Robbins a-Go-Go!
September 12, 2003 4:39 PM   Subscribe

"In the haunted house of life, art is the only stair that doesn't creak."
posted by moonbird (15 comments total)
"Those who shun the whimsy of things will experience rigor mortis before death."
- from Still Life with Woodpecker

thanks for the memories moonbird! :)
posted by poopy at 5:00 PM on September 12, 2003

posted by raaka at 6:48 PM on September 12, 2003

Funny... I was just wondering what happened to that crazy jitterbugging woodpecker fucking cowgirl... then somebody gave me a copy of Terra Incognito, and now this post.

Far out.
posted by cedar at 8:40 PM on September 12, 2003

A local writer expressed a sentiment not uncommon here with this letter to the Seattle Weekly:

Tom, you complain that your harshest critics, incapable of understanding your work, "unfamiliar with . . . Asian systems of liberation . . . and Greek mythology" (my own two minors in college) tend to hail from near home. All I see around here is the kind of hype that got you on the cover of last week's Weekly [5/4]. If that criticism exists (and I'm about to give you some), it is not out of resentment of your hollow success, but because cheap transcendence, generational chauvinism, and flashy, just plain bad and empty writing are the hallmarks of your unenviable accomplishment. Most shocking in your three-year old Bumbershoot acceptance speech (why are we reading this again?) was your glib attempt to front an "anticorporate" ethic while at the same time serving as an apologist for our princes regent Gates and Allen, and their court jester, Dale Chihuly. Well, you make Dale Chihuly look like Leonardo da Vinci.

If you think this is just another hippie-bashing from a 'Gen X-er,' let me note that we have had the shining example of elders W.S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, and Patti Smith here this year, showing us how to maintain passion and relevance in the face of age and laurels. Your work is just another brick in the wall of complacency that surrounds many folks of your generation (and mine) who think they are part of a counterculture when they are really just sitting around reading their own auras as the commercials get louder and the forest is paved. This is not to say that art needs to be political; the best stuff usually isn't. Just stop being such a pothead! As Camper Van Beethoven once said, "Take off that jumpsuit, you look like Grace Slick." Nevertheless, I wish you well.

Grant Cogswell

posted by y2karl at 10:20 PM on September 12, 2003

Tom Robbins has a special place in my heart; his wonderful prose, his amazing ideas, his zest for life are all apparent in his books, and reading them, I always feel better.

I came across Fuck Yes!, by Fing F. Wing a few years ago, and I am of the belief that this is a Tom Robbins book - his style and attitude are all over it.

On preview, I don't disagree with what y2karl just posted. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed Jitterbug Perfume, Still Life with Woodpecker, and so on. I did not enjoy his more current work, such as "Fierce Invalids..." and "Skinny Legs..."
posted by ashbury at 10:33 PM on September 12, 2003

I'm not criticizing his books but if you lived here as long as I have and read as many of his pieces in the Weekly, you might be sick of him. No one has a higher opinion of Tom Robbins than Tom Robbins. That my critics are unfamiliar with Asian systems of liberation and Greek mythology crapola is so true to self-congratulatory form.
posted by y2karl at 12:11 AM on September 13, 2003

huh? life is a haunted house? and the stairs creak? can someone explain that to me? i'm not sure i agree with it. maybe tom robbin's head is a haunted house with creaky stairs.
posted by mokey at 12:20 AM on September 13, 2003

I've found that many of Robbins' protagonists are more than arrogant, with perhaps dubious attitudes towards women (altho I'm not really sure about this last, since women are often portrayed as being strong, willful and spiritual), not to mention being very similar to each other from book to book. I've felt for years that these protagonists were projections of what Robbins sees in himself, so it comes as no surprise to me that he may be a ego-driven windbag who thinks he has the key to liberating humanity.
posted by ashbury at 5:09 AM on September 13, 2003

he may be a ego-driven windbag

Quite possibly true, and if I were reading his column every week I probably would be 'over it.' His recent books do have much less flair than, say, Skinny Legs and All or Jitterbug Perfume. But (you knew it was coming) Tom stirs up a goofy kind of magic for many a soul and his writing has opened a few world-weary eyes in his day.

This FPP was meant as a little tribute to a lyrical, quirky, at times sleazy author; hardly an idol, and when he's at his best a damn good read.
posted by moonbird at 7:15 AM on September 13, 2003

Tom stirs up a goofy kind of magic for many a soul and his writing has opened a few world-weary eyes in his day.

This is true.

He doesn't have a weekly column--just the occasional biennial essay. And that's a good thing.
posted by y2karl at 7:51 AM on September 13, 2003

I remember Tom from the taverns of La Conner WA in the 60's and consider "Another Roadside Attraction" the seminal book on the 60"s. I recently saw him again and he is as funny and perceptive as ever. Long live Tom and his spirit of irreverence!
posted by idixon at 8:35 AM on September 13, 2003

the amazing 1970s director hal ashby was slated to direct a film version of another roadside attraction. sadly, this was curtailed by his untimely death.

i want to like tom robbins, but i find i trip over the verbiage.
posted by pxe2000 at 9:15 AM on September 13, 2003

i find i trip over the verbiage

posted by Eamon at 10:30 AM on September 13, 2003

A girlfriend once gave me "Even cowgirls.." as a sort of parting gift. I think we broke up cause i hated the movie so much, so maybe that was her idea of a joke.

after about a year, i decided to read the book and ended up loving it! i've since read it about 3 times. Unfortunately I had lost touch with my friend by then so I never could thank her.
posted by carfilhiot at 3:26 PM on September 13, 2003

Crap. When the hell am I going to be able to read all those links?? Thanks.

(Still Life with Woodpecker was a transforming read when I was 18 or so.)
posted by callmejay at 11:37 AM on September 15, 2003

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