“Our Poetry Is Bad” Edition

Listen to this episode

S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. The following podcast contains explicit language.

S2: I’m Stephen Metcalf and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest. Our poetry is bad Ed.. It’s Wednesday September 11th 2019. On today’s show American factory was a big winner at Sundance it’s now a documentary on Netflix it’s also notable for being the first one distributed by Barack and Michelle Obama. In addition to all that it’s a remarkable document. The fate of the American experiment in the age of a global economy it’s a it’s an amazing movie and then Lana Del Rey has come a long way since being written off as a rich kid in a sued a manufactured pop sensation. Her new record. Norman fucking Rockwell is a triumph of both attitude and substance and finally get thee to a completed manuscript in which Dana returns from her stint at a nunnery.

Advertisement

S3: Joining me today is Julia Turner who is deputy managing editor of The L.A. Times Hey Julia.

S4: Hello.

S5: Hello and of course Dana Stevens the film critic for Slate magazine has returned Dana.

S6: Hey fellow blessing Steve blessings on you. Oh my God. All right now is it really true when you put one of those habits on you can fly. We will go that whole episode just gonna be like bad disrespectful nun jokes. I have an even worse joke if you want to hear it.

S4: You ready. Sure. No. God.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: Okay. Did you hear the one about the factory documentary.

S7: It’s riveting.

S6: Welcome back to civilization. Dana this is what the big stories like hers are like. I’m just I’m just excited to see Dana.

Advertisement

S8: My tail is wagging in 2014 a Chinese auto glass company Fiat bought up a shuttered GM factory in Dayton Ohio. This was as I understand it from watching the documentary part public relations ploy part deadly earnest investment in the American economy. Anyway it brought together Chinese management philosophies with an American workforce. Though I should say not every manager in the film is Chinese and not every worker is American there’s a mingling of both but in the commingling of norms and expectations that followed. There was a lot of resultant soaring rhetoric in front of the press and other public figures and a lot of culture classes clashes playing out on the factory floor. A documentary crew was on hand to film the whole thing from twelve hundred hours of footage. They called it down to an elegantly edited two hour feature film. It won the Documentary prize at Sundance and it’s now the first release as I indicated for Higher Ground Productions. The production company started by the Obamas and probably more importantly it’s directed by documentarian veterans Stephen Buckner and Julia Reichardt. Let’s let’s listen to a clip. Of. The.

Advertisement

S9: Song. Thank you guys very much. You don’t know how important this is to fool ya. Into the chairman. The plant looks great. These people are coming here to see something that they never in their lifetime thought would happen. You have given hope. And you have given rise to a community. That was desolate. This is one of the greatest projects in the history of the United States. So be proud. And most importantly. Have fun.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S10: To land the bridge. It brings us together and you could say. The. BOM. BOM. BOM. BOM.

S8: Yes. Right Dana well let me start with you. This is this quite a remarkable movie it sort of drops you down in the middle of a Springsteen song. You know I mean metaphorically and then it grows out its narrative from there it’s pretty humanist a moving document what did you make of it.

Advertisement

S11: Yeah. Much different than I expected this movie. I mean if if you think that you know what this movie is about is all the more reason to seek it out and watch it. Not too hard to seek it out since it’s currently on Netflix and in theaters because it was it to me brought something I had never seen in a documentary about the American working class before. I mean Michael Moore apparently is a fan of this movie and a fan of record and Boehner and there are elements of Michael Moore in the fact that it is a movie that focuses on the lives of blue collar Americans and factory town but because of the way the camera pulls out to look at this globalization process. To me it brought something entirely new right. I mean we think of globalization is something that happens in the other direction that there’s something out there in the world happening in other countries that’s bringing products to us. Right. IPhones being made in China et cetera but the idea that the American workforce would start to be I mean colonized is a strong word but there are parts of this documentary where it applies sort of colonized by this Chinese model of capitalism that’s also communism. I mean it’s just it it’s really out there. So the cultural clash that happens on it yet I think the filmmakers do a really good job at being empathetic to both points of view. They started out in fact I think wanting more to focus on the American workers and what the process of having their factory bought by a Chinese capitalist does to them. But since a lot of Chinese workers also came over not quite as many I think that it’s it’s a primarily American staffed factory. But there are these Chinese workers who were brought over. And so their process of cultural assimilation becomes part of the documentary too. And there’s a lot of moods in this documentary I mean the first hour or 45 minutes is sort of soaring Li optimistic as a depressed factory town makes itself over and then all kinds of troubles rear their head as for example you know unionization is frowned on by the Chinese management and the UAW starts to organize and I won’t spoil it but it goes to some unexpected places.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S8: Julia I read this as an extremely open minded as I think Dana does open minded an agnostic documentary. The cameras were just there and in the editing of this remarkable material doesn’t strike me as tendentious at all it feels like we really saw what really happened in that factory.

S12: How did you feel yeah I loved this.

S13: I mean as you guys know often documentaries get my journalism and tonight twitching nervously and I felt that I really trusted the rigour of these journalists as storytellers and their patients and the access they got to see inside everything. See I mean just as a matter a technical matter you know the the what is happening on the factory floor footage.

Advertisement

S14: I think that is just like a genre of footage that people love and love to watch it’s. If you if you are a white collar worker or other kind of worker who does not see what happens on a factory floor just watching like big sheets of glass go here and the hair and arms and things go to and fro like it’s just very visually aesthetically interesting as a base level.

S4: And then to layer on top of that spending so much sincere perceptive time with everyone from the kind of capitalist communist boss of this American Enterprise who is prone to saying sort of startlingly generalized things about the quality of the American worker of the sort that of course American capitalists have said about various foreign workforces for years and years and years to literally be like being inside of union busting meetings where managers are talking about illegal activities to you know being inside the homes of American workers and Chinese workers as they think about what work means and how globally.

S15: I thought it was stunning. I really thought it was just an extraordinary document and something that’s really worth everybody spending time watching.

S16: I mean it was it was years in the making and you really feel that watching it that they didn’t go in with a set idea and then explore that idea. They allowed things to happen and then tried to figure out what those things were on the ground.

S8: Yeah I mean I just want to you know Ryan completely with what both of you said. I mean this is one of those movies I’m going to push on everybody that I I know it’s I think both a political document and a really humanist one and this is authentically quite beautiful. It’s just it’s just a remarkable film. I it did to begin with the good news there is there’s one really successful relationship but I wouldn’t say is at the heart of the movie exactly. But it’s very near the heart of the movie between I believe his name is Wang he a Chinese worker who’s been brought over to the factory who’s working very very side by side with an American counterpart who himself in some class you know I mean stereotypical ways could not be more American. He writes Harley’s He likes guns. He’s a guy’s guy. It culminates not coalminers but early on you find out that they’ve become close personally enough for the American to invite Wang Hee over for Thanksgiving in his family.

