Saturday XXII • 19 August 2007

I’m just getting reaccustomed to the Southern California light. Anything more than a week away, and I wind up in Los Angeles-loving homecoming mode for days upon return. New York is perfect, though. I spoke a couple of times at the ASA conference, and it was not too disastrous. I’m trying to find a way to deal with speaking and teaching now that my bs bravado, which used to win prizes for impromptu speaking, has deserted me. I’m still pretty wobbly and adrenaline-wracked on stage, but I think it’s because I’m trying to communicate rather than perform. So I’m trying to to be patient instead of horrified by my own amateruity. In all, ASA has a way of reinvesting me in its world. I had an almost-four hour dinner with a big deal professor I’d never met before, and sort of fell for her. In the third hour, Tim Robbins walked through and when I bolted upright in response to a second’s eye contact (wow) she shrugged and told me to go back to what I’d been saying.

I practiced many times, and it was good. Met briefly the light and nympho genius boodiba, who gave me homework to improve my UKK-B, but repeatedly missed REW due to my gravitation away from (absent) Eddie’s and toward G and the excellent showers at YS. G introduced himself by criticizing my backwards supta vajrasana (I do it crim some days to ease the torqued lumbar), then put his hands on my sacrum and moved it brilliantly. That’s hours of bodywork I’ve been putting off, I thought. Worth the trip in itself.

Saturday afternoon, I skipped the conference’s key social event, where I’d only raise suspicion with my sobriety and meatlessness, and did a supposedly 3-hour workshop with Dharma Mittra that stretched past 9 pm. I think the experience deserves a review in this space, when I get a chance to recollect it.

Yesterday was our 7-year anniversary. He offered Encinitas, but I was still in LA reintegration space. Before dessert at some French café, we went to The Majestic for a terrible swords and sandals epic which I thoroughly enjoyed (the whole genre is so wrong, and I love it).

Then he finally showed me to the beautiful secret cemetery, hidden among highrises and accessible only through a long unmarked drive that appears to enter a parking structure, where various celebrities have plots waiting. Ray Bradbury, The Fonz, etc. For all my sincerity about it, I have to grant there is something kitchy about a secret garden whose entrance is marked by the sentrylike individual mausoleum of Armand Hammer. There are real-live dead celebrities there too. Billy Wilder’s headstone says “I’m a writer, but nobody’s perfect.” Someone had left fresh flowers for Truman Capote and Marilyn Monroe. The undead Jack Lemmon’s stone is engraved only with “in”—I suppose because it’s morbid to inscribe the “Rest” and “Peace” until the time comes.

Weekend links now.

? MIA’s record is officially out on Tuesday. Good to see some uncynical attention this time. Screw Pitchfork. Christgau’s review: “The eclectic world-underclass dance amalgam M.I.A. has constructed is an art music whose concept recalls the Clash.” Also, South Asia-o-philes will appreciate her Jimmy images.

? China tells the living Buddhas of Tibet they must obtain permission to reincarnate! “The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid.” Read this article.

? The new Wm. Gibson book is pretty good, although for the hawkeye humor of his prose—he nails lines with the shrugging precision that Mr. Miyagi nails boards—it felt a bit thin. Still, while Gibson’s surfaces leave me cold, I increasingly feel in love with his subconscious. Here he is talking about process in Salon, and here’s a tribute website to Spook Country that goes a little far.

More UCLA work on mirror neurons, this time their role in successful advertising. Crazy.

?Really good article by Jaron Lanier, whose idea of spirituality is “one’s emotional relationship with unanswerable questions,” on the Dawkins project. He writes:

It isn’t disrespectful to embrace God in a confusing way…. A complex God is less likely to rally violent mobs…. When scientists absolutely reject God, we leave behind only a simpler and more dangerous God…. Because people are afraid to die, they sometimes find hope in the unresolved status of the biggest questions. Take away that hope and you hand victory to whatever creep can give it back.