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Friday, June 12, 2015

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Stephanie-Potter-on-6-11-15--Italian-Market








A new bartender at Friendly Lounge, my neigborhood's watering hole for misshappen and garrulous schmucks. Twenty-nine-years old, Stephanie Potter graduated from Moore College in Spring of last year. Originally from Fredericksburg, VA, Stephanie studied in Baltimore before coming to Philly. She's preparing a studio space in Fishtown. At Moore, Stephanie learned from Sreshta Rit Premnath. Rit was a student at Bard College when I taught there.

Decades ago, I was an art installer at Moore, and in 1994, I curated an exhibition for them called "Toys and Incense." Googling, I was trying to see if there's any trace of this show online. I found this:

"Playfulness, improvisation, and experimentation are central to Dinh’s literary and nonliterary works. Dinh’s 1994 exhibit 'Toys and Incense,' which he produced as a guest curator at the Levy Gallery at Moore College of Art and Design, was a reference and response to Arthur Rimbaud's playfulness in his question, 'pourquoi pas déja les joujoux et l'encens?' ('Why not toys and incense already?') The disruptiveness and playfulness of this exhibit lies at the heart of his writing, which is defined, as Marianne Villanueva (2008) observes, by 'break[ing] accepted norms in an overt attempt to play with form.'"--Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History, edited by Xiaojian Zhao and Edward J.W. Park.

I had no idea I was included in such an encyclopedia, but thank you, Xiaojian and Edward, for squeezing me in.

After several summers of teaching at Bard, I was dropped without an explanation. Ann Lauterbach's parting words to me were, "You're always close to our hearts," with the implication that I would be brought back. Though I can't prove it, I'm convinced the video below led to my removal. After I had shown it in a seminar, Anne couldn't conceal her disgust and even called it juvenile. Ann's sensibility is different from mine, to say the least. It is finer. I, on the other hand, can be recklessly playful.





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59 comments:

x larry said...

hi linh,
nice work, really enjoyed it. i was reminded somewhere in there of all in the family lounge on thirteenth street, where at around that time i was a semi regular. did you know it? cheers, and no, i can't imagine this having offended anyone.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi x larry,

13th Street used to be the sleaziest in Center City, but now it's mostly hip bars and expensive restaurants.

To those outside Philly, All In The Family Lounge was a strip bar at 13th and Locust. It is gone. I knew a black guy in his late 40's who would celebrate each birthday at All In The Family Lounge.


Linh

Linh Dinh said...

In my collection, Fake House, there's a story, "In The Vein," that has a description of The Office, another Center City go-go bar. The speaker is a man just released from jail:

I had forgotten how stale the air was, like tuberculosis, like the air on a Greyhound bus. Everything else was familiar: the drop ceiling like a vast Mondrian; the mural fragment of a waterfall, showing a pair of female legs dipping into a green pool; the tiffany lamps dangling over the bar, with yellow tinsel garlanded between them; the portrait of a crying clown; the painting of a stag; the curving red-velvet wall, rubbed raw in spots, behind the small stage. I strode straight for the end of the bar and found myself a seat. There were maybe eight customers in the whole place: an old man in his late 70's, arthritic and trembling; two tittering Bolivians; a black queer on a recon mission... A chubby girl was dancing on stage. Norman was behind bar.

Linh Dinh said...

The Office turns up in another Fake House story. This one is called "Fritz Glatman," and the eponymous narrator is a lawyer who's contemplating getting a mail-order bride:

When I go to The Office, a go-go bar on 15th street, I see men from all over, a veritable assembly of the United Nations. Nowhere else can I hobnob so freely with Pakistanis, blacks and Mongolians. Each man nursing an unconsolable hard-on, wearing a shroud of pussies, we are all humbled, pared down, incorporated. We are all trash, or rather, we are all trash collectors, lancing up shredded titties. We must all share the nude girl hanging upside down from the greased pole. She's presently doing a series of queer sit-ups to polite applause. None of us can have her. The best we can do is give her a dollar. It is the most democratic place on earth. All the sexual surplus of society ends up in a go-go bar; it's where men go to celebrate their equality. I'm reminded of a Cezanne painting called "The Eternal Female," in which men of various professions and pretensions, high and low, are depicted gazing up at a naked woman hovering over their heads.

Apropos of prostitution and pornography, a symbolic defilement of intimacy and a seance of lovemaking, respectively: I would never patronize a whore because I cannot consent to sex without commitment, with neither preface or prologue, but neither will I allow myself to be titillated, or moved to the depths of my soul, by a photo of a naked female, the cheapest form of idolatry. (Masturbation, which is unavoidable, I consider a breathing exercise, a cardiovascular fitness program and a jogging of the memory.) I avert my eyes from lingerie ads in the newspaper. If I must read an article on the same page as the ad, I cover the exposed flesh with a book or a bagel.

A remedy to the aforesaid perversions, of course, is the go-go bar. In front of me is a real woman, after all, doing what all women do, one way or another. She is alert to my presence, as I am to hers. We have a relationship. The slightest shift in mood in either party is duly registered by the other, a yawn, a pitying smile, a hardening of the facial features betraying irritation or disappointment.

But I must admit that any relationship I can have with a woman in a go-go bar is bound to be unbalanced, asymmetrical. I've thought a lot about this. To start with: she's naked, and I'm not. While she could only read my face, I could read her entire body. Because clothing serves to isolate the face, a naked woman, in shedding her clothes, surrenders her right, the right of any civilized human being, to frame her own face. If I was with a clothed woman, that is, with a framed face, I would gauge her fluctuating moods primarily by deciphering her facial expressions. I may scrutinize her other exposed flesh, but I could only do it on the sly, in piece-meal fashion, because of the tyranny of her face.

When a woman is naked, however, her face loses its authority. Now I'm free to look wherever I please. Now I'm free, even compelled, to look away from her face. And because I'm not really paying attention to her face, but seeing it only out of the corner of my eye, it can no longer cajole, curb, pace, or ridicule my responses to her. The rest of her body is mute, blind, and cannot censor my curiosity.