Advertisement

S5: That friendship is a testimony to how given an economic goal in an organized setting how pragmatism can lead to Brotherhood right. How have two people working towards the same goal in a completely non you know relatively non ideological way with with the simple pragmatic goal of getting a certain job done efficiently can result in something like a form of human brotherhood. I thought that was a really beautiful gesture on the part of a documentary that otherwise I think makes one feel quite jaundiced towards the global economy. So I just pulling the camera out a little bit you know. If you’ll permit a short didactic lecture like the Chinese art of the 21st century with the United States had been at the 19th century which is a mega economy growing up very very fast and very chaotically and playing catch up to the rest of the developed world. And and I think that that raises the question of why if that’s the case you now have Chinese and labor labor and management techniques coming to the United States right if we’re sort of in some respects important economic respects two centuries ahead of where the Chinese are. We know what political set of circumstances have have allowed that transfer to happen. What this movie does so beautifully is it puts flesh and blood an actual human experience to a set of hastily formed abstractions that are only starting to make sense to us. And it helps bring those into focus. I mean we effectively have achieved a bilateral economic union with another mega economy with absolutely no political union overseeing the whole thing right. So you have a market relationship without a social contract. And what I think this movie does so beautifully is it shows what the human cost of that absence of a social contract is who that benefits precisely and to what lengths those people those winners are going to go to to make absolutely sure that the social contract in the form of unionism does not reassert itself. And so in that sense it’s agnostic and a humanistic movie. I don’t think that they went in with a point of view. But you cannot exit watching this movie without a point of view and a lot of I think a lot of political anger. Dana Yeah.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S11: I mean just when you sort of fact underlying a statistic underlying everything you just said is that very early in the movie I think it may be the first interview they do a woman who previously worked at the GM factory that was in that space and is now at the food yard factory this Chinese glass factory that inhabits the same space is making less than half of what she made her entire life before. And you know so she’s saying you know I used to be able to buy sneakers for my kids without thinking about it. Now I have to think about it I mean all of these people know that they’re on a permanent slide down not even slide. They’ve just gone down a peg in their social mobility and are going to stay there because that’s how the world economy works now and that is just a very bleak fact to kick off the documentary with no matter how what connections may happen among those workers. They’re all still completely under the thumb of these you know global mega capitalist flying around in private jets who are another subject to the documentary.

Advertisement

S13: Steve I love your analogy but the 19th century I mean that’s what’s so uncanny about the documentary and part of why I would press it on everybody is that it’s startling and surprising and one of the things that’s surprising as you realize for the last half many decades Americans have moved manufacturing overseas American companies have been manufacturing overseas because essentially you can reach a 19th century workforce there who are you know cheaper or less regulated et cetera.

S17: And what we see here is the Chinese export of a 19th century model of industrialism of sort of a robber parent or a capitalist or someone whose desire to exploit that workforce is just bald and not covered in all of the language that modern American industrialists have learned to say for the most part so that they don’t sound like Gilded Age robber barons.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: Well right. It’s because it’s called the oligopolies it’s the communist oligopolies it’s in China share a political goal with their oligopolies their counterparts in the United States which is to wipe out that history of the 20th century which was in the direction of labor rights secured through collective bargaining. You know I mean it’s like all of these negative stereotypes that they’re piling on the American workforce are a consequence of Americans having fought their way out of wage slavery fought like fought and died their way out of wage slavery and to over classes from two separate cultures have coordinated in order to wipe that history clean resupplied the American industrial labor force with jobs at half to a third of the wages and zero of the benefits that they were used to getting and then are are offended when the American worker doesn’t receive that bargain with you know that fresh shitty bargain with gratitude. I just want to point to one specific moment in the movie that really really got to me. A guy walks through the factory. I mean this is a very anti-union shop that they’ve set up. I mean they’re going to go to any lengths they can to destroy the possibility of a union. And this guy just walks through the factory floor with a big sign saying vote yes for the union. The UAW guy I guess. And of course he’s escorted out as quickly as possible by security and as he’s getting into his car he turns to the cameras says sometimes you got to be Sally Field and you just want to ball your eyes out for how much you love this country.

S14: I mean everything I would say about that Norma Rae moment is that I felt less stirred than sort of despairing and it caused me to sort of zoom out and think about the broader global economy and the fact that in general the price of goods is so depressed and our expectation for how much any consumer good costs is so low in part because of all the exportation of manufacturing that American companies have done that the market for auto glass you know it didn’t strike me as necessarily an irrational response to the market for this Chinese company to want to be making glass as cheap as they were making it and to feel that they couldn’t possibly pay what the UAW had negotiated at the GM plant. You know 30 odd years ago in a different economic environment which is not to say no. I mean basically to me the takeaway is our goods shouldn’t be so cheap and we should have fewer of them which would be better for the environment as well.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S17: But the fundamental one that I really liked about the documentary is that as startling as some of the pronouncements of the fiat chairman were they also seemed like responses to forces beyond his control that seem kind of glacial and tragic and huge and are very keenly observed here.

S18: Mm hmm. Yeah. And one of the things I found moving about that guy turning to the camera and saying that about Sally Field is that in part this is a documentary about Americans incorrigible sense that they have a right to individual personality right. Like that’s implicit in the pursuit of happiness and they’re only willing to face it so much in favor of some you know ideal of efficiency. And the documentary leaves you with this question is when all of this is replaced by robots which is imminent. How and where is that right personality going to assert itself. But anyway on that note it’s called American factory. It is a really really really good movie. And then I think a kind of urgent one. So we hope you watch it and tell us what you thought of it. All right.

S19: Moving on all right.

S18: Well before we go any further this is where we usually talk about our business. I’m sure we have some Dana what’s up.

S16: Yes Steve we have a very special exciting announcement which is that we are going west this fall thanks in part to your strong responses when we threw out the question to listeners if you wanted us to come. We will be in L.A. and then later in Vancouver this November that’s going to be November 13th for the L.A. show.

S11: November 15th for the Vancouver show not all the information is available or the tickets yet. So we will give you more as we get it. But reserve those dates if you live in or near one of those towns and want to come hear us live and we’ll let you know when the tickets are available and locations et cetera. Very soon you can find out more information at Slate dot com slash live.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S18: Can I just say something very quickly. Sure. The good people of Vancouver guaranteed us a sell out.

S20: That seems very boastful. I can already see that Trump capacity thin milling crowd precinct.

