February 28, 2003

a 1989 interview with Wittgenstein's Mistress author david markson.

from the interview:

JT: I was really thinking about [the rejection letters relating to] "Wittgenstein's Mistress."

DM: I know you were. I suspect it set a record. For years, the highest number of turndowns I'd ever heard of was thirty-six, on "The Ginger Man." Then I read in the Deirdre Bair biography that "Murphy" had about forty two. "Ironweed" had a dozen, as I recall, and I once jokingly told Bill Kennedy while "Wittgenstein" was going around that if rejections were any sign of quality, then mine was already twice as good as his. But then I left Donleavy and Beckett in the dust also.

JT: What sort of figure are we finally talking about?

DM: I almost hate to announce it. Fifty-four.

JT: For a novel that well thought of since? Wasn't one editor in fifty-four capable of seeing "something" in it?

DM: Obviously it wasn't all black and white. Oh, about a third of them didn't like it at all, and perhaps another third made it inadvertently evident that they didn't understand a word. And OK, you can't fault the totally negative responses--or the vapid ones either, since they pretty much correspond with the percentage of editors you know are C students to begin with. But it's the other third that really cause grief. I mean when the letters practically sound like Nobel Prize citations--"brilliant," "twenty years ahead of its time," "we're honored that you thought of us" . . .

JT: And?

DM: The predictable kicker, of course. It won't sell. Or worse, we couldn't get it past the salespeople. Actually acknowledging that those semiliterates don't simply participate in the editorial process, but dictate its decisions. God almighty.

JT: How long did it take?

DM: Something like four and a half years. It would have taken infinitely longer than that if the book hadn't frequently been submitted to several places at once.

JT: How did you maintain your sanity under such circumstances? Particularly when you yourself have to know what you've written?

DM: Sometimes you get to be damned near borderline, believe me. One reaction that helped "immensely" was Ann Beattie's. She'd been the first person I'd shown the manuscript to, in fact, mainly because I knew that if I'd fallen on my face anywhere she'd be tough-minded enough to tell me so without hedging. Instead she dialed me the next morning with what may be the most unforgettable telephone call I've ever received. Well, you've seen the blurb she wrote later on.

JT: "As dazzling as Joyce" and "an absolute masterpiece," yes.

three poems by markson:


Pontormo there, for anatomic truth,
was said to house cadavers 'neath his roof,
And Cosimo, disdaining meals, would stew
Four dozen eggs a once, while cooking glue.
Of doltish mold, Uccello could not sleep
For trying cruel perspective till he'd weep.
Young Durer, reading Luther, cracked, and raved —
Though unlike Michelangelo, he bathed.
Fra Lippi spoiled, but later wed, a nun,
And Raphael, for bawds, left walls undone;
Yet Van der Goes could only work when calm,
So friars shrewdly lifted voice in psalm.
Van Gogh, who shot himself, was long since vague,
While Titian died at ninety-nine, of plague.
El Greco thrived in dark, when all was stilled,
And Caravaggio once killed.

Each work of art is disciplined by laws,
Nor will they bend to idiosyncratic flaws;
As Leonardo doubtless would agree —
Who bought caged birds, and set them free.


My love she turned so harsh, so cruel,
She shied from sight of me;
I wept, I sighed, I played the fool:
I now write poetry.


What bile must rise within his throat
O'er all those books, not one he wrote!
Ah, let the wretch our spawn berate:
The bold make love; some masturbate.
if you live in the Brooklyn area, you should go check out ed schmidt's play, or as it must be called by law, his "religious service." apparently, one is not allowed to run a theater out of a house -- where schmidts event happens -- so he does what he must so the show can go on.

ive not seen one of schmidt's plays in years, but remember many of them from the days of my youth at camp dudley.

February 27, 2003

Ive been waiting for someone to assemble this chart, which details incidents where bush said one thing and eventually did another. Its likely not complete -- even though it was produced by the House Appropriations Committee -- but its a start.

clothing blurs into porn

What you see below are not see-thru skirts. There are actually prints on the skirts to make it look as if the panties are visible. these are the current rage in Japan. so im told.

February 26, 2003

consumed, by james tate

why should you believe in magic,
pretend an interest in astrology
or the tarot? truth is, you are

free, and what might happen to you
today, nobody knows. and your
personality may undergo a radical

transformation in the next half
hour. so it goes. you are consumed
by your faith in justice, your

hope for a better day, the rightness
of fate, the dreams, the lies
the taunts -- nobody gets what he

wants. a dark star passes through
you on your way home from the
the grocery: never again are you

the same -- an experience which is
impossible to forget, impossible
to share. the longing to be pure

is over. you are the stranger
who gets stranger by the hour.

