Monday, April 21, 2014

Bad Blogger ... Good Writer?

So I have been a bad blogger lately, but not for the usual reasons. I have been so busy with school and under-the-table-arson-for-hire business that I have neglected to tell you that I have been getting some stuff published lately. That is especially bad blogging on my part because the reason this website ostensibly exists is to be an online presence for my writing. Believe it or not, I do write more than drunken rants. And occasionally people even publish them!

So far this year I have had three pieces of short fiction placed!

Here are links to the journals:

I also had two other pieces accented to the college literary journal.
It had been awhile since I’ve had anything published out there in the world, but then it had been awhile since I had sent anything out. Back in January I gathered put (almost) everything I had just sitting around and submitted it out to. It was about twenty pieces of short fiction, a couple one-act plays, and maybe a half dozen half-way passable poems. So far I have had about six pieces rejected and three accepted. Believe it or not but that means that this has been an extraordinarily successful exercise.

Anyway, I'm very fancy. As I have always told you.

The kind of day it has been.

The kind of day it has been: for reasons passing understanding, today I wore three completely different outfits, one for each of the three completely different parts of my day. This was not by design at all. Weirdly, a girl I know who I virtually never see, saw me - entirely randomly - during each of the three separate parts of my day and in each of my different outfits. If she noticed, she didn’t say anything and I’m happy she didn’t because I would not have had any reasonable explanations for any of the costume changes. Sometimes a guy just wants to change clothes, you know?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I’ve mentioned that I’m working on a minimizing project that involves going through old notebooks and such.

I just came across some funny notes. My friend Mike the Director had the idea once that we should make a few shorts parodying those “most interesting man alive” commercials. It was fun to come up with stuff for the idea. The idea was this:


I don’t always drink beer, but when I do …

… It’s because I like the twist-off caps.
… I’m usually alone … so alone.
… I drink lots of water after and wait several hours before driving.
… it’s usually at a barbeque or something. You know, if someone offers.
… I still go to bed early so that I can get a good night’s sleep.
… I tend to lash out at whomever is around me.
… honestly, I don’t really drink beer.

Remember that the commercials had voiceover that was unconnected to the visuals, so for visuals here, just imagine that he is intensely cleaning his stapler. On a saturday night.


- When he wakes in the mornings, his dreams don’t remember him ...
- His cat’s smugness is due to the fact it is actually superior, not just the fact that it is a cat …
- He doesn’t mind waiting for the cable guy. He wasn’t really doing anything anyway …
- If the Olympics created a stapler-cleaning event, he still wouldn’t be good enough at it to qualify …
- When he dances, people go out of their way not to notice …
- A noted astrophysicist once compared his personality to the the emptiness of space ...


Tuesday, April 15, 2014


An awesome idea I just had for a cartoon show:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Tortoises!
They’re like the Ninja Turtles, except bigger and slower and less motivated. They still fight crime, but it just takes them a really, really long time to do it. They’re not so much ninjas, I guess, as they are more like Zen masters and they don’t really get flustered or excited about anything. In their downtime they eat pizza, but it is pretty much always cold because it takes them so long to get around to it. And instead of being named after renaissance artists they are named for different ages of geologic time.
I think this will be the most quickly-canceled cartoon show in television history! But it will later find a cult following on Netflix.


I'm a Fan of Shaun Tan.

I am very relieved tonight because I just turned in my term paper for my Picture Book Theory class. Yes, the paper was due pretty early, but I am happy to have it done. I had - what I think was - an interesting approach to the paper (I think I posted the abstract on here awhile ago), but the actual writing of the paper (you know, the work part) was actually rather challenging. I did a lot of my research last week, but I had a great deal of trouble finding my way into the paper when I sat down to write it. I feel like I have basically been in a bunker for the last four days because virtually all of my time was devoted to the paper. But now I am free of it!

None of that is terribly interesting, I know, but you know what is interesting? The work of Australian illustrator/author Shaun Tan. I did a - sort of - Deconstructionist analysis of one of his books in my paper. His work is absolutely strange and fascinating. You should go to your local library and check out literally anything that he has done. You won’t be disappointed.

