April 30, 2003

Daily Show Presents: Bush v. Bush (follow the link and click on the Bush v. Bush picture).

The smart folks at the Daily Show prepared a debate between Gov. George W. Bush, and president George W. Bush. At one point the president is discussing using troops for nation-building, and Stewart "interrupts" the president and asks Gov. Bush what he thinks about what the president is discussing, and Gov. Bush states adamantly that he would not use troops for nation-building. Very, very well done. Check for yourself.
In a class called "Eclectic/Obscure Fictions for Writers" (his title), david foster wallace teaches the following books: "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.

April 29, 2003

Letter to the New York Times (via media whores online)

From: Danny Rose
To: 'letters@nytimes.com'
Subject: Friedman's Stupidity

Dear New York Times:

Please find some more columnists like Krugman, who are willing to hold the Bush administration accountable. Our national discourse is in danger of becoming entirely detached from reality.

Here is a paragraph from Friedman's column today:

"As far as I'm concerned, we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war. That skull, and the thousands more that will be unearthed, are enough for me. Mr. Bush doesn't owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons (even if it turns out that the White House hyped this issue). It is clear that in ending Saddam's tyranny, a huge human engine for mass destruction has been broken. The thing about Saddam's reign is that when you look at that skull, you don't even know what period it came from - his suppression of the Kurds or the Shiites, his insane wars with Iran and Kuwait, or just his daily brutality."

Is Friedman drunk? Are the dozens of other pundits repeating this fallacious argument drunk? Do they not remember the debate over the war that took place just weeks ago? Did the administration argue that they wanted to go to war for the benefit of the Iraqi people? No -- they claimed regime change was necessary for national security, specifically because of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Not even apologists like Friedman claimed that concern for Iraqi people was sufficient to justify a war.

And now? Is it so hard to hold in the mind the following two thoughts: (1) it is good that Saddam is gone; (2) the administration failed to justify the war. The failure to find significant WMD (significant = enough to threaten the U.S.) is very, very serious. The administration did not "hype" the issue of WMD. It was their primary justification. And it is already clear that their central claim -- that the US knew for certain that Saddam threatened the U.S. with WMD -- was a deliberate lie.

Not hype. Lies.


Danny Rose
More good words from Paul Krugman:

"We were not lying," a Bush administration official told ABC News. "But it was just a matter of emphasis." The official was referring to the way the administration hyped the threat that Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. According to the ABC report, the real reason for the war was that the administration "wanted to make a statement." And why Iraq? "Officials acknowledge that Saddam had all the requirements to make him, from their standpoint, the perfect target."

A British newspaper, The Independent, reports that "intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic were furious that briefings they gave political leaders were distorted in the rush to war." One "high-level source" told the paper that "they ignored intelligence assessments which said Iraq was not a threat."

Sure enough, we have yet to find any weapons of mass destruction. It's hard to believe that we won't eventually find some poison gas or crude biological weapons. But those aren't true W.M.D.'s, the sort of weapons that can make a small, poor country a threat to the greatest power the world has ever known. Remember that President Bush made his case for war by warning of a "mushroom cloud." Clearly, Iraq didn't have anything like that — and Mr. Bush must have known that it didn't.

Does it matter that we were misled into war? Some people say that it doesn't: we won, and the Iraqi people have been freed. But we ought to ask some hard questions — not just about Iraq, but about ourselves.

First, why is our compassion so selective? In 2001 the World Health Organization — the same organization we now count on to protect us from SARS — called for a program to fight infectious diseases in poor countries, arguing that it would save the lives of millions of people every year. The U.S. share of the expenses would have been about $10 billion per year — a small fraction of what we will spend on war and occupation. Yet the Bush administration contemptuously dismissed the proposal.

Did the news media feel that it was unpatriotic to question the administration's credibility? Some strange things certainly happened. For example, in September Mr. Bush cited an International Atomic Energy Agency report that he said showed that Saddam was only months from having nuclear weapons. "I don't know what more evidence we need," he said. In fact, the report said no such thing — and for a few hours the lead story on MSNBC's Web site bore the headline "White House: Bush Misstated Report on Iraq." Then the story vanished — not just from the top of the page, but from the site.