--- the harvard business school days
the house of cards is falling?

the press corps, sick and tired of the lies and betrayal, apparently laughed ari fleischer out of the briefing room after his rhetoric got too thick. link via cowboy sally.

for more: click.

February 25, 2003

dean wareham and britta phillips will release a new album on jetset records in may using the moniker "britta phillips and dean wareham." the album will be called l'avventura and will have some originals plus covers of the silver jews, the doors and madonna, among others.

excellent, as usual, krugman on the bush credibility issue.

thinking of columnists, was looking through my copy of tim crouse's wonderful book the boys on the bus and came across this paragraph about hunter s. thompson, crouse, and washington post writer david broder having a late afternoon meeting.

"we headed up the street to the next bar in sight, the new york lounge. it was greatly to broder's credit that he didn't flinch as we entered the place, which I later found out had been taken over by the Post's linotypists. the reporters had their five o'clock beers a couple of doors up, at the more respectable Post Bar. The New York Lounge was a grimy one-room affair, dark enough to suggest that no light bulb had been changed since the fifties. there was a jukebox at the back, playing smokey robinson tunes, and a women bartender named Lou behind the bar. we sat down in a rear booth, avoiding the part of the seat where the spring was coming through. Thompson put in a complicated order of Margaritas and beer, I ordered a Scotch, and Broder asked for a Coke. An extremely disciplined man, he never smoked and hardly ever took a hard drink; his only vice was chewing on his fingernails."

Crouse's book, which came out in 1973 is a highly entertaining read.

February 24, 2003

skimble, for good political commentary.

jim goldsborough ends his piece in the traditionally conservative san diego union tribune:

"Bush's war will do no good for Europe, the Middle East, America or anywhere else. It is ripping nations, alliances and friendships apart. This manufactured war, the brainchild of Bush's neoconservative counselors who have ached for years to redraw the Middle East map and found in Sept. 11 the vehicle to do it, will have repercussions far beyond what anyone has imagined."

"I like doing other things, I like getting high, hanging out with my kids, I like drinking. I like doing other things."

-- former inmate Mike Tyson, on things he likes other than boxing.... not quite the gale sayers "god is first, family second, and I am third" mantra.

the washington post reported friday that about 46 percent of duct tape in america is manufactured and sold by an Avon, Ohio-based company that gave more than $100,000 to the RNC and other GOP concerns during the last election cycle. Why would the Post name the CEO in the article but not the company?

the company is actually part of the German conglomerate, Henkel KGaA, based in Düsseldorf, Germany. The immediate entity, which manufactures the, as they call it, "duck tape," is not publicly traded, but as the website points out, shares in the ultimate parent company are. so, by buying "duck" tape (which everyone not affiliated with the government has indicated will do nothing in the case of the various types of attacks its said to protect one from) from the company, not only are you reimbursing the company for its donations to the GOP, you are helping grow the German economy.

however, the companys founder and former CEO -- he handed the reigns over to his son a few years back, "loves to read, and often turns to a favorite book for inspiration and enlightenment." if interested, his list of favorites is here.

February 21, 2003

dont fall in love with the autograph

new issue of harp magazine features cat power on the cover as well as interviews with bonnie prince billie, lou reed, and columns by dave marsh and jim derogatis. unfortunately, nothing is made available online.

an official government stance you will likely never see here in the US.

February 20, 2003

The Blue Bowie

This guy wept
and told us
he wanted to touch
the earth
with the fury
of a falling star.
This guy wore snow-
storm glitter and bangles
of lightning and tears
back when our slogan was:
Never Pull A Slow Gun
lest your children's link
with you be broken
and they janitor
a blank banner of surrender
into and out of
all the iridescent cities
of War.
All modern thought
is permeated by the idea
of thinking the unthinkable.
Ziggy Stardust,
Ziggy Stardust,
A moonage daydream, Baby,
put your ray gun to my head.
Black as a black hole,
why does your big electric pupil
keep looking at me?
I could write my name
in the makeup
on your face.
Sweet blue boy
with a black wind
through the spaces
between your teeth,
O, whoa, whoa, whoa,
you're a rock 'n roll suicide.
The song has gone
on forever.
And you say, as it is said
Samuel Beckett said
at the end of his life:
What a hell of a morning it's been . . .

--- terrance hayes
a piece by stephen e. lewis

lewis shows his art at, and runs the signal 66 gallery.

February 19, 2003

"All of us have heard this term 'preventive war' since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time...I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing."

--President Dwight Eisenhower, 1953,
upon being presented with plans to wage
preventive war to disarm Stalin's Soviet Union

"Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions."

--Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson,
the American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials,
in his opening statement to the tribunal

these quotes begin jonathan schell's excellent article in the nation, the case against the war.

and in this [link via timothompson] howard zinn interview zinn states that "To criticize the government when you think it is wrong is the highest act of patriotism."

and zinn says that besides the oil motive for this war, he believes bush wants war because "War conceals the failures of the administration at home, and the American economy is faltering. More and more people are losing their jobs. Middle-class people have lost a lot of their savings because of what has happened in the stock market. There's no money in the administration's budget for education or health care. All sorts of services are being cut. There's no better way to make people forget about this than to get us into a war. Then war swallows up everybody's attention."

February 17, 2003

Berman v. ULA cont.

As of right now, it looks as if wenclas has backed down.

>From: "Karl Wenclas"
>Reply-To: "Karl Wenclas"
>To: dcbermam
>Subject: ULA
>Date: Sun, 16 Feb
>Dear David,
> Thanks for your e-mail. ("Relevance.") It's written from your own point of view, not from mine. Open City, McSweeney's, Fence, aren't the ULA's "enemy," but they're hardly on the same side as zinesters like the ULA, and they make good representatives of the literary elite. For starters, they're backed by big money; Open City by the Rob Bingham fortune, as you know. Their staffs, and most, if not all, of the writers they publish comprise the young literary elite: prep school brats mainly; most Ivy League grads from the breeding ground of this nation's establishment leaders. Ben Greenman works for the New Yorker, flagship of the literary elite. All have published Rick Moody. As I'm sure you're aware, most of the writers chosen to be included for these journals aren't found through the slush pile, but through friendships, contacts, networking. (I was in an early issue of Open City myself, by request.) Dave Eggers has published a host of corporate/NY Times/New Yorker-backed writers; Moody, Minot, Klam, many others--many of the same greedy people gobbling up government grant money. The ULA showed at their celebratory party merely to observe and ask questions, to start a dialogue. We never even raised our voices at the event. These "alternative" magazines (alternative to what?) were forming an alliance among themselves, without a thought of outreach to true underground/alternative writers and publications. A consolidation of the trust funders, one could call it. We saw this as yet another example of the most privileged in society (by any standard, family background; education, etc. these folks are among the nation's top few percent) associating with and aiding themselves, to the exclusion of everyone else.

That was the point I may have unsuccessfully made about Housing Works's Darcy in the short, quick piece I put on our site about that evening; being able to pose as a great benefactor of the underprivileged, and relieving one's conscience is as old fashioned as prerevolutionary France, when the real solution is solving the vast inequities in society--in education, say--that exist in her own city, between herself and the average person riding the subway, say; or the abysmal state of health care that doesn't look out for many Aids victims or many sick of all kinds in this great wealthy country, and so makes it necessary for a proper prim stuck-up snob like Darcy to have to throw crumbs to them. (Darcy is merely an adequate representative for that entire clueless class.) Will these be some of the things we can discuss if we do a joint presentation? (Let me address your suggestion in another e-mail.)


a second email from wenclas to berman

From: "Karl Wenclas"
>Reply-To: "Karl Wenclas"
>To: dcberman
>Subject: More ULA
>Date: Sun, 16 Feb
>Regarding your suggestion of a joint show on the topic of relevance in writing, you'd then have to read something that fits the category. If you're prepared to do that, it shows you're moving in our aesthetic direction, and for that I'm grateful. You mention a venue of ours. Right now I haven't been able to put on all the events I've wanted because I'm just too busy. I've been involved with some of this anti-war stuff, with the nuts and bolts of helping to run the ULA (membership stuff, mail, distroing our zines), and with my day job. I'm supposed to be part of a reading in NYC in March for some people, maybe part of a zine conference a week later, and have been trying to set up a show of our (ULA) own. Most ULAers are equally busy. (And I'm sure you are as well.)

The question would be when and where to do this (and who will promote it) as well as who'll represent the ULA. On details: I'm not sure I could get a ULAer to paint his/her face. One of our main writers, Steve Kostecke, is in Korea. Michael Jackman lives in Detroit and might be available. Polling the audience? As you know, results of such depend on the audience, and would vary greatly depending on whether the event was in working class Detroit, say (where the ULA did a recent show) or in New York City. I was considering an event in Athens Georgia. That would be neutral territory. Rather than polling (look at the ridiculous results of polling about the war--again, it depends upon the audience) let both sides do write-ups of the event, or have an objective journalist or two in tow to do same. You say you're a poet. We've just brought a couple poets into the ULA--will be among our next crop of new members to be announced. One of them puts on shows here in Philly. I don't know if he'd be willing, but having you square off against him might be a possibility worth considering, and would give you a shot in the "relevance" category. (I'd want more ULAers on any card than just the person reading against you; that could be the main event, with a few readers leading up to it.) Anyway, these are my thoughts and difficulties on the matter. Let me know what you think.
> Regards,

berman's response


Look King, if you're going to be so civil about this then disregard my first letter. I thought you were hot-headed assholes looking for a fight. I got more projects than I can handle now but I was willing to drop them all
for a good old fashion ass-kicking contest, not some fancy symposium with wine and cheese. Obviously I'm talking to the wrong guy. Who's the head asshole over there?

