The year in pictures, part one.

…but not for much longer.

Midnight In Dostoevsky” by Don DeLillo, who has a new novel in 2010!

Plotting the ruination of Radiohead?

Lady Gaga and the Queen.

This is easily the film I’m most looking forward to next year.

2009 was the year to set aside childish things. Namely, the last eight years.

Putin to retire soon? “Don’t hold your breath,” he says.

“Like taking candy from someone who seriously likes candy.”

There’s always time in time and space to stop and smell the flowers.

from here.

There’s water on the moon!

What this decade has been lacking thus far: Authenticity.

Who’s your favorite Beatle?

The end of love, part one.

Person of the year?

Is this what the culture’s come to?

You know what, don’t answer that.

Going where others have gone before.

Iran pisses on itself just a little more.

“You better be in fear.”

If you are neighbors with Sarah Palin, I guess that puts you within visual range of Russia?

New terror in the skies?

First rap is dead, then love (part two)?

Serious contender for best picture of the year, right?

Both Winston Churchill and Pynchon love inherent vices.

LUV U, LILY.

MISS U, SWAYZE.

New Justice.

Hacker of the year?

Just think about all the sex you’ve had in the past year (or should have been having.)

MISS U, Batman (though not for much longer).

MISS/LUV U, Juliet.

Tiger Woods killed Brittany Murphy!

“Memes” and “Contraflow.”

I saw her again last night.”

Birds successfully begin phase one of their attack on humanity.

In the year full of recurring royalty and ending love affairs, of course the king of pop songs would die. Makes me want to scream.

Was 2009 the year of sci fi?

The end of love, part three.

To be continued!

The City On The Edge Of Forever.

Phoenix is the sweatiest city in America.

Stranger In Moscow.”

Sydney and the light rail.

Augmented reality in London.

The ghost in the field, and RFID chips.

What will happen when London is flooded?

Berlin” in Paris.

Interracial couple denied marriage license in Louisiana.

Soft robots and DARPA.

Moscow’s mayor promises a winter without snow.

Paris Syndrome and Jerusalem Syndrome.

San Francisco and the 1906 earthquake.

Rebuilding New Orleans.

from here.

City Of Blinding Lights.”

A possible glimpse at our future space cities.

America’s most expensive cities and most impoverished cities.

FOX promises to air all 13 of the already ordered Dollhouse season two episodes.

Speaking of which, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s The Cabin In The Woods being held back a year to be switched over to 3D.

Magnetricity” observed for the first time.

A map of your future mega-cities and megaopolises.

“When the lights go down in the city…”

Sensing the immaterial-material city.

Cities underground and cities tsunami-resistant.

City Of Shadows.

The ruins of Chernobyl, over 20 years later.

Cities In Dust.”

GTA IV: Inherent Vice City.

Silver City” and “Sad, Sad City.”

Why all cities are haunted.

The mind of a city (and how our brains are similar).

The cityscapes of François Schuiten.

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem.

The city is a battlesuit for surviving the future.

Phantom City: See the city that could’ve been.

“…when we reach the city.”

“I have come to wound the autumnal city.”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

“I’ll take the coral reefs as my metaphor. Though hardly so beautiful. If the essence of life is information carried in DNA, then society and civilization are just colossal memory systems and a metropolis like this one, simply a sprawling external memory….”

-a quote from Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence, a movie that I was watching the other day and just first stirred the pot on several thoughts I had locked up. Thoughts about human beings and boxes we live in.

Warren Ellis had created a comic book character years ago called Jack Hawksmoor, the “king of cities.” Jack was a normal human who had been abducted by city-empathic aliens from the future and repeatedly operated on and “upgraded” to have city-specific powers for use with fighting some unknown future threat that was coming.

Jack Hawksmoor, the King Of Cities.

Hawksmoor, who’s name was inspired by both Spring Heeled Jack and Nicholas Hawksmoor, couldn’t survive for very long outside of an urban environment, but when he was in any city, he had powers specific to that city, including things like superhuman strength and agility, but also psychometry and the ability to control and alter architecture and infrastructure. I don’t think the character was ever utlized by successive writers to his full potential, but I do remember in one story where Hawksmoor had to fight a powerful villain, he made sure that the fight took place in Mexico City, the larged city in the world, to maximize his abilities.

