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Fake art movements usually involve one really famous person and then a
bunch of hangers-on. Like Josie and the Pussycats. Or Jackson Pollock
and a bunch of people who drank with Jackson Pollock. Imagine how much
better off Josie would have been minus those Pussycats hogging all her
fame. Poetry movements usually include a bunch of interchangeable
poets with little fame trying to create something famous (or
fame-worthy) by pooling their efforts, like all the little lion robots
that slam into each other to form Voltron. What ends up happening is
that Voltron gets a bum leg and back problems, because some of those
lions are lame poets. And then Voltron is defeated and the fake art
movement turns into just a bunch of bitter old poets. Not so glorious.
I mean, sure, your movement can get a special issue of Poetry
magazine, but wouldn’t you rather have an entire issue of Poetry
magazine dedicated to you? With you smiling out from the cover? Never
take your eyes off the prize, and when you have a chance to do so,
beat down all competition with the mallet made famous by Whack-a-Mole.
–“24/7 Relentless Careerism: How you can become the most important
poet in America overnight,” Jim Behrle, Poetry
Tall skinny guys with lots of body hair are “otters”; average-size men
who are relatively hairy and, often, exceptionally horny consider
themselves “wolves.” In the old days, before we got all politically
correct about everything, guys who were attracted to bigger men were
called “chubby chasers,” but no more. Nowadays, men who don’t fit into
any of the above categories who enjoy ursine company are called,
simply, “admirers.” And that’s just the Anglos. Many Asian bears like
to be called “pandas,” regardless of where their ancestors were born,
though just as many find the term offensive. Smooth-skinned Latinos
with short, compact physiques are often referred to as “toros” (or
bulls), which also suggests a testicular prowess. –“Confessions of a
Call Bear,” Rusty McMann,
I think about how Manny Pacquiao’s life is a cyclone of madness and
dysfunction and karaoke and tango dancing and fucked-to-death lions
and grown men vying to fluff his rice and cut his meat and massage his
thighs and sing harmony parts on Beatles songs.
How can he live this way?
Because he is the serene centering Eye. The storm, his life, envelops
but does not touch him. The Tysonesque psychopathologies that drive
other boxers to the dark side are flung centrifugally from his body
and soul, outsourced to his disciples, who carry this burden and lay
down their lives for him. –“The Biggest Little Man in the World,”
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”