Sunday, January 31, 2010
Well here we are at the end of the day on January 31st and the Midget is hurting to finish his goal already. I finished the first installment of "The Border Trilogy," entitled All the Pretty Horses a few days back, but haven't written the article just yet and am now struggling to finish both Into the Wild and 1984 at the same time. Since I am over half way through both of these books I feel pretty good about the project so far and I intend to stay up until I finish Into the Wild tonight. Meanwhile, I really enjoyed All the Pretty Horses. (note: I realize that writing a bunch of positive reviews for books that have already earned critical acclaim is kind of pointless and redundant, but a big part of the project is to read up on standards of cultural literacy including books that "everyone" read in high-school, etc. So...it is bound to happen) At first, I was really enjoying the slow pace of this book, but then it kind of took off on me. I was lulled by McCarthy, but perfectly happy with the vivid descriptions of the terrain and horses and his use of language among the characters, which has all of the Texas courtesy and drawl one might expect, but also the humble, yet remarkable intelligence he bestows upon these seemingly simple folk. McCarthy seems to delight in reminding "city folk" that farmers and country dwellers are still capable of intellect that is equal if not superior to their own. I was happily feeling nostalgia for my youthful trips to visit my father in northern Montana and the many lessons on the majesty of horses taught by my step mother. Then, the next thing I knew, John Grady and was in an all-out western thrill-ride easily worthy of Clint Eastwood's direction. It is certainly closer to No Country for Old Men then it is to The Road, which I say after only having seen the movie in the case of No Country, but...I did read up on the movie before it came out including an interview with McCarthy and the Coen brothers (supposedly a very rare one at that since McCarthy is extremely apprehensive around the media and known to many as a full-blown recluse). Therefore, since they actually worked together with Mr. McCarthy and reportedly jumped through a few hoops to make him happy, I am going to make an ass out of you and me and stake this claim based solely on the picture. I plan to read the rest of the trilogy and maybe even waste a few hours on the Billy Bob Thornton adaption for the screen, but for now I have the intention of reading some African American authors for Black History Month. The pile has already accumulated Lush Life: The Biography of Billy Strayhorn and Jazz by Toni Morrison...stay tuned.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This is a dark and gripping tale. Krakauer joins my list of painfully honest, favorite authors. I picked up Into the Wild about half way through this book feeling that I must actually read it and that having seen the movie just wouldn't suffice (Especially not within the contexts of these proceedings). This is the first book that caused me to cry in the project. When everyone is radioing to guide Rob Hall, one of the most celebrated and accomplished mountaineers and guides in Mt. Everest climbing history, and he is confused about whether or not he is willing or able to try and descend from the south summit. They keep imploring him to descend and Hall keeps deciding to do it, only to change his mind. Several times they even think he has finally mustered the strength and begun, but he then returns to the airwaves ten or so minutes later once again convinced he doesn't have the legs. Then he eventually speaks to his wife, Jan Arnold, via satellite phone. Hall tells her that he loves her and to "Sleep well my darling. Please don't worry too much," the last words anyone ever heard him say. There is so much tragedy in this story and the most difficult parts to read and ultimately swallow are when the adventurers have to make critical decisions about whether or not other climbers are savable or lost causes. Krakauer is truly brutally honest in his retelling. He Admits mistakes that may have jeopordized or even cost the lives of teammates including the announcement of having seen guide Andy Harris near camp IV and the Lhotse face hours previous, and therefore falsely presuming him dead and halting further rescue attempts. Only later during a phone interview with Martin Adams did Krakauer realize that the whole incident he remembered involving Harris was actually between himself and Adams, who incidentally hadn't remebered it being Krakauer he'd spoken to, either. The celebrated and controversial author also includes some of the painful letters received by Outside after his initial article was published including an angry and heartfelt letter from the wife of the late Scott Fisher, Jean Price. In this reaction to Krakauer's article Price attacks the journalist's judgements and criticisms of other members and guides involved in the excursion, which she validly argues are mere speculations and further claims that Krakauer's writings will not quiet his restless conscious or bring him any peace. Tough stuff to hear and certainly immensly saddening for each to read the other's words. Reading this tragic tale amidst the biggest storm to hit Southern California in years complete with tornados????What?????? 80 mile per hour winds and 20 foot waves has definitely been an eerie experience I will not soon forget.
Monday, January 18, 2010
"...He was the Poet of the Body and the Soul, Whitman. The first and the last poet. He is almost undecipherable today, a monument covered with rude hieroglyphs for which there is no key. It seems strange almost to mention his name over here. There is no equivalent in the languages of Europe for the spirit which he immortalized. Europe is saturated with art and her soil is full of dead treasures, but what Europe has never had is a free, healthy spirit, what you might call a MAN. Goethe was the nearest approach, but Goethe was a stuffed shirt, by comparison..."This is the kind of gold that lurks between the covers of Tropic and rewards the reader like a slap in the face to calm hysteria. I was quick to realize that it is insanely daunting to write about these masters, but it is these same masters who urge me on from within my own head. Rest in peace dear pioneers of the page, and thank you.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Check this link about the former Venice West Cafe, once a favored hang of Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, being under review as a possible cultural landmark here in LA. The best part of this article is probably the quotes at the bottom on how the possibility of a Beat scene in LA scared the shit out of squares and local police. I agree that having a replica of the cafe re-made would be cool, but its still just a corny attempt made by the same squares who feared and shot-down the original movement. If you dig the beat scene head north my friends......
Seeking Establishment recognition of Beat hangout's importance
Seeking Establishment recognition of Beat hangout's importance