Look, you’re reading this right now, so unless you’ve arrived here by complete mistake (or circumstances of coercion that quite likely could never happen) you’re probably a lot more used to reading blog posts than I am.
Yes, I’ve read blogs before (and “substacks”, even, which are like blogs but they come directly into your email inbox and tend to imply that the writer is doing you a favour by writing them and that they should be more successful than they are (I think I’m about as successful as I should be, which isn’t very successful at all and is a long way from successful enough for any meaningful existence lol whoops), but maybe I’ve just been subscribing to the wrong substacks?) but never have I read as many blog posts in as quick succession as I have done over the past few weeks.
I read 100.
For around a month, maybe a little longer, I’ve been dipping in and out of Writin’ Dirty: An Anthology.
I’ve been reading it in between big novels, wine textbooks and tiny little hand drawn memoirs. I’ve read a lot of it while on the toilet, while cleaning my teeth, while eating a dull breakfast and trying to not think about how empty the forthcoming day will be.
I read it – and the blog posts within – when one would (could?) ordinarily be expected to be caught reading blog posts on the internet. In short, I treated this book as if it was a digital device but set only to one website. It probably has literal traces of urine, poo and breakfast on it as I am nearly thirty five and thus my body has betrayed me.
It contains 100 posts – with no indication as to why they were selected – from the roughly 1,000 pieces Byron Crawford published on the hip-hop website XXL.com between 2008 and 2011.
I read a book of blogs
How do you people do it?
I read a book of blogs
Let’s publish a book of my blogs
I read about this writer (tho possibly not this book, I don’t know why I went for this book?) in Only Americans Burn In Hell, the best book I’ve read in a long time but one that I will have to mention less frequently going forward as it has turned out there were some consequences to my recent unsolicited book mail adventure (the consequences weren’t bad, not at all, but they happened and well, y’know, I’m still processing)
This book of blog posts is exactly what someone who doesn’t really read blog posts (i.e. me) would expect from a book of blog posts. It is riddled with references to conspiracy theories and full of bigotry of a very dated-to-a-period kind, the last kinda flush of post-90s nodding wink “I don’t really mean this thing I’m saying…. Or do I??? No seriously I don’t… Or do I???” kinda humour. Like one doesn’t get the impression (I didn’t get the impression) that the mid/late-20s Byron Crawford who wrote these blog posts necessarily hated women, gay men or anyone from Asia or with any Asian heritage (the three most recurring groups to be mocked), but I think it would be difficult to try and convince someone that that statement is true using any evidence from the text.
It’s casual sexism, casual homophobia, casual ableism, casual classism, casual mocking of addiction, of poverty, etc, and Crawford is not mocking these people without drawing attention to his own failings in the same way: he works a dead end job in a fast food restaurant to top up his earnings from music journalism; he’s overweight, he becomes increasingly reliant on heavy drinking and visiting strip clubs as crutches against his very apparent loneliness; like he’s not a big shot Mr Big superstar rockstar writer, he is writin’ dirty, like the title: he is down and out and eating and drinking and listening to music he hates and not seeming to have any meaningful human relationships, and, well, that’s the character he is on the blog (god, sounds a little familiar…)
So yeh it is kinda offennnnnnnnnsive, yes, and it’s all about hip hop and is full of gossip – who’s fucking who, who’s secretly gay, who’s fucking who over, who’s secretly a police informer, who’s a ghostwriter, who’s used ghostwriters and lied about it, etc etc. It’s from a decade plus ago and this is writing that was designed to be consumed immediately, as it arrives, bish bash bosh, blog blog blog. And yet (or perhaps and because) … There’s an energy to it, there’s there’s there’s something compelling that kept me coming back. Kept me coming back 99 times.
Writin’ Dirty feels unfiltered and it feels unpretentious and yes, it’s not progressive and it’s not optimistic and it’s not politically engaged or especially personally reflective, but it’s 100 pieces of engagingly written gossip about people who remain global megastars alongside gossip about people whose mention on Crawford’s blog may well have been a career highlight.
Would I recommend it? Not necessarily… But would I read a longer form piece by Crawford? Yes. Do I regret reading this? No.
I suppose, then, in spite of all its offensiveness, this anthology manages to convey the point, the purpose, of blogging.
To get it all down, friend, to get it all down.
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Wine textbooks? Please tell me you’re just trying to learn more about wine, and not thinking of becoming a sommelier. A sommelier, as far as I can tell, is an expensively dressed salve to the repulsively overpaid; “wine culture” in general is doing everything it can to destroy wine, which is one of the two things I hold sacred.
Nono, I would never be a sommelier! And I very much don’t think wine needs to be – or is – something exclusively for elites! Great wine can be (if you know a little) very affordable, and one can certainly get excellent wine at a price point comparable to the equivalent amount of drinks of beer. Wine is an art form, I think – it can get complex and confusing and serious, but so can anything: how enjoyable it is and how expensive it is are about as connected as the prices are for books. A pristine first edition signed antiquarian hardback might be nice for a collector, but that doesn’t mean the experience of reading it is any better than you’d get from a battered ratty paperback where the cover’s fallen off.
Also, I read you regularly, but very often when I attempt to comment, WordPress eats, imperiously rejects, or leers with ill intent at my password. We have had many interesting conversations that never happened, alas,
Also, you should know that I read you regularly and often attempt to comment, but mostly when I attempt to comment, WordPress eats, imperiously rejects, or falls into maniacal laughter at the sight of, my poor password. It hates all of them, We have had many interesting questions that never occurred, alas.
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Feel free to email triumphofthenow [at] gmail [dot] com
I’m a terrible correspondent because I’m terrifyingly unhappy, but I will probably get back to you eventually (though it will likely be weeks if not months or years)