So You’re Picking Up Adam Smith from the Airport

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By Alison Balaskovits

So, you’re picking up one of your favorite literary figures (poetry or prose, living or dead) from the airport before taking them to dinner and conducting an interview. You’re a huge fan and you’re super excited about the assignment, but also a bit nervous. Relax. The main thing you need to be concerned with is having a kickass playlist going on the tape deck when you roll up to the terminal and I’m here to help. I offer no guarantees, but with some deductive reasoning, digital crate digging, and intuition I think we can manage something that leaves everyone comfortable, happy, and bobbing their heads.

Below is a 12 track set that I think should get you from the airport and back again with some stops in between. You can play it in sequence, but it will work on mix-mode as well (this might even be better). The important thing is to have it already playing when you pick them up and to not discuss it at all unless they bring it up first. Basically, play it cool and act like you’ve been there before. I can in no way guarantee that they’ll actually dig this, but I have my hopes. Worst case scenario, just have NPR locked in as station preset 1 in case things get desperate. Best of luck!

Your passenger this week is none other than Adam Smith the Scottish philosopher and academic, widely recognized as the father of modern economics. Smith was a noted lecturer and considered himself primarily a moral philosopher but his name is indelibly linked to The Wealth of Nations, an econ text that’s been praised or dismissed (or both) by just about every school & faction of economics since it was written. Buckle up! Let’s talk about $$$$$$$.

1. The Clash – Magnificent Seven He’s your guest & passenger so you probably don’t want to get right up in Smith’s face with an outright critique of the worst of capitalism’s excesses and degradations. If you’re going to do it all I say at least throw a mean groove and some Joe Strummer proto-rap vocals in the mix.

2. Devo – Going Under OK, I’ll admit I’m putting this in here largely because I’ve always wanted to live out this particular scene of conspicuous consumption & night driving from the Heart of Darkness episode of Miami Vice with a fellow passenger…and I would be honored to have Smith by my side here (though he’d likely consider the gold chains and Ferrari to be excessive). Devo’s intentions were different, but in context you can consider the title to refer to mountain of debt you’ll be dealing with if trying to maintain this lifestyle with a writer/professor’s income.

3. Big Country – In A Big Country You’re driving Scottish-born Smith along our endless highways on his very 1st visit to America. You really can’t afford to not include this, the biggest track by the hottest Scottish group of the 80s. It’s always been a mystery to me why Big Country never broke bigger in the states. This was a top 10 here and both this and their next album were smashes in the UK. Vagaries of the market I guess… Notice how they get their guitars to sound a lot like bagpipes? Smith will, and it’ll be appreciated.

4. Freeez – I.O.U. Cash is, intrinsically, a debt. Who knows exactly why we as a society decided to print elaborate designs & pictures of dead people on our individual IOU slips, but why ask questions when you can rock your body to this? As good as when Double K was working it into his set in Beat Street.

5. The Thamesmen (Spinal Tap) – Gimme Some Money The genius of Spinal Tap is that no matter how much they ratchet up the spoof factor, no matter how outrageous or winking the lyrics become, their tunes are always as catchy as anything they’re poking fun at. Here, with their sights set on early R&B/Skiffle-era Beatles jams they deliver a homage to the noble & acquisitive drive for capital that free markets so gloriously foster. Smith would be proud. And don’t lie: you laugh every time you hear the “bad checks” line.

6. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car If you haven’t sat in the back seat on a late summer night’s cruise while shouting this word-for-word with friends then you’ve lived a woefully diminished existence up until now. The good news is that it’s never too late, act now! Hear it once and you’ll never forget the guitar riff, hear it a hundred times and be filled with sorrow over the existence of embedded poverty cycles.

7. Easy Star All-Stars – Money Want to feel better about not having any of the titular item? Easy. Just dim the lights, follow the audio-instructions included at the beginning of the track, and let this dub cover of Pink Floyd’s classic ride. You’ll be OK.  A lot’s changed in the 224 years that Smith has been gone. Roll up the windows and get ready to blow his mind.

8. Wiley – Numbers in Action RIP Michael Jackson. 5 years gone and I am DEFINITELY still a fan, so Wiley and I have that in common. But aside from the repeated professions of his persistent fandom for the Moonwalker this tune makes the list for being a fantastic deep-bass driving song with a healthy respect for diversification among one’s hard currency holdings (he emphasizes dollars and pounds, but I’d also suggest acquiring some yuan & rubles in the current market).

9. Calloway – I Wanna Be Rich As a true child of the 80s, born under the sign of Reagan, tthe chorus to this song was one of the first chunks of pop music that I ever committed to memory. “I want money/lots and lots of money/I want the pie in the sky…I wanna be RICH!” I knew these words before I knew the Pledge of Allegiance or my own phone number. God Bless America.

10. RuPaul – Supermodel Labour was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all the wealth of the world was originally purchased. (The Wealth of Nations Chapter V.) It’s quite clear that both Smith and RuPaul share the same reverence for the value of labor. Whether you’re laying the foundations for a robust national economy with reliable growth that provides for the needs of its citizens or you’re striving to be the baddest diva to strut the runway: You Better Work!!!

11. James Brown – Living In America Smith dropped The Wealth of Nations in 1776, ushering in an economic revolution just as America was beginning her own transformation an ocean away. 209 years later Rocky Balboabeat the crap out of 9-foot-tall Ivan Drago in Drago’s home country, thus asserting the primacy of free-market capitalism over the Soviet planned economy. It was a beautiful thing. There is however no triumph without sacrifice, and The Godfather of Soul’s performance of this song in the movie precedes one of the most heartbreaking defeats in sports cinema: The death of Apollo Creed, American hero.

12. Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M. Any playlist for the foundational theorist of modern capitalism would be a fraud without this track that both affirms his assertions about the power of the market while exposing its brutal realities. It’s the little things (the every-other-bar flourish on the iconic piano sample, the effortless invention of the titular slang, the otherworldly string washes in the background) that served to make this one a hip-hop classic. Smith was a popular lecturer who had astronomical, moral, & historical academic pursuits in addition to his work on political economy, but he would no doubt have to accept the cold hard late capitalist assertion that “Cash Rules Everything Around Me”.

 

weshazard_pubshotWes Hazard is a Boston-based writer, stand up comic and radio DJ. You can follow him on twitter @weshazard and check out his work at www.weshazard.com 

So You’re Picking Up Philip K. Dick from the Airport

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By Alison Balaskovits

So, you’re picking up one of your favorite literary figures (poetry or prose, living or dead) from the airport before taking them to dinner and conducting an interview. You’re a huge fan and you’re super excited about the assignment, but also a bit nervous. Relax. The main thing you need to be concerned with is having a kickass playlist going on the tape deck when you roll up to the terminal and I’m here to help. I offer no guarantees, but with some deductive reasoning, digital crate digging, and intuition I think we can manage something that leaves everyone comfortable, happy, and bobbing their heads.

Below is a 12 track set that I think should get you from the airport and back again with some stops in between. You can play it in sequence, but it will work on mix-mode as well (this might even be better). The important thing is to have it already playing when you pick them up and to not discuss it at all unless they bring it up first. Basically, play it cool and act like you’ve been there before. I can in no way guarantee that they’ll actually dig this, but I have my hopes. Worst case scenario, just have NPR locked in as station preset 1 in case things get desperate. Best of luck!

Your passenger this week is novelist, short-story writer, philosopher, and hyper-prolific sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick whose explorations of identity, reality, perception, drug culture, conspiracies, faith, & post-hippie NoCal culture have resonated for decades after his death with a deep and loyal fandom, literary canonization, and multiple blockbuster film adaptations. Gulp. Here’s to an incredible journey.

1. Peace Orchestra – Who Am I The only answer that most of Dick’s protagonists are able to give to the titular question of this track at the end of his works is Hell if I know. Good thing you won’t have to worry about anything as heady as that as you jump onto the freeway at midnight as this curls out of the stereo making you feel at least 120% cooler about yourselves than you actually are…it’s just got that kind of power. Bonus points for being featured throughout the Animatrix, an underappreciated part of a modern classic film universe that I speculate Dick would’ve been enthralled by.

2. Dr. Octagon – Blue Flowers Revisited Dick was a noted devotee of classical music and his death in 1982 came well before hip-hop had become a national force. That said, if he’d lived long enough I can pretty easily see Kool Keith (aka Dr. Octagon aka Black Elvis aka Dr. Dooom) being his favorite M.C. It’s not everyday you’re going to find a lyrical genius who appreciates science fiction, psychological dissociation, conspiracy theories, and the artistic employment of paranoia as much as you do. Blue Flowers Revisited gets the nod not only for being the perfect track for creeping through the hyper-neon streets of a near future dystopian metropolis, but also because the title never fails to make me think of Mors Ontologica, the sky colored source of A Scanner Darkly’s Substance D.

3. Liars – A Visit From Drum Thick dread that you can’t quite place or reconcile: from Joe Chip’s suspicions about his thanatological status in Ubik to Bob Arctor’s fear over his receding identity in A Scanner Darkly this is a psychological territory that Dick mined throughout his career. With this track the Liars more or less made the soundtrack to it.

4. The Velvet Underground  – The Black Angel’s Death Song In an extreme surface sense The Velvet Underground (New York, heroin) are the musical anthesis of much of Dick’s (Cali, speed/psychedelics) writing. Definitely not with this song. They were definitely on the same wavelength here. The cascading vocal delivery, the hovering presence of a fundamentally unknowable extra-human force, the way you enjoy it even though it kind of terrifies you. Oh yes. The perfect way to ride out into the night with alongside one of the most talented Americans to ever put pen to paper.

5. The Big Pink – Sweet Dreams Too many pop/rock/indie covers of hip-hop/ R&B songs exist purely because of irony. They’re often as catchy as the originals but it’s often impossible to shake the smirking “isn’t it crazy that we’re playing mandolins while belting out the lyrics to a nightclub banger?!” sentiment lurking underneath. This isn’t one of those songs. The Big Pink plays this Beyonce hit totally straight, adding a creepy melancholy that will have you questioning the nature of perception & reality along with the best of Dick’s protagonists. Caution: Dick will likely be inclined to write 100 pages of exegesis connecting the group’s name to the dazzling “pink beam of light” that twice visited him to impart mystical knowledge.

6. The Flaming Lips – In The Morning of the Magicians You can pretty easily (lazily?) spin The Flaming Lips as the perfect contemporary group for Philip K. Dick enthusiasts. After all, they make albums about androids, robots, psychedelics, religious mysticism, & sci-fi in general. But include this here first & foremost because it’s an ideal wee hours cruising song, hell, your passenger may even be asleep after picking him up from a red eye flight. If not,  think he’d agree that there’s no better way to greet the dawn than with a song referencing a left-field classic on occultism & conspiracy theories.

7. Burkhard Dallwitz – A New Life It’s only two minutes long and it’s the music played on the main menu screen of the Truman Show DVD so it’s possible I’ve heard this more than maybe any other track ever recorded. Personal bias aside, this one makes the list for the possibility/gravitas/metamorphosis it hints at, never beating you over the head. Probably put this one on repeat and loop it 3-4 times for the full effect. Those strings in the last half…something is on the horizon, let’s just hope it’s good.

8. Panda Bear – I’m Not Usually when I acknowledge the possibility that reality as we know it is an accident of perception & that my firmly held conviction of selfhood is quite probably a total sham it’s an…unsettling experience. This song works miracles by making that thought acceptable…if not downright pleasant. You’re going to have to do your best to maintain control of the vehicle instead of easing into a meditative trance of acceptance at 70 mph. Good luck.

9. Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me This one’s a risk given Dick’s well noted surveillance paranoia (though at least some of that was based on legitimate threats). But in the end I think he’ll end up enjoying some of the finest that 1980s mainstream novelty pop had to offer. Would this have gotten released if Rockwell wasn’t Motown founder Berry Gordy’s son? Quite possibly. Would it have featured Michael Jackson doing the chorus in the weirdest/awesomest uncredited vocal performance of the decade? DEFINITELY NOT. You pretty much owe it to history to do a duet w/ Philip…full blast.

10. Disco Inferno – Starbound: All Burnt Out & Nowhere To Go “By now the epoch of drug-taking had ended, and everyone had begun casting about for a new obsession.” These words from Valis capture much of the feel of Dick’s later Northern California-bound, theologically oriented later work where various characters still hungover from the sixties had to deal with the deterioration of their bodies, minds, & realities. This is post-rock those people can get with.

11. F*** Buttons – Okay, Let’s Talk About Magic Play this at your own risk. You might just end up finding yourself swelling with a fierce, if undefinable, sense of noble purpose. Once the drums come in you’ll be ready for amission…whatever it might be. I’ve never been so hyped listening to distortion, use the force wisely.

