3.30.2006

Mon Amour



I finished reading Tory Dent's HIV, Mon Amour last night. The book is Dent's second collection and details her personal experience living with AIDS. She died of the disease in December of 2005.

The book itself is dense, dense, dense—unbearably long lines and huge, brick-like stanzas assault the reader both visually and verbally with text. Many of the poems are long and—even in this format—stretch over several pages. It's a suitable form for her voice, which, I think, does seek to assault the reader to some extent, perhaps a mimickry of the way HIV has assaulted not only bodies, but cultures, and our American culture in particular. It's a difficult book to read, both because the text is so dense it almost appears as prose paragraphs and partly because Dent is unrelenting. The cataloguing of nearly everything and anything she can think of seems almost an effort to encase the world in this book—the world she knows she is slowly losing. Is this an effort against oblivion, of containing the world before it's lost?



The book's title makes reference to one of the most beautiful films I ever watched as an undergraduate, Alain Resnais's Hiroshima, Mon Amour. It's a haunting film about a French woman and Japanese man coming to terms with the effect of war and the atom bomb on relationships. The two leads meet in Hiroshima after the war. The woman, an actress, is there to make a film about peace and somehow feels a deep experiential connection to the bombing. As they walk around the city or make love, they discuss war and peace and each other. It's a fascinating film.

Dent's book, in many ways, echoes the film. The figure of a dead lover weighs heavily in many of the poems through direct address—some of these poems are extended conversations with the dead. Dent's catalog extends beyond her disease and into the living world, encapsulating extensively some history of painting as well as constant self-conscious references to film history.

I can't say that I enjoyed the book, but I learned a lot from reading it. Its density was a real challenge for me, and much of Dent's language is abstract and not steeped in imagery, which also challenges me. But it's an interesting book, different and risky in ways that I admire and appreciate.

3.29.2006

Crap

I think I just accidentally deleted my kinemapoetics header image.

Maybe it's time for a facelift, then.

Adapt or Be Obsolesced

Updates on LOCUSPOINT, for the interested.

1. The site has moved to www.locuspoint.org. The old site will redirect there for the next several months. Email addresses for the editors of Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, St Louis, and Seattle will remain unchanged. Future editors will use the new domain in their email addresses.

2. A friend of mine recommended that I upload one city at a time. I thought about this, and in the end I think I am going to make a splashy start with the five cities already in progress and, moving forward, will add 1 city every two months or so. I have the next two regions in mind already.

3. Thank you to everyone who has visited the site, posted the submissions info or links to the site in their blog, emailed their friends about it, and generally helped me get the word out. Your support means a great deal to me.

4. The submission deadline for the initial set of cities is May 30. The editors will make their selections by July 30. The edition is scheduled to drop on September 30.

3.28.2006

Ich heiße Super Fantastisch



Last night I drove two hours in either direction to see my favorite band, Franz Ferdinand, play a live show.

It was worth the trip.

Although most of their music is already upbeat and peppy, Franz Ferdinand played nearly every song up tempo—a miraculous feat, in my opinion, since most of their songs feature intricate guitar hooks and raucous percussion. Frontman Alex Kapranos was delightfully campy without being fey as he plowed through a superfast rendition of "Michael" ("This is what I am / I am a man / So come and dance with me Michael"). The real show stopper, though, was the seamless play of the last two songs: "Outsiders," the last track of their newer album You Could Have It So Much Better, started out pretty straightforward until, by the end of the song, they had three men pounding away on the drum kit, creating an amazing percussion line that extended past the end of the song. The drummer kept the bass beat going for a few minutes and the audience clapped along until the rest of the band came back out to end with a burned-up version of "This Ffire," which appropriately repeats "This fire is out of control / We gotta burn this city / Burn this city down."

The only song I missed hearing was "Darts of Pleasure," which I love because it has interesting and weird lyrics:

"You can feel my lips undress your eyes
Undress your eyes undress your eyes
Words of love and words so leisured
Words are poisoned darts of pleasure
Die, and so you die."



It was a smaller venue, and although our "best possible seats" were in what was affectionately called the "upper deck" (really just the back of the theater), we had a pretty good view of the stage.

I bought a t-shirt like this except blue:



Today it's my favorite thing in the world.

3.27.2006

Official

It's official: LOCUS is becoming LOCUSPOINT and moving to www.locuspoint.org in a few days.

More news later this week when the transition is complete.

Getting Kinky

I just finished my first of my AWP book booty, Denise Duhamel's Kinky.

