Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stacey Levine Interview

I met Stacey Levine in Seattle in the late 90’s at the Jade Pagoda after a reading. Our mutual friends were sleeping under some tables, and she was wearing a knitted hat and had to go home, I believe, to write. She has a new story in the current issue of Tin House, and I cannot wait to read her forthcoming book, The Kidney Problem: Tales and Stories.

Venom Literati: People seem to assume that, because your work is so admired and name-dropped, you are super rich and famous and probably work out of some fancy library that houses your collected works. What would you tell those people?

Stacey Levine: I'd tell them to get over it, and to go home, cook something nice to eat, take a shower, call their mother or grandmother, and go to bed early.

VL: What do you think about day jobs? Are they better than teaching workshops as far as saving one's writerly soul, as they say?

SL: I've done both, but I'd rather not talk as much on the job as teaching requires. So I have another kind of job and I think that's good for me. Teaching is a good way to make money, though, if you can stand it.

What was the weirdest job you ever had?

SL: I worked as a spy for a guy who was in international adoption. He wanted me to find out the practices of another adoption agency. This was in D.C. He met me in the alley behind his office to pay me in cash. I was a lousy spy then, but I bet I'd be better at it now.

VL: If you were to get some windfall of money, the Guggenheim or the MacArthur Genius Grant or something, would that change your work?

SL: It might make me work more. I'm a slow writer.

VL: You live in Seattle, where there are plenty of independent bookstores. Do you find that most of the stuff in bookstores is still a bunch of crap you don't want to read?

SL: Yes, in the big guns NY publishing industry, there's the practice of putting out gimme-marketing, gimmicky literature, isn't there? Standards are shot. Contrary to what some people say, high standards are not a form of elitism. In any case, there's some amazing writing coming out of smaller presses, and lit in translation is nice to
explore. Haldor Laxness from Iceland is an author I've enjoyed recently.

VL: Where is the disconnect between the good books being written and the tiny, tiny number of them that seem to appear on shelves?

SL: This question refers back to the coarsening and stupidifying of the culture in general. And I guess this coarsening and stupidifying points to a current sickness in the American spirit. Everybody knows about it, but it's difficult to find focused discussions about it.

VL: Recently you gave me a great plot idea for a book. I don't want to give too much away and have someone steal it, but basically, it involves the gradual and possibly useless whittling away of a piece of cheese. Do you have any other plot ideas for writers who can't or won't write their own plots (or for poets, who, to put it kindly, are unable)?

SL: No. It takes much practice, and the above example is a case in point.

VL: What kitchen appliance is best as an author self-promotion tool?

SL: Um, something to help me clean up my apartment?

Frances Johnson: the minutes

Observations about Frances Johnson, all of which are copular sentences (I think):

Munson is a lock-in.

Dr. Mark Carol is sexy.

Nancy is Frances' therapist.

Kenny is evil.

Frances' procedure is some kind of women's troubles remover (e.g.: period flowbee).

Curly-Dawn is an awesome name.

Mostly, when we like stuff (as was the case here), we spend a lot of time reading our favorite parts out loud, like the scene where Frances jokes with Nancy by smushing her legs on the hassock: "With a confused, myopic gaze, Nancy tried to withdraw her legs so slowly that the unpleasant dryness of stockings and skin scratched along Frances' legs, even as the woman completed the movement with a sudden jerk that made her hair fly." And so on. That whole scene is so good.

Quotes out of context

"I'm too busy and important to read things. I skim."

"They can still see up people's skirts though."

"He said 'sexy' six times!"

"I picture Stacey Levine looking like Jennifer Jason Leigh."

"Currently I make zero dollars."

"Oh, the tranny 'ho!"

"I'm sure he got the best BJ of his life later."

"Boys don't have friends unless they're all single and hang out in a pack."

"My marathon party will consist of people coming over to the deck to put ice bags on me."

Special guests

David Lee Roth did not show up, although I do admit I gave him very short notice. Still. You'd think he'd have made an effort.

Also, we missed Meghan.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

An open letter to David Lee Roth, using the methods learned at a recent business writing seminar

Dear Diamond Dave,

Please come to our meeting.


  1. You are awesome.

  2. Your perma-grin.

  3. Nobody in Venom Literati can do those high kicks like you.

  4. You have the charisma.


  1. Your song "Hot for Teacher" makes me think you might find one or all of us to be incredibly attractive.

  2. Beer.

  3. The chance to talk to someone who hasn't heard all your old stories about tomcattin' on the road.

  4. We will laugh with you, not at you.


  • Sarah and Abby's deck

  • 7:00 p.m.

Be there, bitches. You know you wanna.



Thursday, September 27, 2007

From Hotel Woman to...Munson Resident

After weeks of believing myself to be a hotel woman, I am now pretty certain that I live in Munson, home of Stacey Levine's Frances Johnson. There are lots of reasons why. Most importantly, though, is my recent deep attraction to margarine. I used to be a butter girl: all butter, all the time. I scoffed at Parkay-eaters (just like I used to scoff at Diet Coke drinkers, before I developed cravings for that, too.) But last week there was margarine in our frig, and I fell in love with it. Butter seems gross to me now. I will eat margarine on crackers forever. And olives on crackers, like Mal.

Also, I love Dr. Mark Carroll. He is hot. He might be Dr. Manhattan in disguise. In fact, I am certain that he is. I picture him being so attractive in a tan and plastic-y way. I will jump Dr. Mark Carroll if I run into him tonight at Mal's love shack or dressing chamber or whatever the hell it is.

Is there any way, by any stretch, that Frances Johnson will, by the end of the book, become a hotel woman, so that I can go back to being a hotel woman? Because I feel like she has it in her. And Mal can be a hotel woman, too, because anything with an olive on or in it is close to a martini, especially pimento loaf. I preferred being a hotel woman to being Frances Johnson, because Kathy, I am Frances Johnson, too.
When I typed in Munson to google images, the picture above is one thing that came up. The picture is correct: this is the kind of hotel woman that lives in Munson and goes to dances. Frances Johnson must get out.

diane williams interview

Here's a link to an interview with the lovely and talented Diane Williams, my #1 literary heroine. Everyone on the planet should read her.

I like it and it also completely depresses me when she says, "I am desperate to justify why it is I am not virtuous and triumphant. There is no great enough gap to comfort me between external and internal circumstance which is why my life is fairly impossible to live."

I was excited because I thought this interview was new; now I see it is not new. Read it anyway, says Venom. There's new fiction after the interview, dumbass.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Strangely-Shaped Books

I think it is good how the last three books we have read have been interestingly shaped and sized.

Eeeee Eee Eeee: small and squareish, with text that doesn't claustrophobically fill up the whole page so that there are fields of white space around it. Hotel Theory bigger and square, double-fonted, columned. And Frances Johnson so cute and teensy, so it can snuggle in your pocket. All childrens books should be this size, I think.

It is a good sign when a book is strangely-shaped. I am only going to buy oddly-sized-and-shaped books from now on. I think that if something is an odd size and shape it is necessarily good.

I got a copy of Baudelaire's Poems in Prose today--it is beautiful: square, and hard-covered, with a man's face etched into the front cover, and with smooth, thick, white paper. I am in love with it.

In defense of outspoken, attractive authors

This is an interesting essay by Stephen Elliott about why it shouldn’t matter if authors are total chach-bags. I’m glad someone is defending me, finally.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Radio Nowhere

I am playing the new Bruce Springsteen song, Radio Nowhere, repeatedly until everyone gets back to the city. I have outfitted myself with a special earphone that looks like a poorly drilled cochlear implant. It's only been an hour and I've already hurt myself dancing. Is there anybody alive out there?

Look how casual and easy I am in this photo. You want to be my friend and I want to be yours. Don't you LOVE it when it works out this way? You feel comfortable enough to come on over to my house without calling first. You don't need to bring anyone like your sister or significant other because the conversation is so effortless. There is never awkward silence like with that guy Jack Morgan. When there is silence we don't fret about it because we can sit together like an old couple who have been together for 50 years. You like my shirt. You like all my clothes. You call just to say "hi". You don't mind tasting something off of my finger or from the same straw. You can tell me when I have bad breath (never). You never get jealous of my other friends. You laugh and don't feel insecure when I tease you about the extra weight you've put on (whether it be in your belly or your ass). You love this picture of me because it captures my essence so perfectly. And because you appreciate beauty.

benicio del toro is becoming a wolf. i would like to become something.

dear venom literati,

i am unbearably sad but i can't say why on the internet. you know why. but it's not good for business to say why. i do not like business.

i love benicio del toro. he is always thinking. i bet he has never worked in an office.

i also really like the part in frances johnson where they are lying in bed and she says:

"It doesn't make sense to me," she exhaled toward the window, which framed a dark, gelatinous sky. "Two adults, in the middle of the lying on top of the other...?" Frances felt out of sorts.

it doesn't make sense to me either. i also like how frances doesn't think she's a child, a girl, or a woman--"Was she unique?" sometimes i'm not sure if stacey levine is making a parody out of frances, and then i think maybe stacey would make fun of me for identifying with frances so much. but i do. i am frances.

i have to go to boston now.

it is so sad,


And Then I Was Sad

Last week I had a city-meltdown. The city was eating me. I escaped with my boyfriend to...Lake Geneva? My boyfriend and I have not traveled that much together, and I was pleased to discover that he is a good traveler, because boyfriends are never good travelers. I only screamed at him once, when we had to go to Wal Mart twice in one day to buy a fishing pole, which we never bought anyway, because both times we got there and he decided he didn't want to fish anymore. I couldn't get that mad because it was like something I'd do.

I used to go to Lake Geneva as a kid with my best friend Lindsey's family. We stayed in a big house on the lake and promised to make out with boys whose parents owned boats so we could go for boat rides, then we'd scam our boat ride and flee. Lindsey's mom was always dieting so we'd eat ham and mustard sandwiches all week and lay on the dock in the sun. I loved it.

Lake Geneva is weird now. Rich people name their properties things like "Exquisite Oaks." I still love it, though, because it is still a place where nobody does anything. People don't even utilize their own boats there: they dock them and sit on them and drink beer all day. Everyone in Lake Geneva is always hanging out. Even the people working in the crappy touristy shops have an aire of hanging out.

I started to hate the city. After the first day I said, "Boyfriend, can we move here?" I was serious. "We can buy a boat and live in it." I wanted to disappear in a teeny touristy town with no permanent residents. I could become the kayak-rental-girl, or the fat girl selling 'spensive and not-that-good truffles at the candy store. I could do nothing and not care that I was doing nothing. Because those are the people I'm most jealous of: who are doing nothing and are perfectly happy.

Really, though, I could not live there and do nothing. I would start to think everyone there was a loser. And I would get fat and beerbellied like in college. And I would think I was a loser. And then I would kill everyone.

And then I was sad.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Objects, absence, authors


My phone stopped working, and I have a loaner for the next five days. It is oh-so-very early 90s: bulky, square alarm-clock-numbers in the display. It is an exact replica of the phone owned by the individual who previously held my position at work.

My hand on it looks like hers. I remember things now, like how she ate hot cereal in the morning and took time when she needed it. Is she my Nancy? Maybe not: I remember her eating raisins with gusto, when, clearly, they are repulsive.


One of the things Kathy and I will be doing in the next few days is attending a workshop at which I will learn how to position things under headlines. No further comment.


We need to write to Don DeLillo and Miranda July. I want to start:

Dear Don DeLillo,

Does the very thought of having a society devoted to studying your work cause a pleasurable sensation in your special place?

Dear Miranda July,

Have you ever slept with any movie stars? Which ones? Details, please.

Technically, we should be writing to Stacey Levine this week, but because we're going to interview her, I think we should discuss the questions on Saturday. And plus also too, she gets the two questions Wayne could not answer.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Adopt a Dirty Hipster Day

As reported by reputable news source, The Onion, 14 waifish American Apparel models have been freed in a daring midnight raid. “The models, who range in age from 18 to 22 but appear to be 12 to 14, were taken to an emergency safehouse where they were given food, clothing, and access to soap.” Now that their fleas are gone, I’d really like to adopt one of these young girls. We should all do our part!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Correction: Unabridged books does not have everything

In keeping with the Seattle theme of Stacey Levine Week, I went to Unabridged books to try to find O. Street by Corinna Wycoff (Click OV books after you click this), and they did not have it. I guess I will have to mail-order it and hope the mafia doesn’t stop it at the edge of town with the rest of my mail.

I bought a book called The Littlest Hitler instead by a Seattle writer I can tell is not nearly as cool as Corinna Wycoff. I feel like the writer of the Littlest Hitler is a guy who lives with his wife and works at a dotcom in my old neighborhood in Seattle and plays board games and makes his friends take their shoes off when they come in the house. So every time you visit him, you have to make sure you're wearing clean, matching socks. Even though guys like that can write an interesting story that occasionally amuses me against my own will, I still find them annoying. And I find it annoying that The Littlest Hittler is put out by a major press when books more deserving of a satiny cover and nice design and three pages of newspaper kudos are not.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Chris Bower is the future of robot literature

When I met Chris Bower in grad school, I was wary of him because he looks like a Chicago kind of guy. But one day I saw him walking down Michigan Avenue covered in orange peels, his eyes red and buggy, and I realized he’s a total freak. Everyone should read these stories he wrote, which almost caused a straight-on-straight gay bashing at a bar in Logan Square whose regulars include a man named Peanuts.

“In the United States today there are more practicing poets than members of the National Rifle Association.”

That is such a lie. This is quite possibly the worst essay I’ve read all day. Which is saying a lot. I did laugh a little when he called Foucault and Derrida “yawn-inducing.” And yes, I am a member of the NRA. My dad signed me up as a wee fetus. Unlike Poetry magazine, the NRA will accept anyone.

Attention Women Poets Under the age of 39…

The deadline for The Gatewood Prize from Switchback Books is October 1st. I’m not applying for this one, since I’m obviously too tall to be a poet. May the best Kathy Regina win!

Building community

I was super into baseball like five years ago, and then I figured out that I didn't have the emotional reserves to care that much about the outcome of a game over which I had no control. I still like going to games, though.

Abby and I went to see the Cubs play last night, and I remembered that my favorite thing about Cubs fans is the rude return of the opposing team's home run balls. It makes me feel defiant and tough by association. But, I think that kind of tradition nurtures a sense of community...and that makes me shudder.

By the end of the game, the guy sitting next to Abby was beery enough to want to chat; the dudes in front of us were leaning back to talk to the chatty guy beside us; there was a love connection between one drunken fellow in front of us and a middle aged fried out kindergarten teacher-lookin' lady wearing Cubs-colored Mardi Gras beads. Some guy gave me a high five on the way out and, encouraged, tried to hug Abby. I was glad when it was over because I knew the sense of community would only increase the longer we were there.

The game wants something from you. It wants you to drink (until the seventh inning, so you're groggy and desperate on your way out) and love your neighbor. It wants you to side with the majority of people and against the minority of people. It wants you to put up with stuff, especially if you're a girl. But it's still a pleasant way to spend an evening.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Has anyone else noticed that every patient on Grey's Anatomy seems to die? They stay around long enough to provide a plot parallel to the doctors' lives, and then, they die. Now that Addison's getting her own show on Thursday, more people are sure to kick the bucket. I would like to hear Kathy's opinion about this.

Southern Accents: Hot or Not?

I would like to survey you all on a highly important matter. Do you think southern accents are hot or yucky?

I'm transcribing an interview with this southern guy who sounds sort of like Dr. Phil right now, but hotter. I can tell from his voice that he is waaay hotter. He is wearing a cowboy hat and tight blue jeans and he is super hot and I am all melty. He is not the guy in that picture.

For example: he just said: "We got to have our cake and eat it too" and it was the hottest thing ever.

I am talking real southern accents--not missourah or southern iowa or southern illinois--those are never hot. I am referring to the real south. But not the hillbilly south, if there is such a thing.

In your comments please also discuss the differences between the hillbilly southern accent and the hot/not yucky southern accent.

Survey says?


I haven’t read this book yet, but Arsenal Pulp Press is the coolest, and something exactly like this happened in my kitchen once.Soucouyant has been longlisted for the Giller Prize.

I'm so insecure: He was just in Berlin

Dear Venom Literari--

Sorry for my delay in responding. I was in Berlin.

Questions #1 and #2 stump me. [Question #1: Why do people clap in movie theaters? Do they think the actors can hear them? Question #2: Why do old ladies make orgasmic noises while whale watching?]

Question #3: "Convolute" (or: "Konvolut") is the word Walter Benjamin used for the subdivisions in his Arcades Project. I take "Konvolut" to be a synonym for "dossier," which was Joseph Cornell's word for his files. I think that, in German, "Konvolut" also means "faggot" (as in a bundle of kindling). If I were to picture a Konvolut: it looks like the cone of cheap paper used for wrapping (or sustaining) cotton candy.

Question #4: I just finished reading David Markson's The Last Novel. I love his work. It's full of hotel (wo)men: he seems to suggest that all true artists are hotel women at heart.

Yours truly,

[Sarah]: Sigh. I just love that Wayne Koestenbaum. And looks like we have our next book.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Oh yeah...some books are good

Lacking a literary collective (or even a book club) in the last couple of years, I spent a lot of time at the library being overwhelmed. To remedy this problem, I beelined for the new books section and chose lots of books at random, based mainly on title and graphics and size--what some might call "cover."

I read a lot of crap, developed a penchant for first novels and began cultivating The Dread.

The Dread is the feeling that no one will ever, ever understand what you are doing, so you should change it. It feels a lot like being a teenager. It sucks the fun out of writing. It just sucks.

I got Frances Johnson in the mail this afternoon. Hooray for Frances Johnson. Because oh yeah, some books are good.

Also, I like its cover.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

aidan quinn is so handsome

remember that show where aidan quinn played an episcopalian priest and he talked to jesus in his car all the time? i liked that show.

another thing i like is this project by shawn huelle. a few years ago he started writing memos at his office job every day. they are good. i guess he eventually got fired because of it. i think he did the right thing.

remember when people used to say "i didn't get the memo?" i guess people don't say that anymore because no one ever gets memos. i don't know if i've ever gotten a memo. what's the difference between a memo and an email? i think maybe a memo has something to do with paper.

well some people do still say "i didn't get the memo." but they are the same people that say "been there done that" and "oh no she didn't." last night at this bar i heard someone say "get 'er done" in a non-sarcastic way. i guess he didn't get the memo that no one says get 'er done anymore. although sometimes i do say get 'er done to sarah because she hates it. i need to remember to say get 'er done to sarah more often.

aidan quinn is so handsome.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Britney 'n' me

Too much relevance frightens me, so this post is about Britney Spears.
I see a lot of similarities between Britney and me. She has that if-you-try-and-you-fail-you-suck-but-if-you-don’t-try-you-have-an-excuse-for-failing syndrome (methinks), which I, too, fall into if I’m not careful. We share a fondness for very small dogs. Both of us have oral fixations. Also, I think we gain weight in the same places.
Which flailing-through-celebrity personality do you resemble?

Innovative Fiction Prize

November 1 is the postmark deadline for the FC2 innovative fiction prize for a manuscript of “high quality and exceptional ambition whose style, subject matter, or form pushes the limits of American publishing and reshapes our literary culture."


The Missouri Review is offering prizes of $3,000 in fiction, poetry and non-fiction, deadline October 1.
As we learned on Sarah and Abby’s back porch, it is pronounced Missour-ee and not Missour-uh, as I was misinformed by relatives from Southern Missour-uh, who also pronounce Wayne as “Waaaayne.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Disturbing Phenomenon

I am having this weird experience lately where everything I eat while inside my home tastes the same, or: has the same weird taste attached to it.

I made cookies a couple weeks ago that had this taste. Then today there was some cheese. There are other things, too. There is everything. How these things taste is the same as this smell that is in my house, too.

I can't describe the smell/taste. It's sort of medicine-y. Or detergent-y. But vaguely. It is an innocuous taste/smell, that neither the boyfriend or the kittycat notice.

It did make me think of Stacey Levine. Or, rather, the fact that it's Stacey Levine week made me think of her in relationship to the taste/smell. Maybe because it's Stacey Levine week I am trapped in one of her stories.

I could see her writing this story, only she would write it well, so it would be weird and scary that everything had this same vague smell/taste attached to it. The smell/taste would be so vague one would question the sanity of the narrator. A benign and possibly nonexistent smell that would drive the narrator (ie: me) crazy.

Like how she wrote "Cakes" which is the weirdest and scariest story ever and which I still think is about me.

Stacey, will you write it?

PS: if Wayne doesn't respond, his interview questions automatically go to Stacey. I definitely want to ask Stacey what to do about this taste/smell. Or what she would do about it.

Did we go too far?

Encouraged by the query at the end of Wayne Koestenbaum's letter to us, we decided to write to him and let him know how our discussion went. Penned beautifully by Megan, the letter was a synopsis of our meeting and also contained a request for a book recommendation.

Wayne has not written back; whereas, the last time we wrote him, he wrote back in, like, 10 minutes. I am in the throes of caffeine withdrawal right now, which makes me think nobody likes me, but in the case of Wayne, I am afraid it might be true.

My impulse is to bombard him with more letters and drive him away permanently. I wish it mattered to him how hot we all are.

Olivia Cronk is way cooler than...

bookslut. But I wouldn't be offended, bookslut, because Olivia Cronk is cooler than everyone. Kids, can you think of something or someone Olivia Cronk is cooler than? Post below.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why doesn't Jessa Crispin love me?

I emailed Jessa Crispin of Bookslut to try to get them to link to my microwave "publish stacey's book" art project but apparently she didn't see my fascinating email in all the millions she probably receives a day. Bookslut reviewed my book, so they are the coolest ever, but still, why Jessa, why? Was it me? Am I not cute enough? That can't even be possible. I am totally, totally cute. It must be my personality again. Curses!

Also, we will be running an interview with Stacey Levine about her awesome new book, The Kidney Problem: tales and stories as soon as Stacey gets back from some event at her work called "the surgery pavillion" (which, yes, does sound like a perfect name for the back room at the Zakopane). Stay tuned.

Don't worry VL...I'm here!

Well, it looks like it's up to me to blog today. Either you guys are busy or you are respecting the solemness of this day...the day that 50 cent quits the music biz 'cause Kanye is gonna kick his a$%!
I spent today in the car looking for Fergie songs on the radio. I was quite successful. I heard GLAMOROUS once and Big Girls Don't Cry 3 times! Good day. I also thought about Amanda Bynes a lot. I was making stories in my head about her asking me for advice and being jealous of how pretty I am. That little gal just doesn't know how talented she really is and I hope she makes better movie choices from now on. I bet she has the chops for real drama and I would HATE to see her pigeon-holed into these fluffy romantic cheese whiz poop-doodles.
(help. venom literati is trying to turn me into a robot.)
Today is going to be extra lovely because I get to narrow down my headshots into my 15 favs! This is going to take ALL DAY because they are all so f@#$ing perfect.
I wailed on my quads yesterday by doing 8000 lunges with Jillian Michaels-trainer-to-the-stars. I scared the s@#t out of Eli when I bent down to pick him up because I am so sore I went "eeeeaaaagggghhhhhheerrrrrrrrroooohhhhhhh!" and he scratched me on the boob.

