THE ZDMT will resume in Canada on Feburary 1 at the Voodoo Nightclub in Winsor. In the meantime, I will be in the Waiting Room gazing listlessly out the Tall Window . . .
Thoughts on Snow White after watching it last night for the first time as an adult: . . . Snow White has a voice like a songbird. Additionally, the film exhibits various prejudices towards dwarves, e.g., the assumption that they live together in relative harmony in a kind of Davidian compound, and they exhibit a decidedly Amish work ethic, and more importantly, their identities are signified by one idle emotion, despite possessing a clear range of emotions, from end of the spectrum to the other, except for Doc, the only dwarf whose identity is signified by his profession. All this seems terribly wrong.
After a 10-day hiatus, the Zero Degree of Meaning Tour plods forward like a disabled clay ox in stop-motion animation. Who gives a shit?
I used to work at Widener Library when I was in graduate school. Blah fucking blah.
Besides giving up writing, I’m considering giving up reading. I’ve read enough. At this point it will only accelerate the deterioration of my already horrendous eyesight. Reading is overrated at any rate. Finally I will subscribe to what culture tells me to subscribe to: the screen, and the screen alone.
I recently discovered something. My efficiency is a detriment to the academic life. In my profession, I get things done quickly and cleanly and dynamically. By things, I mean pedagogy, scholarship, and service. This altogether conflicts with the character of academia, which is slow, disheveled, clumsy and lethargic. Academia is perhaps the only profession in which competence is discouraged.
I read the same old bullshit from my stupid book in the Big Room of the library. Attendance: approximately 1,000 assholes. Some of them had to sit on the bowls of the organ pipes. I made no effort to conceal how much I hated writing and hated reading and hated people in general. I did this with my tone of voice and then I told everybody exactly how I felt about them and what was wrong with them and when they started making faces I told them to blow it out their asses.
During the Q&A, a student, or somebody young and stupid-looking, said, verbatim, “Don’t you think you have a responsibility to readers that you’re not living up to? I’m not talking about your attitude. [Laughter.] I mean your writing. Not being serious and leading people astray. I mean, heh, Codename Prague is all over the place. I get it. I get what you’re doing. But I think it’s sloppy writing. It’s irresponsible writing.”
I don’t remember how I responded. Something along the lines of: “Look, fucker. That’s not how it works. The way it works is you’re stupid and I’m not. I don’t have a responsibility to fucking readers. They have a responsibility to me. And they fail me every time. All of my writing is essentially a map of how readers fail. Fuckhead.”
Afterwards Skip Gates Jr. and I went out for lunch at Au Bon Pain and made fun of Samuel R. Delaney’s fiction from the 1960s.
Performances yesterday in the Kitchenwares aisle at 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Sang the Glen Campbell song a cappella. Then iterated Alec Baldwin’s monologue in Glengarry Glen Ross, miming the exhumation of brass balls from a briefcase.
Every Spring Break my parents flew my sister and I to Hawaii for 10 days. We stayed in the same room, Master Suite 901B, in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, one of the oldest hotels on the island of Oahu. Referred to as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific,” it stands on the forefront of Waikiki Beach like an orgy of molten flamingos. I remember towering green palm trees, long orange surfboards, a hungry undertow, elaborate breakfast buffets, sharp coral reefs, a snack shop, dead jellyfish, the Brothers Cazimero, and Spectravision. Everything was clean and fresh and pristine. There was a misty rain every morning, and then the sun came out and shone all day. On the horizon the bowl of a volcanic crater, Diamond Head, sloped towards the sky and fell into the ocean.
This might seem like a weird place to do a reading, and I hadn’t planned on it, but my mother-in-law got married a few years ago in Vegas at the Luxor’s chapel and I befriended the Elvis that sealed her. Presumably the Elvis “owns” the chapel. I suspect he made quote-fingers around the word “owns” because the chapel is in the middle of the hotel and belongs to the people who own the hotel and he doesn’t own it at all, but just works there. Anyway, I told him I was a writer, etc., and he told me he was a screenwriter, etc., and he said he had seen my short film The Cocktail Party a few years ago at Comic-Con, etc., and I said we should exchange business cards, etc., etc. Recently he called my publicist and asked if I would do a reading in the chapel, compliments of the Luxor, somehow. The request coincided nicely with my projected location on the Zero Degree of Meaning Tour.
The Luxor is the giant pyramid hotel with the Sphinx in front of it. Inside, at the bottom, is the casino, and if you look up, you can see all of the bedroom floors angling up to a fearsome centerpoint in the ceiling. I have mild acrophobia, and reservations were made for my wife and I on the sixteenth floor, so whenever I had to walk from my room to the elevator, or vice versa, I did so as if on a cracked sheet of ice, arms outstretched for balance, eyes fixed on my slow and careful shoes. This doesn’t compare to my experience on the third and topmost tier of the Eiffel Tower in 1994, where in order to move forward I was reduced to crawling on hands and knees, with eyes pinched shut, asking the frat brother with whom I was traveling to point me in this or that direction. He did little to help, and when old people mistook me for a bench, he fell silent, and I had to break my spine in order to get them off of me. I don’t remember how I found my way back to the ground.
When I got to the chapel, there was no Elvis and no people. I was drunk. I had won upwards of $8,000 playing Texas Hold’em and spent a handsome chunk of it on expensive scotch and saki, my two favorite alcoholic drinks, among other things that now, conveniently, elude me.
I went to the Eiffel Tower replica standing in front of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel.
I walked. It was only a mile or so down Law Vegas Boulevard. 55 degrees out, but sunny. I wore my burgundy Ivan Drago I MUST BREAK YOU T-shirt plus the usual BKE jeans and Doc Martin shoes. Along the way I only paused once, on a bridge, to spit on cars.
The Las Vegas Eiffel Tower is only about a third of the size of the real one, but people don’t seem to mind. Consider the following remarks appropriated from Vegas.com’s “The Eiffel Tower Experience”:
"At nighttime, it's very romantic," said Melissa Drumheller, manager of the Eiffel Tower Experience ... "From here, you can see planes taking off," Drumheller said. "It's amazing.” ... "During the day, you get a view of all these mountains," said Drumheller. "It's a phenomenal view." ... "New Year's Eve up here is quite spectacular," said Drumheller. "People can get a bird's-eye view and watch the fireworks. You see thousands of people on the street."
Nouns like planes, people and mountains, adjectives like romantic, amazing, phenomenal, (quite) spectacular – I had to go.
The fucker was closed. Middle of the day, too.
I paid a security guard to look the other way and, guzzling courage from a brownbag, climbed halfway up the exterior, where I found a platform to sit on and commenced a reading of The Book of Mormon in honor of the fifth and last season of one of my favorite HBO shows, Big Love, which premiers January 16 and stars a bunch of women and Bill Paxton, who plays a polygamist named Bill, and who once played an asshole named Chet in one of my favorite 1980s movies, Weird Science, starring Steven Seagal’s ex-wife and, in a smaller role, Iron Man, as well as Michael Berryman as a “mutant biker.” I met Berryman once at a Horrorfind convention in the 2000s. I don’t think he has fingernails – I recall a kind of desert earthiness to his handshake – but I didn’t press the matter, and we immediately fell into a discussion about the wine offerings at the hotel restaurant, which were surprisingly diverse, but ultimately disappointing.
In the distance – the sky, the surf, the wind in my hair . . .