slumberland-paul beatty

“i’ve lost a lot of sleep to dreams…”

“Not much of a musician, he plays with a shameless naivete reminiscent of Halle Berry trying to act. Just as the starlet’s insufferable overacting is about to drive you insane, she flashes a perfectly parabolic expanse of flesh and all is forgiven; and when you listen to Yong Sook play he’ll miss ten thousand notes, but the one he hits is crazy beautiful.” (197)

“The existentialists say the flap of a butterfly’s wings in the jungles of Mauritania can cause a hurricane in the plains of Kansas, but a high C from Wynton Marsalis’s trumpet doesn’t even change your mood, much less your mind. And I don’t know whether or not Marsalis’s music is an allegory for race, American democracy, or black fascism, but I do know the Schwa’s music is anarchy. It’s Somalia. It’s the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s Albert Einstein’s hair.” (97)

“I’ve never seen the Mona Lisa, and from what I hear it’s overrated. But what isn’t? Da Vinci got lucky. Every genius does, especially the prolific ones. I feel the same way about Leonardo as I do about Tupac and Edgar Allan Poe. Two composers whose baggy-eyed, drug-induced prolificacy, in much the same way the millionth monkey on the millionth typewriter types Shakespeare, resulted in a few random pieces of brilliance among reams of rhyming, repetitious, woe-is-me claptrap.” (24)

“Whenever I hear about a method of time travel that involves wormholes, flux capacitors, or cosmic strings and no music I’m not impressed. If there is such a thing as a vehicle for time travel it’s music: Ask any brokenhearted Luther Vandross fan.” (224)

and, shots fired. i remember the first time i laid eyes on the white boy shuffle on tali‘s bookshelf. although it’s been a minute, i’m glad to see that mister is still writing, and i read a couple all at once, and he’s every bit as amazing as the first time. i feel like he’s the kind of guy that would fit right in at our chicken and donut eating, rachel dolezal roasting bbq. because we are all going to hell, but it’s going to be a pool party with cops circling to sit on our necks. but at least my occasional alopecia won’t be a problem because it will be a pool party in hell.

on germany:

“‘I consider myself to be a political-linguistic refugee, come to Germany seeking asylum…Listening to America these days is like listening to the fallen King Lear using his royal gibberish to turn field mice and shadows into real enemies. America is always composing empty phrases like ‘keeping it real’, ‘intelligent design’, ‘hip-hop generation’ and ‘first responders’ as a way to disguise the emptiness and the mundanity.” (13)

“I suppose being East German was a lot like being black-the constant sloganeering, the protest songs, no electricity or long-distance telephone service-so I gave the East German Negro a hearty soul shake and a black power salute and wished him luck with the minimum-security emancipation he’d no doubt serve in the new German republic.” (118)

“One day I’m going to call those folks at the Berlitz School of Language, tell them I want money back, that there is no such thing as conversational German, only argumentative German.” (126)

maybe that’s why i’ve let it slip to the wayside on duolingo….

“‘Ikea’s instructions for furniture assembly are the closest thing we earthlings have developed that approaches a universal language….” (194)

sorry, esperanto.

“Strangely, the whole affair reminded me of being on a porn set, and I couldn’t shake the idea that porn stars and black Germans are a lot alike. Two neglected and attention-starved communities of people who, despite their public nakedness, remain ‘invisible’ to a society that pretends not to see them.” (179)

“None of the Germanic tribes had a sun god. Pagan as philosophy professors, the Visigoths, the Franks, and theVandals knew better than to believe in something they couldn’t see.” (9)

and, just wow:

“Heroes. Idols. They’re never who you think they are. Shorter. Nastier. Smellier. And when you finally meet them, there’s something that makes you want to choke the shit out of them.” (151)

“Like Miles Davis in concert, for the most part the penguins stood stock-still, their backs to the audience.” (56)

i’ll never forget mos def’s 92nd street y talk where he discusses the politics of performing on cue-how people always come up to him and say, “rap, you good!” and i was reminded of this wackness at the first new q taping where the same thing basically happened to shad-dear people-please stop this.

“Now I know why Harriet Tubman faked those blackout epileptic seizures: It was the only way she could get those damn abolitionists to stop patronizing her.” (52)

“Fatima didn’t have hobbies or interests. All she had were pronounced bouts of depression and her sister’s broad shoulders to lean on.” (142)

“I’ve tried consuming alchohol through the rectum. It’s the insomniac’s equivalent of a hype’s mainlining junk. The porousness of the rectal walls and their proximity to the digestive system make the onset of insobriety instantaneous and deeply spiritual. The flash flood of drunkenness must be what it’s like to be born with fetal alcohol syndrome.” (210)

“I have a tendancy to remember the names but forget the faces, and I wished that I’d been born with a photographic memory and not a phonographic one.” (150)

“It’s the touch of sound. Sound is touch and nothing touches you like good, really good, music. It’s like being masturbated by the hand of God.” (230)


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