Georgia O’Keeffe [Hands against Drawing with Round Forms], 1919
by Alfred Stieglitz (American, Hoboken, New Jersey 1864–1946 New York City)
Nina Simone, “I Put A Spell On You” from I Put A Spell On You 
People come up trying to get a photograph with me. Fuck that shit. That’s why people in the limelight can’t live normal lives, because of the way some people mess with them. It’s not natural… But when I’m with my horses or my good friends, I can relax and not worry about that. I’ve got a horse named Kara, one named Kind of Blue, and another one called Gemini. Gemini’s got a lot of spirit because he’s got some Arabian in him. I like to ride him the best. But he does me a favor by letting me ride him because I can’t ride that good. I’m still learning, and he knows that. So when I do things wrong he just kind of looks at me like, “What the fuck is this motherfucker doing on my back? Don’t he know I’m a pro?” But I like animals, understand them and them me. But people? People are weird.
Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe, from Miles: The Autobiography 
There is some heroic authorial guidance accomplished by Quincy Troupe in Miles Davis’ autobiography. Miles is free to let a tangent develop - no matter how inane, no matter how little his observation mirrors the lived experiences of any other human being - and among these tangents he builds up and takes away the monumental mythology of jazz. How? With an irrefutable sense of ownership. It might be the best book written about jazz, because it has no desire whatsoever to communicate what jazz is.
Along the way the reader abandons all need for a qualifying thesis, all hope for a concluding maxim of self help, and all prospects for a reasonable summation of a life lived, and settles in for what the book actually is: storytelling as an exercise in continuous breathing constrained to the printed page. Miles’s only goal seems to be to remind us how weird and unnatural we all are, and how little our lives follow any governable theory. This is why our experiences are crucial to us as narrative. His autobiography is titled simply Miles and by the end of it I felt as though a man who calls himself Miles had played an enormously enlightening and elaborate joke on me. Which, make no mistake, is a compliment of the highest order, because on paper, the lesson and the moral are the bastard cousins of a well-constructed ruse. I know Twain’s Volume 2 is getting a lot of press right now and I plan to start it in the new year, but this is a classic of the form.
Nick, of aged Egg Nog fame, just sent me a link to some sort of advertisement he’s in, complete with action photos and video footage. Oh to be carefree, ginger, mustachioed, and good at making cocktails.
Ten days from now, the jar on the right will be ready to go. It is a traditional Egg Nog that my roommate Nick has kept in lightless storage for the last calendar year. The jar on the left is the 2-year aged Egg Nog, which is nearing the halfway point on its journey. At about this time last year he tasted his first aged Egg Nog and declared it, “The best thing I ever drank.” He used an old recipe as a starting point, and tweaked it to his liking. His summary of the jars’ contents? “A lot of eggs. And a lot of alcohol.”
He’s bringing it to a lab first to have it cultured, which is the best way to ensure neither of us dies one of those ironic deaths we Williamsburg residents are always narrowly skirting.
Top Ten lists are everywhere, are effortlessly clickable, and disappoint me at a rate closely approaching always. Recently I’ve exerted a modicum of willpower in avoiding them. Though I’d like to say I’m proud of this, I watched several documentaries about 40s and 50s filmmaking/screenwriting while away for Thanksgiving and absorbed a few classic Farley Granger films in the last forty-eight hours. So when the Guardian posted this text:
Guns, dames and hats: you can’t have a film noir without them, can you?
…I lurched back and cringed, click baited. The self-deputized “experts” have got one more of their fucking lists ready.
But here I am linking to it. I offer this not as a way of saying, “These are really important films and I am plainly surprised someone had the forthrightness to post them all in one place,” but as a way of saying that this list is more conscious of my tastes, preferences, and criteria for classic cinema than I’ve ever allowed myself to be.
This would be the list I’d make if I were forced for six months to do nothing but make top ten lists of things (Top Ten Light Mayos! Top Ten Smoky-Voiced Starlets!), lists rolling off my fingers like confections impossibly easy to consume, their numerals descending in a caramelly drizzle. I’d like to think it would take six months before I learned the ways of the wizened listmachers of antiquity: breezing through the back five, building to a brilliant #3, a #3 that should be a #1, then surprising the reader with a #2 that really is a #2 and a #1 that isn’t just a #1 _____ but possibly a candidate for the Top Ten Everything Ever. I’d like to think that my lists would one day transport my readers to the precise time and place when they experienced this self-affirming #1 whatever-it-is and remind them just how far - aesthetically - they’ve traveled, because that’s what a #1 does (Is that what #1 does? I’m sure #1 has an awesome definition at dictionary.com), it makes us feel spiritually connected to… Anyway, you should stop reading this bullshit and see all of these films. This is a fucking fantastic list.
Paul Valery, 1891
Easton, NY [8.6.13]
STANWYCK at the Film Forum, 12.6.13-12.29.13
Nearly 40 films, with a double feature of Double Indemnity/The Lady Eve on 12.7.13
See you there.
Miles Davis, “My Old Flame” from Dig 
If I admit that I take little interest in contemporary experimental poetry, it’s not a prejudice born of ignorance. I have read the anthologies as well as too many of the revered names—much have I traveled in the realms of tin. I admire avant-garde ingenuity, with the cantankerousness, self-confidence, and outrageousness attached—but I rarely, rarely, like the poems. This may be the prejudice of a prejudice, one that later generations may profitably put on display to confirm just how blinkered twenty-first-century critics were. For my taste, however, and to my prejudice, avant-garde poems have advanced very little from language experiments first tried when Ruth was hitting sixty home runs. Indeed, reading many experimental poets now is like listening to some bar band’s cover of “Satisfaction”—it’s not a patch on the original, even if you’re under the influence of a quart of gin. I don’t expect lesser things of avant-garde poetry; I expect things much greater.
— William Logan, “Against Aesthetics" [New Criterion, 6.13]
Georgia - Auburn [11.16.13], 73-yard touchdown catch.
I didn’t see it live, and saw only this clip after being badgered to do so by a friend, but it is exhilarating; I think I’ve watched it a dozen times, as much for the slapstick hilarity of the two colliding players ejecting a football as for the nimbleness of the receiver’s grab.
Death Valley National Park, CA [12.4.12]
Last night at the Morgan Library I saw Dreams Terrifically Disturbed, an Edgar Allan Poe reading with performances and sound design by Elevator Repair Service.
I’d read only one of the evening’s selections, and given the opportunity, ERS picked some zany-ass stuff. I’ve included links to all of the works. Especially strange and beautiful is the Letter to George Eveleth, where Poe espouses his theory of the universe.
This line in particular seemed thrilling to deliver:
“What I have propounded will (in good time) revolutionize the world of Physical & Metaphysical Science. I say this calmly — but I say it.”
Masque of the Red Death 
Letter to George Eveleth [2.29.1848]
Letter to Annie Richmond [after 5.5.1849]
First Scene of Politian 
The performance coincided with Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul, an exhibit up until mid-January, that sheds light on Poe’s career and his influence on literature. It amazes me how much our neglect of Edgar Allan Poe during his lifetime has become one of America’s (many many many… by last count) original sins, a sin for which we will never forgive ourselves. Future generations will likely come to believe he was tried by the Supreme Court and lethally injected by Zachary Taylor’s personal physician.
Worth noting: The Morgan Library issues some pretty dignified tickets, sans bar codes, QR codes, and discount coupons for Burger King printed on the back. It is appreciated.