S6: I’m just saying the pressure is not on me. Vancouver. The pressure is on you.

S16: I feel like just from the fact that Vancouver came out for me to buy that book I wanted from McLeod’s I mean those people alone the people who offered to buy me that book will fill our show it was crazy what a nice response that maybe we should just tell everybody to go buy you a book and I’ll show up and I’ll be like surprise with the big show.

S11: And the only other business Steve is that in Slate Plus today we are going to be talking about jumping off of our last topic which is just kind of you guys debriefing me about my month at the monastery we are going to talk about fantasy residencies and we’re each going to compose if we could go anywhere for a month to work on our own thing where would we go and what would we work on and what would it be like you.

S18: Yeah I got some answers. That’s a good one.

S21: Lana Del Rey was born Elizabeth Grant in New York City rich kid with a dream to turn herself into a torch singing heroine from a trashy SoCal Noir. At first though everyone was intrigued no one was really buying it. As I remember. But now five records and she has conquered everyone’s heart or this being 2019 borehole where everyone’s heart is supposed to be NSW or in its NSW title Norman fucking Rockwell is this shimmery and hypnotic set of songs its arch and so utterly sincere at the same time.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S22: Somehow that’s kind of the Lana Del Rey thing I guess. Anyway what can I say. I think this is a brilliant album I put it on with my two daughters in the car we drove and listened to it in stunned silence. What a record low since the clip gets. My way best when I could have you.

S23: All right. Well we’re doing something unusual we’re doing back to back Carl Wilson guest segments you’ve returned to talk about Lana Del Ray of course this is a compare and contrast conceit in part.

S2: But before we get there talk a little bit about this. But this record.

S24: Yeah hi it’s me your little Toronto bitch.

S25: Yeah I mean this record like the anticipation for this record has been building up for about a year since she started putting out advanced tracks and some of the things that came out in it that I immediately started feeling that she’d kind of reached a new level in her songwriting just not a good level of clarity.

S26: And I kind of pulled back on the Maynard ness in a way that really got my attention in ways that really waxed and waned over the course of her her six albums. And listening to this record it’s interesting it’s definitely a culmination of everything she’s done in a lot of ways and it’s just slightly a readjustment. There’s just a sense of the veil being pulled back just a little bit and a little bit less of you know a little bit less largeness as you were saying and also also a shift in position from a body of work in which she’s often explored the kind of connection between sort of femininity femininity and victimhood or masochism in some cases. And you know that all of that’s still there but it’s differently. It’s not glamorized in the same way and it’s also there’s a maturity that the way that she is coming at it now where even though she can sometimes play up her own vulnerability and faults there’s a new sense of control in her relationship to the relationships that she’s discussing on the album. There’s there is a wisdom and a sense of a little bit of of distance and and and critical coolness to it that feels feels like quite an evolution from where she was a couple of albums ago. But it’s also just the arrangements on this record which was made with Jean Jacques Antonov who also produced much of Taylor Swift’s album. There’s a space for what she’s doing here it’s not cluttered in the same way that some of her earlier tracks would be. It’s not as gauzy there’s a. And just the whole you know it’s a long album it’s over an hour long and yet it passes without really ever becoming tedious which is always my problem with previous Lana Del Rey albums. I always liked lots of them but then felt like the whole thing kind of bogged down. But it’s it’s something is really different about this record.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S16: I want to phrase this without being snide because I feel like Lana Del Rey has been very mistreated by the media in the past and that you know when we first talked about her years ago there’s no question that everything she did everything she came out with was immediately put through this kind of sexist wringer before anyone actually listened to it. But I disagree with Carl that this album never gets tedious.

S27: I did feel its length and although it had some high points I felt that the continuous down tempo sameness of many of the songs melodically and lyrically made it somewhat of a hard listen. I mean there’s something about her citation reality. I have a little box here I scribbled this on a box because it was the nearest thing in my house. Here is a box of lists of song titles that are directly quoted. Like sometimes just taken as her own title in this album Cinnamon Girl right. Neil Young song California dreamin. Gin and juice. The Snoop Dogg song Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

S16: Nothing compares to you also. That line is just simply taken and used over and over in a song Candle In The Wind. The Elton John song Life On Mars the Beach Boys Kokomo Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man. I’m sure that’s only a partial list and that’s not Grimm’s a song or a reference. Crimson and Clover is the actual words are in there. Yeah you know I miss that one. Yeah and I’m sure there’s countless more like hip hop songs I don’t know and other references I didn’t get but I mean those are just like sheer lifts from other songs I know about sampling I know that all music is constructed from other music but there are moments when I feel like her big lyrical crutch is just to evoke a whole musical pop world of the past by taking a line from an earlier song that particularly bothered me with the the prince line. Nothing compares to you I think she slightly changes it to nobody compares to you or something but it isn’t just used once it’s like the chorus of the entire song. So there are just a lot of moments when I felt this was a lyrically underachieving album but this could also be my own personal taste. It’s that that style of vocals that this kind of breathy dreamy meandering ambient music with with the female vocal like. I think it’s in the tradition. I’m just gonna throw out things that I think it’s in the tradition of like Cowboy Junkies or Massey Starr or air right that kind of ambient music has never appealed to me and that’s just maybe a taste thing. I like I like melodies that have a little bit more you know movement as they move through the song and in particular is at Venice Beach. KARL That’s the really long song that’s the almost ten minute long song right. So it’s this long song but it is breathy and meandering and yes there’s some sort of prog squiggly guitar sounds in there but it’s not like a Joanna Newsome long song right that has that changes time signatures and you know moves through this whole symphonic development and has different chapters it really is just a very long breathy song of a woman you know moaning about her relationship.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S27: And again I don’t want to be snide because I think Lana Del Rey has lots of talent. But when I started reading like the Pitchfork review that talks about her is you know one of the great songwriters of our generation I was thinking can we set the bar a little higher than that. You know like there’s also a lot of soft rhymes I guess you’d call them rhymes that rhyme only because the vowel in the word isn’t same as the other word.

S11: And again that’s something that every song contains but if that’s the only thing you rely on I don’t know I guess I sort of felt like I wanted the writing to be taken to the next level. Whoa yeah.

S28: I mean I think I think you’ve sort of gathered together a lot of the criticisms that don’t fall into this she’s some kind of phony femme Patel sexist line that she got directed at her early on but yeah I love those that set of critiques of the writing.

