Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Gosling sings Goth

I’m a fan of actor Ryan Gosling. He was absolutely riveting in last year’s Half Nelson (for which he was nominated for an Oscar) as a strung-out heroin addict who still managed to hold down his day job as a public school teacher. Good stuff. Also played a screwed-up yet highly, highly intelligent teenager who commits murder in this overlooked film called The United States of Leland a couple years ago. Terrible title, great little indie film.

Now, Gosling has released an album with his own band, Dead Man’s Bones. It’s called “In the Room Where You Sleep”, and features Gosling singing and playing the piano, backed up by a chorus of schoolkids singing an eerie, goth-like refrain.

Filed under: music, , ,

Des Moines Tries

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Cutting-edge photography at the Des Moines Art Center. Yesterday's visit included seeing recent acquisitions like Wolfgang Tillmans and Chuck Close.

In my other life, I graduated from Drake University with a theater or journalism degree. I interned at the Des Moines Community Playhouse or wrote captions for The Des Moines Register. Made friends here, spent lots of time with siblings here in the Midwest. I lived in a shitty apartment on Ingersoll Avenue near the Alpine Bar and wrote many failed novels (this part is true). I drank in Des Moines.

Reality: Eighteen years ago, I made the decision to move to the East Coast to attend Boston University, never looking back. So it’s always a strange feeling to imagine what my life might have been if I stayed close to home.

I’m writing this post from a hip coffeehouse called Mars Cafe, with Neutral Milk Hotel playing on the loudspeakers and kids with big bolt earrings and tight pants working as baristas behind the counter. Musicians by night? Web designers? In Des Moines, you never know.

I have to admit, I like Des Moines. On my list of must-do’s in this sleepy little city:

1. The Des Moines Art Center.

Never manages to disappoint. And the curators have subversive taste (more for me to enjoy), running to Kara Walker and her no-nonsense cut-outs that challenge notions of male superiority and African American identity, or Wolfgang Tillmans, whose photographs elevate punks and queers to the level of the Mona Lisa and David.

2. The Salvation Army.

I always find the best stuff at The Salvation Army. The main store is located at the base of the capitol building; this year, I found a pair of super-cool camouflage pants for a couple bucks. In past years, I’ve scored a set of highball mugs with  Freemason logos; 50’s-style tins for flour, sugar, and coffee; and a Boy Scouts t-shirt with Des Moines patches sewn onto the sleeves.

3. Smash.

Brought my friend Dan here last year, and he bought three shirts, including one that reads, “Des Moines: Just Outside the Middle of Nowhere.”

4. ZZZ Records.

Witt and I discovered that they moved this year–he thinks because they were priced out of the East Village–but this place is an institution, no matter where the location (as long as they keep their physical location!–don’t let the economy kill the indie record stores, yo).

5. Tasty Tacos.

I don’t know how to truly express my love for their flour tacos. Light, fluffy, deep-fried goodness. Only in Des Moines.

Filed under: iowa, travel, , , , ,

Against intellectualism

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Things I’m thinking about: commerce depends upon preying upon the dumb. I want to say that I’m not an elitist, but sometimes I am. Why apologize for being smart? Why pretend we’re all equal, intellectually, when we’re not?

Let’s face it: I know that people are smarter than me, and I don’t fear them or take offense. If someone I respect mentions a theory or author I don’t know, my instinct is to note her or his name for later. Happened just now with the writer John Bellairs. Who is he? What did he write? Thanks for sharing, Trevor, I’m curious to find out.

The movement in America against intellectualism is so strong, and so apparent, that I feel guilty when I crave literature–a simple essay, a good book.

I recently read an essay entitled “The Fender Bender,” about an American citizen who happens to also be an “illegal” alien (an idiotic phrase–people can not be illegal). The author’s name was Ramon Tianguis Perez (a pseudonym, for obvious reasons), relating a narrative about dealing with a simple traffic accident. It gave me pause; expanded my already liberal mind to consider the challenge of interacting with police if you don’t have official documents–a driver’s license, a checking account.

Yet for all my intellectual curiosity I’m still drawn to The Real Housewives of Orange County; I want to waste time on the sofa learning how to decorate cakes with fondant. Tell me you don’t want to click on the links in the previous sentence. Totally irrelevant information when people are hungry in other parts of the world, when my country attacks and murders civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.

What right do I have to enjoy shallow TV? How do we, as citizens of the wealthiest and most powerful entity in the world (except for the Catholic church) work to help the poorest countries in the world?

I’m depressed by the idea of complacency.

Filed under: intelligence, pop culture, world, ,

The People of Iowa welcome you

Quick break to walk Lucy and refuel the Mini Cooper at Iowa 80, billed as the world’s largest truck stop. On spinning racks here, you can buy an embroidered badge the size of a pizza that reads, 18 WHEELING FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA: IF YOU BOUGHT IT, A TRUCKER BROUGHT IT. Other fine gifts: a glass unicorn; a child’s t-shirt with the Orange Crush logo altered to say “I want my CHRIST”; and more spare truck cab parts than you could possibly imagine.

As I was leaving I overheard the cashier ask a diminuitive woman in all honesty, “And you want to buy a shower, too?”

Filed under: travel, ,

HRT reflections, from The Big Boy off 23N

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There’s more dead animals than you’d think along the Eisenhower Interstate System.

At one point yesterday, between Erie and Toledo, I thought I was driving along a deer cemetery. Reminded me of of Ginsberg’s great poem, A Supermarket in California. (It’s one of my favorites, and I pretty much share it every semester with my students–California, as well as his straight-forward instructions for Ways to Revise a Poem.)

Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados–babies in the tomators!–and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I think it’s the images of long unfettered aisles, peopled in Ginsberg’s imagination by husbands and babies (in my own memory, a family of four dead deer) that calls up the comparison. Totally disparate things, I know, but maybe it’s the dislocation of road travel that creates these odd juxtapositions. You’re not tethered by the quotidian when you’re on the road: no bills, no garbage day, no arm draped on the refrigerator door, hoping a hot meal will magically spring to life. You’re more prone to free-association when you’re driving. To daydreaming. And to creating patterns and meaning unbound by minutes and hours, or the chatter of others.

I took the photo above on my way out of Ithaca. What’s so surprising to me is not the fact of the roadkill–I am thankful and humbled by the employees of the Ithaca Department of Public Works–it’s just the method of transportation that’s a shocker. Living in Boston, in the concrete heart of it all, you don’t find yourself following dump trucks with dead deer hanging off the back.

N.B.: The Big Boy in the title of this post refers to the 24-hour restaurant connected to my hotel, not a self-anointed nickname.

Filed under: travel, , ,

Writing

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
December 2008
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About Me

https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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