Friday, August 05, 2005

Continuing Corruption

A few years ago novelist Jonathan Franzen, who'd received a huge advance for his Corrections book, accepted taxpayer money from the National Endowment for the Arts. The money was intended for writing expenses. Not needing it, he spent the money on the artwork of a friend. The grant had been made to him by a panel chaired by Rick Moody, another friend. This is fact. Not one cent was ever returned by Franzen to taxpayers.

If anything, Franzen was rewarded. Or at least, business went on as usual. An unremarkable writer and mediocre thinker, Franzen has a feature essay in the current issue of the New Yorker. He remains an approved and applauded icon of the literary establishment. There is no sanction, scarcely an ounce of pressure, against this, due to the conformity of the literary world.

We spoke up against Franzen's grant when he received it. Everything we said was true.

In 2004, to a New York Times reporter, Jonathan Franzen accused the ULA of attacking him anonymously. This was revealed to be false. Franzen has never apologized to us. Because he's wealthy and powerful, he doesn't have to.

Franzen's misdeeds are documented fact. In comparison, what are mine? Being out-of-fashion? Popping a balloon?

(This post is an example of the kind of thing denounced as "vicious" and "violent" by the ULA's opponents. All it does is tell the truth.)


Anonymous said...

I am Dave Eggers.

When I use my name, it is for the children.

When I remain anonymous, it is for the children.

When I snark, lie, and attack, it is for the children.

When I launder corporate funds in non-profit tax shelters to garner publicity, it is for the children.

When I hire Tom Bissell to snark the ULA, it is for the children.

When Tom Bissel plagiarizes, it is for the children.

When Jonathan Franzen spends tax-payer money on his friend's art, it is, first and foremost, for the children.

When I lie to wife and cheat on her, it is for the children.

When Joyce Carol Oates writes plotless, characterless novels, it is for the children.

When the ULA does anything, it is AGAINST THE CHILDREN.

King said...

Sorry, but I don't care for anonymous people even when they speak for our side.

Anonymous said...

"When I lie to wife and cheat on her, it is for the children."

Do you know something we don't???

Anonymous said...

Are these the kinds of facts that actually happened, or the kind that only happened in your head, King? Like that "peace treaty" that McSweeney's wanted you to sign?

Anonymous said...


Of course I don't have to tell the Truth.

I'm a liberal-tax-funded-hand-waving-pomo-elite-poet.

Your job is to work hard and pay taxes.

My job is to use those taxes to maintan tenure and health benefits for all my friends.

I'm a floopsy-woopsy-teeny-weeny-pagan-mcsweeny-beany-reany-tweeny-deeny.





Anonymous said...

Pretty funny stuff, Karl, considering you are the biggest tayper-supported phony of all, with your taxpayer-funded computer at your taxpayer-funded library, with your internet access, electricity, staff, all paid for by ME, and those of us who work and pay our own way and don't mooch off of others. Stop stealing money out of MY pocket, you mooching nonproductive sack of taxpayer-supported piece of shit.

Anonymous said...











Greg said...

I want to post something serious about this, since the ULA seems to think this is a big story.

I really don't see your point about here. Honestly. Franzen's books have sold many thousands of copies - he's a popular writer - so you can't really claim favoritism in his getting the award. Thousands of Americans obviously agree with the committee that he deserved it since they supported him by buying his books as well. Shouldn't the NEA support artists people like? If so, they're going to give money to people who have made money with their art.

Or should NEA grants be based not on merit but on need? Should all applicants have to submit their tax returns and inormation about all their assets and their families' incomes before a grant is given? That would be pretty ugly. I don't want the NEA digging into people's book contracts, etc. You complain when people who you think are better off than you receive awards like this, but that seems to be the only way to avoid it. I hope we can all agree that that doesn't make any sense.

Or maybe you think there shouldn't be any government support for the arts. Is that your point? To me, that would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

And I don't see what the problem is that he spent the money on art. You can't even exactly say that he spent the NEA money on that art, since once he gets the grant it's his money, and he can spend his money on what he wants. And what does it matter that it was his friend's art? Why shouldn't you respect and want art made by your friends? Maybe they only became friends because they liked one another's work. And now he could afford to buy some. Would it have been better if he'd spent it on art by someone he didn't know? Why?

It's also not clear what any of this has to do with you or your revolution. There's no corruption here - it seems to be all in the open. A talented writer got a grant, and did what he wanted with it. He's continued to be able to write, and write well, at least many Americans think so, so the goals of the NEA seem to have been realized.

You assume that the reason no one speaks out against this story is that they are conformists, but if you give it some thought, nothing wrong happened. What misdeeds are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ. I thought Ranger West killed himself. It'd been so long since he posted.

