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Jeremy Schmall
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For my final post as Guest Blogger (thanks again for having me, Stacey! & thanks for reading, friends), I wanted to say a few words about the crew that I’m so unbelievably fortunate to work with on Agriculture Reader / X-ing Books-related matters. My eternal gratitude goes out to each of them for all of their unique talents so industriously applied to things I care so deeply about. Let’s start with Amy Mees, who heads the "Design Department" (it's a one-woman department). Here’s the thing with Amy: she has a vision. Her vision is that design doesn’t have to look bad. It doesn’t! In fact, it can even look good. It can look really good! That’s Amy’s philosophy. If you’ve ever handled an Agriculture Reader or any of the books put out by X-ing, or have seen her extensive portfolio of design-related matter, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, well, you’re missing out, and you should therefore click this link. Amy is also an incredible cook. I try to talk my way into Amy-cooked meals as often as possible. She designed these! How about Mark Wagner, our resident book artist? The most important thing you need to know about Mark is there’s no one in the free world that works as hard as he does. He’s in his studio seven days a week, like an obsessed clock maker who's mere weeks away from "fixing" time travel. The other thing about Mark is that he only makes books part time. His full time thing is making jaw-dropping collages out of American currency. He recently spent a better portion of a year making a to-scale collage of the Statue of Liberty. It has (I believe) 11 panels, and stands close to 30 feet tall. It’ll be on display in June at the Pavel Zoubok gallery. You should go see it. Rumor has it a magician may perform outside the gallery on opening night. Also, Mark is not a good cook, but he will drink you under the table. Mark made these! The final member of the gang is the irrepressible Justin Taylor, my co-editor on Agriculture Reader and the very first person I go to with all of my own writing. Justin is not just a sharp editor, writer, and thinker, he’s also an all-around nice guy. His highest value for me, however, is his unflinching honesty. Everyone should—must—have a friend who will tell you precisely whether what you’re doing is worth the time and effort you’re putting into it. Sure, this sounds simple, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to find from a person. Because people want you to feel good about a thing you’ve done, and that’s nice, but it’s not always helpful. Don’t get me wrong, Justin wants me to feel good about things that I do, but also (and this is crucial) will tell me when I should not feel good about a thing I’ve done. For that opinion, as... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Usually when I tell people what I think the most beautiful sight in New York is, they just kind of stare at me funny, as though I'm lying to them or making a joke at their expense. Which is understandable, I guess, as what I'm talking about is in the subway, after all, and is basically just a mess of advertising offal. I'm referring to the layers of discarded ad posters that remain once the ad itself is stripped off. Here's a picture of one: See what I mean? It's gorgeous (and looks even more amazing in person). I feel like I'm in a museum every time I shuffle by one of these things, and actually I wouldn't be at all surprised to SEE one of these in the Met or MoMA, attributed to a famous abstract expressionist. Which is not to detract from the great abstract expressionists. In fact, without their work I doubt I'd see these as anything special. That is, if I saw them at all. There's actually two different categories that I've noticed. The more abstract variant as pictured above, and a more intentional, shinily-glossed variety that the MTA has gone through the trouble to paint. I'm sure the MTA has a reason why they paint these things to a beautiful shine, but I don't care what it is. I just think they look beautiful See for yourself. Here's one more, which is at the G train stop right by P.S.1, the MoMA annex. Come on, guys/gals, just rope it off, charge admission, and you've got an exhibit on your hands. I call this one "Route 35 West, with Heather (a triptych)." Thank you for your patience in this matter. Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Whatever else you’re doing either today or tomorrow, cancel your plans and go see “Pubic Speaking” at Film Forum (if you’re in New York) or find some other way to watch it if you’re not. The movie is a Martin Scorcese-directed documentary on Fran Lebowitz. It’s basically just her talking for 90 minutes, but it’s so thoroughly enjoyable, so utterly hilarious and poignant, you can’t come out of there not feeling that this woman is some kind of weird miracle. For the truly devoted, she’s speaking in-person after tonight’s 7:30 showing. Here’s a Q&A that Film Forum did with her recently. Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
I had the supreme pleasure of reading with McCann a couple of weeks ago at KGB, though I'd first heard him read in 2006 at the New School, along with Noelle Kocot and Joshua Beckman. I remember feeling astonished, and utterly so, by all three of them. The night felt *important*—and not just to me—but to POETRY, whatever that is. McCann has a new book just out from Wave Books, called "I Heart Your Fate," and it's really, truly incredible. Reading it is like wading into the Adriatic Sea on an overcast July morning and feeling something slimy grip around your calf—so you look down and feel relieved that (of course, haha) it's just seaweed—then you realize it's actually *not* just seaweed, but rather the pulsing tentacle of some creature so slobbery and horrifying not even your own mother would believe your description of it. That is, if you lived to tell them, which you won't. Sucked under, friend, into the unforgiving brine. Then someone, a gorgeous and close acquaintance, calls to you from the sand (near the beach blanket and umbrella) that THE HOT DOGS ARE READY, or that YOU SHOULD REALLY PUT SUNSCREEN ON. And you realize it *was* just seaweed, but your heart is pounding and legs are shaking and maybe just to be safe, you think to yourself, it's a good idea to stay out of the water awhile. Then when you get back to the beach towel it's the most brilliant beach towel you've ever seen and your gorgeous acquaintance is so gorgeous it's hard to believe you're both the same animal and you eat four hot dogs in a row without bothering to squirt them with ketchup and you stare up at the shimmering cloud cover and make secret promises to God. Anyway, that's what reading McCann's book is kind of like. Maybe it's not for everybody, but I'd bet you'd like it Here's a clip of him reading from it (warning, one of the poems prominently features a VAGINA): Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Mar 5, 2011