Here are some pictures of his work, it is kind of amazing.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Any writer worth your time needs to be at least a little bit of a hedonist, if only so that he can describe fruit well.



As part of my ongoing “minimizing all the shit I own” project, I have been going through all these plastic tubs of notebooks I own and throwing out all the notebooks/notes that are really of no value to me as a writer.

I just came across some scrawled notes that I had completely forgotten about. They can only be an early idea for a blog post that I never got around to writing (because it is harder than it looks!), but here now I have completed (below) the post that I envisioned so many years ago! You’re welcome!

Here’s the idea: places I have peed!

This should totally be a thing! #45placesIhavepeed


45 Places I Have Peed.

45 Places I Have Peed
by james bezerra

01. Lemoore, CA

02. Paris, France

03. Placerita Canyon State Park (~3,000 feet up, in the fog.)

04. Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite, CA (In the meadow. Very early in the morning.)

05. 18402 Halsted Street #36, Northridge, CA 91325 (Very long bathroom.)

06. 23851 Arroyo Park Drive #409, Santa Clarita, CA 91355 (Poor lighting. Made out in the tub with a dark haired girl who doesn’t respond to my emails anymore.)

07. 3217 Johnson Ave, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 (Bathroom just inside the front door. Lots of potpourri.)

08. West Beach Inn Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (We peed just outside of the RV we were sleeping in. Because sometimes peeing in the parking lot is just more fun.)

09. Manhattan (Peed all the hell all over the place! Without discretion.)

10. Harvard Square, 57 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Coffee shop behind a gift shop.)

11. PVD - Providence RI train station - 100 Gaspee Street, Providence, RI 02903 (Portas.)

12. Brown University Providence, RI 02912 (Fuck them.)

13. The Shelburne Museum (The greatest museum in the world!) 6000 Shelburne Rd, Shelburne, VT 05482

14. New London, CT (At a bar. I think. Was it a bar?)

15. Keeper’s: A Country Cafe Rt 106 & Bailey’s Mill Road, Reading VT 05062 (Hook instead of a sliding lock.)

16. 4100 Bar (The best bar in LA! Peeing here make you feel like Sinatra.)  4100 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029

17. Catalina Italiana 346 Hanover Street Boston, MA 02113 (Candle light dinner kinda place/dim bathroom.)

18. The Block Island Express Terminal 2 Ferry Street, New London, CT 06320 (Worst quesadillas on the east coast! Bathroom isn’t much better.)

19. Deja Vu, Bakersfield, CA 1524 Golden State Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301 (The bathrooms are regrettably well lit and they make you question your value as a human being/you count your available cash.)

20. LAX

21. BUR

22. BOS

23. LGA

24. JFK

25. SEA

26. LAS

27. SLC

28. LHR

29. CDG

30. LTN

31. The 1st & 3rd floors of Jerome Richfield Hall Northridge, CA 91325 (I don’t pee on the 
2nd floor.)

32. 829 East Kensington Road Los Angeles, CA 90026 (2nd floor Egyptian-themed tile.)

33. 25016 Walnut Street #10 Newhall, CA 91321 (Red plastic shower curtain. Somehow the best sex happens in the poorest places.)

34. That one place in Brooklyn, just across the bridge from Manhattan, that’s between a yogurt place and a pizza-by-the-slice place

35. Michael Jordan’s Steak House NYC 23 Vanderbilt Ave New York City, NY 10017 (Where we got hedge fund guys to buy us drinks by sending my brother’s underage girlfriend to ask for them.)

36. 25016 Walnut Street #22 Newhall CA, 91321 (Hardwood floors. Big master bedroom.)

37. 9826 Reagan Road #218 San Diego, CA 92126 (Two bed, two bath, or pee from the balcony to the pool.)

38. 10292 Camino Ruiz #5 San Diego, CA 92126 (Bathroom is through the bedroom. On the right.)

39. The San Diego Pet Memorial Park 8995 Crestmar Pt. San Diego, CA 92121 (Down the hill there’s a bathroom in amongst the ruins.)

