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By Request: S4xE17 

Truth! bobs-burgers-gifs:

By Request: S4xE17 

Truth!

"Like your character Daniel Quinn, you’ve met Castro. What’s it like, talking with Fidel?

Well, it’s absolutely like nothing else. He showed up the first day I was in Cuba, in 1987. I was in the house of [Gabriel] García Márquez. It was after lunch, I was sitting in the rocking chair, and Gabriel—Gabo—said to me, “Would you mind moving to another chair? The Comandante is coming and he likes the rocker.” Fidel came in, in his field jacket and his cap. He was very bulky in the chest and was probably wearing a bulletproof vest.

He stuck around for about three and a half hours. We talked about literature, movies. I was about to go into production for Ironweed. He was very genial and he arranged all of my itinerary. He arranged for me to go to Santiago and then up to Holguin, to fly over to the Isle of Pines, where he had been in prison.

We also talked about making Scotch, because he had some Czechoslovakian hops and he had sent some people to Scotland to find out how to make Scotch. He made some and I promptly got a bottle and drank some.

Was it any good?

It was a very nice beverage, but it wasn’t Scotch.”

From my interview with William Kennedy for The Paris Review. I hope he’s ok, he was great buddies with Gabo.

Lee Miller, perfection.

Last night I saw Katherine Boo and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc in conversation at the New York Public Library, and it was a great event. They’re both brilliant women who’ve worked on towering pieces of nonfiction, the sort that you’d recommend to aliens who wanted to know about the results of globalization in India and poverty in America and the Bronx. You must read Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Random Family.

But one thing that was interesting, throughout the event, was that LeBlanc, who I remember as a byline in Seventeen when I was reading it as a kid, which probably puts her in her early forties, is my guess, age-wise, had this ambivalence about, well, the bullshit of writing, and the way that the success of her book could have made her a TED talking head and go-to authority on poverty in America for years, talking and talking about it like it was sports but not actually doing anything concrete. Boo, on the other hand, seemed more at peace with her work and its legacy.

So let’s work this out: LeBlanc was probably in her thirties when Random Family hit in 2003. She was young. It took 11 years, and the book really made her a journalist to watch. Success can be difficult, particularly when it’s separate from the urgency of the work that you’re doing, and the message that you’re trying to spread: i.e., that poverty is a trap that is hard to get out of and America is doing a terrible job treating people with respect. The past ten years have had Bush, and wars, and America becoming even more economically stratified. We haven’t listened to the book, and the New York Times' Invisible Child piece on Dasani reminded me, mostly, of Random Family. The past is repeating itself, and for that to happen for ten years has to be difficult. Whereas Boo worked on her book in her forties, and it came out in 2012, and she was already an enviably successful, MacArthur Grant winning genius before it even happened.

It was interesting to see the difference between the two, and some of LeBlanc’s anxiety explained, a bit, why she writes slowly. I’m very interested in her next book, which is about stand-up comedy. I presume it will be called The Comedians, and I bet the theme will be about how to speak truth to power and to get people to listen to you. Humor helps, sometimes.

“But I just feel like it’s dishonest to ignore the many structural things that are in the way of the thing I do being something people want to do as a career, depending on their circumstances. I hate when young people are found wanting for not making headway in careers where a lot of doors have been blocked. That’s my basic feeling.”
— Emily Nussbaum talking about her job in Rookie. It’d be nice if she could come to family events and tell my relatives these facts regarding journalism, too!

And you just got a reader recommendation from LeVar Burton like … my whole generation.


— Exactly. When Geordi La Forge tells you not to give up, you stick with it.

Had a ball talking to Max Brooks, author of World War Z, about his new graphic novel, The Harlem Hellfighters.
“I’m just interested at looking at some things from a bunch of different angles, and I feel like the essay offers the chance to give your readers, like, “OK, you’re looking at the front side of a thing, now come along to the back, and look at it from the other side,” and I think you can do that in terms of concepts, you can do that in terms of recounting what was said in an interview, where that interview happened, what fears propelled it, all that stuff …”
Leslie Jamison is terrifyingly legit (and too young to be so wise) and you should go read The Empathy Exams when you get a chance. I interviewed her for Flavorwire.

March in review:

Read about atomic history, birds, things (Texas Monthly's excellence) on the internet. Thought about Gwyneth Paltrow and schadenfreude, spoilers, sex addiction, and The Comeback’s comeback (maybe). Interviewed Leslie Jamison, The National and the National’s director brother, Stellan Skarsgard. Went to Paris in 25 books. Made a Mad Men/Daises joke. Documentaries, children’s literature, toxic teen relationships, St. Patrick’s Day movies, Keith Richards’ biography. Met Gloria Steinem. Loved With or Without You. Creepy photos of birds, True Detective-friendly industrial rot, Kievtattoos. Andrew Solomon is a genius, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, too. Walter Kirn is a good writer. Bret Easton Ellis is a brilliant provocateur, at least re: Lindsay Lohan. I want Lupita Nyong’o to succeed far more than Vice. Female artists (Lena Dunham, Adelle Waldman) spend more time talking back to their critics than Philip Roth.

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Bonus: I know you liked True Detective, but please never forget that Surfer, Dude is a real movie that exists, brah:

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Adult World didn’t feel like it got a fair shake. I was expecting the movie to be awful, befitting its reviews, and it’s actually a neat little comedy about striving and trying to be an artist in a completely indifferent world. Maybe it’s because for every bit of staleness in the flick — the worst plot thread is how the aspiring poet college grad ends up working at a porn store, and she meets a magical transgender character who teachers her how to be less virginal and suburban — there’s an equal amount of real searching and a very, very accurate sense of place in the film.

They filmed it up in Syracuse and it’s got an authentically shitty, dead mill town upstate vibe. The movie feels frozen and blue in a way you only get up in the hinterlands. I found Emma Roberts kind of charming as a chirpy 22 year old aspiring poet convinced of her genius with all the bonhomie of youth, clashing with John Cusack’s past-his-prime, former bad boy boy wonder poet. (Let’s be honest — it’s a lot easier to write poems and take them seriously when you’re a virgin, right?) And I thought the film did a good job of not really believing that, well, anyone’s art in the film was that brilliant or crucial, in a sweet fashion, compared to other zeitgeist shows of the moment that give me whiplash. I might have loved the film at 22 and figured out its wisdom years after the fact. Nowadays I just was able to appreciate it with the grace of somebody who moved away from home.

I’d love to read the original script.

Richard Misrach, Drive-in Theater Las Vegas, 1987