12. Sufjan Stevens – Impossible Soul Buckle Up, this is going to be more than a bit epic. 25 minutes of tape effects, autotune, self-reproach, a children’s chorus, and spiritual affirmation across what could’ve easily been 5-7 distinct songs jam-packed into a single/magisterial stunner. I’m down. One of the more blatantly faith-affirming releases on the indie scene in a while. I think Philip K. would appreciate that, he definitely appreciated the essence of faith when he wrote “Faith is strange. It has to do, by definition, with things you can’t prove.” That never once stopped him from obsessing over it.

 

weshazard_pubshotWes Hazard is a Boston-based writer, stand up comic and radio DJ. You can follow him on twitter @weshazard and check out his work atwww.weshazard.com 

 

So You’re Picking Up Tracy K. Smith From the Airport

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By Alison Balaskovits

So, you’re picking up one of your favorite literary figures from the airport before taking them to dinner and conducting an interview. You’re a huge fan and you’re super excited about the assignment, but also a bit nervous. Relax. The main thing you need to be concerned with is having a kickass playlist going on the tape deck when you roll up to the terminal and I’m here to help. I offer no guarantees, but with some deductive reasoning, digital crate digging, and intuition I think we can manage something that leaves everyone comfortable, happy, and bobbing their heads.

Below is a 12 track set that I think should get you from the airport and back again with some stops in between. You can play it in sequence, but it will work on mix-mode as well (this might even be better). The important thing is to have it already playing when you pick them up and to not discuss it at all unless they bring it up first. Basically, play it cool and act like you’ve been there before. I can in no way guarantee that they’ll actually dig this, but I have my hopes. Worst case scenario, just have NPR locked in as station preset 1 in case things get desperate. Best of luck!

This week your passenger is uber-talented Pulitzer Prize winning poet Tracy. K. Smith. As a musical base for this particular list I’m using Smith’s most recent volume of work Life on Mars (and, to a lesser extent, her preceding book Duende) along with a recent opportunity I took to see her read. We can definitely work with this.

Life on Mars is an incredibly worthwhile and nuanced work that bears multiple readings, but for dashboard DJing purposes I’m going to boil it down to a handful of convenient (and woefully inadequate) terms. Namely: loss, hope, outer space, social justice & David Bowie. Definitely David Bowie.

Here we go:

1. Joy Division – Disorder

Insanely reductive genre cohabitation allows us to refer to both this song and Bowie’s output between The Man Who Sold The World and Lodger as “70s British Rock”, so at a trivial level there’s that. More importantly this is a jumpy and impassioned tune that it’s impossible to sit still through — perfect energy music. There’s also the appreciation of the cosmos held in common by Smith and Joy Division, as evidenced by the band’s choice to usean image of a pulsar’s radio waves for their album cover. If, against all reason, the song is a bust, you can always have a nice chat about the recent internet hoax involving Bowie supposedly having done a cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart with New Order in the 80s (if only!). P.S. Try not to let the fact that the lyrics reference cars crashing get to you.

2. Janet Jackson – Alright

Crank it. Totally appropriate for either barreling along the freeway unimpeded with the windows down or seat-dancing in an effort to forget your troubles while crawling through rush hour apocalypse. Off Rhythm Nation 1814, undoubtedly the most socially conscious new jack swing album ever recorded, a fact that you can use for cover should anyone question you playing this (at least that’s what I always do…)

3. Madvillain – Shadows of Tomorrow

Much respect to Guion Bluford, Ronald McNair, & Mae Jemison, pioneers all. But Sun Ra is the patron saint of African-American space travel. The cryptic, space-obsessed jazz visionary & peace prophet is heavily sampled here musing about time and the harsher realities of our earthly existence. This, layered over an insistent beat while Madlib and his alter-ego Quasimoto trade verses, is the perfect cruising jam to shake out any possible jet lag cobwebs.

4. Parliament – Presence of a Brain

Toggle the cruise control, lean the seat back and let this one take you where it will. The title alone is flattering to any passenger and particularly accurate here. Aside from that, who can disagree with George Clinton? You just don’t argue with a man whose hair has been 83% yarn for three decades.