Quarantined in utopia.

“There’s no one to know. There’s nothing to do. The city’s been down since you’ve been gone.”

Climate change and warfare.

Black And White Town.”

Scientists create “sexual tsunami.”

12 sexist vintage ads.

What’s left of the Roman city of Dougga.

Futurism vs. Science Fiction.

Futuristic steampunk urban recycling.

The little town that Los Angeles killed.

Speaking of which: Future Los Angeles.

Future Chicago.

Future New York.

The saddest blow job story ever.

History Of A Boring Town.”

Russell Brand not capable of monogamy.

10 most amazing ghost towns, including Prypiat.

Everything In It’s Right Place.”

Scientists develop “brain to brain communication.”

As time progresses, the future will literally devour the past: WW2-era statue with added cell tower.

Last Stop: This Town.”

Yes/No/As Above/So Be Low.

Seeing the invisible.

Space shuttle docked at Space Station looks like a tattoo on the sun.

The ghost cinema of Norwich.

What else is on during Shark Week?

Can Pluto become a planet again?

As above, so below. As within, s0 without.

The mystery of 10:10.

Charles Manson wants to work with Phil Spector.

The three biggest reasons music magazines are dying.

Chemtrails and weather warfare.

When is it okay for kids to run around naked?

from here.

Canadian doughnut chain enters NYC donut wars.

The “Wide-open” future of journalism, according to Ira Glass.

Genes, memes, and the third replicator.

Greatest headline ever: Call for debate on Killer Robots.

A challenge to the comet extinction theory.

We should build a wall to stop the spread of deserts, and also that giant fucking sandworms from Dune.

Hanzo The Razor: “The Snare” and “Sword Of Justice.”

PLAYBOY: Let’s start at the beginning. Tell us the story of how the wondrous mystic prince and the exotic Oriental dragon lady met.

LENNON: It was in 1966 in England. I’d been told about this “event” — this Japanese avant-garde artist coming from America. I was looking around the gallery and I saw this ladder and climbed up and got a look in this spyglass on the top of the ladder — you feel like a fool — and it just said, Yes. Now, at the time, all the avant-garde was smash the piano with a hammer and break the sculpture and anti-, anti-, anti-, anti-, anti. It was all boring negative crap, you know. And just that Yes made me stay in a gallery full of apples and nails. There was a sign that said, Hammer A Nail In, so I said, “Can I hammer a nail in?” But Yoko said no, because the show wasn’t opening until the next day. But the owner came up and whispered to her, “Let him hammer a nail in. You know, he’s a millionaire. He might buy it.” And so there was this little conference, and finally she said, “OK, you can hammer a nail in for five shillings.” So smartass says, “Well, I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.” And that’s when we really met. That’s when we locked eyes and she got it and I got it and, as they say in all the interviews we do, the rest is history.

PLAYBOY: What happened next?

Good question, from here.

from here.

Women are getting more beautiful. The men? Not so much.

A real heart of darkness.

Owner Of A Lonely Heart.”

No No No.”

Hobos, robots, Mark Twain, jungle princesses, and Michael Kupperman.

Here come the men in black.

Fucking, Austria.

It’s not a fucking joke.

And sex laws.

Were wars and plagues the key to Europe’s dominance?

Three held for “sacrifice” of a girl.

Handerpants.

Sacramentan buys old 45s, finds out they belonged to his mom.

Emails from the dead.

You are here.

from here.

Yes and no.

Cartoon lovers.

Rorschach cheat sheet? Hint: It’s not all vaginas.

Raymond Carver and “cutting everything down to the marrow, not just to the bone.”

The Repulsion of Roman Polanski.

The Inherent Vice of Thomas Pynchon.

Pynchon’s guide to LA.

A Serious Man and The Big Lebowski.

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea on ukulele.

Do Something Real.

We’ll slide down the surface of things…

They are in love. Fuck the war.

It’s been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home. A messenger from the Kingdom, arriving at the last moment. But I tell you there is no such message, no such home — only the millions of last moments . . . nothing more. Our history is an aggregate of last moments.