40. Pear Lake CA, Latitude: 38.8918521   Longitude: -120.2568578 (Phoenix toilet.)

41. The Auction House (Quite possibly the coolest little bar in the world!) 300 East 89th St, New York, NY 10128

42. Ben & Jerry’s Factory 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Rd, Waterbury, VT 05676 (Hippies. Standard bathrooms.)

43. Trinity Church Boston 206 Clarendon St, Boston, MA 02116 (Just kinda awesome. You should go there.)

44. Parson’s Landing, Catalina CA (One of my favorite places ever.) Latitude: 33-28'22'' N Longitude: 118-33'06'' W

45. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (One of my favorite museums.) 280 The Fenway Boston, MA 02115.

(This list was much more difficult to compile than I had ever expected! You try putting one together! If you do, I will post it.)



Monday, April 7, 2014

Man is a Desiring Machine.

I am sitting here on hold with the state of California and I am going over some of my notes from last week’s Critical Theories of Literature class. The notes themselves are not terribly interesting unless you’re super into Psychoanalytic Criticism. However the bits scrawled in the margins are kind of fun (not all of the lecture is actually useful for studying later, but I like to keep ahold of the tangential bits that are interesting):

- A German saying I learned:
“Love is home-sickness”

- Something that Edgar Allan Poe apparently said:
“Man is a desiring machine.”

- Something my professor said:
“If I had had that experience than I would have an even stranger sense of myself that I do now …”

- You would not believe how much Freudian Psychoanalytic Criticism deals with the notion of castration (male children are afraid their fathers with castrate them, female children believe they have already been castrated, fear of castration is sublimated into the unconscious, “The Uncanny” is just the return in disguise of the repressed “Castration Complex”, etc. etc. etc.) and so in the margin of my notes I apparently wrote: Do I really need shorthand for Castration?! And below that are a few attempts at inventing shorthand symbols.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Burning Ship.

Bertrand Russell wrote: Adventurous men enjoy shipwrecks, mutinies, earthquakes, conflagrations, and all kinds of unpleasant experiences.

I found these lines rereading one of my favorite travel books, called “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts. He’s a mild mannered guy who spends his time getting into trouble all around the world while living on a shoestring. If it ever turns out that I’m updating this blog from Macau, then it will be his fault. The man leaves wanderlust in his wake the way snails leave a sticky trail. Youtube him and you’ll be amazed by how much of a dork he is. Read his book and you’ll be impressed by how fearless he is. I wish someone had put his book in my hands when I was a decade younger. But I also wish that I wasn’t suffering from advanced male pattern baldness and I also wish that floating unicorns distributed Butterfinger candy bars. These wishes are neither here nor there. I’ve learned to rock male pattern baldness just as I hope to make good on wanderlust. As a thirty-four year old grad student, I have long since given up on doing things the way I was supposed to, and there is something kind of liberating about this existence. Though no word yet on the floating Butterfinger unicorns, but I am keeping an eye out.


Oh! BTW, that beautiful painting above is called “Burning Ship” and it was painted by Frank Bodilly. He was just a boy from Cornwall who became a barrister and served as a judge in Calcutta in the 1890s. He retired back to Cornwall but died in Sicily, which ain't that bad a place to die of old age. He was a lawyer first and an artist second and not of much note in either direction, but I like that painting even though it is hard to tell that the boat is on fire.


We Are Monks.

I have mentioned before that I have this kinda awesome job at the college library now working on an archiving project. Well the below pictures are some of the more interesting things I have come across lately.

I love this job because my brain is calibrated to absorb the maximum amount of useless bullshit and because the stuff I have to do during the day doesn't even feel like work! Mostly it just feels like stuff I would do for free if I was really, really bored.

I (and the people I work with) are pretty much the modern version of those monks who saved civilization by writing everything down during the Dark Ages … basically.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This is a Completely Serious Question.

This is going to seem incredible inconsequential in comparison to the massive post I just wrote (below), but what the hell human being can possibly consume the amount of spreadable brie that comes in the standard sized container of spreadable brie?!

I love me some brie, but I have never seen one of these little wedge-shaped containers emptied. And I have attended many a dinner-party-turned-all-nighter.

Anyway. I have a bunch of spreadable brie in my fridge if you want some.


Poetry, Economics, and Backpacking.

