"You sound to me as though you don't believe in free will," said Billy Pilgrim. "If I hadn't spent so much time studying Earthlings," said the Tralfamadorian, "I wouldn't have any idea what was meant by free will. I've visited 31 inhabited planets in the universe...Only on Earth is there any talk of free will." -- K. Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

the revolution is my boyfriend

Not that McSweeney's really needs any help promoting themselves, but their new election-year related publication looks fantastic. It's an all-star lineup of writers, musicians and artists discussing politics, language, andwhat the hell happened to America. Check out the description:

"The Future Dictionary of America is a guide to the American language sometime in the future, when all or most of our country's problems are solved and the present administration is a distant memory. The book includes contributions from almost 200 writers and artists, including Kurt Vonnegut, Art Spiegelman, Stephen King, T.C. Boyle, ZZ Packer, Michael Chabon, JeffreyEugenides, Jonathan Safran Foer, Joyce Carol Oates, Jim Shepard, Rick Moody, Sarah Vowell, Richard Powers, Chris Ware, Jonathan Ames, Gabe Hudson, JulieOrringer, and many, many more. The book also comes with a CD, compiled byBarsuk Records, featuring new songs and rarities from R.E.M., Sleater-Kinney, Elliott Smith, Tom Waits, David Byrne, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs,They Might Be Giants, Death Cab for Cutie, and many others.

This book was conceived as a way to bring almost two hundred authors and artists together to promote progressive causes in the November 2004election. The book is an imagining of what a dictionary might look like about thirty years hence, when all or most of the world's problems aresolved and our current president is a distant memory. The book is by turns funny, outraged, utopian, and dyspeptic. Every cent of the proceeds from this book will go to progressive organizations working on the 2004 election."

How could you say no to this? Maybe all the big names can get the hipsters into politics again. So many Americans get away with not paying attention to who is making decisions for them, because they are comfortable. Why can't they see that these politicians are becoming more and more extreme? This is how fascist regimes come to reign. Most people in this world don't have the luxury of ignoring who comes to office, or who is in power. If I have to hear one more person claim that they "are not interested in politics" or that "all the candidates are the same" I am defecting to an island somewhere. Preferably one that has not been colonized at some point. Are there any of those left? Or even better, I think we could send all those people to a region of the world where they have to care about who is running their country - maybe they would get along really well in Iran or Kosovo. If more Americans would bother to pay attention to the state of foreign policy in their own country, and put aside their apathy and reality TV shows for just eight months, we might actually have a revolution on our hands. Since when has "democracy" meant "permission to not pay attention"?

Monday, July 26, 2004

twin town

Between going to high school at Central and Arts High, and working at the Walker (and buying all my food at the Wedge) I think I knew 80% of the people at the movie in Loring Park tonight, but only knew 15% of their names. The strategy I employ in response to their hellos is to point at them and open my mouth slightly while making any number of faces, which range from astonished to half-giggle. Seeing all those people helps me realize how much I've actually changed since high school, which is a quite reassuring. I've spent years thinking that I am the same person I was eight years ago, but it so untrue. Yes, I still think too much and get caught up in issues I wish I could forget, but there is something to be said about perspective. And sometimes you need Loring Park to hand that to you. People come and go, but there is always summer movies in the park? Or something like that. Next week (Monday, August 2) everyone check out Nellie handing out Walker ice cream during the movie! If there's any left, I'll be lending a hand after 8:30 (German class).

I have been trying to get someone to go out for some Indian curry with me all week. Eh, I know, half the time it's my fault. Well, maybe more than half. Doesn't anyone want to get curry anymore?

Right now I am:

listening to: This Charming Man (The Smiths)

and playing with the polaroid camera. So much fun in a little box.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Viva hate!

