Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Sentence I Never Thought I'd Write

"The mistaken yoking of messianism to Enlightenment ideas of progress was an early source of grief to Scholem."

Monday, December 8, 2008


The first I heard or saw of Odetta was this:

It always intrigued me but I never followed up on it. Then I went to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival this year and saw a short part of her set there. The festival was overwhelming for a number of reasons, so I don't think I appreciated her set as much as I should have. But I do remember her singing this song and am thankful I got to see it live, especially after I heard the sad news.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Also, "Internet" might be catching on

The front page of The New York Times website today features this subhead inviting you to read an op-ed piece from Suzanne Vega: "Suzanne Vega on how the music we choose to listen to can mark us as members of a group." Other op-ed pieces today presumably include essays arguing that the color of your skin may affect how other people treat you and that the sky may be blue-ish.

NYT, you can do better.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Eternal Refluffenance

One of the San Francisco Chronicle’s two above-the-fold articles today was simple, clear, and predictable: “More Mouths to Feed,” about the increased attendance at food banks and shelters this year due to the worsening economic crisis. (The headline for the online edition is even more to the point: "Lines for free Thanksgiving Meals growing.") “Every time the stock market goes down, Thanksgiving attendance at places like Glide Memorial Church and St. Anthony Dining Room goes up,” reads the second paragraph in its entirety. You can imagine the rest of the article: more people are collecting free meals this year; food donations are down, but the number of volunteers is up. These kinds of stories are templates tweaked every year to accord with current events, adding little that is new. People are in need every year, some years more than others, sometimes for different reasons. Sometimes there is more to give them, sometimes there is less. Today’s paper draws a connection between the current state of the stock market and the increased attendance: “the market went way down, and attendance went way up.” But this connection is fuzzy. Did the people seeking a free meal lose money in the stock market? One would think not. One man says he was a real estate agent in Chicago last year, but “that was last year.” Where will he be next year? We know where the Chronicle will be.

One new element has been introduced this year. A father and his three sons sit at a table in the picture that accompanies the article. The father wears a casual, button-down shirt and sports neatly combed dark hair speckled with gray (his sons are all extremely blond). He has a thinly-trimmed mustache that accentuates the downward turn of his mouth as he gazes at the son to his left. The boy, probably around nine years old, looks darkly across the table at another diner whose hat and hands offer evidence of his presence along the bottom edge of the picture. His expression is difficult to read. He looks scared and unhappy, but that might be a photographic misrepresentation—a face made in an instant that’s captured on film but doesn’t reflect the subject’s true feelings. The man’s other two sons seem engaged with eating. One sits on his lap, stuffing food into his mouth; the other has bits of food in each hand while he stares at the tray in front of him. The father sits in the middle, splitting the difference between these two sides. He is not smiling. But on the table in front of this small family, along with a pumpkin and a potted, flowering plant, is a sign in a small plastic stand with a sign that advises diners “SMILE! THIS TABLE MAY BE FILMED OR PHOTOGRAPHED BY MEDIA.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lonely Seagull Classics: Considerations

The Lonely Seagull is a physical thing and needs to be touched to fully appreciate it. Just reading the words does not do it full justice. There is art and the cover feels like sand. The internets do not allow for this type of interface, but it can approximate it*. So, in that spirit, what follows is the first in a series of excerpts from the the first physical issue of the magazine. Except, this particular piece, a Consideration, was not actually included, so it has an added element of care and specialness: think of it as a deleted scene. One that you'd actually watch.

*Not really, though.

The guy at Mudraker’s
By Benjamin Adorno

The guy who works at—and maybe co-owns—the coffee shop down the street from me really makes the place. He makes the place like particularly comfortable chairs, good coffee, attractive employees or less easily defined qualities make other coffee shops especially pleasant places to be in. I’d say this guy is about forty-five or fifty. He has a pleasant face and a short, neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper moustache. His movements are precise and knowing; the bagel sandwiches he makes are layered, spread and cut with an uncommon care. When he greets me with a blank but vaguely pleasant stare at the counter he looks like he is now, or once was, capable of menace. But he hides the menace somewhere far behind his sad and handsome eyes that bring to mind the imagined chimerical offspring of Omar Sharif and Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. Sometimes his son comes in and helps out as best he can. The kid’s shy but he takes orders at the register for his dad to fill. He has his dad’s eyes and you can see in them that, though he’s bored and would probably rather be doing anything else, he is content just to be around his father, watching the sunlight gently burn through the window on a sleepy summer afternoon. So I keep coming back because of this guy and it’s mostly because of him that I’d recommend it. But don’t go there for the coffee because it’s not very good.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