Tell him to call me,

David Berman

February 14, 2003

A Dust Congress Exclusive

Let's get ready to Relevance

Below is an email message david berman sent to the leader of the ULA, an organization that recently caused a ruckus outside the January 30, 2003 reading at Housing Works at which representatives of McSweeneys, Open City and Fence read their works. ULA objected to those journals alleged elitism and a wrestling match of sorts ensued outside the venue involving ULA reps and Open City rep, Tom Beller. The story of the event was picked up by page six.

Berman has issued the following challenge. stay tuned to this page for further details.

From: "D.C. Berman"
To: kingwenclas
Subject: relevance
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 13:41:29 -0600


My name's David Berman, I wrote a book of poems for open city and heard about you folks from Joanna Yas. I've checked out your website and agree with a lot of what I see. Moody sucks and he's rich and its a crime he got a grant. McSweeneys is fueled by a lot of arrogant nerds (who i count as a more insidious demographic than standard issue elitists) and open city published too much euro trash. Yet, i really believe these people are not the enemy. they actually publish blind submissions. Its the fusty old journals who wont give a young writer an even break. i stopped submitting along time ago to paris review etc. because i cant stand rejection. So i offer you a challenge. you have seven guys or so on your committee. select your best writer and i will read against him at your venue. i will represent open city and paint my face our team colors your guy paints his face your team colors. after the reading we will pass out a ballot to the audience they will vote for which reader fulfills your criteria for good writing. It will be based on YOUR CRITERIA so you start out with an advantage. how about it?

sincerely david berman

happy valentines day

February 13, 2003

Lawsuit Seeks to Block Military Invasion of Iraq

(CNSNews.com) - Six House Democrats have filed a lawsuit intended to prevent President Bush from attacking Iraq without congressional approval. Wire reports said the six Democrats - Reps. John Conyers of Mich., Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, James McDermott of Wash., Jose Serrano of N.Y., Sheila Jackson Lee of Tex., and Jesse Jackson Jr. of Ill. - joined with several U.S. soldiers and parents of troops in filing the lawsuit in federal court in Boston Thursday. Wire reports quoted the plaintiffs' attorney John Bonifaz as saying, "A war against Iraq without a congressional declaration of war will be illegal and unconstitutional." According to Bonifaz, "It is time for the courts to intervene." Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution says, "Congress shall have power...(to) declare war," and that's the key element of the lawsuit. The lawsuit says President Bush must seek a declaration of war from Congress before launching any military invasion. A congressional resolution isn't enough, the plaintiffs said.

interesting show saturday evening in dc


ENTRANCE (Guy of Convocation Of...)

SAT. FEB 15th
9:30 BYOB
$5-6 donation



Devendra Banhart
"To say Devendra is unique is an absurd understatement. When I first heard his voice I could not believe it. His occasionally warbling falsetto is alternately bizarre, soulful, comical, gentle, and often a little frightening...I hear all kinds of references and comparisons that might be relevant in describing Devendra ? from Marc Bolan's pre-T Rex recordings, to Daniel Johnston, to Nick Drake (in my opinion some of the songs have a similar inner purity and pathos), to Karen Dalton (one of Devendra's idols), to Syd Barrett, to, well, Tiny Tim (!)(Ok, Tiny Tim high on gasoline fumes!). In the end, these comparisons don't matter, because, as I say, Devendra is completely unique.

As Devendra says: "...You certainly are nice people...The horse licks your skin, begin!"
-Michael Gira (Swans, Angels of Light, Young God Records)


Mr. President: On a clear cold
morning I address you from a remote
margin of your dominion in plain-
style Yankee quatrains because

I don’t know your exalted language
of power. I’m thankful for that. This
is a complaint and petition, sent
to you in the long-held right I claim

As a citizen. To recapitulate your
wrong-doings is unnecessary; the topic
is large and prominent and already
occupies the attention of historians

and political scholars, whose findings
will in the near future expose your
incontinent and maniacal ambition
for all to see. Let it suffice to

say that you have warped the law and
flouted the will and wisdom of the
people as no other has before you.
You have behaved precisely as a tin-pot

tyrant in any benighted, inglorious
corner of the earth. And now you are
deviously and corruptly manipulating
events in order to create war.

