Wednesday, May 02, 2007

State of the Disunion, May 2007

In an effort to shed winter weight, curb excess smoking and feel better about my health, I dug the bike out last weekend. I did not ride it, just dug it out— an important first step. Yes, it was covered in dust; no, I have not ridden it since living on Hermitage. As a result, the tires are as airless Billy Wilder’s films (that one’s for you, DC). I will try and have them filled and give the ol’ gal a ride this weekend. I am hoping it is not in need of repair, mainly because I dread walking into the Village Cycle Center.

I’ve come to realize that this is part of my resistance to riding the bike. I hate the Village Cycle Center. The people who work there tend to exude a holier-than-thou, I ride a bike everywhere!, sort of arrogance that truly displeases me. They all look and sound alike, which would not be so bad were they not a cadre of pricks that have married health-nut smarminess with the least palatable qualities of veteran salesmen. They’re pushy, rude, dismissive, generally unhelpful and, I suspect, untrustworthy. But they run a good shop, I must admit. It’s like walking into a mechanic’s shop, though. You just can sense how you’re getting fucked.

My distaste for the Village aside, I am going to give the bike a spin and see if I can open up the lungs, accelerate the heart and make things right as rain ‘round these body parts. This added to the classes and it ought to be an interesting, exhausting summer.

Other news:

I bought books online like a fucking madman. It began as a necessity. My classes required obscure, hard to find texts, the kind that appear rarely at Borders or even the ever-diminishing used shops of Chi. You know, Robert Hass, Peter Richardson, Rachel Zucker… the contemporary poets that get pushed in a university setting like mine. So I bought all my school books used from Amazon or Powell’s or Alibris. One thing led to another and there I was, online, hunting, credit card in hand. I snagged Ciaran Carson’s Star Factory, Sergei Dovlatov’s Ours and Bulgakov’s diaries and letters. These on top of an order of Russian poetry from the New York Review of Books’ website, which contains about 30 more titles I absolutely need. Way to spend a tax return.

I am not out of love with used book store hunts, just happy to find that technology serves a specific, correct purpose, mainly granting me access to difficult to find, and greatly desired, texts. As for the Chicago bookstore scene: Women and Children First, one of Andersonville’s main attractions, is thinking of shutting its doors for good. Not sure yet. Rumors have begun to circulate and that has resulted in a slight, but significant, increase of sales (or so my sources tell me). Perhaps they’ll stick around to push the gynocentric a little longer. Selected Works is moving from its long-time home on Broadway to the Fine Arts building—the 2nd floor, no less. Good luck to them, as that building has seen at least two other shops comes and go since I’ve been around, not to mention the Fine Arts movie theater. It’s a vanishing city at times, alas.

Other other news:

The workshop goes well these days. Last night I rambled at length about Shapeshift, the first book of what I hope is many by Sherwin Bitsui. Check him out here: . I had too much to say in too little time, and none of it was well articulated. The guy can write, that’s for certain, and while I managed a 6-page annotation of one poem I failed to capture much of what intrigues me about his work while gabbing to the class. At least I managed to point out Bitsui’s manner of laying image upon image. “The Northern Sun” is a goddamn image parfait.

Not much left of workshop one, just another meeting and some edits, a review or two, and then it’s portfolio time. The publishing seminar, on the other hand, continues on for a month. Readings galore and a 25-30 page final research paper that makes me dizzy upon mere contemplation. This week’s class should prove to be interesting. We’ll be discussing one of my favorite jackasses, Jonathan Franzen, and his disinvitation from the Oprah show. I’ve been preparing for this discussion for years! Soon we’ll discuss James Frey and I can really get some things off my chest.

I am seriously overdue for a haircut. It’s just comical.

And that’s all I got. Thank you for your time.