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if you’d like to contract me to write this up in book form, contact me with advance numbers ready

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Sorta cute.

The NYT publishes a weekly book review on Sunday. I receive an email version Friday night. I look at it, then grumble about things. Week in week out. When I do, my wife tells me to calm down and concentrate on doing good work. Finally I agree and read something else as BBC News scrolls through world-wide disorder and narratives of piracy – ransom or escape, failied escape and suitcases of unmarked hundred dollar bills. I immerse myself in something – say, James Wood’s piece on Orwell in the current New Yorker. Time passes. Then my wife says, “Yeah, it says here that she got a $300,000 advance for that thing.”

“What are, what? What are you looking at?,” I respond. She has my laptop on her lap. I hadn’t noticed.

She doesn’t answer, but a few minutes later she says, “She’s reading tonight on Court Street.”

“Where does it, what, where does it say that?”

“On her personal website.”

“What are you reading? What?”

“She’s probably four years, five years older than we are. And it’s her first.”

“Um, we’re OK then. We’re right on schedule, right?”

“I bet she doesn’t have two kids.”

We will have a second child, likely, within a week’s time. I’m guessing before the weekend is up, but who knows. She has a manscript (my wife, not the second child – but the child is apparently going to be middle-named in part after one of the two founders of the Redstockings – and no, the name in question is not going to be Shulamith. Life is so fucking strange at times, you have no idea, Jesus….) and I plan to have two of those, an academic one and a not-academic one, by the end of the summer. Manuscripts, I mean, not kids. I have no idea what the kids will do for a living though I have a sense that the first will end up an academic, and thus enter into frames of trouble with her dad that will cost her shrink bills, if I’m not very, very careful. But it’ll be OK, trust me.

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April 10, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Posted in me, meta

in parts (free partial ebook in pdf! fiction! mine!)

with 8 comments

OK. I worked on something all summer, every day. As I said before, Starbucks, Tottenham Court Road, 3-5 pm. Everyday. I am dissatisfied with it, and so it has died. Or been killed. It was to be a sort of novel, a novel composed of single page tearouts from “other novels,” chronicling something like the soon to arrive decline and fall of the nation of my birth. Whatever. I’m going to start something new. Eventually. Maybe tonight. Probably not tonight but maybe tomorrow.

But here, for your edification and entertainment, are the first 25 pages of the thing. Maybe I’ll post more later – we’ll see. Yes, the blank pages are intentional. That’s just the point. And some of it already seems a bit anachronistic, given the (fuckit, yay!) even more rapid descent of things than I expected.

But the general themes are adswithoutproductsy. So here it is:


Written by adswithoutproducts

October 15, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Posted in america, collapse, fiction, me, meta

iiiiiiiiiif i can make it there

with 3 comments

I have these nights, and this is one of them, where I slip accidentally on a webpage and fall into a giant vat of NYC self-promotional art sleeze, NYC PR hucksterism, the NYC lolitoliterary-complex, and the like. Somebody ’08 is coming up in the scene, a coital-merger has occured between the It-Girl Novelist and the Recently Disgraced Celebrity Blogger, or some semi-celebrity’s kid is tearing shit up with his band out of St. Ann’s School, Bklyn Heights.

There’s a lot to be said for the town, of course. If you asked me nicely I’d probably buy an Arsenal jersey, get killed converting my remaining cash on hand back into the peso del norte, and head on back to Brooklyn. And I’m sure that part of the affective difference between the two places is personal, in that I simply don’t know as many people here (mostly I know kind and wonderful bloggers actually) and so I can’t spend as much time coveting my neighbors’ effortless and totally unwarranted success.

But there is a way that NYC, a few weeks after you sign your lease, requires that you remain doubled over in existential/intestinal agony for the rest of your time there, chanting to yourself I’m already 31 and though I’m an assistant professor at a fancy school my novel has not come out, has not yet even been written. I have no agent, without an agent I cannot sell my novel. Without my novel, I am unloved, there will be no film of my novel, and without that I might as well never have left north jersey. I’m fucking 31!!!! I’ll be 32 in three months!!!!

Seriously, I’m not kidding. That’s just what it’s like. And remember, people there don’t drink the way they do in London, so there’s really no cure except for therapy, which usually only makes things worse. Self-reflection is sort of, you know, a big part of the problem in the first place. The only thing that might help is when it dawns on you that everyone is miserable just the same way. But that epiphany usually only comes when just as the Israeli rookie mobsters have dragged the last box of books out to the van bound for parts unknown and full of people who want to move back to NYC. Like you, as soon as you get there. So even when I moved out of the big city and lived for a little bit in a rusting late bastion of pure-hearted (well…) avant gardism, the New York Observer would arrive every week, and with it a nearly automatic little flashback of self-hatred and resentiment. And then I’d moan for the rest of the day about where we were living. And then again the next day, and so on, until the next pink copy of the paper arrived to start the cycle again.