Let us speak plainly. You wish to
murder millions, as you yourself
have said, to appease your fury. We
oppose such an agenda—we, the people,

artists, artisans, builders, makers,
honest American men and women,
especially the poets, for whom I dare
to speak. We say, desist, resign,

hide yourself in your own shame,
lest otherwise the evil you have
loosed will destroy everything
and love will quit the world.

--Hayden Carruth, 1/28/03

from the "erosion of constitutional rights" department

many recent articles, including this one have commented upon the increasing number of times and ways mr. bush uses the language of religion as a means to get his message across.

furthur complicating the idea of separation between church and state is the disturbing news that the bush adminstration is pushing to have dr. w. david hager appointed to head an influential FDA panel on women's health policy. hager, along with his wife, wrote as jesus cared for women: restoring women then and now, a book that puts an emphasis on the restorative power of Jesus Christ in one's life and recommends specific Scripture readings and prayers for such ailments as headaches and premenstrual syndrome.

one hail mary for a headache and three for cramps? must we hope that the over-the-counter drug lobby will come to the rescue on this one? politics makes strange bedfellows indeed.

conason gets in on the action, too.

conason ended a recent salon.com article: "While I put together my survival kit of duct tape and canned soup, I hope an administration spokesman will explain why we are sending 150,000 troops to overthrow Saddam Hussein when we wouldn't send in 5,000 to capture or kill bin Laden.

February 12, 2003

just returned from the poets against the war rally outside the white house. about 50 folks braved the cold and listened to some 15 poets and non poets read their own poems as well as poems by more famous poets. this poem was written and read by dan logan:

to end all wars

lets have a war in poetry
metaphors instead of missiles
similes, not smallpox.

lets have a war in poetry
a war of ideas
not crossed words, but cross words

for once, lets have a war
where words speak louder than actions
a war where humanity wins.

lets have a war in poetry
with powerful images of bodies
intact, land unscarred, homes preserved.

lets have an axis of alliteration
a truly civil war
not a police action for pride, but a conflict
we can be proud of.

lets have a war in poetry,
write war poems before
the war happens

and maybe, just maybe
we won't have a real
war at all.

david berman will be guesting at the maymester writers institute at university of georgia this may. here's the blurb from the webpage:

Poetry and Songwriting with Brian Henry and visiting writer David Berman (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). Brian Henry is the author of three books of poetry (Astronaut, Graft, and American Incident) and Director of the Creative Writing Program at UGA. David Berman is the author of a book of poetry (Actual Air) and the singer/songwriter for The Silver Jews (Natural Bridge, American Water, Bright Flight). Berman will be at UGA from May 19-23.

February 11, 2003

check out the poets against the war website. show your dissent by submitting a poem or by attending tomorrow's (February 12) poetry reading in lafayette park, across the street from the white house at noon. originally, laura bush had wanted to have a some poets read at the white house but reneged once she heard the poets planned to read anti-war poems.

found this review of two of David Axelrod's albums at comes with a smile. if you are unfamilar with axelrod, get familar.

David Axelrod | Earthrot / Requiem - The Holocaust (EMI)

The big buzz about David Axelrod thankfully moves good people like EMI to check out what they’ve got and get it out there. ‘Earthrot’ (1970) is an album of ecological warning. The lyrics are adapted from the Old Testament of Isiah and, on a more optimistic note, from the Navajo legend The Song of The Earth. Sure this is serious stuff but it’s positive and joyful, and, as it played, I felt cooled out and energised. Axelrod’s miscreant early life was transformed by the blues and jazz music he came to know so well, living, as he did, mainly in black society.

‘Earthrot’ reveals his jazz leanings. It is filled with jazz harmony singing a la The Fifth Dimension and jazz session men players with whom he shared great respect. Their very playing is genuinely exciting. It is so relaxed, so loose and easy because they are So tight. There are many beautiful, melodic passages and if the album may have sounded a little, well, avant guard thirty years ago, we simple pop folk have probably caught up with it now.

This may not be the case with ‘Requiem’, (1993). This album too features passages of rather more abstruse jazz but showcases Axelrod’s grasp of modern classical music. It is very dark indeed, as its subject matter would indicate, containing frequent hysterical vocal histrionics, which will not send you happy to bed and will not be sampled by a thousand rap stars and their producers. It will, if you give it your full attention, stretch and exercise your mind, containing as it does little of modern rock’s repetition and musical cliché. It will clean out your ears. Artistically it achieves what it sets out to do very well. If we did not know the title or subject matter the dissonance, the tortured singing and the shrill, grating violins would surely suggest a cold place filled with disturbed spirits. Grim and moving.

