Sunday, July 20, 2014

FBC! Lite, Summer Edition

Coming soon, in a Frog magazine near you.

Posting on FBC! is becoming more and more infrequent, but I'm happy to inform you that part of it is due to spending some time writing for an upcoming print publication in Frog magazine where yours truly has found a happy refuge at the invitation of its chief editor, curator and writer Eric Troncy. Frog has already reprinted a couple of old blog posts for its December issue last year, but I've written an original (and long) essay for the September magazine. It's about magic. Sort of.
Posting on here is becoming rare also because I'm practicing my other type of writing, the one I'm not very good at (fiction) but I'm working on it. Not sure when/if it will ever see the light, but if it does I'll keep you posted. 
Also, I'm technically on a break because I've misplaced my camera battery charger, so until I get a new one I can't take any pictures. Besides I haven't done much art viewing recently, or the one I've done was too uninspiring for me to want to spend a couple of hours in front of the computer to report on it. I might make it to the Düsseldorf Quadriennale in August so if I do there will be a post on here, but nothing is much certain, as I haven't booked a train ticket yet and it ends in about 3 weeks. 

In other news, you regular FBC! readers know how nuts we are about Scott Walker's recent musical output here at our worldwide headquarters, so we're very pleased (and more than a little impatient) to have learned that the great man had teamed up with Sunn 0))) for an upcoming release on September 22nd, Soused
From the info on the 4AD website it seems that all 5 tracks have been composed by Scott Walker, and yours truly hopes he will also do most of the singing - what I really can't stand with Sunn 0))) is their totally stereotypical metal style of singing. Aside from their wearing monk robes and using smoke machines on stage, but then if that disguising apparatus means that Walker might actually end up touring with them, maybe there's an upside - apart from making me roaring with laughter at the vision of Walker with his trademark baseball cap donning a monk robe and getting back on stage. It probably will never happen, but it's fun thinking about it. 
Surprisingly for Walker there's only a 2 years gap between Bish Bosch and that new record, which means he must have written at lightning speed, for someone known to labor for several years on a song. I, for one, won't complain. Just 2 months more and we'll discover the thing. Henry Rollins has apparently listened to the record already and I take his word when it says it's great.

This one is the only good news this week, when, you know, the world is on fire, shit happens all the time, and we're killing the planet a little bit more every day. About this I have very little to say except I am a bit puzzled by certain types of social network activists who seem to think they can change the world by posting such original thoughts as "world leaders, I conjure you to listen to ME and bring in global peace", and, er… I'm not sure it's the most efficient way to go at it. Not that I have anything better to propose, but I don't know that thinking you can address the powers that be from the sanctity of your social network account will bring global results, even if the NSA closely monitors your kitten photos and foodie Instagram pictures. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Support Nicolas Bourriaud In His Quest To Modernize An Antiquated French School

A totally irrelevant image posted here so text-adverse people would get their short attention span focusing on something.

I had posted this on Facebook, but for easy sharing I'm pasting it in a FBC! post.

"Please give Nicolas Bourriaud some support in his quest to make the National School of Fine Art (ENSBA) in Paris an institution that would finally join the 21st century, instead of being steeped in the same mediocrity it has been mired in since the 19th.
This is a ridiculous situation of the kind that makes French art the laughingstock of the international art community nowadays, and as such is difficult to explain. Basically there is an internal conflict with long-standing staff at the school, which has extended to students going on strike. Because they’re upset their new director, Nicolas Bourriaud, is trying to make up for a big shortfall in public spending in his budget by renting out facilities to private companies, and by his partnering with art galleries for one occasional event. Those of you used to fundraising to keep art alive and available to the public will appreciate the irony.

It really boils down to an ugly internal conflict of the kind that shouldn’t even be allowed to happen, if the apparatchik civil servants running the French art world were smart enough to lay aside their petty private interests for one moment in favor of looking at the big picture instead. There won’t be good French artists until there are good French art schools, and there won’t be any good French art schools if administrators go on strike against any needed reform coming from their hierarchy.
If so inclined, please sign the petition below and share it liberally. It’s in French, but on so there’s nothing complicated about it. Please support Nicolas Bourriaud in modernizing this school, and maybe 10 years from now the question won’t be “why are there no good French artists?” anymore, but “how come France has such a bumper crop of new talents?”

Link to the petition HERE

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Please Let Us Interrupt This Current Absence Of Posting

Garcimore's most famous stage costume

Hello, dear, beloved readers! It's been a while, isn't it?  As usual we at the FBC! Headquarters have been a bit busy with non-blog-related things including a lot of non-art writing, some others related to the obligation to make a living (we're available for all stand-up comedy  English-French-English live translation gigs for a hefty fee + expenses if you need us), and, you know, life.
Some of this life has included and will continue to include extensive train travels (my favorite) and so I can announce now there will be an upcoming article in the September issue of Frog Magazine, about the late French TV magician Garcimore. And then some more!