I’m in the mood to do a little thinking out loud tonight and I find that I enjoy that most when I do it here. Knowing that all those internet bots and my one reader in South Korea (Hi South Korea Guy!) will be seeing my deep thoughts, forces me toward concision (Though you would never know it based on how long this post is!). All that is my long-wind-y way of saying that you will likely find this to be a terribly boring and self-involved post (Sorry South Korea Guy!)

Below are two “poems” that I have been futzing around with for my poetry class. I use the scare quotes there because these are barely passable as poems in my class (The second one certainly is not. I mean LOOK at it! It isn’t even a poem at all!). There are two reasons why these are barely passable:

1) The particular class I’m in seems to be geared toward the production of a specific type of poem. What I tend to consider the poem of the ‘specific image’. That’s how I think about it anyway. Poetry that is refined down to its most razor sharp images and those images are dagger-like in their deeply cutting meanings. There ain’t nothing wrong with that if it’s your thing, but it just isn’t mine. I like mess and the heat of a little chaos. I will take my writing in its rawest, most energetic mayhem, thank you very much. I prefer that to the precision diamond-cut writing any day of the week! But that’s also why I’m a terrible poet. As writers go, poets often have to be surgeons. Writers like me are more like Civil War surgeons.

That’s the first reason I’m totally going to fail my poetry class. This is the other:

2) The class is actually about “poetry as history” or “history as told through poetry”. So when all these poems we’re anguishing over get collected up into portfolios at the end of the semester, we’re supposed to be able to say, “This is the history of X”. One girl in class is writing the history of witches in America. This one guy is writing the history of acid rock. Another guy is writing a history of addiction (his brother’s). And since I’m an asshole, what did I decide I wanted to write the history of? Capitalism.

Yep. That’s how I roll.

The thing is, I have read a ton of poetry about love and heartache and memory and more heartache and loss and even more heartache, but you know what I have never read poetry about? Macroeconomics.

And I have had economics on the brain for awhile now, and I had wanted to take a poetry class (in the hopes of maybe learning to write more artful dreck for you) and I had wanted to take the particular professor, so I figured why the hell not?!

And so here we find ourselves now. Basically a month from the end of the semester and with nary an effective poem yet written about the history of Capitalism. It is almost as if what I had perceived as a mysterious lack of poetic commentary on the subject of the free market is actually due to the fact that writing poetry about economic systems is REALLY HARD! You know, actors have a saying, “Dying is easy, making people laugh is hard.”

I have it in my head right now that all that heartache in all that poetry out there in the world has a whole lot to do with the fact it is simply easier to write emotion into razor-sharp diamonds than it is to write economics into them.

After all, it is easier to be anxious and say something like: My heart vibrates slow/ a clean engine waiting./ Dark tissue and/ wet small explosions/ hum in my valves.

Then it is to be all like: Karl Marx wasn’t completely/ wrong about the wealthy./ He just didn’t foresee that/ money is the opiate/ of our democracy.

And anyway, all of those things I just wrote rhyme way too much. Rhyming seems to be frowned upon. Do not get all rhyme-y in your poetry!

So that’s why I’m totally going to fail poetry class, then fail out of school, then fail out of life, and then start living in a van down by the river with my cat.

I blame all of this on a backpacking trip, by the way. So when the police come to your house and they’re all like, “Yeah, we found a body in a van down by the river. Looks like he died of being bad at poetry. Do you know anything about it?” Then you can invite them in for tea and explain where it all began. And it all began with a backpacking trip.

Several years ago my friend Mike the Director and I both wanted to go on a vacation. We were both in the mood to just get the fuck out of town. I had recently gone through an extremely difficult break-up (which is pretty well-documented on this here blog. I’m sure y’all remember that.) and the Director had his own stuff going on (I’m too much of a narcissist to remember what his deal was at the time though. Also, it’s none of your business! Go read his blog if you wanta know: True Things). Well eventually we hit upon the idea of going kayak camping on Catalina Island (that trip is pretty well documented on this here blog as well) and since neither of us were exactly outdoorsy types previously, I did a metric shit ton of reading about how to be outdoorsy.

