Waiter Rant: Anonymous NYC Waiter Blogs

Blogs like this, the well written Waiter Rant, make me wish they were available in print. If you liked Anthony Bourdain’s writing, you will like this.

I work in a Tuscan restaurant. Like salmon that must swim upstream to spawn, middle-aged Yuppies are genetically programmed to visit Tuscany before they die. The sous chef, who is from Lucca, jokes you can always pick the invading Americans out of the crowd; fat, slow, pasty and patronizing.

The Way Things Work

Met my friends Chris and Mr. C_____ for lunch yesterday, and in tow I brought the William S. Burroughs biography I’m currently reading. In passing, Chris mentioned the reclusive author Clark Ashton Smith, who was a fantacist and contemporary of Lovecraft, who Burroughs tried to visit in Mexico (this isn’t mentioned in the bio.) Back at work I checked out Smith’s Wikipedia entry, then found this gallery of Smith Ballantine Editions. I particularly like the covers by Gervasio Gallardo, who has a sort of Bosch thing going. A search of Gallardo popped up this (nearly) complete gallery of Ballantime Adult Fantasy Series covers. A further search came up with this illustrated bibliography of Lovecraft, from the deluxe to the mimeographed. Gallardo is in there somewhere. The artist doesn’t have a website, but there is a gallery representing him.
Pretty good for 15 minutes ‘work’.

William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible – Barry Miles

Virgin Books

My cultural knowledge of William S. Burroughs used to go a little bit like this: “Naked Lunch”…ah, hmmm…”Naked Lunch” (the movie).
I knew more about him as a reference, from bands I like (Steely Dan, Soft Machine) to a voice to sample (“Language is a Virus” and “Sharkey’s Night” for Laurie Anderson). So it made sense to pick up this very breezy biography by Barry Miles, who has also actively reconstructed some “definitive texts” of Burroughs’ works (and after you read the book, you realize how brain-busting that must have been).
This is the story of a man who leaves his small town, sees the big wide world, does a whole lot of drugs, achieves fame, achieves poverty, then returns to a similar location to live out the rest of his days. Funny how that happens. Of course, in the meantime, he winds up influencing the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Miles traces the themes and influences running through all Burroughs’ works and makes valid the writer’s own claim that all his writing is one large book, with familiar characters and ideas turning up again and again. Just as some film directors start off as comic artists, Burroughs started off as more of a skit writer, composing “routines” with his friends based on wild characters, seeing where they would leave. “Junky” certainly has that quality from the get go; “Naked Lunch” is the culmination of that style. The later cut-up works are microcosm versions of the routines.
At some point Burroughs became so paranoid, and believed that people were just “agents” working for some unseen force, and that women were aliens. He actively pursued Scientology in its earlier stages, when it was a version of Wilhelm Reich’s theories (Burroughs went through the e-meter business and became a ‘clear’) and not a money-making cult. Reading about this made me realize how much Cronenberg put into his film of Naked Lunch–not just an adaptation of the novel, but a psychobiography of Burroughs.
Miles’ book is essential reading for anyone interested in jumping into Burroughs’ work, not just because of the overview it gives of the books, but because so much of his life appears in his novels, that I would imagine a reader would be lost without it.
So therefore I picked up Junky right after putting this book down. Will read it soon….
In the meantime, here’s a page of cut-up machines. And a page of assorted texts.

Kino DVD does the Avant Garde

William just alerted me to this: Kino Video is releasing a 2-DVD set of Classic Avant Garde Cinema of the 1920s and 30s. I’ve been hoping a company like Kino would do this, what with the success of the Brakhage and the Bunuel/Dali sets (and the always-promised, never-arriving Kenneth Anger set), and now they have. Street date is August 2nd. Two discs of avant-garde goodness for $30–ya can’t beat it. Here’s the track listing:

Anemic Cinema (Marcel Duchamp, 1926); Autumn Fire (Herman G. Weinberg, 1931); Ballet Mécanique (Ferdinand Leger, 1924); La Coquille and et le Clergyman (Germaine Dulac, 1926); Emak-Bakia (Man Ray, 1926); L’étoile de Mer (Man Ray, 1928); Even – As You and I (Roger Barlow, Harry Hay and LeRoy Robbins, 1937); La Glace a Trois Faces (Jean Epstein, 1927); H2O (Ralph Steiner, 1928); The Hearts of Age (Orson Welles, 1934); The Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra (Slavko Vorkapich and Robert Florey, 1928); Lot in Sodom (James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber); Manhatta (Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, 1921); Ménilmontant (Dimitri Kirsanoff, 1926); Les Mystères du Château du Dé (Man Ray, 1929); Regen (Joris Ivens, 1929); Le Retour à la Raison (Man Ray, 1923); Rhythmus 21 (Hans Richter, 1921); Romance Senimentale (Sergei Eisenstein, 1930); Symphonie Diagonale (Viking Eggeling, 1924); Le Tempestaire (Jean Epstein, 1947); Überfall (Ernö Metzner, 1928); Le Vampire (Jean Painlevé, 1939); Ghosts Before Breakfast (Hans Richter, 1928).

I’ve seen a fraction of these films, and I’m very excited to know there’s much more.

My Ass Wants Phone Sex

I went to lunch yesterday and was about to call the missus, when I noticed a new entry in my cell’s phone book. A mysterious “J” had appeared above Jessica’s name, above Jeff’s name. Who was J?
I took a look at the phone number and it wasn’t familiar: a strange area code, 888, and a repetitive number: 448-4444. Curious, I called it.
A woman answered, and before I could say howdy, she was telling me how much she wanted to suck my fleshplunger and fully drain me of my milky lifeforce. Well, she didn’t use those words, but you get the idea. Apparently I had called a phone sex line.
Not having lent my phone to anybody, I soon realized that just by chance, and by sitting on my phone in my back pocket, I had entered the number, saved it, and given it a name, all with my clever buttcheek.
Hence the title of this blog entry.

Katamari are Go!

Yesterday I had my first chance to play the cult PS2 game Katamari Damacy. This is the Japanese game where you roll a giant sticky ball (a ‘karamari’) around a virtual world and pick up various things, from candy to pencils, to cats and humans and beyond, creating a snowball effect until, supposedly, you’ve rolled up a ball the size of a star. This is a very addicting game and I loved the quirkiness of it. If I had a PS2, this would definitely be on the list. There’s a lot of chatter about KD, but for a website, you can check out the KD Desktops found here.