Monday, September 10, 2007

i am only going to read abraham heschel from now on

someone has turned my brain lights out.
when i say "someone" i am not necessarily blaming you.
on the sabbath you are not supposed to ignite or put out a fire.
this includes microwaves.
you can leave your stove top burner on a low flame the night before
for hot soup
but you are not supposed to stir it.
you put a lot of water in it.
you also cannot turn on a lamp
so you have to sleep with the lights on
you should not turn the light off!

Everyone on the Internet has a sleep disorder

I was going to flat-out accuse Blake Butler of stealing my hypnopompia for his own nefarious, writerly purposes when Kathy told me of Insomnia Door, but now I love him because it made me exclaim loud and complimentary things such as, "Holy shit, that was a great poem!"

Off topic: I looked up convolute in the dictionary, and I'm still not entirely sure what it means or why.

Vodka gimlets are three parts vodka, one part lime juice. That I understand.

Even more off topic: Bread bowl soup from Camille's is made by the devil. Or of the devil. Either way, ouch.

Back on topic: Read the poem.

Stacey Levine week continues

As suggested by celebrity guest Tao Lin, Stacey Levine's book Frances Johnson will be our next book club selection. We still wish someone would publish her new, new book, The Kidney Problem: Tales and Stories. I've started a promotional page for it on my microwave.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Literature to make out with...

Making out with Jane Bowles reminded me there is a whole genre of literature with which one might like to make out. Unfortunately, much of this writing is hard to find because people are too busy making out with books whose authors are naturally talented at self-promotion. We would like to get our greasy fingerprints all over Stacey Levine’s new book, but someone needs to publish it first. Please, someone, publish Stacey Levine’s new book! Put the title in a nice sans-serif font. We will promote her with quirky You-Tube videos and websites drawn on refrigerators in dry erase marker. Publish, and publish soon, because October is our most creative month.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bear Parade

Von Steubing Day Parade! Clearly, our friend here has teleport.

Hotel Theory Meeting Minutes

The minutes of our last meeting, at which we sort of discussed Wayne Koestenbaum's Hotel Theory, are as follows:

1. Within minutes of our arrival at *Disappointing Mystery Location*, Venom Literati (playing the part of the Hotel Women for the evening) realized our obvious mistake: we had not met at a hotel. We vowed to pretend for the remainder of the evening that we were actually at the "W" Hotel downtown. We had also forgotten to dress up like Hotel Women, although Sarah did wear a hotel-womanly ring.

It didn't matter, because clearly we were not at the "W." No, no: we were at *Disappointing Mystery Location*. Our waitress was haggard and rude about having to dry off rained-on tables. While she dried the tables, she kept looking angrily skyward although there was not a cloud in sight. Missy and Megan grumbled loudly about her in the background, as they are wont to do whenever they are together.

Also we could not discuss Hotel Theory at *Disappointing Mystery Location* because the table of social workers adjacent to us were screaming about social work. They were all drinking Diet Coke at a bar, which disgusted us. We did manage to read several of our favorite passages aloud, however, including a reading by the two Meg(h)ans as Lana and Liberace, and Sarah as narrator.

Megan/Lana: I'd like to commemorate [Mr. Lousa], but I don't know where.

Meghan/Liberace: Why not Dolores Presbyterian Church?

Megan/Lana: I don't think Mr. Lousa worshipped anywhere. And I doubt his mourners could fill Dolores Presbyterian. Anyway, Hotel Women's more appropriate. Poolside?

Meghan/Liberace: That could be awkward.

Megan/Lana: It's where I met him.

Meghan/Liberace: You were fond of him?

Megan/Lana: Once you see someone half-dressed

Sarah: said Lana.

Megan/Lana: You take it personally if someone knocks him off.

Meghan/Liberace: Would people attending Mr. Lousa's poolside memorial be allowed to swim?

Megan/Lana: I'll request that everyone wear swimsuits.

We also had a deep and grumpy conversation about why people clap in movie theaters and why old ladies make orgasmic noises while whale watching. We would have to ask Wayne about this. We would also have to ask him what a "convolute" is. Sarah meant to look up convolutes, but looked up the recipe for vodka gimlets instead.