Also: because she is being probed simultaneously by so many sets of eyes, and not just mine, what I'm doing, what all the other men are doing, become less selfish and subjective, less perverted, and more universal and scientific. We're on a joint expedition to a far-away land, a field trip to the zoo.

Linh Dinh said...

[Continues]

All that said, it must be added that a woman's naked body can never betray as much as a man's. Hers is a mask, with the nipples the eyes peeping through the eye holes, the only indicator of tension within. With a man, on the other hand, every psychic tic or turbulence is conveyed immediately by an erection, or at least half an erection. Anything at all can cause a man to have an erection. One can say that his body is more guileless and articulate than hers: a blunt instrument, it always speaks its mind. For a man, clothing serves the absolutely essential purpose of hiding his erections.


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x larry said...

hi linh,
thanks for writing. you knew 13th street! i loved it, or at least all in the family. there was a middle aged woman who danced very stiffly, tamborine in hand, with a cowboy hat. and of course in philly they had to wear nipple tassles. can't picture the office on 15th street, but great excepts, though i don't agree with your take (if it's your voice there) on prostitutes. awful as it was, i from time to time couldn't resist, esp at 4 or 5 in the morning, drunk, walking south from the copa to christian street. philly gave me my first prostitutes! must say it has been many a long year since i've been with one, probably only from their complete absence in denver and brighton. cheers

Linh Dinh said...

Hi x larry,

That's not me talking about prostitutes. It's some guy named Fritz Glatman (that I made up).

You should check out William T. Vollmann. No writer has spent so much time with prostitutes.


Linh

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

At 13th and Walnut, there's the Empire Building, and on one of the upper floors, Lee Goldston, a black guy, had a tiny office. Whenever I was really broke, which was quite often, especially in Winter, I'd go find Lee Goldston. Together, we would walk around to wash windows. Though these were his gigs, Lee would always split the money in half. Our biggest job was the Church of the Holy Trinity on Rittenhouse Square. We'd also do the nearby 7-11.

All of the businesses in the Empire Building were black, and these included hair salons and body oil, wig or incense distributors. The elevator had to be operated by some guy, and one time, it was me. "Which floor?" I would bark, then close the steel gate and push the button.

As you know, there were prostitutes all over 13th Street, but once Lee got hooked up with two near his apartment at 15th and Lombard. Not stupid, he slipped his wallet from his pant pocket and tucked it somewhere upon entering. Sure enough, the prostitutes stole his pants and ran out. Of the Goodwill variety, they might have been worth a dollar, if that.

When Lee died, no one knew until the landlord had to come by because Lee had missed his rent check.

Lee was an all around great guy, and I'm still kicking myself for never going down to North Carolina to hang out with his extended family. He said I would always be welcomed.

The Empire is now an apartment building owned by PMCProperty Group, and the cheapest one-bedroom there goes for $1,380 a month.


Linh

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

Regarding "nipple tassles," most only wore pasties, no? In England, though, a pasty is a Cornish calzone ("pants" in Italian). As has been observed, Americans are extremely prurient and prudish simultaneously. Hence, naked breasts are legal in many states, but nipples not.


Linh

x larry said...

hi linh,
yes, and topless beaches are few and far between, much less nudist ones. in spain EVERY beach is nude at either side. in barcelona you can legally walk around the city naked, and some do. i'm beginning to think i'd be far less enamoured of philly now. much of the romance seems to have gone. my good friend lived between 12th and 13th on chestnut, at the adelphia, 13th floor. i would go hang out for a couple of hours, drinking strong coffee, before walking to 15th and fairmount for the midnight shift at a shelter, where we (during that period of a few months when i wasn't working directly with the kids--they were giving 'jesus jones' a break) would drive around all night in a van, going to every police precinct in town (maybe around4-7 a night), picking up kids and taking them either home or back to the shelter. anyway, my friend's apt was brimming with baby cockroaches. my friend was so unsqueamish he would just casually squeaze them to splattered death between his thumb and finger. he said they came from the apt next door. turns out the guy there had been dead for some time. when they came to take him, the floor was a carpet of cockroaches. he had long been infirm, over 80 years old with no family i think, and never through away his empty or half empty takeaway boxes. i lived at that time on eleventh and sansom, right across from jefferson hospital's entrance, above a pizza shop which was next to a good diner, with bar in a separate room. i recently tried to look up the adelphia and it seems to have disappeared from all memory. cheers man

x larry said...

forgot to mention what a freak my friend was, bloomington indiana boy, intellectual with taste for retro furniture--yes, pretentious--but he was some military elite, something like 1 from a pool of 5000. he kept his venetian blinds tightly shut out of paranoia of being watched from outer space by his people. i thought at the time he was just crazy, but don't of course think that now--he probably just was already privy to the kinds of technologies and practices we're all onto now

Linh Dinh said...

Hi x larry,

The Adelphia building is still there, though what it is now, I'm not sure. I spent many nights in the Adelphia.

The apartments of horror on 13th Street, though, was the Spruce Parker. I describe it a Philadelphia Postcard:

Just to visit a Parker Spruce resident, you must pay six bucks at the desk, though condoms are free, thanks to the city’s health department. After riding up the musty elevator, you enter a moldy hallway redolent of urine and clorox. If taking the stairs, you might step over a dime bag or two. Whole families take refuge here, not just hurting singles, drug addicts and whores, and though pets are banned, you can hear a caged canary as you walk past this door, and inside this cell is a black cat. At the end of each hallway, bars are placed on windows to prevent jumpers from diving, permanently, into hell, the final one, but if you go straight to the roof of this 12-story building, where the view is indeed spectacular and the air fresh, nothing will stop you from flying for a second or two before splashing onto the adjacent row house’s tar roof, which must be fixed every few years, after yet another corpse is removed.


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x larry said...

hi linh,
yes, i remember that postcard. was that where eddy the underwear man lived? that all happened a couple of blocks from me, during that same time period, 91-92.
i remember the adelphia had a club in the basement. thanks again

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

Philadelphia legend Uncle Eddie lived in high class Wanamaker House on Rittenhouse Square.