S29: I go back and forth you know as a music critic and fan that reference reality is a little bit like popcorn to me like I can’t help enjoying it but I also feel like it’s you know she’s sort of a she’s a mood artist she’s kind of a collage artist and a lot of ways in a way that I do think comes out of hip hop and you know she’s not even though a lot of her manner and style references and sometimes you know or very frequently directly references the kind of singer songwriter tradition of you know Laurel Canyon in the 70s and all of that and she definitely does sort of worship at Joni Mitchell’s altar and all that kind of thing at the same time. She translates it into a very 21st century thing that really does have a different set of yardsticks and from song to song I can go back and forth on whether I find that satisfying or dissatisfying. But I do think it’s with the consistency that feels. I think I think it feels wrong to call lazy and seems much more deliberate and of its sensibility to me.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S30: Yeah it seems to me Carol that the songs are about being belated and feeling recycled and feeling as though one’s surrounded by you know things that are recycled and you’re out of these inherited elements you’re trying to assemble them in order to produce some last tiny shred of like authenticity and feeling or it seems to me the struggle at the heart of the music. Julia break the tie here what do you think.

S4: Oh I love seeing Dana on a hypercritical tear.

S31: Dana Dana comes back from the prairie with teeth. Wait let me just say that the mood the mood is something that I like I don’t at all object to the languid film noir kind of mood it’s almost mood like a mood board or something and I’m into line is mood board I just think are writing’s a little weak.

S32: Yeah I I like this album a lot.

S13: I mean I think like you Dana this vibe is not my taste in music like I don’t do a lot of like outloud mandatory sinking into quietude music listening like I like.

S4: I buy. There’s a reason it’s the summer stretch playlist and not the summer wallow playlist.

S33: And you know there’s like Jody average in the podcast her tweets every weekend morning like what’s the first piece of music you listen to this morning and I never feel more alienated on the Internet than when I see that I’m like Who are you. Who listens to music first thing in the morning. What is this and then all these people merrily respond. And I just think wow people’s relationship with music is very different than mine. But I think I’m more in the Karl and Steve camp and that the reference reality here seems like a strength not a weakness.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S15: And that sort of applying that sense of trying to encompass and address what’s come before and figure out how that might apply to trying to be a person in life in the world right now and that trying to be a person in life in the world right now actually requires a command of performance as a thing like performing selfhood is a thing that is asked of a modern people and so she’s playing with her own presentation and playing with her position with regard to other people who’ve been in similar positions. It feels very sophisticated to me and I really liked the album and I liked listening to it. I don’t know that I will continue to have it on repeat for the rest of my days just because it’s not what I typically use music for. But I think I found more in the camp that the writing is actually sophisticated now.

S34: Let me weigh in a little bit on the doubting side there because you know I was feeling exactly that that and respecting her sophistication and self-awareness and then something happened last week that really threw me off and in some ways made it hard for at least a few days for me to listen to the record at all which is that Ann Powers the chief music critic at NPR published a long like 3000 4000 word essay about the album is really fascinating and and excavating it for all its kind of cultural resonances and Lana lashed out at her for it on Twitter very much seeming like she just didn’t understand the peace and end result only kind of sick to her fans on on and powers and who then came back with like you know quasi death threats and your canceled and you’re fired and all of this kind of thing and it was really ugly and unpleasant and really took me aback about the question of how much Lana Del Rey is in command of exactly what she’s doing and and whether the effects of what she was doing are deliberate or accidental all of those questions kind of came up again in the wake of that.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S28: I mean you know it’s it’s understandable for somebody who like the beginning of her career got a great deal of uncharitable and frankly that paranoid and sneering responses mostly from like boys in the music blogosphere of the time. And I think she might have just been reacting out of that set of instincts built up in that in that time.

S34: But you know at one point in her tweets she she claimed I have no persona. I have never had a persona I never needed one which seems like an insane thing for any performing artist to say somebody layered persona that Lana Del Rey has and so that sort of shook my confidence and my understanding of her sophistication. Even though musicians are often not their best on their own best advocates.

S28: But yeah. That that was an unpleasant. That was an unpleasant thing to witness.

S11: I didn’t know about that and that is particularly striking because after reading Anne’s piece which I read before having listened at least thoroughly listened to the album I thought wow I can’t wait to hear this album it sounds like it has so much richness and so many contradictions and this is an incredible piece of writing and I mean I feel like and review far outstripped the album itself in terms of the you know the care put into its wording and phrasing and and nuance. And again this is not me trashing the record. I listened to it several times and enjoyed several songs and I’ll specifically shout out. I think the best song on the album is how to disappear which is maybe the least adherent to the model that I was just describing it’s not big and long and sprawling although it could still be 20 second shorter in my opinion but it’s you know it’s more of a song about one precise feeling and and not such a meander tone made. The train cuts on its face goes far too high.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S35: And now he’s in over his head. But I love. And. But. Buddy can. He moves mountains and runs down to ground. Some guys can hide their. So the. Things. They. See. Forget.

S36: The things they see. This is. Uh.

S28: To this AP Carl one thing I can’t help noticing is that the same person as you mentioned Jack aren’t enough produced both this and the Taylor Swift record did probably didn’t do it at the same time but they came out simultaneously so you know some kind of compare and contrast here it’s like kind of a taste test like what’s the Anthony off commonality between the records it’s interesting I more than you know Jack is enough has also produced a bunch of people that Lorde would be another sort of prominent female singer songwriter in his in his set of collaborations and sometimes I get a little wary of feeling like there’s a signature Jack edge enough sound which is kind of a a pulsing synth bass that propels things and then like some kind of already ornament around this thing. The interesting thing about this record to me is that it doesn’t have a lot of those signature Jack aren’t enough touches and it seemed like you really knew that this was a different kind of project. And what it what distinguishes the sound of this record from most of Lana Del Rey’s previous records to me is there’s a lot of just piano. Along with the sort of orchestral pop things that she usually does and the piano really grounds a lot of the record and and plays off of her voice and a more you know to use the obvious weird organic way then a lot of the things that people have tried on her previous records the sort of like guitar synth strings effect that’s usually been there and people sort of trying out various forms of like trap beats and all of that kind of thing. Did this this scares a little bit away from that and does go for a little bit more of that Laurel Canyon sound or or sort of 60s baroque pop sound as well as a sort of 90s like Tori Amos beyond Apple kind of thing. And it really it really just creates some room for her to have a little more nuance in what she’s doing and it makes the whole thing breathe better. So to me it’s an impressive Jack it’s enough record in the sense that if it feels like he doesn’t go into automatic pilot at all but that really has as met her one on one and thought about what the songs needed on that level.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S37: And there’s a couple of moments where she’s she kind of pushes back against that kind of sad girl image that she cultivated for the first well you where she like you know in the second track which is one of my favorites Mariner’s apartment complex. It starts with her saying you took my sadness out of context by the Mariners apartment complex and said something like I’m not a candle in the wind you know there is a lot there is an adjustment of that image I think happening on this record go.