5. Camaron De La Isla – Al Verte Las Flores Lloran

If you name one of your poetry collections Duende I’m going assume that you’re a fan of, or at least quite amenable to, flamenco music. Even if that’s not the cause it won’t make much of a difference because anyone possessing a beating heart can’t help but get caught up in this tune. The guitar is fierce (RIP Paco De Lucia) and though I personally can only catch bits of what Don Camaron is singing about, there’s no doubt that the manmeans it. Roll down the windows for this one, you’ll need the extra room for the air castanets.

6. Africa HiTech – Light The Way

We’re going to keep going on the Sun Ra/outer space mother ship with this 2011 single. Africa HiTech here uses a much shorter Sun Ra sample and accomplishes the notable feat of crafting an incredibly hopeful and light-filled track from a song titled The Sky is a Sea of Darkness When There is No Sun. Your soul will smile. It was neck and neck between this and another AHt cut from one of their EPs, The Sound of Tomorrow, which is equally appropriate for this drive. If you’re feeling hesitant I say either include both or use this one for the AM and that track for nighttime.

7. Brian Eno – Baby’s On Fire

Most of the Bowie music directly referenced in Life on Mars either just precedes or postdates his full-tilt shiny boots glam phase, but I feel good about dropping this gem here. Truth be told, I first heard it watching the Velvet Goldmine DVD in high school, there with vocals by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. This version preserves the entire legendary guitar solo and, you know, ISN’T voiced by the guy playing Dracula on NBC.

8. Warpaint – Ashes To Ashes

Bowie gets covered a lot. After all the stuff Seu Jorge did for the Life Aquatic soundtrack, and Vanilla Ice’s vivid interpolation of his collaboration with Queen, this is probably my favorite instance of that happening. If you hit traffic while it’s playing you simply won’t mind.

9. The Band – Don’t Do It (2000 Cahoots Outtake Version)

Alternate Take, a poem about art helping to make art, is dedicated to Levon Helm. That, and this song’s intrinsic awesomeness, mean it has to be here. Originally a Marvin Gaye track (courtesy of Motown titans Holland-Dozier-Holland) this was recorded by The Band for the 1972 live release Rock of Ages. I like this shorter/chunkier version from the 2000 re-release of Cahoots more though. (Note: This cut is definitely necessary in the unlikely event that you have to go off-road and cut through an untamed patch of Arkansas back road to make it to dinner).

10. Osvaldo Golijov – Balada/Quiero Arrancarme Los Ojos

I only ever heard this because my library is in the same town as the composer’s house. Modern day opera, steeped in flamenco, presenting the last days of Lorca. Beautiful music. I suggest playing these 2 tracks in sequence (the 1st is very brief). Chills are possible. [Note: The CD is readily available but individual tracks of this are a bit elusive streaming-wise. The above link isn’t for these tracks specifically, but it gives a solid taste.]

11. Cliff Martinez – Will She Come Back

Loss and hope and faith in space? I don’t think we can have this conversation unless you’ve watched Steven Soderbergh’s remake of the Russian sci-fi classic Solaris. It’s the best romance flick I’ve ever seen that also happens to take place in a space station orbiting an alien world that reads & incarnates people’s dreams. Oh man, the whole soundtrack is pretty stunning, but this piece in particular…man. Deep space! Longing! George ClooneyPolish speculative fiction legends! The discussions you can have based on this track alone make it a must-play. Keep in mind though: this is NOT a high-energy tune.

12. David Bowie – Subterraneans

Bowie (as lyricist, inspiration, & public figure) weaves in and out of Life on Mars in ways that are as sorrowful as the demise of his centuries-old vampire inamorato in that movie The Hunger and as joyful as the “Magic Dance” sequence in Labyrinth (if you ignore Jareth’s bulge). When it comes to Bowie classics that you might include on a driving playlist you could curate a whole boxed set if you wanted, but here I’m going with something much more reserved (mournful?) than say Golden Years or Moonage Daydream. The last track on Low, this mostly instrumental cut works best as a closer for when you’re just pulling up to the terminal for the drop-off journey. Not quite “sad”, but definitely final, it provides the perfect sense of an ending.

Like I said, no guarantees, but I think you’re on good footing here. Drive safe and play it loud.

 

weshazard_pubshotWes Hazard is a Boston-based writer, stand-up comic & radio DJ. You can follow him on Twitter @weshazard

A Culmination of Rejection, Street Musicians, and TMR Interning

Publication is a bit of an anomaly. In fiction alone we read thousands of manuscripts for each issue, selecting, say, four to be published. The odds of acceptance are minuscule. Popular database site Duotrope lists our acceptance rate at a modest .63 percent. Anyone quick with numbers could guess a truer percentage would fall closer to .001-.002. And this is simply for fiction.

Before anyone closes forever The Missouri Review‘s submission guidelines page, consider for a moment the relativity of those odds. There are magazines who see, easily, double our amount, maybe more, yet still publish the same number (or less) of stories.

The easy consolation? The pool of writers exponentially outnumbers the available literary magazines. There are only so many slots in the industry to fill. Having read through the slush pile for two semesters now, one of the quickest takeaways is the overall quality of submissions we receive at TMR. We could attribute this to many possible reasons, but let me say this, in my parting days as a TMR intern, because the overall quality so much complicates our job: damn you, writers.

“Your story does not meet our needs” is the rejection letter equivalent to “I still want to be friends.” It’s supposed to comfort. But since those involved know its hollow intent, the condolence becomes that much more scathing. Of course I’ve received it myself (to which side of the equivalency I refer is…unimportant). However, there may not be a more articulate phrase befitting the vast majority of rejections we send. Much of what we reject is publishable. We have only four slots.

I don’t want to try to marginalize the disappointment of our rejected, and I thankfully never received a fuming reply from a rejected and insulted writer, so this isn’t an anonymous apology. As I’m sure many understand, no matter how sincere or invested the rejection letter, the inescapable stamp on its forehead is: “We liked too many pieces more than yours.” Ouch.

Someone (whom for the life of me I can’t recall or find) asked on Twitter last week, who is the best living writer never to have been published in the New Yorker–historically one of the biggest career makers. Immediately I thought of Cormac McCarthy. Maybe unfair, given he’s never professionally published a short story, but I couldn’t shake it. If interested, one can easily find two short stories of his from his undergraduate years at Tennessee. I’ve read them. They’re impressive. Maybe not beyond the “undergraduate” scope, but that’s home enough for me. His language is there–his cadence, his sentence weaving, the mythos, Gothic mysticism, it’s all vibrantly there. Even though he was a couple years older than myself when he wrote them, I added the shaming experience of reading those stories to a pantheon that already included the reluctant knowledge of Mary Shelly publishing Frankenstein at age 19, and T.S. Elliot Prufrock at 23. What am I doing with my life? Damn you, literary legends.

The early successes of all-timers should not be as disheartening as I goodheartedly allow them to be. They are, after all, the best of the best. However, as a writer, I believe I can write to any of their levels. It’s an inherent competition in me.

This is by no means to say I think I ever actually could. Merely, my mindset is that, if I invest, if I care, if I work, and if I do it all painstakingly, I can write with them. This may or may not be true, and whether it is, is irrelevant. I believe thoroughly every writer should possess some sort of confidence that pins them, if fantastically, against their most revered predecessors. We should neither disregard nor take for granted their impact, but we should believe that our work, in its own right, could one day demolish the greats of past and present. And in that same breath, no acceptance percentage should ever deter someone.

There’s a modesty to reading early works from the masters or recognizing similarities between your work and the work you’re rejecting. It’s humbling. Alison, in her post Tuesday, captured the sentiment well: “Are you bored when you go over [your] work? Then it’s boring.” Such an awareness of our own prose, over time, should allow us the means to reconcile our weaknesses and charge forward. Some authors, presumably like the aforementioned three, find that reconciliation earlier than others. We can hate our own work. Doesn’t mean we relinquish confidence or, therefore, approach. No, not every writer is capable of great writing, but the inward process in which we reach for it is personal and dependent on mindset.

