Monday, December 13, 2021

Elon Musk and the Myth of Invincibility

 THERE ARE numerous reasons to think the stock price of Tesla Motors is way too high. Foremost among them has to be that the valuation is based on the hyperbolic persona of one person: Elon Musk.

To date he's tangled with co-founders, critics, banks, regulators, competitors, media, and always comes out on top. Which doesn't mean this will continue. The one person in fact who can least afford a public setback is Musk, for this would puncture the bubble of perception about his unstoppable genius.

In this regard, the historical example most analogous to his situation is that of Napoleon. You know: the French conqueror who at the height of his success crowned himself emperor. A giant setback was sure to follow-- and did, when Bonaparte invaded Russia, then quickly enough had to leave, his much-lauded army vanished in ice and snow.

There's a kind of immutable law in the universe which decrees if you get too high, too hubristic, you're due for a devastating crash.

Anyway, I wouldn't bet against it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Elon Musk's Tesla Motors Gamble

 IF I were heavily invested in Tesla Motors-- or shorting it-- right now I'd be scrambling to find objective analyses of the company, its cars, and its stock. Yet objectivity is in short supply on the topic. Polarized are the competing voices: Tesla/Musk fanboys versus vociferous shorts and critics.


From the beginning Tesla has been a historic gamble. Elon Musk and his partners spotted an opening in the universe and decided to jump through it: be the first to build an exciting, marketable, competitive electric car. The gamble has paid off tremendously-- Tesla Motors sitting at a trillion-dollar valuation. But it still is, as it's always been, a race against time.

The Gamble: Create and dominate the Electric Vehicle market before established manufacturers gear up to stop you.

I'm from Detroit. My dad worked in auto plants most of his life. One of my older sisters dated a high-level General Motors manager. I worked in an auto plant-- Dodge Truck-- right out of high school. I worked on cars with my dad from when I was eight. Growing up I was steeped in car culture, and more, in car industry culture. Based on John DeLorean's sad story, as well as the movie "Tucker," I was taught to believe it's impossible to build a car company from scratch and compete with the giants. Too much knowledge and expertise required, too many resources involved.

To date Tesla Motors has fifteen manufacturing plants of all kinds around the world both operating and planned. General Motors alone has 122, half of which it claims can be converted for EV manufacture.

Tesla's gamble is akin to the gamble taken by the German army in the summer of 1941 when it invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. (Sorry for the analogy, but I can't come up with a better one.) Or: Invade Russia, get to Moscow and defeat the decrepit regime before said regime can mobilize its enormous resources and population to stop you-- and before the brutal Russian winter does likewise. Even maniacally overconfident Hitler knew the risk. He's quoted as saying it was like opening the door to a dark room, in which you don't know what awaits on the other side.

History shows the Germans won many battles, had phenomenal success, but it wasn't enough. They lost.

Is this the fate which awaits Tesla Motors and Elon Musk?

(I'll have more to say on the topic.)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Band Aid

 HYPER-CAPITALIST overconsumption has swept the planet, based upon three pillars: monopolistic multinational conglomerates, big box stores, and the Pavlovian nightmare demand-creation machines of television and the Internet. Step back to assess it holistically and it becomes a many-tentacled monstrous Machine far outside human scale, overwhelming we humans.

What's the response of the self-appointed Harvard-centered left?

They've decided to place a band aid on the leviathan. Many fervent debates, disputes, and protests around the edges. "If we can only make life a trifle better for the working class. Not diminish or break up or tear down the monopolies, or turn off the flow of babble from their electronic media adjuncts-- never that-- but maybe get a few extra benefits for those trapped within the unceasing madness!"

THUS a bill is passed to place said band-aid upon the Machine. A committee is delegated to perform the feat, to many media features and much celebration. "We did it" proponents proclaim. "Yaaay!" unknowing fans shout, prodded by their smartphones, televisions, and other brainwashing devices. 

The day arrives. A tiny object is placed onto the ever-growing monster. The delegation proudly returns. The job: done. After confetti and parades, the delegates returned to their plush offices, life has become once again calm. Except for the ever-throbbing Machine of course.