S22: That’s my favorite track of the record what do we go out on that end. Thanks. Thanks for coming in to explicate as always. Thank you.

S38: Dana how long were you going for. It was just short of a month I think including the two travel days it was 27 days and where the fuck were you.

S39: Glad the sisters are listening to it OK.

S31: No I’m kidding I’m kidding I’m kidding.

S11: They probably won’t and they wouldn’t care. I was at St. Gertrude’s monastery in Cottonwood Idaho in northern Idaho it’s about four hours north of Boise.

S3: What led to this monastery and these sisters to create a writer’s retreat.

S11: You know it’s actually a pretty recent thing they’ve had this program of an artist residency for about five years and I think during a couple of those years they took the years off because they had other things going on so I think there’s maybe only been three years or so with a gap in between that they’ve been doing this model and they’re still trying to figure it out. So. So me and the other. There was only one other artist resident while I was there. There was one who left just as I was coming in. A painter who showed her work on her last night which is part of the residency you sort of show what you’ve been up to. I think most residents have that element. That was my first night so I saw this painter take off and then me and this one other writer you know continue to share the residency living space which is in part shared with the space that the sisters live in and in part not they have their private spaces but there were two of them on the floor that we shared the whole rest of the time we were there. Then on our last two nights we presented our work and I don’t think for the moment anyone’s replacing us because this monastery is a pretty busy place. We happened to be there in the quiet month of August which I think is part of why they did the residency in August but but they had you know a choir of college kids coming in that was like 70 guests that was going to come the night after I left and they have sort of a lot of people going in and out especially for such a remote place. I mean there even for rural Idaho very remote the town nearest to them Cottonwood which is about a mile or two away has a population of 900 so it’s a really really tiny town. And so really the monastery is one of the hubs of the town in fact the one hip coffee shop. I think the one coffee shop in Cottonwood is called the habit after the monastery and you know has a sort of monastery theme with a painting of a nun on the wall. And I think one of the main tourist sites of that area is this monastery which is this gorgeous building that’s been there since 1924 and get into the building in a minute.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S30: Well so it’s a it’s a wonderful double entendre right.

S11: Yeah the hobbit exactly not all habits are bad is the cafe’s tagline shout out to the to that place which gave me the best coffee I had in Idaho but that got way out there. Let me get back to why they decided to have this artist residency. I mean according to the sister who was sort of my contact I think of her as like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

S16: Sister Teresa who is the person who interviewed me in the first place before I ever came. Who picked me up at the airport who drove me back to the airport who was sort of my liaison you know between the monastery and the residency according to her. I mean it is among other things a way to just bring new voices into their community. You know I mean these are people who have lived with each other in many cases for decades and as she kind of dryly put it on our drive from the airport you know how how many times can we ask each other about the weather we know all each other’s stories you know. So I think they just are intellectually curious and like to have people around that are doing different things and in both cases my presentation which I’ll get into later in the presentation of the other writer that was staying at the same time was something that the sisters were and the priest who lives there too were really interested in it just it was very well attended. Lots of questions you know people came up to me the day afterwards and were still wanting to talk about Buster Keaton thing in my book and being a film critic and you know I think it’s just a way of bringing the world into this place that is not cut off from the world because as I said they have a lot going on and a lot of them also work out in the world as teachers nurses et cetera. But you know kind of giving a boost to their intellectual life.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S30: Let’s talk a little bit about why someone goes on a writer’s retreat.

S11: I mean for me I had been craving to go on one ever since I started doing this book and it made me think a lot about why I had wanted it. Once I got there on the retreat because of course of that you know cliched but very true saying you can’t get away from yourself right. And the fantasy that there is some other place where you’ll be able to work in this pure way and that’s not a pure fantasy. I did get a lot done while I was there but it wasn’t insanely more than I would have gotten done on in a very productive three and a half week period at home. The question is what makes you have a very productive period of time in your life right. I mean is it just. Was it the knowledge that I was there so I had better use that time appropriately.

S16: I don’t mean that whole mystery of what makes for a good creative day is not necessarily solved by being at a retreat but what the big fantasy was for me honestly had to do with escaping domestic duties and interruptions and having someone else make my food for me and decide what it was going to be that was an important part of a residency in fact when I was researching different ones that were available there some that work by more sort of a group house logic where you know a bunch of residents shop for and cook meals together and they all sit down and eat together and and I knew people who had done residencies like that and gotten a lot out of them. But that really wasn’t what I wanted and I could imagine myself since part of my problem not being able to get worked on at home is that I’m not great at drawing boundaries and you know if somebody needs me for something or you know a conversation is interesting or a meal is fun to cook and eat. So part of it for me is that I really did want those decisions of daily life just taken away and at first I had fantasized about a place like I. I believe that the big prestigious writing residencies like Yamato or the Malay colony or McDowell do this or at least sometimes do it as an option is that they make you your meal and bring it to you. So you have this little cabin and you know just this box lunch shows up on your doorstep at some point in the day. That kind of fantasy was very powerful for me that I wouldn’t have to make any decisions about food at the monastery it was different it was more you know buffet style cafeteria that you go to three set times during the day which you’re pretty narrow windows like you really have to get there or you’re going to miss the meal entirely. But that was good enough for me. It completely took care of all those questions. I didn’t have to think about them. My only domestic responsibility there is that they ask the residents to help with dishes after dinner as they call lunch in a very little house on the Prairie sort of Midwestern winter breakfast dinner and then supper and dinner as sort of the main meal of the day as it used to be an old farm families. So after dinner and supper Heather and I the other resident and I had to help with the dishes which was very fun. It was really the only social part of our day is that we would you know get these dishes out of an industrial washer and put them away in this huge industrial kitchen and sort of chat about how our writing was going but other than that I used to sit at my desk and work all day. I could if I wanted to go to any of the religious services they do they have morning prayer evening prayer and they have mass every day. I only went to mass twice because I’m not Catholic and it takes a long time and I just needed to use that time. But I did when I could try to go to either morning or evening prayer every day because when else are you gonna get to have that experience. I mean it’s a pretty extraordinary experience to pray in these kind of choir stalls and you know with these women who whose job essentially. I mean they all have jobs helping to run the monastery or doing things outside of it.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S27: But their real work is prayer you know and that to me whether or not you even believe in God is just such a beautiful concept. So here’s my question to you.

S12: You been writing this book you’ve been thinking about what kind of place you might want to go to dance. Research you’ve applied you’ve been accepted.