Meanwhile, I know you can't live without a heavy dose of FBC! and are frustrated, what do I say, you are dying without it. Fear not, intrepid readership, for I have found a more than acceptable substitute for all your FBC!-deprivation woes. While waiting for yours truly to post stuff on here somedays, why don't you go and check my other favorite blogs, starting with Houseguest, written by my bestie the fabulous Grant Wahlquist. Houseguest is a blog almost entirely devoted to studio visits with various artists, such as Joe Mama-Nitzberg or Jennifer Moon. It doesn't shy away from the tough questions ("do you have a day job, how does it impact your work?), always provides a nifty intro to the artist's work, and also shines a light on the working habits of artists.

My other favorite blog is the fruit of Tosh Berman's labor, Tosh whom I've already talked about on here. Since the beginning of this year, Tosh has been writing daily posts centered around the famous births or deaths of artists, writers, actors, filmmakers, dancers or musicians but written in the first person. These posts are mostly fiction but with a heavy dose of real facts about the people Tosh writes about.

Lastly there are some shows I do intend to visit in the next few months, such as the Düsseldorf Quadriennale, so stay tuned for more FBC! posts in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, check my friends' blogs!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Lackluster Art Brussels 2014

 Some furry something by the Chapuisat brothers. I think my cat would have liked it.

Last week was the annual Art Brussels art fair, an event that left me rather dubious, with the disclaimer that all art fairs give me the willies, and also that I was rather wiped out after providing live translation an hour away the day prior to my visit.  
I had gone to the art fair last year as well and was rather unimpressed, and would have skipped this year’s if not for friends being in town and wanting me to come visit.  This year was even more underwhelming if that is possible, and I wouldn’t have reported on it if several people in the business hadn’t asked for my opinion, I suppose to test the waters and see if they’d want to apply for future edition. 
Most of the galleries represented were Belgian (maybe a 75% ratio?) giving the fair a decidedly local feel; as for the rest it was a hodgepodge of French, German, British, Latin American and a few  galleries from the United States. My feeling about this specific art fair is that it is totally over-hyped abroad, but that is true of the local art scene as well.

Not that the local art scene is bad, far from it, but the emphasis is on “local”. Brussels certainly isn’t “the new Berlin” and even less “the new Los Angeles”. It’s dynamic thanks to a myriad little non-profits that are very active, and then they have some weird hybrid model here where they seem to have public money going to support private commercial galleries as long as they show local artists, I’m given to understand (a lot of exhibitions at private galleries get a notice "with the support of [either the Flemish or Walloon authorities]"). They even have art dealers doubling as the main “art critics” writing and publishing about the artists they represent and claiming it represents scholarly work instead of pure marketing, but then the notion of “conflict of interest” doesn’t seem to rise to the consciousness of a lot of actors in the Euro art world in general. In any case, the impression one gets from the Brussels art scene is that there are many little thing going on, but a lot of them seem stuck in a post-conceptual time warp, and the ambition always remains hyperlocal rather than international. And, why the hell not? But this is where the comparison with Berlin and Los Angeles stops. 

That one was really fun too, with a texture obtained by carving into styrofoam, but you can't help thinking it's going to age badly, yellowing and crumbling in a year or two.

The result here in Brussels is that you have many small art events everywhere all the time, some of them interesting, many others totally incomprehensible if you’re a foreigner. The main issue that stops the growth of the Brussels and Belgian art scene, IMHO,  is that there isn’t a national museum of modern/contemporary art anymore, and if not for the Wiels (a Kunsthalle installed in a gorgeous former brewery) that stages ambitious international exhibitions, there would be no real visibility for foreign artists here and for Belgian artists abroad. 
The SMAK in Ghent (please, let someone tell them what smack means) and the MHKA in Antwerp are good institutions, and you have really interesting museums in Ostend and Leuven, but generally speaking it feels like the country is lacking a national collecting institution that could really support artists and attracts visitors, and become the natural home for the famed Belgian private collections. 
To my knowledge Brussels is the only Western capital that doesn’t have a flagship modern and contemporary art museum, when most big cities actually have several, collecting or not (NYC: MoMA, PS1, The New Museum. LA: MOCA, LACMA, the Hammer. Paris: the Pompidou, the Palais de Tokyo, the Jeu de Paume. Etc.)  
This lack of a great institution (when there used to be one before) feels extraordinarily provincial, especially since there is a public here for cutting-edge culture if you look at, say, contemporary ballet or avant-garde music.  Provincialism was also the vibe I got from the art fair* and it is strange to see visual arts trailing live performances in a country that used to be more trailblazing for contemporary arts 20 years ago.

