A new language

Nov 20


Aug 16


Fleischfabrik IV: A performance

2:45 Waldo’s Bar & Grill, Klamath Falls, OR: A bearded man steps into the light. (I wish this was the beginning of a novel I wrote. Quentin Tarantino or David Lynch would want to make it into a movie.) The claire-obscur/ a mysterious appearance/ a clearing in the forest; all of the above.

Tuesday night is open mic night in this wonderful establishment. The previous act was a band called ‘Fender Offer’ (?) consisting of a gentleman with his goatee forked and died black, his hair white, and covered in tattoos for obvious reasons, of a base-playing girl that one has forgotten about by now, and a fuzzy drummer (a better name for a band by the way). The combo pleased the similarly decked out [a term I’m not sure of, I typed in ‘uitgedost’ in Google Translate and this showed up. I like how it sounds] patrons with a mix of music and, here it is: Sounds from a meat processing plant.

Wally has been drinking for a while now. His friend the Bear wanted to walk around town a bit but Wally is fed up with his own astonishment by this type of American urban development. It’s been mighty interesting but he doesn’t want to see it anymore. Now he wants to forget and what better way to do so than to join the locals in their wish to forget their existence; their prolonged existence in Klamath Falls, OR. In a proper dive bar.

Halfway through the ‘Fender Offer’ (I didn’t make this up) show he felt a sudden flush of inspiration. The music reminded him of his own libretto Fleischfabrik. This revelation combined with the sad swagger of the drunken boy led him to beleive that Waldo’s should serve as the venue to debut his song. You could call his presence at an open mic bar this evening slightly suspicious with respect to the sincerity of this sudden discovery. But Freudian motives are as valid as conscious ones, as far as I’m concerned. 

Wally walked back to the RV, leaving his credit card at Waldo’s. The September night chilled his skin to the point of reinvigoration as if walking into the tent where his favorite DJ just started playing after dropping a first e. 

His friend is combing his hair in the side view mirror, truly a ridiculous sight. Wally starts laughing, releasing some of his own tension. It could also be fun, performing his untested song, not just devastating. “Let’s do it, I’m putting on my outfit.” 

And thus it came about that the Bear positioned himself behind a keyboard to which he attached the Roland he brought with him from Berlin. His hair did look great and he was waiting calmly for what he knew would be a total disaster. He liked the music he made and was sure Wally would do an excellent job at his performance but the crowd would positively hate it. No doubt about that. They would be unable to understand. 

So when he saw a dark figure, clad in white, supporting a blue turban and a luscious beard, walk into the light at 2:45 this Tuesday night, he started the drum machine expecting to have to make a run for it at any moment. The crowd would turn on them and chase them out. Part of him had always wanted to reenact the Blues Brothers chase scene ever since he saw the movie as a boy at his best friend’s house. This might be his only chance. 

Stepping forward, Wally is acting out his fantasy. His head bowed until he’s standing right in front of the microphone. Mustering up strength, extracting energy out of the thin air between his eyes and the floor, he waits. He has thought about this moment for a long time; has prepared for it during battles with solitude and solipsism, in clubs and in front of his computer. And when he tightens his abs, straightens his shoulders and lifts his head, it’s nothing less than a battle he’s engaging in. A force he’s unleashing. The battle to convince the world that there is no peace, there’s only war, while we’re dancing in the meat factory. The force he feels he is. He sings.

Aug 15

“Firemountain ‎ - Jul 24, 2007
Great pub/bar Waldo’s is schizophrenic, and depending on what time you go, you will have a very different experience. During the day and evening, you will find small groups of regulars and families enjoying the burgers and the free appetizers during happy hour (4:30-6:30). The bang-bang shrimp is especially good. Later, it fills with a younger crowd, with loud (sometimes live) music and smoking in the back by the pool tables. Always, it has a great selection of microbrews on tap, some cheap domestic beers, and a fully-stocked bar. The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable, and will help you find a beer you like if you’re new to the microbrew experience.
Was this review helpful? Yes - No - Flag as inappropriate” — http://maps.google.com/maps/place?q=Bar+near+Klamath+Falls,+OR&hl=en&cid=17238104275446775059

Aug 02

The description and review of the movie 'Tree of Life' might have been and the author actually thinks he saw

I ordered an analysis of the experience of watching the movie ‘Tree of Life’ and a summary of several articles about that movie.

