A Page from "Bob the Gambler"
Possible interpretations: 1, 2
Books I'm Going to Try to Read by the End of the Summer
*UPDATE*: I read some of these. (See right.) I think I'm just going to read non-fiction basketball books for the rest of summer though.
What I'm Going to Read Next
Today I bought "Norwegian Wood" by Haruki Murakami and read 12 pages of it. I have never read a Haruki Murakami novel before. I remember one time someone mentioned him and his work in a short story that I had to read for a fiction workshop at NYU and in the margins of the story I remember writing "nice reference" and then mentioning it in class, saying something like "nice reference" or something. That was ~9 months ago. Yesterday, I text messaged David Fishkind asking him which Haruki Murakami book he thought I should read first because he's read at least two Haruki Murakami books and he said that I should read the one I bought today. I bought it today and carried it from BookCourt in Cobble Hill to a different part of Brooklyn where someone got shot in the leg. I started reading it on the subway a little bit later. At home, I took a shower and ate a salad.
Later, I went to the library and gmail chatted with David Fishkind and he said his mom also started reading "Norwegian Wood" today. He said that his mom and I were reading the same book.
After David Fishkind signed off of gmail chat, I felt hungry and I decided I wanted to read "Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: a memoir" by Bill Clegg. I watched the book trailer on the internet somewhere. I googled "the strand" and saw that The Strand was closing in a half hour. I walked quickly to The Strand and while I was walking there I thought the words "functional crack addict" to myself and laughed out loud in a sparsely populated area of NYU's campus. In The Strand, I stood next to a man who was breathing heavily and sweating a lot and staring at a pile of books with a determination that seemed indicative of a mental disorder or something. He was wearing brown corduroy pants with stains on them, a yellow short-sleeve button up shirt, and a tie. I don't remember what color the tie was. I picked up "Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: a memoir" and walked away quickly, thinking combinations of "fuck," "shit," and "jesus" to myself.
I had read an excerpt from the book in "New York Magazine" once while eating breakfast in my old apartment and sweating a little bit because it was hot and I was drinking coffee. I remember reading the whole excerpt and feeling alert and excited. I was primarily excited, I think, because the main character of the book, the author, is a literary agent. I don't think I would be interested in the book at all if he was anything but a literary agent. He is young and gay and a successful literary agent and his favorite thing to do is smoke crack. I don't think I would be interested in the book at all if it was anything but crack. In the excerpt, he missed a very important flight to Europe because he was having too much fun smoking crack and having sex. He booked another flight for the next day and he even made it to the airport, but decided he'd rather be smoking crack than flying to Europe, so he did that. I think he smoked crack with his cab driver and I think they had sex also. In two days he spent [a very large amount of money] on crack and airplane tickets. I remember feeling excited and maybe a little bit jealous that someone could love something as much as he loved smoking crack. I imagined what it would be like to love books as much as he loved smoking crack.
I'm in the library right now and I'm drinking coffee.
Jordan Castro + Richard Wehrenberg Jr Interview
On the occasion of the 2nd edition printing of their chapbook "think tank for human beings in general," I emailed Jordan Castro and Richard Wehrenberg Jr about Ohio.
You guys are from Ohio. I have been in that state maybe 3-10 times. I'm going to recount a few of those times and maybe you guys can respond with your own stories or ideas. Feel free to not address anything relating to my experiences, if that feels necessary. Feel free to not even talk about Ohio, if you want. These are "free response."
When I was driving to college for the first time with my mom and dad, we stopped at the "Pro Football Hall of Fame" in Canton but it was closed. It was really early in the morning. I think we got there before it opened. It's possible that I'm confusing this with the "College Football Hall of Fame" in South Bend, Indiana. It's possible that I've never been to Canton.
JC: a punk band i used to be in played at an indoor skatepark in canton with some cool bands, i remember. i played bass and sang. we may or may not have covered ‘we laugh at danger (and break all the rules)’ by against me!. other bands that i remember playing include the sidekicks, two hand fools, and asinine.
