My New Favorite Book

I recently ordered a book on Amazon. (To be honest, I’m constantly ordering books on Amazon, but this story is about one book in particular.)

You see, every once in a while, I’ll find a used hardcover being sold at a lower price than the paperback, and as much as I love Amazon Prime, I’m always willing to wait a few extra days for a deal on an old-school hardcover edition.

Naturally, I forgot about it, so it was a happy surprise when it arrived a little over a week later in one of those “we’re not Amazon, but we’ll still get it to you” padded yellow envelopes.

As as I ripped it open, I was smacked in the face with the thick stink of old smoke. It was slightly sweet, most certainly tobacco, but different from the stale funk of dead cigarettes.

In those first few moments, the fumes were so strong that I could barely turn the pages without it making my eyes burn. Still, I didn’t mind. Something about it was oddly comforting. I could easily imagine some old smoker’s study where this book sat quietly on a shelf being slowly infused for decades.

The bookseller had claimed the condition of the book to be “Like New,” and I suppose technically it was. Aside from the smell, the only indication that the book had ever been opened was an embossed seal on the title page that read “From the library of” followed by the previous owner’s name, middle initial included.

Of course, when I saw the seal, I immediately had to know more. The book had shipped from Michigan, and with the man’s full name, it was less than a minute before I was staring at his obituary from a small local newspaper.

He had died over the holidays in his sleep, peacefully, as they say, at an age when the loss is felt by friends and family, but it’s not quite a tragedy. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, and enough grandchildren for me to know that he had lived a full if not happy life.

The obituary had a link to a remembrance guestbook, and naturally I clicked through. There amidst all the condolences and digital memorabilia was an old photograph of the man, not quite posed, but certainly aware of the camera, and I could see through my computer screen into his home, into his life, and into his eyes.

He had a kind face, but it was clear he was a little uncomfortable being photographed. Either that, or whoever took the picture made him hold his smile a second too long. He seemed equal parts blue collar working man and college professor, but then again, maybe that’s just the way people dressed in a small town with cold weather in what looked to be the late 1980s.

He was wearing a zippered cardigan sweater, thick knit and hideous, the kind that would make a vintage store hipster go weak in the knees. His shirt underneath was unremarkable except for the fact that the collar was pinched closed with a chunky bolo tie. He wore big ugly wire frame glasses, unforgivable even by 80’s standards, and his slacks must have been some kind of corduroy. The man had zero style, but he definitely had a look.

It didn’t take me an extra second to notice that in his hand he was cupping a classic wooden pipe. I wasn’t expecting it, but it hit me hard. When I saw the pipe in that photograph, I suddenly became very emotional. My eyes were already glassy from the fumes wafting off the book, so it was easy to let go with some genuine tears.

For a brief moment, I sat there crying. I was holding this beautiful, stinking old book that had very recently belonged to this man, flipping though its pages, my senses overwhelmed with this powerful remnant of his presence. It was like being visited by someone’s ghost, and I wept for a complete stranger who had smoked a pipe and died in his sleep and had by random chance bequeathed me this possession from his personal library.

Over the next few days, every time I picked up the book to read it, I was reminded of him. Then gradually, the smell of pipe smoke began to fade. By the time I finished reading it, the tobacco had mellowed into a top note of that pleasant but generic old book smell.

I finished it last week, and the book has taken up residence on my bedroom shelf. No doubt that’s where it will stay, slowly absorbing a whole new host of chemicals and perfumes.

Today for some reason, I wanted to be reminded of that old man and his pipe. I had to crack open the book’s spine, put my nose directly into the pages, and inhale deeply like some titillated bibliophile.

The smell of tobacco was still there, but barely noticeable. I was lucky to catch the slightest trace. It won’t be much longer until that scent is gone forever.

It’s my book now, almost completely.

Our legal system is not a justice system.

 

“America is just 5% of the globe’s population, but we have 25% of the world’s imprisoned people, and I tell you, that is not because Americans have a greater proclivity for criminality, it is because our legal system is not a justice system.”

— Thank you, Senator Booker. I’ve been saying this all along.*

 

* As it turns out, I may have inadvertently been the source for this entire theme. A reader reached out on twitter to let me know they’d used my line on Senator Booker’s Facebook Wall about calling it the legal system instead of the justice system, to which the Senator replied, “Profound.” A week later, he delivered this speech. Profound, indeed.

LA not L.A.

lanotla

 

It’s wrong how much this turns me on.

Like, I wanna get fucked from behind against one of these machines in the back hallway of some shitty dive bar, and then right afterwards, yank one of those levers, tear open the pack with my teeth, and let him light my cigarette as I pull my underwear back on.

