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Why Do Writers Drink So Much???

May 2nd, 2014 by Michael Tabor

Dylan Thomas succumbed to acute alcoholism and died on November 9, 1953 at the tender age of 39 shortly after consuming 18 straightalc2 whiskies at the famous writers bar in the village – The White Horse. Indeed the great Dylan Thomas had a plethora of health issues but it was ultimately the bottle that did him in.

Truman Capote, O. Henry, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler … just to mention some of the big names, all died of complications of alcoholism. Ernest Hemingway committed suicide (alcoholism is actually suicide, except it’s slow, long and brutal beyond comprehension) but he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver just prior to his pulling the trigger.
Not just writers, but artists, musicians, and essentially anyone who happens to be creative… historically seem to have this horribly nagging impulse to self – destruct and resort to drugs and alcohol. Nobody is immune to the disease of substance abuse, but I don’t think that anyone can deny the fact that artists and creative people imbibe more. Sadly, there is also a much higher incidence of suicide (but that’s another blog).
My thoughts are simple: creative and talented people live more intensely than people in other walks of life; his or her skin is thinner than most and hence Kurt Cobain, John Cheever, and Vincent Van Gogh are more in tune with the subtle nuances of the wicked, nasty, bad, ugly, and unspeakable cruelty of the world. But thankfully, artists and writers are also acutely aware of the ineffable kindness, benevolence, and beauty which makes this life livable. Speaking of Vincent Van Gogh, I can’t resist Don McClean’s “Starry Starry Night”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dipFMJckZOM I know this is not the most masculine thing to say or write, but I literally weep every time I hear this song.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ?

 

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Art is The Very Essence of Our Being

September 29th, 2013 by Michael Tabor

artlascouxIngmar Bergman at an advanced age unbelievably got into a physical altercation with a man who criticized his work and until the day that he, Mr. Bergman died, never forgave the man who merely wrote a negative review about him. I saw an interview on a NetFlix special, and was shocked to hear Ingmar Bergman, many years after the incident, state that he continued to harbor hatred for this man, and flat out stated that he ought to burn in hell for eternity.

Believe it or not, I get it !!! My wife and I run a blog in which we both take tremendous pride. I, personally take offence when someone criticizes not the content (we actually encourage disagreement and debate) but rather denounces the style , etc.  – Worse still is when someone doesn’t even read what we wrote. Surely not everything we put up is a masterpiece, but it is a bummer when people just completely dismiss it – all the blood, sweat, and tears into every single word for nothing.

Every true artist wants everyone else to appreciate his or her work and except for a handful of artists like Woody Allen who genuinely, at this point in his career, really doesn’t care if people say something akin to “Your Last film sucked !!!” The fact is Woody Allen has been around more than a half century, has made dozens of masterpieces throughout his career, and is lucky enough to be absolutely secure about his work and his legacy.

Quentin Tarantino, the famous filmmaker, is in such an incredibly fortunate position in which making $$ or turning a profit means absolutely nothing to him. Of course, Mr. Tarantino wants his latest work to be a blockbuster so the producers, money – men, and investors are happy, but not unlike Woody Allen, he’s really concerned a whole lot more about chalking up another perfect gem for generations after his death so they can watch, enjoy, and appreciate it.

I was just reading a piece from the New York Times Book Review which basically describes how the American novelist, William Gaddis, became suicidal after getting negative reviews for his first novel, ‘The Recognitions’  –a book he thought would put him on par with the all-time greats of the twentieth century. Instead, he said, “Nobody even bothered to read my book (it was too long and difficult) …. America has odd ways of making one feel one’s self a failure.” Later, 20 years later, after Gaddis died, ‘The Recognitions’ was named one of ‘Time Magazines’ 100 best novels from 1923 – 2005.

This sort of contradicts what I’ve just written so far but, I sometimes wonder if it is even necessary that your art is seen, celebrated, and appreciated. Just think about the Lascaux Paintings which are paleolithic cave paintings painted circa 17,300 years ago. This work was obviously not meant to be seen by anybody (the pitch dark blackness and the art in a cave) but by the artists themselves and I suspect perhaps by whatever gods the people of that time were worshipping. So, WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ?

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What About Arts & Letters Daily as a Homepage???

September 14th, 2013 by Michael Tabor

arts&letters2I’ve had Yahoo as my homepage for more than a decade now because it’s light and breezy, it’s indeed a search engine though not as good as Google, right on the mark with timely  breaking news, and basically everything important that’s going on in the world can be found right there on the site. It’s 2013 and there’s essentially not a single piece of information that exists that cannot be found at your fingertips – both classified (WikiLeaks) and certainly all unclassified stuff .

