Posts Tagged ‘Terry McDonell’
August 2, 2016 | by Terry McDonell
Befriending George Plimpton.
George’s questions were like trampolines, a technology he admired. They bounced you higher—to the next question. This was particularly true when he was talking about writers and writing.
“Did you know that the great Camus played goal for the Oran Football Club?” he asked me when we were walking past an Algerian restaurant near his apartment on Seventy-Second Street. I was unaware but said that I did think Gabriel García Márquez had written a soccer column for a while in Bogota.
“Alas,” George sighed, “Le colonisateur de bonne volonte was never moved to write about it. Imagine, the existential goalkeeper.”
“Alas,” I said, and he gave me a look. Read More »
July 11, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- On February 3, 1974, Philip K. Dick was minding his own business—just recovering from dental surgery as you or I might, maybe with a pint of rum raisin Häagen-Dazs and some trashy daytime television—when a divine spirit had the nerve to interrupt his solitude, altering his life forever: “The doorbell rang, and when Dick opened the door he was stunned to see what he described as a ‘girl with black, black hair and large eyes very lovely and intense’ wearing a gold necklace with a Christian fish symbol. She was there to deliver a new batch of medications from the pharmacy. After the door shut, Dick was blinded by a flash of pink light and a series of visions ensued. First came images of abstract paintings, followed by philosophical ideas and then, sophisticated engineering blueprints. Dick believed the pink light was a spiritual force which had unlocked his consciousness, granting him access to esoteric knowledge.”
- Imagine a world without billboards. I can’t do it, either. But an earlier generation, their synapses blessedly unfried by constant advertising, had the creative wherewithal to mount an assault on the whole industry. Erica Berry writes, “Billboards are democratic invitations, tickets to Dionysian adventure and Hedonistic romps … Taking a cue from the English Society for Checking the Abuses of Public Advertising, American anti-billboard reformers quickly organized against this assault, with the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., helming early efforts. The signs concealed piles of litter, blocked sunlight, distracted from the scenery, and ‘obtrude[d] all sorts of sordid ideas upon the mind,’ Olmsted wrote in 1900. Beyond moral objections, anti-billboard activists seized on the practical effrontery of the signs, as when wooden boards atop San Francisco’s buildings helped conduct the city’s disastrous 1906 fire, or when a ‘bloodthirsty billboard’ tipped and injured pedestrians in Kansas City in 1905, as reported by the Kansas City Journal.”
- Come to Catullus for the hunger and heartache, stay for the dick jokes: “The verses Catullus addressed to male rivals, or to friends who he felt had let him down, often pullulate with rage and obscenity. Paedicabo ego vos et irrumabois his gloriously defiant reply to two companions, Furius and Aurelius, who had criticized the indecency of his writings: ‘I shall fuck you in the ass and I shall fuck you in the mouth.’ His fearless attacks on his enemies, even revered public figures, teem with anuses, penises, stinking armpits—one man, a certain Rufus, is said to have a wild goat living beneath his—and graphic sex acts either given or received. The saltiness of these poems has thrilled many a beginning Latin class, but their power extends beyond mere shock value. With his freewheeling aggression, his willingness to let fly at the slightest provocation, Catullus evokes the modern Beat poets; the ‘neoteric’ school to which he belonged was just as daring as theirs in breaking with literary tradition.”
- Our poetry editor, Robyn Creswell, reviews Hisham Matar’s The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, which finds Matar returning to Libya for the first time in thirty-three years, after Qaddafi’s fall: “His memoir is set in this honeymoon of the revolution, the brief window between the dictatorship and the current civil war. ‘Anything seemed possible,’ Matar writes of this hopeful interim, ‘and nearly every individual I met spoke of his optimism and foreboding in the same breath.’ In the memoir’s most rapturous passages, which recall Albert Camus’s essays on his Algerian childhood, Matar evokes his rediscovery of the Libyan landscape, the luminous Mediterranean coast and the austerity of the interior, where the earth ‘stood as all the unpeopled landscapes of Libya stand, clean and witnessing.’ ”
- In which James Wolcott sits down with a group of memoirs looking back at the golden age of magazines, including Terry McDonell’s The Accidental Life: “The twilight melancholy that creeps through the book is due not only to the ghosts of those now gone … but also to the waning of an entire way of life, the shrinking power, prestige, glamour, and advertising clout of glossy print in the Digital Age beneath the Death Star of Silicon Valley hegemony and the loss of journalistic comradeship. Everything McDonell writes rings sad and true, but the marvel is (as I’m sure he’d agree) that so much superb, adventurous work is still being done in magazines in the encroaching void of such adversity. If you’re going to go down with the ship, might as well go down swinging.”
