Thursday, April 07, 2005

Bored Out of Their Minds!

Well, Roman Catholics have proved they can get people inside the door of the carnival tent with the "Pope Elvis"-- now what are they going to do with the crowds?

They should be charging admission to see the guy, for one thing. That might dissuade a few folks. (Then again, waiting 24 hours for a minute's view hasn't done it.) It'd at least pay some of the church's lawsuit bills. They could be selling Pope souvenirs to the people, and Pope t-shirts. Colonel Parker would. We should probably be there handing out ULA material and selling our house zeen "Slush Pile." These people are obviously bored out of their minds and desperate for things to do. We'd tell them: "Literature is exciting also!"

Meanwhile, the McSweeney's Cult is taking note, wondering when their Leader/God passes on how they'll be able to top the Pope's funeral. Eggers will be laid out on a bier in San Francisco, covered with flowers from his weeping acolytes, most of whom resemble Squeaky Fromme. Heidi, Maud, Lee, Whitney, Claire, Neal-- the whole gang will be there. (By this time The Dave will have established his own College of Cardinals, so his leading followers will be garbed in long robes, with miters on their heads.) The line of blank-eyed demi-puppets will wind through the streets for miles. They'll be chanting, and singing the McSweeney's theme song. (Please see an earlier post.) Trolley cars will run some of the mourners over. No one will notice. The body will be carried into the Cathedral of the Dave on Valencia Street. Requests will have gone out to all former Presidents to attend the ceremonies. Only Jimmy Carter shows up. John Kerry is there also, arriving late, attending as thanks for having graced The Believer's cover (though miffed because it caused his election loss). "I'm a loyal McSweeneyite!" the Senator proclaims, though he follows none of the McSweeney's rules. (No MFA degree; no relatives on staff at Columbia.) He insists on being given communion anyway. As Head Carlengo Vendela Vida begins to hand him the wafer (the image of The Dave imprinted upon it), the Senator trips and falls, breaking his leg. Mysterious black-robed McSweeney's monks carry the inept politician out of the church.

Near the end of the service, an aid lights unsold copies of The Believer placed in high stacks under the bier. They want to imitate one of those showy funerals in India. The many thousands of copies begin to burn. Flames are seen; smoke rises. Fire detectors installed to meet San Francisco fire codes go off. Ceiling sprinklers douse the crowd. Yuppies begin running everyplace. The body atop the stacks doesn't light, but instead becomes soggy. It begins to melt! Journalists in attendance suddenly realize it's only a wax dummy. The Dave's death was, typically, a hoax!

ANOTHER FUNERAL: This week, New York City. Saul Bellow is laid out in a tiny funeral parlor on the upper west side. The silent mourners pass the coffin reverently. They notice a man to the side holding a large white handkerchief who is sobbing with loud gasps. "Sob!" Huge tears run down his face. His grief is uncontrollable. "Who is this man?" people whisper among themselves. "Why is he here?" "He must have been a great friend of Saul's, a very great friend."

It turns out the sobbing man is a literary critic at The New Yorker. Someone finally recognizes him. An aged mourner pats the critic on the arm and says, "There, there. Saul is at last happy. Nothing more to complain about. Why be glum?"

"Because," the lit critic tells him. "The Pope got four million people for his funeral. Look around the room. Saul Bellow only got twelve!"


Anonymous said...

Never been to the vaticn, have you? They sell TONS of pope souvenirs.

I have a pope bottle opener (or "popener") from the Vatican. Whenever I use it to open a beer I think, "finally, the Catholic church is doing something for me."

Anonymous said...
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King said...

Hi Dave!

Anonymous said...

Yo King I don't know if you've heard this or not. My brother showed me an article in I guess the most recent Rolling Stone issue that Safron Foer's wife, (something) Krauss, is the next BIG THING for literature. Something along those lines anyways.

Adam Hardin said...

Nicole Krauss has an M.F.A. from Columbia, and studied under Paris Review Editor and King of Fraud, Richard Howard.

