Luc Sante blogs
December 8, 2007 12:18 AM   Subscribe

Luc Sante has started a blog (according to Sasha Frere-Jones). Two entries so far, the first on a book cover from the 60's and the second on a picture of a rockabilly band. From the 2nd blog post: And that is why we come here once a year to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown rockabilly band: to persuade them to rest, and lay off the young. But just have a look at them--they were never meant to be! They should never have tried occupying the same stage, and they should have left music to find its own way home. The piano player, with his incipient Mickey Mouse ears, was clearly destined for a career working with puppets. The twins on guitar and bass were natural-born casino greeters. The other guitarist has the fine tapered hands of a pest-control agent specializing in silverfish. And the drummer--he was meant as an example. What happened to him should have been shown to driver-safety classes in every high school in the country.

Whether it's for real or not the blog's certainly worth keeping tabs on. If you don't know who Luc Sante is, here are

The Believer
Village Voice
WFMU [RealAudio]

French Without Tears (on retaining his native French while growing up in the US)
The Hidden Master of the Human Comedy (on Félix Fénéon, whose Nouvelles en trois lignes Sante translated)
My Lost City (on the New York of his youth)
Plastics (on serving his time in the working class)
Downtown Diary
The Sea-Green Incorruptible (on Guiliani and jaywalking)
On Mediocrity's Cutting Edge (on New Jersey)
"...a woman in a large hat" (on the miracle and terror of photography)

Luc Sante previously on MetaFilter

& finally, the MySpace page of a band that Luc Sante has written lyrics for, The Del-Byzanteens.
posted by Kattullus (17 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't know this but The Del-Byzanteens are the old band of Jim Jarmusch.
posted by Kattullus at 12:57 AM on December 8, 2007

From one of the interviews, Sante talks about the New York City of the past:

"So you had to deal with junkies now and then—I would far rather deal with junkies than with lawyers or developers."

I like this guy already.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:06 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Luc Sante is one of my faves, and not just because he dropped by LH to say "my last name is pronounced SAHNT—it's not French but Walloon, originally Zande, the Walloon for 'Alexander.'" Thanks for the post; I've bookmarked Pinakothek and will follow it faithfully until I give up because he hasn't posted for months, the scurvy cur.
posted by languagehat at 6:01 AM on December 8, 2007

Thanks for posting this! I read Low Life a couple years ago, and loved it. I've actually been thinking about Sante recently, so it's kind of a coincidence that I'd see this.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:54 AM on December 8, 2007

Also lovin' me some Luc Sante. I think of him as belonging to a tradition of writers/critics that includes Nik Cohn, Nick Tosches, Nick Pillegi, etc. All writers of about my age, who share and have shaped my obsessions, and all of whom have made me believe that it might possible that New York is almost as cool as Liverpool.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:39 AM on December 8, 2007

Fantastic post, kattullus. Sante's Low Life: The Lures and Snares of Old New York, the writing of which he discusses here (both behind the "previously" link above), is one of my own favorite books of historical non-fiction. It's impossible to look at New York City in the same way again after reading it -- it's as if Sante adds another dimension to one's experience of walking around the city.
posted by digaman at 9:03 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sante's prose is often exquisitely dry while hinting at outrageous excesses -- just the paradoxical tonic for the American malaise. From a review of a Robert Greenfield's biography of Timothy Leary:

"t has been a mere 10 years since Timothy Leary's death, but already his career seems improbable. A onetime psychologist who advocated the use of psychedelic drugs for personal growth, Leary loomed large in the 1960s as something of a cross between a pop star and a religious leader. Both those roles involve performance, but Leary, although blessed with considerable charm, was not a terribly effective performer. He didn't sing or dance; he was a vague speaker and a hopeless writer; his personality, up close, did not inspire confidence. And although he was among the major protuberances in the cultural bouillabaisse we call The Sixties, he was not much of a '60s type himself, as Robert Greenfield demonstrates in his thorough and judicious biography. While he may have been the leading spokesmodel for LSD, Leary remained to the end an old-fashioned booze hound, as well as a snake-oil peddler of the most traditional American sort. Had he been born a decade or two earlier, he would probably have been offering to cure arthritis through the application of the electric belt."
posted by digaman at 9:23 AM on December 8, 2007

Sante's somewhat new book of essays, Kill All Your Darlings, is also pretty great, from a history of New Year's Eve to the etymology of the word "funk," and lots of anecdotes that make me miss the NYC that was already disappearing when I moved there in '95.
posted by lisa g at 10:42 AM on December 8, 2007

There's now a third post up at Pinakothek.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 1:32 PM on December 8, 2007

I liked his recollections of Asterix and Tintin in the 'French without tears' piece.
posted by jouke at 2:09 PM on December 8, 2007

Luc Sante previously on MetaFilter...

See also 'I Is Someone Else,' where the link once led to the entire essay and review. A very elegantly written entire essay and review, at that.
posted by y2karl at 6:43 PM on December 8, 2007

Sante's Evidence, the collection of rediscovered 1914-1918 crime-scene photographs that he issued as a companion to Low Life is absolutely amazing -- and out of print.
posted by Kinbote at 7:45 PM on December 8, 2007

if it's really his blog, it's even weaker than his usual writing (that spectacularly banal Walker Evans essay of his is a special un-fave -- one is not surprised to learn that it landed him a schoolteacher job, a nice case of the blind teaching the deaf how to see). Sante is the perfect ambassador for NYRB empty smarminess -- middlebrow, petit bourgeois, finger-in-the-wind criticism that, in comparison, makes even Michiko Kakutani seem insightful.

he's just an Adam Gopnik with a real -- as opposed to only wished-for -- European background. his career is a clear example of that peculiar American phenomenon, the usually senseless inferiority complex towards European culture. just like so many if not most Americans would consider even the most ignorant Brit with a posh accent to be better read than they are simply on the basis of his or her "charming" accent, Sante is one of those euroscammers who managed to convince American editors that they, really, really have something to say. when, in fact, in pure Anthony Lane fashion, he's the critic for those who have no use for critics.

but then, since he once commented -- unsurprisingly, about himself -- in a Mefite's blog, I guess we all have to cheerlead his little useless blog as if it were actually interesting.

(to the SAHNT fanboys: please appreciate my restraint in not pointing out that the abovementioned, horrible Sasha Frere Jones is little more than a, ahem, SAHNT cubed -- they should join the Minister Of Funny Bylines, bylines that are quite obviously the only funny things they've ever commited to paper or to the computer's screen)
posted by matteo at 9:52 AM on December 9, 2007

I guess we all have to cheerlead his little useless blog as if it were actually interesting.

Why no, no we don't. We can choose to trash it as if our own parochial standards were valid for all humanity and all time. "I don't like Sante, therefore he's a stronzo and you are all fools!" Glad you took the time out from your busy schedule to favor us with your deep insight.
posted by languagehat at 11:20 AM on December 9, 2007

Jesus, matteo, who pissed on your chips?

I just finished reading Low Life, a book which Adam Gopnik, smug hack that he is, couldn't have written in a million years, given an endless supply of both monkeys and typewriters.
posted by Len at 2:37 PM on December 9, 2007

Extra points to languagehat for using the word stronzo, which is a most wonderful word indeed. Escremento solido di forma cilindrica!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:43 PM on December 9, 2007

Glad you took the time out from your busy schedule

Glad you took the time out from your busy schedule to grade my comment, professore dei miei coglioni
posted by matteo at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2007

« Older The Zen Mind   |   Wally Deane: rockin' 'n' rollin' 'n' coppin' a... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments