just play this mystery word by word. As some unknown poet wrote some time ago, twig by twig we build a language. That reminds me, my mother wants to discuss a poem I just had published, but one I had written a while ago. She's a 63 year old junior at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, down in the state of Georgia, so go figure. She loves school, and has never been happier in her life! She studied Nietzsche this past quarter and now feels driven to discuss this called poem with me, so I must oblige her. I've got to write her now, so tiddly widdly, until the next time we meet, Olivia, just call me...


Hey GT,
Glad you mailed me. i thought you were not talking to me anymore. Well i made a mistake with the authors name (i really should read back over my emails). Anyways his name is Italo Calvino. He wrote ‘If on a Winter’s night a traveller’ it is probably one of the greatest and most frustrating books i have ever read. I have only read three of his books so far but he is a fascinating writer. Very much like Kundera, happy to go off on tangents and take you on that for awhile, i love a writer who can do that. Currently i am reading Grass’ ‘Dog Years’ and it is bloody hard. It requires and inordinate amount of concentration, i haven’t had to focus like that since ‘the divine comedy’ so it’s feels good. Hey what did you think of the ‘Rat’ that is one i am yet to read so let me know what you think, i hear it is quite strange. Unfortunately on this damn computer i have trouble finding anything on the net. Because i do not have netscape it makes things a lot harder. I must learn to download. Can’t think of any others at the moment, my reading comes in waves of authors, at the moment it’s Grass, but if i think of anymore i will let you know.

Which name are you reffering to? Olivia, Liv or kimmikko? Must say yours is quite cooli as well. By the way i am in Australia, Melbourne. Where are you?
See ya GT

And just to put the sharpest point on all this linguistic flummoxing, two other notes found their way into my inbox during my little frackus with my new pal Olivia. Read, and cherish. Remember now, I am an Amazon affiliate, a mere online bookstore, one of the first, by the way, launching the Bookskellar on April 1, 1997, just weeks after Amazon announced its revolutionary program. I certainly did not offer any summaries or Cliff notes on the site, nor did Amazon itself in those first years. I think I ignored their requests. It was obvious that Blondi and Alisa needed to learn that a library was a girl's best friend during these times of dark scholastic horror. But, despite the positive outcome of the Oliva Pantelides, I was hesitant to step into that shark pool again. I had my own work to do, and that didn't include doing homework for young ladies I didn't even know, much less stalk their favorite writers for them. If I had that information, I would share it, but to have to explain that I didn't have it, just didn't make sense to me. Life must not be much more than a sunny easter egg hunt in some parts of this inglorious world.

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 18:08:19 EDT
To: storemaster

Subject: BOOK


Date: Sun, 31 May 1998 01:56:28 EDT
To: storemaster


i need some sort of address to gregory corso, because i’m doing a project for
school, for monday june 1st, and if there is any way you could help me, thank
you, even a publishers address would be fine, just something….


DC-Moscow Letters

17 Feb


Transcontinental Bear


Originally published on February 17, 1998


Sorry about that last truncated line. Somehow in the typo editing process the line was chopped off, but is rather irrelevant at this time. Thanks for your offer to clue me in to your Muscovian mysteries. Over here I read about gangs of organized crime taking over the Russian economy which has improved little in recent years as the transition to capitalism is proving much more difficult than the populations are willing to tolerate. What is your opinion on this matter? Is my news source a distortion of the facts? Or is the typical conservatism of the old in desiring the status quo and the old ways while the radical youth and professional criminals embracing the chaos of change as part and parcel of their own power grab simply "expected in these transitional years" by the Russian people as a whole, however begrudingly or exuborantly, dependent upon one's own demographic?

Other than cross-cultural chitchat of a very superficial nature, my knowledge of Russian culture is decidedly very shallow, Anni. In my ignorance, or perhaps in my enthusiasm to wish peace and tolerance among the people of the world wherever conflict reigns among classes and races and political intent, I don't view the Russian people any different than any other European-derived culture. Here in America, the racial problems inherited from several hundred years of slavery, have divided the populations in political polarities quite unnatural and observedly bogus, exploited by unsavory types for reasons of treasure and treason, collective usurpation and individual flaw alike, but they exist and thrive nevertheless. It's very sad. Language is subverted in these politically-motivated causes, and while I would like to think this is simply an American or a class warfare phenomenon, something that ideology could cure, I know better. Human greed, envy, corruption and frailty; these are the culprits, and the clock keeps ticking away as mankind destroys itself, its homelands, and its authority to proclaim itself a truly rational creature.