Thanks to this pattern of loud assertions and muted or suppressed retractions, the American public probably believes that we went to war to avert an immediate threat — just as it believes that Saddam had something to do with Sept. 11.

Now it's true that the war removed an evil tyrant. But a democracy's decisions, right or wrong, are supposed to take place with the informed consent of its citizens. That didn't happen this time. And we are a democracy — aren't we?

April 24
-- by David Lehman

Did you know that Evian spelled backwards is naive?
I myself was unaware of this fact until last Tuesday night
when John Ashbery, Marc Cohen, and Eugene Richie
gave a poetry reading and I introduced them
to an audience that already knew them,
and there were bottles of Evian at the table.
As air to the lungs of a drowning man was
a glass of this water to my dry lips. I recommend it
to you, a lover of palindromes, who will also
be glad to learn that JA read us three "chapters"
of his new poem, "Girls on the Run," a twelve-
part saga inspired by girls' adventure stories, with
characters named Dimples and Tidbit plus Talkative and
Hopeful on loan from "Pilgrim's Progress."
As Frank O'Hara would have said, "it's the nuts."

The poets' books were on sale and afterwards
two of the poets signed theirs happily and the third
did so willingly and Joe took photos and I smiled
for the camera, shaking hands with people
I knew or didn't know and thinking how
blessed was the state of naivete
my naive belief in the glory of the word

April 28, 2003

Heaven is a Truck
-- by anselm berrigan (1998)

All in all holds out
For pressure to shriek
Climbing songs, & so what
If the pedestal be false
It's a life, so far.
From one surface to another;
And the colors point, they don't
Point anywhere, to be honest

April 26, 2003


John Phillips: "The Wolf King of L.A.," released 1970

Bob Dylan: "Desire," released 1975

April 25, 2003

The Skirmish at the Blackstone Foster Home

Interesting interview of bob pollard. He discusses groupies, the difficulty of actually drinking 50,000 beers in 27 years, and provides possible future song titles. Give it a read.
The Poetry Reading
-- by Charles Bukowski

at high noon
at a small college near the beach

the sweat running down my arms

a spot of sweat on the table
I flatten it with my finger

blood money blood money
my god they must think I love this like the others

but it's for bread and beer and rent
blood money

I'm tense lousy feel bad
poor people I'm failing I'm failing

a woman gets up
walks out

slams the door
a dirty poem

somebody told me not to read dirty poems

it's too late.

my eyes can't see some lines
I read it

desperate trembling
they can't hear my voice

and I say,
I quit, that's it, I'm

and later in my room
there's scotch and beer:
the blood of a coward.

this then
will be my destiny:

scrabbling for pennies in tiny dark halls
reading poems I have long since become tired

and I used to think
that men who drove buses
or cleaned out latrines
or murdered men in alleys were
Fantastic LA

Jim Morrison's parents sue Ray Manzerak and Robby Kreiger for maliciously misappropriating the name and logo of The Doors and using Morrison's poetry and photos without permission.
another Republican that stood on high moral ground during the Clinton situation has done much worse:

"A prominent Republican fund-raiser who once said former President Bill Clinton was "a lawbreaker and a terrible example to our nation's young people" pleaded guilty yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court to production of child pornography.

"Richard Anthony Delgaudio, who was sentenced to two years' probation before judgment, admitted to taking lewd photographs of a 16-year-old girl he met in East Baltimore's Patterson Park in 2001. In some of the photos, he was engaged in sex with her, court records show.

"Delgaudio, 50, of Burke, Va., is a frequent talk-radio guest and national figure in conservative politics. He is president of the Legal Affairs Council, a group that helped pay the legal bills of former Reagan administration officials Oliver L. North and Caspar W. Weinberger after they were charged in connection with the Iran-contra affair."

April 24, 2003

"Had Hemingway been to the war and back before his twentieth birthday? Well, so had I; and all right, maybe there were no wounds or medals for valor in my case, but the basic fact of the matter was there. Had Hemingway bothered about anything as time-wasting and career-delaying as going to college? Hell, no; and me neither. Could Hemingway ever really have cared very much about the newspaper business? Of course not; so there was only a marginal difference, you see, between his lucky break at the Star and my own dismal stint on the financial desk. The important thing, as I knew Hemingway would be the first to agree, was that a writer had to begin somewhere.

"'Domestic corporate bonds moved irregularly higher in moderately active trading today...' That was the kind of prose I wrote all day long for the UP wire, and 'Rising oil prices passed a lively curb market,' and 'Directors of Timken Roller Bearing today declared' -- hundreds on hundreds of words that I never really understood (What in the name of God are puts and calls, and what is a stinking fund debenture? I'm still dammed if I know), while the teletypes chugged and rang and the Wall Street tickers ticked and everybody gathered around me argued baseball, until it was mercifully time to go home.

"It always pleased me to reflect that Hemingway had married young; I could go right along with him there. My wife Joan and I lived as far west as you can get on West Twelfth Street, in a big three-window room on the third floor, and if it wasn't the Left Bank it certainly wasn't our fault. Every evening after dinner, while Joan washed the dishes, there would be a respectful, almost reverent hush in the room, and this was the time for me to retire behind a three-fold screen in the corner where a table, a student lamp and a portable typewriter were set up. But it was here, of course, under the white stare of that lamp, that the tenuous parallel between Hemingway and me endured its heaviest strain. Because it wasn't any 'Up in Michigan' that came out of my machine; it wasn't any 'Three Day Blow,' or 'The Killers'; very often, in fact, it wasn't really anything at all, and even when it was something Joan called 'marvelous,' I knew deep down that it was always, always something bad.

"There were evenings too when all I did behind the screen was goof off -- read every word of the printing on the inside of a matchbook, say, or all the ads in the back of the Saturday Review of Literature -- and it was during those times, in the fall of the year, that I came across these lines:

Unusual free-lance opportunity for talented writer. Must have imagination. Bernard Silver.

-- and then a phone number with what looked like a Bronx exchange.

"I won't bother giving you the dry, witty, Hemingway dialogue that took place when I came out from behind the screen that night and when Joan turned around from the sink, with her hands dripping soapsuds on the open magazine, and we can also skip my cordial, unenlightening chat with Bernard Silver on the phone. I'll just move on ahead to a couple nights later, when I rode the subway for an hour and found my way at last to his apartment."

---- From the 1961 short story "Builders," by Richard Yates. This story can be found in the recently published Collected Stories of Richard Yates.

April 23, 2003

Summers, About 1959
- by Alberto Rios

Women wore those sleeveless blouses
Where, if you tried, you could peek in
And try to get a look.

But it was always the wrong angle.
Contact lenses got invented in those years, too.
I remember the first boy who got some:

He had big white lines
From his nose to his ears
As if he were wearing invisible glasses.

That's how someone explained them to me
And I believed it: invisible glasses.
But they were really just the tan lines

From so many years of big, standard-issue
Black frames, glasses a little like
Plymouths for the face.

This was when summers were all the X-15,
Mickey Mantle and Roberto Clemente,
TV dinners and the drive-in.

Summers had a smell then. When you inhaled
You got the sound of crickets and cicadas
As well in your nose, and Sputnik too-

A word that rolled around in our mouths
Then spat itself out. Sputnik. We said it
All the time. Things were changing.

from page six:

SWARTHY suitors can cross Courtney Love off their lists. The bug-eyed blonde says she only goes for men whose hair and eye color matches her own. "I've never dated a guy with brown eyes, except for [Bush's] Gavin Rossdale, . . . I don't know if I've even [bleep]ed a dark-haired guy in my power years - since 1989," she writes in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone. "Pre-1989, I pretty much [bleep]ed everybody. But it was because I had to get breakfast somehow."

frances bean must be so proud.
The Most Dangerous President Ever

"At heart, the current Bush is a warrior for a region, a faction, a part of America. No national calamity has tempered his zeal for his factional agenda. His determination to reward the "investor class" (that is, still, the rich), to appoint socially reactionary judges, to favor his business cronies has not waned in wartime. His desire to make Americans reliant on the market, rather than social savings, has not been deterred by the worst decline in the markets since the Great Depression.