John Leonard, Farewell

John Leonard, with whom I became acquainted through his New Books column in Harper's, died from lung cancer last night at the age of 69. I often had trouble reading his columns because his sentences twisted and turned with long lists and casual references to a staggering variety of things about which I knew nothing: foreign cultures, detailed histories, obscure and well-known writers, complicated philosophies reduced to a phrase, systems of thought, anything and everything. The New York Times' obituary quotes Kurt Vonnegut on reading Leonard: "When I start to read John Leonard, it is as though I, while simply looking for the men's room, blundered into a lecture by the smartest man who ever lived." This description is hard to improve on.

Harper's has made everything he wrote for them freely available on their website.

John Leonard was a fierce liberal, and not just politically. His reviews were always generous and almost devoid of judgment. He supported Obama and, unlike his friend Studs Terkel, lived long enough to cast his vote, though he had to bring a chair to sit on while he waited in line. I hope he was able to appreciate Obama's victory as well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President Obama: Don't Stop!

Look at how Cutty Ranks does it:

Keep it up! George Packer thinks he knows why you looked so haggard in the days before the election:
The reason came to me when I was reading the galleys of H. W. Brands’s new biography of F.D.R., “Traitor to His Class.” On the night of his landslide victory over Hoover, in 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt had an intimate conversation with his son James:

“You know, Jimmy,” Franklin said, “all my life I have been afraid of only one thing—fire. Tonight I think I’m afraid of something else.”

“Afraid of what, Pa?”

“I’m just afraid that I may not have the strength to do this job.” He paused reflectively. “After you leave me tonight, Jimmy, I am going to pray. I am going to pray that God will help me, that he will give me the strength and the guidance to do this job and to do it right. I hope that you will pray for me, too, Jimmy.”

Yes, O.K., the whole "Pa/Jimmy" dynamic seems a bit disingenuous and hard to swallow, but not the idea that an earnest person with good intentions would feel the heavy weight of historical expectations upon having inherited such great responsibility. It is in fact reassuring that someone we've just chosen to lead the country would feel humbled and unsure, for that is certainly a better place to start than ignorant arrogance. It is encouraging that one not take this lightly. This is good. It is so rare to read good things in the news. Please: keep it up. Though strange and unfamiliar, they are welcome.

Good luck.

President Obama

The Lonely Seagull is glad that Mr. Obama won the presidency tonight. Congratulations to him, and compliments on his fine acceptance speech.

Happiness prevails right now. The happiness is hard to define, but the videos below go to some length toward that goal, if obtusely.

Elvis Costello, "Radio, Radio"

(A metaphorical narrative: "They're saying things I can hardly believe / They really think we're getting out of control / Radio is the sound salvation / Radio is cleaning up the nation / They don't give you any choice becaue they think that it's treason")

Eric B. & Rakim "Eric B. is President"

(another metaphor: "I make it easy to dance to this")

Jonathan Richman, "I'm a Little Airplane"

(expression of joy: "I'm a little airplane")

Pixies, "Here Comes Your Man"

(it took a long time: "You never wait so long")

Monday, October 20, 2008

Free Money

We here at TLS admire creative types, but we have a particularly soft spot in our hearts for writers. We know not everyone can be a Writer when asked, "What do you do for a living?" For the most part, this is a good thing because you wouldn't want to flood an already competitive and, unfortunately, increasingly unread maket (we're talkin' fiction here). However, we would like to see everyone become at least competent in their writing, and this seems to be one of the goals of our institutions of higher education. Unfortunately, some Writers can sometimes go astray, but, then again, it's hard to blame them when they can't put food on the table for their many, many children.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Drunk Horse

We are always sad to see friends fall on hard times, so it was disheartening to see this headline in The Guardian: Drunk pony rescued from swimming pool. Fat Boy had tried so hard to stay off the fermented apples, but apparently the global financial crisis was just too much for him:
The pony, called Fat Boy, broke in to Sarah Penhaligon's garden in Newquay, Cornwall, to get to the fruit, which had fallen from trees.

He ate so many apples that he became confused.

Thankfully, he hadn't lost the weight he had been trying to shed lately; the extra bulk kept him warm while in the water.

We've all been there, Fat Boy. Here's to better times.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Other Things Also"

Today was an exciting day! Our new favorite poet has published a new poem! Sarah Palin's latest release finds her expanding her range: she is using longer lines and experimenting more with syntax and enjambment. Whereas, with previous efforts, such as "Challenge to a Cynic" and "On Reporters," her debt to John Ashberry's short collages of disparate, unrelated words was obvious, her newest work sounds more like the free-flowing stream-of-consciousness of Frank O'Hara. O'Hara's influence can also be seen in direct, concrete references, like "the New York Times" and "Barack Obama." But this new directness does not mean she has abandoned her commitment to abstraction. Indeed, the hazy syntactical relationship between her words and any kind of referent is just as present here. Like Emily Dickinson, she uses pronouns like "It" and "they" without a clear antecedent so as to elide any reduction of her work to a single interpretation. She prefers that the reader get lost in the twists and turns of her mysterious, snaking sentences. If there is a connection between all these orphaned clauses, she doesn't want to impose a meaning on it. The very idea of meaning becomes obsolete; reason and logic are abandoned. She aims for, and achieves, an emotional effect that transcends thinking. She is a poet who captures the confusion of our times. Language, she seems to suggest, cannot begin to capture the experience, only suggest, or gesture toward it.

But enough analysis. As Wordsworth said, "We murder to dissect."

Here is the thing itself:

"Other Things Also"

It is pertinent,
it's important
because when you consider
Barack Obama's reaction to
and explanation to
his association
and without him being clear
at all
on what he knew and when he knew it,
that I think
kinda peaks into his ability
to tell us the truth on,
not only on
but perhaps
other things also.

it's relevant,
I believe,
and I brought it up in response
to the New York Times article
having been printed recently,
and I think
it just makes us ask the question that,
if there's not forthrightness there,
with that association
and what was known
and when it was known,
does that lead us to ask,
is there forthrightness
with the plans
Barack Obama has
or say tax cuts,
or spending increases,
makes us question judgment.
And I think
it's fair and relevant.

(October 7, 2008, on a plane from Florida to North Carolina)

(via AS)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin Reads The Lonely Seagull (And The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Harper's, and Newseek, and Inches, and The Daily Worker...)

The Virginia Quarterly Review points out that the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate is evidently a voracious reader. She reads "all" the magazines and newspapers, according to what she told Katie Couric:
COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them…

We're grateful that Mrs. Palin has read our small effort. We hope that she's enjoyed it and, perhaps, gleaned some wisdom about geopolitics, or at least what animals are best associated with certain Jimi Hendrix songs.

Video of the interview can be found here, among doubtless innumerable other places.

(via VQR, and apologies for stealing their joke.)


This month ushers in a difficult season. Baseball is still around in playoff form for a while, but that only means the winter is a little closer, and will soon have fewer distractions. And with all the uncertainty clouding the news in addition to the general gloominess of early darkness and overcast days, this winter will likely need some distractions. But this inchoate dread, distilled from internal and external threats, is hardly a new feeling.

Frank O'Hara, in his poem "October," articulates it quite well:

Summer is over,
that moment of blindness
in a sunny wheelbarrow
aching on sand dunes
from a big melancholy
about war headlines
and personal hatreds.

Restful boredom waits
for the winter’s cold solace
and biting season of galas
to take over my nerves,
and from anger at time’s rough passage
I fight off the future, my friend.

Is there at all anywhere
in this lavender sky
beside the UN Building
where I am so little
and have dallied with love,
a fragment of the paradise
we see when signing treaties
or planning free radio stations?

If I turn down my sheets
Children start screaming through
the windows. My glasses
are broken on the coffee table.
And at night a truce
with Iran or Korea seems certain
while I am beaten to death
by a thug in a back bedroom.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Though it doesn't entirely share his enthusiasm for energy drinks and "instant-messaging," The Lonely Seagull most likely shares a similar target audience with experimental writer Tao Lin:
My target demographics include hipsters, depressed teenagers, depressed vegans, happy but sensitive teenagers, people of any age who are severely detached from reality, Europeans, all college students, and I think sarcastic vegans.

To that list, TLS might add desultory surfers, disillusioned skateboard enthusiasts, prolific biographers, ambivalent artisans, and retired health-care workers.

Additions, corrections, or rejoinders to this list are welcome.

(via The Book Bench)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The MacArthur Foundation Doesn't Care About The Lonely Seagull

Today brings some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the 2008 MacArthur Fellows--those lucky few who receive what's usually called "Genius" grants--have been announced. The bad news is that The Lonely Seagull has been completely overlooked YET AGAIN. Obviously, this is a miscarriage of philanthropic justice.

Sure, Wafaa El-Sadr might have "developed a multi-pronged approach to treating some of the most pressing pandemics of our time" but has she written a short and witty humor piece that's appeared in our magazine? No.

Don't even get me started about Diane Meier, "a geriatrician who is shaping the field of palliative care and making its benefits available to millions of Americans suffering from serious illness." Show me the limited-distribution, independently-produced literary magazine she's started.

The MacArthur Foundation obviously doesn't care about independent, original thinking in the arts. They prefer the super-popular tabloid hogs like the flashy Nigerian-American writer Chimamanda Adichie and celebrity basket-weavers like Mary Jackson. Why not just give the grant to Martha Stewart or Stephen King?

Maybe next year the MacArthur Foundation will get its act together and start writing checks to some really deserving people.

Friday, September 12, 2008


The Lonely Seagull likes to keep things simple. Too much clutter of any type just throws you off the trail of what you really should be doing. As some of you might have noticed, a surfeit of distracting and ultimately meaningless distractions has overwhelmed some sort of national contest lately. But the ceaseless quest for power is hardly the sole provenance of clutter and distractions; they adhere tenaciously to almost every aspect modern life.

Though still stuck in modern life, some people are trying to find ways to move beyond the unnecessary, toward something good and meaningful. This is hard work: If everything contains a distraction, where and how do you start sweeping away what you don't need?

Well, it could start anywhere--so why not start with "bike culture"? What should be one of the simplest pursuits has turned into a confusing and pretentious morass, argues a blog called Copenhagen Cycle Chic. They offer a case study of a typical (and hypothetical) Copenhagen bicyclist:

The bike she chose was a black one. Probably a good, reliable Danish brand like Kildemoes or Taarnby. It certainly wasn't a "TerraTurbo Urban Warrior X9000". It was just a bike. What it is called isn't important to her. Just the fact that it works.

She doesn't know how much it weighs. Nobody she knows or has ever met could tell you how much their bike weighs. Likewise, she doesn't know how far she rides each day. It isn't interesting. She rides at a good pace, not too fast to cause a sweat, and the ride is nice enough. She likes the fresh air and she often sees friends on the bike lanes. She loves crossing The Lakes and seeing the transformation from season to season. That will suffice.

This is a promising start. Next comes everything else.

(CCC tip via kottke)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

lil' education

Teaching is difficult. Writing is difficult. Writing about teaching is very difficult. Writing something about teaching that isn't entirely pessimistic, riddled with cliches, sentimental, tendentious, or just a thinly veiled list of complaints, AND, at the same time, is actually interesting to read, is nearly an impossible task. Too often, essays about teaching--even by excellent teachers and writers--fall into the same traps. Even if one is sympathetic to the overarching argument (standardized testing is undermining education; inner-city schools don't receive enough funding, etc, etc), pity and hopelessness overwhelm the reader and whatever vitality the teacher or students ever possessed--as characters, as people--is lost.

Yet, somehow, David Ramsey has managed to avoid any predictable pitfall in his wonderful essay about teaching in a partially reconstructed New Orleans school. But don't let that scare you away. As Sasha Frere-Jones puts it, the essay is "a tonic"--the main ingredient of which is, somewhat improbably, Lil' Wayne. Since his students loved Lil' Wayne so much, Ramsey started listening to him almost non-stop. It's this connection around which Ramsey builds his fine essay, and judging by his students' fervor, the choice seems inevitable:

Once I witnessed a group of students huddled around a speaker listening to Lil Wayne. They had heard these songs before, but were nonetheless gushing and guffawing over nearly every line. One of them, bored and quiet in my classroom, was enthusiastically, if vaguely, parsing each lyric for his classmates: “You hear that? Cleaner than a virgin in detergent. Think on that.”

Pulling out the go-to insult of high schoolers everywhere, a girl nearby questioned their sexuality. “Y’all be in to Lil Wayne so much you sound like girls,” she said.

They just kept listening. Then one of the boys was simply overtaken by a lyrical turn. He stood up, threw up his hands, and began hollering. “I don’t care!” he shouted. “No homo, no homo, but that boy is cute!”

(via SFJ at The New Yorker)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Live-blogging from DNC 2008!

It's been an amazing couple of days here in Denver! There have been many, many lights and colors and people saying things into a microphone on a big stage almost all the time! And then a bunch of other people write about what those people on the stage said. And then some other people write about what the other people wrote about....It's all so crazy and pithy! Everything is fun and fluffy and funny, like in elementary school!

Anyway, that was a lot of words. People here seem to like looking at things more than thinking about things, so here is some footage of the convention from tonight!

Bonus! I got to sneak into the super-special Republican "war room" they have set up here--"No Democrats Allowed!" See? It's just like being a little kid again! Here's a picture I snapped:

(Portishead video via clusterflock. George Grosz's "Eclipse of the Sun" from here. War room tip via clusterflock.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the singer not the song

The New York Times columnist David Brooks recently posited that "on or about June 29, 2007, human character changed." Why that particular date? Mr. Brooks tells us, "That, of course, was the release date of the first iPhone." The iPhone, he goes on to explain, puts the medium in front of the message: content doesn't matter any more. How you get that content is much more important: the Kindle is more revolutionary than any book that might be read on it, Ptichfork more cutting-edge than any actual music found on it, the mobile device flashier than any substantive use of it. The focus on technology, Mr. Brooks suggests, shifts the cultural hierarchy from connoisseurship to "one-upsmanship." This anxiety about the media shaping the message to deleterious effect is nothing new, but it's still hard not to feel that, somewhere, somehow, Mr. Brooks has a valid point.The focus on technological frameworks does seem to overwhelm any potentially interesting content; even the most interesting content on the internet tends to bend back to the technology itself. Ahem.

Rob Walker offers a slightly less excited appraisal of the column:
I’m thinking (hoping?) that what Brooks is talking about isn’t a tectonic shift, but a phase. I think we’re having a little trouble sometimes figuring out the relationship between technology and culture — which shapes which, and how. But at some point the focus will shift from “imagine the potential” to “here is the new cultural expression that has emerged that is exciting on its own, because of its message, not because of the medium.”

This eventual sorting out of the problem and settling back into a focus on content seems inevitable. But, as was the case with hipsters, history seems to suggest that this confusion has almost always occurred. The publication of Addison and Steele's first issue of The Spectator could just as easily be marked as the date that "human character changed."* Of course, in that case, the focus wasn't on the technology per se. Still, it undoubtedly "revealed" just as much "about mankind’s narcissistic tendencies and the vital importance of human connection" as the iPhone did.

*In fact, it has, according to Wikipedia: "Jurgen Habermas sees The Spectator as instrumental in the 'structural transformation of the public sphere' which England saw in the eighteenth century."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Drizzly. Dense mist in evening. Yellow moon."

The Orwell Prize is presenting George Orwell's diaries from August, 1938 as a blog. The title of this post is taken from his entry for August 10, 1938; as a blog post it's garnered 39 comments.

Samuel Pepys, the famous 17th-century London diarist who witnessed the fire of 1666 and invented Peeps marshmallow treats as a way to humorously explain the pronunciation of his name*, has been digitally resurrected in a similar fashion. On august 11, 1665, he was thinking about "wind" and his dietary habits:
so long as I keepe myself in company at meals and do there eat lustily (which I cannot do alone, having no love to eating, but my mind runs upon my business), I am as well as can be, but when I come to be alone, I do not eat in time, nor enough, nor with any good heart, and I immediately begin to be full of wind, which brings my pain, till I come to fill my belly a-days again, then am presently well.

