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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Jun’ichirō Tanizaki In Praise of Shadows (1933)

 

‘The 1933 gem In Praise of Shadows by Japanese literary titan Junichiro Tanizaki examines the singular standards of Japanese aesthetics and their stark contrast — even starker today, almost a century later — with the value systems of the industrialized West. At the heart of this philosophy is a fundamental cultural polarity. Unlike the Western conception of beauty — a stylized fantasy constructed by airbrushing reality into a narrow and illusory ideal of perfection — the zenith of Japanese aesthetics is deeply rooted in the glorious imperfection of the present moment and its relationship to the realities of the past.

‘One of the most enchanting celebrations of shadows is manifested in the Japanese relationship with materials. Tanizaki writes:

Japanese paper gives us a certain feeling of warmth, of calm and repose… Western paper turns away the light, while our paper seems to take it in, to envelop it gently, like the soft surface of a first snowfall. It gives off no sound when it is crumpled or folded, it is quiet and pliant to the touch as the leaf of a tree.

‘Embedded in Tanizaki’s lament about how Western innovations have infiltrated Japan’s traditional use of materials is a reminder that every technology is essentially a technology of thought. He considers the broader implications of material progress based on assimilation and imitation.

‘Although Tanizaki is writing at a time when a new wave of polymers was sweeping the industrialized West, he paints a subtler and more important contrast than that between the Western cult of synthetics and the Japanese preference for organic materials. This elegant osmosis of art and shadow, he argues, is to be found not only in what materials are used, but in how they are being used:

Wood finished in glistening black lacquer is the very best; but even unfinished wood, as it darkens and the grain grows more subtle with the years, acquires an inexplicable power to calm and sooth.

‘This temporal continuity of beauty, a counterpoint to the West’s neophilia, is central to Japanese aesthetics. Rather than fetishizing the new and shiny, the Japanese sensibility embraces the living legacy embedded in objects that have been used and loved for generations, seeing the process of aging as something that amplifies rather than muting the material’s inherent splendor. Luster becomes not an attractive quality but a symbol of shallowness, a vacant lack of history.

‘Indeed, he argues that excessive illumination is the most atrocious assault on beauty in the West. A mere half-century after Edison’s electric light shocked American cities with its ghastly glare, Tanizaki contemplates this particularly lamentable manifestation of our pathological Western tendency to turn something beneficial into something excessive.

‘But Tanizaki’s eulogy to this setting world of shadows transcends the realm of material aesthetics and touches on the conceptual sensibility of modern life in a way doubly relevant today, nearly a century later, as we struggle to maintain a sense of mystery in the age of knowledge. He remarks in the closing pages:

I have written all this because I have thought that there might still be somewhere, possibly in literature or the arts, where something could be saved. I would call back at least for literature this world of shadows we are losing. In the mansion called literature I would have the eaves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the things that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration… Perhaps we may be allowed at least one mansion where we can turn off the electric lights and see what it is like without them.

‘Like its subject, In Praise of Shadows derives its splendor from smallness and subtlety, distilling centuries of wisdom and bridging thousands of miles of cultural divide in an essay-length miracle of a book.’ — Brain Pickings

 

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Gallery


Junichiro Tanizaki as a boy (1913)


Haruo Sato (left) and Junichiro Tanizaki in Wakayama Prefecture in 1930


Junichiro Tanizaki’s home in Kyoto


The keys to the secret sex room in Junichiro Tanizaki’s home.


Junichiro Tanizaki’s handwriting




Junichiro Tanizaki’s grave

 

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Further

Jun’ichirō Tanizaki @ Wikipedia
Sexual obsession stimulated Junichiro Tanizaki’s writing
Jun’ichirō Tanizaki @ goodreads
Rereadings: In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki
The Indicator: In Praise of Shadows
Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, The Key
Fatal Attractions
Podcast: Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, l’emprise des sens
//HOME//BOOKS//REVIEWS//POP PAST//JUNICHIRO TANIZAKI Junichiro Tanizaki’s ‘Naomi’ Than Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’
Podcast: Underappreciated: Junichiro Tanizaki
Junichiro Tanizaki, the Greatest Epic Novelist You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
La perversa sensualidad contenida de Tanizaki
STAR-CROSSED: TANIZAKI, MURASAKI, PROUST
La confession impudique de Junichiro Tanizaki

 

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Extras


The house of Junichiro Tanizaki


junichiro tanizaki lemprise des sens 1886 1965 une vie une oeuvre


Trailer: Kon Ichikawa’s film adapatuon of Tanizaki’s ‘The Makioka Sisters’


Éloge de l’ombre (à Junichiro Tanizaki)

 

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Biography

 

Junichiro Tanizaki (24 July 1886 – 30 July 1965)

‘Tanizaki was one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, and perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki. Some of his works present a rather shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions; others, less sensational, subtly portray the dynamics of family life in the context of the rapid changes in 20th-century Japanese society. Frequently his stories are narrated in the context of a search for cultural identity in which constructions of “the West” and “Japanese tradition” are juxtaposed. The results are complex, ironic, demure, and provocative.

‘Tanizaki was born to a well-off merchant class family in the Ningyocho area of Nihonbashi, Tokyo, where his father owned a printing press, which had been established by his grandfather. In his Yōshō Jidai (Childhood Years, 1956) Tanizaki admitted to having had a pampered childhood. His family’s finances declined dramatically as he grew older until he was forced to reside in another household as a tutor. Tanizaki attended the Literature Department of Tokyo Imperial University but was forced to drop out in 1911 because of his inability to pay for tuition.

‘He began his literary career in 1909. His first work, a one-act stage play, was published in a literary magazine which he helped found. In his early years Tanizaki became infatuated with the West and all things modern. In 1922 he went so far as to move to Yokohama, which had a large expatriate population, living briefly in a Western-style house and leading a decidedly bohemian lifestyle. This outlook is reflected in some of his early writings.