Those the solution was supposed to help glance at the Machine, squinting, trying to see what is now upon it. They move closer. They spot something. They realize what was stuck after all upon the Machine was not a band-aid, but a happy face.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Believer Mag Shuts Down!

 My past antagonist-- but there is no joy or gloating in this corner. No, even though the magazine trashed the Underground Literary Alliance with an egregious and highly inaccurate essay by Tom Bissell way back in 2003.

HOW inaccurate? There's a four-part takedown of the essay by moi visible on one of the side bars on this page.

Why no celebration? Because the culture needs all the prominent literary magazines it can get. For almost two decades The Believer was a highly visible member of the species. Their essay was contentious-- and if there's anything the sleepy world of Literature lacks and needs is noise and contention.

Freedom of speech means the right to be wrong.

MEANWHILE, the lack of complaint and outrage on the part of University of Nevada-Las Vegas's faculty and students gives the impression they're okay with their "university" being treated as a mere adjunct to a highly-touted sports program.

Are they? Can The Believer be saved?

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Jonathan Franzen: Voice of the Establishment?

CURRENT NEWS in the Big Four publishing world is that Jonathan Franzen has a new 592-page novel coming out, Crossroads. To me, Franzen represents the voice and ideals of today's upper-caste establishment, in the same way James Gould Cozzens and John P. Marquand represented that voice in their time. With Franzen we get inferior Cozzens-- By Love Possessed-- and not a Guard of Honor

The factor which caused Cozzens to write a significant novel-- despite his blinkered views on life and the world-- and not just another novel of manners, was his involvement in the Second World War, which placed him at the center of a massive and quickly-growing bureaucracy, the U.S. Army Air Force. He was able to put his strong observational talents to work observing and learning the workings of a gigantic organizational machine, along with the strengths and weaknesses of the too-human individuals who ran and populated that machine. Out of it came one of the most important of all American novels-- important because it caught America at a moment of vast change: transformation from isolated backwater to global empire. Any person in decades and centuries to come wishing to understand that nascent giant can do no better than to read Guard of Honor.

It's Jonathan Franzen's misfortune that he's been involved in no epochal, life-changing event, and hasn't challenged himself-- has failed to push himself into the world much beyond his limited upper-east side Manhattan horizons, and so has nothing to write about except the same recycled family scenes, stuffy and uninteresting (to this commentator anyway), which appeared in The Corrections, and apparently are in the new book as well.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Race to the Bottom


The economics of Cheap cramps innovation, contributes to the decline of once-flourishing industries, and threatens our proud heritage of craftsmanship.

The above is a quote by Ellen Shell in a 2010 book titled Cheap, about the race-to-the-bottom taking place in the American economy-- one which has led to a culture of shoddiness.


I've been thinking, prodded by this book and others like it, that no one has been more affected by this race toward cheap ubiquity than the individual artist. Especially devalued over the past twenty years has been the work of musicians and writers.

Musicians: due to the Internet and streaming. All music is instantly available-- one no longer needs to travel to a store to purchase it, much less attend a live concert.

Writers: due largely to Amazon, which has made virtually every book ever published quickly available with a few clicks of a mouse. Ebooks have only added to the mass of authors and titles, drowning the reader in the number of choices, but also the authors themselves. It's becoming impossible for any one writer or book to stand out. Every writer scrambles for their niche, or really, their micro-niche.


A number of tactics can be used to reverse this situation. One is to make the work less readily accessible. This includes a return to analog, taking lessons from the comeback of vinyl records, as I discuss here. Another, related tactic is to strongly increase the quality and uniqueness of the individual work, thereby boosting its value. The idea being to make the artwork more of a rare and valued object. A collector's item.

Our zeens, now on sale at New Pop Lit's POP SHOP, are an expression of these tactics. Hand-crafted, available only via snail mail, totally unique, they return the concept of value to the literary realm, amid a universe of the generic and cheap.

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Truth About the Literary System

 NO ONE really wants to know how the literary system in the U.S. operates.