Linh

x larry said...

really? i've sworn for years he was on 12th and spruce, no idea where that came from.

x larry said...

give me eddy over ed rendell, or frank rizzo, or even arlen spector. in our sick world, a feces fetish isn't so strange, no? i see he may have links to jerry sandusky. well, luckily i'm not in the public eye or i'd be crucified.

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

Uncle Eddie studied economics at UPenn and was married to a lawyer.

Unlike Sandusky, Uncle Eddie never raped anyone.

Now, a real Philly monster was Gary Heidnik.



Linh

x larry said...

hi linh,
heidnik was just before my time there, so i'd never heard of him. sad, sad story

Elizabeth said...

Hey, Linh. I don't get my daughter. She thinks you're obscene and doesn't want to read ANY MORE of you. I guess her tastes are "finer." She thinks this, although she confided in me that her ex-boyfriend once asked her to have sex with him while she was eating dinner, and when she said no he asked if she minded if he masturbated while she was eating. So obviously I thought of that while watching your video, which I laughed continuously through. Thanks for all the pleasure!

I'll bet Leah has a lot more stories like that about her asshole ex-boyfriend, ones she's too ashamed to tell me while insisting you are obscene.

Leah really resents Asian women because caucasian guys are so hot on them. I told her that this is because they are the most neotenous humans on the planet. She admires one of the painting majors because she works at a Nevada brothel over the summers--this is her third-wave feminist bullshit. Her ex-best friend Angela is Eurasian, who was a pretty awesome painter when she started CIA, but then she got involved with a guy there who tells her exactly how to do her paintings, and who, during one critique, looked at her and commanded, "sit down!" Now her work's fer shit and everybody hates her. Leah was dating this guy she met on an Internet dating site and she told him about Angela and showed him her Facebook photo. Leah got really pissed because he said "Man, I'd love to fuck her." That girl is really confused!

You were right, by the way. Entirely possible.

x larry said...

women below thirty and above are different species--for that matter so are men. below thirty girls insist on their prince charming, which in reality means, yes, a total fucking asshole. i defy anyone to show me a girl who doesn't. boys that age are either trying to impress, that is show how much pussy they can get, or (and many at least truly feel this way deep down) they want a true love, someone who understands, loves, and will be faithful to them--then the can of worms opens no matter what, for if she IS faithful, it can't last as it all hinges on how all-knowing/all-goodlooking/all-funny etc he is. if he's mediocre, bet everything that she is too, ie homely. she knows the score, he mostly doesn't. i used to feel bad about some of the comments i heard myself making, like 'i'd love to fuck her', which i didn't do often but very often heard. then i found, at least in the bigger cities of america and everywhere in england, that i was just a child (so what's wrong with that?). what i thought these women were was very, very naive (and again, what's wrong with that?). eventually, the smarter guys learn to be very cynical, as they know they can easily discover just how to play almost anyone under a certain age.
anyway, older women, very different story. they've done absolutely everything, every drug, hordes of guys, and just want to have a marriage (as of course do many guys, often for different reasons). point? we're these vectors, did rousseau say that? (temple u.), egocentric and in our own worlds, living this most unnatural existence consisting of an infinite number of hostile individuals. there was a tribe in south america that was asked about male/female relationships (they were very peaceable and happy), and whoever it was said, the differences are so great as to be insurmountable. finally, spock's out the window, hey guess what the latest is? yes, boys and girls, men and women, are different. cutting edge western science. oh to live in a wise society--and wisdom starts with 1. childrearing and 2. sexual relations (see trobriand islanders)
thank you

Elizabeth said...

That's a tremendously helpful comment, so thank you. She lies to me and herself all the time, and I don't expect she doesn't know I know. But she wants to believe she can do both good and well. She will find out. I tell her things and she calls me crazy, then a year or two or three or four years later she tells me I was right, out of the blue. Indoctrination never works, but she keeps thinking it must.

Mostly, she's just afraid, and she tries to put up a good front and tries to sound worldly and brave, but I know better, and so does she. Someday she will tell me that. I have most, most often been the same--afraid and acting out of that--so I'm not looking down my nose at her. Because of my massive stupidity, I made quite a difficult road for her. But I suspect that by the time she's 30, she will be what I am not yet, so I'm not gonna beat myself up about it.

x larry said...

thanks elizabeth, don't know why but i half expected your remark to be hostile. i could talk and talk and talk on this subject, it's quite upsetting and the root of i think everything. this is how lives are destroyed, a cohesive, truly vibrant, decent, snesitive and loving society is destroyed. there is endless stuff out there on alternatives to what we do, how we behave. the 'wise' europeans of old--the 'classics' of the west, or many of them--used to call the asians or middle easterners or ANYONE who wasn't, no not 'white', but english (the same thing), they called them effeminates and dismissed their weak, womanish cultures wholesale and outright. these people disgust me, esp as they're STILL widely read and admired. but for example, there's 'the island of fisherwomen' in japan, where (yes, lovely) the women go topless or nude and deep sea dive for abalone or some such. a man there was asked, why the women? because they have far greater endurance than men. again in japan, nudity and sex were ho hum, very accepted and considered (and why not?) as totally natural. there was lots of homosexuality, as always and everywhere. 'wise men' of europe--great propagandists and racists--have on occasion repeated this: that japanese and in general oriental men were so attracted to other men because asian women's breasts were so small as to be almost flat (you'd never know now, with all the sculpted padded bras, which i first really encountered in korea--it was for a long time an unpleasant shock once my wasted ass finally scored, as i lecherously drooled awaiting those perfect lovely breasts to find a boyish chest with eraser nipples). true, big boned and big everything western women generally have more curves, and of course more fat.
i just wish to point out a small sampling of the differing sexualities of different societies and times. eskimos i've read always slept with their friends' wives when they visited, same somewhere or perhaps in many places in africa--it was rude not to. so i think i've read or been told anyway. i advocate complete honesty, especially given what we dumb ass guys know now, that women really really like sex. i in all seriousness advocate for some future society anyway regular orgies of sorts or at least swapping, and to cut all the shit about who can 'pull' (england), who's the 'bedroom bully' (shaba ranks), who does she like (and all the very nasty shit that goes with that one--very, very infantile, agreed, esp and like no other place in america). but for our horrible present predicament there can be absolutely no easy remedy, the problems are far too serious. eventually everyone just gets tired, jaded, bored, then perhaps married. i personally have two very terrible examples from my youth which really burned me, and from which i never recovered. why, why, why? innocent love is the most beautiful thing!
well, i'll stop. thanks again

Elizabeth said...