‘Tanizaki’s name first became widely known with the publication of the short story Shisei (The Tattooer) in 1910. In the story, a tattoo artist inscribes a giant spider on the body of a beautiful young woman. Afterwards, the woman’s beauty takes on a demonic, compelling power, in which eroticism is combined with sado-masochism. The femme-fatale is a theme repeated in many of Tanizaki’s early works, including Kirin (1910), Shonen (“The Children”, 1911), Himitsu (“The Secret,” 1911), and Akuma (“Devil”, 1912).

‘His other works published in the Taishō period include Shindo (1916) and Oni no men (1916), which are partly autobiographical. Tanizaki married in 1915, but it was an unhappy marriage and in time he encouraged a relationship between his first wife, Chiyoko, and his friend and fellow writer Sato Haruo. The psychological stress of this situation is reflected in some of his early works, including the stage play Aisureba koso (Because I Love Her, 1921) and his novel Kami to hito no aida (Between Men and the Gods, 1924). Nevertheless, even though some of Tanizaki’s writings seem to have been inspired by persons and events in his life, his works are far less autobiographical than those of most of his contemporaries in Japan.

‘He had a brief career in Japanese silent cinema working as a script writer for the Taikatsu film studio. He was a supporter of the Pure Film Movement and was instrumental in bringing modernist themes to Japanese film. He wrote the scripts for the films Amateur Club (1922) and A Serpent’s Lust (1923) (based on the story of the same title by Ueda Akinari, which was, in part, the inspiration for Mizoguchi Kenji’s 1953 masterpiece Ugetsu monogatari). Some have argued that Tanizaki’s relation to cinema is important to understanding his overall career.

‘Tanizaki’s reputation began to take off when he moved to Kyoto after the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. The loss of Tokyo’s historic buildings and neighborhoods in the quake triggered a change in his enthusiasms, as he redirected his youthful love for the imagined West and modernity into a renewed interest in Japanese aesthetics and culture, particularly the culture of the Kansai region comprising Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. His first novel after the earthquake, and his first truly successful novel, was Chijin no ai (Naomi, 1924-25), which is a tragicomic exploration of class, sexual obsession, and cultural identity. Inspired by the Osaka dialect, he wrote Manji (Quicksand, 1928–1929), in which he explored lesbianism, among other themes. This was followed by the classic Tade kuu mushi (Some Prefer Nettles, 1928–29), which depicts the gradual self-discovery of a Tokyo man living near Osaka, in relation to Western-influenced modernization and Japanese tradition. Yoshinokuzu (Arrowroot, 1931) alludes to Bunraku and kabuki theater and other traditional forms even as it adapts a European narrative-within-a-narrative technique. His experimentation with narrative styles continued with Ashikari (The Reed Cutter, 1932), Shunkinsho (A Portrait of Shunkin, 1933), and many other works that combine traditional aesthetics with Tanizaki’s particular obsessions.

‘His renewed interest in classical Japanese literature culminated in his multiple translations into modern Japanese of the eleventh-century classic The Tale of Genji and in his masterpiece Sasameyuki (A Light Snowfall, published in English as The Makioka Sisters, 1943–1948), a detailed characterization of four daughters of a wealthy Osaka merchant family who see their way of life slipping away in the early years of World War II. The Makiokas live a remarkably cosmopolitan life, with European neighbours and friends without suffering the cultural-identity crises common to earlier Tanizaki characters.

‘After World War II Tanizaki again emerged into literary prominence, winning a host of awards, and was until his death regarded as Japan’s greatest contemporary author. He was awarded the Order of Culture by the Japanese government in 1949 and in 1964 was elected to honorary membership in the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the first Japanese writer to be so honoured.

‘His first major post-war work was Shôshō Shigemoto no haha (Captain Shigemoto’s Mother, 1949–1950), with a moving restatement of the common Tanizaki theme of a son’s longing for his mother. The novel also introduces the issue of sexuality in old age, which would reappear in Tanizaki’s later works, such as Kagi (The Key, 1956). Kagi is a lurid psychological novel, in which an aging professor arranges for his wife to commit adultery in order to boost his own sagging sexual desires.

‘Tanizaki’s characters are often driven by obsessive erotic desires. In one of his last novels, Futen Rojin Nikki (Diary of a Mad Old Man, 1961–1962), the aged diarist is struck down by a stroke brought on by an excess of sexual excitement. He records both his past desires and his current efforts to bribe his daughter-in-law to provide sexual titilation in return for Western baubles.

‘Tanizaki died of a heart attack in Yugawara, Kanagawa, south-west of Tokyo, on 30 July 1965, shortly after celebrating his 79th birthday.’ — collaged

 

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Book

Junichiro Tanizaki In Praise of Shadows
Leete’s Island Books

‘In his delightful essay on Japanese taste Junichiro Tanizaki selects for praise all things delicate and nuanced, everything softened by shadows and the patina of age, anything understated and natural – as for example the patterns of grain in old wood, the sound of rain dripping from eaves and leaves, or washing over the footing of a stone lantern in a garden, and refreshing the moss that grows about it – and by doing so he suggests an attitude of appreciation and mindfulness, especially mindfulness of beauty, as central to life lived well.’ — AC Grayling

 

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Excerpt

What incredible pains the fancier of traditional architecture must take when he sets out to build a house in pure Japanese style, striving somehow to make electric wires, gas pipes, and water lines harmonize with the austerity of Japanese rooms—even someone who has never built a house for himself must sense this when he visits a teahouse, a restaurant, or an inn. For the solitary eccentric it is another matter, he can ignore the blessings of scientific civilization and retreat to some forsaken corner of the countryside; but a man who has a familiy and lives I the city cannot turn his back on the necessities of modern life—heating, electric lights, sanitary facilities— merely for the sake of doing things the Japanese way. The purist may rack his brain over the placement of a single telephone, hiding it behind the staircase or in a corner of the hallway, wherever he thinks it will least offend the eye. He may bury the wires rather than hang them in the garden, hide the switches in a closet or cupboard, run the cords behind a folding screen. Yet for all his ingenuity, his efforts often impress us as nervous, fussy, excessively contrived. For so accustomed are we to electric lights that the sight of a naked bulb beneath an ordinary mild glass shade seems simpler and more natural than any gratuitous attempt to hide it. Seen at dusk as one gazes out upon the countryside from the window of a train, the lonely light of a bulb under an old-fashioned shade, shining dimly from behind the white paper shoji of a thatch-roofed farmhouse, can seem positively elegant.

But the snarl and the bulk of an electric fan remain a bit out of place in a Japanese room. The ordinary householder, if he dislikes electric fans, can simply do without them. But if the family business involves the entertainment of customers in summertime, the gentleman of the house cannot afford to indulge his own tastes at the expense of others. A friend of mine, the proprietor of a Chinese restaurant called the Kairakuen, is a thoroughgoing purist in matters architectural. He deplores electric fans and long refused to have them in his restaurant, but the complaints from customers with which he was faced every summer ultimately forced him to give in.

I myself have had similar experiences. A few years ago I spent a great deal more money than I could afford to build a house. I fussed over every last fitting and fixture, and in every case encountered difficulty. There was the shoji: for aesthetic reasons I did not want to use glass, and yet paper alone would have posed problems of illumination and security. Much against my will, I decided to cover the inside with paper and the outside with glass. This required a double frame, thus raising the cost. Yet having gone to all this trouble, the effect was fair from pleasing. The outside remained no more than a glass door; while within, the mellow softness of the paper was destroyed by the glass that lay behind it. At that point I was sorry I had not just settled for glass to begin with. Yet laugh though we may when the house is someone else’s we ourselves accept defeat only after having a try at such schemes.

Then there was the problem of lighting. In recent years several fixtures designed for Japanese houses have come on the market, fixtures patterned after old floor lamps, ceiling lights, candle stands, and the like. But I simple do not care for them, and instead searched in curio shops for old lamps, which I fitted with electric light bulbs.

What most taxed my ingenuity was the heating system. No stove worthy of the name will ever look right in a Japanese room. Gas stoves burn with a terrific roar, and unless provided with a chimney, quickly bring headaches. Electric stoves, though at least free from these defects, are every bit as ugly as the rest. One solution would be to outfit the cupboards with heaters of the sort used in streetcars. Yet without the red glow of the coals, the whole mood of winter is lost and with it the pleasure of family gatherings round the fire. The best plan I could devise was to build a large sunken hearth, as in an old farmhouse. I this I installed an electric brazier, which worked well both for boiling tea water and for heating the room. Expensive it was, but at least so far as looks were concerned I counted it as one of my successes.

Having done passably well with the heating system, I was then faced with the problem of bath and toilet. My Kairakuen friend could not bear to tile the tub and bathing area, and so built his guest bath entirely of wood. Tile, of course, is infinitely more practical and economical. But when ceiling, pillars, and paneling are of fine Japanese stock, the beauty of the room is utterly destroyed when the rest is done in sparkling tile. The effect may not seem so very displeasing while everything is still new, but as the years pass, and the beauty of the grain begins to emerge on the planks and pillars, that glittering expanse of white tile comes to seem as incongruous as the proverbial bamboo grafted to wood. Still, in the bath utility can to some extent be sacrificed to good taste. In the toilet somewhat more vexatious problems arise.

Every time I am shown to an old, dimly lit, and, I would add, impeccably clean toilet in a Nara or Kyoto temple, I am impressed with the singular virtues of Japanese architecture. The parlor may have its charms, but the Japanese toilet is truly a place of spiritual repose. It always stands apart from the main building, at the end of a corridor, in a grove fragrant with leaves and moss. No words can describe that sensation as one sits in the dim light, basking in the faint glow reflected from the shoji, lost in meditation or gazing out at the garden. The novelist Natsume Sōseki counted his morning trips to the toilet a great pleasure, “a physiological delight” he called it. And surely there could be no better place to savor this pleasure than a Japanese toilet where, surrounded by tranquil walls and finely grained wood, one looks out upon blue skies and green leaves.

As I have said there are certain prerequisites: a degree of dimness, absolute cleanliness, and quiet so complete one can hear the hum of a mosquito. I love to listen from such a toilet to the sound of softly falling rain, especially if it is a toilet of the Kantō region, with its long, narrow windows at floor level; there one can listen with such a sense of intimacy to the raindrops falling from the eaves and the trees, seeping into the earth as they wash over the base of a stone lantern and freshen the moss about the stepping stones. And the toilet is the perfect place to listen to the chirping of insects or the song of the birds, to view the moon, or to enjoy any of those poignant moments that mark the change of the seasons. Here, I suspect, is where haiku poets over the ages have come by a great many of their ideas. Indeed one could with some justice claim that of all the elements of Japanese architecture, the toilet is the most aesthetic. Our forebears, making poetry of everything in their lives, transformed what by rights should be the most unsanitary room in the house into a place of unsurpassed elegance, replete with fond associations with the beauties of nature. Compared to Westerners, who regard the toilet as utterly unclean and avoid even the mention of it in polite conversation, we are far more sensible and certainly in better taste. The Japanese toilet is, I must admit, a bit inconvenient to get to in the middle of the night, set apart from the main building as it is; and in winter there is always a danger that one might catch cold. But as the poet Saitō Ryoku has said, “elegance is frigid.” Better that the place be as chilly as the out-of-doors; the steamy heat of a Western-style toilet in a hotel is the most unpleasant.

Anyone with a taste for traditional architecture must agree that the Japanese toilet is perfection. Yet whatever its virtues in a place like a temple, where the dwelling is large, the inhabitants few, and everyone helps with the cleaning, in an ordinary household it is no easy task to keep it clean. No matter how fastidious one may be or how diligently one may scrub, dirt will show, particularly on a floor of wood or tatami matting. And so here too it turns out to be more hygienic and efficient to install modern sanitary facilities—tile and a flush toilet—though at the price of destroying all affinity with “good taste” and the “beauties of nature.” That burst of light from those four white walls hardly puts one in a mood to relish Sōseki’s “physiological delight.” There is no denying the cleanliness; every nook and corner is pure white. Yet what need is there to remind us so forcefully of the issue of our own bodies. A beautiful woman, no matter how lovely her skin, would be considered indecent were she to show her bare buttocks or feet in the presence of others; and how very crude and tasteless to expose the toilet to such excessive illumination. The cleanliness of what can be seen only calls up the more clearly thoughts of what cannot be seen. In such places the distinction between the clean and the unclean is best left obscure, shrouded in a dusky haze.

Though I did install modern sanitary facilities when I built my own house, I at least avoided tiles, and had the floor done in camphor wood. To that extent I tried to create a Japanese atmosphere— but was frustrated finally by the toilet fixtures themselves. As everyone knows, flush toilets are made of pure white porcelain and have handles of sparkling metal. Were I able to have things my own way, I would much prefer fixtures—both men’s and women’s—made of wood. Wood finished in glistening black lacquer is the very best; but even unfinished wood, as it darkens and the grain grows more subtle with the years, acquires an inexplicable power to calm and sooth. The ultimate, of course, is a wooden “morning glory” urinal filled with boughs of cedar; this is a delight to look at and allows now the slightest sound. I could not afford to indulge in such extravagances. I hoped I might at least have the external fittings made to suit my own taste, and then adapt these to a standard flushing mechanism. But the custom labor would have cost so much that I had no choice but to abandon the idea. It was not that I objected to the conveniences of modern civilization, whether electric lights or heating or toilets, but I did wonder at the time why they could not be designed with a bit more consideration for our own habits and tastes.

The recent vogue for electric lamps in the style of the old standing lanterns comes, I think, from a new awareness of the softness and warmth of paper, qualities which for a time we had forgotten; it stands as evidence of our recognition that this material is far better suited than glass to the Japanese house. But no toilet fixtures or stoves that are at all tasteful have yet come on the market. A heating system like my own, an electric brazier in a sunken hearth, seems to me ideal; yet no one ventures to produce even so simple a device as this (there are, of course, those feeble electric hibachi, but they provide no more heat than an ordinary charcoal hibachi); all that can be had ready-made are those ugly Western stoves.

There are those who hold that to quibble over matters of taste in the basic necessities of life is an extravagance, that as long as a house keeps out the cold and as long as food keeps off starvation, it matters little what they look like. And indeed for even the sternest ascetic the fact remains that a snowy day is cold, and there is no denying the impulse to accept the services of a heater if it happens to be there in front of one, no matter how cruelly its inelegance may shatter the spell of the day. But it is on occasions like this that I always think how different everything would be if we in the Orient had developed our own science. Suppose for instance that we had developed our own physics and chemistry: would not the techniques and industries based on them have taken a different form, would not our myriads of everyday gadgets, our medicines, the products of our industrial art—would they not have suited our national temper better than they do? In fact our conception of physics itself, and even the principles of chemistry, would probably differ from that of Westerners; and the facts we are now taught concerning the nature and function of light, electricity, and atoms might well have presented themselves in different form.

Of course I am only indulging in idle speculation; of scientific matters I know nothing. But ha d we devised independently at least the more practical sorts of inventions, this could not have had profound influence upon the conduct of our everyday lives, and even upon government, religion, art, and business. The Orient quite conceivably could have opened up a world of technology entirely its own.

To take a trivial example near at hand: I wrote a magazine article recently comparing the writing brush with the fountain pen, and in the course of it I remarked that if the device had been invented by the ancient Chinese or Japanese it would surely have had a tufted end like our writing brush. The ink would not have been this bluish color but rather black, something like India ink, and it would have been made to seep down from the handle into the brush. And since we would have then found it inconvenient to write on Western paper, something near Japanese paper—even under mass production, if you will—would have been most in demand. Foreign ink and pen would not be as popular as they are; the talk of discarding our system of writing for Roman letters would be less noisy; people would still feel an affection for the old system. But more than that: our thought and our literature might not be imitating the West as they are, but might have pushed forward into new regions quite on their own. An insignificant little piece of writing equipment, when one thinks of it, has had a vast, almost boundless, influence on our culture.

But I know as well as anyone that these are the empty dreams of a novelist, and that having come this far we cannot turn back. I know that I am only grumbling to myself and demanding the impossible. If my complaints are taken for what they are, however, there can be no harm in considering how unlucky we have been, what losses we have suffered, in comparison with the Westerner. The Westerner has been able to move forward in ordered steps, while we have met superior civilization and have had to surrender to it, and we have had to leave a road we have followed for thousands of years. The missteps and inconveniences this has caused have, I think, been many. If we had been left alone we might not be much further now in a material way that we were five hundred years ago. Even now in the Indian and Chinese countryside life no doubt goes on much as it did when Buddha and Confucius were alive. But we would have gone only a direction that suited us. We would have gone ahead very slowly, and yet it is not impossible that we would one day have discovered our own substitute for the trolley, the radio, the airplane of today. They would have been no borrowed gadgets, they would have been the tools of our own culture, suited to us.

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** Michael karo, Whoa, hi, Michael, old pal. ‘Shipwreck’ sounds dreamy. I’d never heard of it. Let me go see it in its latter stages at least, thank you! Everyone, classic and long time DC’s d.l. Michael Karo has popped in to share a demolished attraction with you, ‘Shipwreck’, and it seems like a goodie. See pix and stuff of it here. The editing hasn’t fucked with our heads yet, but we’re early on, and, oh boy, it definitely will, I can already tell. Take care, man. ** Andrew Lennon, Hi, Andrew. Good to meet you and welcome! No, Google didn’t re-upload anything. The old blog is permanently shut down and likely erased by now, I would imagine. They only agreed to send me the raw data for the posts on my old blog, and that’s what I have. I’m forced to restore the posts by hand, one by one, and relaunch them here, which I’m very gradually doing, but there are many thousands of posts, and it would take me basically the rest my life to restore all of them. I’m very happy to answer any questions you have about all of that if you like and if it would help. My email is: denniscooper72@outlook.com. Thank you! ** Jamie, Hi, Jamie! Welcome back! The editing goes very well. Thus far, Zac and I are incredibly excited about how the film looks like it’s going to turn out. But we have a long, long ways to go still. You feeling better this morning, I hope? Glad you dug the demolishments. Yeah, those red Glaswegian buildings. They looked so pretty in their death throes, and it’s interesting to learn that, despite their sleek yet bold silhouettes, they were death traps. Feel much, much much better, man. Magic wand love, Dennis. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. That end of ‘Casino’ is so good. I should watch that film again. ** Amphibiouspeter, Hi! Extremely interesting to learn the story on those red tower blocks. Based on the video I used, I had imagined very different internal (and external) things. I’m not sure what I meant by pragmatism = salvation exactly either. It feels right to me, though. I do love inarticulate truths. Actually, that word combo doesn’t make much sense either, Oops. Great day to you! ** Steevee, Hi. I don’t think I know Zelimir Zilnik’s films. Curious. Seems like they’re worth an initial skim at the very least. I hope your doctor’s right, and you are already feeling his rightness’s effects. No, if you remember, I said I was waiting to read your Robert Beatty piece before I tried to do a Day about him. If I can manage to find your piece online, or if you can hook me up, I will set about doing that. Thanks! ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! That so sucks about your internet outages. If my internet goes out for even five minutes, I practically have a nervous breakdown. Oh, yes, controlling the flow of the group. When I used to facilitate poetry workshops a long time ago, there’d be that problem. I think we ended up putting a time limit on how long people could speak at one time. Hm. I’ll be interested to hear what you and you co-coordinator think is the right thing to do. Your meeting with him is today, isn’t it? I’m very interested to watch the new ‘Twin Peaks’, yes, but I haven’t yet. I think I’m going to wait until there are a bunch of episodes available and I have the time and brain to get lost in them. The editing is going really well. I mean, there are problematic things that we’ll have to figure out how to fix — mainly only one scene so far that really isn’t working but needs to be in the film, and we’re limited in what we can do to fix it since we only have what we filmed to work with. But, generally, other than that one scene, we’re really ecstatic about how the film is turning out. I feel extremely confident that it’s going to great. I really think so. Pretty thrilling. Editing is really all I’ve been doing, although we have a day off today because there’s some religious holiday that has closed the editing place. How did your Thursday turn out? ** Brendan, Hi, man. Gotcha on the lodgings questions. I like staying on the Strip. It feels insane. I used to stay at the Luxor when it was new, but it seems too old hat now. Sometimes I stay at New York, New York and that’s okay, doable. I think the last time I was there I stayed at … shit, what’s that hotel, Steve Wynn joint, with the huge water fountain show in front. I think that was okay. I saw the email/images in my box, and I’m excited to look at the work, probably this weekend when I won’t be swamped editing the film. Awesome. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hey, Ben. Yeah, like I said, very interesting to hear the backstory on those red towers. Thank you! ** Colby Smith, Hi, Colby! Welcome to this place, and I’m very happy you came in. Lucky you about the Haunted Monster House. Places like that make my head twirl in theory. That time travel thing sounds awesomely nuts. Cool, thank you for the fill in, and, obviously, stick around or come back anytime you feel like it. Take care. ** Misanthrope, Hi, George. Oh, man, that’s scary about your mom. I mean, I guess everyone suspects it’s the big C when they get really ill, and I hope she’s very wrong. Make sure her doc gets on that case and tests her as soon as humanly possible, obviously. I’m so sorry for that really stressful situation. I send you and her all my optimism and love. ** Armando, Hi. Yeah, in a nutshell, it’s about a guy who initially wants to disappear and gradually decides he wants to explode. It’s a complicated story inside of that premise. I asked Zac. He asked me why you want to write to him. I said I didn’t know. He said he is absolutely terrible at correspondence — and I can vouch that he is — but he said you can contact him at Facebook if you want, but that if he doesn’t get back to you, not to take it personally because he just doesn’t do correspondence well at all in any case. I did see ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ on a plane. I barely remember it now. I think I thought it was watchable. I don’t remember thinking much else about it. Good day to you! ** Right. I’m spotlighting a really wonderful book today if you don’t know it, or even if you do. See you tomorrow.

Demolished Attractions

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Planet Hollywood (Myrtle Beach, FL)
After almost 19 years in the community, Planet Hollywood has opted not to renew the lease for its Myrtle Beach location, which remained operational through Labor Day weekend. The company is pursuing other opportunities for the legendary franchise while focusing on the global development and expansion of Planet Hollywood Resorts International.




 

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Ozark Wildcat (Celebration City, NC)

 

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Leviste Island (Nasugbu, Batangas)
Once upon a time, this was a private luxury resort. People can only reach it through either a boat or a helicopter. Since Leviste was accused of murder, and following the opening of other private resorts in Nasugbu (where you won’t need a boat or a helicopter ride), this island slowly lost the competition until its abandonment. No lights, no water, no everything.




 

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Haunted Monster Museum (Natural Bridge, VA)
A mid-April blaze demolished the Victorian-era mansion that served as the Haunted Monster Museum as well as the centerpiece of a bizzaro place called Dinosaur World where dinos would gobble Union soldiers and where brave visitors could also hunt Bigfoot with a “redneck.”






 

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A mother and her eight-year-old daughter were killed in Georgia Saturday when workers blew up a towering Soviet war memorial. The demolition, to make way for a new parliament building, has already been condemned by Georgia’s opposition and by Russia, which fought a brief war with Georgia last year. The victims were killed by lumps of concrete sent hurtling into the courtyard of their home in the country’s second city of Kutaisi, local media said. Reports said four other people were in a serious condition in hospital.





 

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Until the late 19th century, New Zealand’s Pink and White Terraces along Lake Rotomahana on the North Island, attracted tourists from around the world interested in seeing the beautiful natural formations created by a large geothermal system. They were known worldwide as the Eighth Wonder of the Natural World. But the eruption of Mt Tarawera on 10 June 1886 buried the terraces in sediment and caused the lake basin to enlarge, engulfing the land where the terraces stood.

 

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A stealthy tipster was walking by the shuttered Rizzoli Bookstore on 57th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues and was able to sneak into the construction destruction site: “All of the doors were open (construction shed doors wide open, doors leading into store wide open), so I ventured inside, asking if anyone was there. I was shocked to see the destruction already happening at the store.” Efforts to preserve the shop failed, and a mere month later, the beautiful, 109-year-old structure—with domed ceilings, classy chandeliers, and detailed woodwork—has already been ripped to shreds to make way for a condo tower, courtesy of developer duo LeFrak and Vornado.








 

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Cinderella’s Castle (Ellicott City, MD)

 

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Big Coffee Mug (North Smithfield, RI)
May 17, 2014: The Big Coffee Mug was either demolished or carted away around this date. Everything that once stood on the lot is gone, down to bare earth. We have no further information at this time. This huge travel-style coffee mug, perhaps large enough for two to three people to enjoy a hot java bath at the same time, served as the sign for a small drive-up establishment. The sign was also a fountain, spewing thick, dark brown colored water from the spout on its lid (when it was working).


 

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Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment building (Milwaukee, WI)



 

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Skyway Chalet (Disneyland, CA)
Disneyland officials have filed a permit with the city to demolish the Skyway Chalet in Fantasyland, once one of two endpoints for open-air gondolas that floated via cables over the park beginning in 1956. The Skyway Chalet station will be removed to make way for the upcoming “Star Wars” land, said Betsy Sanchez, a Disney spokeswoman.

 

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A colorful icon of East Austin’s Cesar Chavez Street was demolished this week right before its owners’ eyes. Crews tore down Jumpolin, the piñata and party rental store located at 1401 E. Cesar Chavez, reportedly without any warning. Sergio Lejarazu, who co-owns Jumpolin with his wife, happened onto the scene of crews tearing down Jumpolin, reports Time Warner Cable. According to co-owner Monica Lejarazu, thousands of dollars worth of piñatas and other property was still in the building. Monica asserts that she and her husband have two more years on the property’s lease, and they were not alerted to any demolition plans. “I don’t know what happened because we don’t receive any information about the demolition,” she said.

 

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Space Spiral (Cedar Point, OH)
On September 12, 2012 at 7am, one of Cedar Point’s (former) tallest rides, “Space Spiral” was demolished in order to help make room for a new roller coaster called Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper was at that time the tallest, fastest, and longest Wing Coaster ever built. The new coaster also featured the world’s tallest inversion at 170 feet in the air.

 

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The Lego house built by Top Gear presenter James May has been demolished. May built the house using 3.3million plastic bricks and it had a working toilet, hot shower and a ‘very uncomfortable’ bed. But after no one agreed to take the toy house off his hands a demolition team was called in to knock the colourful bricks off its timber frame with mallets. Plans for Legoland to move it to their theme park fell through because transport costs were too high and despite a final Facebook appeal for someone to take it, no-one came forward.







 

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Twin Tee-Pees Pancake House (Seattle)
Opened 1937, Demolished 2002

 

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Dolphin Splashdown (Milton Keynes, UK)
Secret photographs taken minutes before the once glorious Dolphin Splashdown building was demolished show the pool seemingly in good condition, protestors have claimed. They say the demolition crew were “horrified” at instructions to rip out every inch of the facility to make way for a new Sainsbury’s supermarket. Resident Mark Lines said: “For months we’ve heard the pool was in such a bad state that it was not viable to repair. Yet these pictures show how clean and totally usable it looks.” Earlier this year experts reporting to Milton Keynes Council described the building – now razed to the ground – as “not salvageable”.







 

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Twister: Ride It Out (Universal Studios, FL)
Just as its namesake, the news surrounding the closure of Twister hit as fast as a tornado, without any warning. There were the jokes when Jimmy Fallon made his first visit to Universal Orlando with the Tonight Show, that he was getting a ride and it was replacing Twister. But he’s a comedian, so it was taken with a grain of salt. Yet it was Jimmy himself who dished out the news, with confirmation shortly there after on the Universal Orlando Blog, that he in fact was getting his own attraction. It’s left more than a few heads scratching.



 

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Xanadu House of the Future (Kissimmee, FL)
Throughout the 1980s, tourists flocked to the Xanadu House, a futuristic home in Kissimmee, Florida. This domestic pleasure dome was made of polyurethane and filled with “friendly computer servants.” A large plastic balloon was sprayed with layers of expanding foam, which would harden and form the shell. The rooms were run by Commodore computers, which managed everything from spa temperature to home security – a robot voice would warn if trespassers had wandered into your turnip of a home. At its peak, the Kissimmee Xanadu House brought in a 1000 guests a day. What ever happened to Xanadu House? It closed in the mid-90s due to dwindling interests in the building technology, became infested with mold over the course of a decade or so, and was torn down in 2005.







 

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Amazonia (Great Yarmouth, UK)


 

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The Pacific Undersea Gardens, a floating tourist attraction on Victoria, BC’s, Inner Harbour was closed in the fall of 2013 and towed to Point Hope Shipyard where it was eventually demolished in 2014. The attraction, owned by the Oak Bay Marine Group, had been open for 50 years, first in Oak Bay and then on the Inner Harbour.


 

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5Pointz (Queens, NY)
5Pointz was an outdoor art exhibit space at 45–46 Davis Street in Long Island, New York City, where colorful murals were exhibited on the exterior walls of an old warehouse, drawn by artists from the world over. The graffiti space was curated by Jonathan Cohen, a graffiti artist going under the moniker of “Meres”, who billed the exhibit as “the world’s premier graffiti mecca”. Indeed, as its reputation as an epicenter of the graffiti scene grew, the industrial complex began to draw aerosol artists from across the world. Even the elusive British street artist Banksy got into the act. The high visibility of the building from the New York City Subway’s IRT Flushing Line attracted a large number of visitors, including prominent artists, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, and entire tour buses full of admirers soaking in the more than 1,500 murals. 5Pointz doesn’t exist anymore. It was demolished in 2014 after its owner decided to make better use of the neglected property and build a condominium complex instead.













 

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1232-4 Druid Hill Avenue (Baltimore)

 

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The Bates Motel (Aldergrove, CA)
The fifth and final season of The Bates Motel, the A&E adaptation of the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho wrapped up filming earlier this month, so the replica Bates Motel and the menacing house that loomed above it were both torn down.





 

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The Sonesta Beach Hotel (Bermuda)



 

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Phantasmagoria (Bell’s Amusement Park, OK)
Opened: July 1973
Demolished: June 19, 2007
Number of levels: 2
Duration: approx. 5 minutes
All of the ‘bang doors’ close solely by the power of gravity.
There are nearly as many smoke detectors as there are spooks in the ride. Not one fire occurred in the ride’s history.
Items commonly discarded in ride: Stuffed animals, hats, litter, cigarette butts, ladies undergarment, feminine products, condom wrappers
Means of mischief: Getting out of car (most common), making out, occasional stink bombs.
Number of tricks: 23

APPENDIX B: List of tricks

1. The spinning eyes (exterior)
2. The lunging dog (exterior)
3. Three ascending bang doors with circular cuts (originally diminishing squares)
4. Guard dog sign/barking audio
5. Dip #1
6. Grim Reaper (originally hung above the dip in the long corridor)
7. Skeleton in the graveyard
8. Singing skulls
9. Buzzard in the nest
10. The psychedelic room (aka tinfoil room aka strobe room )
11. Skull faced “lady of the night”
12. The witches head
13. Dip #2
14. Collapsing mine shaft (aka Falling Timbers)
15. The Skull Pond with rattling floorboards
16. Cloaked skeleton lady in front of shingles
17. The giant rat
18. Rotating naked/bikini woman
19. Skeleton in the noose
20. The bus (formerly the tilted room where water ran uphill)
21. The mirrored hallway
22. The spinning tunnel
23. The bat cave with water curtain


 

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Splendid China (Kissimmee, FL)
The park was owned by the Chinese government and controversial from the day it opened until the day it closed in 2003. Now, ten years later, the remains of Splendid China, located at Formosa Gardens Blvd. and Funie Steed Rd., are about to disappear forever. Mickey Grossman, of Pro Demo, said all of it will go during a four-week feast of destruction.






 

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Atlantida Water Park (Gran Canaria)
The Atlantida Water Park was once a paradise for holidaymakers visiting the island of Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria. The tourist attraction closed in 2009 and is now set to be transformed into a £22million shopping centre.




 

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Vosges Haut-Chocolat Retail and Theater (Beverly Hills, CA)

 

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Ghost representation of Manor Heath Mansion in Halifax, Canada, built by carpet magnate John Crossley in 1852. Sadly it was demolished in 1958.

 

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Chute Out (Six Flags, TX)


 

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The Cockenzie Power Station’s (in East Lothian, Scotland) 487 feet (149 meters) tall iconic chimneys were demolished on Saturday by placing dozens of explosives into holes on the sides of chimneys so that they collapsed exactly into each other.

 

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Following the opening of the Jaws ride at Universal Studios Orlando on June 7, 1990, it experienced extensive and persistent breakdowns as a result of the elaborate special effects involved, as did fellow original rides Kongfrontation and Earthquake: The Big One. However, while Universal was able to eventually contain the technical bugs in the Kong and Earthquake rides at “utmost consistency”, the effects in the Jaws ride constantly refused to work at all, resulting in the ride having to be evacuated almost daily. Following the Summer opening of the park, Universal temporarily shut down the ride in August 1990, and sued Ride & Show Engineering, Inc. for failing to properly design the ride. Throughout 1991 and early 1992, Universal attempted to refurbish the effects of the ride for an eventual re-opening, but with no success. Some reports leaked that the high-tech electronics used in the sharks was damaged due to inadequate waterproofing.

Eventually, Universal collaborated with Totally Fun Company, ITEC Entertainment, Intamin and Oceaneering International, who together installed an entirely new ride system and special effects to create an almost entirely new version of the ride. Some of the changes, which resulted in a re-design of the ride, included the replacement of two major ride scenes; the first being where Jaws bit onto the tour boat and turned it by 180-degrees (which was replaced with a Gas dock explosion scene); and the second being the finale, which was originally loosely based on the first Jaws where the skipper shot a grenade into the shark’s mouth causing it to explode underwater (which was replaced by a finale loosely based on the ending for Jaws 2 where the shark was electrocuted after biting onto an underwater cable attached to a high-voltage barge). Oceaneering provided the animatronic shark for the redesigned ride, their first theme park-based project. The ride was then officially re-opened by Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary and Steven Spielberg in Spring of 1993.

Following the hurricanes that struck Central Florida in 2004, Universal was forced to temporarily close the ride in January 2005 due to the rising cost of petroleum, which was used to fuel the numerous pyrotechnical effects throughout the attraction as well as the tour boats. The ride finally reopened in December 2005, but was listed as “seasonal” and only open on busier days. This lasted until February 2007 when the ride was finally opened full-time again after numerous guest complaints. During the 2005 closure, several renovations were made to the ride. The attraction was further refurbished every year from 2008 – December 2, 2011 when Universal Orlando Resort announced that the Jaws attraction would close permanently on January 2, 2012 to make room for the second phase of The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter.




 

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Dudley Hippodrome (Dudley, UK)




 

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The Gu Tian (Fujian, China)
The cement ship was built during the 1970s when there was a lack of steel in China as a cheap solution during the ‘cultural revolution’. It was launched to herald in a new age where China had mastery of the seas. But after her first voyage in 1974, Communist officials realised it cost far too much to power a concrete ship through the waters, and she was driven ashore and grounded. The 345ft long, 48ft wide, 26ft 7in high Gu Tian became a squat for locals and a minor tourist attraction and spent 40 years beached on the bank of the Mingjiang River. It was also used as a training base for Fujian Ship Communications Vocational College. It has previously been ruled too expensive to destroy but since the land was bought by a re-development scheme, the process began to dismantle it to build a block of flats.


 

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50 Years Ago, Donald Trump’s Father Demolished Coney Island’s Beloved Steeplechase Park.




 

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Airstream Ranch (Tampa, FL)


 

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The giant statue representing the late Gilbert Bourdin, founder of the Triumphant Vajra cult of Mandarom, collapses after demolition workers set off explosives at the base of the 110-foot structure in Castellane, southern France, September 6, 2001. French authorities said the monument to Bourdin, the focal point of the sect’s “holy city of Mandarom” in the hills above Castellane, was built in 1990 without permission.



 

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Horizons (Epcot, FL)
Located in Future World East, the Horizons pavilion opened exactly one year after EPCOT Center (1983). It focused on the future and the future family. It was different in that the entire pavilion housed only it’s namesake attraction. One of the largest and most advanced attractions at EPCOT Center, Horizons looked back at what we envisioned the future would be throughout our history and then into the future through the 21st century. The ride focused on a familiar theme to fans of Walt Disney: If we can dream, we can do it.

After a visit to Jules Verne and a look at our vision of the future from the 1950s, guests entered a large theater with two large “OmniSphere” screens depicting discoveries that would impact us throughout the next century.

Moving on, the ride took it’s passengers through EPCOT Center’s view of the future… the 21st Century future. A future home, a desert farm growing orange trees, an underwater city, a space colony and finally a return to the present (20th Century).

It was on this return that guests were introduced to a unique ride experience: the ability to chose their own ending. For the return to the 20th Century, panels inside the omnimover vehicles would light up with options to be chosen from for the return. Guests could choose either land, sea or space for their return travel.

Though there is much speculation as to the reason for its closure (everything from maintenance cost to the building sinking into the ground), Horizons closed it’s doors in late 1994 after over a year of being without its sponsor, General Electric.





 

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Glasgow is a city trapped in a never-ending cycle of demolition and reconstruction, so it’s fitting that watching buildings getting blown up has become its new favourite form of mass public entertainment. Yesterday, thousands gathered to watch the city’s iconic Red Road tower blocks reach their demise in one of Europe’s largest ever controlled explosions.


 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** Steevee, Hi. Obviously very best of luck re: a very swift meds change. Well, the film certainly sounds really interesting in any number of ways, and I grab a chance to see it if I get one. And I’ll go read your latest review. Everyone, Here’s Steevee’s review of Filipino director Lav Diaz’s new epic film ‘The Woman Who Left’. Thanks! ** Tosh Berman, Hey there, Tosh! ** Armando, Hi, man. I’m good, quite good, thank you. We just started editing the film yesterday, and we’ll be working on it through the summer, planning for a September finish. I’m seeing Zac today and I’ll ask him. I suspect he’ll say to contact him via Facebook, but I’ll ask. Hugs back to you. I hope you’re doing really well. ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff. To begin with, we’re constructing a rough-ish cut which we’ll then refine and fiddle with and so on. We’re basically starting from the first scene and going forward, both because it’s logical and because we shot the film very out of sequence so it’s our first chance to see how it works in the intended order. We’re up to the sixth scene as of this morning, so the pace is okay so far. Curious about the change in ‘TP’s 4th episode. Theoretically ‘slack and drawn out’ and the noticeable pauses sound very interesting to me, but, yeah, just very curious to watch it as soon as I get a spate of extra time. I know the name Claudio Magris, but I don’t think I’ve read anything by him. Obviously your description and the Sebald comparison intrigues me. I’ll definitely seek out his stuff. Thanks a lot, man. ** S., I forget that broadcast radio still exists sometimes, basically because I don’t have a car here. That’s the only I ever listened. Florida having a wealth of haunted houses makes total sense but I have no idea why. Thanks for the luck and take some for the writing. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. When I was an adolescent my parents made me take cotillion, which was basically classes for youth organized by adults who thought the dances they danced as youths were superior to the dances then-practiced by youths. So I learned the tango, waltz, bossa nova, tutti-frutti, etc. Hated it, quit quickly, can’t remember a step. ** Brendan, Hey, B! Hooray that the show is realness. Oh, I have new e-address now because Google killed mine. It’s: denniscooper72@outlook.com. Excited to see the images. Where are you gonna stay in Vegas? You’re, like a non-Strip guy vis-a-vis Vegas lodgings, right? Have a soothing blast there, pal. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Very best of luck and everything else to your mom. Jesus, that’s scary, how is she today? Hugs my friend. ** Chris dankland, Hi, Chris. The editing is going really well so far. I’m super psyched. We’re coming up against the limitations created by how fast we had to shoot it, i.e. a few scenes that we only had time to shoot from one angle, as opposed to the multiple viewpoints that we had planned, and where that one angle doesn’t turn out to have been the best choice, but hopefully no one will know and feel that but us. But, yeah, it’s exciting. I continue to think the film is going to be fucking great. That GBV song is godlike, yes, I seriously agree. There are a bunch of songs on the new GBV that I’m getting seriously addicted to. I just raised my real coffee cup, my second one, half full, and moved it forward in a determined fashion, hoping its vibe would collide pleasantly with your cup’s. ** Bill, Hi. Hm, interesting, about the Lynn Hershman show. Maybe I’ll attempt a post/day. ** H. Hi. The editing has started very well, thank you. September is the intended finish date, but we’ll see. I’ve never liked Aiden’s work as much as I feel like I should. I think, at best, I felt okay about some of his poems. ** Okay. Today you get a pretty random, nerdy post. See you tomorrow.

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