Stephen Ridley
November 2001
neon golden

the notwist will be at dc's black cat April 2, 2003.
Media Beat vs. Powell

from a February 6 story by norman solomon.

"If Colin Powell faced such questions on a regular basis, his media halo would begin to tarnish. Instead, floating inside a media bubble, he moves from high-level meetings to speeches to news conferences where tough questions are rare. And when Powell appears as a guest on American media outlets, he doesn't need to worry that he'll encounter interviewers who'll challenge his basic assumptions.

Tacit erasure of inconvenient history -- including his own -- is integral to the warm relationship between Powell and U.S. news media. There's a lot to erase. For instance, in January 1986, serving as a top aide to Pentagon chief Caspar Weinberger, he supervised the transfer of 4,508 TOW missiles to the CIA, and then sought to hide the transaction from Congress and the public. No wonder: Almost half of those missiles had become part of the Iran-Contra scandal's arms-for-hostages deal.

As President Reagan's national security adviser, Powell worked diligently on behalf of the contra guerrillas who were killing civilians in Nicaragua. In December 1989, Powell -- at that point the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- was a key player behind the invasion of Panama.

The Gulf War catapulted Powell to the apex of American political stardom in early 1991. When he was asked about the Iraqi death toll from that war, Powell said that such numbers didn't interest him.

At the U.N. on Feb. 5, in typical fashion, Powell presented himself as an implacable foe of terrorism -- much as he did on Sept. 11, 2001, when he denounced "people who feel that with the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people, they can somehow achieve a political purpose." While aptly condemning the despicable hijackers who murdered thousands of people on that day, Powell was also using words that could be applied to a long line of top officials in Washington. Including himself.

At this point it seems that only a miracle could prevent the Bush administration from going ahead with its plans for a horrific attack on Iraq, sure to kill many thousands of civilians. The U.S. leaders will demonstrate their evident belief that -- in Colin Powell's apt words -- "with the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people, they can somehow achieve a political purpose." To the extent that the media bubble around them stays airtight, Powell and his colleagues are likely to bask in national acclaim."

the whole article is here.

February 10, 2003

Reading turns into a rumble

LITERARY debate sparked a street brawl the other night (January 30, 2002) when members of the writers' group the Underground Literary Alliance ticked off Open City publisher Tom Beller and New Yorker writer Ben Greenman during a reading at Housing Works on Crosby Street. Greenman had read a short story about a tree when ULA'er Michael Jackman demanded he explain its social relevance. Greenman - who is hated by the ULA for his ties to both the New Yorker and Dave Eggers' literary Web site McSweeny's, which the group considers elitist - did not take well to questioning. Insults were exchanged and the ULA boys were asked to leave by a store employee. ULA honcho "King" Wenclas claims that Beller - Parker Posey's 6-foot-6 boyfriend - followed them outside and got into a wrestling match with a third ULA member, snatching his camera and tossing it to the ground. "We were rude," Wenclas admits on the group's Web site. Beller tells PAGE SIX's Ian Spiegelman, "This guy is a stalker. He is frustrated and potentially violent. That I even care about these people is wish fulfillment, let alone that I would ever get physical with them."
from the New York Post.

actual air live

from Infernal Bridegroom Productions

Special Opening Weekend Rate - only $5.99!!!

Infernal Bridegroom Productions kicks off the new year with the first
in a series of four consecutive world premiere productions, and the
indie rock world is already buzzing about it.

Having introduced Houston audiences to the works of Suzan-Lori Parks,
Brian Jucha, Sarah Kane, Wallace Shawn, Mac Wellman and several other
theater artists who represent the most exciting work happening in
contemporary theater, IBP has found another outstanding playwright in
rock and roll poet David Berman. And, as was the case with our
recent production of The Kinks' Soap Opera, people from around the country
are already booking their tickets.

David Berman is a hero. He is a hero to fans of independent music
and he is a hero to the fans of contemporary American poetry. Moreover
he is a hero to longtime IBP company member Troy Schulze, who is
uniquely suited to bring Berman's poems to life and make believers out of the

Berman is best known for his work with The Silver Jews, a band which
featured members of the legendary rock outfit Pavement. As the story
goes, Silver Jews mate Stephen Malkmus, of Pavement, was so impressed
by Berman's third record that he became disillusioned. According to
Malkmus, "It was such a better record than Terror Twilight
[Pavement's last release]. Much more inspired. After American Water, I could no
longer make a record the way [Pavement] made records." In his book
Actual Air, Berman has accomplished a similar feat: reawakening the
listless world of American poetry, taking sly observatons on life's
mundane rigors and twisting them into mythic, witty, passionate

Berman's journey through a weird, dreamlike America is amusingly
strange, yet it's strikingly familiar and precise. Pulitzer
Prize-winning poet James Tate described Berman's poems as "beautiful,
strange, intelligent and funny ... narratives that freeze life in
impossible contortions."

Berman's a hero, alright. He's a hero of the most exciting variety.
The sort you may never have heard of but you'll almost certainly
never forget.

Schulze's stage adaptation of Berman's book is a collage of American
snapshots – a surreal anti-narrative decorated with striking visuals,
hilarious dialogue and live rock music, which is somehow
simultaneously bizarre and accessible, soporific and dynamic. As in the best of
poetry, plays or music, it is the stuff dreams are made on. Simply
put, it's the sort of work Infernal Bridegroom exists to produce: fresh,
bold, challenging, entertaining, brand new poetry in motion for the
next generation.

In a pressurized cabin on the moon, a robot asks his maker about the
relative sentience of snowmen. In another scene an omniscient voice
summons "all students named Doug" to a mysterious concourse. In
another a young man paints a self-portrait as a present to himself,
meditating on simple pleasures and comforting himself with such thoughts as "at
least I have not woken up with a bloody knife in my hand." As
another sly rock poet once observed, something is happening and we don't know
what it is. But something is absolutely happening. It's poetry made
live again. It's theater made poetry. And Infernal Bridegroom, and
fans of David Berman from across the country, couldn't be more

"David Berman is a young Virginian poet with a sly, intense regard
for the past. He comes on like a prankster, restocking the imperial
orations of Wallace Stevens and the byzantine monologues of John Ashbery with
the pop-cultural bric-a-brac of a new generation: 'I am not a cub scout
seduced by Iron Maiden's mirror worlds.' ... The landscapes are
crisply American, and history, especially Southern history, casts a shadow."
-The New Yorker

"Clearly, James Michener's America has fallen apart, and Berman wants
to put the pieces together in a new way. One feels certain he will:
Berman's is a funny, smart, on-again, off-again poetry of great
-The New York Times Book Review

Actual Air will be playing at the Axiom, 2524 McKinney, at 8:00 p.m.
on the following dates: February 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, and
March 1, 6, 7, 8. Opening Weekend, February 13, 14 and 15, tickets are only
$5.99. Remaining performance ticket prices are as follows: Thursdays
$10, Fridays $12, Saturdays $15.

To make reservations, call (713) 522-8443

For more information, visit our website at www.infernalbridegroom.com

February 7, 2003

lookin good courtney, real good......

smog has a new album, supper, set to be released on March 18, 2003. before the album is released, smog will play in dc -- at the black cat, February 25.

February 6, 2003

Lightning on the Sun author robert bingham dedicated the story plus one from the collection "pure slaughter value" to Stephen Malkmus.

Strange Roads Before Light
Frank Stanford

At midnight I am alone
And my love is with someone else.
The moon is like a woman in a red dress
Standing on the beach.

I listened all evening.

All I heard was a one-legged boy
Looking for his coon dog.
He was looking at the moon, too.
It was like a plate with no supper.

And a route salesman in a saloon
Was looking at the moon.
It was a clock with twelve numbers,
But he had no arms to hold her.

And the child who was supposed to be
Practicing the piano
Was looking at the moon.
He was already thinking of a woman.
He wanted to sleep beside her,
Not with her. Odd, but not bad,
He thought the moon spilt the key to her room.

The woman blowing smoke in the dark,
Her fingers looking for the ashtray,
She thought the moon
Was a piece of stationery
In a drawer she would not open.
She would have written there was no moon,
That I am screwing somebody else,
Trying to remember your telephone number.

a poem by brett ralph, ex-Louisvillian who fronts rising shotgun

This Poem Has a Hole in the Middle

There are no metaphors
for what was done to her.
The six boys who pushed her off
her bike, her school books splayed
like poisoned pigeons on the pavement--

those boys are not symbolic.
They are real,
and this poem has a hole in the middle,
a hollow tree stuffed with Hustlers, deep
in the woods beyond the subdivision,

a sagging davenport
in the family room,
bathed in the blue light of late-night
television--when it went black
before your parents came back

and the babysitter got bored.
TV didn't cost anything
yet, and your options could be counted on
the fingers of one hand.
And even if you didn't want to

because you didn't understand,
even if you hated it more than anything
in the world, whatever they showed,
you had to sit through it
because you were just a child.

February 5, 2003

frank zappa and his parents circa 1971. to read the accompanying article from Life Magazine, click here
a few days ago tina celona emailed me the following poem starring george w. bush:


A man climbs a hill, he is wearing short brown pants,
He has a cocked hat with a red feather,
It is my father as Young Werther.
The photograph of the poem
In which my father appears as Young Werther
Is printed on some kind of cheap hard plastic.