Luckily, in the depths of it tonight, I happened to have on hand today’s copy of the chubby, record-collecting Guardian, full to the brim with unattractive middle-aged people complaining about the Olympics, the price of milk at Tesco, and the slow decline of ITV, whatever that is. Ah, London. I’m not sure why it is that my coworkers at my quite highly ranked department seem so sane and egoless compared even to the thunderous mediocrities at the state U I left behind, let alone the hothouse freaks that you’d find at a place like Columbia. They do pretty fabulous things, but they also, like teach and mark papers. They make sure I do my work, but they avoid, you know, gratuitously insulting me or body-slams-by-rank because I’m young and new. How weird is that? The chubby Guardian lets my wife write for CIF, whereas the NYT is to focused on its world-historical mission as the Raper of Pecker’d to let anyone who doesn’t work for a DLC-approved think tank or oil company lobbying firm write book reviews, let alone opinion pieces.

So luckily, on all fronts, the Guardian is here to save the day. (If only it wasn’t so fucking boring! Ah but that’s just the point!) Unluckily, I sat down and wrote this bitchy post, which shows that the cure remains a long way off. I think there’s an Andrew Marr documentary on my Sky + box somewhere that would maybe do the trick…

Fuck. I can’t believe I wasted an hour on this when these little town blues could be melting away…

[Eds note: This post represents such bad form that I’ve just now come on to delete it. But, I dunno. I won’t. This is a sickness or health type of relationship that we’re in, dear readers… Bear with me… I’m already feeling better. You could probably leave comments about what an asshole I am and it’d accelerate the healing process… Go ahead, you know you want to… I mean, I could have at least made all this resolve into some sort of point, at least… The sweet mercies of the performative, ah….)

Written by adswithoutproducts

August 15, 2008 at 10:30 pm

Posted in distraction, meta, nyc

tip jar

with 24 comments

So I’ve just had my best day ever for hits. This is in, well, some five years of blogging. Thanks, Jane, for the link – that helped. It also helps that I remain, somehow, one of the goto sites for banana images on google, which makes up another 78 touches. But aside from that, there are more of you checking this blog than ever before.

Now, look. I’m not asking for cash or even amazon clickthru revenue. What I am asking for, if you could, is for you to leave a comment under this post telling us roughly who you are, where you are, what you do for a living, and anything else you think relevant. Why? I spend a lot of time coming up with this stuff, in the summer several hours a day before I start work on my monograph (still, god, I’m still doing this….), grad papers that remain to be marked, the novel(s) I mentioned a few posts ago. It’s sort of shameful in these circles to admit it, but I take my hitcount fairly seriously, and am all the more likely to write here when I feel that I’m being read. Since moving to, I no longer have a snazzy hitcounter that can fill me in on the whereabouts and sometimes university affiliation of my readers – all I get is the raw number. So, it follows, anonymous comments will not be tracked down to their owners – I simply have no way of doing this now. Comment is free on AWP, as it were…

So, if you enjoy reading this site and you’ve been lurking without commenting (just fine by the way) take the big splurge and leave me a note in the comments telling me, no names necessary unless you’re desperate to say, who you are, whatever way you’d like to define that.

(If you’re someone that I already know reads this blog, there’s no need for you to participate in the great AWP delurk either… This is just for the silent majority….)

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July 16, 2008 at 12:00 am

Posted in me, meta

documents vivants de quelque prix

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comment tel individu est affecté par le cours des années de la vie, d’une part, et par l’idée qu’il se faire, d’autre part, du rapport sexuel. Ce sont là, bien entendu toutes recherches que la légèrté commune et l’hypocrisie sociale rendent pratiquement impossible de façon suivie. Ainsi se perd la dernière chance que nous ayons de disposer, en matière de subjectivité, de documents vivants de quelque prix.

– Andre Breton, Les vases commuicants.

A few thoughts / bloodclots:

1) It is so difficult to discern whether the question du rapport sexuel still figures in the way that it does above as a centerpiece of wider issues in life and politics and art. It has become difficult any longer to fully subscribe to our traditional paring of the inner and the outer, the psychological and the material, the sexual and the economic, so much more difficult. On the one hand, perhaps we have become slightly more self-reflexive about our modes of working, and their relationship to the issues at hand. In short, it seems fucking murderously solipsistic to ogle our own desiring parts in a world in which X and Y and Z are the case. On the other hand, the current cast of the world, administered by an encompassing liberalism that generally, if begrudgingly, will allow the expression of personal preferences so long as they do not enter into a set of privileged realms, off-the table issues, such as economic organization, the necessity of infilling of the commons, and the like.

