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1. ECLECTIC/OBSCURE FICTION. The syllabus for the literature class taught by David Foster Wallace at Pomona College (spring 2003 semester): The Man Who Loved Children, by Christina Stead; Play It as It Lays, by Joan Didion; The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy; The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing; Desperate Characters, by Paula Fox; Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin; In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan; Nightwood, by Djuna Barnes; and Speedboat, by Renata Adler.


TRUE MIRROR. Patented in 1887, this one-time novelty item has been revamped by East Village true believers as a New Age–ish gadget of self-inquiry. Designed to, as Nico would say, reflect who you are when you don’t know, the True Mirror flip-flops your countenance so that you can accurately assess everything from your hairstyle to your inner spirit. Visit the company at 43 E. First St. in New York City or on the Web at

3. RENT-A-NEGRO.COM. What? Surely, you’re joking! Oregon-based African-American artist Damali Ayo is and she isn’t with her straight-faced Web project that claims to provide “a state-of-the-art service” so you can “promote your connection with a creative, articulate, friendly, attractive, and pleasing African-American person.” Rentals are by the hour, with extra charges for emergency appearances.


STRANGE MESSENGER: THE WORK OF PATTI SMITH. The first museum exhibition to survey the legendary rock poet’s photographs and works on paper, September 4 through December 7, 2003 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Contemporary Art, includes a series of large-scale drawings inspired by 9/11. Smith, who is currently completing a book for Harper-Collins on her life, will also perform during the run of the exhibition.


Anthony Goicolea's Cannibals (2000, detail), courtesy of Rare Gallery.
DÖPPLEGANGER. Anthony Goicolea not only plays multiple roles in his photographic self-portraits, he also digitally alters his appearance to resemble prepubescent boys enacting diabolical rites of passage in panoramic dioramas equally informed by the work of Hieronymus Bosch, Henry Darger and the 1964 horror film Children of the Damned. Goicolea, represented by RARE Gallery in NYC, also recently began producing a series of mind-bending videos.

6. RZA. RZA is perhaps the only composer who could draw a film audience just to listen to his music. The Wu-Tang evil genius’s beats return to the screen with the upcoming Kill Bill, by fellow chop-socky enthusiast Quentin Tarantino. It’s RZA’s first scoring effort since the excellent work he did for Jim Jarmusch in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.


AC VERSUS DC. Published after the largest blackout in U.S. history, Jill Jonnes’s Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World (Random House) couldn’t be more timely. Jonnes dramatizes in electrifying detail the so-called War of the Electric Currents, which pitted George Westinghouse (who purchased the patents to Nikola Tesla’s alternating current induction motor) against Thomas Edison (champion of direct current) who, to discredit his rivals, encouraged New York prison officials to use AC for the country’s first death-row electrocution.

8. PORNOLIZE.COM. With our e-mail boxes overflowing with Viagra ads and “barnyard smut” come-ons, the last thing Internet users need is more online raunch. But the mysterious folks at have somehow found a way to satirize the onslaught of digital sleaze by compounding it. Turn any Web site into instant smut — with six different language options — by typing a URL and then hitting Submit. The browser takes you to a “pornolized” version of the same site. Test it out with


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