"Throughout American history, presidents have downplayed the most divisive elements of their agenda at times of crisis. As the nation moved toward World War II, Franklin Roosevelt announced a cessation to New Deal experimentation and brought in Republicans to run the War and Navy departments. Lincoln came to power in a disintegrating nation and appointed all his major Republican rivals -- such national leaders as William Seward and Salmon Chase -- to his cabinet. (Imagine George W. Bush giving the Department of Defense to John McCain!) Bush, by contrast, has in his policies and appointments remained resolutely a president of faction. Colin Powell is the one exception here, but consider whom exactly Powell represents in the Bush coalition: Bush's father.

"This factional tilt is partly a matter of strategy. Bush and his political consigliere, Karl Rove, place great stress on rewarding the Republican right-wing base. As they see it, George Bush Senior was defeated in 1992 because he broke his pledge never to raise taxes, thereby alienating the conservative activists without whom a Republican cannot win. In fact, the senior Bush's failure to alleviate, or even address, a serious recession is what cost him the election, but Rove is convinced that by governing on the right, providing military security for all and voicing a threadbare rhetoric of compassion, his boy George can win re-election.

"And so, by strategy, inclination and conviction, George W. Bush has been pursuing a reckless, even ridiculous, but always right-wing agenda -- shredding a global-security structure at a time requiring unprecedented international integration, shredding a domestic safety net at a time when the private sector provides radically less security than it did a generation ago. No American president has ever played quite so fast and loose with the well-being of the American people.
"That government which governs in secret is inherently dangerous. Contracts go to cronies, regulations get lifted, troops get deployed, all with no public scrutiny. Halliburton is currently putting out fires in Iraqi oil wells, on a contract that didn't go out for bid.

"Which brings us to Dick Cheney, the most influential figure in the administration after Bush and the most influential vice president in U.S. history. By a number of accounts, it was Cheney who convinced Bush, early last July, that we had to go to war with Iraq. But Cheney's most distinctive contribution to this administration is his penchant for near-absolute executive power. Serving in the House during the Reagan administration -- and as the first leader of the more militant conservative forces that later came to power with House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) -- Cheney argued that the president should be able to back the Contras' war in Nicaragua free from congressional oversight. As Bush Senior's defense secretary, he contended that the president needed no congressional approval to wage the Gulf War. As vice president, Cheney has insisted that the composition of his energy-policy task force be kept secret, and opposed going to the United Nations for a second resolution. In an administration determined to free American power from all constraint and business power from most regulation, Cheney's particular contribution has been to keep power as unchecked -- and often as unseen -- as possible.
"None of these presidents, great or awful, seems quite comparable to Bush the Younger. There is another, however, who comes to mind. He, too, had a relentlessly regional perspective, and a clear sense of estrangement from that part of America that did not support him. He was not much impressed with the claims of wage labor. His values were militaristic. He had dreams of building an empire at gunpoint. And he was willing to tear up the larger political order, which had worked reasonably well for about 60 years, to advance his factional cause. The American president -- though not of the United States -- whom George W. Bush most nearly resembles is the Confederacy's Jefferson Davis.

"Yes, I know: Bush is no racist, and certainly no proponent of slavery. He is not grotesque; he is merely disgraceful. But, as with Davis, obtaining Bush's defeat is an urgent matter of national security -- and national honor."

April 22, 2003

remember, read skimble

Groovin in Chi, an account of the 1968 Convention, by terry southern.