Obviously , today we can find out anything about anything, anywhere – anytime and it basically comes down to what we want thrown in our face, first thing i.e. Justine Bieber and some real news – Yahoo, your basic no- nonsense best search engine that there is in Google, your work address (yuck, don’t bring work home), or something a little different such as a web portal which happens to be in my opinion the greatest place on the net, especially if you’re interested in an absolute treasure trove of scholarly information and beautifully – written essays of everything under the sun including: philosophy, aesthetics, language, literature, trends, breakthroughs, ideas, criticism, culture, history, music, art, disputes, and of course it includes a tad of gossip.

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? If you haven’t visited Arts & Letters Daily http://www.aldaily.com/#google yet, take a look and enjoy !!! This morning I read a little something on Thomas Pynchon, Franz Kafka, Picasso, Shakespeare, on & on … life is short, art is monumentally long.

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Okay Gillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’ Is A Gem And A Must – Read, However …

May 8th, 2013 by Michael Tabor
The hoopla about Ms. Flynn’s latest novel (not even deemed popular fiction but rather “literature” by some super – heavyweight reputable sources such as the New Yorker ) prompted me to finally get around to reading it. It started out slow, not very interesting, even ponderous and I thought  – wow, what an over – rated piece of rubbish but once the real Amy (female protagonist) came out, the novel took off, and it was impossible to put down; I polished off the 419 pages in two days.
There are no spoilers here, so it’s safe to read this, but do read the book, it’s a lot of fun and saying that there are prodigiously clever moments in ‘Gone Girl’ is an understatement. What I merely want to point out in this blog is some of the problems I had with the work– namely that I don’t think  Gillian Flynn has a real understanding of who men are and what their interests are; granted Nick, the male protagonist was intended to epitomize the worst of the worst in the male species and the lowest common denominator but having said that, a writer wants the reader to empathize and sympathize with even the most despicable man at some level at some point in the novel but that didn’t work for me. So it isn’t perfect but it’s close. A couple of notes:
How can I be delicate about this ? Okay, non vaginal intercourse. I find the act to be vile, nauseating, and revolting and I know I’m not alone here. All of my friends, acquaintances, and males I know in general concur. Mike Tyson on the Howard Stern show said that anal sex was utterly disgusting – yes Mike Tyson & Howard Stern. Yes, Nick is a twisted slime ball but Amy is Satan – incarnate and one would think that you would want to kinda of root for Nick a little bit but how can you ? Sure, I think the lesson is that they’re  both trash and they deserve each other but….


Threesomes ??? No guy wants that – yes making love to a beautiful woman other than your wife, one @ a time is understandable for men who cheat on their wife but @ the same time – nonsense.

Well as you know, the novel is Triple XXX with a capital T. The author, Gillian Flynn is an intelligent, beautiful, educated woman (like Amy, the protagonist – lol) and I earnestly believe she lowered herself by using certain language and describing ad nauseam the aberrant sexual behavior of her protagonists. (What does her real – life husband say about this, not to mention Ms. Flynn’s toddler child who will obviously eventually read her book.

So Whadayathink ? What do you think ? Aside from too much pornography, the book is absolutely brilliant. Two of my favorite authors, John Updike and Paul Auster appealed to voyeuristic appetites of some of their fans without compromising the overall integrity of their masterpieces.


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Comparisons in a Confused Universe

