Just Can’t Function No More

I’d estimate that in 50% of U.S. college dorm rooms in the late 20th century you could find “The Kiss” tacked to a wall. Yes, including mine for a time. One poster I had that deserved better was an immense one of Joy Division, a group from Macclesfield, England (close to Manchester) and about whom the Anton Corbijn’s 2007 movie Control was made. The picture, in b&w like the film, was of the band but really it was four kids standing above the banner “Here are The Young Men.” I bandied that phrase about in my head constantly — it somehow captured what I felt like in college. I was a young man. And like Joy Division, I too looked at something in the distance, not really caring, just existing. I could enjoy being a young man, but the future was too close to ever feel comfortable. Continue reading →


No Condition is Permanent

I added some music absolutely Afrifunkalicious for all y’all willing to drop some moves on the dance floor. Or your kitchen floor for that matter. Listen with headphones loudly. Like your grandfather’s best necktie, it will shine in your your head for days.

And while you’re at it, I found out where I’ll be for the next 3 years starting in August. Some clues below.

  • JMW Turner
  • Cockfosters
  • AtProud

Still don’t got it? How about the obvious?

Brilliant. You’re invited.

We should have called him Q’ool

One of the better ideas I had was to try and teach my not quite 2-year-old concepts rather than words. Symbols and metaphors rather than realist descriptors. A good example came a few months ago, when I put on my pair of circa 1999 silver snowboarder sunglasses and said to him, “superstar.” He repeated the word, but I wondered if he really got it. Recently he rummaged through a drawer and brought the sunglasses to me to put on.

‘Superstar, daddy?’ he instructed.

‘Yes,’ I said, putting them over my eyes for a moment. ‘Now you try.’

He put on the glasses silently, his chin pointing up at my face. Then he turned and walked away.

‘I look great,’ he said.

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Many years ago when I thought that I might marry a woman from the Dominican Republic, I sat down and wrote an essay called “What would it mean to be Dominican?” Completely fearful, and wracked by questions of identity as it was, it was also honest. I’d lived in the DR for two years, hung with the Dominican diaspora in El Bronx (probably gave out a fair number visas to some) and felt comfortable with enough slang to actually use a phrase or two. Plus, I could baila un merengazo del diablo (doubters, you may cue Vince Vaughan: “Oh please, we both know I’m a phenomenal dancer.”) Continue reading →

This is What I Did

It’s been a week to obsess about – what else? – writing.  The Kolkata Book Fair got off to a fine start by ending before it began — the High Court ruled against it being held in Park Circus, the Booksellers Guild said okay, then we’ll have to cancel it because we don’t have a Plan B.  Mad scramble as everyone looked for alternative venues to host the writers who had traveled serious distances to attend .  And it even rained one day.  Still, the US folks hosted a nice reception. Paul Theroux, Bharati Mukherjee, Amit Chauduri, Governor Gandhi, Chris Merrill, and others attended and I had a chance to interact with these literati, who I have to say were quite entertaining. Paul Theroux may be a sourpuss, but he’s effing hilarious. Blunt, uncowed, and really very interested in the world around him. I was impressed. Continue reading →