Thursday, May 29, 2008

Friday Diversion

Here are some of the interesting things I've come across in the past few weeks to help you get through this last Friday in the month of May:

The BS report, with Chuck Klosterman

- Some of you may know "the pride of North Dakota" from his narrative documentation of American culture in the likes of Killing Yourself to Live and Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; or from his column in Spin magazine. If you don't much care about Kobe Bryant and the rest of the NBA playoffs, fast forward to the 43:30 mark, where Simmons and Klosterman get into a fascinating discussion about how money and fame may or may not change what and how you write, and whether or not a writer gets better with age.

My personal opinion? I think that your writing doesn't change because of how much money you make, but it certainly changes as you become aware of the fact that you're writing for a bigger audience. For example, there are some pieces on my website (the early stuff in the Road Trip Recaps section) that I wrote with the intent of literally having the five or six people from that particular road trip reading them, and that's it. But when I started putting the website together, I got some requests that those emails be included, and they've been there ever since. To say that they are graphic and off-colour would be an understatement, and it's pretty unlikely that you'll see that type of writing from me again any time soon, particularly when I have people telling me that their 13-year old daughter is a big fan of the blog. That type of consciousness will invariably influence the way you write.

As for the money, I think that if you use it properly, it can improve your writing (not that I would know anything about having money). Because for me, writing is all about relaying and describing experiences, and in theory, the more money you have, the more fun you should be having with that money, which in turn should result in better writing.

As for getting better with age, I think it works in the same way as money, except inversely. You definitely get better as a writer with experience (technically, thematically...), but chances are, your life is getting less and less exciting the older you get, meaning that no one will be interested in those boring sentences (that just happen to be perfectly crafted) you're writing about walking to the corner for a cup of coffee and the morning paper.

Bird-Watcher, by David Remnick

For all of the jazz-heads out there. Or for anyone with an unhealthy obsession.

This is the piece about Phil Schaap, the Columbia University radio DJ who just happens to be the authoritative voice on all things jazz. His knowledge is mind boggling. As is his all-consuming passion.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Michael Moore's fingerprints are all over this, but the trailer is totally worth watching for two reasons: the world's most jacked up cow, and Hulk Hogan's fanny pack. (Thanks to Flats for the tip)

Speaking of steroids, I knew that Jose Canseco was out there, but I didn't realize he was that out there.

Cannonball Guy

When I think of golf, this is who I want to be. Not the guy draining the put, walking away with the prize money, and going home to the trophy wife; but the drunk guy who bets his buddy $50 he can get on Sportscenter with a perfectly timed cannonball, and then delivering with aplomb. To me, that's the sign of a true champion.

And if I can't be cannonball guy, I want to be shirtless, shoeless, heater-in-mouth, teeing-off-on-my-own-course guy. And failing that, I guess I'd settle for being this guy.

And finally, here is a copy of Bruce Springsteen's speech, on the occasion of his induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame (Thanks to Buffalo Blake for the heads-up):

Bruce Springsteen was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame on May 4. Here's a transcript of his speech:

When I first got the letter I was to be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame I was a little suspicious. New Jersey Hall of Fame? Does New York have a hall of fame? Does Connecticut have a hall of fame? I mean, maybe they don't think they need one.

But then I ran through the list of names: Albert Einstein, Bruce Springsteen... my mother's going to like that. She's here tonight. It's her birthday and it's the only time she's going to hear those two names mentioned in the same sentence, so I'm going to enjoy it.

When I was recording my first album, the record company spent a lot of money taking pictures of me in New York City. But...something didn't feel quite right. So I was walking down the boardwalk one day, stopped at a souvenir stand and bought a postcard that said "Greetings from Asbury Park." I remember thinking, "yeah, that's me."

With the exception of a few half years in California, my family and I have raised our kids here. We have a big Italian-Irish family. I found my own Jersey girl right here in Asbury Park. I've always found it deeply resonant holding the hands of my kids on the same streets where my mom held my hand, swimming in the same ocean and taking them to visit the same beaches I did as a child. It was also a place that really protected me. It's been very nurturing. I could take my kids down to Freehold, throw them up on my shoulders and walk along the street with thousands of other people on Kruise Night with everybody just going, "hey Bruce...." That was something that meant a lot to me, the ability to just go about my life. I really appreciated that.

You get a little older and when one of those crisp fall days come along in September and October, my friends and I slip into the cool water of the Atlantic Ocean. We take note that there are a few less of us as each year passes. But the thing about being in one place your whole life is that they're all still around you in the water. I look towards the shore and I see my two sons and my daughter pushing their way through the waves. And on the beach there's a whole batch of new little kids running away from the crashing surf like time itself.
That's what New Jersey is for me. It's a repository of my time on earth. My memory, the music I've made, my friendships, my life... it's all buried here in a box somewhere in the sand down along the Central Jersey coast. I can't imagine having it any other way.

So let me finish with a Garden State benediction. Rise up my fellow New Jerseyans, for we are all members of a confused but noble race. We, of the state that will never get any respect. We, who bear the coolness of the forever uncool. The chip on our shoulders of those with forever something to prove. And even with this wonderful Hall of Fame, we know that there's another bad Jersey joke coming just around the corner.

But fear not. This is not our curse. It is our blessing. For this is what imbues us with our fighting spirit. That we may salute the world forever with the Jersey state bird, and that the fumes from our great northern industrial area to the ocean breezes of Cape May fill us with the raw hunger, the naked ambition and the desire not just to do our best, but to stick it in your face. Theory of relativity anybody? How about some electric light with your day? Or maybe a spin to the moon and back? And that is why our fellow Americans in the other 49 states know, when the announcer says "and now in this corner, from New Jersey...." they better keep their hands up and their heads down, because when that bell rings, we're coming out swinging.

God Bless the Garden State.


M@ said...

I happened to catch Bigger, Faster, Stronger* at this year's Hot Docs and was pleasantly surprised. There definitely is a Moore-ian influence, but it was surprisingly thorough and insightful. I'd recommend it.

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