S40: You sit down and like is it not terrible not not to be in a beautiful monastery and in remote and beautiful part of Idaho but like just the sheer. Now I will do it all. Now I will do all the things I mean I feel like in my own not particularly prayerful not trying to write a book Life full of things I’m trying to accomplish. I both yearn for the like uninterrupted blank slate of time and also you never get as much done as you think you will. I mean I had my version of this was when my husband I were living across the country from one another and the children be with him for a week every so often. I would sometimes have an utterly solitary weekend alone in our apartment in New York and man those were great. I loved those but also man the notions I had at the beginning of those weekends of how much would be done by the end of those weekends was just like a heap you know 100 stones high. And then I would like move four of them to add to that to wherever they were supposed to go because of the sort of insanity of the ambition or the idea of how much you couldn’t accomplish if you were not bothered with mundane domestic tasks.

S4: You know that I love my family. Love you but.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S14: Like was it not terrifying dejected your did your progress and your ambitions find themselves at odds in ways that stressed you out.

S11: Yeah lots of days. I mean there was there was a day of despair. It was probably close to halfway in where I just counted all the words that I’d written while there and at that point especially they were just not that many words. I think at that point I had I still remember the number and it was painful it was five thousand five hundred and fifty eight or something. It was short of six thousand and. And that just seemed pitifully small because my plan had been all write a thousand words a day but you know I think I just I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not going to finish the manuscript.

S16: I think Steve made some allusion to that at the beginning that’s definitely a hardy har concept in the end. I think I wrote something like 25 pages which does come out to a page a day. And by that I mean book pages you know like having converted them into what they might actually be in a printed book someday not in the Word document that I’m typing in an a page a day is not terrible but yeah I mean there were some there were some real grappling with the fact that wherever you go there you are you know that there are still interruptions of all kinds that come up. You know I had podcasts that published and I think a review that published I had a correction to write. You know I still had Slate things that dogged me for the first week or so. It took me probably three or four days to really start writing anything at all because it was sort of you know I’ve got to figure out the space here this big labyrinth and building I live in and how do I find my way to the kitchen where should my office be. There were so many cozy nooks to choose from in that place. What the building actually reminded me of and you to relate to this I hope maybe some of our listeners might as well but was Mohawk Mountain House the big old Quaker retreat where where Slate used to have its its its yearly work retreats. I mean it wasn’t quite as luxurious though it’s not really even the word for mohawk but I mean it wasn’t quite as nice as Mohawk but it was it had that similar labyrinth and sort of factor where everywhere you looked there was some musty nook with a bookshelf and an old wing chair with a kind of crusty doily over the top.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S20: You know that kind of mom feeling like sepia toned print on the wall next to it. Can this be the crusty doily crested earlier this week because they’re Benedictine.

S11: They never get rid of anything so there were so many old objects in this place that were absolutely fascinating if you follow me on Instagram at the high sign and you can see me post some of these but they had an old book binding machine that looked like it was at least 100 years old possibly older that’s still in use for book binding by one of the sisters they had you know old iron stoves that looked like they were straight out of and pores cabin in Little House On The Prairie and and just saints and you know I love that kind of Catholic art just I love me a poly chrome painted Saint with some you know holding some sort of implement that signifies who the state was and those things were everywhere. So I was I was in heaven then.

S41: What do you mean by final presentation.

S16: I would have loved to been a fly on the wall for about one that was really unexpectedly to me was one of the really joyous moments. I’m that wasn’t something I was particularly looking forward to because I don’t love public speaking and especially because two nights before had been the presentation and the final presentation of my CO resident Heather King who part of what she does in her life besides write is speaking engagements and she’s a really really good at holding a room and she gave this talk about just her own history with her faith unlike me she is Catholic and with addiction and you know sort of how faith and recovery relate and it was so beautiful it had a roomful of nuns in tears plus me. So there was a high bar to me when I did my presentation so I just tried to do the opposite and what I chose to do was to to show a Buster Keaton short a 20 minute to realer called one week which we’ve talked about before Steve great 1920 classic one week where Buster and his new bride build a house together from a portable house kit.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S41: Oh yeah. Norman just one of the all time you know truly great cinematic classics.

S16: Absolutely yeah. And I had chosen that one because a lot of them as I discovered over the course of my month there didn’t know who Buster Keaton was or of some of them had a vague sense some of them knew exactly who he was some of the younger ones who were maybe more cosmopolitan. But you know there are some women at this monastery who have been there since pre Vatican two days when you know you could send your teenager to a monastery in fact there were two nuns there probably in their late 70s who were first cousins and you know their regular lives both from small towns near the monastery in Idaho who both entered the monastery when they were 13. All right. So that would have been during the time when no one was talking about silent film or Keaton or anything like that at all. They were just a little bit too young to have you know to have gone to those movies as kids and then proceeded to be in a place that was pretty cut off from popular culture. So when you know he started to be revived in the 50s 60s and silent films started to come back as something people talked about that would certainly not be anything that they were aware of. Right. So I knew that I had this big responsibility like this might be the one time in their life that you know some of these people are going to see a Buster Keaton movie so that really made me feel the weight of my you know my role as an ambassador for this great artist who I was a name I want to keep alive. Not that you know his name is in any danger of disappearing in most places but in this monastery it was right. So I chose one week because I knew it was just such a crowd pleaser that everyone would laugh at it and sure enough it was just such a pleasure. It took a while to figure out the tech because they hadn’t used this giant TV they had in a long time a TV by the way which one of the nuns won in a raffle. I loved that detail that was why they had a huge probably 70 inch TV or something. But once I got one week rolling it was just laughs and all the right places you know infectious giggles running through the room the priest in particular who was a pretty reserved guy and really not one of the more talkative or Olathe people there was just really cracking up at the movie which made me very happy. And as I said earlier lots of questions and comments about it afterwards and then a wonderful moment just to end the story is that the next day at lunch or dinner as they call it I happened to sit at a table with the priest and he immediately mentioned the movie and how much he enjoyed it and we talked about that for a while and then the subject changed and you know that everybody at the table had drifted to some different subject and suddenly out of the blue the priest just starts chuckling to himself.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S31: And I knew I just knew something from one week I said What are you laughing at. He said Oh and that train destroys that house at the end.

S16: He was remembering the final gag of the movie and it made me so happy just to think that it was 99 years since that movie came out right as a 1920 film and that there was a octogenarian priest who was just sitting there still laughing at the final gag.

S42: All right well Dana was on a retreat in a nunnery that was kind of amazing to hear about. Excellent. All right now is the moment we endorse. Dana what do you have.