That thought went through my head last week when I tweeted, from my personal Twitter account, links to a few essays I wrote some time back about Tao Lin and other writers and how the literary game is actually played. Clues to how a writer-- such as this one-- can receive a $2 million advance from a Big Four Manhattan publisher for an unreadable 900-page novel which bombs. 

The truth is that no writer wants to know "how the sausage is made," to use an old analogy. The reality is too upsetting, too dislocating, so we dismiss it, block it out. There will be exceptions, we believe. There have to be exceptions.

Or really, most writers aren't ambitious, aren't hungry enough to want to change things, are content to find a place in the literary world, any place. A niche.

While abject mediocrities receive $2 million advances and the condition of literature continues to decline. 

MY THINKING when I began looking into how the literary machine worked-- chiefly during my days with the Underground Literary Alliance-- was that hearing the reality would so outrage the great mass of writers they'd tear down the Potemkin Village of the established literary scene. But it didn't happen.

Can change, real change, in the literary world, or with society itself, ever happen?

Maybe not. There will always be a significant percentage of people who'll take the easy-and-cheap payoff. This happened even with the sleep-on-floors radicals of the ULA, so it can happen to any movement, anyplace.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

The Inanities of Conspiracy Thinking


No doubt there are countless actual conspiracies out there plotted by devious persons inside government and out of it (along with a mass of grifters of every species). For those interested in discovering the actual truth of happenings, however, standard conspiracy hysteria does truth a disservice, by creating layers of speculative noise through which the truth seeker must wade to find understanding.


Case in point is the 9-11 Twin Towers matter. Now, it's possible someone dynamited those towers. It's likely we haven't received 100% truth of the matter-- given the nature of governments, we never do. BUT-- some of the scenarios thrown out by the conspiracy crowd are close to ridiculous. 

One needs to always try to look at a supposed plot through the eyes of the plotters.

Did the CIA perpetuate 9-11 in order to create justification for war in Afghanistan and Iraq?

I can see the meeting at CIA headquarters. Or perhaps, in an underground bunker someplace.

"We need an excuse for war," the head guy (Dick Cheney?) tells those gathered around the table in the low-ceilinged room deep underground. "Any suggestions?"

Possibilities are endless. A staged attack on U.S. forces someplace in the Mideast. Backing of various rebel groups. The planting-then-discovery of WMDs. A hand raises in the corner.

"Why don't we attack our own main city, knock down the symbol of capitalism-- the Twin Towers-- killing thousands of our own people, destroying immense wealth and collapsing the stock market and our own investments in the process."

(Silence. A frown from the head guy. A silently pressed button. Men in sunglasses enter the room and carry the person who made the suggestion away.)

OR: Of all the ways to create a rationale for war in the Mideast, the actual attack as happened seems the least likely. Yes, it would accomplish your objectives-- and then some. But you might have friends or relatives who'd stray in the vicinity. You might shake the stock market bubbles beyond recovery. Your fingerprints might be discovered on the crime-- as a result of which you'd be crucified. Something could go wrong. With complex plots, things always go wrong. (As happened with the resulting wars themselves.)

We should also remember-- a minor point-- that the mission of the Central Intelligence Agency and indeed of the President and VP is to work for America, however corruptly or ineptly. The home team. The 9-11 conspiracy scenario is like a chess player knocking down his own queen-- or an NFL quarterback scoring a touchdown the wrong way-- and then celebrating.


The first rule of everything is to keep the plan as simple as possible. The knocking-down-your-own-skyscrapers with jet planes is anything but. It is the kind of thing America-hating religious fanatics might think up.

To top it off, we're to believe controlled demolitions went off at the same time? Talk about a complicated plot! Only a lunatic could think of it. And toward what end? If the purpose was to impress/terrify the world, wouldn't the planes themselves be enough?

OR: Maybe there was evidence in WTC 7's CIA office the conspirators needed destroyed?! Cue the jets and demolitions. Could they have sent someone in surreptitiously to take out the papers or videotape? No, too easy. Blow everything up instead.

Which would be like dynamiting a house to get rid of a few ants.


There is, by the way, testimony on the matter from ex-CIA (supposedly) pilot John Lear, who makes the plan more complicated yet. Lear claims the jets which rammed into the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001 weren't 767 passenger airliners at all, but instead, military planes disguised as 767's. Okay. I mean, why not? If you're imagining scenarios, there's no limit to what you can come up with.

John Lear, incidentally, is the same guy who claims there's a colony of 250 million humanoid aliens living on the moon, that the USA first went to the moon in 1962 and made regular trips to Mars in 1966, that Mercury, Apollo, and the rest of the missions "were just decoys to distract the population's attention about what we were really doing" (Vietnam?), and many other fun things. 

Like most conspiracy theorists, John Lear is either a jokester, a con man, or insane.


1.)  Conceivable.

2.)  Plausible.

3.)  Likely.

4.)  Indisputable. 

Lacking further evidence, 9-11 conspiracy theories to date are at Level One.


(For a look at a different conspiracy theory, click here.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Boycott That Kiosk!


Welcome to the brave new world of more automation, less service and diminished quality of life, as more and more megamonopolist chains like McDonald's and CVS convert almost wholly to self-serve kiosks of one kind of another. The idea, as one chain employee told me, is to have no human beings working in the establishments, period. They're eliminating people. 

Yep, figure out that order screen yourself. You can do it! McDonald's, Burger King, etc. doesn't want to pay cashiers, so they have you do the work, for free. Amazing that people fall for it.

No more entry-level jobs for young people to learn what work is about. (They can stay home and smoke pot I guess.) No fallback jobs for lower class individuals or seniors. No ways for anyone struggling to make ends meet to work a second or third part-time job to help pay the bills. Nope. My question is: If the monopolies don't need people, why do we need them? Isn't business supposed to be a two-way street?

Service? What's that? You want service??

I guess it's no surprise that fast food outlets are taking this option. They've always been about offering the shittiest culinary experience possible, have only increased the customer degradation a bit. But CVS, an alleged pharmacy? There to help people??

It's part of a push to isolate individuals from all possible human interactions. All exchanges of any kind economic or social will be done via our phones. No need to meet or speak to other actual human beings in real life. Ever.

Do we wonder why everyone is going insane?

Of course, some people love having no interaction with other people. Total technophiles pleased to become slaves to the Monolithic Machine.

(Meanwhile, the CVS CEO for 2020, Larry Merlo, received a mere $23 million in compensation, which was a down year. McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski lagged behind, with 2020 salary of $10.8 million.)


The so-called left meanwhile, who always seem to be, accidentally or intentionally, three steps behind in the game, are campaigning to unionize employees of these chains. But what if there are no employees to unionize? Maybe they'll unionize the kiosks.


An interesting business book by Rory Sutherland, Alchemy, has a chapter titled "An Automatic Door Does Not Replace a Doorman: Why Efficiency Doesn't Always Pay." In the chapter, Sutherland points out the advantages to having a live human being greeting people in front of hotels. Among the ancillary benefits: "taxi-hailing, security, vagrant discouragement, customer recognition, as well as in signaling the status of the hotel."

We're actually seeing this with the CVS elimination of human employees, as evidenced by this Wall Street Journal article about professional gangs of thieves making away with billions of dollars worth of merchandise.

Well, the gangs figure, if no one's watching the store, why not?

The real story no doubt is that some CVS higher-up got conned by a fast-talking vendor into making a huge investment in self-checkout machines. Even though most customers hate using them, CVS is not about to go back on the decision. Not yet.



Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Empires of the Mind


I DON'T KNOW if the Afghanistan fiasco will discredit the U.S. foreign policy establishment enough to out an end to the notion of America as the world's policeman. But it should.

Ending the Imperial mindset would allow a refocus on things at home-- including cultural matters. Ideally it would enable a flowering of American art and artists of all varieties. (The precedent which comes to mind off the top of my head is the British rock music explosion after they liquidated their empire.)


