Posts by: Walter Gordon

The 826 Valencia Write-a-thon

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The third annual 826 Valencia Write-a-thon is this coming weekend, Sunday, August 26.

Grab your pens and pencils, computer, or typewriter and head down to 826 for a full day of inspired, 826-powered writing. The event is a fundraiser for 826 Valencia’s free student programs and works not unlike any other walk — or mara — thons you may or may not have participated in: You gather pledges from friends and family and write until your brain or arms fall asleep, or until 8:26 PM.

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Sean Stewart and the Underground Press

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“No matter how you feel about the whole thing, what can’t be denied is that millions of people feel betrayed. The people held up their end of the bargain and rightly feel that they got sold out.”

At Guernica, Matthew Newton interviews Sean Stewart, former owner of the now closed Babylon Falling, a radical bookstore and gallery space in San Francisco, and editor of On The Ground: An Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the US.

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Alden Van Buskirk

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At The Poetry Foundation, Garrett Caples writes a moving essay on the life of Alden Van Buskirk, a Vermont born, Dartmouth-St. Louis-Mexico-Oakland raised poet with connections to the Beats and a love for Rimbaud.

Van Buskirk (Van, to his friends) published only one, posthumous volume, titled LAMI, a largely autobiographical work collected by his close friend David Rattray.

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Patient and Painter

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The Guardian excerpts ten images from Nick Wadley’s new book, Man + Doctor, a visual autobiographical account of the author’s time spent in various hospitals in the UK, his anxieties and observations laid bare on operating tables.

The book is published by Dalkey Archive Press, the house responsible for releasing one of Wadley’s earlier efforts: Man + Dog, a varied and hilarious exploration of the relationship between man and man’s best friend.

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A Story of Equine Intimacy

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“She had big brown eyes, long eyelashes, and a light brown mane and tail. It may not seem possible but I saw a shy smile on her lips. She tried to make believe that she didn’t notice me.”

At BOMB, an illustrated short story about a man falling in love with a horse, by artist Myron Kaufman. The story, Horse Scents, and its author, are introduced by filmmaker Charlie Kaufman, Myron Kaufman’s son.

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Pre-Olympic Pre-Emptive Strikes

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London authorities are bent on making sure that the Olympics Games will proceed without a hitch.

Their strategies include arresting people who they think may pose a threat to that smoothness, in advance, before any crimes are committed. Four men, aged between 18 and 38, have been arrested “on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage” and “on suspicion of incitement to commit criminal damage,” according to The Guardian.

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Steve Almond on Comedy and Politics

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“Why take to the streets when Stewart and Colbert are on the case? It’s a lot easier, and more fun, to experience the war as a passive form of entertainment than as a source of moral distress requiring citizen activism.”

At The Baffler, Rumpus columnist Steve Almond takes on comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, arguing that the comedians serve, largely, to mollify the public by staunching desire for active action against unjust power structures by engaging in acts of essentially harmless ridicule.

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On “Proper” English and Objective Legislation

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It’s no secret that English is a constantly shifting, malleable, many-headed beast of a language, yet, much of the time, writers and speakers insist emphatically on obeying its many ostensibly rigid rules.

At The New York Times, linguist John McWhorter writes about the myth of “proper” English:

“We are taught that a proper language makes perfect logical sense, and that allowing changes willy-nilly threatens chaos.”

In the article, McWhorter argues that changes in the English language are akin to shifts in fashion: they have real, tangible effects, but should not be used in any way to infer the “intelligence or moral worth” of a speaker or writer.

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Leigh Stein at BOMBLOG

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This week’s installment of BOMB’s Word Choice” is four poems by Leigh Stein, whose new collection, Dispatch from the Future, launches July 19th at Melville House.

The poems, like Stein’s debut novel, The Fallback Plana depiction of after-college limbo—strike a powerful balance between humor and melancholy, reference and storytelling.

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The Language of American Politics

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At The American Interest, David Green issues “A Call To Linguistic Disobedience.”

