I watched The X-Files growing up, and my boyfriend had never seen them, so we’re watching them now. It’s funny, some of the episodes I remember being in love with, when I watch them now they’re not that good. But ... David Duchovny is so attractive that I really don’t care. It’s always the same thing, regardless of what happens, Scully’s always the skeptic. It doesn’t matter what happens to her or what she sees. It’s kind of a ridiculous show, actually. But some of the things they show ... they clearly did a lot of research, I can tell. With certain plotlines they know what they’re doing; I’ve read about or have books about some of the same stuff, and I’m like, Okay, that’s true, people do believe that. They put some effort into it, but it’s so flawed at the same time.
Peter Kaplan, the steward of a generation of snappy upstart journalists, has died of cancer. A fixture in New York’s increasingly fluid media world, Kaplan was a rare gem—at the helm of the New York Observer he brought together a cabal of young journalists and editors who went on to do great, weird things all over the field. With the news of his death, the Observer republished Kaplan’s obituary for his mentor, the great Clay Felker, founding editor of New York Magazine, to give us a sense of the man behind the man behind the myth.
As the temperature dips, I find myself thinking mostly about bodies and heat. Something about snow makes me crave spice, and I’m not the only one, not by a long shot. Even here at Hazlitt there’s a renewed interest in getting under the covers—you’ve already listened to the latest (sexiest?) episode of The Arcade podcast, right?
A lot of my books are still in Vancouver. When I went to McGill I moved a lot of my books with me, and I had the painful experience of moving back west with them. So I decided I wouldn’t do that again until I found my forever home. So other than say, 10 books, these are all books I’ve gotten in the last year and a half. I’ve read, I think, 90 percent. So this is actually a really good, condensed look at my reading life over the last year and a bit. Some Julian Barnes, some comedy.
Though I’ll never have the opportunity to feature Mordecai Richler in a Shelf Esteem column, this note on his cottage library—all 5,000 books which were recently acquired by Concordia—comes pretty close. The Richler reading room will not feature a lending library. Fitting, given how the man himself said, “Don’t lend books—you’ll never see them again.”
Perhaps I’m no better than Will Ferrell, because for the past few weeks it seems the first part of this column has been given over to Rob Ford. It’s not because I’m promoting anything, or because I...
I live with my parents, but I do love this space. It’s difficult to reconcile loving this exact room and not wanting to be with my family all the time. But the worst part about it is that I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and have to pee, and that means going outside to get to the bathroom in the main house. I have to put on a jacket! I’m looking forward to being in a space where I can just walk to the bathroom from my bedroom and back without putting my outdoor clothes on.
Doris Lessing has died. Lessing, who in 2007 greeted the news that she had won the Nobel Prize with a sigh and an exasperated “Oh, Christ,” was not one for hoopla. As David L. Ulin put in it the LA Times, “For Lessing, the act of writing was provoked in equal parts by rage and restlessness. She had no use for orthodoxy, of either the cultural or aesthetic kind.” She even refused to become a Dame, though to many her prose and her politics entitled her to a kingdom all her own. Here‘s an essay in which Hilary Mantel discusses Lessing‘s life and autobiography, in the London Review of Books.
I can't bring myself to type Rob Ford’s remarks from this morning, and unlike @HulkMayor, I am only now getting to the stage where I deal with my shame and anger and embarrassment with glib links. No caps lock yet, instead I'll just leave this probably NSFW, unless you have headphones on, song right here. It occurs to me that Mayor Ford himself is pretty NSFW.
This was my grandma’s house. The last of the old people, like the 70 year olds next door, Gino remembers me when I was a little boy. They’re hanging on. My wife was telling me how when we first moved in here, the neighbours weren’t really sure what I do. Because I don’t “go to work.” I think some of the neighbours thought I was on disability or something, and then Gino saw me on TV. He was like, “Oh, okay!” And then his son, who is kind of urbane, explained my work to him. Later, we were having a problem in the front garden, digging up some roots. Gino—he’s a strong old Italian guy—comes over with a pickaxe, and he’s digging the roots out, hacking at them with this pickaxe. And he’s sweating through his undershirt. And he says to me, he says “When you write a book, you kill me. When I do this, I kill you.” We’re killing each other. It’s hilarious.
