December 31, 2002

are you kidding me?

can anyone believe that the 9:30 club is charging $25 to see big head todd and the monsters, but only $20 to see patty smith. fucked up. one is an aging jam band (that I found enjoyable 12 years ago) and the other is an icon of sorts. really makes no sense at all.

but it got me thinking about patty smith, so here's an old poem to send out 2002:


unlucky katie marie
what she gonna do
it's only monday
she's got six more days to get through

she gotta wait and listen
but then she'll set you straight
she knows the ethics of the road
been on it since she's eight

well they take her
they shake her
they rock her
they rape her
and when they're done they drive her down
far as san jose
then she has to fill the time there
unlucky katie

unlucky katie marie
where she gonna go
it's only monday cross the border
she got six more days to go

well she's lonely tonight
and though she lives outside the law
though she'd take on any greaser
she got no mexican numbers
she can call

Oh unlucky Katie Marie
lays in bed alone
wishing it were friday
wishing she were stoned

Copyright © Patti Smith 1971

December 30, 2002

dumpster diving

the authors of this article were pretty upset by a report earlier in the year that Portland police officers took the trash of another officer as part of an investigation. police and goverment officials defended the "dumpster diving," which is completely legal in almost every situation, as a very good investigative technique. so, the authors set out and took the trash of some of the police and government officials, and published the results. its long, but, at least for me, interesting.
let's go way back to the ancient times

here is a good piece from the washington post, on the reagan administration helping saddam in Iraq's war against Iran:

"To prevent an Iraqi collapse, the Reagan administration supplied battlefield intelligence on Iranian troop buildups to the Iraqis, sometimes through third parties such as Saudi Arabia. The U.S. tilt toward Iraq was enshrined in National Security Decision Directive 114 of Nov. 26, 1983, one of the few important Reagan era foreign policy decisions that still remains classified. According to former U.S. officials, the directive stated that the United States would do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran.

The presidential directive was issued amid a flurry of reports that Iraqi forces were using chemical weapons in their attempts to hold back the Iranians. In principle, Washington was strongly opposed to chemical warfare, a practice outlawed by the 1925 Geneva Protocol. In practice, U.S. condemnation of Iraqi use of chemical weapons ranked relatively low on the scale of administration priorities, particularly compared with the all-important goal of preventing an Iranian victory."

also, note that perpetual war portfolio (sidebar link) is up a few points, even as both the NASDAQ and the Dow are down...

interesting new york daily news article regarding celebrities that hawk goods overseas, and how their lawyers don't want the ads streamed to websites that can be easily accessed in the US
hipster flag football in brooklyn, none the less. via hipsters are annoying.
nice little new york times (registration necessary) piece on housing works, a wonderful, non-profit bookstore in manhattan. we need a place like this in dc. badly.

December 24, 2002

early on in his novel "players" (1977), don delillo puts forth the thoughts of one of the main characters, pammy -- who works in the world trade center as a brochure writer for a team of grief consultants:

"it was her original view that the world trade center was an unlikely headquarters for an outfit such as this. but she changed her mind as time passed. where else would you stack all this grief? somebody anticipated that people would one day crave the means to codify their emotions. a clerical structure would be needed. teams of behaviorists assembled in the sewers and conceived a brand of futurism based on filing procedures. to pammy, the towers didn't seem permanant. they remained concepts, no less transient for all their bulk than some routine distortion of light."

the wtc towers were also featured on the spine of hardcover editions of delillo's 1997 novel, "underworld."
"I have no attitude without a cigarette" -- lou reed

on lou reed's seminal and aptly named "take no prisoners," lou reinvents ten songs. basically, he just talk-sings over the music, explaining the songs' context or just plain ripping on people who annoy him. critic robert christgau gets abused at least twice ("what is robert cristgau doing today, is he a toe fucker?" and when lou talks about cristgau's consumer guide "how would you feel if you worked an entire year on an album and only got a b+ from some asshole at the villiage voice") during the 17 minute "walk on the wild side." in the song/rant reed talks of his anger at candy for putting "plastic in her fucking tit" and sings "little joe/little joe was an idiot."