Those people who have been hanging out with me this summer probably already know that the only tape I have in my summer car (a shout out goes to Chris Moore and his sweet Volvo) is Morissey's Viva Hate. Since the Radio K morning show now offically sucks [bring back DJ Mark LaCriox!], I pretty much listen to NPR or Viva Hate in the car constantly. Where do I even begin to explain how great it feels when the rising tones of Suedehead start to climb above the sound of the Volvo willing itself to move? More importantly what would I do if I didn't have Morrissey to remind me:

"Rejection is one thing, but rejection from a fool is cruel"

Or as Morrissey croons - rejection from a fool is crrrruuueeeeeelllllll

don't eat the play-doh

This morning I was standing by Nellie's cube and Jeff walked by eating a container of Silk soy yogurt. I immediately told him that he had chosen the wrong soy yogurt - there are only two soy yogurt brands worth eating (three if you live near a Trader Joe's). The number one, and best, brand is WHOLE SOY (on sale at the Wedge, this week only!) I also recommend Stonyfield Farms O'SOY. The Trader Joe's brand is pretty good, and really well priced. Anything else, I can almost assure you it will taste like play-doh. Which is gross. Even to vegans.

It's gotten to the point in summer where everything is moving too fast. Maybe it's because the tempature dropped from way too hot to a little chilly in less than 10 hours - or maybe it is because I am fastly approaching the point where I need to follow through with some plans for the fall. I'm open to suggestions, if anyone wants to advocate for their part of the world.

Monday, July 19, 2004


Summer heat has finally begun to settle in, and it's making me want to jump in a pool at all times. Have you seen the David Hockney photo collages of swimming pools? I want to live in one of those. Instead, I have settled for a some Hockney-esque self portraiture. Dina and I spent the last hour of her visit taking rapid-fire Polaroid pictures of each other in sections, as we lay sprawled on my kitchen floor ( the coolest surface in the whole apartment). I would post the results, but instead I think I am going to have a photo show at the end of the summer, in my sister's old car - the space egg. It will be a traveling show, so watch out for more information.
It was so nice to see Dina. We went to a bbq/birthday party, looked through old issues of The Believer, went swimming in Lake Superior, checked out the awesome art at the Chisago County Fair, got some brunch at the Triple Rock, played boggle, listened to Dina's band Ramon and Jessica, spent some time at the DAV (where I got a fantastic yellow/red/plaid suit type item - I promise a picture at some point), tried to go to a street festival, started to work on another installment of our comic strip [Retrospectacle], chilled on a patio in St. Paul, got cheese curds at MOA with nick, and took well over a hundred pictures. We also talked about why everyone felt the need to get married right now, and decided that maybe I was leaning towards a Marxist perspective on the institution. More on this later....
tomorrow, back to work...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Ich mag nicht arbeiten, aber wer mag denn arbeiten?

I was walking towards my German class last night, down a near deserted hall in Folwell, when I realized that something was strange. Could it have been the really loud techno-pop beat of some vintage Kraftwerk? How can you not love a German class that greets you with Autobhan, complete with the lyrics on the overhead, and German grad student/instructor extrodinare Jason Peck singing along from a desk on the side? In the movie of my life, I will highlight that scene. It's a crowd pleaser.

Also on the German tip, I was down in the U of Minnesota journal stacks today, poking around for some early 20th century German anthropology journals for a project I'm working on, and I had the pleasure of discovering my new favorite journal. Swimming Techniques! It looks just like it sounds - and as a bonus, seems to be from the 1940s. If I had a kitschy t-shirt company, I would rule the world with these pictures. That and Czech science fiction.

Monday, July 12, 2004

My floor is covered in Polaroid pictures

I like the idea of being enveloped. Floating in the ocean appeals to me only when there are giant waves of foam to dive under and be swept away. Digging holes into snow banks, hiding under a pile of leaves, waking up in the middle of summer into an air so hazy and humid it's as if you are floating above your bed, walking into a fog so thick you can hardly see the hand of the one next to you. I, along with four or five co-conspirators, once broke into a giant Soviet-era soccer stadium in Prague (the arena had previously been used for Communist Bloc group aerobics - you must work the body of the state!) The fog made everything opaque - when we began to spin around through the thick orange and purple fog, we completely lost each other. Everyone giggled and shouted and ran around, and I laid down and pretended that I was nowhere. If we had consciousness before we were born, I imagine it would feel something like that.I have tried to recreate that feeling in countless deep blue swimming pools and prairies with cotton puff clouds, but have not come close.