Kinky is a book-length sequence of poems about Barbie, the popular fashion doll for young girls, an American icon both for her glamour and beauty as much as for her notorious inhuman measurements and unpopular sentiments ("Math class is tough!")

The poems range from Barbie's imagined/lived experiences ("Planning the Fantasy Wedding," "Barbie's Gyn Appointment," "Barbie in Therapy") to her different incarnations ("Hispanic Barbie," "Bicentennial Barbie") to imagined identities ("Bisexual Barbie," "Antichrist Barbie," "Mormon Barbie").

Duhamel's book is disarming in its seeming innocuous pursuit to both canonize and trivialize Barbie's impact on the world. Her poems express a careful reverence for the doll, for her "flawlessness," while at the same time elegizing her inhumanity. Duhamel's point here seems clear: Barbie's artificiality, her inhumanity, is a direct result of this perfection.

Throughout the poems Duhamel frames Barbie's internal monologues and imagined rants with images of the children who play with her. These small girls appear as casualities of Barbie's perfection. The conceit of the book takes on added weight as each poem drums the same important tune: we cannot be Barbie—and more importantly, what's criminal about Barbie is that she wants to be us! Our flawed bodies, our ability to pathologize and make mistakes, to smile and reveal our crooked teeth.

Barbie quickly becomes the metaphor for the experience of women who grew up playing with her: every woman comes to see herself as plastic, as trapped in her own relationship to flawlessness and imperfection—that Barbie becomes the symbol of a woman's self-image: silent, immobile, abuseable, disposeable, and endlessly replicatable. It's a horrifying realization to come to as a reader, even as a gay man, to have this understanding that the relationship between girls and Barbie is endlessly meaningful in all the most inappropriate ways.

In that girls spend their youths play-acting their skinny, upper middle-class, heterosexual lives through these dolls is ultimately indictable, and the book both makes the indictment and presents itself the way women are perhaps encouraged to present themselves: as harmless, small, doll-like, and laughable. The humor in these poems turns back on itself and turns back onto the reader, questioning whether or not these "small crimes" are truly humorous—or tragic.

Duhamel is not the first (nor the last, to be sure) poet to approach Barbie; David Trinidad, himself a Barbie collector (and dare I say "fanatic") has also approached the subject from a different perspective—Barbie as forbidden object—which is just as interesting and damning as Duhamel's book.

I've grown increasingly fond of Duhamel's work over the past couple of years, especially her small book Une mille et un sentiments (the 300s are soul-crushing) and the poems that appeared at No Tell Motel last year (especially this one, this one, this one, and her discussion of the poems in that issue.

What a great way to start off the destruction of my unread books pile! More to come.

3.26.2006

She's the Man (and a Woman)

My weekend couldn't get any better after I saw She's the Man on Saturday night. Those of you who know me well know that my cultural tastes tend to fall on the side of 14-year-old girls (in terms of music/movies/tv/boys), so it probably won't come as a surprise that I was fairly eager to watch Amanda Bynes butch it up at a private school where only the most attractive 25-year-old men matriculate for the duration of this film.



First, Amanda Bynes is one of the funniest actresses working today. She is fearless in her comedy, but it never degrades to the point of stupidity, even when she is stuffing an enormous chicken drumstick into her mouth and chomping away. There is something about her that is both charming and disarming. She also makes a cute (if alarmingly pre-pubescent) boy.

When you're watching a film and you realize one of the main characters is named Duke and another's pet tarantula is named Malvolio (from the Italian for "ill will"), you can be pretty sure you're watching a hip high school update of Shakespeare or Jane Austen. In this case, it's the former, with Viola and Olivia rounding out the cast of the familiar comedy Twelfth Night. In the vein of all good screwball comedies, Viola's only opportunity to woo the dashing Duke Orsino is to dress as a boy. In the updated version, it's the only way she can continue to play soccer after her school's team is cut and her dumbass (yet beautiful) boyfriend refuses to support gender equality in sports.

Along with just being really funny, She's the Man does raise some interesting questions about gender roles and gender identity. As Viola struggles to reconcile her desire to be a jock with her mother's desire for her to be a debutante, she desperately tries to learn what it is that makes men "masculine." How do men communicate when there are no women present? What fears are "masculine" and which are "feminine"? How do men and women resolve conflict among themselves and with each other? All to hilarious results.

3.24.2006

I'm actually liking LOCUSPOINT the best so far.

Stay Tuned

We have to shift the name of LOCUS a bit in order to avoid competition and confusion with a great existing publication...