Hot damn, I gotta get back to New Orleans.


(Photo by the brilliant Clayton Cubbitt)

 

 

Pulp Fiction Sequel

butch

 

I’m in the mood to write a present-day sequel to Pulp Fiction centered around Butch and Fabienne’s nineteen year old daughter.

Her name would be Emmanuelle, and the main story would revolve around her cross-country revenge quest to retrieve her father’s gold watch after it is stolen off his arm the day he’s murdered during a robbery at his Big Kahuna franchise in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Jules, still on his righteous path to “walk the earth,” becomes Emmanuelle’s unlikely mentor as she learns about her father’s shady past, and her journey of self-discovery turns into a bloody rampage through the streets of Los Angeles when she figures out how Butch’s murder is linked to Marcellus Wallace’s crumbling criminal empire.

She eventually finds the watch (a potent symbol of the American Dream, each generation sacrificing to pass it on as a birthright.) Of course, she finds it damaged beyond repair and realizes that it’s just a useless hunk of metal she never even wanted in the first place.

It all works out in the end when Mia Wallace, now a powerful TV executive, offers Emmanuelle a role in the remake of Fox Force Five.

 

Cloud Atlas

 

Oh, this movie. This beautiful, beautiful movie. It’s a shame that the word “breathtaking” has been so fucked out by hack movie critics, because it actually applies to Cloud Atlas. Sure, it was three hours long, and I probably shouldn’t have seen it for the first time stoned out of my gourd, but damn — this movie rocked my fucking world.

Structurally, Cloud Atlas is a challenge. There is no way to absorb everything in one viewing. The film’s layers aren’t just stacked on top of one another — they extend outward and through time in an exploding fractal of visual, textual, and cultural motifs. It’s fun when you catch one of the echoing references, but don’t get greedy and try to catch them all. You will only frustrate yourself. Just sit back, let it flow over you, and trust that more will be revealed when you see it again.

It’s not all work, though. Emotionally, Cloud Atlas is as easy as it gets. The narrative may be complicated, but it is still very traditional. People who compare this film to Malick’s Tree of Life are off the mark. Both films are deeply philosophical, but the Wachowskis aren’t writing a poem. They’re telling a story, and they’re damn good at telling stories. You may not know what to think at any given moment, but you’ll know exactly how to feel in every scene.

Intellectually, Cloud Atlas is a fucking masterpiece. Anyone who says otherwise is either incapable or unwilling to deconstruct a film with so many moving parts, the sum of which aren’t meant to be as great as the whole. If you didn’t enjoy it, that’s fine. If you didn’t connect with it, that’s fine too. You don’t have to love it, but you sure as hell have to respect it. It reaches further and achieves more than the very best films from any of the genres it encompasses.

If you haven’t already, go see it. If you have, by all means, go see it again.

 

My Book

bookcover

“Notes To My Future Husband” hits the shelves this week!

I have to admit, I woke up this morning pretty fuckin’ excited about it. I might even be a little freaked out, but hey, that’s a good thing.

I know I’m supposed to tell you to go buy a copy, and yeah, that’s awesome if you do, but if you really wanna help me out, I’d like to send you on a larger mission that might turn out to be a lot of fun.

I want you to go to all of your local bookstores this week. Every last one of them. It doesn’t just have to be Barnes and Noble. It can be Urban Outfitters or motherfucking Walmart. (I ain’t gonna judge where you score your reading material.) Just get out there and look for copies of my book.

If a store doesn’t have any copies in stock, find a manager and tell them to order a case of that shit pronto. Put in a formal request. Pester them until they promise to put it on their shelves.

If they do have copies in stock, do me the massive favor of arranging them on the shelf so that the cover faces outward. (It sounds ridiculous, but that shit makes a huge difference.) If you’re feeling feisty, feel free to take a fresh stack and feature them on the most prominent table in the store.

Be sure and snap a picture of your bookstore handiwork, email it to me at coquettepublic@gmail.com, and I promise I will find a way to thank you.

Debut Handbag Collection

 

Check it out, bitches. My debut handbag collection has officially dropped, along with a super sparkly new website!

Yes, I know they’re expensive. They’re supposed to be. These gorgeous fuckers are made to order in Los Angeles out of thick, supple Italian leather. They are the real deal, and worth every nickel.

The collection is coming soon to high-end boutiques worldwide, but if you want to buy one now, you can place a special order at my online shop.

 

Advane Copy

advancecopy

 

molls:

Proud to have been a part of this blog, thrilled for my guuuurl CokeTalk that it’s a book! (Taken with Instagram)

Holy shit. That’s hilarious, Molls. I haven’t even gotten my hands on an advance copy yet. This is the first time I’m seeing one!

 

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