Hi x Larry:

In my experience, very few women like sex in this country, let alone LOVE it, despite what the feminists say. Mostly, the sexual act is just another brutal infliction from the women's POV, so why would they get off? It should go without saying that this infliction has infected men as well. By the time I figured that out, I was too old to have much impact. Oh well. Rivers keep flowing, bless them.

The thing is, women inflict just as much as men do. Although it's not apparent if you believe the bullshit, socially acceptable line, but in the corporatocracy, it is lost. women inflict sexual power over men as much as vice-versa. I don't blame anybody. Cis or trans, female, male, or somewhere in between--why should I give a masturbation (unless you pay me big time, haw har). That's not the problem.

Linh Dinh said...

From Andrea Dworkin's Intercourse:

SEXUAL INTERCOUSE IS NOT INTRINSICALLY BANAL, though pop-culture magazines like Esquire and Cosmopolitan would suggest that it is. It is intense, often desperate. The internal landscape is violent upheaval, a wild and ultimately cruel disregard of human individuality, a brazen, high-strung wanting that is absolute and imperishable, not attached to personality, no respecter of boundaries; ending not in sexual climax but in a human tragedy of failed relationships, vengeful bitterness in an aftermath of sexual heat, personality corroded by too much endurance of undesired, habitual intercourse, conflict, a wearing away of vitality in the numbness finally of habit or compulsion or the loneliness of separation. The experience of fucking changes people, so that they are often lost to each other and slowly they are lost to human hope. The pain of having been exposed, so naked, leads to hiding, self-protection, building barricades, emotional and physical alienation or violent retaliation against anyone who gets too close.

Sometimes, the skin comes off in sex. The people merge, skinless. The body loses its boundaries. We are each in these separate bodies; and then, with someone and not with someone else, the skin dissolves altogether; and what touches is unspeakably, grotesquely visceral, not inside language or conceptualization, not inside time; raw, blood and fat and muscle and bone, unmediated by form or formal limits. There is no physical distance, no self-consciousness, nothing withdrawn or private or alienated, no existence outside physical touch.

The skin collapses as a boundary—it has no meaning; time is gone—it too has no meaning; there is no outside. Instead, there is necessity, nothing else—being driven, physical immersion in each other but with no experience of “each other” as separate entities coming together. There is only touch, no boundaries; there is only the nameless experience of physical contact, which is life; there is no solace, except in this contact; without it, there is unbearable physical pain, absolute, not lessened by distraction, unreached by normalcy—nearly an amputation, the skin hacked off, slashed open; violent hurt. “My heart was open to you, ” says a man obsessively in love in The Face of Another by Kobo Abe, “quite as if the front of it had been sliced away. ” This skinless sex is a fever, but fever is too small. It is obsession, but obsession is too psychological. It becomes life; and as such, it is a state of being, a metaphysical reality for those in it, for whom no one else exists. It ends when the skin comes back into being as a boundary.

The skin is a line of demarcation, a periphery, the fence, the form, the shape, the first clue to identity in a society (for instance, color in a racist society), and, in purely physical terms, the formal precondition for being human. It is a thin veil of matter separating the outside from the inside. It is what one sees and what one covers up; it shows and it conceals; it hides what is inside. The skin is separation, individuality, the basis for corporeal privacy and also the point of contact for everything outside the self. It is a conductor of all feeling. Every time the skin is touched, one feels. All feeling passes through it, outside to inside. The skin is electric, hot, cold, opaque, translucent, youth, age, sensitive to every whisper of wind, chill, heat. The skin is our human mask; it is what one can touch of another person, what one sees, how one is seen. It is the formal limits of a body, a person, and the only bridge to human contact that is physical and direct. Especially, it is both identity and sex, what one is and what one feels in the realm of the sensual, being and passion, where the self meets the world—intercourse being, ultimately, the self in the act of meeting the world. The other person embodies not one’s own privacy, but everything outside it: “To lose you would be symbolic of losing the world, ” says Abe’s man in love.




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Elizabeth said...

Interesting. I won't be visiting Philly anytime soon, boyo.

x larry said...

hi elizabeth,
people PAY you to give a toss??
i agree and spoke too soon--women don't much love sex in the usa or perhaps anywhere. just watch american porn--i did that exquisitely rare thing myself today, and was disappointed as usual. oooo, aaaah, fuck me baby, oh fuck my titties. and of course looking up, cow-eyed, as they suck off. i remember coming from europe back to states 11 years ago after many personality changing years and being totally shocked and disgusted by the latest tv/internet (corporate as you say) phase. i could maybe call it 'lets fuck, i'm always ready for a fuck, fuck me so hard' phase?? and don't forget that essential bald-shaved pussy. guys only 'enjoy' that shit if they think they're supporsed to, such is our complete detachment from ourselves--and one's 'self' is NEVER and never has been an easy thing to get to grips with. what does every robotic moron in the workplace, in the street, expect? tv and all that shite IS NOT INNOCUOUS.
i like that in europe, in my limited experience, i've not come across the phony screamers nor a single shaved pussy. in korea it was even stranger, as was everything.
women inflict just as much--most certainly. should we rejoice when a FEMALE mass murderer 'takes the throne'? should we rejoice when a WOMAN becomes a rich and powerful CEO? i've often wondered, how does a michele obama DO IT? (no, not do IT) she's cold, calculating, cynical. how does a mother bring up her kids who will surely know what a monster their dad is? (obama, but much much more clinton) no problem. these are elites, celebrities, the GOOD untouchables.
back to sex, the whole 'getting off' thing is the latest trend too, till they decide it's back to nuns' habits, chastity belts, saving oneself for jesus--and never a step closer to the truth, our pain and emotional torment, our longing for love and yes, loving sex.
well, maybe too much there, and i've had some wine. take care

Elizabeth said...

Hey x Larry etc.

