Currently showing posts tagged The Basketball Diaries

  • "The more I read the more I know it now, heavier each day, that I need to write." -Jim Carroll (August 1, 1949–September 11, 2009)

    And so it is also the 10th Anniversary of Jim Carroll's death today. I loved Jim Carroll, and more specifically The Basketball Diaries, from which this quote is taken from. I was once invited to write about this love, and did so for TNBBC's The Next Best Book Blog, in a piece I later titled "The Thing Before The Thing" when I revisited it for inclusion in Be Cool. Please do hit it and feel free to enjoy some excerpt below.

    "I am hunkered down at a long table at The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village. I am in my early twenties and I am waiting patiently for it to happen.

    "What is it?

    "I will tell you in a minute, because this part is about the thing before the thing.

    "The thing before the thing is that as I sit there milking my watery Gin & Tonic, tracing the sweaty trickles of condensation with my finger as it slides down the side of my glass, and as I try to be patient, or at least not a stalkerish freak, I feel someone place their hands on my shoulders and then lean over me to get a better look at the still empty stage.

    "I look up to see who it is, not that I expect I will know.

    "And yet as it turns out, I do know who it is. Not personally, but I do know, and how couldn’t I, with his clunky glass, beard, crazy Jew hair, and bemused grin.

    "It’s Allen Ginsberg, yes that Allen Ginsberg.

    "He smiles at me and then he walks away.

    "Why is this important?

    "For one, because I am terrible starfucker and Allen fucking Ginsberg has just touched me, then smiled.

    "But that’s not the most important thing.

    "No, what’s important is that Allen Ginsberg is at The Bottom Line to read that night and I had no idea that was the case.

    "How couldn’t I know that?

    "Because I am there to see Jim Carroll, he is the thing before the thing, and I had no idea, because no writer is more important to me than Jim Carroll.

    "I love him.

    "I love him like women my age love John Cusack. And why is that, because he speaks to them, and yes, Jim Carroll speaks to me in much the same way John Cusack speaks to them.

    "They don’t know John Cusack, but through watching him in Say Anything, certainly, The Sure Thing, possibly, and Serendipity, maybe, fuck, Christ, John Cusack inhabits something, an ideal of some kind, funny, passionate, tall, and crazed about the women he loves, and everyone wants crazed, until they get it anyway.

    "Like them, I don’t know Jim Carroll, technically I now know Allen Ginsberg better than Jim Carroll, but Jim Carroll wrote The Basketball Diaries, and nothing before The Basketball Diaries ever spoke to me like The Basketball Diaries did."

  • Some post-run real time thoughts on turning 50 and heading into the next half-century of my life.

    I still love the written word more than any other form of communication or culture, and nothing will ever have the impact on me that the grimy, poetic, real-time kinetic energy that is The Basketball Diaries did so many decades ago.

    In my next half-century I hope we can have a more public dialogue on trauma, its reverberations and the damage we carry.

    Ocean waves rules, and they will always rule. Even just sitting there and listening to them come in.

    One has to leave the house. I know how hard it can be sometimes, but we have to stay connected to the larger world to feel alive and grow, and when you can't get out or get-up, call me.

    Outside of my children's laughter I'm not sure anything is greater than the feeling of sunlight on my face. One has to do sunscreen though, I wish I had been better about it.

    If I knew my body would feel like this at 50, I would have done it differently along the way, not sure how, but differently. I would have avoided closed ski trails, hotel room fights and lawn mower blades for sure.

    Luck is real, and yes success involves hard work, showing-up and being prepared when the moments arrive, but without luck the odds are far greater.

    But privilege is very real too. And if you have it, which I certainly do, check it, and do better, we did nothing to earn it.

    This is not an original thought, but be the change you want to be in the world, don't complain, or rail on imaginary foes and slights, do shit, make a difference.

    People will cut you in line, they will be unfair and cruel, those who suck may not get their comeuppance and there are lots of assholes out there. You have to learn to live with this, otherwise it will kill you, slowly anyway.