S11: I’m going to endorse something related to our third segment and related to my stay at the monastery which is that the monastery of Saint Gertrude’s has a podcast. That’s how modern they are. They have a podcast which has only existed for about six months I think there aren’t that many episodes of it yet because I think it’s created in a somewhat spotty manner. But it is so worth listening to if you really want a sense of you know the place and the people at this very unusual you know just the kind of place that is disappearing from the world and then go to you can find it on iTunes or you can find it on St. Gertrude’s dot org which is their Web site. And yes some of them it’s all interviews with some with the sisters one with the priest who’s there you’re one male buddy Steve. If you you’re to get the residency herself you guys can pal around and also just some people who work around the monastery like this guy Frank. There’s a fascinating story of this guy who sort of showed up to volunteer and never went away and became a fixture at the monastery for a while although he was not there when I was there. But yeah the monastery of Saint Gertrude podcast that’s my endorsement for the week and also if you want some visuals to go along with it go to my Instagram because I’m going to be posting many of the hundreds of pictures I took while there everything was so beautiful the landscape the prairie the pines the building the art. So if you want to have some illustrations while you listen go to my Instagram at the high sign love it.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S14: Julia what do you have I would like to endorse a parlor game this week.

S33: No doubt many of our listeners are familiar with the game dictionary where you haul out the dusty old dictionary and pick arcane word and then everybody has to make up definitions and put them in a hat and then one person writes down the real definition of race guess.

S13: Fun game endorse that game.

S15: But my endorsement today is an evolution of that game that has caused me to laugh probably you know top five laughing fits of 20 19. Which is that you do essentially the same game but with fiction. You pick a novel this is very a good game to play.

S40: If you’re like at a house full of old nooks and crannies with old books that were not thrown away by Benedictine nuns or anybody else you find some kind of crusty old tome and you read the title author’s name and jacket copy and then everybody has to write the first sentence of the novel and you have to compare the real first sentence to the hypothetical first sentences. And I enjoyed a truly hysterical round of this with my book club my dear dearly departed or I am the dearly departed of my new york book club and we gathered in the spring and played it and really have not laughed so hard in so long.

S14: And so anyway if you’re looking for a parlor game twist maybe it’s tragic to endorse this at the end of summer when people no longer go to summer houses with great troves of old books and are back to it.

S4: But I think that there are probably some among our readership who would enjoy this game. Does it have a name. No I don’t know. I like nameless games. All my favorite games are nameless fictionally. I’m not sure.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: Yeah nameless for a sentence game or DA or da Oh God.

S43: Have you know that you have into following the Jonathan Bercow saga in England.

S40: I have not. Please tell me about it. I’m an entertainment journalist now. I’ve not been following anything.

S30: Well then you’re my ideal audience for this endorsement which is I beat like many people. You know the general outlines of Brexit are fairly clear to me. I understand that England is now on the United States model a complete shit show having elevated Boris Johnson this complete utter pulp to ruin to the prime ministership and are in the process of you know sort of tearing everything down in this nihilistic way that we’re doing now here now under trumpet that the specifics of it seem to me both important and yet arcane and somewhat hard to master quickly. I haven’t really done it by the way water order was broke out. Essentially the speaker of the House of Commons who’s been desperately trying to discipline his ranks as if they’re you know fractious toddlers which is effectively what they’ve become and he’s become a viral sensation anyway coincidental that is an essay in The New York Review of Books called fools rush out. One of the truly great headlines by Jonathan Freedland that so concisely and so elegantly explains Brexit where it’s at. Now what generated it. What the stakes are what the various permutations are. It is simple in fact let me quote that very sentence. Hold on there people the geometry of all of this is mind numbing. A series of irresistible forces colliding with immovable objects turning not on questions of trade and commerce but intractable matters of identity. The consequence is that no arrangement has yet been found that is except that is acceptable to unionists. Brexit is Dublin and Brussels. On and on and on. Anyway it’s really quite well done in its own sort of lucid and low pulse way. It’s really worth reading and we’ll bring you up to speed in ways you’ll be grateful for anyway. Dana welcome back. That was really really fun to have you back.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Oh I’m so happy to be back Julia. Thank you so much. Hi. Yay.

S43: Thanks by you’ll find links to some of the things we talked about today at our show page that Slate dot com slash culture fest. You can email us we say this every week. I really mean it we we cherish your emails you can email us at culture fest at Slate dot com.

S44: We have a Twitter feed it’s at Slate called fest interact with us there. Our producer producers Benjamin fresh our production assistant is Cleo eleven for Dana Stevens and Julie Turner. I’m Stephen Metcalf. Thank you so much for joining us. We will see you soon.

S45: Hello and welcome to the slot please segment of the Slate Culture Gabfest today. It is fantasy football season and so we nerds that we are playing fantasy residency make up. What. You would desire if you could be awarded any residency. For. Any purpose in any place to complete any project for any duration. What and where would you go and live. To answer is one.

S44: Somewhat more realistic than the other. The writer Joe Hagan who did the wonderful biography of John Winter tipped me off to this place called the Holy Cross monastery it’s where he went to finish the winter biography.

S41: It’s in someplace called West Park New York. I think it’s within an hour of where I live. If if that it’s it’s a Episcopalian monastery where you can go and for a pretty reasonable amount of money I think it’s sort of for shorter stays because you are you’re paying. I think on a nightly basis. But it’s exactly that Dana.

S3: You have this kind of monastic sense of solitude and silence. Your meals are made for you. Your take. They’re taken with the other. What are they supplicants. What is a what does a monk.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S20: Monks like begging for mendicant.

S11: No that’s Medicaid’s a mendicant is a beggar. Yeah.

S6: And it’s Yeah. But I said supplicant not again but supplicants are also begging right to supplicant someone.

S30: I don’t think so.

S6: Well we’ll look that one up anyway. Anyway words mean nothing a supplicant can be a fervently religious person who praise to God for help with a problem.

S41: Huh. Anyone who begs earnestly. All right. Well whatever. Anyway so um. But the other one is I’ve been fascinated forever by Norfolk Island. Does anyone know anything about Norfolk Island. No so let me get just an exact 20 on this place. All right. So as Wikipedia tells me Norfolk I mean I’ve known about Norfolk Island for a long time but geographically Wikipedia tells me it’s a tiny Australian island in the South Pacific.

S3: And it you know the way I’ve always understood it is you know you commit a certain Haixun in the 19th century a heinous crime in England and they send you to new New South Wales now known as Australia you commit a secondary crime in New South Wales they send you to then demons land down in Tasmania which is a place near and dear to my heart already. But you commit a pain as tertiary crime in Tasmania and they sent you to Norfolk Island. I mean it was truly one of the most remote and punitive parts of the British Empire in the 19th century which was its first claim to fame its subsequent claim to fame is that the this is where the Caine mutineers went and so there are to this day there is something like five or six really dominant surnames on the island all descended from the five or six cane mutineers who went there and stayed. And it’s just as remote and out there.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S41: And of course once you get your imagination projected into this incredibly remote island off of Australia then the most remote island in the world on earth is Tristan Darko couldn’t Kenya see you and H.A. which you can only get to you cannot get to by airplane.

