March 01, 2011


Last night Matt got out of bed and told me the most marvelous joke, that broke my bad nightmood, it was about a wild-living yeast and the punchline was "I'll sleep when I'm bread."

It was the funniest joke I have heard in some time.

Stupid fucking Keith Richards book. It put me off reading. I finished it and was so chagrined by having finished that I lost my will to read. I got through the introduction and the first chapter of the forthcoming collection of Ellen Willis' rock writing, (the misleadingly titled) Out of The Vinyl Deeps and as it always is with her work, I stall out in thrall of her intellect, like a reindeer in her headlights. I can't do more than a few thousand words at a go because there is a ton to unpack, even if it is on Dylan, who I have hardly a passing interest in, but she was light years ahead and it's kind of bonkers (bonkers! is not the right word) that in her mid-20s in the late sixties, she wrote cultural criticism of the iconography of Dylan that would STILL--many Dylan tomes later--be smart. In the intro her daughter, Nona, writes that during Willis' time she was at the New Yorker, she was the most widely read rock critic in the country. And she was young and a woman and one of the first rock critics. And that was 1968 and she is just getting her first book of just her music writing published now. By an academic press, even! I know academic presses are legit n' all, but all the other New Yorker writers, living and dead, well, they are canon and canon gets big publishers and it's a real headscratcher that Ellen Willis is not held up in the light like that. But, alas, at least it has happened, it has come to fruition, you can buy it on Amazon and get it delivered to your house and have your mind blown in the privacy of your home. And be humbled, page after page and sentence after sentence, especially if you think yourself a writer or an intellectual.

SO, I am setting the Willis aside for a moment, and have been eeking into the Keith Haring Journals (the introduction is stalling me out with it's academic context, as useful as it is. Ivory Tower artspeak leaving me wishing someone would Rapunzel down their hair for me to climb up. To mix metaphors.) and the Chi Pub Lib robot caller sez my requested Arthur Russell book is in at my local branc. I am fixin' to read them back to back, or in tandem, since their timelines bump ends, and their similar arcs of queer genius cut short, before we had any idea of how longtailed their legacies would be. When I listen to Arthur Russell, I often feel like I would have liked to be friends with him.

Posted by jessica hopper at March 1, 2011 07:26 PM | TrackBack