I'll be brainstorming options this weekend.

So far:

LOCUS POCUS?

Stay tuned.

Oops. I Did It Again.

Last night was one of those nights I went into with nothing to do, but came out with a full plate, two entreés (one was raw), an old friend, and then poems.

When I write now, Arden lays in my lap and dozes.

I took that bit and put it in the poem. A limousine appeared. It was driving into Colorado. It upsets me the way fences scar the landscape and nobody cares. Good fences make good neighbors. Is it good to be holding ourselves apart? That's the question I'm asking here:

how are we

safe

3.23.2006

Laramie, America

Some of you may know that I have been writing again. Something long, something very focused, and something that I can only write at night, in bed.

Last night I found The Laramie Project playing on cable and tuned in. I saw it the first time several years ago, I think when it first aired on HBO, when a kind friend taped it for me and let me borrow it.

It was like being beaten, punched in the gut, again and again and again and again.

This is what I want my poem to be.

*

One of the most powerful aspects of The Laramie Project is its editing. Everything provided to the viewer is offered in brief snippets, most of which are only vaguely narrative or linear.

The film must be strung this way in order for the viewer to continue to watch. The difference between being shallowly stabbed hundreds of times and having your chest split right open.

I mean, some things are unforgivable.

*

Some things are unforgivable. I want to believe we are all good people at heart.

*

Over the past several months, visitors to this area have asked me on different occasions the same question. How do you manage here?

I don't know. I have become a cautious person. The way people pause before when they ask, "And how is your      roommate?" Some I correct. Most I don't.

Yesterday at a convenience store, I took a phone call from a loved one while paying. I said, "I am at _______ store." I said, "I love you." The clerk, a woman, joked with me. She said, "Ha ha, 'Who's that woman in the background?!' 'No honey, I'm at _____ store, I promise!'" To pass for heterosexual is surprising, unnerving, and disappointing.

How do you manage here?

How does anyone manage anywhere. Wyoming or not, we are all just a short drive away from a field.

3.22.2006

Straight People Say the Darndest Things



Two of my heterosexual friends came up with two of the very best drag names I've ever heard:

Helena Handbasket
Helen Back

I've made them honorary queers to recognize their achievement.

American Idol loves

(in no order)

Mandisa
Katharine McPhee
Chris Daughtry
Kellie Pickler ("my eyelashes are like tarantulas, y'all!")
Taylor Hicks

3.21.2006

V for Ventriloquism



Because of my new LOCUS fetish, I haven't yet written about my most recent film experience. On Friday I took in V for Vendetta, a film I've been excited about since first hearing that Natalie Portman shaved her head for the role.

It's clear only ten minutes into the film that this is a film about America that takes place in Britain with smart British people acting as ventriloquist dummies for Americans we know and despise.

It's difficult even now to watch a film in which you do cheer for the destruction of a building. "Buildings are symbols," the titular character muses. This is a movie with a lot of talk, which surprised me as it was culled from a graphic novel. Sin City, of the same ilk, was also very talky in its own noir way, but heavy on visual opulence. V for Vendetta is a more tame version of this although when it goes visual—a sea of Guy Fawkes masks, for instance—it is very powerful.

This movie says that all members of the general public are faceless in their shared stupidity and reluctance to ask questions.

And it's a difficult movie to watch. There is excitement, but this is a psychological film. This is a mystery film. This is a revolution complete with swords, suits of armor, explosives, masked antiheroes. The London Underground. The persecution of homosexuals and other citizens of questionable moral constitution.

In all honesty it was a little slow and it was very dialogue heavy. V's level of diction will be challenging to your typical American audience, which is sad because it is they who most need to hear what he is saying. But it's worth watching, and it's a film I already know I need to go and see again.

This is a movie about fear.

3.20.2006

Get the Words Out

LOCUS is

A community-centered approach to poetry publishing

Each edition of LOCUS is built on a set of cities or regions. Guest Editors in each location are tasked with locating poetry community within their areas to whatever extent or degree they experience it by selecting seven poets whose work they want to highlight. Each poet contributes five pages of poetry to the city. The Guest Editor writes an introduction to his or her selections to comment on the poetry scene where they live.

LOCUS IS

A resource for poets

LOCUS is always interested in exposing the work of poetry gears across the country; to that end, each edition will feature a set of community links and poetry resources for each city or region. Poets seeking community can come to LOCUS and make connections—find services, publishers, poets, editors, classes, community centers, and so forth.