lou discusses how the song was conceived: he was asked to create an off broadway play based on nelson algerons "walk on the wild side," which it appears lou didnt even like (he disses the book, chicago and saul bellow -- the bellow rip is likely due to bellow basing the main character in "humbolt's gift" on lou's college mentor delmore schwartz). he was asked to do the play soon after "loaded" had been released and lou left the band ("I left after we made 'loaded,' which was loaded with hits, and we were going to get too big") and was working for his dad for $40 a week as a typist. the play never came to fruition, but lou decided the book's title would be a great song title and he filed it away.

david frike, in the liner notes, states "for laughs and putdowns, electricity and delicacy, arrogance and honesty, 'take no prisoners' has no equal in the annals of live reed." he may be right, the music, while easily forgotten due to the piercing words, is tight and perfectly set for the performance and the comments resinate as much today as they did back in 1978. in "wild side," lou notes, "I've got more attitude than anyone in Jersey, just ask someone in Passaic."

for the record, christgau gave the album a c+ "I don't play my favorite comedy albums, even the lenny bruce ones, as much as I do 'rock and roll animal'." hmm. this is no mere comedy album, its great performance art and biting social commentary.

this album must be part of any lou reed fan's collection.

December 20, 2002

brautigan poems

december 24

she's mending the rain with her hair
she's turning the darkness on
glue / switch!
that's all I have to report.

the symbol

when I was hitch-hiking down to big sur,
moby dick stopped to pick me up. he was driving
a truckload of sea gulls to san oluis obispo

"do you like being a truckdriver better than you
do a whale?" I asked
"yeah," moby dick said. "hoffa is a lot better
to us whales than captain ahab ever was,
the old fart."
fuck fuck fuck fuck redux

ha! cable is back, it was out throughout the building. who knew. going back to sleep.

December 19, 2002

while we were all wondering what was going to happen to trent lott

the air force went ahead and named an airplane after the old, racist, republican senator from south carolina. unbelievable. whats next: an airport in dc named after a president that regularly fell asleep in the oval office?
fuck fuck fuck fuck

it appears my almost 3 year run of free cable and hbo has come to an end. last night the tv went static -- during a rerun of the larry sanders show no less. now ive got no reason not to get a cable computer hookup...ugh.

December 18, 2002

readers who read gaddis, markson, joyce and pynchon: the best book you may not have heard of is evan dara's
the lost scrapbook. the first chapter can be found via the washington post, interestingly the only major publication in which the book was reviewed upon its publication. the lost scrapbook was picked by william vollman as the winner of the fiction collectives award for best book of 1995.

here is a excerpt from the first chapter:

"--Tell me what book has made the strongest impress--the tale of the suicidal career counselor, o Dr. Sphincter; it's a bizarre enterprise, this deciding what "to be": mostly it feels like negotiating what not to be; so spare me your solicitude, my dear diminishers, for I can already hear what you are going to say next: that before long I'll need to be realistic, and to acknowledge the inevitable, and that eventually I'll recognize the subtle majesty of moderation; after all, you'll tell me, children can only make purposeful movements after they've learned to rein in their fitful, neonatal fluttering; learning to reach is actually a process of learning not to do everything except reaching; but let the watusi continue!, I say; think how we might move if all that innate waggling could be harnessed:

--But you know that isn't workable; now, if you'd just look at this pattern of crosshatched smudges-- and see the configuration of my future; no way, good sirrah; if I tell you, creviced Dr. Goatee, that I enjoy a good game of musical chairs, would you consign me to a lifetime on a loading dock?; if I mention that I had stubbed my toe on a rock in Hoppe Park on the way to your paneled offices, would that make me a born jack-hammerer?; save your TAT's and your Stanford-Binet's and your vocational aptitude tests for people who are born takers of TAT's and Stanford-Binet's and voc. ap. tests; do not ask me to choose classical philology over industrial catering when they both seem such powerful fun; I want to be a forensic epidemiologist and a floorwalker in men's hosiery--look at how those size 10-to-13's drape over their tiny 2-shaped hangers:

--All that is admirable, of course; but, you know--

--But there is so little time. . .;"

the woolly mammoth theater company in dc continues its season with don dilillo's "the day room." if you have enjoyed dilillo's books and like experimental theater, you should check this play out.

less a narrative than connected philosophical musings and existential farce, the day room takes place in a psychiatric ward, which is a great setting for reasons that are discussed by the characters -- there is a quiet, polite dignity around airplanes and hospitals. People are assigned numbers and the temperature is regulated. Wyatt notices: “The Hush of death. On airplanes, in hospitals.” For a long time, the audience and the actors have a difficult time deciding who is the patient and who is the doctor. The actual “day room” is where the seriously insane live. They act out characters based on the clothing they find in closets, and this day room is where the entirety of act two is set.

