Introducing Monicks

There is a blog I’ve been reading for a few days now by a woman named Monica (hey, my sister’s name is Monica!), who calls herself Monicks. She has made a super-long list of atheists on Twitter to which my name (@godlessinitaly, duh) should be added sometime soon, I hope. So if you’ve never checked out Monicks Unleashed I suggest you do so. She’s way cool.

Days of 1994

I’ve been reading about the early years of blogging and find the evolution of it fascinating. I’ve never been a techie, so I completely missed out on the 1990s and the advent of blogging. In fact, as recently as 2005, I thought it must be the stupidest thing one could possibly do with one’s time (still a constant worry of mine.) Humble pie.

So I thought I’d try an experiment; after all, that’s how blogging began: by experimenting. I’m going to write a post in the voice of my younger self; in effect, I’m going to try and put myself in the shoes of Justin, who was only two states north of me in a different university when he began his Links in January of ’94. For the record, I was living in an off-campus apartment in Richmond, VA with a friend. I was enrolled in the VCU Art School. And I was miserable as hell.

January 27, 1994*

I stayed up all night listening to the VU’s Murder Mystery with headphones, jotting down the lyrics as best as I could. I kept having to turn one headphone down to hear Lou, and the other one to hear Doug and Mo. It’s the best song ever recorded, after Sister Ray. I should get some sleep.

Missed class today. Too groggy from my all nighter. I wish J would call me. What happened?

I can’t wait to get the fuck out of this shithole. This fucking ghosttown is piled up with corpses vampires. I HATE THE SOUTH. Take me to New York, baby. That’s where I wanna be.

Shitkickers. That’s what B was telling be about his high school. He was like the only kid in his entire town who knew who Fugazi was. He says they all drank beer and listened to Bocephus. Chased him around with a shotgun for kicks. Now he’s the beer drinker. WTF? Oh, Virginia.

Yesterday I bought a copy of Coltrane’s My Favorite Things on cd. Lester mentions it in his book. Sounds like Tom Verlaine, or vice-versa. I wish Lester were here now.

No one around here knows who the goddam Stooges are! If it was recorded before 1992 they’re not interested. But now they’re stealing my ideas, tuning down their guitars and jamming like Thurston Moore. Last year they hated Sonic Youth. Now they imitate them.

I think if I moved to NYC there’d be a ton of people with my same interests.

Ripped a t-shirt so I’d look like Richard Hell. My design teacher just stared at me like, “Whut?” Bitch. I’ll burn her classroom down.

And I did just that.

*I didn’t really write much in 1994, so this is a rather ad hoc attempt at nailing my major obsessions with hindsight. Anyway, it was a trip down memory lane.

We’re writing we’re writing we’re writing

By my admittedly amateurish reckoning, this blog has from three to five regular readers. Which ranks it in the upper echelons of the overstuffed blogosphere – right there beside The Daily Dish and Wonkette.

Every day I see dozens of things that would be worth writing about and linking to for the benefit of my readers. And, because I take those admittedly few readers seriously, every so often I actually write a post so this blog doesn’t go totally comatose. But I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that almost every time I write a new post I didn’t think to myself, “You’re wasting your time. Get a life.”

Today I picked up Scott Rosenberg’s erstwhile history of blogging, Say Everything, which actually makes this decidedly banal venture seem not only worthwhile, but interesting. Or, as Jonathan Safran Foer put it in Everything Is Illuminated: We’re writing we’re writing we’re writing…and so on all the way down the page. It’s like that meme about anyone who ever bought the first Velvet Underground album in 1967, all one thousand of them: they all went on to start their own bands.

I remember clearly thinking not very long ago that I’d never be so desperate or vain as to start my own blog. Justin Hall, whom Rosenberg and any book you’ll ever read on blogging cites as the VU of personal blogging (that’s Velvet Underground, by the way), basically posted his entire life – intimate details and all – on the web for a decade. Then he had a nervous breakdown; but so did Lou Reed. You can get a sense of Hall’s style here, in this painfully melodramatic video from 2005.

Hall and I are the same age. So is Tom Bissell, who is still debating whether or not to devote himself to the pastime. When I begin to think to myself that this blog is a waste of my time and energies as a writer, I remember why I started it in the first place: as an informal way of writing more regularly. So, in that sense, it’s a success whether I have six readers or six million.

Tom Bissell on not blogging

Tom Bissell has a post about why he doesn’t blog at Powell’s Books Blog. Tom and I are the same age (both born in 1974), though he is way more successful in his writing career than I have been so far. But he’s not sitting on a magnum opus, I suspect, that will blow the field of modern poetry wide open once it’s published. So, optimistically, by the time we are fifty we should be in the same anthology of “hot middle-aged talent.”