Anonymous said...

The corruption runs so deep that many do not see it.

Franzen, Eggers--it's all just a tax-funded shell game, through and through.

Do you know anyone who bought Franzen's book? Do you know anyone who has read Egger's novels?

Chances are they are a tax-funded government worker too, or they're working in Starbucks and some customer left the book behind.

At any rate--they have created the illusion of writers, all for the purpose of sucking in tax and tuition dollars. Is this still debatable?

Frank Marcopolos said...

Hi Karl, Congrats on your Philly show!


Anonymous said...

"(This post is an example of the kind of thing denounced as "vicious" and "violent" by the ULA's opponents. All it does is tell the truth.)"

Perfect example of Wenclas' borderline-sociopathic cowardice/denial.

This Franzen critique is the ONE THING that even Wenclas' critics agree on--but, because Wenclas is getting his severely personality-disorded ass handed to him, day after day, by much smarter, more rational (that is to say, rational at all) critics on this space, he cowers, hiding behind one of only 2-3 concrete, semi-valid complaints he's had, 5 years? 4?

Does Wenclas address his critics directly? Does he look in his archives and see the "demi-puppet suck-ups" "goosestepping SS" "lockstep, groupthink" comments, day after day? Does he see his retraction then retraction of the retraction to Eli Horowitz, in the same post? NO! Wenclas cowers, sniveling, and weakly holds up J-Franz, falsely and insanely, as what his critics allegedly call "violent" and "vicious" attacks.

When you PROVE that you're a rational person you will be taken seriously, and more people might sign their names to this exercise in malignant narcissism. Otherwise you're nobody to call anybody else a coward.

(Further proof of your anti-rational narcissism: anybody can sign any name they want here, as has been proven time and again...nothing stops me from signing a fake name except my INTEGRITY, something a craven mooching bitch like Wenclas knows zero about.)

Anonymous said...

Who some of these posters probably are seems obvious to me--they often give themselves away with their word choices (i.e., "plot the ULA's destruction"--um, from whom has this been heard before repeatedly?). This blog's comments sections have largely become so much gibberish, so much "noise"--it's frustrating ugly reading, at least for me. At the same time, I can often tune out all the noise just like my ear can tune out the annoying background hum of appliances. So why on earth do these people persist? I gotta say, while they sit here looking over their shoulders and dogmatically slamming this place and its writers, their own writing likely sits unattended. I'd love to get a look at their grand opuses, assuming they have any. But then they don't post any links to them; IMO, they should put up or shut up. If they wanna attack another writer's underbelly, then they better present THEIR underbellies.

IMO, artists who spend excessive time attacking other artists often do so because they feel threatened somehow by those other artists. Even if they don't believe those other artists are necessarily doing better work than they are (though I think that's often the case--it's just attacks out of jealousy in other words), they still deep-down probably believe they themselves are doing shitty work; they feel inadequate. Attacking others seemingly makes them feel less inadequate--or so they may think at first. It's like they have this idea that they can gain a higher position on the "ladder of success" by knocking others down to lower rungs, instead of trying to climb onto higher rungs themselves by executing better work, which is probably the only way to gain an actual high position in literary history. And I think many of these writers eventually learn this the hard way, to their horror. Frankly, I can't stand this I'm-gonna-knock-you-down crap that writers pull, but too many writers unfortunately pull that crap in reality, IMO.

A difference I see between those artists and the ULA: the ULA members often admit that the mainstream is at least a financial threat to their livelihoods when it squeezes out non-mainstream writers from getting some of the publishing-money-pie's pieces. But these other writers generally seem (to me at least) to be claiming the ULA is no threat, that the ULA is irrelevant to the writing world and so are its writers, a position which makes little sense to me because people (at least logical ones) don't normally spend days, weeks and months on end attacking irrelevancies; they generally ignore them.

Karl, I still cannot understand why you don't delete a lot of the ugly shit. Do you maybe like it being posted, for chrissake??? Like it spices up the place? A flame war now and then can be kinda funny, but nonstop flaming for days on end.... The gruesome appeal wears away pretty quickly, especially when I see sexist shit being posted--I get really tired of reading that crap here (and practically everywhere else too). I've got the ULA's link posted on my blog, but having it there makes me uncomfortable with all the crap that's been going on here lately.

In all honesty, Karl, I think Rick Moody should be paying you; you may be his best publicist. I'd never heard of him until I came across the ULA. If you hate that Moody and his ilk seem to get so much financially, stop giving him so much attention! IMO, even negative publicity is still publicity. Can I hire you to hate me, Karl? Maybe I'd get more attention! As I've said before and you probably don't want to hear it again, but I still feel the need to appeal to you on this, which may be a waste of time on my part: I really think you should focus on lauding your OWN writers more and criticizing the other writers less; that might burst the Anonymous posters' bullshit bubbles a bit. It seems to me that your focusing on that criticizing is their main complaint. I'm not saying you should give in to them fully and never criticize their ilk, and I certainly think you should continue criticizing the shit "establishment" as a whole. I'm just saying that moving in another direction more (at least temporarily) might benefit you--and the writers you admire.