A scene from Act 1:

Dr. Phelps: But that is what hospitals are for. So a person can follow his disease into the untraviolet light.

Nurse Walker: Disease itself is not unhealthy. We recover from disease.

Dr. Phelps: Disease is not the illness. Disease is just a symptom of the illness.

Wyatt: What is the illness?

Nurse Walker: Knowing that you’re going to die.

Wyatt (To Budge): Why are they saying these things?

Dr. Phelps: Because we have to say something. Because language itself would be enormously impoverished if we didn’t have disease to talk about.

Nurse Walker: Haven’t you ever heard a patient flaunt the terminology of his disease?

Dr. Phelps: They become experts overnight.

Nurse Walker: They feel at home in the language of their disease.

Dr. Phelps: It’s their disease after all.

Nurse Walker: They love to explain the terms to visitors.

Dr. Phelps: We have to name these conditions as they appear and proliferate. We have to design a body of words as vivid and horrifying as the conditions they attempt to describe.

Nurse Walker: If the gravity of the disease is not reflected in the terminology, the patient feels cheated.

Dr. Phelps: We have to stretch the language to its breaking point as people find new ways to die, abrupt and mysterious symptomatologies.

Nurse Walker: Sarcomas

Dr. Phelps: Blastomas.

Nurse Walker: I love the gleam of hospital corridors in the dead of night.

Dr. Phelps (To Wyatt): There is only one center of attention. You ring a bell, someone comes. You cry out in pain, we try to comfort you.

Nurse Walker: We wash your body when you die.

Budge: I have to admit I never thought about what happens after I take my last breath.

Dr. Phelps: Who would wash you body if you’d stayed at home?

Budge: I never thought about the inconvenience I’d be causing.

the play is showing at the AFI theater at the kennedy center through January 12.

December 17, 2002

another denis johnson poem

man walking to work

the dawn is a quality laid across
the freeway like the visable
memory of the ocean that kept all this
a secret for a hundred million years.
I am not moving and I am not standing still.
I am only something the wind strikes and clears,
and I feel myself fade like the sky,
the whole of Ohio a mirror gone blank.
my jacket keeps me. my zipper
bangs on my guitar. lord god help me
out by the lake after the shift at Frididaire
when i stop laughing and taste how wet the beer
is in my mouth, suddenly recognizing the true
wedding of passage and arrival I am invited to.
deluded like a dixiecrat

the Post's Richard Cohen has some stong words on the trent lott situation

"Lott can apologize for this record, but he cannot change it. It is there. He can apologize for what he said about Thurmond's campaign, but he can't erase it. He cannot apologize for apologizing only when his career was on the line. He cannot apologize for being who he is, for seeing in the cratered face of the ancient Thurmond the vaunted Lost Cause instead of a racist, which is the same thing. He heard "Dixie." He should have heard Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit."

As it was with Wilbur Mills, the apparent exception turns out to be the rule. There is no looking at Lott now and not seeing the ugliness of the past just beneath the veneer of the present. He is ruined now, his face an open history book. He ought to be ousted as Senate majority leader not because of what he said that one time, but because of what he once was and may still remain -- a bigot in a Brooks Brothers suit."

December 16, 2002

from his bed in the capital city

the highway commissioner dreams of us.
we are driving by christmas tree farms
wearing wedding rings with on / off switches,
composing essays on leg room in our heads.

we know there is a policy like ice sculpture,
policy that invisibly dictates the shape
of the freeway forests and the design
of the tollbooths that passing children
send their minds into.

Photography's reminder is sound and momentum,
which were we looking to pare off the edges
of the past anyway, so snapshots of mom
with a kitchen table hill of cocaine
or the dog frozen in the attitude
of eating raw hamberger
get filed under "misc. americana,"
though only partially contained there,
as beads of sap are always leaking
from the columns of the bar graph.

the voices of the bumperstickers tangle in our heads
like cafeteria noise and we can't help but aware
that by making this trip, by driving home for christmas,
we are assuming some classic role.
it is the role he has cast us in: "holiday travelers."

he dreams us safely into our driveways
and leaves us at the flickering doors.

david berman
the year according to google

December 13, 2002

french kicks. the drummer, whose kit is upfront and center stage, is the lead singer. who'd have guessed...