LOCUS IS

Charles Jensen Managing Editor & Web Designer

EDITORIAL STAFF, FIRST EDITION

Christopher Hennessy | Boston Editor
Eliot Khalil Wilson | Minneapolis Editor
Michelle Martinez | Phoenix Editor
Julie Dill | St. Louis Editor
Rebecca Loudon | Seattle Editor


SUBMITTING TO LOCUS

LOCUS seeks work from specific areas at specific times. Stay notified of upcoming cities by watching the LOCUS blog.

If you live in one of the cities currently explored by LOCUS, please submit 7-10 poems (no more than 15 pages) directly to the Guest Editor listed above. Submissions should be sent as Word document attachments in a common font like Times New Roman, Garamond, etc. Previously unpublished work only, please.

We currently have no plans to include critical work or interviews, although we may elect to include this type of work on a case by case basis. Please query first before sending this type of work.

Reporting time may vary by four weeks to four months. Please be patient. Submit only once during each Guest Editor's tenure—send only your best work—and please do not resubmit until a new Guest Editor begins exploring your city again in the future.

LOCUS does not explicitly seek work related to place or location, although each editor may discover in the diversity of their submissions an overarching connection among work.

Each Guest Editor is solely responsible for the solicitation and selection of work for their area.

General submission queries may be sent to Charles Jensen by using the link above.

3.19.2006

3.18.2006

Emily tagged me

and it felt like a kiss.

a book that made you cry: I don't think one has yet. The closest would probably be Powerless, Tim Dlugos.

a book that scared you: House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski.

a book that made you laugh: What Narcissism Means to Me, Tony Hoagland.

a book that disgusted you: Discipline & Punish, Michel Foucault.

a book you loved in elementary school: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprint, Donald J. Sobol; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Judi & Ron Barrett; The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport, Laura Lee Hope; A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle.

a book you loved in middle school: The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin; Many Waters, Madeleine L'Engle.

a book you loved in high school: A is for Alibi, Sue Grafton; The Pelican Brief, John Grisham; Brave New World, Aldous Huxley.

a book you hated in high school: The Witching Hour, Anne Rice.

a book you loved in college: MAUS, Art Spiegelman; The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara; The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood.

a book that challenged your identity: I don't know.

a series that you love: Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries. I'm not sorry.

your favorite horror book: House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski.

your favorite science fiction book: Madeleine L'Engle's Meg/Charles Wallace/Calvin series.

your favorite fantasy book: Many Waters, Madeleine L'Engle. Hot. Talk about fantasies.

your favorite mystery book: N or M?, Agatha Christie.

your favorite biography: Digressions on Some Poems By Frank O'Hara, Joe LeSeur.

your favorite "coming-of-age" book: Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger.

your favorite book not on this list: those in my profile.

3.16.2006

Famous Non-Writer People I've Spotted at AWP

2005 (Vancouver): Wallace Shawn
at a reception event



2006 (Austin): John C. Reilly
in the park under Congress Ave Bridge during bat time

Announcing the first LOCUS Guest Editors

Boston
Christopher Hennessy

Miami
Still open...

Minneapolis
Eliot Khalil Wilson

Phoenix
Michelle Martinez

St. Louis
Julie Dill

Seattle
Rebecca Loudon

My Cornshake Brought This Meme To the Yard

Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING. Some of these results are downright eerie. No cheating. Now: go!
..................................

How does the world see you? "Dying" (Hole)

Will I have a happy life?: "Ashes of American Flags" (Wilco)

What do my friends really think of me? "I Get Weak" (Belinda Carlisle)

Do people secretly lust after me? "Where the Party At" (Jagged Edge)

How can I make myself happy? "Everything You Want" (Vertical Horizon)

What should I do with my life? "How Bizarre" (OMC)

Will I ever have children? "I'm the Man" (Joe Jackson)

What is some good advice for me? "Speak" (Lindsay Lohan)

How will I be remembered? "(She's) Sexy and 17" (Stray Cats)

What is my signature dancing song? "Days Go By" (Duncan Sheik)

What do I think my current theme song is? "Only In Dreams" (Weezer)

What does everyone else think my current theme song is? "Just Died In Your Arms Tonight" (Cutting Crew)

What song will play at my funeral? "Mean Mr. Mustard" (The Beatles)

What type of men/women do you like? "When Love Comes to Town" (U2)

What is my day going to be like? "The Crawl" (Placebo)

3.15.2006

LOCUS Has Its Own Blog

over here.

We'll post news & updates, calls for submission, etc.

But I'll still write about it here, too, I think.

