A Non-Reaction to “Obama in Asheville” by James Franco
Dear James Franco,
I need to tell you why I hate your Obama poem, “Obama in Asheville.” It’s got nothing to do with the poem itself, though. It’s more about your delivery—how it has affected me, personally, at this moment. I just read “Obama in Asheville,” somewhat indifferently. Right now, it’s 1:11 AM. I have to wake up early tomorrow. The problem is I can’t let this one (this “commentary”) pass; I can’t let it wait until tomorrow or the next day. Simply, I want more traffic on this blog. I want to open my browser, click on WordPress, view my daily stats, and say, “Well look at this shit! Google sent 300 people my way, and, in accordance to—or in verification of—statistical likelihoods, one of them happened to click the Burrow Press link and buy my book.”
Is that what this is all about? Me using you in order to fulfill my duties and freedoms as a capitalist? Yes, sort of. Actually, I’m not after the money that I might earn off a book published by an indie press; rather, I’m chasing a different form of capital. The cultural kind. I want people to read my book. I want them to have an experience—whether they hate it or not. I wrote a book, James Franco! A book! How many people get to say that? My exploitations of you provides one of the many channels that might increase my book’s presence and accessibility. I want people to read it.
So, when you write/read/publish a poem about Obama, I need to approach the event with as much fervor as an emergency respondent. Timing is crucial. But tonight, you’re timing is a pain in my ass.
For one: I need at least six hours of sleep, and I’m pretty OCD about that. The introduction of “Obama in Asheville” into the public sphere has disrupted my pattern. If I don’t get in bed soon, I’ll fall short of six hours, and it’ll fuck my day. I’ll start zoning off in Literary Theory. I teach a Creative Writing class at noon. I’ll be a driveling, semi-catatonic fool and they’ll learn nothing.
For two: Like I said, I’m OCD about sleep. I have a systematic, predictable, and ritualized pattern of sleep preparation. I won’t list everything I do starting 60 minutes before I slip under the covers, but I must mention this. At the 50 minute mark, I take an Ambien and drink a cup of Tension Tamer Tea. If I get in bed exactly ten minutes later, the Ambien will start to take effect about a minute after my head hits the pillow. I’ve been doing this for years, and only a small handful of times had something distracted me during those crucial ten minutes. Getting sidetracked on Ambien, as you might know, can lead to all sorts of disasters, like amnesia and sleepwalking.
I read your poem after I took Ambien. Tomorrow morning, I might not remember that I’d written this blog. I might be in an Ambien blackout right now. I probably won’t remember any of this.
The same goes for your poem. I don’t think I’ll remember it.