I Live in the Twentieth Century

I live in the Twentieth Century
and you lie here beside me. You
were unhappy when you fell asleep.
There was nothing I could do about
it. I felt hopeless. Your face
is so beautiful that I cannot stop
to describe it, and there's nothing
I can do to make you happy while
you sleep.

by richard brautigan

December 12, 2002

dave pajo on mary hansen, recently deceased member of stereolab

bonnie prince billy at black cat january 28, 2002...
half-hours on earth, what are they worth

the wall street journal yesterday reported on the enron bankruptcy judge's review of fees and expenses billed (through march 31, 2002) by various law firms and consultants associated with the bankruptcy. the whiteshoe firm weil, gotshal & manges rang up the largest portion of the $23.8 million in fees billed during the first 120 days of the bankruptcy proceeding, according to the journal. weil gotshal ("WG"), whose top partners charge as much as $725 an hour, had nine instances on its bills where attorneys billed between 20 and 23 hours in a single day. additionally, WG, in 120 days, expended nearly $300,000 on airfare, $135,856 on hotel charges (which included hotel bar and laundry charges), $61,626 in 'daytime' working meals, and an additional $20,518 in 'out of town' meals.

milbank tweed, another whiteshoe ny firm that represents the creditors committee, sent six partners (each billing between $575 and $725 an hour) and one associate (billing a totally outrageous $400 an hour) to the same two-day meeting in Houston.

after his review of the fee applications, the judge shaved off $834,377 in fees and $1.9 million in expenses, but the total billing in the first 120 days still amounts to "a hefty $23.3" million. this is significant as the lawyers and other consultants (whose fees and expenses are included in the $23.3 million) as well as the firm's creditors committe must be paid by enron, "thereby reducing the money left for the firm's creditors trying to recoup their losses."

as bob dylan sang "we live in a society where justice is just a game," a very expensive game, especially when the lawyers see a large payday and the ability to bill 23 of 24 hours in a day.

December 11, 2002

bye bye first amendment, sigh...

today WHIO out of Dayton, Ohio reports that an unidentified ("the issue is so sensitive we don't even know the students name") high school student was questioned by the SS after showing up for school with a shirt that had a picture of president bush and the words "not my president." apparently the student had drawn a target on bush's forehead, which prompted two students to complain. the school administrators called the FBI, who dispatched the SS to the school to question the student. According to the article, the SS "treated the situation as a potential threat to the president."

and it will get much worse before it gets better.
song lyrics stuck in my head

"i cant get that sound you made out of my head/i cant even figure out whats making it"

"whenever i get dressed up/i feel like an ex-con/trying to make good"

"no no no no no no i break horses/i dont tend to them"

"i will see you soon my friend/if these old directions still direct"

The Big Day

Helplessly in the bright air
Dreaming of war
The President wakes. The cameras are ready
And waiting. The President climbs into the cab
Of a big green tractor and
Waves to the angry populace.
He honks the horn and flashes the lights
To applause. "New-cular," he whispers
Happily. America is a great country.
Everyone else had better
Watch out!

Tina Brown Celona

December 10, 2002

love it or leave, this is where we now live

2600 the hacker quarterly is reporting that a freelance photographer was detained and arrested last week simply for taking pictures of a hotel where vp dick c. was staying. while nobody involved (the police, secret service, or hotel officials) will admit anything happened to the photographer, mike mcginnis claims that he was detained for "suspicious activities" (taking photographs), which made him a threat to national security. According to mcginnis, the SS claimed he was taking photographs not of the hotels design but in order to find weaknesses in vp dick c's security. (Remember the olympics, if you want to find the weaknesses in the SS security, just look around, likely some souvenier shopping agent will just leave the plan book laying around.) Apparently, after not admitting that he was a terrorist, the SS called him a "pinko faggot." The denver poice department claims mcginnis was never arrested.

check the link and see for yourself. doubtful the ace reporters at the NYTimes will be weighing in on this one.
the girl with the most cake

well, the smoking gun obtained and published some information on ms. love's drug use which (once again) came to light as she used the same doctor to obtain her meds as did ms. ryder. ms. love's lawyers sent TSG a letter threatening legal action if the information was not taken down. TSG will keep the information on its site. let the litigation begin...
when something breaks it makes a beautiful sound

At the Moment of Death, by Frank Stanford

Girls kiss in the street

The cucumbers swell on the vine
And the lame cheerleader
Is let off early after the game.