Whatever happened to that term balling? I like balling. It sounds circular and friendly.

x larry said...

hi linh,
thanks for dworkin quote, though i don't much agree with it.
gore vidal said something (and he was paraphrasing someone else) like, we long to be whole again. he, at least in hind sight, but quite possibly, very possibly, found this in his high school lover. at that age all is sacred. once that's wrecked, and it is, you're fucked, till you wither and die. but dworkin's making such a big thing of boundaries and the skin and on and on, some of that may be true, still to me it reeks of that great western disease, self importance. in the end, who the fuck cares, andrea? i do agree that those 'in it', that is completely sexually obsessed and living for it, are in their own metaphysical world. who isn't? who and what are normal? and who cares (again)? we also all have a metaphysical and truly strange reality known as the internet, which we obsess over, 'do' out of habit, and everything else.
she says, 'the experience of fucking changes people, so they are often lost to each other and slowly they are lost to human hope'. i say, bullocks! first of all, the term fucking--it's a nasty term and the opposite or close to that of what a great lovemaking experience, especially a long term one, is. granted, like everyone else i mainly just know 'fucking'.
'the pain of being exposed leads to hiding'--it can, and that's why we're so often embarrassed and perhaps disgusted right afterwards, glorious cock gone, a lifeless thing in it's place--unable to fathom how we could have been so excited just a few seconds ago (talking guys only).
some of what she says is quite good, still i think she's beating the point to death. why analyse sex as a great negative force? why not try to understand it or just accept and embrace it? it's often detached, yes, and strange, but feels insanely good and is really just about our primary aim in life. [so why all the fighting?]
thanks, d

Elizabeth said...

x larry: Yes, what the hell is the thing about shaving pussies? Would men put up with that kind of abuse? Well, let's wait a decade and see.

Elizabeth said...

Regarding Dworkin: saying what sex is is like saying what talking is.

x larry said...

hi elizabeth,
a bald pussy is preposterous, a bull bush infinitely more attractive. balling, yes, reminds me of lou reed/warhol era type stuff.
in the usa last decade, i came across some truly unfortunate and sickening terms: breasticles, but to take the cake, 'junk'. like, can i see your junk? i shiver.
true too your comment on dworkin, cheers

x larry said...

sorry, above should have said 'full' bush

Elizabeth said...

I liked bull bush better, but I see what you mean. Auf Ihr Wohl

x larry said...

i hadn't even noticed, but very good.
also, thanks for the german, i'm learning very, very slowly
may i pass on some korean, used in a 'konglish' way?
kambe! (cheers)

Elizabeth said...

I'm really bad at languages. I used to have this friend Alois, a meatcutter by trade, who was fluent in French and German, and he would try to get me to speak German and all I could manage was German mixed with French and English. Then I had this Japanese boyfriend named Yak, a kickass cook who would start restaurants, sell them, and then travel the world. He tried and failed to teach me Japanese.
kambe yourself!

Elizabeth said...

Oh, another thing about Yak. He took me on the best daytrips. Do you know the Japanese have a fetish for everything log cabin? Not much wood in Japan, you know. So these friends of his moved to Seattle and bought some forest. They cut down all these trees and built a circular log cabin. They just couldn't stop so it ended up being about 50 feet tall, with a circular staircase in the middle and four floors, and a trap door in the kitchen for their illegal alcohol business. It's called the Tower of Babel.

Elizabeth said...

OK LInh, now I remember why Leah wants NOTHING to do with you. I was getting you to help supplement Leah's pathetic art education, and you suggested I send her Gray's Ferry. You may even remember that one. It ends like this:
"You must have as much integrity/As Uncle Eddie of Philadelphia."

Do you think she's doing any art, any painting, any poetry at all now that she doesn't have any due dates? No way. She's depressed and wants to go to grad school. Too much like me, poor girl, and she won't listen to anything I say either.

Elizabeth said...

OK, here's another bit of personal history. When I was 20 I started working at this bookstore in downtown Cleveland, 6th and Prospect. It was a great bookstore. There was the visible row of books, and then a row behind it, and then a row behind that. The first floor had a balcony; same thing, three rows. It was absolutely filthy. NYC bookstore buyers would come to Cleveland and spend a week there. The owner, Rachel Cowen, sold Nazi literature under the table, among other things. She had a really vast collection of books on the paranormal, so the strangest people shopped there, and she permitted the homeless to hang out. I had to work on the first floor with her because the second floor had the pornography. She hated me and was always screaming at me, but she had no problem with the kid who worked the basement, which is where some of the stock was (she also had a warehouse of books), or anyone else for that matter. To escape her, I'd do things like bring the Dover books languishing in stock up to the first floor. When I worked in the basement the basement kid would hang pendulums with pyramid bases over my head to figure out my aura or whatever and give me hits off his pipe. The boys upstairs were fun to get high with during breaks. One, Gary Dumm, is a decent cartoonist--he did some work with Harvey Pekar. The other white guy, Jeff, played with Pere Ubu for a while. His name is Jeff something (I can't remember). He was really mean to Gary, always making fun of him for obsessing over his slutty, alcoholic wife. Then there was Joe, a black guy who dressed like a pimp. Rachel Cowen didn't want anybody to know she was Jewish so she called herself Mrs. Kay. She knew nothing about books, by the way--this had been her husband's enterprise. We all called her Bitch Kay (and they all called me Betch). She'd call up the stairs, Joe honey, I need you to do me a favor, can you come down here?

I could never figure out how she made any money. Some of those books in the back rows were priced in the 1950s, and it would really piss her off if I bought one of those. Got some good ones! Fuck, she wouldn't even pay me minimum wage until I'd worked there for six months!

Bitch Kay never went upstairs. I'm not sure why, but when the businessmen slipped porn books into their pants she could always tell, and she'd tackle them to the ground as they were walking down the stairs and pull those books out of their pants. Quite the scrappy woman!--she was about 70. So then I found out Jeff lived around the corner from me, and so I'd take some of Lars's coke over there and talk to him. He had this enormous book collection, and I found out that the boys upstairs threw books they wanted out the back window, and that Joe sold them on the streets.

