Moments of truth in a fantasy gruel

One of my older addictions that I occasionally refeed is trash fantasy — subpar, clunky, terribly-written derivations of Tolkien or Robert E. Howard for the most part. As the two most influential avatars of fantastic fiction in English, it makes sense that they would be the general lodestones, and so you have either huge epic quests to defeat a dark lord or one man/woman/person/thing off chopping their way through a world of ravening monsters. The lack of surprise is monumental in stuff like this, which is in part the point — total comfort food through and through if you’re into this sort of thing. (The success of something like World of Warcraft is to my mind a logical extension of this impulse — the world itself combines these two models, adds others, brings in gaming = instant success! It’s not a literary masterpiece and is not conceived that way but it is very arguably a creative one on many levels given all the varying elements that fed into its creation, and deserves attention as such.)

For this trip up north I grabbed the first five novels in the Mithgar universe by Dennis L. McKiernan. I first heard about him over twenty years back in a brief, dismissive review of the first three, The Iron Tower Trilogy, in a Tolkien fanzine (anyone surprised by the idea that I would have subscribed to a Tolkien fanzine when I was 14 or so doesn’t know me very well). The local library had these books, though, so I decided to see what they were all about — and they were, indeed, absolutely awful. McKiernan to his credit never once tried to hide the Tolkienian debt, even in the foreword (which I actually do like — he names many influences and is honest enough to say he knows it can’t reach their level), yet even so. Terry Brooks‘s ‘borrowing’ of Tolkien for the first Shannara book in particular was bad enough, but this makes Brooks look like E. R. EddisonThe Iron Tower Trilogy is for all intents and purposes The Lord of the Rings slightly rewritten. There are a few changes — the Mordor equivalent is a frozen mire up north rather than a volcanic desert down south, there’s no Ring to destroy, there’s a conventional ‘prince must rescue his betrothed, captured by the baddies’ subplot, and neither a Gandalf nor a Gollum appear. Otherwise, though, bring on the analogues — the geography is otherwise near similar to Middle Earth, there’s a Shire (the ‘Bosky’ — oh dear), a Rohan, a Moria (with a Balrog — or rather a Gargon), a Gondor, a Rivendell, a Lorien…you see where this is going. And OH are the Hobbits (ie, the Warrows) a merrie folke in this one, at least at the start.

The Moria knockoff sequence is particularly egregrious. Minor details aside, EVERYTHING IS THE SAME. There’s a Watcher in the Water, it’s an old abandoned Dwarven kingdom destroyed when great evil was unleashed, there’s this bottomless gap in the rock spanned by a single bridge…I could go on. (So did McKiernan — whose followup books, The Silver Call Duology [try saying that last word out loud without gagging], turned out to be a sequel to this part of the story, imagining what would happen if Dwarves tried to retake their ersatz-Moria a couple of centuries later. The story I’ve heard indicates that this was written first as an intentional sequel to The Lord of the Rings which the Tolkien estate rather wisely turned down. So he changed all the names and tried reselling it, leading publishers to ask, “Well, what’s the back story here?” Thus the Iron Tower Trilogy‘s existence, which explains a lot.)

To top it all off, while he might well have improved since then, McKiernan’s a terrible writer, someone who uses all the language of epic fantasy without getting a sense of how it’s actually spoken and meant to be used — Tolkien as linguist would have had a fit, and quite how Ursula K. LeGuin has forgiven McKiernan for dedicating the Iron Tower books to her is beyond me (unless she’s wisely never noticed). I refuse to quote examples here, they’re not worth the typing up. It’s just maddening sometimes — and the abuse of italics, where to start. Lots of emphasis! A lot a lot!!!

Okay, so why do I have these books and why am I reading them again? Well, I have them as short, torn paperbacks — easy to abuse, great for trips. But there is a pearl in all the mire, and it’s a telling one. Like Tolkien, McKiernan is a war vet, in this case the Korean War. He knows his military experiences, and to a strong extent certainly knows its cliches. But this is the essential difference between the two — Tolkien, notably, is not a ‘military’ writer, for all of his own background in World War I’s trenches. His heroes either do not fight much or battle the enemy as part of a separate context from larger armies. Gandalf is an occasional war-leader, Aragorn leads men into battle and so forth, but there’s almost nothing of a ground’s eye view of the battle outside of the hobbits, and even their views are very specific and singular.