August 25th, 2012 by Michael Tabor

” If sex is so much fun how come old whores don’t do much giggling”-Hunter Thompson
Written by Le Duke de Fromage
Confused, Erratic, Humorous, Bewildering and at times painfully truthful describes reading Hunter Thompson, but it sure is fun. Author Tom Wolfe called Hunter Thompson the greatest comic writer of the 20th century. In response Hunter Thompson called Tom Wolfe numerous things -all unflattering.
Hunter Thompson died Feb.2005, Jack Kerouac died Oct.1969. There are certain parallels between the two that continue to be questioned today. In death,both choose suicide as a means of escape. Kerouac by excessive drinking, Thompson by a shot fired into his head. In an illogical universe Thompson was a natural succession to ‘Beat’ literature. In fact, their lives were strangely similar. Thompson popularized ‘Gonzo’ journalism, a style written without claims of objectivity often as a first person narrative. Use of sarcasm,humor,exaggeration and profanity is common. Kerouac ,a leading exponent of Beat journalism, a form that included rejection of values and disdain for ruling class. “Comparisons are odious”, claimed both Marlowe and Shakespeare. Possibly, but sometimes necessary in order to establish lines of clarity.
“Don’t touch me I am full of snakes”,-Jack Kerouac
Both authors wrote in an abuse fueled frenzy, Hunter often haunted by delusions and strange visions, at times unable to complete. Kerouac as a means to finish in one long marathon of alcohol and uppers. In life, there is no evidence they actually met, nor is there evidence that Kerouac was aware of Thompson. Conversely,Thompson was acutely aware of Kerouac and had met more than several of his friends.The list included Allan Ginsburg, Greg Corso, and Neil Cassidy. Thompson was enamored of Cassidy and stated that Kerouac’s use of him in “On the Road” had influenced his thinking. He also stated that Kerouac’s confessional prose made an impact on his own philosophy for living. He later said that his own wonder-lust made Kerouac look like a piker.
“Too strange to live, too rare to die”- Hunter Thompson
The similarities of their lives draw strange conclusions. They both had fathers who deserted them, strong mother’s influence and both athletic, Jack football,Hunter baseball.Each had attended Columbia. both had taken memorable cross-country trips and both had alter egos, Jack’s was Sal Paradise, Hunter had Raoul Duke.As a result the pressure to live up to the legends helped destroy them.They also shared a certain disdain for women, which is evident in a great deal of their published works. Women were either objects of scorn ,sex, or no great importance. Curious, considering both were raised by strong women whom they held in high esteem. Although Hunter’s mother suffered from alcoholism. They were mediocre husbands and not considered very good lovers.Both were self destructive in abusing alcohol and drugs, and a hatred for authority, class elitism, and a conventional thinking which was strongly voiced in their works. See Thompson’s ranting hatred for Richard Nixon.
” I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion”-Jack Kerouac
Toward the end of their lives, they both suffered from years of alcohol and drug abuse, Their writings faltered and both were accused of rehashing old material due to their inability to produce. It appears they had either lost interest or were unable to to generate enough enthusiasm to write. Hunter Thompson realized he was sick, tired of life and decided to to end it. Jack Kerouac lost in alcohol died of abuse. Two writers, great impact. Did Kerouac have more of an impact on Thompson than he admitted? or was gonzo journalism a logical extension of the beat style of writing?
Whadayathink, connected, similar, or nothing alike?
[some writers quotes from wikiquote.com]

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A LOOK BACK AT KEROUAC

August 14th, 2012 by Michael Tabor

Once again a wonderfully written piece by Le Duke de Fromage

I was an aging teenager when I first read On The Road, sitting on a park bench in Boston Common. It was not exactly a high point in my life I was outa school, outa work, and outa money and I was mulling over whether to join the army. When I finished the book, I remember thinking WoW, that’s it. Free, no responsibility, constantly moving, jazz and sex included. It was early spring and a beautiful day something that Boston weather can rarely brag about.I still picture myself sitting there absorbing the book. Always an avid reader, my fault was I read a tremendous amount of what is considered junk.However this was different; this was now. Kerouac made it easy to identify with; he lived in Lowell Mass. only 25 miles from my home.If he could make it out ,well , so could I. As time went on,Kerouac became someone to be taken serious, if not as a significant writer then as an author who was making an impact on future writers.
As his fame grew, he started appearing on mainstream television and not always favorable.Most interviewers were intent on his involvement in what was called “The Beat Generation”. Kerouac hated this tag and always disavowed the title. I remember watching a Steve Allen interview that was embarrassing and awkward. Allen played piano jazz and Kerouac read quotes from his latest book. Uncomfortable,stilted,and staged. However he was never at his best before an audience. Jack appeared to have demons lurking, always a heavy drinker, drugs entered his life. For some, a deadly combination when writing serious prose.
Raised by a mother whose impact weighed heavily all his life,Jack also had a strong religious catholic influence that reflected on his personality. A former girlfriend claimed in many years of friendship he never swore or cursed. He flirted with Buddhism for a period of time but never could embrace it to his liking. Kerouac could be described in melodramatic terms as a tortured soul.
Considered somewhat straight-laced, with his mother’s influence always lurking in the back of his mind, he flirted with both straight and gay sex. A contradiction never fully explained. Alan Ginsburg stated several times that Neil Cassidy who also went both ways influenced Jack and not always to his benefit. Having married three times he also claimed having relations with over 200 women, a claim not seriously taken, and probably made during the later part of his life when boastful alcohol took over.
Kerouac wrote 20 books always in a frenetic jazz hipster style. A way of life that has evolved and is unknown to today’s youth. One would be very challenged to duplicate that lifestyle today, which may be part of the appeal. Recently I reread On The Road and Dharma Bums, two of my earlier favorites and was disappointed to find that the attraction I once had was not there. They seemed dated and less appealing than I remembered. The writing once considered cutting and new , now rather pedestrian. The lifestyle, once shocking and exciting now drab, pointless, and shabby. Truth is there is nothing sadder than an aging hipster.There seemed to be just a little too much of him in his writing,possibly that may have been part of the appeal.
Age changes perception and that may be the answer to why I am no longer drawn to Jack and his aging books. Another possibility is that Kerouac should be read when you are young. Truman Capote said when asked about Kerouac, “That’s not writing, that’s typing”. I am somewhat inclined to agree. Whether fan or not reread Kerouac and judge for yourself.If you have not read him,it is worthwhile just to experience the style and a culture that has passed.
Whadayathink?Still great or fading as time goes on.