Would Pepys have kept a blog had he been born in another time? Would Orwell have kept one? It's equally impossible to infer an author's intent or answer time-traveling hypothetical questions, so it might be more fruitful to ask what, if anything, changes, in the translation from one format to another. Though they weren't meant for publication, the diaries nonetheless make for interesting reading. This is partly a property of the writing itself: it's engaging. But it is also a property of the history and culture that has surrounded the figures behind the diaries. Blogs don't necessarily possess either property. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two forms is the relation of direct experience as opposed to an endless reference to other parts of culture. Experience is always at the forefront of these diaries; culture stands a distance back. Which is all to say that what matters most is content, not the format--a concept so rarely embraced on the internet that it takes some time to recognize it when encountered.

*This is not true. Pepys did witness the fire, but Peeps were invented by Robert Oppenheimer as a way to atone for his guilt about having helped to create the atom bomb**.

**This is also not true.

Update: The New York Times has weighed in on this same topic.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

death of philosophy

Philosophers, despite everything, die too. Some of them have done so in spectacularly odd ways. Simon Critchley, a British philosopher and failed activist, punk musician and poet, has collected some of the more outlandish tales of philospher's meeting their end (an end that doesn't necessarily mean a cessation of consciousness, according to AJ Ayer--number 9 on the list). The Guardian has Critchley's top ten posted on their website. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) comes in at number six (pardon the British punctuation):
During a particularly cold winter, Bacon was travelling with a Scottish physician and fell upon the idea that flesh might as well be preserved in snow as in salt. They got out of the carriage at the foot of Highgate Hill and bought a hen from a poor woman who lived there. Bacon then stuffed the hen with snow and was immediately taken ill with a chill. Unable to return home, he was put to bed at the Earl of Arundel's house in Highgate. Sadly, the bed was so damp that his condition worsened and, according to Hobbes, "in 2 or 3 days, he dyed of Suffocation".

(via The New Yorker's Book Bench)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

not me

The Lonely Seagull is, by nature, skeptical, especially of broad, negative generalizations focused narrowly on easy--though possibly deserving--targets. So, though something deeply felt clicked in recognition and sympathy while reading an article called "Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization" by Douglas Haddow in the current issue of Adbusters, it might be best appreciated in the spirit of intriguing writing hidden in a scathing polemic. The concluding paragraph--which is a good condensation of the whole article--especially calls for this sort of critical appreciation:
We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.

The stark choice between hedonism and revolution seems like an especially strained argument. The Lost Generation (of Hemingway, et al) probably looked just as apathetic and materialistic to ambivalent observer-participants in its own time. But neither an unhealthy taste for whiskey nor an excessive affection for fixed-gear bicycles and fake eyeglasses preclude an interest in political action. The fallacious notion that one must choose between a complete devotion to a total anti-materialist revolution or suffer in an apathetic purgatory, prey to savvy marketers does a disservice to more realistic hopes for practical change. Since at least the 1930's, critics have been sounding the same alarm. The hipster might represent some of the more lamentable aspects of late capitalism but, unless it is understood as a progress toward the perfection of irony and the ubiquitous sporting of American Apparel clothing*, the hipster does not represent the "end" of Western Civilization.

*As he writes this, the author is wearing two pieces of American Apparel clothing, a fact that brings to mind Louis Althusser, who worried about the same thing in a different way:
In this preliminary remark and these concrete illustrations, I only wish to point out that you and I are always already subjects, and as such constantly practice the rituals of ideological recognition, which guarantee for us that we are indeed concrete, individual, distinguishable and (naturally) irreplaceable subjects. The writing I am currently executing and the reading you are currently performing are also in this respect rituals of ideological recognition, including the ‘obviousness’ with which the ‘truth’ or ‘error’ of my reflections may impose itself on you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jay Adams

The Lonely Seagull would like to welcome Jay Adams back home. We wish him the best as he makes his way anew in Orange County.

(pic via NYT)


(from the owls go)

(from vieilles_annonces')

(from whatatiger)

(from the library of congress)

(from vieilles_annonces')

Style. What's it all about? Always changing hither and nither, blowing in the wind, like a delicate particle from a plant; it's hard to keep up with. Am I right?