Everything tells us (conspires to tell us? sure, that’s the question) that our old methodological principles, principles inherited at least from Breton and his band, are now out of date. Thus we open the veins, then, to let the blood out of the work, out of the thought. I can almost precisely date when I drew the blade across my wrist – it was in 2004, I think. Maybe 2003. After that, the bodies that have entered and will enter the work have been and will be solely those broken by work and by hunger – we will leave those crisped with desire (fulfilled, unfilled, blocked or starting to flow) on the storeracks of the dying retailers of ideas.

2) But one cannot fail to note that once the blood’s been let out, once we’ve shunted the inner life onto siderails, we have more and more difficulty waking ourselves to our work. It is sad – it feels like an inevitable outcome that, if we were heroic, and if we had heroic readers, we could find it in ourselves to work through this. We would ascend, ascetically, into the trees in the woods, into the garrets at the fringes of town. We would keep the television off, and makes plans every night about what work would best serve the greater good the next morning at the office.

We would, in short, become practitioners of the schoolboy Catholicism that, honestly, brought us into this business in the first place. We would don the cassock, we would ascend the altar, and we would monotone homilies that flutter in and out of the classical languages. We would mortify the flesh by ignoring it, we would shut the eyes when tempted by inefficient deployments of human energies. We would resolve – and urge others to repeat the resolution – to find higher, more pure forms of beauty, simpler ones appropriate to a world that had rationalized sin and death out of the fold.

3) But if we evaded this fate, if we reversed on ourselves and our tendencies, what could we do that would be other than more window-dressing and distraction, one more ad for the ad without products, the bad kind, the kind that in seeming to sell nothing, in truth sells everything and sells it straight through to the bone? The minute we start, we have hit the ice and we slide, it seems. It seems inevitable. There is no way around it.

4) There are times – actually, nearly all the time – that I wish that I had never revealed my identity to anyone at all, and thus that this blog could putter along anonymously, sifting my life for the contradictions, for the rusted dialectical bits. I could probe the local intensities for promise without feeling like, damn it, if I am going to do it, it had better come out to the foreordained answer. If it were not me here, I could be less self-conscious, less strangely-professional. I currently allow myself only grammatically infelicity and unpopular political positions that I don’t even have the energy to cross the road to sign for.

5) If it weren’t me you were reading, I could write you something we’d both like to read. And the fact that this is (isn’t?) the case perhaps underscores the persistence of the issue that I’m trying (and failing) to describe in this post.

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July 7, 2008 at 12:51 pm

Posted in distraction, meta


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Well, there goes the summery part of summer for me. News neither good nor bad, neutral I guess shading OK, but bringing a sluice-stream of work, and now my semi-idle tapping away at various projects (and this blog) is, as of immediately, severely curtailed. I wish I could bring myself to post on matters personal/professional, but it’s bad form.

A few years ago, when I started my first job, the slightly-senior guy who was the pointman in hiring me (and with whom I didn’t get along at all, as he thought that he could, like, be my dad because of this) had us over for dinner, and my wife took our babe upstairs for boob-dinner and saw, next to their bed, his side of the bed, this giant stack of academic monographs. HUP, PUP, CUP, OUP, CUP, CUP just like that. Like fifteen of them in a column. Bedtime reading, presumably. We come back to this image so frequently, the bathos and pathos of it. I have to read monographs now because I’ve been told to, and I’m feeling none too chipper about this. Even ancient I.A. Richards books are better than these. And, truthfully, I’ll blame no one if they don’t read mine.

We really need to get this academic publishing issue worked out, don’t we?

Anyway, less / more blogging to follow. You know how it goes. Both probably. Internet at home tomorrow, which means I’ll also have less time to drink Tesco-brand wine (just “Australian” – can’t be any more specific than that?) in the evenings and watch videos on freeview.

Written by adswithoutproducts

June 26, 2008 at 11:13 am

Posted in meta

where? here.

with 11 comments

I am almost exactly right here. Mere steps away. So if posting is light, or you’ve written me and I’m slow, or there are blog comments waiting for response, you now know exactly why.  

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September 15, 2007 at 8:03 pm

Posted in meta

light posting

with one comment

the last few days and for the next week, as I’ve been away. Right now, here…

…and I’ll soon enough be in a place with very, very little wi-fi to snort up.