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How To Read Thomas Pynchon

June 15th, 2012 by Michael Tabor

I’ll begin this blog by stating the obvious: Thomas Pynchon is a genius almost beyond words. Anyone who has read anything by Pynchon will be amazed at how much esoteric information is packed into each and every one of his 7 novels. His novels are prodigiously dense and complex, full of allusions and alliterations, word-play, symbolism, irony and just about every other literary technique under the sun. He is considered by many scholars to be perhaps the most brilliant, unique, awe-inspiring postmodernist writer of the past half-century and nobody has seen him in 40 years. Yep, not unlike J.D. Salinger,  (recently deceased) Pynchon is a recluse and all we have is a picture of him from his high school yearbook from Oyster Bay, long Island, New York.
Thomas Pynchon writes a little like Vladimir Nabokov (his puns, references, allusions, long sentences, etc.) who not surprisingly was a student of the master of prose, Mr. Nabokov at Cornell University.
I just finished reading The Crying of Lot 49 (published in 1966, but was written when Pynchon was in his early 20’s; how is it possible for him to know so much already? Was he reincarnated?) and I was completely overwhelmed and “blown away” with his brilliant prose style, labyrinthine plot features, and just the wealth of references. Next on my reading list is Gravity’s Rainbow but I’m going to need a little help on this one; I’ve tried to read this about 10 years ago and had to put it down because of the incredibly vast array of references, themes, and allusions to: science & technology (Pynchon worked at Boeing as a technical writer), obscure historical events, punning weird names, believable conspiracies from huge corporations (paranoia is a theme throughout all of Pynchon’s work), hundreds of characters, reams of postmodernist themes and devices, entropy, industrialization, mathematics, literature, religious cults and so much more. I just purchased The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Pynchon and I’m a lot smarter now than I was a decade ago. So I’m ready to tackle Pynchon’s exhaustingly monster masterpiece.
Thomas Pynchon is not for everyone. If you’re going to read him you’re going to have to put in a whole lot of work into it yourself. However, I obviously believe the hard work is well-worth it – you’ll be a whole lot smarter, think differently and never look at mundane things, ideas, or objects the same again, and most importantly you will be entertained beyond your wildest dreams.
This can be a huge essay but I’ll stop writing here and allow you to have the pleasure of reading and researching those deliciously esoteric factoids yourself. Enjoy ! So whadayathink ? What do you think ? Do you like Thomas Pynchon ? Do you like to be challenged when you read (to this degree) ?