In his essay, Green argues that some of the most basic linguistic techniques used to describe the state of American politics (or, to “define the situation”) – such as the use of a binary of left versus right, liberal versus conservative – create a system in which any substantive explanation or exploration of events becomes impossible, as actual dialog becomes shrouded behind and ultimately replaced by competitions over the definitions of fundamentally subjective labels:

“With no mutually acceptable vocabulary, communication between contending parties has all but been replaced by efforts to bypass opponents and communicate directly with two key constituencies: independent or swing voters, and the respective bases each side wishes to mobilize.”

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Palahniuk at the Castro Theatre

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On July 16, Chuck Palahniuk will be at the Castro Theatre in conversation with Rumpus contributor Tom Barbash.

Last month, Palahniuk released Invisible Monsters Remix, a “director’s cut” hardcover of a novel he first published in 1999. In the new edition, Palahniuk presents the novel as he originally intended: chopped up, out of order, and loaded with bells and whistles like backwards text and Choose Your Own Adventure style instructions.

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Impersonation and Self-Portraiture

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On July 14, SF MoMA will be opening a retrospective of the work of photographer Cindy Sherman.

Starting with her series Untitled Film Stills, Sherman’s photographs have consistently challenged the limits, meaning, and power of self-portraiture. In an article for the New York Review of Books, critic Sanford Schwartz characterized Sherman as “an impersonator—which in her case means being a creator of people, and sometimes people-like creatures.”

Alongside the retrospective, Sherman has curated a film series, which continues with The Beaver Trilogy on July 12, at 7:00pm.

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What Really Happened? We Still Don’t Know

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At The New Yorker, novelist and Pulitzer Prize jury member Michael Cunningham has written a two-part essay about why there was no Prize awarded for fiction this year for the first time since 1977.

The essay, while coming from a source one step removed from the final decision – that of the committee – still provides an interesting look into the painstaking process of whittling down three hundred books into three.

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Gender and the Job

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“It’s hard to imagine a young woman’s stripper story serving as an allegory to critique capitalism: woman loses home in foreclosure so now she loses her bra.”

At The New Inquiry, Elizabeth Greenwood reviews Steven Soderbergh’s new film Magic Mike, paying close attention to the way it illuminates the differences between the cultural perceptions of male versus female strippers.

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The View from a “Cramped Little Cottage” in Nairobi

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“I love the tingling pullover of night sounds and forest sounds and the bite of cold breeze and distant cars and stereos. Sometimes I close my eyes and sway my arms into patterns to move with the sensations of the strong bitpieces banging about in my temples.”

At The Paris Review, Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina writes the latest entry of the excellent “Windows on the World” series.

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Chris Andrews on Translation

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“Sometimes the people who lament that global English has become a ‘grey language’ forget that the greyness predominates in certain social contexts, like business communication, and they forget that while English has been running around the world displacing other languages, it has also been appropriated in all sorts of ways.”

At BOMB Magazine, Will Heyward interviews poet and translator Chris Andrews, touching on the problems of deciphering Roberto Bolaño’s literary influences, controlling the compulsion to re-translate earlier work, and the connection between Oulipo and the Argentinean literary mad scientist César Aira.

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No Animals We Could Name

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At Full Stop, Ben Jahn reviews Ted Sanders’ new story collectionNo Animals We Could Name.

The collection, as the title suggests, often skirts the foggy line between the imaginary and the observed, and, for Jahn, challenges the possibility of recounting sensations as truly observed:

“A kind of celebratory regret runs through these stories for the simultaneous adequacy and inadequacy of descriptive language… Sanders invites his readers to believe they could have imagined these sounds.

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This Is Not A Blog Post

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Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s This Is Not A Film is being screened at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley on July 8th.

During the film’s production, Panahi was under strict house arrest, and banned from making films. This Is Not a Film, then, as it’s title insits, is simply “an effort”.

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