An Interpretive Dance I Call, "Where's Andre," in the Key of Santino Rice



Or, go here.
Thanks to everyone who chimed in about LOCUS yesterday. It's such a great motivator to hear other people are excited and interested. I hope the project meets a need out there in the world. I'm passionate about communities—what builds them, what makes them function, and what makes them stronger—honestly, this is the career field I've worked in, in various ways, for the past six years. It's where I belong.

I still would like at least one more editor from either Minneapolis or Miami. Anyone interested? Spread the word? Please?



I've come to realize that every poem I have written since December 2004 is an elegy.



I will be adding more cities to the LOCUS docket over time. Yes, Tucson (how could I not?!). Yes, Portland. Yes, San Francisco. Yes, Missoula. Yes, Boulder. Yes, perhaps even Canada, Mexico, elsewhere...Yes, Springfield. Springfield? Well, I won't say which one. I just want to start small, make sure we can do this, and then we will widen. Please continue to toss ideas my way. I think this magazine is collaborative in many ways.



His birthday seemed an appropriate impetus for going back into the second manuscript with a set of trimmers, but what I found myself doing was adding, adding bits here and there, rewriting an entire poem, rewriting bits, and—even still—I cried, which means the book is not done because it is raw.



Arden was relieved to have me back, and spent all of my sick day yesterday laying on my lap, dozing quietly, or attacking my socks. While they were on my feet.

3.14.2006

LOCUS is coming

I'm starting an online journal called LOCUS.



Each edition of LOCUS will feature poetry by guest editors selected from roughly three cities or regions in the U.S. Guest editors will solicit and receive work from their designated areas from, I think, about five poets. Each poet will contribute 10 poems to provide readers with a generous sampling of their work—to get a real sense of what each poet is accomplishing.

Each guest editor will also contribute a brief synopsis of their take on the local poetry scene and the work they've collected for their edition. Therefore, cities and regions can be represented multiple times over times by various editors, each providing insight into poetry's connection to place and community.

The editions will be organized by locus: that is, by the city of origin.

Additionally, I will arrange reading events to correspond with each issue in each city or region featured in LOCUS. The guest editor will need to show up and welcome the audience to the event as I cannot travel to each city, but I will do as much as I can to facilitate the event remotely. Ideally, these events will be recorded and added to the site in podcast format (or, samples of readings will be podcast).

I'm looking for some volunteer guest editors to help create the first issue. I'd like to hit a few regions to start. I'm thinking three of these cities will be featured in the first edition and the rest in subsequent editions:

Boston
Miami
Minneapolis
Phoenix
Seattle
St. Louis

If you or somone you know lives in one of these cities and is interested in guest editing, please drop me a line.

3.13.2006

Reading at AWP

"Honey, I'm proud of you. I watched you very closely, and you didn't screw up once."
— Carolyn, American Beauty

3.11.2006

There's a Party in My Suitcase and Here's Who's Invited

Richard Blanco, City of a Hundred Fires
Chris Burawa, The Small Mystery of Lapses
Maxine Chernoff, Among the Names
Christopher Davis, The Patriot
Christopher Davis, A History of the Only War
Denise Duhamel, Kinky
Denise Duhamel, Two and Two
Ed. Michael Dumanis and Cate Marvin, Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century
Lara Glenum, The Hounds of No
Gabriel Gudding, A Defense of Poetry
Scott Hightower, Part of the Bargain
Jon Loomis, The Pleasure Principle
Sabinra Orah Mark, The Babies
Portraits by Margaretta K. Mitchell/Editor Zack Rogow, The Face of Poetry
Juliet Patterson, The Truant Lover
Amber Flora Thomas, Eye of Water
Chase Twichell, Dog Language
Ed Michael Wiegers, This Art: Poets About Poetry
David Wojahn, The Falling Hour
Rachel Zucker, The Last Clear Narrative

The one thing I missed: Matthew Thorburn's Subject to Change—will correct that at home.

I'm Gonna Getcha Getcha Getcha Getcha One Way Or Another

Photonarrative in which time moves backward


Every photo I took of Ali Stine is suggestive.








Yesterday we were talking about the term "sausage party" during one of our meals. Try and use it in a sentence today. "AWP is a big sausage party."




Bat exodus from the Congress St Bridge




This is fairly self-explanatory.

3.10.2006

Tautological Austin Narrative

Close encounter of the first kind: Joseph Massey in a chair in the Hilton bar.

