March 26, 2006

Spent my Sunday morning doing one of my favorite things (a thinly disguised procrastination tactic designed to allow me to NOT go to the gym for as long as possible): surf the internet for something that moves me, intrigues me and keeps me clicking and mousing until (with luck) the gym is closed. Today it was all about Sasha Frere Jones, who only came to my attention recently in the New Yorker, in which he writes incredibly cogent and slyly witty reviews of music stuff. In particular, I was impressed by Sasha's article (having spent more than 2.5 hours trying to parse him, I feel I can call him by his first name) in this week's NYer piece about rapper Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan. That led somehow to the site of DJ Dangermouse (I've had a penchant for saying "dangermouse" when fearing imminent doom as a way of making my fears small and kid-ish -- not even knowing the British cartoon at all). For a minute I thought Dangermouse might BE Sasha but I'm pretty sure that's not the case. See, that's the appeal: making the loose connections, not using a whole lot of brainpower, but feeling, somehow, that you've mentally exercised. And, through today's journey, I now have Bit Torrent which gave me (free) access to the nearly banned album "The Grey Album," a neat combo of the Beatles' White Album and Jay Z's Black Album. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it is. Far too cool for me.

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So look out Nick Paumgarten*. About whom I've not written here, but who definitely deserves mention. You know him (if you read the NYer) from the Talk of the Town. I can recognize an NP piece from a mile away; he has a certain way of capturing the ineffablness of a person or situation that defies ... something. (This is why I'm not a writer-writer, too lazy to even finish sentences). Anyway. I did have the honor once of having an email to Nick answered (I was in PR at the time, and pitching a textbook on terrorism, right after 9/11). He responded to my timid but oh so well-written query with the nicest of emails (I still have the hard-copy of it somewhere). I felt as if I'd entered into some rarified literary air and I breathed deeply... haven't missed a column of his since. * Hey, dude, where's your website already? Your domain is available! Eeek. Get ON it.

Which reminds me of my only other real literary brush with fame: crashing a book party for Joyce Carol Oates who is on her way to becoming one of the most profilic writers the planet has seen. Someone accidently left a message on my machine: "Hello, this is Jason calling about your RSVP to the Joyce Carol Oates book party on ..." Well, naturally, I hesitated for two nanoseconds and then called my dear friend Cleo to be partner in crime. So we showed up at Soho loft of investment banker and philanthropist Henry Buhl, signed the guestbook (dumb, I know) and were suddenly transported into the world we were both SUPPOSED to live in: surrounded by vaguely recognizable faces (included JCO) at a low-keyed literary party in the swankiest of apartments in NYC. We were young... and nervous. So we didn't stay long. I recall the appetizers were especially delicious.

Actually, there was ONE more brush... the poet XJ Kennedy once commented on my poetry (I interviewed him for an article in Pearson Education's employee magazine; he's written textbooks or anthologies for them). He mentioned that he liked "Good Bones." Which recognition made my decade and of course led indirectly to my current writing malaise. My velleity tends to make me rest on my dubious laurels for as long as possible. We're looking at 2009 for more actual creative writing from yours truly.

I did get to the gym, by the way, which made me feel like this.