A work by Hans Op De Beek, one of my favorite Belgian artists.

As for the business end of the fair I do not know, except I’ve been told of lukewarm sales from a few art dealers I know. As a spectator, I felt a little bit like I was visiting Art Cologne circa 1993. A lot of the art being shown had a D+, C- quality to my eye, with an overall grayscale aspect: a lot of black and white photos, drawings, post-conceptual art… The disappointing thing was that, if you’re at an art fair that isn’t huge on the international circuit (it’s not Basel or Frieze obviously) and where most of the exhibitors are local, you could think that it allows for some discoveries, maybe some new artists, some interesting booths, and some surprises. For example, about 20 years ago I remember going to the FIAC in Paris, a fair that at the time was particularly lame in terms of offerings, but I got to discover Tetsumi Kudo, whom nobody gave a damn about then but looked so different from everything else on view then it really stayed imprinted in my mind. 

Do You Want To Know The Time Of Your Death? a really fun, fun display from the Belgian National Lottery booth. It's a real national lottery, not an art collective operating under that name.

At Art Brussels if felt like most of the new artists were totally derivative of something else, as, say, many of the painters seemed to be doing pale imitations of Sigmar Polke or Martin Kippenberger.  There were lots of very pretty gray drawings and watercolors in the style of Hans Op De Beek, as well as many real Hans Op De Beek works (thanks God for the real Hans Op De Beek). Someone somewhere made some really, really bad giant knock-offs of Warhol, and then you had many artists trying to do some 1960s- style Op Art. It reached a stage where I was very happy to see works by artists I don’t really care for usually, like Anthony Caro, because, woozah! It’s well made! There’s an attention to detail and craft! Other things that I liked were due to the fact that I’m a sucker for taxidermy, so the Kader Attia work with a stuffed cheetah (I think the work might have referred to post-colonialism maybe?) made me happy. There was a bandaged bear somewhere, too (not pictured here, a bit reminiscent of a tamer Paul McCarthy).  I was pleased with the many Hans Op De Beek everywhere, because his work is always visually appealing; with a ghost-like quality that makes them very attractive.

The taxidermied cheetah in the Kader Attia work.

In the section with the most established galleries there seems to have been a lot of Thomas Ruff photos, and as I’m a big fan I was rather happy to see them. Another standout for me was a very rare Stanley Brouwn, a pioneer conceptual artist whose work is too confidential everywhere. I was surprised to see a large Allen Ruppersberg on display but that was before I knew he was about to have a solo show at the Wiels next  month**. But my favorite booth ever was the one for the Belgian National Lottery, which, er, I don’t know why there were there, maybe they fund something art-related, but we got to see old drawing machines and that was fun.

Some lottery drawing machines

Overall, it was hard not to feel underwhelmed by the fair, as everybody I talked to concurred.  It’s a bit difficult to know what to attribute this to, a lack of money, a lack of ambition, or something else? There were a few good things to counter the lackluster art offerings, namely the fact that the fair is human-sized, and the general atmosphere was more relaxed and felt less like a display of bling than at the usual fairs.  The few cafés scattered strategically around weren’t horribly expensive save for the Ruinart champagne one but that would have been expected.
 In the end, it’s just a fair, i.e. an anachronistic medieval trade exchange of physical goods, and not some cutting-edge intellectual group exhibition. Its only purpose being commerce, there isn’t much to be drawn in terms of having a panorama of contemporary art. But as far as trade goes, it gives the image of mediocre offerings proposed to a clientele perceived as undemanding and provincial. I can’t tell if it was a successful commercial strategy, but as an amateur bystander it made me feel like someone going to a bookstore wanting to see what the current serious literature was at and being confronted with third-rate genre writing instead.

 Stanley Brouwne

      Lest I be accused of comparing everything to Los Angeles (where the art fairs always suck) everybody I met who went to Art Brussels told me the same thing, whether they were curators, artists, critics or art dealers themselves, so I didn’t invent this “provincial vibe”.