    If you have love to give, give it freely, and don't be ashamed to do so. I've received so much of it, and I know that's not the norm, but I also hope that can change.

    And at every phase of my life I've been blessed with great friends, I don't know how that works, but I'm endlessly appreciative of that and I look forward during my next half a century to meeting those of you I haven't yet.

  • Really appreciate the chance to talk Be Cool, memory and Animal House with Five Questions and the Andrew Duncan Worthington.

    Most appreciative certainly and very Five Questions. Excerpt? Yup.

    A lot of artists and writers have had calls to action or predictions that art/literature in America will change greatly in this new era after the recent election of Trump. Could you or do you see your own work changing? I saw that you recently attended the Women’s March in Chicago with your son.

    The work will change because we will change because the world has changed and because while it will not always be conscious, our work will reflect what’s happening around us. So, will my work change? I’m sure it will. I won’t try to write in anyway that is any more political unless I’m asked to, but I’m sure bullies and liars will certainly become more prominent characters in my work. I have already been thinking of a thing where I can see characters like those creeping-in. Will I become more political regardless though? Fuck yes. I already was, but clearly not enough. I went to marches and I made donations, but I wasn’t in it, or absorbed by it, and I’m going to try and figure out how I can be. One thing for sure, and this may be minor, is that I want to focus more on what’s being said and calling that out. Words matter. Facts matter. Science matters. And when there are lies, and untruths, and alternative facts being treated as actual facts, people have to draw attention to that in the same way we have to call out bullying, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Semitic and racist behavior when we encounter it. We can’t sit by and wait for someone else to do something, because when we do, we get this, and this is fucking terrible. You also get me becoming very preachy and I do apologize for that.

  • Most appreciative I am talking Be Cool, SEX AND DEATH, The Basketball Diaries and Natasha Kinski with The Rumpus.

    I am talking and I am interview and I am Be Cool and SEX AND DEATH and The Basketball Diaries and I truly am thankful for The Rumpus and the quite awesome Gina Prescott for making it so. Excerpt? Word.

    Rumpus: Okay, let’s get into the questions I have actually prepared. My first is broad, and I think it’s fun. What is your personal, down and dirty, definition of cool or coolness? Feel free to provide examples to elucidate your point—cool things, cool people.

    Tanzer: That’s a good, fun question. I think the definition—or the version—I’ve spent much of my life striving for—and it’s embarrassing to think about, but fun to write about—is this sense that the choices you’re making, the things that are important to you, the way you want to live or could live, are things that are recognized by the public as things that seem cool.

    I’ve always been interested what I’ve been interested in, but I’ve also been interested in being cool, for sure. I feel like as a young adult, I moved away from a lot of what I loved. Consciously, I didn’t think they were cool enough, and I tried to figure out what was cool. Now, I think the important part is that the people you intersect with see you as cool. That’s my personal definition. I think the definition is really the ability to be in your own skin wherever you are and trust and know that whatever version that is that you are living and breathing it and you are unbothered whether people are reacting to it. And that’s what I have tried to do as I’ve gotten older. I’m very fanboy about things that I get excited about. I’m not able to be cool about it. For long time, I suppressed that as an adult, and I decided to drop it. If I’m excited about something, I let myself be excited about it. It’s very freeing. So I think a part of being cool to me when I was younger, was trying to figure what people respond to in a way that gives you a sense of adulation. And now I think being cool is understanding what you love or makes you feel good and embracing it, regardless of how you think people come to it. How’s that?

  • More geeked. More Lippmann. More Be Cool Dock Street Press podcast.

    The most excellent Dane Bahr and I are back for Episode Two of the Be Cool podcast series from Dock Street Press - you can learn more about Episode Two here - and we are talking cover, release, Jews and Norwegians, The Basketball Diaries, UFOs, tangents, edits, rejections, Spider-Man, fairness and as always, the incomparable Sara Lippmann.