Missy, Jen, and Megan devoured red meat with their hands in front of the repulsed vegetarians. Abby confessed to eating a tuna sandwhich the day before that was still rebelling against her stomach. Sarah and Abby chugged their gimlets and we retired from *Disappointing Mystery Location* in a huff.

2. We returned to Sarah and Abby's deck and drank champagne out of plastic glasses with animals on them. We deserved champagne because we decided are about to become famous, due to yesterday's mention on Soft Skull Press's website.

All of the animal glasses were also labeled with the noise each animal would make, ie: baa, oink, etc. Then there was "Giraffe," which just said "Giraffe." Abby showed us the giraffe noise she does for her wiggle worms, which involves sticking out your tongue really far and making a constipated, "mleh"-like sound, repeatedly. It was good that we were not at the "W."

3. Venom Literati unanimously decided that if we had to make out with one character in Hotel Theory, it would definitely be Jane Bowles. Megan would also make out with Liberace, to see what it would be like, although she did not disclose this at the time.

4. Here are some select quotes from the evening, in no particular order:

"Is rehab cheaper than rent? What about prison? Prison would be AWESOME: you could hang out and write all day and get REALLY buff."

"I always wanted to be a church custodian."

"We cuddle: you just want to go to sleep." (New VL motto?)

"Just think of all the pussy I could've had in those ten years..." (Abby, regarding upcoming anniversary with Sarah.)

"Last week at Stargaze I played pool against a woman in a 'seasonal sweater' with puffy-painted autumn leaves. I also played against her two breasts, which she kept lifting toward her face to speak to. "

"You can't just throw charisma around willy-nilly."

"It was originally Revenge--not Return--of the Jedi. I know. I got the newsletter."

"Why does baby Helena get the last word? Where is Kathy? Kathy would know."

"Move the mouse to watch the lesbian-eyes!"

5. We missed Kathy. Kathy's absence was why we were not on task in discussing the book. We chalked it up to our de-evolution into Hotel Women. We smoked tons and tons of cigarettes.

6. We discussed the bright and famous future of Venom Literati. First, underestimating ourselves, we thought: podcast. Then we decided Venom Literati will be on Oprah someday soon--no, wait--we will take over Oprah's slot. But we will begin with a public access show on Chicago's WTTW. (All of our authors would DEFINITELY fly in to be on the show.)

The set will be as follows: the set will be the Zacopane (dingy Polish dive bar in Logan Square that smells like pee). The first show will feature Tao Lin jumping madly up and down on a motheaten couch, screaming: "I LOVE KATHY! I LOVE KATHY!" There will be a pool table in the background.

We will also give our audience amazing prizes, just like Oprah does. We will run into the audience screaming: "We've got Hotel Theory! Everyone gets a free copy of Hotel Theory, AND cigarettes, AND a warm can of Old Style!!!" The audience will go wild. Or maybe Wayne Koestenbaum should have this honor. That would be awesome.

There will be a segment in which we give "lesbian-eyes" to the audience to determine who is a real lesbian. It will go on for way too long.

7. We discussed our favorite Today Show segments, which I can't remember--someone please refresh me.

8. We ran out of cigarettes. We were drunk. We had to have cigarettes to keep going. We gave up. We slept well, dreaming of Wayne.

Friday, September 7, 2007

all you ever talk about is your kids

  • soft skull press found our letter to wayne koestenbaum. they are good. they published hotel theory.

  • i like clay bane's blog 'poetry is so boring.' i can't remember where i found him. he is everywhere.

  • i like biographia photographia by micah robbins. i like it when people take portraits of statues as though they were real people. that is interesting.

  • i didn't really read very much of hotel theory. i have a bad attitude. i read 'you are a little bit happier than i am' by tao lin instead. i like the poems 'i am unemployed,' 'i am about to kill my literary agent,' and 'poem to end my head off.'

if the meaning of life is to have children, then venom literati is collectively meaningless. i like that.

My First Time

(I'm a little nervous because my beautiful picture is a jumble of letters and numbers and symbols right now. It is very interesting to me, however, to see myself in this's almost more beautiful than the actual image....what am I saying? Haha, that's sort of ridiculous.) I chose this particular image today, as my first in a series of, oh, 200? because I think I look intelligent and judgemental which is sort of like this blog. You see, I am, how should I say this? I am less than confident when it comes to my own intelligence...HELL I'm gonna come right out and say this...I didn't read HOTEL WOMEN. OK!? Where was I? Oh yeah, I may be above average intelligence (I was invited to contribute to Venom Literati for God's sake) but it is not the first thing people notice about me. What is? Well, my gleaming white teeth for starters (which you will see in future posts). What do people notice? My hair, my eyes, my thin yet expressive lips, the pinkness of my you get the picture?(so to speak, hehe. I am and always will be an actress and I love that about me. I may not be a fancy-pants-New-York-City-liberal- elite-professor-writer-lady-with-little-wire-glasses-who-can-make-words-pretty. BUT! I take a damn good picture.
You know what's weird? I sound like a conservative when I'm insecure.