There’s a movie everyone is talking about. Tree of Life. It’s supposed to be this remarkable work of art that doesn’t really have a story but somehow does convey a very distinct feeling. Or so I’ve heard.

Its director is claimed to be some sort of recluse. He doesn’t give interviews, didn’t even pick up the grand prize in Cannes, and makes only the movies he wants to make. After two beautiful films in the seventies, this director vanished, allegedly translating philosophy or something for almost thirty years, before returning to filmmaking with a war movie. I believe I saw that movie, it came out on the heels of Saving Private Ryan, but don’t remember much of it, mainly because we smoked a lot of weed. From conversations among friends I gather he has made another movie since, about Pocahontas. That sounded like a Disney movie to me but it’s supposed to be very grown-up. 

Honestly, I never understand these movies. Some people love cinema, I find most pictures strenuous to watch. The whole deal of sitting there in a crowded room, people smacking on popcorn and slurping coke; older women smelling of decaying meat covered in flour (especially when it’s an ‘art house’ movie); looking straight ahead at a screen for two hours with a friend or girl you’d rather talk to sitting awkwardly next to you, a little too close; it all seems a grand waste of time.

But many people love it. Even some people I hold in high regard. They seem to feel part of a community of aficionados (their term, not mine), a subculture too lazy for video art and, in a way, for mainstream cinema as well (they won’t go through the trouble of dressing up for a date, putting on some cologne, to go to a ‘fun’ movie in preparation for intercourse; instead these people are sloppy and thus need a subculture that’s sloppy. And because they need an excuse to choose this faux bohemian style over neatness, they cling to the alleged intelligence of the productions on screen).

In any case, people have been bugging me relentlessly about seeing the Tree of Life, more so than with any other movie in recent memory. I almost caved. I had already planned to go see it last week when I heard about this website: feignedmemories.com. Some industrious Dutch guy started it to provide people with experiences and stories they aren’t able or willing to go through themselves. And I must say; it’s pretty amazing. They write you anything from an obituary you don’t have the stomach to lie for, to complete weekend retreats in some ashram you’re hot yoga teacher suggested you’d attend but you obviously don’t want anything to do with.

I wrote them an e-mail asking if they could bring me up to speed on this movie so I would be able to participate in the discussions where I heard arguments like: ‘What do you mean you didn’t understand the movie? The whole point is that it surpasses understanding. The film achieves something much more profound, it impresses life on you.’ ‘Exactly, it’s a work of impressionism in motion, forming connections in your brain beyond the images on screen. The scope of the picture inside your head is much wider than the movie itself; it’s potentially infinite, depending on whether you open your mind.’

You see what I have to endure, it wasn’t going to be easy to come up with some effective material. But man, did those guys from feignedmemories.com come through for me. For a very small fee plus expenses they sent me summaries of the movie and several articles about the movie; some nice one-liners from the interviews surrounding the release of the film, they even offered to compile some footage for me but I declined; that sounded too much like watching the actual movie.

They also wrote me several discourses, angles I could work. One was simply about what happened to me in the theatre, what the lady selling tickets looked like and a description of ‘the buttery popcorn smell gluing the moviegoers together in a collective experience’ (I know, brilliant isn’t it! I actually used that phrase on a girl at work. She seemed extremely impressed).

Some of the other stories had more to do with the content and context of the movie. There was a survey of similar movies and their opposites, opening up a dialectic argument, I was handed some insightful remarks on the technique of the various actors and a critique was formulated of movie reviews in general, just in case the discussion would go Meta.

I have yet to use any of these but I’m sure I will this weekend when me and my friend go to a party in Brooklyn, where we will drink vodka out of plastic cups and dance to The Beatles. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

Aug 01


Jul 23

Feignedmemories.com 'Making your leisure leisurely.'

