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To: The Last Psychiatrist. Re: Your blog about Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’

The third sentence in your post is “Has anyone actually read this book? Nine people total, all literary critics?”

Let’s assume, for a moment, that I stopped reading there. There are a lot of blogs like this - people rant about things which they may not be able to express fully to the people around them, and really all it is is that they have a lot of bad things to say about something they don’t really understand. Me, I have been tempted to rant about: coworkers whose pedagogy differs significantly from mine, people who leave grocery carts in the parking lot, restaurant managers who try to say that “organic” may mean “tastes bad.” It’s fine - ranting is okay I guess, as long as you don’t pretend you’re actually making a point. Your sarcastic remark was enough to clue me in that this was all you were going to say, so I really didn’t need to read on. So I didn’t.

I started reading your blog because ‘On the Road’ was a bit of a seminal read for me. It ranks with

“Cancer Ward” by Solzhenitsyn
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Marquez
“Madam Bovary” by Flaubert
“Sexing the Cherry” by Winterson
“Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me” by Farina
“The Fountainhead” by Rand, and
“The Crossing” by McCarthy

What differentiates these books from many others I have read is that the authors took a fundamentally different approach to writing and the art of fiction. They combined refined skill and really definitively unique perspectives to create a work not of fiction, not of writing, or social commentary, or self-aggrandizement, but of life. They revealed the ultimate truths of relationships, identity, passion, despair, loss. They were creations of art, not public health pamphlets.

I also read all of these books with absolutely no preconceived notions; I didn’t know about “Atlas Shrugged” or “The First Circle.” I’d never heard about how important the books were. They were recommended by friends whose literary tastes I couldn’t know I agreed with, and by those whose tastes I KNEW I disagreed with. They were stolen from school libraries and picked up from the 50¢ box outside a budget bookstore. I read them out of curiosity and boredom. I had no idea what I was in for.

You thought ‘On The Road’ was narcissistic and spiritually shallow. You call Sal “a passive guy who needs to be lead,” and say that “Dean isn't an antihero, or even amoral, or a free spirit-- he's simply a jerk.” You go on to say that “not only does he do nothing of any value to anyone, he does nothing with purpose.”

It’s so very interesting that you obviously “got” the book, and yet somehow managed to convince yourself there was nothing to get. You say that your problem is with people who misunderstood the book, and yet you go on to rant about how stupid the books characters are (yes, I did eventually read what you wrote. It was just as much of a waste of time as I thought it would be, but if I hadn’t I couldn’t fairly respond to you). You don’t discuss why people may have misunderstood the work, or why they review it the way they do. I see that kind of analysis in the comments, but not in your own writing.

I don’t know what people say about ‘On The Road,’ and I can’t really be bothered to look it up. Your argument that so many people have “got it so wrong” seems fruitless in that you don’t even seem to be concerned about what getting it right would be about. You say that “even when someone actually sits and reads the primary text and finds it is different, it doesn't replace their existing (wrong) information, it only supplements it.” You did the same thing - rather than experiencing the book for yourself, you looked at it through someone else’s eyes - you looked for “young, potent men, lost in a growing commercial society, two coiled springs ready to pop, looking for adventure-- America style.” And when you didn’t find it, instead of finding what it was REALLY about, you only looked at all of the things that were OPPOSITE your expectations. You speak of two “On The Road”s. Speaking as an artist, I am nonplussed at this obvious false dichotomy.

I wanted to write something in response to your post, because I believe the book is wonderful. I’m not really interested in spouting praise like “it’s wonderful that there are so many interpretations of the work” or “it changed my perspective on life.” What I want to say is that it would be great if people were more honest. I don’t really expect my wish to produce results, but then did you expect your rant to keep already closed-minded people from picking up this book? I do think it’s a shame that you practiced this kind of manipulation. I think it’s more a shame that you, yourself, are a victim of it.



This is one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time. I mean, this movie......... I don't want to say much, because it's late and I need to go to bed. But when it was over I said "That was the best dream.... I mean movie. Ever."

When we first looked at it, I wasn't really put out when we decided on something more mainstream - it looked like the sort of thing where I would be saying "But I thought..." and "Wasn't she the one who..." and "What is going on?" every few minutes. But a couple months later we remembered it and picked it up again. And, sure enough, two minutes into the film I was completely confused (I know I know, not really that much of a statement for me, but I'm telling you: !!!). The point when I realized that I was watching something great and not something merely confusing and interesting was when not one of three (mostly conscious) people in the room had any idea what was going on, but we were all breathlessly watching a scene with very little going on in the frame.

This movie turned my mind inside out and then told a cohesive story in the form of a Mobius Strip.


When I was in Virginia

I had this secret place in my neighbor's backyard. They hadn't cleared most of it, and what remained was a wonderful, tangled forest - uninteresting for adults and hours of fun for kids. Along with the boys next door, I had created a small clearing, completed with a few logs for seats (there were fewer logs than there were in our group, but you can bet I never sat on the ground).

We would keep secret things here from time to time - a praying mantis in a jar, a candle and some matches, candy, etc. But there was something there that my friends didn't know about, something I wouldn't share even with them. Behind where our seats were arranged there was a box, disguised by leaves and scratched into the soil. It was mine - my secret box in my secret place. It was mine more than anything else - I consulted no one else about its contents, showed them to no one. Even if someone else had found it, they would have been nonplussed - odds and ends, broken dirty things, sad lonely orphaned things. Small pieces of wholes.