     ** The Wiels is by far and large the standout institution in Brussels and I really love their shows. But  out of the last 4 solo shows and the next 2 upcoming ones, they showcased 5 male artists and one woman. The next show is Allen Ruppersberg and Robert Heinecken, which I'm looking forward to. They announce it as something coming out of LA, but if you want to showcase a great photographer based in LA who’s been on the scene for decades and deserves a solo show, Judy Fiskin comes to mind. The lack of women representation in the art world is a problem everywhere, not specifically Belgium, but it’s not a reason for Belgian institutions to contribute to enforce the status quo. People here are smarter than this. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

All The Cool Stuff That Fits One Bag With A Little Help From My Friends

Last issue of Frog Magazine where yours truly has 2 articles

When I came out with suffering from depression I had no idea so many people would reach out to me and be so supportive. It's a hard thing to live with, and in between migraines, having undergone brain trauma and this, let me tell you there's a painful crowd constantly living in my head. But seeing that so many people cared and took the time to help was immensely uplifting. In addition to many sweet messages I've received quite a few things in the mail over the last few months which I thought I should share with you, also as a way to publicly thank my friends. Above is a copy of the latest Frog Magazine with 3 articles on Mike Kelley inside including two from yours truly, which are edited versions of posts previously published here. I linked to the page where you can buy copies online as well as where bookstores that carry the magazine internationally are listed. Eric Troncy who's the editor of the magazine sent me that copy while I'm waiting for the publisher to send me some additional ones.

Here's a bird-eye view (and bad photo, sorry!) of everything I've received recently: a Freitag bag that can contain everything else you see in the picture above including Frog mag, two books, two LPs and a mystery jar. There's a list below so you have a better idea.

This is the catalog for the traveling Mike Kelley retrospective, originated in Amsterdam by the great Ann Goldstein, and that traveled to PS1 in NYC and is soon to open in LA at MOCA. Courtesy of my super buddy Grant Wahlquist who's responsible for this great new blog you should all put in your bookmarks.

Then my friend Stephanie Theodore who owns this gallery brought me this when she came to stay overnight in between London and Amsterdam. You can find almond butter here but not crunchy, unsalted and unsweetened almond butter. I love this stuff which I can never have enough of. better than Nutella if you ask me. Also I think if TJ's were to develop in Europe (as should Target and Crate & Barrel) they would make a killing. Similarly, Picard Surgelés should invade the US market.

Years ago I met the Irish artist Niamh O'Malley at a show I co-curated along with 11 other people in Luxembourg. We maintained a long-distance friendship over the next few years. She's a good artist and a lovely lady and this is the second book she has sent me since I started FBC!.

I still manage to listen to music sometimes and alongside my well-documented love for John Cale and Scott Walker I like other things, such as psychedelic music and ethereal lady singers, and so for Christmas my brother and sister got me the latest Wooden Shjips album as well as the one by Rachel Zeffira (couldn't get a good picture of this one, sadly).

One of my friends who's been extraordinarily supportive is Stéphane Saclier who kindly sent me a bunch of things including this really extraordinary messenger bag made by Freitag, a Swiss company. I'm totally in love with it for many reasons, including the fact that everything you see above in the first photo fits into it, as evidenced by the photo below.

The main characteristics of the bag is that it's made entirely out of recycled materials, namely the kind of tarp used to cover trucks here in Europe, and the strap is made out of a recycled seat belt, while velcro bands are used to close the bag shut. As a result you get an extraordinarily sturdy bag, and this particular model I got is expandable, so you can use it to go grocery shopping, or carry your laptop and various electronics, or your flea market haul of books and vinyl records easily. The only caveat I think is that it smells of plastic but as mine is brand new I expect the smell to subside in a few weeks. One of the things I really like about it, aside from the fact that it's spacious, waterproof, sturdy and stylish is that because the strap is made out of a seatbelt it is also expandable and so you can wear it on any shoulder comfortably. Which is great when one of your shoulders has been damaged in a car accident, this way I can use the opposite one and there's no risk of the bag slipping off.
It has one front pocket that is covered by the main flap, and because you need to undo the velcro to open both the flap and the front pocket there is no chance a pickpocket could try to help themselves without you being alerted by the noise. You will tell me you're not worried about pickpockets which is a rare event in the United States, but here in Europe it's a scourge.
 When I received the bag and realized how much I could expand it (double it's vertical length thanks to 2 inside flaps) I thought this would be a perfect carry-on purse for    flights, because it would still fit under the front seat and I could  carry many records, books and my laptop plus snacks and water, etc.

So thanks to everybody who's been so kind and generous to me. It helps keep me afloat when I'm in the pits, and reminds me what a lucky person I am to have you in my life.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Introducing FBC! Lite

My cat made the cutest little arrangement with her toys. I always knew she was a genius

Like most everybody, we at the FBC! headquarters are possessed with opinions and assholes (I say most everybody in the eventuality some people might not have assholes, and I feel truly sorry for them).   Which, like most everybody, makes us also be some  assholes sometimes or even often, how would we know?

But whatever our opinions, there are times when we don't really want to expand on them for too long nor write for an effing amount of time because life's too short. So, we've decided to start a new series of posts that will all go under the headline "FBC! Lite" and that will mostly consist in putting down some links that you will have to click through if interested, and a few lines above or below to just state our opinions. Which are not open for debate in the sense that, if you wish to debate yourself in comments more power to you, but we won't engage with you at all (see above "life's too short"). Also the images chosen to illustrate the post will be totally random.

So, the links today are about "ethical shopping" and "charity shops killing the high street". Yours truly is all for ethical shopping and also believes that artists, writers, musicians, designers, dancers, actors, etc. should be paid fairly for their work and its diffusion and distribution.
But I think at the bottom of this the real problem is that EVERYBODY who isn't the 1% has seen wages either stagnate or plunge down over the last 20+ years or so (I've certainly seen my own writer fees go steadily downhill over 20 years). Therefore, if all your income is swallowed by the high cost of housing, health care and transportation  (as well as caring for other persons) then there is very little left for us to actually buy items that are affordable and of decent quality. We can all afford to be ethical shoppers when we get higher salaries, and real jobs that pay for the unemployed. Until then, newspaper that publish this kind of crap are just being assholes themselves. They'd better campaign for fairer wages across the board.

Then there is that ongoing personal war being waged in the media by people who I believe could afford to go to court to maybe once and for all settle their grudges? I want to be perfectly clear that I find child abuse and any kind of abuse abhorrent, and that Woody Allen is a grossly overrated filmmaker at best.
But, uh, all these op-eds and interviews and Twitter wars give me the creeps.
 I don't know if there's a status of limitation or other legal reasons that prevent the injured parties to sue, but if there isn't, please, please, please do this. Thanks.
If Mr. Allen is found guilty then he should certainly be punished to the full extent of the law. But all this media circus isn't really helping the cause of abused children, I believe. I understand that going through a trial is harrowing, but I don't know if the continuous media attention is that healthy either? I've seen a bunch of posts on Twitter about believing  this person and that person on this issue. I don't know if "beliefs" can really help justice. Maybe the law is imperfect, but it serves a function, and maybe a lawsuit would be the best tool for the family to find closure?

On a much, much lighter note, I saw this article this morning about "performance anxiety" but really it's about stage fright. Yours truly is afflicted when teaching and doing public lectures. So my heart goes to all the people who have to go onstage for a living, mostly musicians and actors but also teachers. If you've ever experienced anything like this, then you will understand. Which is why, whenever you attend a public performance of some sort, please don't boo the people onstage even if you think they suck. It won't make the play/concert/performance/lecture any better, far, far from it. Just be polite and silently exit the premises if what you're seeing is terrible.

Monday, January 20, 2014

An Essay With No Redeeming Qualities, Written In The Spoken Style of Alain Delon

An Essay With No Redeeming Qualities, Written In The Spoken Style of Alain Delon

This essay has no redeeming qualities. SPOILER ALERT! This essay has no redeeming qualities. It won’t give you the warm fuzzies. You won’t come out of here grateful for the gift of life, pledging to give yourself over to the higher power of mindfulness, meditation, yoga and a gluten-free diet, thinking the author has given you a new perspective on human existence. This essay isn’t going to garner rave reviews about its touching style and compassionate ideas. Reading this essay won’t make you feel warm inside. Or outside, for that matter. This essay isn’t going to make you feel better about yourself whatsoever but in the guise of a heavy load of Schadenfreunde, and in this case, be my guest! There is plenty to be had in here. This essay isn’t going to win any literary contest thanks to its irrefutable mastery at disguising narcissistic prose as a universal lesson, powerfully describing the ills of our current society, but offering no cure. This essay won’t morph into a triumphal Ted Talk going viral on the Internet. This essay will tell you a story that is banal as fuck. This essay won’t offer any conclusion. This essay was written in a pool of tears. No blood, no sweat, just human-produced saltwater. This essay was written with a runny nose and blurry, puffy eyes bleeding inane droplets of water splotching up a MacBook Pro keyboard, a computer built with real blood, sweat and tears by slave labor somewhere in China.
This essay was written by someone wearing a cheap H&M t-shirt made by slave labor working in terrible yet indescribable conditions inside a Bangladeshi factory. This essay was written by someone whose oldish Gap sweater has holes tearing up at the armpit. This essay was written by someone staring at a beautiful green garden while profusely crying absurd tears. This essay has neither visible outline nor any delicate, sophisticated construction carefully hidden behind its elegant prose. This essay has no aim or goal or even definite topic. This essay is written by someone who wakes up everyday crying and keeps on crying non-stop for hours. Crying won’t make you spend that many calories. This essay had started to be written about six hours after the writer woke up, but only twenty minutes after the author had showered and dressed. This essay was written by someone who still has about two days worth of food in the fridge and whose rent is paid until the end of the month, about eleven days from now. This essay was written by someone who actually has many friends, about seventy of those took the time to message the author when the writer went public about suffering from clinical depression on a social network. 

This essay is written from a place of social privilege by someone who still has the luxury to sit on their ass on a mid-century modern chair of no known brand or origin but whose distinctive style wouldn’t look out of place in the online world of mildly trendy home décor sites. This essay was written by someone who is very conscious of being white and occasionally catches themselves at internalized racism. This essay is written by someone who should be laughing at the absurdity of it all but can’t repress the tears. While this essay without redeeming qualities was written its author could have spent their time better by accomplishing normal things such as looking for a job or trying to solve their seemingly inextricable administrative issues. This essay written without apparent or hidden redeeming qualities bears no resemblance whatsoever with anything Robert Musil would have written, no matter how much its author would have liked it, but we’re talking about a fucking little narcissistic text about being a failure here, not a masterpiece of 20th century literature (or was it 19th?) that the author of this current text has read sometimes before this new millennium actually started. Oh well. Musil. Maybe the author of this essay has no redeeming qualities themselves. 

By writing a first-person essay at the third person the author is suddenly conscious of writing in the spoken style of Alain Delon as evidenced in turn-of-this-century interviews published in French gossip magazines. Alain Delon once said he was very proud of his ass because it was round-shaped like a melon. This author’s ass isn’t anything to be proud of yet it is as real as Alain Delon’s. As this essay is being written, now six-hundred- seventy-two words in, its author is very conscious to not have started to even mention what the problem was. The author is very conscious the problem is major depression which is nothing to be laughed at but if the author manages to laugh about it maybe for one second things will seem to be better. Or maybe not. While this essay was being written suddenly the tears stopped. This is the very first try at stream-of-consciousness writing from the author’s. The author never for one second felt like being Alain Delon, but this shit came into the author’s head and refused to leave right there and then. Believe the author who started this essay at the third person, the author would rather have anybody else in their head than Alain Delon. Say, Claudio Abbado whose death was announced this morning. Claudio Abbado was never called an asshole, not in New York. The author cannot stand listening to music while in the pits which sucks because music is the best thing invented by humankind. The author feels ridiculous referring to themselves as “the author” but there is some hope this essay can be kept genderless throughout. Well, scrap that. Make it, “gender-neutral”. Gender-neutral won’t give any further redeeming qualities to this essay but it will make the author feels slightly better which is all the author is asking from life at present. The writer of this essay always feels terrible to be referred to as “a writer” or “an author” because writing is what they do and not what they are - a piece of shit, this is what the author of this essay without redeeming qualities feels they are, on any given day.

Major depression struck the writer of this quality-less essay when least expected. Nobody knows what causes depression no matter what the other fucktards tell you. The other fucktards are the ones getting rich writing self-help books. This particular bout of major depression was triggered by unforeseen administrative issues, seemingly inextricable issues that render the author as helpless as a discarded dirty rag doll on a trash heap. While this essay without redeeming qualities is being written the clock keeps on ticking regarding these administrative issues that the writer cannot seem able to solve. The administrative issues might get the writer of this essay kicked out of their current country of residence. These administrative issues scare the shit out of this writer to the point it’s impossible to answer the phone, open a mailbox or just do anything remotely normal or constructive once in a while. This inability to function normally vaguely reminds the author of a few lines in a Franzen book this writer never managed to read a few years back. Yes this particular writer feels no animosity of any kind toward Franzen even if he appears like a dick in his interviews, because most everybody does appear like a dick in the medias anyway. 

Sometimes this writer thinks a lot of this world’s ills could be solved by taxing the shit out of maritime freight shipping. And legalizing drugs and taxing the shit out of these as well but this should go without saying. For one full minute this writer thinks about some poor Bangladeshi factory worker who made that discolored t-shirt the writer is currently wearing and which was the only one the writer could afford buying. The writer’s mind has now drifted for that era of their life ten years ago when they owned only one pair of shoes, with holes in the sole. It took the death of several people for this writer to own more than one pair of shoes without holes in their soles. That time we went on this road trip in Utah and we stopped late at night at this Mom and Pop dinner in the middle of nowhere and there were fifteen people in our group including six assorted vegans and vegetarians and the food was inedible. The writer had ordered a glass of buttermilk that was the only thing remotely edible there and the steak that was ordered rare came back so overcooked it felt like eating the sole of a shoe. The black widow spiders inside of Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, and all the saltwater that was over Spiral Jetty so you could only see the beginning of an outline if you climbed the hill overlooking the site. When we came back to Los Angeles we all made a beeline to Koreatown and its 24-hour restaurants so we could finally have a decent meal. We were gone for three days at most and yet we needed to get decent food ASAP. 

Suddenly the third person singular shifted to the first person plural but there isn’t any “we” in this irremediably unredeeming essay. Word informs this writer that unredeeming isn’t a word. Well now it is. The author is aware that most certainly so, we are all in it, but this isn’t an essay about the state of the world today, or else it would be entered into some sort of contest to prove a point about whatever but there isn’t anything else to prove anymore. There are no redeeming qualities to this essay because it only speaks about its writer’s experience, and only just so. This is the story of someone who found themselves suddenly suffering from major depression. This is a story that happens to millions of people every day and nobody gives a fuck so why should you? This story is written with no end in sight and no other intent than keeping the world at bay for just a few minutes. This story is now about fifteen-hundred or so words in the making, fifteen-hundred words or so that took exactly thirty-three minutes to write so far. There is no conscious intent to get this essay or story get out of hand and reach, say, more than three thousands words. We count in words, we the writers. We can’t count in money units because nobody gives writers any money units anymore. 

This story shifted again to the first person plural. The writer of this story has no more control over it than a cancer sufferer over the proliferation of diseased cells inside their bodies. It’s difficult at this stage to know whether this is an essay or a story but the writer is still very firm in the belief that it has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, at least for its reader. It might be different for its writer in the sense that it did succeed for a few minutes to keep the world at bay. Oh, who are we kidding? The world is still howling and wailing and waiting at the door to swallow us whole. Scrap that, the world is ready to bite and chew and tear apart and hurt like hell before it swallows whatever pieces are left of us.
The world is outside and this writer can see it out of the window. It makes noises. Police sirens that remind the writer they deport people from this country if they can’t extricate themselves from seemingly impossible administrative demands, even if they are EU citizens. To this writer’s knowledge this is the only EU country that actually deports EU citizens. The writer has thought about Kafka a lot this year. When the writer manages to step outside of their own brain for a few minutes – don’t try this at home, it’s a painful feat of absurdity – the writer can see how ridiculously funny the situation is. The writer feels certain these administrative hurdles are created by civil servants themselves so they have a seemingly legitimate reason to keep their jobs. One civil servant at the foreigners office told the writer that it wasn’t their job to explain how to get out of this quagmire. 
There is a letter from the foreigners office in the mailbox that has been laying in there for a few days already and it irradiates increasing waves of fear upward, toward the second story apartment where this essay or story that has no redeeming qualities is currently being written. The writer could and should take steps to immediately address this terrible situation but the writer is paralyzed by terrible anxiety and panic attacks. This state has some biological consequences, most notably the need to evacuate the author’s intestines up to eight times a day, which no doubt is one of the reason the water bill for the whole household tripled over the last twelve months or so. The writer often wishes anxiety would lead to a suppressed appetite but alas the reverse happened, compulsive mindless eating which results in a much heavier weight and the firmly-held belief that the writer’s physical appearance is a deterrent for prospective employers and benevolent civil servants alike. Both species are imaginary, much like imaginary boyfriends for young teenage girls longing at posters of One Direction plastered on the walls of their small cluttered bedroom, instead of doing the homework that would get them good grades at school and lead their path toward the radiant future of whatever kind society will deem worthwhile for them. 
Unlike this text. 
In an ideal world this essay would be hysterically funny, as they say, maybe like a David Sedaris text that would be published in the New Yorker and guaranty its writer the certainty of being able to pay next month’s rent in full, and so if devoid of any redeeming qualities it would at least make the putative reader feel like they didn’t totally waste the time it took to arrive at the two-thousand-one-hundred- fifty-six word but hey it was said at the very beginning. This essay has still no redeeming qualities. The word count you’re reading will be totally off after edits are done but the writer doesn’t care. The writer doesn’t care much about anything anymore. The writer would like to keep the anxiety at bay. The writer would like to write something worthwhile but doesn’t know how to do it even if the writer keeps at it. Over the last seven years the writer estimates having written several hundred thousands words and likely more, the ongoing count might be in the millions now. The writer would like to take a minute to tell you to check the writings of Lydia Davis. The writer writes the way they write but if they could be “a writer” the writer would like to be Lydia Davis.

Meanwhile the world is outside opening its monstrous toothy fearsome mouth, ready to devour this helpless writer now in the throes of the most absurd depression ever. The world outside makes noises that send this writers in fits of tears and panic. Each car that idles in the street is a reminder they can come and get you. Each car that idles in the street is a reminder they will come and get you. Every noise outside reminds you you’re not a productive member of society. Each human voice wafting upwards is a menace reminding you that they will come and get you. Now the narrative voice has shifted again. The tears that had dried up are coming back. The cat is worried. The cat has been meowing little plaintive sounds for fifteen minutes straight urging the writer to come on the bed with the cat and huddle under a blanket with the cat. The cat is clearly anxious about the writer.