June 1, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- My father always said, Son, if you’re gonna play golf, you should only do it under the influence of a psychoactive Schedule I substance. I rebelled against him, so I’ve yet to try it—but of course someone has, and of course that someone is Hunter S. Thompson, who teed up with George Plimpton and Terry McDonell. Terry writes: “My plan was to get Hunter to write a piece for the premiere issue of Smart. George was there to interview him for what he planned to be the first interview for the Art of Journalism series for The Paris Review. Hunter said first we had to play golf … Hunter had a twelve-gauge shotgun in his golf bag and we had Heinekens in a cooler on the cart—also a fifth of Chivas, a fifth of Jose Cuervo, limes, a fifth of Dewar’s (for George), and an extra cooler of ice. ‘Here,’ Hunter said, holding out three white tabs of blotter paper with an unfamiliar red symbol on them. ‘Eat these.’ He put one on his tongue and stuck it out at us. I took my tab and did the same back at him. When George said he wanted to concentrate on his golf, Hunter licked the third tab. ‘Ho ho … last of the batch!’ ”
- Today in things that may or may not be professional wrestling: everything is professional wrestling. “With each passing year, more and more facets of popular culture become something like wrestling: a stage-managed ‘reality’ in which scripted stories bleed freely into real events, with the blurry line between truth and untruth seeming to heighten, not lessen, the audience’s addiction to the melodrama. The modern media landscape is littered with ‘reality’ shows that audiences happily accept aren’t actually real; that, in essence, is wrestling … When we feel ourselves becoming too consumed with mastering the language of whatever unreality is currently holding our gaze, it might not hurt to consider the overarching forces subtly directing our attention and prepare ourselves to step back if we’re not comfortable with benefiting less than they do.”
- You don’t even have to drop acid to enjoy walking on Carl Andre’s art. It’s a quiet pleasure even if you’re sober: “By positioning his artwork on the floor, Carl Andre put art in our path, and he put us in the art … His sculptures, like 144 Pieces of Zinc, are meant to be walked on. In a way, this act demeans the work. You cannot walk across a Carl Andre grid without feeling that you’re stepping on it, both literally and figuratively. Many people refuse to tread on it out of a general reverence and respect for art … I walk across it because I like how it generates a little current of guilt. No matter how many times my heels click on its gray metal surface, it feels disconcerting. Andre makes us question our museum behavior. He entreats us to look down and feel a sense of contact with the floor and materiality of the piece; he also gives us a small surround or enclosure in which to stand and take in the rest of the room. When we stand on an Andre piece, the art defines the self.”
- Colin Stokes looks back at the work of Arnold Lobel, whose children’s books offered a subtle celebration of same-sex love: “Lobel, who wrote and illustrated the Frog and Toad series, was born in 1933 and raised in Schenectady, New York … In 1974, four years after the first book in the series was published, Lobel came out to his family as gay. ‘I think Frog and Toad really was the beginning of him coming out,’ [his daughter] Adrianne told me … When reading children’s books as children, we get to experience an author’s fictional world removed from the very real one he or she inhabits. But knowing the strains of sadness in Lobel’s life story gives his simple and elegant stories new poignancies. On the final page of ‘Alone,’ Frog and Toad, having cleared up their misunderstanding, sit contently on the island looking into the distance, each with his arm around the other. Beneath the drawing, Lobel writes, ‘They were two close friends, sitting alone together.’ ”
- Jason Shulman takes long-, long-, long-exposure images of movies: he captures entire feature-length films in single photographs. “The images vary so wildly, that’s the remarkable thing about it,” he says: “and they’re also quite didactic. You can learn something about the director’s style from this kind of kooky translation: you can learn that Hitchcock deals with people, for example, Kubrick deals with composition, Bergman deals with … I mean lots of Bergman films are kind of moody and psychological, much more so than other films. So it’s odd that in one exposure all of these things, although very subjective, kind of come through.”
November 8, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
This Sunday, join filmmakers Tom Bean and Luke Poling, along with Paris Review editor Lorin Stein and publishing luminary Terry McDonell, for a special screening of Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself at the School of Visual Arts Theatre, hosted by the documentary film festival DOC NYC.