Everyone's focus the past five years-- or twenty, really-- has been on politics, as evidenced by insane levels of hysteria on social media and elsewhere, with nothing actually resolved. The machine bumps right and bumps left and sputters along. Wouldn't the immense amount of energy expended on political battles be better spent elsewhere-- on creating stuff, to everyone's benefit?

America has always been the most creative of nations-- in its short history, a mass of inventions, innovations, devices, entertainments, spectacles, movies, music: noise. If the USA didn't invent the notion of having fun, it perfected it. A great many cultural forms-- literature, to name one-- have been stagnant the past twenty years, with no typically American hyper-energy to be found. The end of the occupation of Afghanistan should be looked at as an opportunity to begin things anew. All it takes is the right mindset to make it happen. (Which is what the New Pop Lit project for one is about.)

Let's do it!

Monday, August 30, 2021

Cooperatives and Unionization in Publishing


Recently I covered here the Nathan J. Robinson fiasco, when he fired his entire staff at Current Affairs magazine, a "leftist" publication, when said staff pushed to turn the project into a co-op.

ARE THERE historical precedents for this?

Yes. Prominent among them was the situation in 1981 with the UK's Time Out magazine, when employees went on strike, due to publisher Tony Elliott changing the previous equal-pay-for-everyone policy of the magazine, in order to pay more to talented outside writers. 

The publication had been started by Elliott in 1968 as a modest alternative pamphlet, apparently with a collective decision-making process, which Elliott abruptly voided, in much the same way Nathan Robinson behaved a few weeks ago in this country.


What resulted in the 1981 situation, after Time Out shut down for a few months, was most of the former staff at the magazine forming their own similar listings publication called City Limits. Simultaneous with this, opportunistic mogul Richard Branson geared up his own listings magazine, Event, and Tony Elliott restarted Time Out with a new staff.


What we saw with the Time Out mess was a possible answer to the question: from where does economic value actually come? The visionary? The workers?

The wikipedia entry on Time Out credits the initial success of the magazine not to Tony Elliott, but its designer, Pearce Marchbank

The flavour of the magazine was almost wholly the responsibility of its designer, Pearce Marchbank. . . .

During the strike, Branson poached Marchbank and made him co-editor of Event, surrounding him with the best literary and journalistic talents money could buy, and backed the project with ample funds-- more than a million pounds by some reports. Despite this, Event soon folded.

City Limits started out well but quickly plateaued, while Time Out eventually surged ahead. Time Out of course had the advantage of being in London an already-established name. A "brand." One has to also consider the extent to which Tony Elliott was by then himself an established brand.

City Limits lasted until 1993. 


I was myself part of a literary cooperative, from 2000 to roughly 2009, and have many thoughts on the experience, which I may express sometime in a different post.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Get Out of the War Business!

 America continues to prove it's just not very good at war. Brave soldiers? Yes. Elite units-- as good as any on the planet? Sure. But for America as a whole, it's just not our thing.

America wasn't founded by soldiers, but by opportunists. No thousand-year military culture bred into us like, say, Germans. Nope. People came here for one primary reason: to make a buck. From P.T. Barnum to Edison to Ford to the moguls of Hollywood, through Jay Z and Dr. Dre, American culture has been devoted to hype and sales.

The way for the nation to get back on track after divisive politics and the disaster of Afghanistan is to focus on what the USA does best: being brash, ambitious, loud and eternally creative.

It's what I plan on doing at New Pop Lit's POP SHOP, which, yes, is open for business. Stop in and buy a zeen. You'll feel better doing so.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The DIY Actor

OFFICIAL HISTORIES have a way of ignoring Do-It-Yourself activities, when individuals and their friends, unsatisfied with things-as-they-are, have taken matters into their own hands by starting their own businesses.

Case in point is the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, founded by African-American actor Noble Johnson and his brother George in 1916. According to wikipedia,  their studio was "the first to produce movies portraying African-Americans as real people instead of as racist caricatures." 

To finance the project, Johnson appeared as a character actor in scores of movies produced by other studios (he appeared in 144 films total). This included several early classics, from "Thief of Baghdad" to "King Kong." As an actor, Noble Johnson was kind of a jack-of-all-trades, in that he played every possible ethnicity, including Latino, Arab, Native American, Egyptian, and even as a Russian in "The Most Dangerous Game." (See below photo.)