RWJ: You know, I have mostly just driven through Canton. I don't know much about that place. Just tried to search for a relevant fact or interesting political movement or something else interesting / important related to Canton and ended up on the Wikipedia page for Marilyn Manson. How symptomatic. Canton is twenty minutes south of Akron. My old band used to play at a skate park in North Canton called Evolution Skate Park. Canton seems, like most cities in Ohio, to fluctuate or diverge into this kind of liberal arts colllege-y kind of place and a more sequestered, secluded, & conservative community. Chain stores and corn fields rubbing against each other. A close childhood friend of mine went to a religious college there called Walsh University and disliked it, because well, he wasn't raised religious and all soccer players on the team had to attend Sunday mass. I think right as one goes into Canton from 77 South there is a sign for a road called Lovers Lane. No apostrophe.
On the same 'driving to college for the first time' road trip, we went to the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" in Cleveland. There was a special exhibit on "The Who" and I remember they were playing, on a big TV, a performance of "The Who" at the "Isle of Wight Festival" from 1970. I remember this because I have a DVD of that performance, have watched it multiple times (freshman year of high school...), and recognized it immediately at the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." I remember, at first, being excited that I recognized the performance, but then feeling 'cheated' because I had gone to the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" to watch a DVD that I already owned.
JC: rock and roll hall of fame seems pretty bad. some facts about cleveland in regards to me are i have never been denied the sale of alcohol in cleveland, the city i live in (solon) is considered a suburb of cleveland, and i saw ‘run d.m.c’ live at ‘the gravity games’ once in cleveland.
RWJ: Cleveland is a dilapidated city, in a good way; at least, that is what I find myself saying most of the time when someone asks me about Cleveland. For those of us who grew up in the suburbs, we never knew the violence of the city, really. We did know a separate violence though: that of not being able to escape our own boring and outdated neighborhoods, the hiding places of our parents' generation. I mostly visited Cleveland for punk shows at decrepit venues and houses. The thrill of a forty ounce and distorted guitars, identifying enemies, those others who had done this to us. Rarely was I downtown for long. Cleveland Heights and Lakewood (the east and west outlying areas, respectively) were / are the major destinations for a middle class kid who didn't know how to talk to people, but knew how to buy things. How do we collapse the binary of our ostensibly inherent differences? I find myself questioning this more and more, and the answer I feel, or one of many possible conclusions we may reach, lies in the understanding of the difficulty it takes to relinquish our personal histories, to dispel our subjective environments and come together in a new way, beyond what the superstructure, the economic system we are caged within, prescribes to us as appropriate behavior. To know Cleveland is to know disappointment; it is to look askance at our living situation together as human beings, but still trudge onward with a certain candor, a constructive cynicism. We still, to quote a friend's band, swim in the city's septic tank (Lake Erie) and know there is something in Cleveland that will burst forth one day, despite others' disgust at its economic depravity.
My friend and I, driving from New York to Chicago, stopped in Youngstown and ate at a restaurant called "Armandos." It was kind of late (~10 PM maybe) and we were the only two people in the restaurant. There were two waitress, both really hot, 'hovering' around our table and flirting with us a lot. It seemed like we were being 'lured into some shit (via "Hostel")' or something. At the end of the meal, this old woman (I think she ran or owned the place) came and sat down with us and tried to convince us that it was a bad idea to keep driving and that we should spend the night in Youngstown. We kept driving and then my friend got a speeding ticket in Indiana.
JC: noah cicero is from youngstown and often tells me stories about the people in youngstown. youngstown seems ‘the most ghetto’ of the three cities you have listed. based on what noah has told me, the chances of the two females you encountered being addicted to cocaine is high, the chance of them attending ‘ysu’ and passing with d’s is high, and the chance of them having children is high.