A very attractive man (with tattoos and beautiful eyes) was contemplating the various types of fake meat at the Wedge today. I suggested the Gimmie Lean as I reached over for my Whole Soy. We discussed it's potential for good veggie burgers, then I went to look for granola. Two minutes later, he came and found me to tell me about fake ribs made out of lotus root and soy protein. He said it makes great salad, but assured me that I would be tempted to just eat it out of the pack. He led me to their location, and told me he was going to try mixing it with the Gimmie Lean. Can I mention that I love vegetarians? Unless they're annoying. No comments on that, please.

Listening to:

Iron and Wine

"Tonight, we're the sea and
the rhythm there
the waves and the wind and night is black
tonight we're the scent of your
long black hair
spread out like your breath
across my back"

Later this week: Scrabble...in German?

Sunday, July 11, 2004

I could live in this

Ever wonder what it's like to be alive? Start by waking up extra early on a Saturday to go and hear a Holocaust survivor speak - realize that there are some people in the world who have lived through the most horrific, spirit killing moments in history, and have found a way to make the proclamation that life is too short to hate anyone. Think about how it must feel to live in a real hell for years, to be dehumanized and reduced to nothing, and still live a full, meaningful life. Take this new found spirit, go sit on some big couches near open windows and have a gin and tonic - call everyone you know and say everything you want to say. Find some boys having wine on a patio in Nordeast, and follow them to an art opening by the river. Make some new friends and then go have tea and talk about how to be alive with some others. Ride your bike home through downtown and observe the hundreds of people milling around, leading lives you don't know anything about. Conclude with another phone call or two, some loud music, and fall asleep with a book on your face.

OR - take a deep breath in the middle of winter and momentarily freeze all your essential molecules. Either method will work.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Minnesota shines through

Mental note: Never sit next to the middle aged Midwestern women in a genocide seminar.

Professor: Over a million Armenians were systematically massacred
Woman: Oh jeez.
Professor: To mock their religion, the killers crucified them on their own land.
Woman: Ohhhhh jeez.

This is not a joke. Also, their morning breakfasts of cookies and Diet Coke make me want to vomit. Am I being a little too judgmental?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Class notes

I had 12 hours of class today. Well, there was an hour for lunch, and another hour between Genocide class and German. I sort of felt like sitting out and having a g&t afterwards, but opted for the bike ride home and a big glass of water. Granted eight straight hours of graduate seminar can be a little draining, but it still feels fantastic. I think that having a real job for the past three years has allowed me the ability to sit somewhere for eight hours. If I had tried to take this class as an undergraduate, I probably would have zoned out after three hours. Thank you American work force!

I am becoming very interested in war time literature, and the voice of dissent. I won't bore you with my preliminary theories, but until I synthesize something, everyone sit down and check out these books:

Journey to the End of the Night - Celine
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
Death in Venice - Thomas Mann
Mother Night - Kurt Vonnegut
Dear Mr. President - Gabe Hudson

In a week, I'll stop assigning homework. Maybe.

Jem, Truly Outrageous

I'm sporting a new tattoo this week. I promise I'm not obsessed - I'm going to take a break on needles and ink for awhile. I ran into Jason on campus yesterday, and he told me that the new tattoo is very Jem. Truly Outrageous! If you are my Friendster, you can check it out in the pictures section of my profile.

Right now I am listening to:

a new Belle and Sebastian song on Radio K

and eating:

Uppma, courtesy of my dad

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

On the Academy

Am I an Academic groupie? It's entirely possible. They know so much! They have so many opinions and can recommend good books! Maybe it has something to do with the lives they get to lead: traveling, reading, writing, teaching. Of course, I have realized that I don't have to simply idolize the professors, I can actually become one myself. Well, maybe. We'll see how that process goes. What will life be like if I don't have to worry about GRE vocabulary and language requirements? Maybe I will just figure out how to be a crazy hermit dissident. I'm open to suggestions, if anyone knows that best way to achieve mad genius status. Maybe I should start by writing some sort of manifesto. Stay tuned!


Why have I been out of school for three years? I started a class called "Genocide and Human Rights" today, and being there felt so good. Why do academics get to have all the fun?