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August 21, 2007 at 8:10 pm

Posted in canada, meta

everything in the “to read” folder on my desktop

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August 17, 2007 at 1:16 am

Posted in meta


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All right. Aside from drinking so much that you spend the next morning alternately aspirining and vomiting and swearing to the god of Lush that you will never ever do it again, and aside from having regret-worthy sex I suppose (though I wouldn’t really know, long-term married such as I am), what is worse than coming in after an evening jampacked with academogossip. In which you participated, you name-dropped, you hinted, you self-promoted and tipped the hand and gave up the goods and basically whipped it out for mutual measurement and mutual admiration or envy? Not much, right?

I have a terrible headache. It so exposes the cancerous kernel at the heart of the thing, the way that everything it touches turns to cross-dinner-table banality.

Obviously, all this has quite a bit to do with my previous post.

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July 9, 2007 at 9:53 pm

Posted in academia, meta

hitting bottom

with 5 comments


Is the concept of the “Residence Inn” imaginable in any context other than the American one? If I was ambitious (tee hee) I’d spend the next six days and nights writing a Ballardian novel about the whole thing. HBO is showing Prairie Home Companion right now. I keep it on and muted to keep me company. In order to buy some beer, I had to sprint across an eight lane road. Not a highway. Just an eight lane local road. In the dark. I was (of course) wearing dark clothes. There was probably about a 4 percent chance that I would die each way, there and back. There is no bar here. No, I don’t simply mean in the hotel itself – I mean in reasonable (or even unreasonable) walking distance from the place. Fast food, yes. Tapped beer, no. I am not (technically) permitted to smoke outside of a parkbenched area at the corner of the parking lot (fuck that). I type right now while seated next to something called a kitchenette. They sell Lean Cuisine meals in the lobby, which I guess you are supposed to insert into your microwave. No smoking, no drinking (without risk of death by car-to-forehead injury) but there is a goddamned “play area” for adults (a “multifunction” basketball court). There is a menu stuck to the fridge which tells you what will be served for dinner in the lobby each night. Except they don’t serve dinner on weekends. Instead of leaving the space blank for today (Sunday) they have written “Go to the church of your choice!”

Yay. Sometimes you actually do earn your CV bullets. Does it make me damaged in someway that I was praying that my seminar-mates would suggest, on the bus back to the Residence Inn, that we call a cab and find some place to get some drinks? Instead, they discussed the idea of jogging the four miles into the center where the seminar is tomorrow. Is it awful that I was tempted to tell them that the important people in this business go to get some drinks on a night like this. They don’t bitch about forgetting their sneakers.

Pray for me.

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July 9, 2007 at 12:15 am

Posted in meta

back tomorrow

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We’ve got a long flight ahead of us tomorrow morning. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about – among other things – blogging that is yet to be processed. More to come… *

This went far too quickly, I’ll say that…

* If you happen to have super-drug-resistant TB, would you mind staying off the transatlantic flights tomorrow, see voo play?

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May 30, 2007 at 6:30 pm

Posted in meta

rough day to be a state interventionist…

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I mean seriously, I had read about the Swedish issue with alcohol, but come on now. The one adult pleasure we get on this trip is the couple of drinks we get to have, either solo or together depending on the room configuration, after the baby goes to bed. And here, right now, I am drinking 3.5 percent beer. My wife is drinking 2.5 percent cider.

They mark the percentage in big numerals right on the can, just in case you delude yourself into thinking you’re getting the real deal. It is amazing to think of all these great breweries turning out a separate batch of tamer stuff just for the Swedes (or do all the Scandinavians do this? I seem to have some memory of this sort of thing from way back when in Copenhagen…)

Nanny state? WTF? Feel free to tell me that this is my nascent Yankee libertarianism kicking in. That it is a good thing for me to be protected from real beer by law and custom and tax.

Another (related) question: given the near-beer problem, why (how) is everyone so drunk here? (UPDATE: I wrote that Saturday night. Things seem much more sedate now as I write on Sunday…)

Anyway, it is an interesting thing, figuring out your socio-political comfort level based on travel – and then comparing this experientially-tested version against the abstract-intellectual ideal that you hold or think yourself to hold. On the level of ideas, I am probably a few clicks to the left of Sweden. In practice, I miss the Netherlands. It does feel a bit, dunno, dull here. The trains are gorgeous, everything is really, really expensive ($300 in walking around money disappeared just like that, after a dinner and a trip to the very cool Zoo / Aryan history museum at Skansen), which is probably as it should be, and everything is green, green, green, but also everyone seems a bit bored and sad.