Wouter de Iongh

Meng Nan Zhang, Thin Cities 5

There’s this guy I know who writes a blog, let’s call him Paul Auster. No, Paul Auster he isn’t called. We’ll name him Wouter de Iongh. Yes. So this guy, this ‘Wouter’, he writes a blog, nothing too spectacular, about detective novels; mainly news and reviews, that kind of stuff. He reads everything and anything he can get his hand on but of late he has become dissatisfied with this vocation. The stories bore him; he hates the ostentatious and obvious withholding of information, the arrogant advantage the writers claim over their readers. ‘Why the element of surprise in every book?’ he asks himself ‘Besides the fact that one assumes that there are no surprises left, wouldn’t it be interesting to read something because of what is conveyed instead of when in the text this information is being revealed?’

Anyway, to divert himself he has come up with a plan to sell memories. Especially in the US (and even more so in New York), division of labor is institutional to a fault. All non-essential activity, that’s to say non-essential to the interaction between an individual and society, everything, in short, but economic and physical personal integrity, is done by third parties, subcontractors of those third parties, freelancers hired by those subcontractors, and illegal immigrants who are expected to pick up the crumbs in deadening 20 hour shifts cutting vegetables, selling flowers during the night, driving taxis or delivering everything from food to laundry. All the things a hard working professional simply doesn’t have time for.

The only thing people still try to do themselves is to have fun. Relaxing, satisfying curiosity and trying to impress others with the stories of one’s leisure, are still very much the prerogative of every separate individual. In short; people spend their own free time and they make up their own stories. But by doing so, they are venturing into an area they aren’t familiar with. They might be brilliant lawyers or doctors; they lack the imagination to do something truly spectacular. These people aren’t trained to have fun. As a consequence, their stories will be lame, the adventures inefficient and the presentation of what transpired will be nervous. So why not hire a professional? 

If it’s up to this ‘Wouter’ character, all of that will soon be a thing of the past, as archaic as polishing your own shoes, organizing your own wedding of raising your children. He has started the website feignedmemories.com. On that site, one finds a rather formal display of the kinds of memories available for your purchasing pleasure, intersected with quotes like:

Feignedmemories.com provided me with a week’s worth of mountain climbing in the Andes and I didn’t even have to go there! For a price only slightly higher than what I would’ve spent myself, the brilliant minds at Feigned Memories went to Argentina, climbed the Aconcagua from the challenging south side, made some wonderful pictures and wrote a thrilling account of their journey. And they did all of this while I was able to relax in the comfort of my own home. I even got some work done that week! The best part is that I can impress all my friends, family or random people at a party, with this amazing story about my adventurous personality. Thank you so much, you really do make leisure leisurely!’

The site uses this as a tagline: Feignedmemories.com Making your leisure leisurely.

Another testimonial is of a different nature but no less glaring:

‘As a little girl, my mother forced me to recite a poem she caught me writing about my warm feelings towards a pet rabbit, in front of a crowd of her drunk and disgusting friends. I have had what you could call a storytelling block ever since. At public events where I am expected to say a few words or tell other people something about myself, I completely panic. Luckily the kind folks at feignedmemories.com have freed me from this curse. By purchasing the wonderful eulogy I gave at my father’s funeral from them, I was able to focus on the event itself instead of being nervous about my impending speech. So from now on I can rest assured that whenever I need to speak in public, the writers at feigned memories are there to fully accommodate my needs. As they succinctly put it in the eulogy: ‘Memories are only feelings in time, we need to cherish the feelings instead of lingering on lost time.’’

As ‘Wouter’s’ acquaintance, I must promote this idea and honestly, I think there’s actually something to it. It’s the last true inefficiency in modern life; imagination. If you lack it, why not buy it? So check out his website, order anything from a clever line on a birthday card to a summary of the novel everyone is talking about, to a thorough analysis of the experience of being mugged in a back alley in Istanbul.

