I only know Laura Cantrell because she sang “The Guitar” with They Might Be Giants. The original of “Cowboy on the Moon” is by Lambchop, who I also don’t really know.
Lambchop’s version is very country-sounding and the singer has a deepish voice. Laura Cantrell has a beautiful voice and sings this song quite faithfully. The strange thing is that her version reminds me so much of The Beautiful South’s “Don’t Marry Her” (although the original doesn’t…must be Cantrell’s voice).
It’s an enjoyable song (about watching the first space landing), even if it is a little too country for my tastes. Once again, I like the cover version better.
[READ: April 1, 2012] “Old Masters”
Lucky Peach is a magazine about food. And chefs. And recipes. And, apparently fiction. Like most McSweeney’s publications, there can usually be found a piece of fiction inside it somewhere. In this issue it is “Old Masters.”
Strangely, Bernhard does not get a bio in the back of the magazine–this is almost unheard of in McSweeney’sland. Equally as strange is how much I did not like this fiction.
It’s frankly hard to even know what to do with this fiction, and it’s hard to know why it was included in this magazine. It is not about food at all. It is about art. Tangentially.
What it is really is a rant. A repetitive rant. A repetitive rant that seems to build in anger. A repetitive rant that seems to build in anger until it just stops. A repetitive rant that seems to build in anger until it just stops, but which stops in a location that one might not have expected from the opening.
And that’s a shame because as I skimmed it again for this post, the introduction is interesting. It opens with this sentence: “The layman in matters of art goes to a museum and makes it nauseous for himself through excess, Reger said.” Reger also hates the expert who makes a beeline for one piece of art and studies just that, but that’s not as bad as the average person who tries to study all of the Occidental collection in one day.
Got it. Reger is an art person. But he only looks at one piece (like an expert?). Every other day he goes to the museum and sits on the settee in front of Tintoretto’s White-Bearded Man. He’s been doing this for thirty years. And he says that such behavior might be grounds for being in the lunatic asylum, a gift to psychiatrists.
All of that takes about two pages. And in the beginning there’s even some action in the museum and a backstory about his wife. The four pages that are left (yes) are basically Reger getting more and more angry about the state of the world and repeating full sections of things over and over. For example:
Everything today is full of baseness and full of malice, lies, and betrayal, Reger said, mankind has never been as shameless and perfidious as today. We may look at whatever we please, we may go wherever we please, we only look at malice and infamy and at betrayal and lies and hypocrisy and forever only at nothing but absolute baseness, no matter where we look, no matter where we go we are confronted with malice and with lies and with hypocrisy. What else do we see but lies and malice, hypocrisy and betrayal, the meanest baseness, whenever we walk out into the street, when we dare to walk out into the street, Reger said. We got (sic) out into the street and we walking into the baseness, he said, into baseness and shamelessness, into hypocrisy and malice.
So, evidently Reger is crazy. But who is crazier, the person who writes a story like this or the person who reads the story to the end? In which literally nothing else happens expect that Reger keeps finding new people/groups to call mendacious.
Or maybe it’s the person who posts about it and types out the whole section above.
Interestingly, Zadie Smith reviewed a memoir by Bernhard and by the end of that review I didn’t want to know any more about him. Just like this story.
POSTSCRIPT: I just looked up this book and apparently it is a novel, not a short story. So this is an excerpt, and okay that makes sense. And apparently it is a comedy. Mmmmaybe. Here’s a summary of the novel.