For you simpering simpletons don’t know Malae, I recommend starting with What We Are and then joining us on the ride for Son of Amity, which just came out this month. Be the first on your block to read it!
What We Are, besides being the Sanjoseest-ass book ever written, is a tight piece of prose from the point of view of a man who grasps his own masculinity and desperately wants to put it to use in service of his family and community, but can’t, and so jacks it off with dumb violence and relationship-ruining. Along the way the author makes some hilarious satires of Silicon Valley, of which we can never do enough.
To the end of reading, appreciating and contextualizing Malae, I’ll just leave this essay here from when What We Are came out, in which Fiction Advocate weighs the whys and wherefores of how Malae and Junot Díaz use so-called ‘high and low’ language juxtaposition (hello —deja el show. Have you read Dos Passos, pendejos?) but the latter gets a Pulitzer for it in Óscar Wao. As a huge fan of Óscar Wao myself, particularly Achy Obejas’ fucking killer Spanish translation, and as someone who also put down the last page of What We Are and wondered how the hell this didn’t get any awards, I’m only too interested in continuing the argument begun in the article. Not to encourage it, but the comment string is pretty salacious too. Read, read and argue away!
Here’s an excellent talk by Jon Taplin of the Annenberg School of Communication at USC and father of Post-Consumer‘s Nick Taplin, on the problems of libertarian dumbshits who control the internet and also US politics. Remember kids, libertarians and neonazis are the SAME PEOPLE, Google CEO or not.
As a fairly true anarchist artist who is always about community, dialogue and exposure before “copyright,” I nevertheless appreciate Taplin’s warning that “the technological revolution is coming for all of your jobs.” Does that make me double down on copyright? Fuck no! It makes me double down on 1.) reduction of reliance on capitalism’s rules for survival and 2.) increase of sharing all things so that they don’t end up falling apart when whatever thing comes for whatever of all our things. Enjoy the video!
The next act of the night at the Clink is pretty bad by any metric, and Stretch has enough.
Saw the cats from Owl Bike or whatever at the Local Color gallery’s zine fest in downtown San José and seized on the opportunity to find out whence all the commotion about Louisiana artist Ben Passmore‘s comic Goodbye.
Besides being surprised by the smallness of its quarter-sheet format (because the ad I got in the mail is legal size? Were they trying to impress me?), one association I made for myself when I first started reading was that both Goodbye and Pantomime Horse have a frame of this dead guy lying on the ground, who ends up representing a major conceit in the book revealed later.
I’ll give Ben this commendation: his stuff makes us want to reread it, largely because he has a skill for illustrating and talking around themes rather than hitting them on the nose, which many of us don’t, either for lack of skill, focus or confidence.
Goodbye deals impressively with values, action, and dialectic. In the comic, Passmore transports us from a somewhat startling shift in perspective about yuppie vacationing, through a mysterious and doubtlessly magical explosion, into a self-aware allegory about the conflict within a person over what counts as meaningful intentions and effective action. On the spectrum (sorry, Ben!), Passmore is much more a writer than an artist although the neat and tidy art has its charm.
In guiding us through this dialectic, Passmore wisely begins with the sense of community that we had when we were stupid, unmobilized kids with lots of time and few commitments, rather than shooting straight for self-critique about direct action against the fuckeries of late capitalism and anti-intellectualism. He makes a genuine case for the tiny sweetness found between people when partying and trying to figure it all out. He makes fun of bay area outwanderers (scheiss Auswanderer!) who impose their whatever on our scene –if only they’d move to red states in order to influence federal-level voting trends like Bernie’s meme machine said to without gentrifying our fucking domestic light beer establishments! Believe me Ben, I’m in San god damn José, where they paved the valley of the heart’s delight to make the god damn eBay, and I feel you.
He then makes a joke about group sex and lands us in the lap of a local anarchist, soon to draw us into his spirit with a breath of the aging process and times gone by. Ultimately his message is for us to find the common ground and get together again. What, then, does goodbye mean? Maybe it just means that parting is not the end, but rather the beginning of many happy returns.
As noted above and in our comments on Pantomime Horse, Passmore seems always to be talking around the invisible on several levels, one of them usually comprising hilarious and true imagery from the circles of people in which we operate, and one that’s very personal and spiritual, and which colors the reportage with its tone.
Ben could be a great artist one day as long as he avoids the ironic bullshit and stays on target. Goodbye should get its due respect in the short story world. I wonder if Bird in the Hand or whatever know what they have in him. Get Goodbye! Get several copies and give it as a gift! As Ben rightly reminds us, there are no rights to reserve!
Rebecca Markus, the very busy writer behind Nevermind the Furthermore, gives reviews of underground books! Visit her site and show her some love! Buy some of her books –you can afford it!
It’s finally here, gente! My gentri-fi novel Meat Ladder to Mars about a young professional who leans out, as it were, has been so graciously published by those crazy cats Éxitos Gnosis. It’s available for download at Amazon Kindle and they will print the book in May sometime. Go get yerself an ebook, they’re cheap! If you love it or hate it, consider leaving a review on Amazon as well. Enjoy!
Here’s the blurb:
Zosime, once an important crewmember at the doomed sky ladder, is now under one of the world’s largest landfills, loading an antiquated space shuttle with unprotected livestock. Suddenly the world-wandering heroine is given the choice to follow her heart and heal her family or follow orders.
Using the gentri-fi genre, Eugenio Negro presents the moment before colonization of the planet Mars. Negro’s controversial story examines the economic and cultural forces at work in the Mars mission, and asks: is space exploitation the dream of all humankind?
Here’s a QR code: