Toller Cranston Skates for Mexico: A Fever Dream

One reason I loved the Mountain Goats' new album Beat the Champ so much is that it speaks about a kid projecting his own emotional turmoil onto the storytelling sport of pro wrestling, in a way which deeply resonated with my experience projecting my own emotional turmoil onto the storytelling sport of figure skating. If I made my own sports concept album it would be Toller Cranston Skates for Mexico, and it would be about, mostly, the Lillehammer Olympics, which allowed skaters who had left … [Read more...]

From Pierre Clitandre, “Cathedral of the August Heat: A Novel of Haiti”

Then the ragged crowd pressed forward, in spite of the threat of the guns. They were ordered back. The tide of men came forward, silently, heavily, big hands by their knees. The gun shots rang out again. The men kept on coming. Heavily. Stepping over bodies soaked in blood. A third time the guns fired. At that moment out of the crowd, amid the dead bodies of men, pregnant women, the dust, blood, sun and gunfire, came the beautiful long-haired brown girl, dazzling in her white dress. With arms … [Read more...]

Gregorio Allegri, “Miserere”

The choir at St Matthew's sang this at Tenebrae last night. Amazing.And with that, I'm out. See you on the flip side. … [Read more...]

“Public Policy’s Absent Aesthetics”: I’m at AmCon

rantin': ...What leapt out to me was the absence of the aesthetic side of smoking vs. wearing the patch. I don’t just mean that smoking looks good, although it does: Smoke dissolves like perfect conversation. Smoke turns women into chapels.What I mean is that all these aesthetic associations reinforce nicotine addiction. The sights and smells and sounds of smoking (tapping the cigarette against the pack; I knew one woman who made a little kiss sound every time she took a drag) intertwine in … [Read more...]

“Gay and Catholic” Book Extra: Bridal Mysticism for the Rest of Us

One of the biggest gaps in the book is its relative silence about prayer. There's a lot about horizontal relationships with other people--even when prayer is mentioned it's often prayer to saints, which is still a horizontal relationship although maybe a tilted one--but not much about the vertical relationship of the human soul to God.This is why e.g. I was so struck by St Gregory of Nyssa's discussion of virginity: For him the vertical relationship is overwhelming, and horizontal … [Read more...]

“Sublime Recovery and Banal Recovery”: I’m in AmCon

sketching: This week I’m preparing to go to the 10th National Harm Reduction Conference (which I’ll be reporting on for TAC), and also reading for the first time David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. The conference and the novel offer strikingly different narratives of addiction and recovery–both of which are gaining cultural ground in different ways. more … [Read more...]

“Ivan Bilibin’s Russian Wonder Tales”

One of my favorite picture books when I was a child--second only to Tomie de Paola's Prince of the Dolomites--was a retelling of "The Tale of Czar Saltan" with Bilibin's illustrations.see them here! … [Read more...]


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