Here’s a link to a short story published in the New Yorker titled, All That. It’s a brilliant excerpt from David Foster Wallace’s unfinished novel, The Pale King.
In the first paragraph of the third page there’s the following parenthetical description of the voices that the narrator heard as a child:
(I realized just now that another reason that I do not propose to discuss these childhood “voices” at length is that I tend to fall into attempts to argue that the voices were “real,” when in fact it is a matter of indifference to me whether they were truly “real” or not or whether any other person can be forced to admit that they were not “hallucinations” or “fantasies.” Indeed, one of the voices’ favorite topics consisted in their assuring me that it was of no importance whether I believed they were “real” or simply parts of myself, since—as one of the voices in particular liked to stress—there was nothing in the whole world as “real” as I was. I should concede that in some ways I regarded—or “counted on”—the voices as another set of parents (meaning, I think, that I loved them and trusted them and yet respected or “revered” them: in short, I was not their equal), and yet also as fellow-children: meaning that I had no doubt that they and I lived in the very same world and that they “understood” me in a way that biological adults were incapable of.)
I read an interview with David Foster Wallace about a year ago, just as I was finishing reading William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, in which Mr. Wallace mentioned that James book as one of his favorites. The book is a compilation of twenty lectures that James gave at a college in Scotland a little over a century ago. It is (at least my copy anyway) 450 pages long. I realized about halfway through reading the above parenthesized sentences that Wallace was presenting the reader with a perfect distillation of James. It blows me away that Wallace was able to, in a 200 word aside, extract the marrow of the ideas it took James twenty rather verbose lectures to construct. I literally laughed out loud when I realized this, laughed at how absurdly smart Wallace was. God I wish he was still alive and writing.
I got really into the band Thrice during my freshman year in college, right after their album The Illusion of Safety came out. At the time that record was honestly the hardest music I’d ever really listened to and enjoyed. In hindsight that seems completely absurd, but it’s true. I am a product of pop-punk. I once owned a Homegrown t-shit. I wore it a lot.
And I’m still proud that I did.
But that’s beside the point. The point is, when I was 19 I became a fan of Thrice and began reading regularly the tour journal they kept online. One day, either in conjunction with their signing with a major label or shortly thereafter in response to the boatload of shit they got for said action, they posted a link to an interview with the author Dave Eggers. The interview was in email form, to be printed in The Harvard Advocate, and was, I assume, conducted by some arrogant and annoying, totally immature and naive but too-full-of-self-to-realize-just-how-little-you-really-know college student. Basically, I could really, really relate with the interviewer. And this kid, (the interviewer) asks Dave Eggers (the brilliant author whose books I completely devoured shortly after finishing this interview) about what he has done, in light of his new-found fame, to keep shit real. Mr. Eggers answers the questions and then goes off on a pretty long rant about selling out. And that rant changed my life. I remember getting about halfway through it and having this feeling like, “Holy shit, I’m totally wrong about everything.” It hit me and just kinda sank into my chest, settling in my stomach as a weird combination of embarrassment at my stupidity, admiration for someone else’s brilliance, and firm resolve to never be such a dumbass again.
I’ve spent the last 9 years of my life trying my best to be less of a dumbass.
I hope it has worked.
Read the interview here. The real substance is a little over halfway down where it says “Now, the addendum.”
I got a call from my roommate a few days ago. He skipped small talk and with that monotone voice that is the harbinger of bad news, told me that someone had broken into our house that night, and my bike was gone.
I was still in Baltimore recording. I never got a chance to say goodbye.
She was only one and a half. We had so much more life to live together.
Goodbye bike. I hope you at least throw your chain before a busy intersection and the goddamned thief gets run over by a bus!
Here’s a link to a very thoughtful essay from The New Yorker about those of us who read cookbooks as more than just instructional references during activity in the kitchen. As a person with butter, heavy cream, pork lard, and duck fat almost always in my refrigerator, I especially liked the follow excerpt in regard to the way we speak around fat as an ingredient while navigating unwaveringly towards it:
After reading hundreds of cookbooks, you may have the feeling that every recipe, every cookbook, is an attempt to get you to attain this ideal sugar-salt-saturated-fat state without having to see it head on, just as every love poem is an attempt to maneuver a girl or a boy into bed by talking as fast, and as eloquently, as possible about something else. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate” is the poetic equivalent of simmering the garlic with ginger and Sauternes before you put the cream in; the end is the cream, but you carefully simmer the garlic.
Rule number one regarding the shoddy documentation of one’s time in a recording studio is to post uninteresting, short videos of the recording process that in no way reveal what the songs sound like. There’s no way I’m ignoring rule number one. Especially when I have gems like these: