WEEK IN REVIEW: victims of the invisible watchout

(Evan Karp)

You can’t pick this up but it can still infect you.

“I was left alone in the courtyard, and for a minute I couldn’t believe that Mexico City was really out there.” If punctuation could float away… there was something so dubious about that period, how it fell exactly there, that I copied this sentence into my notebook. I was sitting alone in the middle of the crowd gathering at Sugarlump for the release of Chris Colin‘s eBook Blindsight. There was a sign of a book with a slash through it on the front of the door, and on the bar, where I sat, a signup sheet asked for pledges to purchase the book. “God is watching,” it joked, he joked that god is a thing that was once very real, like books, that will eventually become extinct—although invisible isn’t necessarily unreal, like eBooks, or… you got it.

Mexico City was not outside. It’s 2011. This is the edge of where 24th and Latin America still seems like an old-world-new-world intersection.

“At a certain point you need to steep yourself in reality,” says Quim Font to García Madero. You see, I’m finally reading The Savage Detectives. Why now? I picked up a copy at the NCBPMA mixer the previous night. A chance encounter with Brent Sverdloff of the Center for the Art of Translation, who was kind enough to put such a treasure on the table. I picked it up, and the next night I was in Sugarlump, engrossed. “If one steeps oneself too thoroughly,” Font cautions, “one is at risk of becoming a victim.”

It reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, which Chris Cole loaned me (and for good reason). I think of that book every five minutes now, I swear—every time I see a woman wearing red shoes. And what is it with The Wizard of Oz now?

That what we seek so desperately with every turn of the page (or every right corner rounded) is perhaps nothing more than the feeling in the voice of a man or woman tired, resigned, but burning, something deeper, heavier than the one we allow every day. We want a door to open onto a stairway; we want the stairway to lead deeper into ourselves; we want this depth to be lucid and permanent, pressed to a piece of vinyl and re-played forever. We want the depths of hell to have our name on the frontispiece, to have been to the bottom and purchased real estate there; we want to reverse gentrify ourselves, to deconstruct our stories past the point of subversion yet still sing a song of the morning poppies with honest (if rueful) inflection. We want to strip this accursed culture from our souls and still sing about our lives. We want to open our mouths and be ancestors.

Right, this happens in little arthouses and in underground theatres on a regular basis. I left Portuguese Artists Colony at intermission to expand my horizons: Solo Sundays at Stagewerx. I had just seen Previously Secret Information and was extremely impressed, and since both shows are co-produced by Bruce Pachtman and Ty Mckenzie, I thought I’d check it out. A complete stranger to this medium, I realized, I did not exactly enjoy the performances and shared my feelings with Bruce who, naturally, disagreed with me. It’s possible I was just upset because I knew I was missing Olga Zilberbourg and Jonathan Hirsch. “I am always down to learn… especially from someone defending his or her passion,” I told Bruce via email. We are meeting up this week to talk about the art of solo performance [more on that soon].

In case you’re not subscribed and don’t listen to The Forum, the new issue of ZYZZYVA, 92, is out—the first one sporting an overhaul by new editors Laura Cogan and Oscar Villalon. It looks fantastic. It feels fantastic. I haven’t read it yet. Why? I just told you I’m a victim of The Savage Detectives. Gosh [really, this video is almost incredible].

826 Valencia turned 10 this week, and some wrote for 8 hours and 26 minutes to mark the occasion. “Styled after typical marathon races,” says Kate Conger, participants… let their creativity run wild. Instead of covering distance, the competitors span[ned] time.”

I left the cafe and walked my bike home so I could call an old best friend, leaving South America and the invisible book party behind.