But McKiernan sets most of his figures into military or militarized situations, and in doing so both unconsciously calls to mind the eternal struggle between romanticization and honest description of this approach to life (and while his characters are often mouthpieces for commonplaces, they’re no less apt for that; the Silver Call books arguably do an even better job at this) and the fact that war is truly destructive. Indeed, compared to Tolkien’s story, McKiernan is far more blunt and bloody, and above all else focused on the fact that death is not merely a strong possibility but an overwhelming certainty depending on the situation. Perhaps this is seen in no better light than the difference between the Shire and the Bosky — the former is run into the ground by Saruman and turned into an environmental dump, but the Hobbits are mostly cowed than anything else, and the recovery of the land is done with a couple of swift battles before everything is begun to be set right.

The Bosky suffers no such easy fate. A good chunk of the story takes place there, and an invading army lays it waste. People of all ages are butchered, survivors are desperate and band together not without arguments and overwhelming fear, and while good wins out in the end, the price is almost too much to ask for. It’s notable that unlike Tolkien most of McKiernan’s characters are well-situated in families whose stories are teased out if not overexplored — by the end of the story nearly everyone has lost one or two parents, a brother, a sister, children, even more. The feeling after it all is less overwhelming victory than what the average dweller in the Soviet steppe must have felt after the Nazis were driven back from Stalingrad.

That there should be such resonance given the current historical moment may seem obvious. But there is something about McKiernan’s placing of the topics — and for all the mock-European language and so forth, I believe it to be a specifically American view of the topics, from thinking on girlfriends left behind to larger questions of morality in wartime — that has a place in the moment. As with Tolkien, I do not agree with everything McKiernan explores necessarily (ultimately the trope of the mindless evil hordes is a big problem in any such work, and how it is dealt with is not always well done either), but I see where he is coming from, and can sense the similarities that must be going through the heads of many of my fellow citizens now, and that have been for some time. It’s a pearl in the darkness, but a relevant one.

Chilling in Portland = rather less blogging

My computer time will be off and on for the next few days, as I am indeed in Portland and enjoying life in the run-up to Halleluwah. Random postings on things as they come to me but frankly I’m looking forward to just kicking back. Hope everyone is well.

Posted in Life. 3 Comments »

“How dare you tell him I’m a toilet trader!”

Figures. I post as I do on a couple of subjects in the news of late, and then my search results show things like “men in tearooms photos” — sorry folks, please look for your Photoshopped Larry Craig results elsewhere.

As I said yesterday I really didn’t have much to say about the Craig case itself — after that farce of a press conference, who needs to? (I presume he didn’t say his most-quoted line because he secretly ‘just acts that way to get chicks, dumbass.’) But it is interesting how the issue of public/private space is now suddenly front-and-center quite rapidly — such is the news cycle, but we’re also getting things like this LA Times op-ed from the editor of Reason that rather memorably concludes:

Partly owing to their own misbehavior, the Republicans have (thankfully) lost the culture wars, especially when it comes to shutting down alternative sexuality. They should follow the message of the architect of their success. As author Sheila Kennedy has written, “To Goldwater, government did not belong either in your boardroom or your bedroom.” Or, as Craig might add, in your bathroom.

The Onion
might as well retire. Then again, if writing poetry after Auschwitz isn’t actually barbaric despite claims otherwise, then comedy will happily thrive after the image of a rotting Goldwater zombie giving public bathroom cops a beatdown works its way through my head.

The shadow of the Central Asian past

I’ve been trying to give my occasional book reviews here some sort of reasonable heft, but again, it’s a busy day, so this will be briefer. An interesting read of late, though, was Justin Marozzi’s Tamerlane, a biography of said Central Asian warlord and empire-builder, more formally known as Tīmūr bin Taraghay Barlas. On the one hand, it’s kinda generic — there’s lots to learn from the book but Marozzi’s not always the best stylist, and a little more help on editing would have avoided the occasional moments of repeating himself unnecessarily. On the other hand, it draws together a lot of primary source material into English from a variety of commentators at or near the time, and thus provides as good a recounting of his life as any in English right now. Tamerlane’s reputation as bloodthirsty — or at the least hardly restraining his soldiers from orgies of butchery throughout the Mongol and Islamic world in particular — is reconfirmed, while at the same time noting the hesitancy even then among writers violently opposed to him to fully condemn him as an ogre, noting his intellectual interests, especially in terms of theology. Small comfort to all the dead, it must be said.

