Thursday, January 1, 2009

If you really want to hear about it

Today is JD Salinger's 90th birthday.

Happy new year, sir, wherever you are.

From Eudora Welty's review of Nine Stories, published in April, 1953, in The New York Times:

They all pertain to the lack of something in the world, and it might be said that what Mr. Salinger has written about so far is the absence of love. Owing to that absence comes the spoilation of innocence, or else the triumph in death of innocence over the outrage and corruption that lie in wait for it.

The feeling may arise from these warm, uneven stories (no writer worth his salt is even, or can be) that Mr. Salinger has never, here, directly touched upon what he has the most to say about: love. Love averts itself in pity, laughter, or a gesture or vision of finality possibly too easy or simple in stories that are neither easy nor simple in any degree.

Mr. Salinger is a very serious artist, and it is likely that what he has to say will find many forms as time goes by – interesting forms, too. His novel, "The Catcher in the Rye," was good and extremely moving, althoughfor this readerall its virtues can be had in a short story by the same author, where they are somehow more at home.

What this reader loves about Mr. Salinger's stories is that they honor what is unique and precious in each person on earth. Their author has the courageit is more like the earned right and privilegeto experiment at the risk of not being understood. Best of all, he has a loving heart.

More here.

Today is also the birthday of bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius.
Portrait of Tracy (mp3) seems like a nice quiet song for New Year's morning…happy 2009.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Casting Anchor

I can't even begin to explain, much less comprehend for myself, what a blur this year has been, owing entirely to the fact that we moved across the freaking country. Rather than going into any further discussion of that entire process, which is still unfolding (we've been living out of bags and boxes for four months, waiting to move into our condo on January 11th) I will just say that, for me, 2008 was sometimes awe-strikingly great, sometimes palpably awful, and most of the time bouncing off the walls directly in the middle. I don't want to be all heavy 'n shit, but basically my head has just been swimming for the past several weeks, trying to figure it all out. Moving is a crazy experience, and finally, in the coming weeks, we will settle in.

I have never been happier for a fresh start as I am this New Year's Eve.

I wish you, and all the people you care about, the very best in 2009.

Hanne Hukkelberg Cast Anchor mp3
from her debut album Little Things – download it at emusic.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Mary Ellen Mark, pictured above in 1976 on the Philippines set of Apocalypse Now, has a new book out: Seen Behind the Scene (Phaidon Press) collects forty years of her on-set photography from a wide range of movies.

Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, Night Moves, 1973.

It would be too harsh and/or inaccurate to say that Mary Ellen Mark is the anti-Liebovitz, but I have to say that (predictably) I love the rawness of her work, and applied to celebrities, it provides a much more interesting perspective to me than high-concept Vanity Fair type stuff.

The cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Salem, Oregon, 1973.

More info at, or buy it here or at your favorite bookstore while supplies last.

Friendly Fire

We had a great trip to Idaho for Christmas, the highlight being a trip out to Emily's parents' farm, where it had snowed at least two feet over the previous week.

First on the agenda was making a bonfire. A huge burnpile had been waiting for us since we were last at the farm. Emily and her brother Drew lit some newspaper on the end of a pitchfork while their dad, Art, poured gas on the pile.

Drew walked toward it, threw the lit paper, and we all got a big surprise: the pile exploded as the top layer of leaves, hay, and pine needles blew off.

For the rest of the day we messed around in the snow, walked around the farm, and stood by the fire when we got cold.

When it got dark we went inside the cabin and had soup and coffee by the wood stove.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pictures of You

Check out The New York Times' website today for a great big slideshow, 2008: The Year in Pictures.

Above, top: In July, young members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints played outside their home in New Braunfels, Texas, three months after the breakaway Mormon sect's ranch in Eldorado, Texas, was raided by state authorities. (Photography Stephanie Sinclair/VII Network, for NYT.)
In Harlem, 129th Street was closed to traffic one July day as part of a Police Athletic League program to let young people play in the streets. (Photography Chang W. Lee/NYT.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008