That’s not what socialism is supposed to be! Tweak the fun meter, Stockholm! Set up vodka stands on the street corners! (Not sure I’d really love that either – but there has to be a healthy medium, right?)

Finally: for some reason, every thought I have lately is taking the form of an imagined graph, x-plot against y-plot. An impossible one that I’d like to see: the correlation between social welfare and kids going uber-goth. My rough estimate has a higher proportion of gothy types in calm Canada vs. the manic US. And there are tons and tons here, in everyone’s favorite living exhibit of sustainable and actually existing social-democracy. Anyone else notice this?

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May 26, 2007 at 4:17 pm

Posted in meta

one other thing…

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Why is my travel blogging becoming a running list of awkward moments? I’m actually having a great time. But, for some reason, this stuff seems worth recording in a way that “drank, yet again, a liter of beer at lunch. Felt good. It was sunny” does not…

So we’re staying tonight right by the University of Amsterdam, and they seem still to be in session. On the way to the hotel, you pass very close to some first floor classrooms, and one was occupied – a class in session. I stopped short, baby in my arms, and stepped back to see what was on the powerpoint presentation, and to check the language used (something on global trade in, of course, English…)

But when I did, the prof stops, stares out the window at me, and then does a great big “fuck you, doofus!” wave in my direction. Like one of those “yeah, this is what a college classroom looks like. We are so glad to be a living history diorama at the Amsterdam Museum! Stop staring, fucker!”

Which is exactly what I would have done if someone did that to my classroom. But… ouch. I wanted to pull out my Prof ID card and slap it against the window or whatever.

It’s been a rough day.

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May 25, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Posted in academia, meta

tough day to be a good socialist…

with one comment

…and a card-carrying union man to boot.

Arrived at Schipol this morning only to find that the flight to Stockholm had been cancelled on account of a baggage-handlers’s strike in Sweden. Go labor! (Seriously, these euro baggage guys strike a lot, don’t they?) But after many trials and tribulations, we seem to be booked in tomorrow. But for tonight, Amsterdam again and exhaustion.

For discussion: seems to me that each Greater Cultural Unit has their own distinctive modes of dicking the customer. I’m trying to figure out exactly what the American version is, but I am sure I know what it is that goes on on the continent.

Here’s how it went today: SAS booked us a room back in the city – since we are three, they explicitly booked us a double + another bed. They also threw in some comped meals. When we get to the designated hotel, the guy at the desk says, no, the voucher is only good for a double – an extra bed (and room that it will fit in will cost an extra Euro 75. This is so much bullshit, but as always happens in Europe, they claim that it was the last guy, the guy who booked the room in the first place, who has screwed you. (The first time this sort of thing happened to us, when we were kiddos on the Eurail Pass, we bought round trip boat tickets from Brindisi, Italy to Patras, Greece. When it came time to return, the guys in Patras assured us that whatever it is that they had sold us in Brindisi, they sure as hell weren’t tickets, but a mere $25 each would make them, as if magically, into valid tickets… Reader: we paid.)

At any rate, back to tonight in Amsterdam. So we go to the bar to get dinner, and ask to use our vouchers. The bartender scrambles around for 15 minutes asking what to do with these, only to return and assure us that we were comped up to an astounding Euro 160, and that we should order whatever we like, drinks and all, and they’ll put it on our tab, and clear it up in the morning. So we eat and drink profusely. He tells us to come back for a drink later – it’s free after all.

This starts to seem a bit fishy, so, in the course of figuring out something else at the front desk, I ask about the vouchers to make sure that what we’ve done is OK. “Hmmm. The bar. No, no, no… That will not work…” I think we’ve settled on the food being free, but me picking up the drink bill. On the other hand, after much “we’re not very satisfied” type stuff, the manager has agreed to give us back our Euro 75 for the big room, but insists that he himself can’t actually do this, “there isn’t a button,” and so the morning staff will take care of it. Sure, right…

Good christ, what a whine. But hopefully you see my point here? So what is the American equivalent? There certainly were some very threatening scams you could get caught up in as a tourist / young Jersey kid back in the pre-Giuliani period, which I will not discuss here out of Jersey-kid embarrassment.

Does it go like this: Europe commits active sins against you – fucking with the reservations, drilling you for more cash to make things right, whereas America’s sins are passive, bureaucratic: without enormous amounts of arm-wrestling, the US-based airline simply won’t find you a new flight when yours has been cancelled? Or, say, Expedia and its cancellation policy. I ate a night at a Stockholm hotel tonight without grumbling, as their “policy” is no changes after a certain point….

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May 25, 2007 at 2:59 pm

Posted in meta