Possible photographic evidence of Thomas Pynchon’s hand (and a pig piñata)


From an article in LAist:

A photograph on the back cover of a memoir by Phyllis Gebauer, a close friend of Pynchon’s, shows the author’s hand extending out of the door of his apartment giving a peace sign with a pig piñata named Claude and Gebauer in the foreground. In 2011, Gebauer donated her rare collection of signed Pynchon novels to UCLA.

I seem to recall mention of this pig piñata in A Journey into the Mind of P (but I could be wrong).

Big thanks to Doug Eklund for pointing the photo out to me.

100 Point William Burroughs Riff

1. William Seward Burroughs, born February 5th, 1914, St. Louis, Missouri. Died August 2, 1997, Lawrence, Kansas.

2. Danger.


3. William S. Burroughs, a writer no one reads and everyone references.

4. Point three is not fair: I’m sure you, dearest reader, have read Burroughs, continue to read Burroughs, will read Burroughs, etc.

5. But, points three and four, it’s the idea of Burroughs, Burroughs-as-luminary, Burroughs-as-symbol, that our culture persists in keeping.

6. Re: Points three, four, five: Burroughs the poser who posed for so many photographs, who couldn’t say no to a spoken word CD or a collaboration or a fucking Nike ad.

7. And always with the guns.


8. And the knives.

william burroughs wielding a knife

9. And the guns.


10. If you want to know what licenses Picasso to break the human form (and other forms) into cubes and lines and colors and figured abstractions, go gander at Aunt Pepa or First Communion.

11. If you want to know what licenses Duchamp to call a urinal a work of art, go gander at Portrait of the Artist’s Father.

12. If you want to know what licenses Burroughs to call Naked Lunch a novel, go read Junkie or Queer.

13. Junkie, the first Burroughs novel I read, is a high modernist classic.

14. Typewriter.


15. Shoes.


16. The reader is invited, most cordially, to print this riff and cut it into little bits and rearrange it.

17. The reader is invited, most cordially, to cut and paste this riff into a new digital document and rearrange it.

18. William Burroughs, curator.

19. William Burroughs, collaborator. Continue reading “100 Point William Burroughs Riff”

Topless William Burroughs

topless burroughs

Cormac McCarthy Shooting Pool in Texas, Like Fifteen Years Ago


Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita, Languages, Lepidoptera (1964 LIFE Magazine Profile)

(From a 1964 LIFE profile; my favorite line: “It is odd, and probably my fault, that no people seem to name their daughters Lolita anymore. I have heard of young female poodles being given that name since 1956, but of no human beings.”)

JFK, Gore Vidal, and Tennessee Williams


Finnegans Wake (With Bunny)











Charles Dickens’s Traveling Cutlery Kit

(Via the Library of Congress).

Walt Whitman’s Cardboard Butterfly


Modernist Bros


Public Library: American Commons — Robert Dawson’s Images of American Libraries

Check out Robert Dawson’s images of American libraries at Places. Evocative and even poignant in an age when libraries are under threat in this country, Dawson’s images remind us that libraries are, on one hand a monument to our culture and civilization, and, on the other hand, often the outposts of that civilization.

William Burroughs (and Madonna)

Faulkner Goes Topless

Historic Photos of Florida Ghost Towns

Historic Photos of Florida Ghost Towns, new from Turner Publishing, pairs beautiful black and white archival photos with detailed commentary by Steve Rajtar to offer a counter-narrative to the traditional history of Florida. Florida’s history is often told in terms of exponential growth, focusing on the Sunshine State’s ecological bounty as a reason for immigration and tourism. Ghost Towns takes a look at the many historical sites in Florida that were destroyed, absorbed, or abandoned as the state bounded to modernity. Rajtar and his editors have organized the book around all the different ways that a town might become a ghost town, including economic (company closings, plantation declines, railroad expansion), sociopolitical (absorption, abandonment, government mandates), and natural (fires, floods, hurricanes).

Appropriate for its title, there’s something haunting about many of the images in the book. Like all images from the past, they speak for what no longer exists, but there’s something melancholy here too. Take for example this 1897 image of the Lamb family from the ironically-named plantation township of Hopewell. Their dour expressions communicate a sense of the difficulties of an agrarian life in Florida over a century ago — more Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings than Miami Vice. What happened to these people after their farms collapsed? Where are their descendants today?

Historic Photos of Florida Ghost Towns will be a welcome addition to any Florida history buff’s library, as well as a handsome book for any Floridian’s coffee table. It’s also a worthy document to testify to an an alternate and often overlooked element of Florida history. Florida has a rich, storied past, and Ghost Towns helps to honor that. As the state heads into an uncertain future, the book also might make some of us reappraise our own cities’ chances of withstanding the test of time. Recommended.

William Burroughs’s Stuff

Check out this photo series of William Burroughs’s personal effects at The Morning News. There’s also a really cool interview with the photographer Peter Ross. Great, uh, stuff.

Historic Photos of University of Florida Football–Kevin McCarthy


Prejudices up front: not only did I attend the University of Florida, but so did my parents, my wife, and many of my lifelong friends. I was raised on Gator football, and some of my family members, when cut, are known to bleed orange and blue. I think that Tebow is something of a national treasure (surely, had not Clinton succeeded in freeing journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling from a North Korean labor camp, we would’ve sent Tebow), and I acted like a silly fool when I got to meet Urban Meyer last year (he was recruiting players at the high school where I teach English). Not only am I predisposed to liking a book like Historic Photos of University of Florida Football, I also happen to be a former student of the author, University of Florida professor Kevin McCarthy (I will never forget him calling me over to his desk after class one morning, poking me in the chest and commanding me, “Come to class!”).

So, yeah, it’s possible that I’m enthusiastically biased about a book combining archival photos of the Gators with insightful text and captions. Fans of the Florida State Seminoles probably know that this book isn’t for them upfront, but that’s okay. True Gator fans will not be disappointed. Historic Photos of University of Florida Football (new from Turner Publishing) is as much a history text is it is a survey of Gator football, following a team from its humble origins at the turn of last century (McCarthy informs us that “its 1904 team in Lake City was outscored 224-0,”) to its present glories as National Champions.

1930 UF Homecoming
1930 UF Homecoming

Most of the book chronicles the early days of Florida football (over half of the 200 images date from before 1960), and while some fans might be disappointed in a lack of more recent photographs, it’s worth pointing out that in our current media-saturated age it’s not so hard to come by these. Far more interesting are pics of the old days, with sweatered all-male cheerleading squads, bulky leather helmets, and folks dressed up to the nines to go to a football game (if you’ve ever lived in Gainesville you know that even in October a suit jacket, let alone a tie and pants, are pretty uncomfortable). Many of these photos capture the energy and intensity of the game, as well as a sense of nostalgia for a time when college football wasn’t so commercialized.

Steve Spurrier, 1965
Steve Spurrier, 1965

The images collected here transmit a love for both the Florida Gators, as well as a sense of respect for the traditions of college football in general. As the Gators’ indomitable legacy grows, surely this book will one day be referred to as “Volume I,” as there are plenty more touchdowns to be scored, games to be won, and historical moments to be made. Recommended for Bull Gators everywhere.