Friday, September 10, 2010

the root of existentialism is existence

Flood of 1938, Los Angeles Street, Anaheim, from Calisphere.

Southside Johnny, Havin' a Party with Southside Johnny
John Fante, Dreams From Bunker Hill
Bruce Springsteen, Greetings from Ashbury Park, N.J.
Ian Hunter, All the Good Ones Are Taken
John Hiatt, Two Bit Monsters
The Only Ones, Special View

Let's rock this week out with the wild, howling poets of crap bars and the vivid dreams hatched in the euphorias and doldrums therein. Saxophones at the ready. See you on the avenue.

God, John Fante is good. Dreams from Bunker Hill is not all that great by Fante standards - it's really three or so stories a little loosely strung together with all the causal logic of an I Love Lucy episode - but its still better than other books because the old legless and blind diabetic fucker could write a story and remind you that the root of existentialism is existence first and if you can get to that, the rest will fall in line. Incedentally, his books will make you overcome whatever ill-conceived notions you may have about the alleged placelessness of Los Angeles. There is a bit in here about the flood of 1938 that took my breath away, about sandbags buffeting Sunset Boulevard, but I can't find it now.

Here is a letter Arturo Bandini hastily dispatched to Sinclair Lewis after being snubbed by the writer in a restaurant.
Dear Sinclair Lewis,
      You were once a god, but now you are a swine. I once reverenced
you, admired you, and now you are nothing. I came to shake your hand
in adoration, you, Lewis, a giant among American writers, and you rejected
it. I swear I shall never read another line of yours again. You are an
ill-mannered boor. You betrayed me. I shall tell H. L. Muller about you,
and how you shamed me. I shall tell the world.
                                                                         Arturo Bandini
P.S. I hope you choke on your steak.
Flame on, you magnificent bastard.  Here is one of many calamitous departures:
I hit him in the face and knocked him down on the couch. He sat there nursing a nosebleed. I walked back to the car and drove away. I shouldn't have struck Edgington. He had been hospitable and friendly and generous and kind. But I couldn't bear his arrogance. He was too successful for me. He had it coming. I had no regrets. That was life. I was sorry for his nosebleed, but he deserved it. As for Velda van der Zee, fuck her. What was another director? This town was crawling with them.

Have you ever heard Bowie's discoed-up version of Springsteen's "It's Hard to be a Saint in the City"? It's a beautiful thing.


  1. quite the maximalist piece. sounds like a chop shop presided over by 13 mewling cats. and yet still moderately appealing.

  2. If you like Ignacius Reilly, you will love Arturo Bandini.