As I was riding my bike home in the rain, some guy on Franklin who looked like Fat Albert told me that he liked my bike. I couldn't see very well because my glasses were covered in rain, but I tried to shout a "thanks, Fat Albert!" in his general direction.

right now I am reading:

The History of the Armenian Genocide (Vahakn Dadrian)
Eichmann in Jerusalem (Hannah Arendt)
A really big course reader that cost $100!!

listening to:

The Unicorns
the constant rain

and wishing I had not drank so much coffee at night.

Monday, July 05, 2004

The next best thing to time travel

Minneapolis feels like Europe today. Or maybe I am getting better at feeling like I am in a new location without having to go too far. Last week at work I mentioned that often I wished that when I walked out of work at the end of the day, it would be London outside. British people bustling around, eating chips and going to the pubs, hurrying to make it to the tube. When I woke up this morning I thought it was Prague - there was a cool breeze blowing right through my room and a woman smoking a cigarette in the back window of the brick building across the yard. It's interesting to be at a point in my life where I have lived in enough places to be confused when I wake up. It used to be sort of disturbing, but has turned into a feeling of excited comfort. For the last year or two I have been thinking about how nice it would be to live in one place for awhile -I have moved every summer for the past seven years. The last month has taught me that it wasn't the moving that was making me tired, it was the moving to apartments I didn't really like that was making me sick. In fact, collecting environments is effing fantastic. I will be ready to stop moving around some day, but not today.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Levon sells cartoon balloons in town

Last night was mini golf, G&T's and nachos at Eli's Bar, putting Sarah on a bus and riding bikes down Hennepin to Nordeast, seeing the Pioneers, Mr. Freezies and the Chipmunks Punk Rock album at Jeff's, karoke at the Vegas Lounge (1am, Elton John's Levon), and a ride home in a Saab station wagon. It was hotter than it's been in a long time, but it felt so good that even the mosquitoes were a mere annoyance. Isn't this what college was supposed to be like? Seeing so many familiar faces on the streets jump starts all those social instincts that laid dormant through that long, long winter. Summer in the Twin Cities is first rate - there are so many people crawling out of their winter shelters and basking in the radiance of the summer sun. I declare the last 8 months "The Time of the Cave". It's good to venture out and see what is beyond those shadows.

Minnesotans do a fantastic job at summer because we spend (at least) 7 months a year running between car and front door, bus stop and office cubes. In all my 6 years in Southern California, all I learned was that 12 months of mind blowing weather breeds a special brand of elitist apathy. Who wants to drive from Venice to Fairfax to see a movie? Does anyone really want to try to park in Manhattan Beach on a weekend? Nobody walks anywhere, bikes don't exist off college campuses. It doesn't seem that anyone in Southern California wants to run into friends on the street or meet them on the bike path. What ever happened to dialogue and learning from other people? Sometimes I think it's been replaced by TV shows and internet monotony. Robots. They will get us all.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Happy July!

Sweet sweet July has arrived, and not a minute too soon. It's finally hot outside, and I can't get enough of it. The stifling heat, the flip-flops, the tank tops and pulling my hair back. I love seeing heat waves emanating from tar roads and falling asleep with a fan directly next to my face. I'm pretty sure the world could explode and July would still make me a happy, happy person. This July I am planning on a)becoming a student again b)sleeping as little as possible c)having the best July party in history d)camping at least once e)eating nachos with Nellie f)seeing some fantastic shows (including TMBG at First Avenue! and Sonic Youth and Le Tigre!Modest Mouse, Broken Social Scene and the Walkmen - all in one show!) and g)keeping it real in my summer refuge, through the heat and through it all.

I am finally living in a place that matches who I am - aesthetically, environmentally. I've been compromising my living situations for about 8 years. All I wanted was wood floors and colors on the walls, and I kept getting carpet and beige paint. Last year I painted my room blue, like living underwater. I loved it, but maybe the color should have been darker. Now I have met my emotional doppelganger, and she has painted her walls yellow, and green and blue. The red tapestry from India that hangs in her bedroom window makes any sunlight turn the room into daybreak. This is how every July should feel. (thanks, J. )