Hello! So how’s daylight saving time been treating you?
A ways down the front page you may have noticed—nestled between Norman Rockwell and Eddie and the Cruisers—a little six-month gap. New Strategies for Invisibility is hoping not to repeat that phenomenon anytime soon. About it I will say only that I have been working on a couple of non-bloggy projects, about which I hope I’ll have occasion to report more in the months to come. For now, I plan to resume testing your patience with more regularity.
It’s been a little under a year since nice folks at MAKE published the essay of mine that shares its name with this blog; I figure now’s a good a time as any for me to post that essay here. Although the writing that appears in this space doesn’t always resemble it very closely, I’ve often relied on the essay as a kind of blaze while bumbling my way through other stuff. It feels like it belongs here. Thus, interested parties may now locate it by clicking the Thesis tab above.
In other news:
The awesome Greying Ghost Press recently published a limited-edition chapbook (is that redundant?) by my talented and accomplished spouse-person Kathleen Rooney. Titled After Robinson Has Gone, the poems in the chapbook are inspired by the life and work of poet, painter, filmmaker, critic, jazz musician, and all-around midcentury cultural superhero Weldon Kees, who vanished in spectacular fashion in 1955. (In fact, and quite by coincidence, the details of his disappearance are weirdly similar to those of the fictional Eddie Wilson’s in Eddie and the Cruisers.) The chapbooks are individually numbered; each has a unique cover made from an old movie poster. Greying Ghost only made a hundred of these, and considering labor and materials, they’re pretty much giving them away. Pick one up if you can, keep it someplace safe, then flip it after my spouse wins the National Book Award and put your kids through college on the proceeds. Is that some financial planning, or what? I normally charge for that kind of advice.
Speaking of the MAKE essay . . . some readers will perhaps recall that it was accompanied in print by an illustration done by my friend Carrie Scanga, who in addition to being a creature of pure goodness is an extraordinarily inventive and skilled visual artist in a variety of forms and materials. Carrie did the cover for K’s first book of poetry, and also for the first book released by Rose Metal Press, and she and her work have been hovering like a benevolent quasi-angelic presence over the creative goings-on in my and K’s household for so long that I’m pleased to now have another occasion to sing her praises. If you are near St. Louis or can get there prior to April 24, please rearrange your affairs in order to visit her show Breathe, which is up at the Craft Alliance Grand Center. Go on my behalf, as it looks unlikely that I’ll be able to make it. Even encountered indirectly—by way of internet traces, and my previous familiarity with her stuff—Breathe looks to be brave and generous and extraordinarily attentive to the fleeting textures of our common embodied lives, and in these senses seems representative of Carrie’s entire project. Your consciousness will be enriched by increased exposure to it.
Other loose ends: in my last post I meant to express a little more affection for the kids at WLUW, the student radio station at Loyola University Chicago, but I couldn’t work it in. Of the two college-radio stations whose signals I drive through on my way home from work—the other one being WNUR—it’s the one I generally enjoy more, if only because its deejays seem sincerely and dorkily enthusiastic about what they’re playing. I love me some dorks.
Speaking of college-radio deejays—whose annealed and rarefied sensibilities keep them constantly at the silk-hankie-slicing katana-edge of underground culture—have y’all seen the video for the latest Ke$ha joint, “Blow?” (That was a joke, son.)
Let’s all just take a moment to process what we’ve just watched. Okay? Okay.
So . . . did you read that thing I wrote awhile back about “TiK ToK?” About how I think it’s, like, basically kind of evil? And how its success may be a symptom of the complete systemic failure of American democracy? That thing?
Yeah, well, I totally stand by that. But, see, here at New Strategies for Invisibility, we get no satisfaction from acting like a bunch of haters. While “TiK ToK” is without question an atrocity that I’d like to see excised like a tumor from our collective cultural brain, I have said all along that Kesha Rose Sebert seems like a basically nice kid with a good head on her shoulders, and I have been sort of sincerely hoping that at some point she’d do something, y’know, good.
I’m not sure if the “Blow” video qualifies, but I will cop to being entirely entertained by it. It seems like everybody involved had a great time making it, which earns a ton of goodwill from me. (One of the things I hated about “TiK ToK” was its lack of genuine playfulness and self-indulgence; this seems to contain healthy quantities of both.) The overall vibe suggests a video project made by bunch of smart, internet-savvy high school seniors with no higher priority than amusing themselves—and who also for some reason have a good production designer and some decent CGI at their disposal. The end result seems rather like a James Bond parody directed by Jean Cocteau, and suggests not only that Ke$ha will be with us for a while yet—which I think by now we’ve all intuited—but that we might not be entirely sorry for this.
Can I make a suggestion? Real quick. Three words: American Idol judge. I’m just saying.
Oh, and I should add: I owe my awareness of the “Blow” video—although what you read here might suggest otherwise, I do not spend a great deal of time monitoring Ke$ha’s activities—to Tim Jones-Yelvington, by way of Facebook. Has everyone been keeping up with Tim’s recent adventures? If you haven’t been, you ought to be; suffice to say that Mary Hamilton’s oft-quoted observation that Tim is “the Lady Gaga of the Chicago lit scene”—while never less than dead-on—has become rather more true since she made it. It’s increasingly easy to imagine Tim’s evolving project as the logical next step in a sequence that runs from Bowie to Madonna to Gaga and beyond. (Where Bowie’s costumes and theater were designed to create slippage between the pop star’s mask and the face behind it, and where Madonna launched a thousand dissertations by embracing that role of pop-star-as-floating-signifier, and Lady Gaga has seemingly READ some of those dissertations and plugged their contents back into her own pop project, Tim is actually using pop forms to DO theory—which is more fun than it sounds like it might be.)
K and I were fortunate enough to be in the audience on November 3, 2010 at the recreation room event at which Tim “came out” as a multiplatform media phenomenon and debuted his Lit Diva Extraordinaire project. In much the same way that literally millions of people claim they were at Woodstock, in much the same way that tens of thousands will tell you they saw the last Sex Pistols show at Winterland, in much the same way that back when I was living in Austin it seemed like every third person in the city swore they were at Liberty Lunch that night in 1994 when Oasis encored with “I Am the Walrus,” and, dude, they knew right then that those guys were gonna be huge, man, huge—people will one day tell such untruths about their presence at that November 3 rec room show. I am not completely kidding about this. And I am telling you right now: K and I were there. And now we are Tim Jones-Yelvingtoning down the Sequined Way. You should join us. Better late than never.