Reading the cool stuff written about the Philly reading right after the event--that was cool, but this shit lately, it just ain't cool. It's just ugly.

Anonymous said...


OF COURSE the flaming would stop if Wenclas stopped his nonsensical, meanspirited attacks. That's why he won't.

There were hardly any critics posting to this blog in the weeks leading up to the Medusa reading because the ULA was focused on being positive about their writers and the event. Only when Wenclas went back on the attack afterwards did the shitstorm begin.

What ULA writers miss is that Wenclas has NO INTEREST in getting their work out there, he's obviously only interested in more of this dumb hate. But what do you think the chances are that anything will change?

Anonymous said...

Look at the name of the blog, for Chrissakes! It's not about the ULA or literature, it's dedicated to his bogeymen, the Demi-Puppets!

Patrick @ LitVision said...

Crude personal attacks against Karl are the meat of what's being offered by the anonymous here. Direct appeals to ULA members are coming out as you guys get more and more worked up.

Hello, do you think there's no oversight in the ULA? Our main leaders (3 of them--not one "dictator" as you like to imagine) are in place because of their talents and years of hard thankless work for the ULA.

Karl has the respect and confidence of every active ULA member---which he fully deserves.

Some members may be unable to take the heat that sometimes pops up on this blog or in other online forums. If it upsets them enough to leave the group, fine! Our core members won't be scared off, and we won't turn on eachother. The ULA's already in play. The group could have been derailed 3 or 4 years ago, but it's too late now.

We're an established organization doing positive & exciting things, making noise, producing stacks of zines and books, and evolving.

BradyDale said...

With regard to the question of the public agreeing that Franzen's playacting is worthy and deserved funding because lots of people bought his silly tripe about playing a piano with your penis:
I sort of thought everyone agreed that the writers' grants at the NEA should be based both on merit and need. That is, only to good writers who needed it. It was to help up and comers come up, not subsidize already rich bastards.
I can't believe we are even having this argument? Why give taxpayer money to rich people to thank them for making lots of money???

BradyDale said...

By the way, I just want to add...
I thought my idea about approaching some of the writers we don't like about doing an anonymous on-line contest to see who can sell more zines... all under pseudonyms... all similar packaging... oath of secrecy even as to who is participating... was a really good one.
Let's see if we can make a plan to approach some of the punks out there and see if they'd be game to do it!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous," I agree with you on that: the name of this blog is a turn off, and it's been on the tip of my tongue (even in my last post, but then I deleted that part) to point out that the name's asking for trouble and is a generalized ad hominem attack. But what's your solution to all this: to feed the ad hominems with more ad hominens so people reading here and trying to glean useful information, possibly from ALL SIDES, have to wade through ad hominen attacks raised to the nth power? I do often believe in fighting fire with fire and tit for tat--to an extent. You crowd have gone beyond that extent, IMO.

But I'd still like an answer to why (IMO at least) the lot of you spend so much time attacking the ULA crowd if (I'm assuming) you think the ULA is irrelevant to the writing world, if you don't think the ULA's a threat. If you say you don't think it is, I'm sorry--I think you're full of shit based on your actions here; you do think the ULA is a threat to the "literary establishment" because it IS, IMO. Even if it's only a small threat, it's still a threat. Most of you crowd are not so stupid to think otherwise for long; I can tell that at least. So what the hell are you going to do about the threat from the ULA and its kind?

I don't know what you personally think on the issue, and you people don't even distinguish between one or the other of you (what the fuck would it take to sign up for an Anonymous blogger account, so people reading could at least tell which ULA CRITICIZER YOU EACH SPECIFICALLY ARE?). But maybe you really tell yourself this place ain't a threat and that the "literary establishment" is so indomitable, so powerful, so perfect, that the ULA won't matter in comparison. Do you tell yourself that? If you or whoever do (and I don't know that you do at all), I think that's a foolhardy short-sighted attitude.

Why can't you people seem to reconcile that maybe both institutions--the traditional literary institution and the ULA-type institution--have negatives attached to them, but they also both have positives attached? I don't always agree with the ULA's taste in famous writers; Bukowski overall does nothing for me frankly. But my personal opinion doesn't necessarily mean he and some of what he stood for don't have merit, especially to others. Yet my differing opinion on some specifics has been somewhat irrelevant to my reading here and following what the ULA's been doing as I agree with most of this place's overall goals--they're where the substance is at, even if I disagree with the style here sometimes. And if I disagree with the ULA over who specifically is or isn't a great writer, I don't think that's necessarily important "in the overall." Why can't you seem to see the "forest for the trees"? To me, the forest is more important--at least in this case.