I have read some of her work. As derivative as any MFA writer. Nothing new there.

Next Big Thing? I think it is a mandatory blurb if you are published by a major house. You see this with Hollywood Actresses and Actors all the time.

It is called "Flavor of the Week."

Adam Hardin said...

The Protagonist of Nicole Krauss's Novel is a Columbia University English Professor.

The Protagonist of Vendela Vida's Novel is a Columbia University Art Student.

The Protagonist of Helen Schulman's novel is an Admissions Director at Columbia University MFA program.

Thank God for the Creative Genius of Columbia.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed that the Urban Hermitt came out with zines #19 and 20!

Pick those marfuks up from, two bucks each.

Tales of the SanFran!...some of the anon posters on here should check it out!

Here's the Urban Hermitt, for those who don't know...

As for the Pope, i'm a Cath-o-holic myself, and i can see both the media and the church authorities have made a spectacle out of the man for years. But that's exactly the way he wanted it.

The next pope will have a hard time of it. Not just with following JP, but borderline issues like birth control & gay marriage. Will the church stay on the conservative track and fall completely off the times? I think some evolution is sorely needed, and won't clash with core beliefs, but will in fact enhance them.

-Pat Simonelli

King said...

I was raised in an intense Catholic household. My Polish-American mother had our tiny, tiny house crammed with religious statues, paintings of Jesus with a bleeding heart and such. My family fell away from the church for good, specific reasons-- but the social justice message resonates with me still.
A profound memory from my childhood-- at a time when "the Motor City Is Burning"-- was a young priest reaming out our all-white congregation over our bigotry, bringing up the taboo subject of the bloody 1943 race riots when Detroit's white population went berserk one summer weekend-- part of America's history swept under the rug. That priest represented the best of the Church-- a legacy of its dynamism, of why it was founded, usually buried under thick layers of bureaucrats, decadence, and corruption. The priest spoke during the 60's, when everything in society was in turmoil and activism was everywhere, in the air.
I still go back on occasion, as I did on Christmas when I was dragged to mass by an Irish-Catholic girlfriend. Have too many conflicting opinions, good and bad, about the experience to be able to write about it.

Adam Hardin said...

By way of Old Maud, there are 8,000 MFA graduates competing for 65 Tenure track positions in MFA programs.

There are 393 Academic positions total, most of these being temporary.

By the most interesting thing is that the 393 is half of what it was in 2003. But the number of graduates and MFA students continue to rise?

How is this possible?

Because they are greatly increasing class sizes. Why?

Because in the end economics wins out. And they can take in far more money by increasing class sizes while the Faculty remains the same size.

King said...

A Ponzi scheme.

- Leopold said...

I'm convinced that a lot of 'arts' programs exist for this reason - to keep the teachers out of debt.

BradyDale said...

OK, here's a question for followers of the ULA... following up on Adam Hardin's question about the various protagonists. How do you all feel about writers who write about writers? On the one hand, ULA, as I understands it, wants people to write more from normal life. Right?
On the other, for God's sake it's FICTION. It's an exercise in imagination, right?
So shouldn't writers of fiction push their imagination? I think the protagonists of the novels Hardin cites sound horribly boring. I woulnd't read those books.
But I've had a rule for a while that I won't read anything set on a campus and I'm very, very skeptical about any novel who's protagonist is a writer.
But we're all writers, right? So if we write more from life, we should write about writers.
Then again, it sounds like a lot of folks who buy into the ULA line have done other things. I buy into it, mostly, and I sure as hell have. I've never held a single "writer" job. I work in politics talking to normal folks (it's true!) about community issues all day. I have been doing it ever since I left college. So I have other topics to write about...
but I think we should push ourselves even beyond that and write about very, very different life experiences. Write about welders and auto mechanics and stock brokers and Triple AAA baseball players and wildlife ecologists and bookies... people who's day-to-day life we can only guess at.
So what do you think about this generall?
and what do you think about novels with writers for protagonists?