Great literature sums it up for us. But false saviors devour us in our beds, in our workplaces, polluting our minds and enslaving our bodies. We are never satisfied but consistently look over our shoulders to exploit our neighbors in the name of love, and if that doesn't work, in the name of fear. There seems to be no peace. Our finest writers are either arrogant and ruthless or they are timid all-seeing inversions of the truths they discover. Thus, even literature is part of the problem with its hero-worship and cold formulas of perfection, yet those of us who have rejected all else, savor literature as the last vestiges of sanity in a world gone mad with desire and deadly with gratuitous delusions of rationality.

Oh silly me, why am I tottering on the brink of my own blather? Anni, thanks for writing. I am glad to have helped you perhaps sell your Russian language books. Now that I think about it, maybe I can buy a small collection from you. A Nabakov, a Tolstoy, a Dostoevsky, one other? That would be fun. Four books I would like to buy from you. Even though I don't read the language. You suggest a fair price. If I can afford the price, we then need to create a formula and map the logistics for transferring funds and books. Please think about this. Who knows what might develop? But do follow up on the Kamkins address. It is a very large warehouse, and is a true business opportunity for you. I am a very small unimportant Internet author, a lover of books, but of no great consequence to your business ambitions.

But I do look forward to your next reply. Best wishes,

Gabriel Thy
Creative Director
Graphic Solutions Ink Systems

Jim Carroll Entered Through This Portal, Exited Through His Own

14 Aug


The Great Cull


Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 08:50:16 -0500

Okay Cassie. Thanks for the tips and the patronage. Checked out your site, and was impressed by the growth I've seen over the past year or so. I indeed will investigate your leads and make the organizational changes you suggest. As for more detailed info on individual titles, any stuff you zip my way will be appreciated. As I mentioned earlier all the information I have is what is presented to me by the distributor, and you are obviously far more savvy to the JC library than I am, so I will embrace any details you feed me. Thanks again for the nod. Indeed I want to thank you for your promotional link to the Bookskellar.

I have sold several JC books over the past few months, and no doubt have you to thank for it. Give me a week or so to make the changes you've suggested. I've noticed that Amazon has already killed some of their own JC links so I will make a bona fide effort to clean up the carnage on the JC page. Like I say, gimme a few days. Things are rather hectic around here this week. Because I am still unfamiliar with frames, I can only presume that the Bookskellar JC URL will remain the same, although it doesn't show up in the active location cell. Regardless, I will send you a note informing you that the changes have been implemented. Thanks again. And I promise soon, I'll get around to spewing my Jim Carroll anecdotes, for better or for worse. We've never actually been formally introduced, but we crossed each other arrogant paths several times in the Eighties in DC...


Thanks for responding so quickly! After I sent my message to you late last night, it occurred to me that it sounded really pushy, so I'm relieved! I greatly appreciate your interest in this. Also, I'm intrigued that JC is so popular on your site. Hmmm. I'm curious to know more about the numbers you are getting, because I am becoming more and more amazed to discover how many JC fans there are just on the internet. At least three people e-mail me every day asking to be added to my mailing list (sometimes as many as ten in one day), and that's only a small percentage of the people visiting my website. I *think* it gets about 50 hits per day on the website--which amazes me partly because the links on all of the search engines still point to the old "ernie" location, but also because I can't believe there are so many JC fans out there. Of course it could just be the same five people visiting ten times a day...I know that JC fans tend to be sort of obsessive that way (hee hee).

Well, that's enough rambling from me. I hope I can send some business your way, and I
would love to hear your JC stories!

Best wishes,

Cassie Carter
American Thought & Language
229 Ernst Bessey Hall
Michigan State University
E. Lansing, MI 48824


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""