-from Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, page 148.

But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice — guessed and refused to believe — that everything, always, collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no surprise, no second chance, no return. Yet they do move forever under it, reserved for its own black-and-white bad news certainly as if it were the rainbow, and they its children. . .

-from page 209.

But out at the horizon, out near the burnished edge of the world, who are these visitors standing . . . these robed figures — perhaps, at this distance, hundreds of miles tall — their faces, serene, unattached, like the Buddha’s, bending over the sea, impassive, indeed, as the Angel that stood over Lübeck during the Palm Sunday raid, come that day neither to destroy nor to protect, but to bear witness to a game of seduction . . . What have the watchmen of the world’s edge come tonight to look for? Deepening on now, monumental beings stoical, on toward slag, toward ash the colour the night will stabilize at, tonight . . . what is there grandiose enough to witness?

-from page 214.

He lies on top of her, sweating, taking great breaths, watching her face turned 3/4 away, not even a profile, but the terrible Face That is No Face, gone too abstract, unreachable: the notch of the eye socket, but never the labile eye, only the anonymous curve of cheek, convexity of mouth, a noseless mask of the Other Order of Being, of Katje’s being — the lifeless non-face that is the only face of hers he really knows, or will ever remember.

-from page 222.

It’s been almost ten years since I sat down one day with the firm decision in my tiny head that I was not only going to start but also finish Thomas Pynchon’s hyper novel, Gravity’s Rainbow. The infamous 1973 book, which is only a little bit more readable than Joyce’s Ulysses, was originally slated to win the 1974 Pulitzer prize for fiction until the other 11 members on the prize picking committee overturned the 3 person fiction panel’s pick, calling the novel “unreadable, turgid, overwritten, and obscene.” I don’t know about you, but that’s just a few of my favorite things.

This is the cover to the most recent paperback edition of the novel I’m aware of, which a cover by Frank Miller.

Sadly, I never did finish the novel way back then, but to my pleasant surprise a few years ago, my comrade Benjamin Light did start the novel and through a steady face of wading through it’s sometimes complex, sometimes naughty, and sometimes just insane prose, actually finished. An all too rare feat these days. I don’t want to speak for him here (and it’s not out of the question that one’s thoughts on this novel could be complex, to say the least), but I think he enjoyed it. In fact, I think he was inspired enough by an element or two of the book to go start a blog of some sort out there in the fringe wastelands of the internet.

Which leads me to this morning when I discovered – bizarrely, amazingly, happily, wonderfully – that the notorously reclusive Pynchon, who is 71 years old and released a novel, Against The Day, three years ago to many a surprised fan’s delight, is releasing another novel. This year, in fact. It’s due out in August and is entitled Inherent Vice. Where’s the plot description:

It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.

In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there … or … if you were there, then you … or, wait, is it … Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon — private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog.

Kind of new with Pynchon seemingly tackling the mystery/private detective genre straight on, but also very reminiscent sounding of his older stuff like V and The Crying Of Lot 49. All of that sounds good to me and I think you could classify me as excited.

The above is the cover to the single “Gravity’s Rainbow” by the Klaxons.

I’m proud to say that I’m friends on Facebook (which, I know, really doesn’t mean shit) with Tristan Taormino, whom Wikipedia describes as an “award-winning author, columnist, editor, pornographic film director (and occasional actress) and self-styled ‘anal sexpert.'” With a resume like that, why wouldn’t I want to be her friend? She also happens to be the niece of Thomas Pynchon.

There was no difference between the behavior of a god and the operations of pure chance.

-from page 323.

What are the stars but points in the body of God where we insert the healing needles of our terror and longing?

-from page 699.

Illustration of page 222 by Zak Smith from his illustrations of every page from the novel.

Klaxons “Gravity’s Rainbow” (mp3)

Thursday “This Song Brought To You By A Falling Bomb” (mp3)

“I want to break out — to leave this cycle of infection and death. I want to be taken in love: so taken that you and I, and death, and life, will be gathered inseparable, into the radiance of what we would become. . . .”

-from page 724.

“What?”