Remember I told you about that guy who hit on me recently and I said I'd give him 15 minutes in his van (which, by the way, is strewn with screws and all manner of electrical equipment). He told me that Bitch Kay ran a brothel, and I didn't believe him when he said that, but that might be how she managed to keep the place going. This old bald guy, Harry, was her buyer, and he sat around all day buying books, and when I'd ask him what he was buying, he'd say stuff like, three copies of this, although nobody will buy it, and on and on like that.

So anyway, one day Yak took me on a day trip to Portland, Oregon, and we walked into this bookstore that took up an entire city block. Immediately I knew it was Bitch Kay's stock--she had finally sold it and nobody knew who to--so I opened up one of the books and it had my handwriting in the pricing.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Regarding Leah, she can buy time by going to graduate school only if it won't cost her any money. Of course, she can borrow then default on her loan, though this will remove her permanently from mainstream America, not that there will be much of one in a few years. A poet I know racked up six figures in debt knowing she would default. Another guy did the same then escaped to South Korea to teach English.

Too many people go to school to escape from life, but the debt fueled academic bubble is imploding. With each passing year, it can shelter fewer of these life refugees. Even when the system worked well, however, it produced many vapid, spineless yet self righteous pseudo academics. Genuine scholars are necessary, of course, but those are rare.

Interviewed by Tahseen Al Khateeb, I talked about this subject:

For a while now, I have been aware of this nation’s downward trajectory. In 2005, I taught a class called State of the Union. In it, I asked students to pay attention to their country’s political, economic and social unraveling, and I challenged them to write politically relevant poetry. Though I’ve taught this writing workshop at various universities, I’ve pretty much stopped getting invitations to teach or even to read, and part of this is because of the deteriorating economy, but the bigger reason, I suspect, is because of my politics. You can’t expect the academy to embrace you when you keep calling it a ponzi scheme!

Gouging students, American universities send young people to banks for loans that many can never repay, and it is the professors’ job to hypnotize them into thinking they have a bright future. Saddled with terrible, sometimes suicidal debts, many will be stuck with low paying jobs that don’t even require a college education, and even those with “practical” degrees will tumble into this abyss, for a collapsing American economy can’t absorb its many college graduates. As if this isn’t bad enough, foreign professional workers, as in engineers, doctors and nurses, etc., are also being imported to knock wages down. Though this is done deliberately to benefit employers, it’s cloaked as a benevolent immigration policy so that anyone who questions it is accused of being a racist.

A huge pool of desperate graduates will also keep professors’ wages down and render them dispensible, so what you have are all these docile and conformist intellectuals who are terrified of losing their jobs. The academy, then, is not a hotbed of debates but a padded playpen that delimits the terms of the discussion. There, only the more superficial or privately indulgent kinds of radicalism will be tolerated, for these don’t upset the status quo or alarm the moneyed interests that are wrecking not just this country, but the entire world.




.

Elizabeth said...

"You can’t expect the academy to embrace you when you keep calling it a ponzi scheme!" Don't I know it, Linh! I'm not angry about being booted anymore--I had a decent run and got a lot of pleasure out of teaching. The guy who ran the department when I started was fabulous. He'd taught me Milton and Spencer in my 20s--AND taught me how to teach grammar to ghetto kids. He was the reason I moved back here from Seattle. His daughter was getting in trouble in high school, so he encouraged her to quit at 16 and get a GED. Those kinds of people are being replaced by braying ass bureaucrats. I would say you wouldn't believe them, but you would. The one at CSU fired the most wonderful fledgling teacher I was mentoring for saying the truth in an email to a student, and last I heard that guy was too depressed to visit me when he came to Cleveland because he really wants to teach. I nearly got fired for trying to defend him. I just emailed him yesterday and I hope he writes me back because I'm worried about him. That bipolar thing--he's on meds now.

This is how I ended my little essay:

I have two final things to say: first, I have little sympathy for people who will play the game to get tenure—to be honest, absolutely none. Our country is in, and is, a grave danger, and nothing can be done about it if the schools continue to churn out the sorts of Amerikans who cannot see beyond the rank stupidity of the media show and their own slobbering consumer desires. A truly educated public trumps unions, and certainly the tenured teachers’ comfortable lives.

The second one should be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. We need to find a way to teach our children, and each other, because the corporatocracy has taken over the state schools from kindergarten on, and all too few are strong enough to pass through without being deformed into their oh-so useful cogs.

x larry said...

elizabeth,
great stories of yak and bitch kay. the bookstore sounds a bit like that huge one in lower manhattan whose name i can't remember, south of union square a couple of blocks. i liked cleveland when i visited there a couple of times, my brother went to the cleveland institute of music. i'll now give the japanese equivalent, kampay. i wish i could do what yak did, start up restaurants and travel--i probably could if focused, who knows, i've worked in fucking tons of them, doing everything. arribaderci! (sp.?)

Linh Dinh said...

Arrivederci! A (to) rivedere (see again) ci (us, each other), thus "we'll see each other again."

Elizabeth said...

Hey x larry: Yes, sentimental journeys into my wasted youth. The cool thing about Yak's restaurants was that they were both really good and really cheap. He built all the furniture in the one in question himself and would obsess about how his parents thought he was lazy. At the time I was forced into macrobiotics because I had some mysterious illness no doctors could figure out, and his was the one place in my neighborhood that served food I could actually eat. If you're doing macrobiotics you have to chew each bite 100 times, so it would take me an hour to finish a small bowl of something. You spend all your time eating and get really skinny, and people think you're a weird obsessed fooodie (I can't abide foodies) It worked though! I was sure I was going to die, and a few weeks of eating like that fixed me right up. If I had any sense I'd be eating that way now, but it's very restrictive. And boring.

Yeah, when I found Kay's stock in Portland, I told the people working there, and they told me how nice Kay was. Right. The more I think of it, the more it seems very likely she was running a brothel. The place was run in the most chaotic fashion, and the theft was massive. Aside from the NYC buyers, she wasn't making much money, and if I'd known that, I would have had the boys upstairs throw some books out for me.

x larry said...

hey again,
my parents think i'm lazy! (they're right, or it has become self fulfilling, and i'm old). don't know why, i just haven't worked for four years, other than dealing with an insane relationship, 2 small children and a hateful country. so, me against everyone, pretty much, not much fun, extremely tiring, but still, i'm lazy.
would that i could, or something like that.
didn't know of macrobiotic diet, i only know weston price, weston price, weston price.
wife's a foodie--i agree with you.
would love to know more of kay, esp her brothel. an interesting profession/business/hanging out place.
thanks linh for italian, also watched 2/3 of centralia video link, strange for sure, look forward to your pics and report.