Finally, on a slightly different note: In the novel ‘City of Glass’ by Italo Calvino, the parents of Paul Auster, the main character, have their anniversary on the 19th of May, just like my parents. Surely that must mean something. Also; in Bright Lights Big City, a novel about New York by Jay McTierney (they named the director of Die Hard after him), written in 1980 something, the protagonist spots posters of a missing girl throughout the city and the book. The girls’ last name is McCann, just like the British girl that went missing in Portugal a few years back. Surely all this can’t be coincidental. There must be some entity connecting all these memories. A supreme blogger perhaps. 

Jul 07

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Fleischfabrik III: Crater Lake to Black Rock City

“So what do you think buddy, still want to do this thing?”

“The performance? Sure, why not. We have everything; we just need to practice a little.” 

The two men are driving to Crater Lake, where they will arrive shortly. There is still some time although the scenery exceedingly starts demanding attention. The Bear in particular seems distracted at times, perhaps because he is driving. There isn’t a lot of traffic on the Crater Lake Highway. Some very down tempo electronic music is playing at moderate volume. 

“Ok, I’ll grab my notes. Let’s see what I have so far.” 

Wally leans back and rummages through his bag, finding his notebook. Leafing through it he seems exited. Maybe he thinks that what they’re about to make is going to be a huge success. Maybe it will be. It says:

‘Gibt nur verlieren

da gibt kein Sieg,

weil wir allen tansen,

jetzt ins Fleischfabrik’

“Hmm. That isn’t much is it? Thought I had more. Let me think.” 

Wally is silent for a while, looking at the pine trees, the winding road, he opens a window. B lights a cigarette, a drooping bass keeps signifying some inescapable rhythm. Every now and then Wally writes a few words in his notebook, hesitant at first, faster after a while. Every sentence limits the possibilities for the one that follows. It gets easier, at least when making a linear pop song. This is what he writes:

          Was war das

Was haben wir verloren?

           Was ist es

Das was wir nicht mehr sehen?

Es tut mir Leid es sie zu sagen:


           Wo war es

Das wir es vergessen sind?

           Wie waren wo?

Wann verschwand uns das verstanden?

Von eine Sache bin ich sicher doch:


Gibt nur verlieren

da gibt kein Sieg,

weil wir alle tanzen,

jetzt ins Fleischfabrik

Es gibt kein Friede

Da ist nur Krieg

Weil wir al’ vergessen

jetzt ins Fleischfabrik’

“The way I see it, is that you would perform the song live on your drum computer and whatever tools they might have. It would be great if there’s a keyboard so you can stand behind it really composed while I’m going crazy in the front. Or the other way around, that doesn’t really matter. Like 2 Unlimited of Two Brothers on The Fourth Flour or something. Man, I used to love 2 Unlimited. Never cared for any of the other euro house shit but 2 Unlimited still gives me the chills. No no/ no no no no/ no no no no/ no no there’s no limit. Brilliant. Let me write two more verses and we’ll repeat the refrain a couple of times and we’re good to go. What do you think?” 

“We have to see if it works with music. The mood is good though, although I’m not sure if a hippie crowd would appreciate the meat factory references. I think we’re here.” 

The road had slowly ascended to the rim of the crater. Now the trees receded and a view of the lake presented itself. It made the lyrics to the song seem rather irrelevant; beyond the road no human interference was visible. Just the deepest lake in the US, only gazed upon by white man’s eyes for the first time in 1853. Even the natives were hardly aware of its existence as only medicine men were allowed to visit this sacred lake. John Welsley Hillman stumbled upon what was democratically decided to be dubbed Big Blue Lake, riding ‘the best saddle mule in Oregon’. Years later wrote in his memoir the following, which still very much holds true: 

‘It is really an impossibility to describe this lake as I first viewed it; the vast loneliness of the place, the sparkling water so many feet below, the beautiful view of the water is remarkably clear, a six inch plate showing to a depth of 92 feet. When looked upon from the surrounding cliffs, its color is the deepest possible blue, except close to the shore where it blends into a rich turquoise.  Seen from a boat, the blue remains as deep as before, but assumes a brighter hue. In the absence of wind, surrounding objects are reflected as from a plate-glass mirror. I knew when I gazed upon Crater Lake that even though the West was filled with undiscovered wonders Crater Lake would hold its own; that while not a passing thought was given at the time, a later generation would realize its wonders and its possibilities as an incomparable piece of western scenery, and that tourists (though we called them immigrants, and they had not come out west to gaze at scenery, they came to make a living) would come for miles to view it.’