But more interesting as well is that the book functions as a travelogue, as Marozzi visited much of the area of his empire to see what remained, what his reputation was. In ways the book is the most spirited on this front, examining the role of Tamerlane as figure in literature and as historicized patriotic icon for the Uzbekistan government in particular, with former Soviet apparatchik turned independent leader Islom Karimov invoking him as a predecessor in his own thoroughly obvious cult of personality, something Marozzi observes with a rightly critical eye. Having seen similar any number of times in my life — whether in the more theoretically benign approaches of American political leaders gravely pointing to past figureheads with an eye on claiming the mantle, or the more cleverly insidious example of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, who would love nothing better than to be see as the new Bolivar (and is hardly shy of saying so) — it’s a further example of how Joyce was probably more right than ever about history being the nightmare from which we try and awake.

Scraping a barrel (and other archival joys at Stylus)

Busy day! So in brief, another link to some more of my own personal archives, in this case over at Stylus. The majority of them have been for an irregular column I started and was the most regular contributor for, Scraping the Barrel. As I explained in the first entry:

Welcome to the first installation of Scraping The Barrel. The principle is a simple one—the press/promo release barrel at any particular point is scraped by the Stylus bods for stuff they have otherwise ignored and sent to a victim for treatment. In my case I am a willing victim, since I sort of came up with the idea. I come in with no preconceptions per se, in fact I’m always up for finding a diamond in the rough. But if something deserves my contempt, it will get it. I am not here to be anyone’s friend.

With that I was off. Of all the columns I’ve done, there’s almost always been at least one just plain spectacularly bad example of why everyone CAN’T be a singer or a musician. (In my case, at least, I know I can’t be — one 1990-era song with college roommates featuring me on vocals called “Sid and Syd” aside. No, there is no tape of it. I hope.) My favorite, ever, as I talked about in this column, was this entity — one Trevor Justice:

Trevor Justice, man without shame. Or sense.

Listen to “Who Will Rescue the Earth and Sky”…if you dare.

Posted in Music. 1 Comment »

And some more blogroll fun

I realize the pattern of these last couple of days has been pretty simple! But in part I’m balancing out work demands and planning for my trip up north, so I’m kinda doing several things at once! But here’s a quick introduction to some other good sites I’ve linked:

  • Anthony is Right — the blog of the observant and often quite-bloody-minded (in the best possible way) Anthony Miccio, like M. Matos and John Darnielle a fellow co-author for Marooned. The Fred Durst quote at the top of the blog is not meant in an ironic fashion. And speaking of fellow co-authors in Marooned
  • Blissblog — as I will always and often have admitted, Simon Reynolds was one of the two great inspirations of my writing life as well as my critical standpoints on things, along with the equally inimitable Chuck Eddy. My own aesthetic has taken its own stance over time but it was great to finally meet Simon earlier this year at this year’s EMP Pop Conference, and to appear with him in Marooned was an honor and a pleasure.
  • Collected Voices — just that, a collective pop culture blog, including one of the smartest and most aware writers on current pop going, Abby McDonald (who also has her own solo blog PopText and who deserves much congratulations on her recent novel deal!). Only a few posts going so far but this is already quite a promising group effort.
  • DJ Martian — a fellow in-on-ILX poster from the very first day, the DJ’s taken some not-always-gentle heat over time for his programmatic way around organizing all his musical obsessions, as well as his Pompey fandom. But hey, he means well, was kind enough to link to me right from the start, and there’s no question he’s got all the current links to all sorts of things obsessively in place.
  • Largehearted Boy — honestly I hadn’t realized just how popular this blog was until this page was linked to it and I received a slew of new visitors! So much thanks for that, and lord knows there’s enough news and music posted to interest many different listeners.
  • Madam Miaow Says… — finally for tonight the just started blog of the passionate and quite funny UK comedienne/social commentator Anna Chen, who’s a kick and a half. Great to see her joining the world of blogging madness.


I post an extensive entry yesterday touching on the history of public cruising in New York with reference to men’s restrooms in particular; shortly thereafter news of Larry Craig’s travails surfaces. What’s more interesting to me than the case — honestly the most obnoxious thing about it is his invocation of ‘do you know who I am?’ gambit, which looks ridiculous when trying to get into a club and probably even more so when you’re trying to get out of a toilet area — has been some of the reaction to it over on the right.