In the process of learning about camping and backpacking, I stumbled across the “ultralight” backpacking movement, which - in a nutshell - advocates taking as little as is reasonable with you when you go out there into nature. The reason being that it is physically easier and more enjoyable when you have ten pounds on your back instead of sixty, but also that you’re more able to participate in your own experience when you’re not obsessing about the blisters you have now because you decided to take three cast iron skillets and a camp chair with you on your hike.

Now I have still never quite gotten down to a ten pound pack on any of my subsequent adventures, but I have developed the appropriate level of anal retentiveness required to eventually get there. What was interesting though is that trolling the internet for information about ultralight - or “minimalist” - backpacking led me to stumble ass backward into the “Minimalism” movement. This is basically the same idea - get rid of all your useless shit - but applied to one’s entire life. I totally got hooked on the whole concept.

I don’t like to proselytize, so I’m not going to say too much about it (you can google it yourself after all), but minimalist living is sometimes also called “intentional living”. It isn’t a cult or anything, just the idea that maybe we don’t need so much crap in our lives. If you step back and look at all the stuff you own and ask yourself, “Do I really need all three of those crock pots?” then you’re basically on your way. Or take a look at all the stuff in your closet and really be honest with yourself about how much of it you actually wear. And if you don’t actually wear it, then get rid of it!

That’s the idea anyway. For me it has been a very slow process over about two years (I’m a whore for books and clothes after all), but it has been useful and even, dare I say, rewarding. I wouldn’t have been able to do the things I’ve done the past year - quit my job, go back to school, live in my own apartment, etc. - if I hadn’t started this minimalist thing and really evaluated my spending and my consumption of stuff. I was never a high roller by any means, but just being actively conscious of how I spent my money and why I spent my money, has been enlightening. And once I started to become aware of what I was buying versus what I actually needed, I also started to wonder about WHY the hell I owned so much stuff. And once you get into the WHY it turns into kind of a rabbit hole, or at least it did for me. I started to notice ALL THE ADS EVERYWHERE! I started to realize that you can’t watch TV or read a magazine or drive down the street without being bombarded with the message that you should BUY MORE SHIT!

But of course I knew this already. We all already know that, but when you move from knowing it as an abstraction to actually knowing it in your own daily existence, it flips a little switch someplace. I started to think a lot about the culture we live in and the economy we live in and I started to really wonder if this is the best we can do. I haven’t become a bearded Communist or anything, but I have found that I’m deeply troubled by the state of the culture at the moment. No big surprise there, right? But I think there’s more to it than just my slow descent into curmudgeonhood. It has just started to seem to me like we - Americans in particular, but not exclusively - really have conflated the ideas of happiness and consumption. This was all dawning on me while I was running an accounting department and killing myself sixty or seventy hours a week to make sure that some rich people stayed rich. I paid the bills of rich people and I found myself constantly asking, who the hell actually gives a shit how nice looking another person’s car is? I certainly don’t (You should see the beater I drive, BTW, imagine what a scab would look like if you attached it to four wheels and an axle.) I just don’t want to participate in any of that, at all. I never really have, but that was passive of me. Now I am actively and consciously opting out of the whole thing. It’s easy for me to do that: I’m single and don’t have any kids and I don’t really own shit anyway, but I’m also not trying to pass judgement on anyone else. I have just found something that works for me and which I can feel good about. I like that my clothes don’t have branding on them and I like that I’m slowly whittling my life down to just the things that bring me some bit of usefulness and happiness. Between you and me and South Korea Guy, I feel better than I did a year ago. I’m happier than I was a year ago. There are many reasons for that and this whole minimalist thing is one of them.

All of this has led me to a lot of thinking about Capitalism and I wrestle with it a lot (because I’m the sort of person who wrestles with things he has no control over nor any ideas how to fix) and I am still wrestling with it all and I thought that maybe it would be interesting to try to distill my thinking about macroeconomics down into the sharp little diamonds of poetry. So that is really why I ended up taking this poetry/history class and that is really why I am going to fail out of school and die alone (but for my cat) in a van down by the river. And that is what you should tell the cops when you invite them in for tea. You should tell them that it all started with a backpacking trip.