Someone is thinking: are there enough
Smokes to go around,
Who will go for the coffee,
Will the ringing bother the others
On the party line?

No one can get through
To the house of the bereaved.

The coon dogs are lonely tonight,
But not the priest

I am still down
In Arkansas, still drinking
Charter and branch water,
Looking for a fight.

The undertaker creeps out of his daughter's room.
The janitor beats a spider with a broom.

December 9, 2002

about 5 or 6 cops were at my door around 5:30 sunday morning. had they wandered in things may have been troubbbling, but, alas, they were pretty cool, considering. just said hello and asked me to turn the stereo down. about 8 people came over after the bars closed, ended up staying till around 7:30 am. wine and beer depleated. empty glasses and cd cases everywhere. it was fun, though. complete with pavement karoke and dancing.

December 6, 2002

I follow, with my walkman, phased

friday morning brautigan:


we were the 11 o'clock news
because while the rest of the world
was going to hell we made love


with so short a time to live and think
about stuff, I've spent just about
the right amount of time on this


nobody knows what the experience is worth
but its better than sitting on your hands,
I keep telling myself.

December 5, 2002

snow, by david berman

Walking through a field with my little brother Seth

I pointed to a place where kids had made angels in the snow.
For some reason, I told him that a troop of angels
had been shot and dissolved when they hit the ground.

He asked who had shot them and I said a farmer.

Then we were on the roof of the lake.
The ice looked like a photograph of water.

Why he asked. Why did he shoot them.

I didn't know where I was going with this.

They were on his property, I said.

When it's snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.

Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.

We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.

But why were they on his property, he asked.

December 4, 2002


It is to the small satisfactions
we must return, for surely
the great ones fail us.
The unexpected face, the way
evening's slow descent, when
everything is poised for her
arrival, astonishes the day.
And then the steady, familiar
things, houses and trees, suddenly
precise, alive and themselves.
These will do for us now,
now that we have given up on
matters of brooding consequence,
now that such a leisure
of wind, studying the leaves
more closely, lifts them up,
bright in the pure, black air.

John Brehm

keep your eyes on this in the coming months

the perpetual war portfolio is an evenly weighted basket of five stocks poised to succeed in the age of perpetual war. the stocks were selected on the basis of popular product lines, strong political connections and lobbying efforts, and paid-for access to key congressional decision makers. once again, link lifted from timothompson

December 3, 2002

Don't buy this book

Ive noticed that Tom Beller's the sleep-over artist is everywhere there is a remainder table these days -- the hardback is priced as low as $2.98 (I bought it at a reading for full price and got it signed). but let me be (hopefully not the first) to say: stay away from the book, its pretty bad. Lame. Boring. Simple. I really wanted to like it, too.

Bellers neighborhood website is well done, and he is a founder of the still-good but not what-it-once-was journal open city. maybe I expected too much.

and remember:

buy richard yates and rob bingham books for your friends for christmas. they will like you even more if you do!
do we need a $355 BILLION defense budget? thats just about $1 BILLION a day in defense spending, for those of you that can't do the math. seems excessive, given the number of hungry and homeless people I passed on the way to work this morning.

If you don't read Harper's Magazine, pick up this months edition. in it george mcgovern takes the bush administration to task on the defense budget, among other things, and makes a strong, lucid case for liberalism.

December 2, 2002

denis johnson's new book of poetry (all previous volumes collected, plus new stuff), is named after this piece made between 1950 and 1964 by James Hampton, a janitor for the General Services Administration, who "spent virtually every spare minute constructing a strange and beautiful masterpiece entitled, 'The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly.' The Throne, composed of 177 separate objects, each meticulously wrapped in silver and gold foil, is now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American Art in Washington.

Hampton built his masterpiece from a very select collection of junk, including old furniture, burned-out light bulbs, jelly jars, carpet cylinders, desk blotters, cardboard, and foil. All the separate pieces are precariously held together with glue, tape, tacks, and pins." The piece was not found until after Hampton had died.

I think I'll check this out this weekend.
a cartoon to commence the week

yo la tengo shows were great, thanks. ronnie spector came out for an encore of ramones songs on night one, and the band that opened for and played with yo la tengo the second night,other dimensions in music were quite a treat. if you live in ny, check them out.