Though the project ultimately dissolved in 1923, its brief success producing movies served as inspiration for budding movie makers of every stripe.

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Big Mistake All Conspiracy Theorists Make

The Big Mistake conspiracy theorists make is misunderstanding the world-- the universe.
Our minds trick us into believing the world is less complex than it is, which allows us to cope with the mass of sensations out there, which would otherwise overwhelm us. (Some scientists believe LSD takes this phenomenon away, and gives us things as they actually are.)
Take the variables in planning any event-- things that could go wrong-- and multiply by a hundred. Or a thousand. (Donald Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns-- which destroyed his own plan.)
For example, a team in the National Football League constructs a precise strategy to be implemented in a carefully controlled game on a strictly limited space, with referees and a time clock-- yet coaches know the game remains unpredictable. Things will go wrong-- the coaches have to always be ready to adjust the plan.
Yet the conspiracy crowd believe large government agencies not known for their competence can control events from on high, with perfect plans, and nothing will go wrong. They're never caught.
Conspiracy theorists never allow for the unpredictable and the irrational.


(A second mistake they make is in never taking a contrary view of their own theories-- looking for mistakes in the elaborate house of cards constructed by conspiracy authors. The books which are their sources are invariably slanted-- they sift the available evidence to bolster their premise, instead of looking at all the evidence from all angles-- like an LSD trip-- and then drawing conclusions. But of course they can't do this-- they have books to sell and they need sensationalism and hooks.)

Friday, August 20, 2021

Who Was Against the Afghanistan War?

 THE PROBLEM with Afghanistan from a United States perspective was getting heavily involved there to start with. War apologists claim that 90% of the American public in 2001 supported the action and no voices spoke out in protest.

This isn't true. One segment-- maybe the only segment-- of the intellectual community opposed the action: the DIY print underground, which at that moment in time centered around a review publication, Zine World: A Reader's Guide to the Underground Press, and through multiple activist groups, one of them being the Underground Literary Alliance.

My contribution to the noise we tried to make was a zine novella I put out within a few weeks of 9-11 called War Hysteria!.

Few copies of the zine remain anywhere-- but the text can be accessed in a terrific anthology via the Wred Fright blog, here. (Wred a long-time zine publisher and activist.) In the zine I tried to capture the headlong rush to war, no one in the government or mainstream media keeping their heads. All was panic. 

The repercussions of such panic are with us now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Rise and Fall of Nathan J. Robinson


The surprise is that anyone's surprised by Current Affairs Editor Nathan J. Robinson firing his entire staff when they discussed running the pseudo-left magazine as a collective. I questioned his authenticity three years ago in this short essay at New Pop Lit News, "Contradictions of the Left."

Any "leftist" periodical founded at Harvard or Yale is guaranteed to be fraudulent, even if the editors and backers don't realize it themselves. This applies to a similar journal, Jacobin.

              Young Jacobin staffers at Detroit's Allied Media Conference.

Several years ago during New Pop Lit's first year of operation, we manned a table on one side of Jacobin's at Detroit's Allied Media Conference. I had the opportunity to talk with a few of the mag's staffers, and examine several of their back issues. I found the staffers to be well-educated but naive, lacking in knowledge of the actual world. The writing in the journal, as I remarked at the time, was boiler plate. NOT the kind of visceral prose likely to connect with any working class person. An idealistic but misguided project. Or maybe not misguided, if the mission isn't to connect with the public, but to con their virtue-signaling donors.

Those who start and run such publications, a Bhaskar Sunkara or a Nathan J. Robinson, are using them as stepping stones in their climb within the current system. The pose of leftism or radicalism is simply part of the game.

The tragedy is that a layer of elites posturing as opponents to the status quo hinders the appearance of authentic grass roots alternatives. Of the kind once represented by-- oh, I don't know-- maybe the Underground Literary Alliance.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021



What they don't tell you in schools, including academia, is that gritty grass roots American writing created by those living at or near the bottom of society has been around long before Charles Bukowski. You can probably date it to Thomas Paine, and likely before that.