After today, the flowers will be gone for another year. At 11 this morning, did you think about Vimy Ridge, or Kandahar? Next year, Canada will be a country at peace, but for now we are remembering everything we’ve broken and all we’ve burned. Doug Saunders makes the eloquent point that you should consider our government’s current track record with new vets, including cutting back their pensions. Today at 11, I thought of the people I know who serve in the armed forces, with a near-anguished sense of complicated gratitude in my heart.
Okay, so, the Mayor of Toronto. So many layers to this story. There’s Robyn Doolittle, author of the forthcoming Crazy Town, recounting the beginning of the crack-scandal in the Toronto Star. There’s this sanctimonious Freddie De Boer piece in Jacobin about Gawker’s addiction to this story. (Gawker isn’t really my cup of tea, and Jacobin’s hardly my jug of cat piss either—but that’s the thing with this story, it’s taking us all to places we’d rather not be.)
In our third—and final—dispatch from IFOA, Douglas Coupland remembers quitting smoking, and moderator Rodge Glass asks Craig Davidson, Tamara Daith Berger and others what is the point to all this writing.
In our second dispatch from IFOA, Isabel Greenberg bring a comic to life, Xiaolu Guo wraps us up in language, and Anne Carson talks about Krapp Hour.
Siri Agrell enters and introduces the panel: Peter Bagge, a short, grey-haired cartoonist who looks much less gruesome than the graphic self-portrait that appears in the program; Nadeem Aslam, whose face seems as open as a window, features built around eyes that widen in a way that seems almost spring-loaded; Jami Attenberg, whose face I’ve seen so may times on Tumblr, where she keeps a delightful, selfie-ful home online, that it feels for a second like we’re good friends and I get a bitter gut punch of nerves on her behalf when she walks out; and Sam Lipsyte, who looks exactly like Sam Lipsyte.
Only 35 pages of the original manuscript of Charles Darwin’s seminal philosophical text, The Origin of the Species, are said to exist in the world. The book burst scientific conventions wide open and gave the human race, for the very first time, an inkling of our distant, animal beginnings. But the pages of the manuscript may only have been preserved by Darwin and his cousin/wife Emma Darwin by virtue of the fact that the book’s original illustrations were provided by their children.
Today in animal news worth knowing: a man was caught smuggling 25 parrot eggs in his underpants as he tried to breeze through Swiss customs. Meanwhile, some marsupials are so horny they literally are dying for sex. And Iringa, Thika, and Toka, the elderly elephants formally of the Toronto Zoo, begin their long journey to a pachyderm retirement home in California today. While all involved agree that the trio require a warmer, more peaceful environment than Toronto can give them, the move is not without controversy; the elephants’ former caretakers are worried about how they’ll fare on the drive, and their campaign to have Iringa, Thika, and Toka flown to their new home was rejected by city council as too expensive. Hazlitt contributor Nick Hune-Brown wrote a lovely feature about the elephants before their fate was decided, if you have the inclination to learn more about the creatures as they face this big change.
I have three categories for books. The first is monographs, things organized alphabetically by artist. A to Z by artist in here. I’ve lived in different places, and when I moved to Toronto, the dilemma was, do I leave my books out so that I can see them and interact with them, or do I put them away so that I can protect them a little bit? I’ve ruined the spines of books, living in a house that had a lot of light in it.
If you were anywhere on the Internet this morning, you heard that Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She’s technically not the first Canadian to do so: Montreal-born Saul Bellow was in, in 1976, though he spent his entire writing life living in the States. Munro is however, the first person to win the prize with a Canadian home address.