There was a man.
He painted stuffed otters.

Nobody paid any attention to this man
Until one day someone said,
"This is a real painting of a stuffed otter,"
And then the press got hold of it
And then the art schools
Until finally he was commissioned
To paint an otter on the wall of the Oval Office.
"I want a big one," said the President.
"Big and furry."


Tina Celona

February 4, 2003

Pick your favorite Palace/Will Oldham (but not Bonnie Prince Billie?) songs here for inclusion on a greatest hits album.

February 3, 2003

one of the best leads Ive seen in a while: "Compared to Fox News, Monica Lewinsky is an amateur in administering presidential favors."

the full story on the Fox networks "fair and balanced" news coverage is here.

world on fire by michael brownstein, one of the best books I've read in the past year, is "an epic visionary, kaleidoscopic treatise/poem that, amazingly, attempts to make sense of and show a way through the rich madness of our time." It is an "impassioned, prophetic examination of the human and environmental consequences of transnational capitalism."

After providing numerous facts, information, and anecdotes thoughout the first 147 pages, Brownstein writes on page 148:
"Shall we continue?
Real information is interesting.
Partly because it brings up the question of why its suppressed.
Because the real information is always suppressed.
Or is 'suppressed' too harsh a word?
How about ignored?
Coveniently overlooked?
Sarcastically dismissed?........

Cell phones are not like conventional telephones, B. Blake informs us.
Children should not use them at all except in an emergency.
Cell phones can emit more radiation than the FDA allows for microwave ovens,
yet they're currently exempt from FCC regulations.
Who's making the profit on these potential time bombs?
Why aren't they held responsible for their actions?
But I forgot -- no one in particular is responsible.
Show me one corner of the corporate realm which doesn't sweep
under the carpet any evidence of harmful activity -- falsifying reports, firing whistle-blowers,
developing camouflage technology as part of their game plan.
Caught red-handed, they'll reform to a minimal degree.
Then spend much more on advertising which trumpets to the world how pure they are..."

Check it out. its full of beautiful prose and big thoughts and ideas. and published by Open City.
and from the "I can't get that sound you made out of my head" department:

I can't seem to get the guitar line or chorus of the SM & Jicks song "1% of 1" out of my head, but at least I know who's making it.
brian eno on america

an excerpt:

"But since Sept. 11, that vision has been eclipsed by a suspicious, introverted America, a country-sized version of that peculiarly American form of ghetto: the gated community. A gated community is defensive. Designed to keep the "others" out, it dissolves the rich web of society into a random clustering of disconnected individuals. It turns paranoia and isolation into a lifestyle.

Surely this isn't the America that anyone dreamed of; it's a last resort, nobody's choice. It's especially ironic since so much of the best new thinking about society, economics, politics and philosophy in the last century came from America. Unhampered by the snobbery and exclusivity of much European thought, American thinkers vaulted forward — courageous, innovative and determined to talk in a public language. But, unfortunately, over the same period, the mass media vaulted backward, thriving on increasingly simple stories and trivializing news into something indistinguishable from entertainment. As a result, a wealth of original and subtle thought — America's real wealth — is squandered.

This narrowing of the American mind is exacerbated by the withdrawal of the left from active politics. Virtually ignored by the media, the left has further marginalized itself by a retreat into introspective cultural criticism. It seems content to do yoga and gender studies, leaving the fundamentalist Christian right and the multinationals to do the politics. The separation of church and state seems to be breaking down too. Political discourse is now dominated by moralizing, like George W. Bush's promotion of American "family values" abroad, and dissent is unpatriotic. "You're either with us or against us" is the kind of cant you'd expect from a zealous mullah, not an American President."

(via travelers diagram)

thrall, by mark halliday

all the wanting and not having oilspills my room
and darkens the thickened air.
If i could forget --
but young women of venturesome litheness
and moderately priced unpretentiously good food
force me to care.
entertainment weekly interviews, and is freaked out by, cat power

Can you tell me a story about yourself now?
I want to talk about what's going on in the world right now. The war with Iraq. There's conflict in Israel, India, Korea, the Ivory Coast. The government controls what we see and read. I mean, they killed Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Gandhi, Malcolm X. They are growing asparagus in space. What else are they doing? And what is Scientology? Are they creating another planet for the wealthy to live on when nuclear war happens? You know what I mean?

And in this town in Africa, from this article I'm reading, they're saying that vampires are wearing very black clothes, dropping from the sky and taking hypodermic needles and sucking blood from villagers and flying back up into the air. Sounds like military combat.

You're freaking me out. Can you lighten the mood with a joke?
I actually wanted to be a comedian! Do you know the one about the journalist who always says no?


(via timothompson)