This last weekend, I made my first excursion to California (woah). During a weekend that included, among many other things, an outrageously anticipated film release, getting a picture with the SAG star on Hollywood Boulevard, a macabre intrusion of mortality, a simple, nondescript encounter with a street musician on the Santa Monica pier struck me most. LA street musicians are like Nora Roberts novels in a Barnes and Noble (except the novels actually tend to receive the money for which they are there). This one was just a guy and his electric guitar, amp, and small poster propped up advertising his CD. He played songs like a slowed Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”, John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Leonard Cohen’s (via Jeff Buckley) “Hallelujah”. Typical. Quiet. Nice. The latter two, in particular, unsurprisingly beautiful. Even with the local indie record company logo slapped onto his CD’s miniature poster, the dude just played. Proportionally, there’s about as much money in music as there is in writing. He’d scored the music world equivalent to notable graduate school literary magazine–a respectable stepping stone. Regardless, though, of the money it brought him, his contractual or aspiring future plans, he came out at night, with only the prospect of passersby’s extra change, to play music in front of, at any given time, maybe fifteen people. He played recognizable songs, but he played and sang them his way. You could see in his weary but unbeaten eyes honesty–an honesty which emanated an infectious pathos. His passion and easy love for what he was doing was visually obvious. Not even an eccentric, probably tripping character dressed in Jesus attire and dancing with his multicolored glow stick partner could distract the musician. Not much mattered outside of him playing, and that he was playing for a handful of people intently listening.

He is the perfect image I keep in my head with regard to what the TMR experience has added to me. While the development of an objective muscle in evaluating writing is vital and variously practical, my readings, fellow interns, and the staff here reinforced that there is more to the experience than the acquisition of skill. The essence, rather, of it all is to affect others, the only way you know–to enliven in others what the art enlivens in you. The skills will without a doubt assist me in future writing and editorial adventures. Skill is an outward thing. The essence will guide the rest. Thank you, Missouri Review.

 

Follow Kyle @KyleBurton9106, or at [im]perfectmovies.com.

The Summer Launch!

We’re delighted to announce our summer launch party! In celebration of the release of our Summer 2011 issue, Significant Others, we’d like to invite you to join us in sunny downtown Columbia on July 28th at The Bridge, the new live music venue featuring local, regional and national music acts and located within the Columbia Academy of Music. For those of you who like maps and directions and such, The Bridge is at 1020 East Walnut Street. For those of you who don’t like maps, it’s right across the street from Ernie’s. This event is free and open to the public. Get after it!

Our event kicks off at 7 pm, and runs until The Bridge throws us out. Technically, our launch will be “over” at 9 pm, but like our fabulous spring launch, we really just stay hanging out until the doors are closed and the bright lights are thrown on. The Jazz Odyssey hits the stage at 9 pm, and there is a great patio where you can come and meet our entire staff (and, of course, former staff members who are certain to show up and say “Yo!”)

The summer issue has just shipped this week, and should be in your hands soon. The issue includes fiction by Amin Ahma, Tom Barbash, Arna Bontemps Hemenway (yes, that’s his real name, and his story is, believe it or not, even better than his name!), A.R. Rea, and Elisabeth Fairchild’s first published story; nonfiction by Daniel Anderson, Anthony Aycock, and John “Let’s Play Two!” W. Evans; poetry by Diane Seuss, Steve Gehrke, and Peter Jay Shippy; and Patrick Hicks sits down with Brian Turner to talk about the poetry of war.

You can snag copies of the issue at the summer launch. More important is that you come to the launch and have a good time. Like spring. Remember?

The first of many bands. We're just warming up...

We had lots of music. Like seventy five bands. Okay, not that many. But we did have music from Shoreside, Andre and the Giants, Mary and the Giant, and Belligerent, to name just a few. We kept it cool to start off the evening and then got progressive louder. Which is always a good thing.

We're always happy when people we like show up.

People rolled in at all times, which is the idea. Show up early, show up fashionably late, it doesn’t matter. You will get this kind of delighted greeting no matter what. And as long as you stay and hang out for a bit, well, what more can we ask?

The conversations at the bar can get pretty deep.

Here, I’m talking basketball with Jesse Garcia, the owner of Sideshow. I’m a Celtics fan, he’s a Bulls fan. We both had a rough 2011 NBA Playoffs (though on this evening, his Bulls were looking pretty good). Not that this dampened our spirits one iota.

We're toasting the evening. Not ourselves. Really.

I was asked to get on stage and say something. I have no idea what I said. Basically, it was something like “You guys are the best!” and You Guys all agreed with that sentiment and held their beverages high in the air. Good call.

See? We throw a good party! More photos from our Spring Launch: PERIL are available on our Facebook page; come check ’em out. And don’t forget to come to our Summer Launch. The Bridge, July 28th, 7 pm. We’d love to see you there!