Crude popular publications were sold everywhere in the 1800s. In his book Beneath the American Renaissance David S. Reynolds credits such publications with hugely influencing the work of those 19th-century poets and novelists who today are taught in colleges-- Whitman, Melville, Emerson, Poe, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Dickinson.

How do we classify Stephen Crane's first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, which was self-published? As punk-style DIY far ahead of its time?

There's also the Lost Generation of the 1920s. At the center of that arts scene was writer and publisher Robert McAlmon. McAlmon edited and typed James Joyce's hand-written manuscript of Ulysses (which was then published in a small edition by bookstore owner Sylvia Beach); published Ernest Hemingway's first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems; and by all accounts led a hectic, alcohol-fueled life. McAlmon was the quintessential underground writer in that he's known today chiefly through other persons' memoirs-- his own work difficult to find, and even then available only in expurgated form. By all accounts it was raw, unaffected, authentic-- which is why it was criticized and dismissed by the literary mandarins of his time.

Personally, I've read only one story of McAlmon's-- "The Highly-Placed Pajamas"-- and that over twenty years ago. Not even sure in what book I found it-- I encountered it at a time I was browsing stacks in university libraries and distant corners of used-book stores. It's a tale about prostitutes. As I recall, the story was distinctly Bukowskiesque-- at the time it was written in the 1920s the established literary world wasn't ready for it.


WHERE is underground publishing now?

One place to find it is at THE POP SHOP.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Illusion of Stability

                                                               AP photo/Rahmat Gul


First, the fall of Kabul is not a failure of America or its people, or its soldiers, who are the best anywhere, but of our elites. Our supposed leaders, who got the country INto the Graveyard of Empires but couldn't get us out. 

One has to realize the situation we're in here in this world: existence on a spinning rock hurtling through space at fast speed. The tendency inevitably is toward chaos. That's the default.

In other words, there can be no permanence. No stability. Everything is in a state of change. Change is inevitable and constant. We erect, for our peace of mind-- our sanity-- edifices of substance and power, but put them under enough stress and they quickly collapse. 

All human institutions are temporary (secular ones anyway). They might last our lifetime or our parents lifetimes, or our children's, but this is no guarantee they can long survive an unstable, wholly unpredictable future. It's lunacy to believe they can.

ONE WONDERS, after the events this past week, and what happened January 6, when an enormous mob invaded the U.S. Capitol in a scene out of Carlyle's The French Revolution, just how flimsy esteemed institutions actually are. Are they all maintained through bluff? Is every one of them virtually made out of cardboard?

I wonder if this applies to today's literary realm, which I've long suspected operates through bluff. Via a profusion of blurbs, backslaps, and awards endlessly doled out to authors of whom no one in the greater culture has ever heard. There are today no literary giants, only enervated caretakers going through the motions of having a vital and relevant literature, while said authors in every genre regurgitate what's already been done.

What would happen to that world if it were to undergo stress-- if it faced the relentless pressure of dynamic alternatives? 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Do Animals Have Souls?

 I was thinking about that question after seeing this photo of Oliver, a cat who's gone missing in Peterborough, which I think is in the UK.

Have you ever seen a more soulful expression?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021



The problem with books is they haven't changed in hundreds of years, they're completely predictable and in an ADHD world they excite no one.

Enter zeens-- a new creation whose colorful presentation is designed to attract the unwary back to reading. A zeen better emphasizes the aura of analog via visual and tactile effects which digital can't duplicate. 

The only way to adequately judge those effects is to order a copy. 

On sale at New Pop Lit's POP SHOP, and soon at other fine places.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Literary Fan Magazine-- Now Available!


Yes, it's not too late to purchase your copy of the most unique literary publication on the planet-- Literary Fan Magazine. Filled with photos of literary celebrities, literary News, Opinion, and Gossip, and a striking action cover photo of up-and-coming lit talent C. A. Shoultz. This is one not to miss.

Purchase it today at New Pop Lit's POP SHOP while supplies last. They're going fast!