Valley Girls

26 01 2008

The song “San Fernando Valley,” made famous by Bing Crosby late in War II, has been on my mind since breakfast today (chocolate chip pancakes). A highlight of living alone is you can sing anywhere, not just the shower. The song’s blithe and merry 40s jauntiness is given a whole new subtext both pointed and poignant by that titular farmland’s transformation into suburb and subsequent porn capital. For instance,

I’ll forget my sins (yes yes), I’ll be makin’ new friends (yes yes),
where the West begins
(yes yes) and the sunset ends
Cause I’ve decided where yours truly should be
and it’s the San Fernando Valley for me.

Somewhere, some latter-day Wildean soul is delighting in the facile subversion of this very song played over footage of a footloose woman, young and buxom, westward bound in pink halter top and tough jean cut-offs with a jacket over her shoulder, clicking the heels on the very kind of boots Nancy Sinatra claimed were made for walkin’. It’s the kind of wink wink nudge nudge on the simple past we wised-up postmods so enjoy. More fun than reviewing old Scooby episodes for Mary Jane in-jokes.

In my curiosity, I got hold of the radio episode of Autry’s Melody Ranch featuring his rendition of the song. I’ve always wanted, as a nod to the naked geriatric trampoline philosophizing in Ninety Two in the Shade (one of my favorites—not the movie), to score a sex scene with Autry’s genial warbling of his signature “Back in the Saddle Again,” only to have the lady involved call a screeching halt to the proceedings because fucking to this music is just too weird—more ludicrous than naked men in socks. It’s hard to tell, listening to the delivery on Melody Ranch—two cigar store Indians could not give more wooden readings—whether the bland songs are an excuse for the inept Wrigley gum pitches, or vice versa, for the two alternate with leaden regularity. Avis à tous ces littérateurs qui aiment tant proclamer que la condition humaine n’a changé en rien depuis Tolstoy : oh yes it has. Take advertising—please.





Roland Jaccard: L’homme cruel

15 01 2008

The cruel man instinctively understands that humanism is the senile daydream of winded nations who haven’t enough strength left to come to terms with the idea of universal hatred, who cannot bear to think history condemned to repeating the tragedy of Cain and Abel.

The cruel man believes the most contemptible of men is he who needs the respect of others in order to respect himself.

The cruel man puts us on our guard: girls are dangerous playthings. Even the sweetest leave a bitter aftertaste.

The cruel man concedes a single merit to literature: to raise the reader toward the heights of lucidity, only to hurl him into the void.

The cruel man detests memories, especially good ones.

The cruel man recommends suicide to all when they no longer find favor in their own eyes.

The cruel man aggravates his wound.

The cruel man deems it shameful to cling to life. The best thing to do upon finding oneself alive is to bow out.

The cruel man knows he will not overcome his own suffering by trying to ease that of others. Thus he pays but vague attention to it.

The cruel man always feigns the feelings he gives the illusion of actually experiencing, and never experiences what he manages to feign.

The cruel man abhors the cynic’s every pose, starting with his own.

Roland Jaccard, Cioran et compagnie (Presses Universitaires de France, 2005)





Invisible Cities

10 01 2008

“Isn’t it this building over here?” GB caught my sleeve as I headed for the awning that said National Arts Club. He pointed to the building two doors down, on the corner.

“No, that says SVA. And it’s number 17.”

I turned back for the brownstone with the awning as GB checked the post-it note in his hand. A boy in a white watched us from behind the many tiny panes of a mahogany door, a double row of buttons on his jacket gleaming gold.

“But this building doesn’t look like it has eight floors.” Read the rest of this entry »