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Reading Is (funda) Mental

May 17th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Today CNN.com listed the most well read cities in the U.S. Before reading the article, I was certain, that without a doubt, NY topped the list, but was shocked and dismayed to learn that it never even ranked in the top twenty! How can this be? I’m perplexed. Each day I see scores of people immersed in books, newspapers, magazines, and kindles while riding the train. Why, Michael’s obsession alone should ensure NY’s number one title. I’ve never met anyone who has a greater love of reading and not a moment is ever wasted idly waiting for time to pass,  when it can be utilzed absorbing a wealth of knowledge gained by simply reading. This is a man who takes advantage of every opportunity to be better informed. For instance, Michael reads while:
1) Waiting on line at a bank (Next! Next!)
2) In the car between traffic signals (Whoa! Easy on the horn, buddy).
3) At family functions (which I tell him is a bit rude but he’s managed to squeeze in some conversation, so I’m good with it).
4) While eating dinner (I’m convinced that this is what gives him indigestion, and not my cooking after all).
5) He even reads while walking which completely baffles me. I’m sure if I tried this, I’d stumble and break a bone, or get run over by the inattentive UPS truck driver delivering more books to our house).
So, what city made number one? Alexandria, Virginia with titles selected from the Romance category. (Wuthering Heights, anyone? Or something much less classic?) Number two? Cambridge, Massachusetts  in the categories of Business and Investing. (What about all those subscribers to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal? I’m cancelling our subscription). Number three? Berkeley, California on Travel books. (Could that account for all those people riding on NY trains? They’re not really NY’ers at all?? I didn’t notice any surfboards).
I think New York City should stage a protest with every single person reading on trains, buses, and subways tomorrow. And let’s not stop there. Every person waiting to buy their coffee and bagel should be accompanied with an open book in hand. Every driver stopped at a red light should be engrossed in their magazines, tabloids or what have you. To hell with all those honking horns. Let’s show them who’s really number one. Go ahead and be a devil. Read  Crime and Punishment while crossing Seventh Avenue tomorrow.  The yellow cabs will still  be stopped (reading, of course) and won’t even notice you’re crossing against the light. Just look out for the guy on the bicycle with a copy of Charles Kuralt’s, On The Road. And before you turn out the light, you will read your child to sleep, to instill a love of reading in future generations of NY’ers. (Daddy, read Gone With The Wind again without stopping). Might I suggest the abridged version?
What am I reading at the moment? Great Expectations (coincidentally) by Charles Dickens. What’s got your attention? Are you reading for the greater good of NY? Does reading Blogs count?
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John Updike: I Miss The Gentleman of Letters

November 30th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

The first thing I used to do when I entered a bookstore was immediately go to the fiction/literature section and look under ‘U’ to see if the prolific Renaissance – man, John Updike, had written a new book. The reality is I could have found something new written by John Updike anywhere in the store.  Mr. Updike had such wide interests and was such a cultured, erudite intellectual (he wrote about golf, art criticism, book reviews, history, and much more) that perhaps I could have found a book he had recently published anywhere in the store, e.g., a new release located under art criticism; he had written two superb books on this topic called “Just looking” and followed it with “Still Looking.”
The humble John Updike characterized himself as “a freelance writer who writes on occasion about books, bringing to the task a rusty liberal-arts education, an average citizen’s spotty knowledge of contemporary issues and a fiction writer’s childish willingness to immerse himself in make-believe.’’ The aforementioned description of himself is modest indeed when you consider that the New Yorker magazine and many of his contemporary peers such as Saul Bellow and Phillip Roth viewed John Updike as not only one of the greatest novelists of the late twentieth century but also one of the pre-eminent critics of his day.
I am a regular reader of “The New Yorker” magazine and I sometimes forget that I’ll never see a new book review, piece of short fiction, or another essay on contemporary life written by the great John Updike. He lived until the age of 76 and it has been almost 3 years since his death on January 27, 2009. He churned out polished masterpieces like clockwork, averaging a book a year and that’s not including the hundreds of stories, poems, and reviews published in “The New Yorker” and “The New York Review of Books.”
Mr. Updike loved every aspect of life – living it, examining it under a microscope, and finally recording it with laser beam precision via pen and paper. The New York Times wrote shortly after he died that, “John Updike was obsessed with turning every thought into words, every observation into prose which was a testament to his love of writing, but also to his apparent drive to preserve everything, notable or not, in print.’ And how ever so true was this statement; John seemed to be interested in everything and his mind was a bottomless repository for knowledge. Updike was also a voracious reader (as all writers are) and not unlike the recently deceased Steve Jobs was quoted very often. He said that “love was wry, jokey, casual, and even weary but nonetheless ecstatic. ” He was also quoted as saying, “I glimpse the ordinary life and by merely observing and writing about it, I attempt to turn the mundane into inexhaustible and kaleidoscopic glory. ”
John Updike won every writing award under the sun (exactly 30) including two Pulitzer Prizes from the Rabbit series: “Rabbit is Rich” and “Rabbit at Rest.” There were five Rabbit novels beginning with “Rabbit, Run” published in 1960 and ending with “Rabbit Remembered” released in 2001. I have read all five of the novels and I have stated in one of my earlier blogs on literature that the “Rabbit” series ranks among  my favorite works of all time. In the end John Updike left us with 28 novels, 15 short story collections, 10 books on poetry, 13 books of nonfiction, essays, and criticism and 100s of magazine pieces on art criticism, literary criticism, and even children’s books and still, just like the Rabbit series, I wanted more- just one more. RIP John Updike, March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009.

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Ophelia’s Teapot

October 24th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

Ophelia’s teapot is broken.

She cracked the spout

Pouring Shakespeare

Into a cup

But drank it anyway.

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