Brad Listi is the a creative writing professor at Santa Monica College and the author of ATTENTION.DEFICIT.DISORDER. The myspace blog created for fans of the book, The A.D.D. Blog, has a number of devoted followers and has been called one of the best blogs on the Internet.

A few months ago I interviewed Brad via e-mail about his book, the state of American letters, and the best way for writers to avoid awkward questions at cocktail parties.
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Peacebone Got Found

January 27, 2008

My stepbrother gave me Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam for Christmas. ‘Twas a moment. One of those seemingly random connections with a piece of art that make you believe in…something. A plan. God. A species-wide human consciousness. The Bills (a theoretical football team used in the study of anti-matter that cannot touch the playoffs without unmaking the universe). Whatever.

The first time I put it on was when I drove from Boston to Albany for Christmas. I listened to it on repeat for the whole three or four hour drive. I told myself I was leaving it in because changing the CD would have been a pain in the ass. I have a thing against bands I hear mentioned often by indie kids. I’m pre-disposed to dis-enjoy them. I force myself to hate them, even if I don’t. Mostly to avoid forcing myself to like them because the kid at the coffeeshop who asked me if I’d heard the new Sera Cahoone did so in a manner that displeased or embarrassed me. I didn’t know there was an old Sera Cahoone. Should I like it now? The new one, I mean. Or the old one? Her old stuff is better, back when she was in Carissa’s Wierd? Why don’t I know who they are? Can’t you just tell me what to like and how to live my life?

My Animal Collective experience was different. Though my stepbrother and I have previously sparred in verbal ju jitsu of the “which one of us is the more foolishly pretentious waste of their time and parents’ money in a failed pursuit of liberal arts-inspired life goals” variety, I see him more positively these days. His politics and worldview are more subtly communicated, his conversations multi-sided. Personal growth, on both ends. And so, in keeping with my recent (growing) good feeling toward my stepbrother, I decided to give his gift a try.

Listen to this album. I know it would be customary to apply a few links here, but Jesus, how lazy are we that we have to have links about articles we read posted in the articles we read? As if google or myspace or last.fm were like video stores on the other side of town. “Hmm, let’s see, I’ve got a six-pack at home, I just bought that pre-roasted chicken at Shaw’s so that’s dinner, just checked my e-mail, nothing pressing, and– oh! I would love to just sit back tonight and watch home-edited videos of the 9/11 timeline. But fuck– schlep all the way over to youtube? When that ‘funny cats’ video is right here on my desktop? Count it, dude, decision made.”

I won’t review it here. The album. Strawberry Jam, that is. I can’t. I left it in Buffalo when I was out there for New Year’s. But it’s good. Real good. Buy-it good. Not perfect; some of it is just loopy nonsense. But “Peacebone,” the opener, sounds like what I heard when I used to smoke joints that were far too strong for me in the woods behind my house. It was probably just blood pumping in my ears or early tinnitus symptoms, but the effect, refracted through THC, was quite marvelous. Makes me wonder less about the Mayans or St. John of Patmos. “Peacebone” doesn’t sound exactly like that, but it’s the first thing I thought of when I put the CD on. They have that one on last.fm. Don’t pull your back out on the way over.

I don’t really have any good reasons for starting a blog, other than that I’ve been calling myself a writer for a little while now and everyone keeps asking me things like, “What do you write? Could I see it? Well then why didn’t you just say you’re an English B.A. graduate with a boring day job and poor work ethic?” So here I am. Blogging. Like mad.

This probably won’t be a specialized blog, like a food or advice column or anything. I’m not really a specialist in anything. I mean, I’ve done some stuff. I’ve cooked professionally; I’ve worked door-to-door as a non-profit canvasser. Data entry for the Democratic Party. Answering and writing mail for a congresswoman. Associate editor of a moderately badass (student) magazine. I have some things to say and can speak with a certain amount of authority in some areas. I know how to make italic text in HTML, for instance.

I’m really starting this, though, because I don’t work at a magazine anymore and I want to (I think) and it’s tough to get a paying job working for one. And the book I’m working on is progressing slowly. And sometimes I want to throw the whole thing out – all 30 pages (though I remember that Tarkovsky said the true artist commits himself to a certain set of parameters and follows his project through to the bitter end, even as he becomes disilliusioned with his ideas and work as the process drags on. That might be what I’m doing.). And my girlfriend always wants to see what I’m working on when I tell her I’m working even though I’m not at work, but it’s hard to send six hours’ worth of marginally connected wikipedia articles in the mail. And I don’t really want to start going to the gym. Or church. Or start playing video games again. I’m bored basically, is what I’m trying to say. And writing something like this will give me something interesting to do every day when I get home from work and I’m too tired to work on the book or even read someone else’s book. And it might keep me from watching TV.

Unless, of course, I just stop writing at some point. I actually started this blog about a month ago, but didn’t write anything because I thought I wanted it to be all super-serious, a foray into a new art form, or something. (You can see some of that on the “About Me” page where I thought it would be pretty sweet to hyperlink every word of the blog, but then stopped because it was a lot of work and the idea was stupid to begin with.) And so I just sat around and thought about stuff to write but never wrote because everything I wrote embarrassed me. That could happen again. I’m not trying to lower expectations or anything, I just want you to know what you’re getting into. I could post this and then never post again. I could do that. Just sayin’.

Anyways. Here I am: Jake Drum, your blogger. And there you are: my reader (Hey Dad).

Let’s hope it all works out for both of us.