Oh, sure, there’s expected stuff a-plenty — the funniest instant reaction was Hugh Hewitt asking him to go away but then immediately adding that he realized he didn’t do the same for David Vitter. The moral calculator was perhaps recently recalibrated. But honestly the most eyebrow-raising was the weird confluence of posts over at my favorite “Are you people all right? Really, you should lie down” site, NRO’s the Corner. To wit:

  • Mark Hemingway’s column, not strictly a Corner entry but linked there via a post. The representation of hyperactive OMGLOL chat is one of those clunky moments of ‘how nice of you to notice that not everyone talks like you these days’ which we all might go through but even so.
  • John Podhoretz being his usual ‘huh’ self with ‘a few thoughts,’ which Andy Rooney would likely have rejected in a fit of pique and Mark Russell would think are too obvious for his crowd.
  • The ever-bemusing K-Lo, one of many such posts today in which she considers the idea that sex exists.

There’s a telling theme that runs through all three of these posts, though — a combination of ‘surprise’ (which I want to assume is forced but you never know — in Lopez’s case, it’s a toss-up) over the use of public restrooms in such a fashion and a sense of annoyance that it is being used that way. There’s something bizarrely naive about this which requires some further thought.

To be sure, the subjects under discussion are not regular political conversation per se. Or even common conversation (depending on one’s circles, I might imagine). But the reaction of all three is ultimately sophomoric in a literal sense — I could easily see this coming from sophomores, sure. From high school. (College, less so, and anyone older than that, please.) It bespeaks less of a curiosity about the world than a sudden nervous rush to try and isolate and pretend the worst of a situation, prurience combined with fascination — not something I’m going to pretend I’ve been immune to in the past and maybe even now (again, refer to yesterday’s post). Hemingway’s piece at the start is the most demi-realistic, at least, in that it acknowledges that cruising is hardly some great mystery, and in the grand tradition of fine bloggers everywhere, ie me, provides a handy Wikipedia link (though it’s for cruising in the UK, which is interesting in and of itself — the tradition of trying to convince people that all that nasty non-hetero stuff goes on/comes from somewhere else appears to continue apace, at least in terms of what Hemingway might be suggesting with this link in particular).

But having done that Hemingway revisits the question of it being a ‘public nuisance’ and the eternal war continues of what public space is used for. The anecdote he tells of a young kid with a lube wrapper is pretty gross, but is just that, an anecdote — if anything it confirms that litterbugs are people too, and I have to doubt that this is a national plague in particular. At the same time I think it’s perfectly sensible that any mom, no matter how comfortable/freely thinking on such issues, would rather not have to be put into a situation not of her own time and choosing explaining what such a wrapper was and where it might have been and why she’s so concerned about her kid having that in her mouth and so forth; I can’t imagine anyone saying otherwise.

After that the article descends pretty rapidly, which is a pity — there’s space for a larger discussion of the human animal at public play, for lack of a better term, and how that space is conceived and used. It’s a key part of urban planning on the one hand, expression of individual identity on the other — as such, an arguably very American issue, though hardly solely set there of course. But no, instead we get, as most everywhere else (right or left, I should note) the typical joshing with the unmissable subtext of ‘why can’t all humans be proper married couples like us who only engage in acts of copulation on our sainted marriage bed,’ or something similar. Moral fantasy mugged by reality, once again.

(UPDATE: You know, leave it to Hewitt’s main coblogger to come across even more painfully:

The mind spins. Who would go into an airport restroom seeking a sexual encounter? Talk about looking for love in all the wrong places. And how do people become familiar with these codes? Not that I would ever find myself in a public restroom stall, but if I did and the guy next to me began tapping his toes, I would have no idea that I had been invited to a forbidden rendezvous. If his tapping toes somehow wandered into my stall-space, I would break a land-speed record getting back to my departure gate.

Other questions abound. Do these guys buy airline tickets just so they can visit the flushing Studio 54 of Minneapolis gay sex? And does every airport have a similar hangout? Boston’s Logan Airport is pretty big. Maybe we have one, too. Then again, this sounds like a very Midwest thing. I think Hugh should make a point of asking Lileks about it on Thursday. I know James is busy this week gorging on the culinary delights that the Minnesota State Fair offers like DingDongs and fried MilkyWays (yum!), but if ever we needed Lileks’ local knowledge, it’s now.

The bit about state fair food near the end just makes me think of the greatest line of cinema history (scroll down to the paragraph beginning “If the movie wasn’t so afraid…”). I have no doubt this was not intentional, though. As for everything else, stabs (with a butter knife) at humor aside, it’s amazing what people either try and assume exists or alternately pretend doesn’t exist. As Barnett makes a bit clearer later on:

ONE LAST PRESSING ISSUE weighs on my mind: Why do so many of the political figures ensnared in these embarrassments seem to be Republicans? You can point to Chris Dodd’s and Ted Kennedy’s special recipe for waitress sandwiches as counterpoints, but Craig’s and Mark Foley’s antics are so much weirder and creepier. Do politicians think membership in the Family Values party provides them with a beard that will insulate them from their secret lives? Is it all an exercise in self-loathing performed on a national stage?

I won’t stay up nights waiting for the other shoe to drop but it might yet. Might.)

So talking a bit more about the linked blogs…

…in my ‘Linkers and thinkers’ section. This isn’t everybody but it’ll be a start — basically, go check these folks out when you have the chance!

  • Mackrotonal — the newest blog of my very good friend Mackro, who I’ve known for almost literally a decade and a half now (seriously, I think the 15th anniversary is right about now)
  • Quartzcity — the central net spot for psych/car/food/LA area obsessive Chris Barrus, scholar and gent
  • Humanizing the Vacuum — current chief blog of Alfred Soto, fellow ILX denizen and Stylus writer Alfred Soto; he can also be found at the similarly linked A Grand Illusion
  • Last Plane to Jakarta — first a zine and for some time now the long-running blog of the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle; stellar writing on a variety of subjects to be found
  • Fabulous Color — Mairead Case is one heck of a writer through and through, not to mention just a plain spectacular person, so keep an eye on her work here
  • Apatasy Ahoy! — the recently started anonymous blog of a formerly Muslim college student; passionate writing and much more to be found

More later about the others, and more blogs to be added as I go!

Down in the park, and many other places besides

(Rolling preface: Even as I write this I find myself thinking of lots of different things to say. This will have to be oversimplified for a reason and is more of a passel of thoughts rather than anything unitary but hopefully there’s something here to build on. It does, however, seem appropriate that I should write this on a day when I’m wearing a favorite T-shirt of mine — the front says “Don’t assume I’m straight,” the back “Don’t assume I’m not.”)

Recently I’ve had a chance to reread George Chauncey‘s excellent Gay New York, his much-honored first book about gay life in that city from the late nineteenth century up through the Great Depression. When I first read it I can’t recall, but it would have been some years after its initial publication; almost assuredly it was the same UCI library copy I’m reading now, so in ways I’m just returning to where I already was, but such is always the case with rereading.

The general interest I have had over the years in issues of non-heterosexuality (for lack of a better term — no one phrase or word seems to sum it up without being either implicitly insulting or limiting) has always been from a position of implicit privilege in a straight-oriented society, namely that of fitting in with the ‘majority,’ whatever that might truly be — sometimes I wonder — but not in fact ‘in the life’ or anything close to it. Reducing things down to dull simplicities, I am a straight guy attracted to women and, allowing for the fact that I’m hardly a perfect character in general, is comfortable enough with my own feelings to not have to indulge in the games of idiot machismo that any number of guys seek to act out because they appear to have nothing better to do. (That I can see said games of idiot machismo play out among gay men as well as straight is its own bemusing story but I’m going to overcomplicate this post enough as it is, so moving on.) For all this, I find the worlds of other sexualities and passions of constant interest, ranging from my confusion at first seeing the scrambled sexual imagery in the poster that came with the soundtrack to Purple Rain to the fact that I think Chi Chi La Rue‘s astounding autobiography Making it Big is one of the most entertaining American ‘small town boy gets famous’ lifestories yet told — among many other things besides.

The title to this blog entry is chosen with this mental place in mind, “Down in the Park” being one of the most notable early songs, originally on the Tubewary Army album Replicas, by Gary Numan. In the liner notes to the reissue of Replicas, where the song appeared and which I happen to be listening to as I type this, he reflects on the themes of the album:

Replicas is filled with images of decay, seediness, drug addicts, fragile people and the abandonment of morals. The bisexual allusions are partly based on encounters I had with gay men, most of whom were much older than me, who had attempted to persuade me to try things. I was never interested in gay sex, never felt the slightest bit tempted, but the seediness of those situations left an impression which I used in Replicas…In the songs I exaggerated these experiences, invented some others, set them in a scary, futuristic scenario and wrote about them as if it was all based on first-hand knowledge.”