Thinking with my stomach

So, while on my quest to find Hotel Theory, I panicked in the bookstore and thought I needed another book (not yet knowing that Hotel Theory would fill my soul for weeks to come), and after much deliberation of, like, six other books, I randomly chose one off the shelf.

Here's the deal, though: Now I believe I chose it specifically because it had chopsticks on the cover, and we were going to eat Thai food after our bookstore excursion. I chose this book because I wanted Thai food.

Anyway, I don't like it for a number of reasons, and I just remembered this morning--as I put myself into a progressively worse mood reading it on the train--that I don't have to read things I don't like.

Someone will leave tonight's meeting with this book in her bag. It will not be me. Guard your possessions closely: I enjoy a challenge.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

*Gulp* He wrote back!

Check out Wayne Koestenbaum's response. I think I have a crush on him now.

Here's Wayne:

Dear Venom--

I think I'll abstain from an actual real-time visit to the sacred space of your blog, but I am totally DELIGHTED by your attentions.

Sorry to have not given Cheryl Crane her due. I wrote both columns at the same time.

Thanks for avoiding articles in your letter. Isn't avoidance fun?

Yours truly,

Me again:

I would like to point out that he did not mention the Apartment People doppelganger at all, leading me to believe that it was totally him.

The Hotel Women Gently Stalk Wayne Koestenbaum

Dear Wayne Koestenbaum,

Whoa--Hotel Theory--whoa--we are waaaay smarter now, Wayne. We have also all devolved into Hotel Women.

You're invited to come to our meeting at which we will discuss it. We will ask you questions, like: Which column did you write first? Or was it all higgledy-piggledy?

Liberace will be at meeting, too. Or if he is not, there will be blowup doll in his likeness. Also, there will be vats of suntan oil we can rub on his ass in unison.

Missy was disappointed that Cheryl was lame in book. In real life Cheryl stabbed that guy named Johnny Stompanato with kitchen knife, which actually makes her awesome.

Megan is certain that you were her agent at Apartment People in Chicago when she first moved here. You tried to rip her off with studio by lake for like 900 bucks per month. You were wearing that same pinstriped suit and smartypants glasses you're wearing in your Hotel Theory photo. She thought you were lying about your name being Wayne. We still believe you may be lying about it.

Come to our meeting to prove you're not.

Your friends,

Venom Literati

Hotel Woman I am

I finished Hotel Theory last night, in true hotel woman style. Picture me in bed, under all my covers, a/c blasting, smoking cigarette after cigarette, in silky pajamas, at 6pm. All I needed was a vodka gimlet. And a naked Liberace.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Lana Turner is Not as Smokin' Hot As Abby

Here's some info on Lana Turner. It will greatly enhance our readings of Hotel Theory, especially since it's from Wikipedia.

I never knew what Lana Turner looked like, but I feel like I pictured her exactly like the opening photo...

I think hotel women always look like that, sort of grainy/hazy/foggy: it's their natural complexion. It is what our complexions look like for sure. And Abby's looks even better thanks to the new head shots

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Is it possible to be a hotel woman in today's day and age?

Guess what, my sweet bitches? It's time to write another letter, this time to our soon-to-be new-best-friend Wayne Kostenbaum.

I will start. Also, I will make a rule: You may not use any articles (a, an, the), like in Hotel Women.

Dear Wayne Kostenbaum,

Which column did you write first? Or was it all higgledy-piggledy?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I am not in Maine anymore

New fantasy: We buy a bunch of abandoned vacation cottages and spend our days kayaking and writing and avoiding the man-dogs and other wildlife.

I haven't showered since Friday. I slept from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. last night (and today). I skinned my face. I think I will write a longer post about Maine later, but I'll tell the face-skinning story in this one:

Echo Lake is beautiful. You can see through the water all the way to the rocky, sharp bottom. Abby hopped from rock to rock; she can be startlingly athletic. I tried to follow suit--except I was wearing flip-flops; also, I am clumsy. The little tree I grabbed to keep me from sliding into the water gave way, and I belly flopped into very shallow water, slamming my face into a small boulder. I passed out a little bit.

Now, I have a gnarly scrape and bruise on my chin and a very sore jaw and neck muscles. I am not dead! Hooray!

P.S. The pictured chupacabra is hotter than Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer combined.

P.P.S (or is it P.S.S.?) I'm glad to be back.