Sometimes the writer tries to soothe the anxiety by remembering that somewhere in this world Noel Scott Engel, otherwise known as “Scott Walker”, is maybe sitting down at his own desk writing the lyrics for his next album. This writer has no mental image of Scott Walker writing at his desk and so thinks about his lyrics and wonders how he does it. Then this writer tries to chase away this idea because there’s always the fear that lyrics will seep down inside the text being written and then it will be plagiarism and one cannot plagiarize the greatest artist alive. It is ridiculous. Then the writer thinks about one of the Kafka stories written over the summer and wonders if some part of The Amorous Humphrey Plugg might have seeped in one of the stories, the one where Gregor is a virgin maybe. Scott Walker seems to be a very nice guy in the few interviews that are available online. Yet nobody ever asks him the only question the writer is interested in, but then it’s a difficult question to formulate in a logical manner. It is said Scott Walker is color-blind yet it is known the man also paints as a hobby. So how does he do it? Sometimes the writer wants to believe Scott Walker’s paintings might be as terrible as, say, like Bob Dylan’s – have you ever seen how shitty Dylan’s paintings are? Yet he shows at Gagosian - because it would be a terrible injustice if that man was also a good painter. Scott Walker, the writer meant, because we already know Bob Dylan is a shit painter. Well no it wouldn’t be a terrible injustice but during the three minutes it took to write these lines, the anxiety receded a little bit. 

No tears were shed for a good hour now. This feels like a victory yet this essay still has no redeeming qualities. Rather than writing an essay with redeeming or unredeeming qualities this writer would like to have a good cry on someone’s shoulder. Or simply be able to get up and do something. It’s been three whole days since the writer went outside. There is food in the fridge and so there might have been a possibility to stay in tomorrow as well but tomorrow will be the day when the writer sees their shrink who doesn’t seem to be that much helpful to begin with. This morning the writer asked a friend to please help them find a lawyer to try and solve this administrative quagmire. Just thinking about this and yet another knot is now being firmly secured over the writer’s stomach. Being a writer or simply being someone who writes should mean being able to convey things accurately, elegantly and meaningfully yet this writer feels incredibly powerless and stupid and unable to explain why why why it is impossible to pick up the phone to call people, answer emails or go downstairs open the mailbox wherein lays that letter bearing the heading of the foreigners office that creates this radiations of abject fears wafting upstairs nonstop toward the writers’ apartment, piercing the windows and holding the writer under a powerful, invisible cloak of terror and paranoia.

Writers edit because frankly no writing is ever good without editing yet looking up five lines upwards to check mistakes and this writer felt again like sobbing powerlessly for a few seconds. Sometimes one word would trigger hiccups and tears and sobs. The heating is on and the radiators are blasting full heat yet the writer is shivering in a cold sweat, wanting to retreat beneath a blanket. Yet it is almost one pm now. Nothing has been accomplished today but just writing these absurd words. The author feels like a stupid fuck. The author had warned you beforehand this essay had no redeeming qualities. Yet you kept on reading.
 The writer often thinks about Walter Benjamin in addition to Scott Walker and John Cale and Lydia Davis who are all personal heroes as well as Vanessa Place and then feels like shit because all these people produce things that have redeeming qualities and help other people keep alive. Yet maybe Vanessa Place would laugh at the idea. The writer has been working for months and even years on a story about Walter Benjamin, a very sad claustrophobic story where the writer recently introduced Bugs Bunny to “add in an element of violence”, because the original narrator is boring as fuck. This is ridiculous. 
Walter Benjamin had one of the saddest life story this writer can think of and it occupies the writer’s brain daily. The writer’s brain was subjected to violent trauma in two consecutive car accidents that fucked up the writer’s life irremediably yet they triggered all that onslaught of logorrhea the reader is now witnessing a part of. Most days the writer feels like there is one part of their brain that is working and everything else is messed up. Before being subjected to the current episode of clinical depression the writer thought the way their brain was malfunctioning was funny as fuck as well as totally tragic – to this day this writer cannot handle handwriting anymore and let’s not talk about opening plastic bags or eating with chopstick or read anything written by Slavoj Zizek – but now the writer of this story without redeeming qualities suspects that the bundle of jelly-like tissues being jerked around violently inside their cranium during the car accidents has more than a little to do with their current state of being in the pits. At some point it was thought writing a short text about the long and tedious process of recovery might be helpful to other sufferers but the desire to help others died with the current onset of depression. Instead the writer could only offer this essay with no redeeming quality written in the spoken style of Alain Delon.

©Frenchybutchic, 2014. Not to be reproduced without permission, OK? The writer needs $ and things like that.