The liquor was free or self-purchased or purchased for me by kind friends (thank you, P). Ingested: Raspberry vodka tonic (comment from the peanut gallery: "the gayest drink order ever"). Ingested: Dos Equis. Ingested: Cosmo on the rocks.

Tied in a knot: a cherry stem. The toy of garnishes.

Panelists are sometimes so named for their uncanny likeness to a stiff board.

Beauties: Juliana Spahr. Traci Morris. Joshua Clover.

Number of books purchased (as of 11:26 am): four. Two have been signed. Journals appropriated: Dislocate, Bat City Review, Cue, Rhino. Thank you to the adorable Mary Baddinger for the Rhino.

James Hall is my new hero. Did you ever know that you're my hero? Also: big hearts for Jericho Brown, Laurel Snyder.

Number of pre-emptive panic attacks surrounding daydreams of my Saturday readings: three.

Number of near vomits due to same: one.

Number of times I've changed the poems to be read: three. Number of times I've hated every poem in the docket: three.

Number of times I've been asked, "Are you a good poet?": Two. Number of times I've misheard this as, "Are you good in bed?" and responded with discussion: Two.

Floor on which I watched the season finale of Project Runway in the Executive Club lounge on a flatscreen TV courtesy of one of the kind Marys at the front desk: 25.

And, the perennial favorites: Eduardo, Rigo, C. Dale.

Reb is hot.

Aimee is a dream. Ali, I've been watching you from across the room.

Austin: Elimination Show



















3.08.2006

The Austin You Know




Isn't this the house from The Real World: Austin?




The clock from the restaurant where we ate lunch.


I was trying for something else.




Things to do in Austin when you're bored.


Beautiful door with a beautiful courtyard.


My local connection says they call this the "Nose Hair Trimmer Building."

The Austin at the End of the Mind


This blog's new tagline.


Neon is not dead.

3.06.2006

Steers 'n' Queers / Blood Oranges

should be the official theme of AWP this year. Nobody asked me, though...


IF YOU ARE GOING TO AUSTIN
1. Say hi to me.
2. Have a drink with me.
3. Come to my reading if you have some time on Saturday.



IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO AUSTIN
Spend some time getting to know the Blood Orange Reivew, co-fronted by my talented poet friend Stephanie Lenox. The current issue ("number zero") is a classy, get-to-know-the-editors feature. Don't miss it and consider sending them some work!



IF YOU'RE STAYING IN PHOENIX
The orange blossoms opened today. Enjoy that.

Enjoy

Some beautiful poems by Teresa Ballard.

3.03.2006

I Wish I Were...

and, finally, rounding out the week: I wish I were a private detective.



Yes, as corny and silly as it sounds, I've often been drawn toward the seedy underbelly of the city: the distraught housewife with the philandering husband, the playboy with the blackmailer, the woman looking for the statue.

It's not just my Veronica Mars fandom talking here. My coworker was very surprised to discover that I'd read all but the most recent of the Sue Grafton-penned Kinsey Millhone mysteries. And true: in junior high and high school I was devouring Agatha Christie's Tommy & Tuppence mysteries, Patricia Cornwall novels, and so forth.

It's not just noir that attracts me. A fanatical, yet idealistic, man once insisted "The truth is out there," and I believe that's true—I've always been interested in ways of finding it, isolating it, discovering the most likely scenario from a handful of scenarios. Being a detective isn't just finding truth, though—it's also learning about human nature. How people fail each other and how they make amends. Critical human dramas play out when someone searches for the truth. And that's what interests me. Who's behind them. What does this all mean. What is the truth.

3.02.2006

I Wish I Were...

....a landscape architect.



My first honest-to-god job after college was working in the hustle and bustle of Ellerbe Becket—architects, engineers, and designers. It was a world completely foreign to me, albeit interesting. I moved into marketing the higher education project proposals and discovered an odd little creature amid all this corporate-Americaness: the campus planner.

The planners marched to an entirely different drum than the rest of the firm. They had vision! They had moxie! They made things more efficient! And looking at their designs—the perfectly circular lines of trees, the campus paths, the traffic flow diagrams, classroom audits and departmental organizational patterns. Gosh! It was all so romantic and beautiful. I loved looking at the work and imagining what it would be like to walk through those beautiful, perfect, planned campuses.

But, I have a crap attention to detail and I can't draw. Although I love to organize and structure things, sometimes my ideas of structure are a bit arbitrary. And while I love compiling and analyzing data, it can just as easily bore me.

But I still remember those wonderful people, those visionaries, who, even now, are hunched over their desks, marking out the pathways we will one day walk again...