I’m thirty-six, which plants me along a rather odd cultural seam. I’m old enough to remember a world without the Internet (I didn’t send an email until I was in college, and didn’t have a personal email account until I was 27), but young enough not to have known how important it was to pay close attention to the landscape as it changed around me, or how dearly it would affect me. In the late 1990s, when I began publishing, the only writers who had websites or blogs were either tech-savvy or unusually forward thinking. Because I grew up reading magazines and regarded the mere act of publication as promotional effort enough, I simply didn’t understand that the world as it was could be meaningfully altered — much less that it would be. By the time I woke up to this, I worried that a blog or website would seem like a late-to-the-party desperation move. (Yes, at one point in my life, I actually believed that someone other than my mom tracked my machinations that closely.)

My bigger worry, though, was that a blog or website would give me another thing with which to piddle away my time, which I already managed to do quite well by staring at walls. Plus, there was the whole mortifying possibility that I’d start a blog, work hard to fill it up with interesting material, and in effect be forced to attend a daily version of my own funeral in which no one came, no one commented, and no one cared.

(He’s right about that funeral stuff.) Nice work, Tom.

Blogging Reduces Fever

I’m sitting alone in our apartment fiddling with my blog, which is always crying out for me to fiddle with it. I’m getting over a slight fever (at least I hope so). The windows are open and a nice Roman breeze is blowing in, which is probably contrary to doctor’s orders. But it feels good. Outside it’s around 80 degrees, and I’m sweating.

This is as good an excuse as any to overhaul one’s blog. I’ve changed the format slightly, making it easier to read (I think). Besides, I was growing tired of that old blue-grey tone—too damn confederate.

It’s been a while since I’ve visited Jeffrey Goldberg over at the Atlantic, who has dug up a weird photo of wookies in Teheran. The Iranians just seem to be floating further and further away from normalcy, which makes me sorry for all the Iranians who just want to live in a normal country.

One More Atheist in the Blogosphere

Marc Alan Di Martino has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You will soon be able to see the blogroll in my sidebar (as soon as I figure out how to fidget with the widget). The Atheist Blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.

Don’t act like you’re surprised, bubbeleh.

Message to the Obama Blasters

The real enemy?
The real enemy?

Some 70% of American Jews voted for Barack Obama in the last elections. Now, we find out we voted for Hitler? This is something I can’t quite digest, this pro-Israeli Obama-bashing. How did the conservatives hijack Zionism?

“The dhimmi in the White House” has increasingly become a sort of anti-Obama rallying cry. The scope is not to discuss or criticize Obama’s ideas on Israel (entirely debatable,as ever) but to dirty him with the dhimmi brush. He has been tarred and feathered as an enemy of Israel and the Jewish people and a lackey of Islamic rejectionism. As my blogger friend Jew With a View posted recently (quoting Joseph Farah):

I hope my Jewish friends remember this well. Many of them voted for Barack Obama. Many of them voted for Hillary Clinton. These are not your friends. These are the same kinds of people who turned away ships of Jewish refugees from Germany in the 1940s. These are the same kinds of people who appeased Adolf Hitler at Munich. These are the same kinds of people who made the reformation of the modern state of Israel so difficult.

We have gone from understandable criticism of Obama-administration pressure on Israel to stop existing settlement growth to a mischaracterization of Obama as–what? Hitler? Ahmadinejad? Appeasement incarnate, apparently. Farah goes so far as to call this “ethnic cleansing”, perhaps borrowing his human-rights jargon from the anti-Zionist hard left. My baloney detector is going haywire.

Is Barack Obama a cosmically-charged enemy of the Jewish people? Was he sent by God (or the Adversary) to beguile and destroy Jewish continuity in the guise of the president of the USA? Is he, as we are expected to believe, completely subservient to the Islamist lobby? Is he ransoming the State of Israel to appease the likes of Osama bin Laden and the Iranian regime? Does any of this sound familiar?? It sounds like the Mearsheimer-Walt thesis turned on its head. If only everything in politics were so black and white.

I’m all for crticism where it is due, and Obama is no exception. I used to feel disgusted at the hatred against Dubya, though I’ve never felt close to the Republican party or kinship with American conservative causes. I even stood up to fellow liberals when they crossed the line from criticism to hate speech. And there was a lot of that back then. Now it’s back–with a vengeance.

Can’t we say shoyn genug* to conspiracy theories once and for all?

* “enough already!”

Ron Rosenbaum: Typos or Neologysms?

I love reading Ron Rosenbaum’s blog. He is unafraid to confront both the idiots on the left and the dorkbots (my humble attempt at a Rosenbaumism) on the right. Besides, he wrote one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. I wrote about it here.

What infuriates me is that he is a rampant misspeller. I admit this gives me pause at times, although I know no one in perfekt and blogging is often done at high velocity: in cars, trains, helicopters etc…but can there be any excuse for the following waterfall of mangled orthography?

I did something I hadn’ t done for a million years. I listened to Dylan’s first album Bob Dylan, from beginning to end. Thirteen songs, 12 or them negligable material–and one song, if not immortal than at least awe-inspiring, awesome. It’s the next the last song on the album, which makes it all the more surprizing since you have to put up with 11 ho-hum imersonations of blues singers, impersonaltions of other folkies, covers of old chesnuts.

I mean, can’t you read it over just once, Ron, before striking the “publish” key?