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The Hotsy Totsy Club

1999-09-01. . . Cholly Kokonino reporting

Ich bin ein Berlitzer: Tor Kristensen, who's responsible for some of the nicest Shockwave projects around, pointed out that I mistakenly allowed a German's claim to be Danish to pass without comment:
In danish you'd say:

"Jeg er Dansk."

For the phonetically inclined: Yai air danceK.

Tor also confirms the European-wide reputation of "Berliner":
I can go buy some (lovely) berliners at the bakery right by my house. suger frosted doughnutty things filled with jelly. It's fairly common here for cities to have a pastry or specific bread-thing associated with them. There's also "Weinerbrød" (Veen-er-bro-choking noise-d), which literally means "Vienna Bread".

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Italiana como ella e dice: Walking through the aisle of the plane to Rome, I overheard the following language lesson:

"If you were going to say 'I'm a tree,' here's how you'd say it."

. . . 1999-09-02

In production: The recent news that Christopher Walken will star in a musical version of James Joyce's "The Dead" made me thankful once again that Dubliners hasn't gotten the Andrew Lloyd Webber treatment.

Picture the second act curtain: Bernadette Peters in old(er)-age makeup bellowing "I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls" to a lambada beat while the Titanic hoists gigantic sail for Buenos Ayres....

On the other hand, Joyce's much-expressed love of cornball music would give Randy Newman a shot at his best Disney score yet, albeit at the cost of turning all the characters into mice:

Conley ran his tongue swiftly along his twitching pink nose.

-- O, the real cheese, you know....

. . . 1999-09-03

The Just War: Good news from the Penzeys Spices Harvest 1999 Catalog of Seasonings:
The quick resolution of the conflict in Kosovo seems to have averted the anticipated sage shortage.
Not since Ronald Reagan sent troops to protect our nation's vital supply of grenadine have I been so proud of a culinary police action.

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Hey, I know what love is. What do I win?

. . . 1999-09-05

Guillaume Apollinaire and Ron Padgett seek venture capital to implement the Moon King's recently patented proposal for iMics, a sort of Webcam for streaming audio:
The flawless microphones of the king's device were set so as to bring in to this underground the most distant sounds of terrestial life. Each link activated a microphone set for such-and-such a distance. Now we were hearing a Japanese countryside....

Then we were taken straight into morning, the king greeting the socialist labor of New Zealand, and I heard geysers spewing hot water.

Then this wonderful morning continued in sweet Tahiti, at the market in Papeete, with the lascivious wahinees of New Cytheria wandering through it -- you could hear their lovely guttural language, very much like ancient Greek....

Terrible noises of the street, streetcars, factories -- we seem to be in Chicago and it is noon....

The angelus rings at the Munster in Bonn and a boat with a double chorus singing passes along the Rhine on its way to Coblenz....

. . . 1999-09-07

A day late and a dollar short: I thought I had posted "Three Anagrams of Jack Spicer's Biography" on the site some time ago, but I guess not....

Like most of my favorite poets, Spicer doesn't get taught much in English departments. Unlike the others, he hated the idea of being taught in English departments, and intentionally sabotaged possiblities of wider recognition during his lifetime. Given what English departments do to the poets they teach, he may have had a point.

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Support Our Sponsors: I'll Shoot Anyone Who Tells Me This Isn't Butter, And Then Myself!

. . . 1999-09-08

Speaking of poets who don't get taught in English departments, Doug Asherman contributes this haiku:
please turn on the air
conditioning if you would
kind proprietor

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Sad streaming video always makes me cry: And still more poetry, this time from the men's room wall at a SOMA multimedia production company....

I use my antics to amuse the crowd,
of this should I be proud?
like the make-up on a clown,
my smile is my shroud

. . . 1999-09-09

The twelfth issue of The Baffler disappoints, hitting rock bottom with a received "history of punk" banal enough for Gina Arnold. One of its reviews, however, points out an essential difference between the neurotic thrillers of the 1940s and 1950s and our current neo-noir: the old stuff reeked of proles and the downwardly mobile, whereas the new stuff carries on Chandler's non-noir fascination with the rich. (That's one way 1996's Caught stood out from the crowd.)

It's the same drive that changed the fearful lower-middle-class-and-struggling clerks of 1940's The Shop Around the Corner into the entrepreneurial business owners of You've Got Mail. The rich have gone from being "different" to being the only characters that Hollywood can imagine as interesting.

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The prole thrillers which came closest to the jokey splatter of neo-noir weren't from Mickey Spillane but from Chester Himes. I recently read the second volume of Himes's autobiography, which, amidst hundreds of pages of complaints about girlfriends, royalties, and his Volkswagen, revealed just how liberating Himes found the hard-boiled genre after a dozen years of working the Richard-Wright-defined mainstream:

I would sit in my room and become hysterical thinking about the wild, incredible story I was writing. But it was only for the French, I thought, and they would believe anything about Americans, black or white, if it was bad enough. And I thought I was writing realism. It never occurred to me that I was writing absurdity. Realism and absurdity are so similar in the lives of American blacks one can not tell the difference.

.... I was writing some strange shit. Some time before, I didn't know when, my mind had rejected all reality as I had known it and I had begun to see the world as a cesspool of buffoonery. Even the violence was funny.... If I could just get the handle to joke. And I had got the handle, by some miracle.

I didn't really know what it was like to be a citizen of Harlem; I had never worked there, raised children there, been hungry, sick or poor there. I had been as much of a tourist as a white man from downtown changing his luck. The only thing that kept me from being a black racist was I loved black people, felt sorry for them, which meant I was sorry for myself. The Harlem of my books was never meant to be real; I never called it real; I just wanted to take it away from the white man if only in my books.

-- p. 109, 126, My Life of Absurdity by Chester Himes

... an' anotha thing ...... then again ...

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 1999 Ray Davis.