punk and cheap and phony

June 8, 2005
I just finished a fascinating book.... "The Mezzanine" by Nicholson Baker, the same author who wrote "Vox" which was associated with the whole Lewinsky/Clinton thing. The book has what seems like a slightly gimmicky framing device, the narrative officially takes place during the course of a single escalator ride, though there's a strong flashback focus on his late morning and lunch hour, and then various childhood recollections.

What makes this book amazing is its attention to the tactile and design details of all these objects around us...it's astounding, kind of like "The Design of Everyday Things" meets "Rain Man" with just a dash of "American Psycho" and maybe "Still-life With Woodpecker's" respect of inanimate objects thrown in for good measures...from the mechanism of the escalator itself, to changes in milk carton design, from the evolution of paper towel dispenser in public restrooms to the little red pullstrings for bandaids that never worked. The book leaves you with a profound sense of recognition, a constant stream of "oh yeah..." when you realize how much thought has gone into the mass produced material objects that we are surrounded with.

Passsage of the Moment
"Are you here for good?" I said, looking up at Chenault.

She smiled. "I don't know. I quit my job in New York." She looked up at the sky. " I just want to be happy. I'm happy with Fritz-so I'm happy here."

I nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah, that seems reasonable."

She laughed. "It won't last nothing lasts. But I'm happy now."

"Happy," I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is one of those words, like Love that I have never quite understood. Most people who deal in words don't have much faith in them and I am no exception-especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they're scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.
Hunter S. Thompson. A front page pick for this month's edition of Love Blender.

Stuff on Kirk's Camera, Final Day

--This vehicle is sometimes seen around Arlington...car of 1,000 tchochkes! (or however you spell it...any hints? I'm far enough off that Google's "did you mean?" feature won't kick in) tchotchkes (thanks this Slate article!) Interesting that all these pictures were car or road related.