He also paraphrased one of the camp poets (sic!) in this party of gold rushers:

‘We have lawyers, we have doctors,

We have educated fools-

All quit their mean professions

And gone to driving mules.’

Jul 01


Jun 24

Kids Attack Redheads on ‘Kick a Ginger’ Day

"I was amazed by the amount of people that kicked me," said 13-year-old Aaron Mishkin, who figures he was assaulted about 80 times. An online group promoting "Kick a Ginger" day started it all.

” — http://www.newser.com/tag/2657/1/redhead.html

“Try to be less aggressive”

An odd first sentence for a book with the title Painfully Shy. The woman holding the book has red hair and is wearing a pair of cheap faux design glasses. She is waiting for the light to change from red to green and looks at the black box across the street with an intense focus. I guess you could almost call it aggressive. She’s allowed to walk. And she walks.

When she gets off the subway near her house in Queens she’s afraid she’ll meet one of her neighbors or someone from her congregation. Her shyness extends to people she knows as much as it does to strangers. Even her parents and siblings make her feel uncomfortable although there’s one friend in who’s vicinity she can relax. He’s in a wheelchair and doesn’t talk much; at least he doesn’t make much sense. Some people would call him a spastic.

On the way from the station to her house she tenses up. The muscles under her ribs are tightened and her pelvis is tilted backwards, causing her back to strain. In her hands, a mist of moist appears slowly out of the swamp of her pores. Every now and then a breeze erects the delicate hairs on her forearms. She carries the book under her arms, locked in tighter and tighter in between her right arm and a stretch of fabric just below her armpit. A shaven but sweaty armpit with traces of a powdery deodorant.

In this state she arrives at her front door. She needs to control her breath in order to grab her keys, search out the proper one, hold it steady in front of the opening, stick it in, not too far or it won’t turn, and turn. The trembling is heartbreaking.

Inside she doesn’t necessarily feel safer but at least she has some power over who is able to reach her. A phone ringing might startle her to the point of a heart attack; she still has a choice not to pick it up. This prospect, for she hasn’t yet reached her own apartment, calms her down considerably. At that moment she feels the physical discomfort the sharpest. More than when she actually cramps. It might be the saddest instant because just when she lets go, she senses so well how her plight impacts her life. Her whole life. The fracture between who she can be and who she is in public is paralyzing.  

That night she goes online to find herself a date. Or actually; she’s looking at people looking for a date. As of yet, she hasn’t had the courage to actually try and meet someone. But she feels, and her therapist agrees with her, that this is a healthy first step. And honestly, when she’s leafing through pages and pages of faces, she sort of warms to the idea of touching one of them. There are your regular creeps of course, slick ricks and unreal looking hunks, but she finds a decent amount of friendly and soft faces. She wouldn’t mind a soft man. She likes koalas.

When she goes to bed she finds the book with the ominous and self-fulfilling titleon her nightstand. She put it there. It depresses her that she went to Manhattan today just to have the copy signed, even though the author was very nice. It makes her angry that she needs a book like this. Especially after enjoying a pleasant evening, she hates the insult implied in the title. ‘Painfully shy’ she thinks ‘I’d like to inflict pain for once. Hurtfully shy.’ Just one flare of anger as her shoulders sag. She steps into her pajamas and the bed. Lying on her side, she opens the book. The dedication reads:

Shyness is like aggression: A lack of control. Try to take back control in order to let it go sometimes. This will make the interaction with others and yourself infinitely easier. You look like a wonderful and strong person, Jenny, the best of luck to you.