Elizabeth said...

Suggest to your wife that she switch to macrobiotics. It's cheap and she'll spend three hours with her mouth full, so you'll get some peace.

x larry said...

from elizabeth: The second one should be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. We need to find a way to teach our children, and each other, because the corporatocracy has taken over the state schools from kindergarten on, and all too few are strong enough to pass through without being deformed into their oh-so useful cogs.

i would like to add as a warning...
well, where to begin? the u.s. has, or perhaps had, something very special. i've lived in enough of the world and for long enough to have some idea what i'm saying. the u.s. system is anglo-saxon. AND YET....
america, americans, have INTEREST. they care about the world, the future, even each other.
this is changing, and very much for the worse.
people are getting dumb, and dumber, and standards are slipping very drastically. i thought my generation (class of 85)---and this is after much, very much, thought, as in, it didn't occur to me till around the late 90s--was bad, unbelievably so, the main culprit... this i used to think, and in a way still do. my generation's kids, and theirs, are of course worse (and worse and worse).

things are very mad now. when, where, do we dream? in america, it's still POSSIBLE, but who knows that? who appreciates it? people buy it all, they swallow it hook, line and sinker. america's anglo-ization----we too can be cynical as fuck, and all the rest. people don't know that england, the uk, europe--they're decades, much more, behind. night and day. these are backward, racist, backward thinking countries. america, and the americas, are the future. they are vibrant. they are forward-thinking. they are dynamic, creative. europe just apes this.

hey, y'all, i have to stop here, thankfully. i've been stream of conscious while drunk. no idea what i just said, but i meant it passionately.

x larry said...

back to elizabeth's comment, my point is, school is a huge problem, as is childrearing in general. as to the latter, i have a question (much more relevant in england than usa): how do fucked up people bring up un-fucked-up kids?
i will only add to e's comment, who's strong enough? the question is, who's morally strong enough? who's got the integrity? who's got the brains, and the will? perhaps most of all, the imagination?
but what of home schooling? this is what we're doing, but it's far from all roses--but in comparison to the schools, it's ALL ROSES. when will this become 'the norm'? i mean, when will people give school the respect it deserves? (NONE)
our youth, as at least since i was young, is sickening---but it's far worse now.
so, 'educating our youth' is really not the question, because we almost all of us see educating as........ school. why? oh why?
what parents have the brains and imagination to think big, as in, to want not just to fight the system but to work and fight for an infinite expansion, in youth and for all of life, that is our birthright????
thanks for now

x larry said...

to quickly clarify, by infinite expansion i mean in the mind but also emotionally--the most important of all, and the beginning, the drive and the essence of intelligence.

Elizabeth said...

Hey x larry:

To try to reverse at least a little of the damage, I used to--before getting booted from teaching--give students a couple of essays to help them see the situation they were in: John Taylor Gatto's "Against School" and Paul Graham's "Why Nerds Are Unpopular." Most students reacted with OMG, so that's what they were doing to me!

Think about the fact that at perhaps the most vibrant stage of human life, we force children to sit attentively and try to absorb information they see no use for. I'm no good at that myself, so why should I expect anyone else to be? Characteristically the students forget all that stuff they consider useless, ie the vast majority, once the test is over; I call it the "cram, test, forget, repeat" cycle. This is more severe than dog training--in fact, Graham correctly remarks that parents drop their kids off like they do dogs at a kennel, so they can get things done--but who puts a dog in a kennel for 30 hours a week? We have no use for young people anymore so we keep them busy with meaningless, disconnected activities, every 50 minutes onto something totally unrelated to the 50 minutes before, so is it any wonder they become cynical in these part-time prisons. To worsen the situation, the parents are supposed to help out in the process by looking up online their kids progress and bearing down on them to do their homework. We don't even let our children go out and play anymore for fear of all those pederasts--who seem to be proliferating at the same rate as terrorists in the minds of Amerikans. It sickens me. We as a society are so concerned with child abuse, but this is the ultimate abuse. It's called no-touch torture.

As I see it, the system is designed so as few as possible escape this deforming process. Of my students all those years, those who had developed their minds through the K-12 process always said the schools had nothing to do with it--that they couldn't wait for the final bell to ring so they could run home and learn something.

I agree that the emotional development is crucial, and one crucial emotion that is nipped in the bud is curiosity.

I'm sorry to hear that you think Amerikans are doing it better. That's not what I hear from kids who have been schooled just about anywhere elsewhere, even the few who for some odd reason come here from Europe.

x larry said...

hi elizabeth,
great comments, thanks. i know gatto, not the other guy. completely agree with all you said, very refreshing to hear.
as a new parent four years ago i started to think about these things for the first time. but the biggest thing that i couldn't believe i'd never till then given a thought to was, They think they can tell me how to raise my own kid? they actually think they have the right to tell me i have to bring up my kid in This way, ie he has to go to their schools?
the one thing you said that i think wasn't quite right is that as we have no use for children we throw them in school. i think it's much more sinister. our children MUST be indoctrinated, brainwashed. they must be taught over and over and over during each and every formative period What Is Normal, ie working 40 hrs a week in a job you hate, paying taxes, going to school, and of course competition competition competition, never co-operation cooperation cooperation--unless of course you're on the same 'team', whether at school or at the office. money is normal. private property is the ultimate in normal. communal thoughts, sharing, truly caring--these are not even not normal, they just don't come up.
BUT--it wasn't long ago that people in america DID think all those forbidden thoughts, the 69s were the most recent period, but in the early 30s congress just missed passing the THIRTY hour work week, not forty. this is how strong the solidarity movement worldwide was, this is how much it frightened our masters, they would have conceded that much to mollify the masses.
never again. master is always very hard at work, ceaselessly, relentlessly, because he knows how things can snowball. a case in point, occupy. that movement, so short lived, scared the shit out of master. afterwards, fbi memos were leaked that fbi houston was seriously considering putting snipers on rooftops to take out occupy houston leadership. can you imagine?--this is how scared they were, and this is their mentality for dealing with anyone who wants to build a decent society--they will crush it by any and all means, starting in this case with taking out the leaders of a leaderless movement. they didn't need to, it turned out, as their other (also violent of course) methods were sufficient--tear gas, eviction by riot police, etc.
despite all (and it is all extremely terrifying) i think america has, as ever, the potential to build a huge movement again. it needs the will. i think it has it. it's just that we're so very easily controlled now. try organizing a small anarchist group to get together and discuss philosophy. dead in the water it will be. supercomputers make sure they know EVERYONE'S thoughts. so this is the greatest problem--we can't organize, so we can't build a real, mass movement. what do we do, roll over? we have to fight it, many have to stick their necks out (and anyone writing comments here, much less linh himself, i have zero doubt is on their lists for close monitoring).
thanks, and i'll stop there. cheers