Numan’s experiences are hardly my own, but there’s a regrettable if understandable slew of stereotyping I recognize in his words (which perhaps he does not himself, I’m not sure — they come from his autobiography Praying to the Aliens and could have a larger context I am missing as yet). The equating of issues of sexual non-‘normativity’ (I told you I hate the language one has to use) with other ones of collapse, degeneration and so forth is practically as old as literature, perhaps as old as human society. In more recent terms, say Baudelaire on but he has his own roots, the issues of being the flâneur, the spectator, the borrowing of the airs and the clothes and more besides but not actually being part of the Other, however phrased, has been a constant obsession in philosophy and theory and more besides. Tracing it all out means going back to grad school and I’m not about to do that at all; suffice to say that as with so much else in life projections and categorizations reduce individuals to larger schema, and this often happens with our implicit if not explicit participation.

Chauncey acknowledges these factors quite well in his book, which fits in with his general project — perhaps more vitally important then, perhaps less so now — of challenging both oppressive ‘straight’ viewpoints and limited ‘gay’ orthodoxy about the post-Stonewall period, which alleged that essentially everything was universal repression up through the riots. The book’s focus is to eventually argue that such seemingly endless crackdowns were historically situated from the thirties onward, whereas in the period under discussion beforehand various communities thrived in a variety of visible and subliminal ways.

Notably, his own most straightforward discussion of the potential of ‘seediness,’ if not using that word specifically, takes place mostly in a section regarding the use of public toilets, called ‘tearooms’ in slang, with this paragraph:

Men went to the tearooms for a variety of reasons, and their encounters could have radically different meanings for each participant. But the encounters often affected how even men little involved in other aspects of the gay world regarded that world. They reinforced the negative impressions of many men, for they seemed to offer vivid confirmation of the cultural association of homosexuality with degeneracy by putting homosexuality and homosexuals almost literally in the gutter. Even the men most attracted to the tearooms as sexual meeting grounds had to be influenced by a culture that regarded such locales and such practices with disgust.

As a counterpoint to Numan’s romanticized attraction/repulsion this is strong stuff, all the more so because the language is that of the academic Chauncey was then formally becoming (the book grew out of his doctoral thesis) rather than that of the casual reminiscence of something Numan was never directly involved in. The vocabulary conveys enough to suggest without needing to dwell on it further, an approach he takes throughout the book (there’s doubtless something to be said about ‘sanitizing’ [on any number of levels] discussion in an academic context but again, a subject in and of itself). And while Chauncey continues from there to note positive aspects of the tearoom experience as well, his words serve as a salutary reminder — something maybe I’m thinking more about given my post yesterday regarding those many people whose lives play out removed from our experiences — that these times and places did not exist simply to provide random fodder for safely-ensconced imaginations.

But questions of play and agency are endless, as they should be — and it’s interesting to note that Numan himself has been the focus of celebration and reinterpretation via gay fans of his work. Terre Thaemlitz is the most notable example, and his excellent Replicas Rubato album, featuring covers of many Numan songs, is accompanied by a detailed essay regarding his Numan fandom and issues of sexuality and projection. It’s well worth the reading through in full, and like me Thaemlitz has long been taken with “Down in the Park” as a song, for what it suggests and for the pose of its narrator. Chauncey himself discusses parks in his book in some detail as a public ground for social gay life, and somewhere in my head right now there’s a full crossover of details, at least right at this point — so it seems best not to end on a note of exact resolution but rather to let Thaemlitz a final word that in and of itself is not final either:

As inspiration for enacting social change on personal and communal levels, one of the drawbacks of Numan’s language is the manner in which it repeatedly capitulates to notions of contradiction as inherently traumatic. His characters are chronically resigned to disparity and confusion. Furthermore, in terms of politics of representation as it relates to experience, certain problems arise from ambiguities in Numan’s relationship to such traumas as participant or observer (those “little white lies like ‘I was there'” – Down In The Park, Gary Numan [1979]). These ambiguities have at times alienated me from his music, while in other instances have made more palatable some rather tasteless appropriations of identity.

Admin — adding a few more blogroll categories

At some point I’ll have things to say about the many friends I’ve linked who you should check out, but I’m a lazy-ass mofo (also I want to do it properly). Meantime, though, I’ve created two new categories: “Locations to Linger,” where I link to various preferred spots I’m usually found in Costa Mesa, either seeing bands, having drinks, getting a good meal or just simply chilling. All are worth your checking out, more on the way.

Meantime, “Products to Purchase” are just that, right now listing a few record labels or distributors I order directly from, as well as other things that will catch my fancy. Bonny Doon Farm is a good example of the latter — I purchased a bar of their lemon verbena soap while home in Carmel, turned out to be quite wonderful, so I recommend checking it out!

Scrolling down further, if you haven’t checked out Thanks 4 the Add! yet, you really need to…