S43: There’s some reason why airplanes can’t land there you can only get there by boat and the boat only goes there once a year I believe. Once it off the coast. It’s off the coast of nothing Dana. That’s the point it’s equidistant from everything.

S6: What is it. It’s not in an ocean data point.

S41: I’m reading now incredibly from a slate piece I didn’t even know that this was the case that slate had written about it in Atlas Obscura a piece that says located in the South Atlantic Ocean eight mile wide British Overseas Territory is the most remote populated island in the world. The nearest mainland city seventeen hundred plus miles to the east as Cape Town in South Africa. The journey there takes seven days by boat traveling by air is not an option. No airport on the island it’s just the two hundred and sixty nine people on the island. One settlement and the settlements name is Edinburgh. Of the seven seas and the idea of going there for one year. And in those 365 days getting absolutely no writing done is I don’t know I feel like I really now just in the canoe. I finally have an excuse to say this but it’s been my lifelong dream to go to the you know go to Norfolk Island. But failing that my other lifelong dream is to have our show downloaded by someone in on Norfolk Island. So if someone knows that’s not going to be I’m sure no one on Norfolk Island right now is listening to this show.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S43: But if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone get it to them have download it and email us and you will make my decade.

S40: That’s that’s extreme geographical remoteness. Well I before we make Dana seem like an ingrate requesting a second residency after having just completed one Iowa express that my residency desires I actually would follow my true fantasies are about time rather than location like there are so many places I would love to explore.

S33: I think about shabby Island and Maine and just the Maine coast as a place to be alone and windswept and chilly and frosty and surrounded by chittering crustacean sounds kind of amazing.

S14: Now that I’m exploring California which is just just decadent with beautiful vistas like around every corner you’re like What the hell. This is a state that it looks like this what like it’s just so stunningly beautiful here at every turn.

S33: I feel like you know any old corner with a window you could look out of might do yeah but my actual permanent residency fantasy has been science fiction based on the bad 80s or 90s kind of tween sitcom out of this world in which the star was a girl who is actually an alien with an alien dad who had a magical ability to stop time if she put her fingers together and then she could do whatever she wanted while everyone else was frozen and like in my recollection like literally kind of like hovering with a slight wobble pretending to be friends in the production of the show and then she could know she used it to get up to teen high jinks.

S4: But I have always wanted like what my true residency fantasy just like stop time for as long as it takes me to like do all the things that I have in my mind that I want to do at a methodical pace where I in solitude wake up every morning do yoga take a long swim have a nice breakfast then do a bunch of stuff go to bed I would like to do that for like a month while the world pauses.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S31: Would it be creepy that there would be statue people standing around everywhere in frozen positions while you went about your day might choose to do it when like my family was like out on an adventure so that there weren’t just like the frozen bodies of my children around and like getting in the way while I vacuumed or change the filters on my air purifiers which is like among the things I would contemplate doing in this month.

S4: It’s just like the task clutter like the amount of things that I would like to have achieved that are mundane that are just like piled up in drifts in the corners of my mind that the truest luxury of all would be to just obliterate all of them in some kind of like free pass in terms of time and then like recommence life with with a fresh start and a clean to do list that is a pathetic but honest account of my dream presidency. Dana what is your dream residency science fiction or otherwise.

S11: I mean it’s honestly before I did this monastery it would have been something like this. And if I realistically do one again I would probably look into another you know monastic type experience because there’s just something about that way of life which is extremely ordered. It’s very different from my ordinary life which is not silent or ordered in any way so I’m drawn to that kind of thing. But just talk about something different. So I’m not just kind of recapitulate in the same conditions. I think it would be really really cool to write to work on a big project while on a cruise around the world but it would have to be a certain kind of cruise because I am not at all into this sort of like Love Boat idea of a cruise like all of the things that a you know luxury type cruise offers would be things that would not appeal to me. I

S31: think if there was some sort of special very Spartan writerly kind of cruise that had monastic elements to it where it wasn’t sort of like you know you can eat anything you want all day it all these different buffets and like a Sonny and Cher you know cover actors playing in the lounge every night if it was more sort of like quiet comings and goings with classical quartets playing and lots of libraries and nooks and bookshelves you know if there was like a book about you be I would take a crash on the boat that Mohawk were a boat ride Mohawk around the world Yeah like put it on some cork floaters and just launch it out to sea.

S11: I know that there used to be Dana I don’t think you’re going to find the Spartan writerly cruise line out there although I think Viking cruise lines are sort of you know they are a little bit more spartan in their style. I’ve never been on one but more so than like a carnival cruise or something like that. But no obviously there’s not a purely bookish boat.

S21: Here’s this here’s the suggestion is I. I. There was a ferry of some kind. Like a very large boat don’t picture like a little ferry on Lake Champlain or something but a substantial boat that went from Aberdeen to the Shetland to the work news to the Faroe Islands to Iceland I believe. And you were allowed to sort of semi stow away officially stow away with the captain. I think there was like a captain’s quarter maybe it was a maybe it was even more of a commercial ship or whatever but I think that there are these odd arrangements you can strike with like commercial freight you know freighters or or like these large ferries that go you know kind of through large amounts of open ocean over several days where it’s not at all a hospitality based arrangement but you sort of eat what the captain eats. Maybe even in the like Captain Captain’s Quarters or something and then you know you have a bunk somewhere and it’s it always sounded to me I mean I haven’t researched this in a long time but it always sounded to me decently private and relaxing and weird and completely off the beaten track.

S11: But that sounds so appealing as long as there was space to write. You know I would need I would still need my own little closed off you know in my fantasy boat. There would be some sort of office like space preferably looking out on the ocean. You know I wouldn’t I wouldn’t be able to do it in my bunk with you know salty seafarers all around me e..

S43: I don’t think that you’re in a common you know bunk area. I think you get hundreds.

S11: Yes I’m Yeah. I love that also those areas going to the Hebrides and the Scottish islands and everything seems very writerly somehow all misty and be fucking amazing and we like way way deep deep north.

S12: Seems like it could be plausibly good. All right.

S4: Well now that we have invented timely and earthly delights the likes of which are unlikely to befall us. It is time to bring the Slate Plus segment to a close. Thank you very much Slate Plus listeners for supporting slate and listening to our show. We’ll be with you next week.