Wednesday, 8 May 2019

#amreading Olivia Lain, Crudo.

Perhaps a biography of postmodern enfant terrible Kathy Acker, perhaps just a critical review of society’s ills, definitely a shake-up of the traditional novel format!

Maybe biography (and history in general) should be the domain proper of a novel. Memory, like the protagonists of many novels, are unreliable after all.

This was the problem with history, it was too easy to provide the furnishings but forget the attitudes, the way you became a different person according to what knowledge was available, what experiences were fresh and what had not yet arisen in a personal or global frame. Aids, specifically… What insights might we have now? It was uncomputable, it was the province of the novel, that hopeless apparatus of guesswork and supposition.

Does weather affect your  memory?  

It’s August but it feels like autumn, slanting light, a smell of rot and ripeness. It’s pleasant but makes her feel bad, like a lot of old news is churning under the surface, returning unexpectedly. Memory showers desire, desire infects memory.

Do other people in the room affect your memory?

He hated shouting, he hated l sudden noises, a dropped fork would make him flinch, if he broke a glass he felt bad all day.  He wasn’t fragile exactly, he was just transparent, transparently hurt of scared, closing up around himself like a starfish, a sea anemone.He was hunched at his chair, his head poking forward like a turtle. You’re filling the house with your nervousness, Kathy told him. You’re making a complex architecture of anxiety and fear…it was one of those days where her skin and hair felt coated in a thin layer of grease, when nothing hung right. 

Or do you just want your memories gilded?
They had that multilingual good manners veneer that only comes with money.
Maybe possessions were like beauty, they made you impermeable. Kathy loathed permeability, she wanted to be gilded, I mean everyone did.

Saturday, 27 April 2019


Farewell to the beach.

Starting out – by car, not by bike, but Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian zone.

Pointing the way in case my co-driver gets lost.

On the road

Saguaro cacti -- Nature's art installation.

No, that's not us, but I love Airstreams.

They have fancy washrooms in Texas.

 And "nodding donkey" pumps.

Need a break.

Home – just kidding. The snow was gone when I arrived.

Susan Ingram took the photos.

Sunday, 21 April 2019


I was invited to join Jewish friends for Seder last Friday, to get away from commercial Easter, from the cutesy chocolate bunnies on display everywhere, and revive a meaningful tradition that fosters

“We who were slaves, we who were strangers…shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of a stranger. When strangers reside with you in your land, you shall not wrong them. You shall love them as yourself.|”

“You shall tell you child on that day” the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

“Cast out the plagues that threaten everyone…the making of war, the teaching of hate and violence, despoliation of the earth, perversion of justice and of government, neglect of human needs, corruption of culture, subjugation of science, learning and human discourse, the erosion of freedoms.

Thank you, my friends, for reminding me of these human obligations, and ending the evening on a note of cheer: good food, good company, good conversation!

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

More #QuentinCrisp wit, this time on love and sex.

More or less sex?

Staring at the front of people’s trousers is, after a time, even less rewarding than gazing into their eyes. As the appeal of any pastime weakens, the habit of it strengthens. I found that it required a continuous effort of will to keep in mind that what was needed to make sex tolerable was not more of it but less.

Hetero or gay heaven?

By heterosexuals the life after death is imagined as a world of light, where there is no parting. If there is a heaven for homosexuals, which doesn’t seem very likely, it will be very poorly lit and full of people they can feel pretty confident they will never have to meet again.

Sex or entertainment?

I have been accused of flirting with everybody, but my intention was not to arouse sexually. It was merely to entertain…I did not know that a reputation for wit is earned not by making jokes but by laughing at the pleasantries of others.

Decent or indecent?

Decency must be an even more exhausting state to maintain than its opposite. Those who succeed seem to need a stupefying amount of sleep. By ten o’clock at night the streets…were empty of every living thing but toughs.

Decency must be an even more exhausting state to maintain than its opposite. Those who succeed seem to need a stupefying amount of sleep. By ten o’clock at night the streets…were empty of every living thing but toughs.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

@amreading Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant.

The ideal woman: Marlene Dietrich?

I thought about her a great deal, wore her clothes, said her Sphinxlike lines, and ruled her kingdom. 

If a man wants unbearable pleasure indefinitely prolonged, he has to invent for himself a woman who is both beautiful and unattainable. We have come a long degrading way from women like Brigitte Helm, Greta Garbo, and Marlene Dietrich to Mlle. Bardot. The fault lies not in our movie stars but in ourselves. Those beauties of the last generation symbolized hopeless love. Today no one has the time to pursue hopeless love. Someone had to come up with a mechanical doll whose only recommendation was her infinite availability. The woman who came to embody this ideal to the full was Marilyn Monroe. Her directors persuaded her to flaunt her astonishing sexual equipment before us with the touching defenselessness of a retarded child. She was what the modern young man most desires in life  -- a mistress who could be won without being wooed.

The ideal novel?

If you describe things as better than they are, you are considered to be romantic; if you describe things as worse than they are, you will be called a realist; and if you describe things exactly as they are, you be thought of as a satirist.

Quentin Crisp book is a satire, which is hard on readers. As one of them said: I wish you hadn’t made every line funny. It’s so depressing.

Saturday, 19 January 2019


James Houlachan took the pictures.