Elizabeth said...

Hey x larry:

Back at you with the compliments. Graham is a programmer and venture capitalist--not very important to the discussion except he's also an essayist and couple of his were really useful for students at that freshman period of their lives "The Age of the Essay" is really fine: it makes the distinction between classical argument and writing to figure things out.

Gatto's back!!! He's recovered well from 2 massive strokes in 2011--actually, he looks healthier and thinks more clearly than ever, if a recent video of one of his talks is good evidence. I got on a mailing list of his many years ago and he's been sending out emails in which he invites people to ask questions and answers them, so maybe you should ask him what to do with your situation with your four-year-old. https://col130.mail.live.com/?tid=cm63pc-u4S5RGV_mw75afbSw2&fid=flinbox

Well, parents do send their kids to school like dogs to a kennel, but what the Dept of Ed does with this situation is definitely sinister. Of course they'd be watching Linh, but bearing down on somebody like me, a frigging adjunct teaching freshman English? That's when you know things are really bad. The libertarian right got it far before the leftish did. Gatto's Underground History of American Education is going into a new edition, with a foreward by Ron Paul.

x larry said...

hi again,
that's a good idea, to talk to gatto. why not get it from the horse's mouth? presumably you've read foucault on education, the panopticon and all that. a good history of how and why it all got started way back in the 1700s. i have a pamphlet here somewhere i picked up a few years back at the cowley club, an anarchist place, called 'burning women'--can't remember everything, but brilliant analysis of the witch hunts and burnings starting in the 1500s---all, like protestantism itself at the same time, to do with business (big). will have to watch some more gatto on youtube. my dad taught a freshman course at uc denver and had them read gatto among others like zinn. seemed to be lost on most the students. 'the age of the essay' sounds interesting, will check out sometime. might write more later. take 'er easy

Elizabeth said...

Hey x larry again:

Yes, in fact, I've just been reading Discipline and Punish--I read some Foucault much earlier in my life, but hadn't figured enough out to make it all that meaningful. Gatto only answers selected questions, but you might as well take a shot, and get on his mailing list--he might answer a question from someone else that might be useful. Cheers!

x larry said...

in response to vltchek's latest essay on counterpunch, 'i can't write' because in u.s.a. this essay made me very angry. this man is extremely arrogant, as well as self important. he hung out with 'two of america's greatest intellectuals, michael parenti and one john cobb, a 90 year old theologian. i've read some parenti and watched a few talks and liked him, especially 'who killed julius caesar'. this cobb i've never heard of. so what. but vltchek makes such knowing statements as 'there are no or almost no revolutionaries in the u.s.' it's true enough. does he ever ask why? this self-styled great philosopher, poet, revolutionary, and so much more doesn't seem to. has he considered that people are just people everywhere, and are often, and certainly in america, manipulated from birth--brainwashed? no, it's just arrogance from this guy. oh, i can't write, i'm in america! this was the exact opposite of my recent experience in america. i do agree about smug europeans and arrogant americans, but average people are average people, wherever they are. i worked with lots of illegal mexicans while in denver (restaurants), and it didn't seem to me (and we spoke to each other in spanish) that there was a revolutionary mind in one of them, disgruntled as they rightfully were. i've met lots of south americans while living in europe. granted, these are the ones who escaped, who are eurocentric. one i recently encountered from colombia, a professor of i can't remember what, i was going to do her garden, got to talking politics, i thought all was going great, i sent her an essay i'd written on hugo chavez, and then the strangeness began. she avoids me in the street, basically (we only live a few blocks from each other). i can only speculate, but it's strange for sure.
thank you

x larry said...

forgot my point there, it's that the south americans one encounters in europe are usually anti chavez (before he was murdered), anti bolivarian revolution. in a word, fascists, well at home in europe.

x larry said...

this is an arrogant guy, who receently wrote a book with the colossus chomsky. a very arrogant guy. chomsky was friends with zinn. i saw zinn once, in2008. at the end of the talk, someone brought up 911. do you know what zinn said? he said, 'that's in the past'. from a historian! it was seven long years in the past, obviously completely relevant to the endless warfare during that time, homeland security and the rest.
vltchek brings up the great few revolutionaries he did encounter, like joshua frank of counterpunch. who's he trying to kid? maybe he was just upset that americans aren't AS DUMB as he'd hoped--maybe they just saw through him. then again, maybe it was just california. was he in san jose at the same time as linh? if vltchek took the time to meet average people he would find all sorts of interesting viewpoints, lots of heart, lots of despair. he's only intersted in elites. he too is a white boy, in fact an extreme white boy

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

Snobby white boys misleading the masses while congratulating each other, that's the American left for you, but what the fuck do I know.


Linh

x larry said...

you hit it, linh, even if he's czech or russian or whatever the fuck. he talks big, but what does he know about america? manhattan and l.a.? has he been hanging in the ghettos of the san fran. bay? thanks man
ps but the uk is truly the home of the white boy, sickening place

x larry said...

let andre 'CHILL' for a while up in north philly, say around north philly station. this great man will soon shit his pants!

Followers

About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.