I haven't been there in a long time. The box is there, forgotten by those who pass over it, cobwebbed and dusty, hinges rusting. Holes appear and grow; slowly.

But I'll never forget. It's there for me still.

I'll never forget.

Pirating music

I wrote that title, and then wondered - am I setting myself up? But, oh sigh, I'm sure I do that in so many other ways I really shouldn't worry that much about it.

So, a while ago my friend and I disagreed about copying albums we owned and giving them to other people. (Among other things), she felt it was an important way to share a precious resource that might not be easily accessible - after all, CDs are pretty expensive. And then there's the fact that artists don't really make that much money off of them, anyway. When it comes to supporting an artist financially, the sale of CDs doesn't really help out much. My response was that CDs (and recording contracts) serve other purposes - visibility, advertisement, a guage of how popular the artist is. And these things truly have value.

However, I got to know many of my favorite artists throught illegal sharing of music. I have been to shows, bought CDs, and made other people fans, all directly as a result of being given music I most likely would not have found on my own. So sharing music is very important, too, and can expose us to music we might LOVE, but was prohibitively expensive (before we knew we loved it).

So, at this point in time I have decided that it's okay to give people music from bands when you also buy tickets to see them perform (I intend to buy tickets, but not always attend - I hate crowds, and music is not always good enough of a lure). And for other stuff, I have a 30% rule - I will copy or accept 30% of any album - this way I can get a good idea of the artist, and decide if I want to support them myself (and so be deserving of more of their music).

This is a really important question for me, because I think that it is really important for artists to be supported, and that their fans should be able to show them appreciation. If we want a society that supports the arts, that values them, then we need to create an environment where people can work on them - that means they need to be able to make enough money to earn a living. And I think playing music is quite a deserving way to make a living.



i will only say this once, because i'm so passionate about this i probably can't even talk to you in person about it - i may appear rude or judgemental, and that is absolutely not right of me.

as your blogger friend, as a fellow citizen, i IMPLORE you to not only vote, but to be informed about the consequences of your choices.

for example:

if the proposition you're voting for requires money, where will it come from? and should we be spending money on it when our state budget, and indeed the national economy, is in such disarray?

is what you are voting for simply a good idea, or something that is SO NECESSARY we should pursue it despite the challenges our state already faces?

do you know how the person you are considering voting for has voted/made decisions in the past? is their platform clear enough to understand and specific enough to hold them accountable for?

so far i am:

1a: no
2: yes
3: no
4: no
5: yes
8: no
11: yes

if you want to know how/why i have come to a particular decision, please ask me! i absolutely will tell you clearly. if you have opinions AND thoughts about any of the propositions, please tell me!

- your fellow citizen, who also wants a better future



When I went to type in the title of this post, as usual I had no idea what to say. Okay, that's not really usual, but it does happen often. That is, when I am writing something which I'm starting in a web browser and not on .pages, I usually don't know exactly where it's going to go. In fact, at this very moment, I know I had some sort of idea in mind for what to write about when I clicked "new post," but it has since floated, unnoticed, right out my ear.

Oh, lookie, that wasn't a boring sentence! Woo!

So, NaNo is coming up. Yay, NaNo! And that explains my above excitement - fasten your seatbelts, because my writing for the next month is going to be SO AWESOME.

I have NO IDEA what I am going to write about. I partly haven't thought much about it because I'm lazy. But I also... I want to see what happens. I was listening to..... hm..... that woman..... on NPR...... Terry something? It's really silly that I can't think of the program, but anyway she interviews people. Haha, I just remembered, because I played the opening ... thing... in my head: "I'm Terry Gross, and this is Fresh Air!"

I always think about how she says "Fresh Air." She always says it in the same, very obviously affected, way. I wonder about how she feels about saying it in this same silly way, everyday. I wonder how it was decided that she should say it just so. I wonder if she'll ever say it any differently, and would be quite disappointed if I missed it.

Anyway. So, Terry was talking to the guy who wrote House of Sand and Fog, and he said that everytime he tries to say something in particular with his writing, every time he tries to force it, it comes out... unnatural. Inorganic (my word). I feel the same way. But plus, uh, 50,000 words is a helluva lot! And I reserve the right to write porn if I can't think of anything else!


P.S. Actually, it wasn't Fresh Air I was listening to. It was KQED's City Arts and Lectures

P.P.S. The OTHER point that got lost as I wrote this - "grass" came up when I accidentally hit "G" on my keyboard (or U, in actuality I hit U, but my computer interpreted it as G, because I'm extrafancy like that), and that is why it is the title of this post. And I will unabashedly blame the pointlessness of this post on that accident of circumstance.

P.P.P.S. Vote! And I really will put up the breakdown of the ballot, promise. Some things are important.


Blank Pages

I'm doing the same thing with this blog that I try to do with my journal - I say to myself, "You can't post that! It's not interesting/long/thoughtful/passionate enough!"

Well, this is what I say to that voice inside my head: Shut up.

*Deep breath*

But no, really, it's too late for me to write anything of substance. I have a class to skip in the morning, and dishes to look at in the sink. Busy busy.

Subjects of upcoming blogs: Hormonal birth control, disability advocacy, duct tape purse, responsible capitalism, and balanced information about the upcoming election (with information specific to the City of Alameda).

Stay tuned (oh all right already, watch something else during the commercials).


I'm moving to Blogger

Because it's by google, and I heart google. Because I've been using myspace's blog since I use it for social networking, but it's a crappy blog server (if that's the right term to use). Because NaNo is starting again soon, and I need to take my writing seriously anyway.