RWJ: Have never been to Youngstown, though I lived in Kent for three and a half years, which is a forty-five minute drive or so away. It seems another former thriving and now destitute city, from what I have read. Plucked of its fossil fuels. A pleasant looking state college. On election day in May I was canvassing in Austintown Township outside of Youngstown. It was very hot and I was riding a bike back and forth between a south neighborhood and a north neighborhood knocking on doors to see if people had voted on the issue I was asking them about. I road along a bike path and into a large area of soccer fields where multiple games were happening at once. At the voting place the old ladies grinned at me, their eyes taut in that geriatric way. Wrinkled hands patting my shoulder. A war veteran outside came up to me and commented on how long / big my hair was. I nodded and he walked on, though not before stopping his pace and staring at me for a good two minutes.
General / Cleveland again kind of
On the same road trip as the 'Youngstown/"Armandos" thing,' my friend and I listened to game 5 of the 2007 NBA Eastern Conference Finals on the radio in our car. LeBron James scored 29 of his team's last 30 points and the Cavs ended up beating the Detroit Pistons in double overtime. The Cavs went on to win the series, but lost in the finals to the San Antonio Spurs.
JC: i don’t think i watched that game, or basketball (or t.v.) at all, in 2007. i am 100% sure that i didn’t listen to it on the radio. in 2008 i remember watching ‘bits and pieces’ of cavs games on the t.v., like if it was already on or something. in 2008 or 2009 i watched the cavs lose in the playoffs to the orlando magic. i remember thinking things about dwight howards’ shoulders. during the most recent season (i feel really confused about if the most recent season is the 2009 or the 2010 season), i watched many of the cavs playoff games. i watched the cavs beat the celtics by ~50 or something and then i listened to them lose the next game by ~50 or something on the radio at work. eventually the cavs lost the series.
RWJ: Cleveland sports teams have always been an odd phenomenon to me. Of course, I grew up going to the games and cheering for our, quite often, terrible teams. I grew up, meaning of course, I internalized certain subjective truths, certain ways of seeing the world and understanding it that would, one day, I could not know, I had to know, be transgressed. Every team since I was a kid has been at least in some way bad, the underdog some might say, but for some reason Cleveland fans kept on ruthlessly with them, with a kind of unconditional faith, is the way I'd like to put it. People here act as though sports can save them, as a religious figure might save them; days and nights and attitudes are invested, behavior is based on the whim of the movements and contractions of the muscles of the members of a team. Billboards on apartment buildings with LeBron, arms all Jesus. It's absurd to me, but I have become inured to it. Being involved with sports, watching and playing them, talking about them, seeing how they affected my peers, allowed for one of the first times where I felt an odd disconnect, felt something unnatural about the way I was interacting with people, how they were interacting with me, in which I had feelings where logic did not manifest, and I began to think (finally!), I began to, and I felt it, I remember, as something like this, as understanding an illogical thing: a switching of my mind onto a new plane, a questing (in long robe, with walking stick) for a new language, a letting go of previous presuppositions that let me believe a certain thing, see things in a certain (= stifled) way, crumble out of my pockets. Of course, this was merely me losing my interest in sports, naive and excitable at the age of fourteen, but what I would not foresee is how this thought process would essentially become my framework, my mindset, my blueprint for assessing most all other institutions for many years onward in my thinking. I'm not against sports, per se, perhaps just feeling askance about how an institution, how anything really, sports here could be substituted for almost anything, can replace a feeling, can be a stand-in for collective-meaning, when it is we, ourselves, our relations with each other, our diggings into one another, that is the meaning. If anything I have come to understand the power of will, the utter negation of the Other that is action, that is decision, in people's lives—and consequently, I have come to understand fear, how it is rooted in myself and others, how it hides us from one another, too.
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AJW is the author of numerous poems and short stories, both online and in print. He makes collages here. He is from Wilmette, Illinois. He is an Eagle Scout.
Pop Serial 4
Pop Serial 3
The Broome Street Review (print)
Juked, Juked 2
NYU Prize Thing
HRM Literary/Arts Journal
HTMLGiant Author Page
Thought Catalog Author Page
People I've Interviewed:
Matthew Rohrer again
Michael Earl Craig
Harriet Alida Lye
in alphabetical order
Her Royal Majesty
Timothy Willis Sanders