Saturday, December 15, 2007

eggers, kimmelman

Dave Eggers and Michael Kimmelman were good. Eggers is self-taught in everything he does--drawing, writing, publishing, etc. He was very refreshing. He talked about working for Esquire, which has 1.2 million readers, compared to McSweeney's, which he founded so he and his friends could publish what they wanted. He said he couldn't have done what he has without the internet, but he has some "Luddite" tendencies (my word). He likes publishing tangible, limited edition books which are art objects themselves.

Three young men from the Lost Boys community in Cleveland were there, and eventually Eggers spoke about Sudan, stressing that the Darfur nightmare and the plight of the Lost Boys (and girls and their families and villages) are connected: the same regime in Khartoum has perpetrated years of horror.

Eggers and his McSweeney crowd have developed these tutoring centers for kids. The founding one in San Francisco is simply called 826 Valencia. There are now similar places in six other cities. One audience member asked if we could get one in Cleveland. There was a visible stirring among folks in the crowd. (Humorous fact: the landlord of 826 Valencia wouldn't let them just have a nonprofit tutoring center; they had to sell something too. So the front of the place is a "pirate supply store," complete with fake parrots, eye patches for special occasions, etc.)

I'd love to hear Michael Kimmelman speak alone, and speak frankly, about the art world.

(Sorry, this is a long post.)


michael salinger said...

I saw Eggers speak at NCTE a couple years back when the space in san fran was just getting up and going. I found him approachable, witty, and sincere – I ended up at his lunch table (I always end up in places I have no business being.) He has reached that modicum of success where the powers that be of academia and pedagogy enjoy having him around to poke sticks at the establishment (themselves.) Others who enjoy this status would be folks like, Jimmy Baca, Ann Patchet, Jane Yolen and Sherman Alexie. These writers come into these conferences and talks the same way a consultant comes into a manufacturing plant – they present wonderful ideas – point the finger at management – collect their checks and then are ignored once they leave the site. I’d be more than surprised if anything comes to fruition in Cleveburg post Eggers exit. Most folks who would care to implement the ideals behind 826 Valencia simply just don’t carry the cache to get the well heeled and/or tenured to bestow recognition upon them. The fact that Eggers has enjoyed success coming at the beast from the outside makes his accomplishments all the more impressive.

Oh yeah, I miswrote about the books we gave to our kids. We actually gave a memoir titled - "A Long Way Gone - Memoir of a Boy Soldier" by Ishmael Beah. The similar subject matter muddled my befuddlement a bit.

(long response to a long post)

Amy said...

You're right Mike. We don't really have an Eggers here, and there are (less hip) versions of tutoring through various agencies, etc. What a great way to describe these "outsider" who seem like "insiders" to some of us...

Anonymous said...

Since when has an art critic spoken honestly in public about the art world?