Column night, so scant stuff up top - good thing I jotted some nonsense down earlier, so I wouldn’t have to write nonsense later. Also, a programming note: Th Portfolios - which I hope you’ve enjoyed; I think the Venice CA stuff is fascinating - ends today, and we proceed on to . . .
. . . to what?
There is a pattern to these things, you know. I’d intended to follow the usual path - Main Street postcards, then Restaurants. But not this year. Trust me, it’s not as if I don’t have the material. I do.
Anyway, next week we’ll have a late start on my favorite update series of them all. It will mark the 20th year of the series, too; I remember sitting in a room in New York City in 2000, working on the pages, kicking myself for naming the individual html files by the subject name instead of a numerical sequence. Linking was miserable.
It’s more poignant this year, for two reasons. 1, the industry will be suffering as travel sags, and 2. With each passing year, the number of people who have first-hand memories of these places diminishes. It’s hardly like losing the veterans of WW2, but when everyone who remembers a thing is gone, it’s like an item that was carried around in the pocket gets put on a shelf, forever. And then the misunderstandings begin.
Anyway, it’s Motels. A hundred cards, starting next Thursday.
I love the cartoons of Roz Chast, and was interested in her bookshelf. Everyone these days is interested in everyone’s bookshelves, which appear in the background on Zoom calls. This was from an Instagram post.
I'm sure a lot of the comments may have said "BIRB!" which is how you spell "bird" on the internet if youfollow along with these things because you think it marks you as a member of a particular culture. Why yes I am the sort of person who calls a snake a "snek," although danger noodle will suffice. SMOL BIRB! Gah.
Anyway. It’s always fun when you recognize books. Why, this person whose art I admire is just like me, inasmuch as we have a fleeting, essentially meaningless intersection in the form of some books that haven’t been cracked for thirty years!
This one hit home, because I had forgotten one, and have nostalgia for the other:
The book to the right of the spineless volume is a particular issue of Greene’s “The Heart of the Matter,” which I read in college. The McInerney book - still, to this day, the only book I ever threw across the room in irritation - was of course a big hit, the must read, but what I miss is the imprint: Vintage Contemporaries.
It was your guarantee of a cool, interesting read. A few were stinkers. The latter releases seemed to strain for effect - okay, right, eat the rich, whatever - but the imprint, at its height, gathered disparate tomes together into a graphic style that said interesting new stuff. It was so high-80s, and I miss it.
Then there’s this:
I can tell you the rough publication date by the typeface choice, which was all over the early 70s, usually associated with Philip Roth. I always hated that typeface.
The other book was the most influential book of my early reading years, inasmuch as I thought: can I do that?
I could, and I did it better, but I never got her money or fame. And that’s perfectly okay, because I have written literally hundreds more pieces than she has, and in the aggregate, I made more people laugh than Fran Lebowitz. I mean, she wrote a second book, which was lame, and then she quit, and is now a style icon, I guess.