Anonymous said...

The best thing about ALL of this is that I guarantee more people have read these posts today than have tead Tom Bissell's books the entire summer.

The revolution has commenced.

This fall, to level the playing field, Bissell & Eggers & Foster Wallace & Franzen will be dontaing half their tax/tuition/corporate-hype paychecks to the ULA. But that's only money. They will also be making public all the anonymous tax, tuition, and corporate funded publicists, hypesters, and bloggers who march in lockstep to their hideous shemes, lying, snarking, and hyping on command, from their laptops in the Hamptons and Martha's Vineyard.

Anyone who ever had a creative writing class with Heidi Julavit's husband will be exposed. Anyone who is on the McSweeney's massive payroll who pens anonymous amazon reviews will be exposed. Every anonymous editor at every corporate publishing house, who has ever bullshitted to get Eggers crap on a front tabel at B&N will be exposed. All payola will be made public.

The new publication exposing all this will be in a form of a blog.

I know the name of it, but I cannot yet say, as the Eggers maffia would ban me from their tea-parties and stuffy, crusty readings.

Everyone knows my name, they sing it way out loud, a lot people $&(*# with me, it's hard to get by in crowds.

Anonymous said...


There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you. I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before you popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. Now I'm thinkin': it could mean you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could be you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be a shepherd.

Anonymous said...

Wow, another revolution on a blog, wild dog-pack that you are...

Anonymous said...

And for anyone who thought the ULA wasn't literary, here's some asshole quoting a mediocre movie.

the MP said...

Hey Anachronomous!
Running around Karl's posts can't save you from your just deserts. You'rr that easy to read.
There's more than one movie the superior intelligence cat up before you're typical snide knee-jerk response is alluding to in his comment besides Pulp Fiction.
And in that movie one of the main characters responds to another character's take on a gun battle that has just transpired in a wash.
"Revenge? No this is much more than mere revenge, this is a reckoning."
A reckoning. Goes with revolution, see. Do you understand blueberry?

Anonymous said...

This last FDW comment following a post where King W denies being violent. Implied threats to kill demi-puppets is . . . what? Nice?

King said...

The fact is that the barrage of recent assaults on this blog happened as the ULA was in "non-attack" mode-- which undercuts the posturing of our opponents.
They occurred just as we were celebrating our recent show.
I agree with Fran-- I don't care for the continuous nonsense from those WHO KNOW they have no character and no backbones. I'll see if we can give them a rest for awhile.

King said...

Regarding the rest of the carping:
all I've seen are assertions about my "bullying"; no evidence presented, other than an incident from over four years ago.

Not Yet Censored said...

And the stuff you're whining about happened how many years ago, you whiny little hypocrite?

King said...

The National Book Awards I protested happened how many years ago? Last winter??
To Frank Marcopolos: What up?
When are you bringing Whirligig back? That was the best lit-zeen going, regularly presenting many of the best writers on the planet.

the MP said...

Think Brady's idea is really a cool one. This is at least the second time he's posted it in the last week and a half or so.
Notice our detractors haven't addressed it so they must be fearful of the whole idea. Perhaps the ULA should follow up and implement this "blind taste- testing" ourselves. Make a public Spectacle out of such, i.e. supply the Brand X sample Establishment lit whether they want to participate or not. And leave it up to the reading"public", say in Philly and then take the "show" to NYC. Could prove to be a lotsa fun!
As well as a kind of spin off of the historic Medusa show.

the MP said...

Think Brady's idea is really a cool one. This is at least the second time he's posted it in the last week and a half or so.
Notice our detractors haven't addressed it so they must be fearful of the whole idea. Perhaps the ULA should follow up and implement this "blind taste- testing" ourselves. Make a public Spectacle out of such, i.e. supply the Brand X sample Establishment lit whether they want to participate or not. And leave it up to the reading"public", say in Philly and then take the "show" to NYC. Could prove to be a lotsa fun!
As well as a kind of spin off of the historic Medusa show.

Frank Marcopolos said...

>>>To Frank Marcopolos: What up?
>>>When are you bringing Whirligig back? That was the >>>best lit-zeen going, regularly presenting many of the >>>best writers on the planet.

Unfortunately, I don't currently have any plans to bring TW back. Despite its critical acclaim, not enough readers picked it up for me to continue it.

I just finished broadcasting school, and am currently shopping demos to radio stations and to agencies for voice acting work.