What should I wear today? Will this look cool? Will people make fun of my "cover?" These are things the Lonely Seagull is occasionally concerned (not obsessed--we're not vain!) with.

The other weekend, an older, distinguished gentleman came up to our booth at the SF Zine Fest. We knew he was distinguished because of his fine coat and scarf, and the twinkle in his eye. Like most people, he started rubbing his grubby mitts all over us (in the form of the magazine). Fortunately, his hands were not as grubby as most people's and his search, instead of saying, "I'm uncomfortable standing in front of this table, so I'm going to mangle this object," seemed to say "what is this? I want to know. I search for understanding." The kindly man turned the magazine over a few times and read some of the contents within. That was nice of him (seriously, we are always glad and surprised when people attempt to read us--we're not sure we would!) Then he said, "it's very simple." "Yes," we said. Simple is what we are going for. "It looks old-fashioned," he said, "it's timeless." "Oh (wow!), thanks!" we said. Then he rubbed his thick, sailor-like hands on the cover one more time, "it feels like sand." And with that, he walked away.

What inspires the Lonely Seagull style? The above pics are a few things we find sandy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Energy, Part 2

ESG, "Moody"

"Experimental Music Video by Emmanuelle Tricoire in New York"

after the party

The Lonely Seagull is tired.

The 2008 iteration of San Francisco Zinefest was fun, new, and--though The Lonely Seagull is not completely unaccustomed to sitting for eight-hour stretches--long. Most excitingly, the Fest provided exposure to projects that were, to TLS at least, exciting and new. TLS also met many more friendly people, all of whom seemed to be working on something interesting, but, after fifteen hours and what seemed like thousands of faces and names, only the people sitting directly in front of us for those same hours really registers strongly right now. Avian memory is short and fleeting.

Pictures, more thoughts on the Fest, and delivery of promised posts will follow shortly. But for now, rest is the order of the day(s?).

(Photo via the owls go)

Friday, July 18, 2008

ten years

As promised, here is Charlie Rose's conversation with David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. Thoughts and commentary to follow soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


In case you were wondering how to conduct 1) Lonely Seagull contributor brainstorming sessions 2) Lonely Seagull worship meetings or 3) a good party, please refer to Peter Adair's 1967 documentary Holy Ghost People.

most important issues

Unlike The New Yorker, The Lonely Seagull will refrain from endorsing a presidential candidate this year. (More on The New Yorker later, when the video of David Remnick's appearance last night on Charlie Rose's show becomes available.) On the issue of lapel-related expressions of political sentiment, however, The Lonely Seagull would like to endorse* Peter Sis's idea for a resolution of the trouble surrounding Barack Obama's lapel decoration:

He says that “this would look different and fresh, especially during the G-8 meetings.”

Background and other contenders can be found here.

*The endorsement is offered with the understanding that this is not actually a competition, and, if it were, any expression of preference would be withheld.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

not a blanket stance

That The Lonely Seagull doesn't presently accept poetry submissions should not be taken as a sign that The Lonely Seagull doesn't appreciate the occasional poem. Take, for instance, a poem called "Pompeii" by Charles Bernstein, which was originally published in the June issue of Poetry and re-published by Harper's in their August issue. Its excellence is manifest:
The rich men, they know about suffering
That comes from natural things, the fate that
Rich men say they can't control, the swell of
The tides, the erosion of polar caps
And the eruption of a terrible
Greed among those who cease to be content
With what they lack when faced with wealth they are
Too ignorant to understand. Such wealth
Is the price of progress. The fishmonger
Sees the dread on the faces of the trout
And mackerel laid out at the market
Stall on quickly melting ice. In Pompeii
The lava flowed and buried the people
So poems such as this could be born.

Summer Energy

For motivational purposes.

Wounded Lion-Pony People (2008) directed by Brian Bress.

Intro to Skater Dater (1965)

OMD-Electricity (1979)

Humans Cannot Be This Way

From Lonely Seagull-recommended documentary Gates of Heaven, directed by Errol Morris.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bruce Conner

The Lonely Seagull was sad to hear that experimental filmmaker Bruce Conner died last week in San Francisco. Here is a movie he made with Toni Basil long before her "Mickey" fame. Apologies for it's graininess.