A Conversation with Critical Fave (and Fave Critic) Luc Sante

Smokes, smack, Rudy voodoo

A big chunk of the book is about New York. But you no longer live there. I wrote a lot about New York at first because I wanted to, and then because those were the assignments I got. I still get people asking me to write about New York, which I basically don't do anymore. For a while, I was consumed by this sort of angry nostalgia, remembering the New York I knew. But now it's just gone. So I can marvel at what they're doing to the Bowery and Little Italy, putting up these pocket skyscrapers on these blocks of six-story tenements. Fuck it—let 'em do it. The more they erase my New York, the further it's emotionally removed from me, the better. Let them turn it into Beijing.

There seem to be fewer opportunities to write about the arts at any length in print media. What have you come across? Do you see good writing coming through the Internet or other places? Well, I don't keep track the way I used to. And I don't tend to read extended essays online. I do spend a lot of time on MP3 blogs. I love Moistworks [moistworks.com]. These people have really interesting music and information, and they're also real writers. I'm also devoted to this African-music blog out of Paris called Benn Loxo du Taccu [bennloxo.com]. And Wax Poetics is one of the few magazines I subscribe to nowadays. To me, it's the gold standard for pop scholarship.

Tell me about the Paris book you're working on. Some really crucial, formative experiences of mine occurred there: the first time I was completely taken over by art; the first time I fell in love. So it's personal, and it's historical. But I don't feel a need to write a history, because there are like six million of them. In the same way as Low Life, I'm writing about the things that interest me. And I guess I'll know a lot more about it when I finish it, because that's the way I work—I kind of drive blind, and afterwards I figure out what the road map was.

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