Six p.m. Rendezvous of our hard-hitting little press team-Jean Jack Genet, Willy Bill Burroughs, and yours truly as anchor man, trying to lend a modicum of stability to the group. Also on hand, Esky editor young John Berendt-his job: straighten these weirdos, and K.F.S. ("Keep Flying Speed!"). We met in the queer little Downstairs Lounge, one of several bars in our hotel, the Chicago-Sheraton, and John Berendt was quick to charge us with our respective assignments: "You Jean Jack Genet, on the alert for all manner of criminality and perversion in high places! You, Big Bill Burroughs, let your keen and experienced eye discern any sign of sense derangement through the use of drugs by these delegates, the nominees, and officials of every station! Now then, you, T. Southern, on double alert for all manner of absurdity at this convention!"

Thus charged, we drank steadily for the next two hours before going to visit grand guy Dave Dellinger, head of National Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam and one of the chief coordinators for the planned demonstrations. Before our meeting, I thought this so-called Dellinger must necessarily be some kind of old-fool-person, a kind of leftover leftist from another era who didn't know where it was at right now, just a compulsive organizer ... maybe even a monstro-commie-spade-fag. But no, a groove and gas he proved to be.
Suddenly Mister John Jack Genet, knowing no English at all, demanded of our ace trans (Richard Dick Seaver, of Evergreen-Grove fame) if Hugh Hefner was a fag.

Well, really. I mean I'm no prude myself, but when some weird frog starts blasting the Hef, that's when I begin to get a bit uptight. Unfortunately I had nothing at the moment to get up on, much less tight, so I simply lay back, and sort of dropped out, so to speak. Dellinger, of course, knew nothing about Hef sex, nor could (I warrant) care less. In any case the subject was soon dropped in favor of more serious matters-namely where we could find Allen Ginsberg. Allen, it developed, was staying at the Lincoln Hotel, just opposite the park itself; so with Dick Seaver at the wheel, we zoomed across town, toward the very heart of the action, for it was now ten minutes till curfewville, eleven p.m. And quite apparent it was, too, when we reached the scene, the baby-blue police already massed in rows of three... nightsticks and Mace at the ready, also gas masks, smoke grenades, and riot guns, a weird sight I can tell you. They lined the sidewalk bordering the park, which was completely dark, except for two or three bonfires glowing in the distance. In the midst of the police formation was a huge armored van, on top of which were several banks of large searchlights; in front of the still dark lights stood three men, the ones on either side holding riot guns, the kind used to fire tear-gas shells, while the man between them made announcements over a gigantic bullhorn:

"This is a final warning. Clear the park. Disperse. You have five minutes to disperse. You have five minutes to get out of this park!"

About then we spotted big Ed Sanders, of Fug and E.V.0. fame, threading his way along the periphery of monstro-fuzz before knifing into the darkness.

"Where's that loony fruit Al Ginsberg?!?" I shouted, rushing to overtake him. Fortunately, just before lowering the boom on me, Ed recognized the remark for the clever and good-natured jibe it was. "He's doing his thing," he said, pointing, "over by that fire."

We all started walking in that direction. As our eyes became accustomed to the dark, and in the eerie light of the approaching fires, we could now make out figures and faces where before it had been an empty blackness. It is difficult to estimate the number of persons there, but they were everywhere, probably more than two thousand, milling around, seemingly about half of them moving toward the street to get out of the park, the other half just wandering uncertainly in the half-light.

We found Allen, seated in the center of a group of fifty or so, doing his thing, which in this case was the "Om," leading the others in chanting the word "Om" with varying intonation, pitch, and volume. Sanders explained that at eleven o'clock a rumor that the police were moving in had caused panic and started a general and chaotic flight. Ginsberg however had restored calm by gathering these people around him and doing his Om thing. Now they appeared to be serenity itself, while behind us the bullhorn droned on: "Final warning. The Officers are moving in in five minutes. Anyone in the park will be arrested." We sat down with the others, and joined the Oming, which especially delighted Genet; we stayed there for maybe half an hour, while the circle grew steadily larger, and the "final warnings" were repeated. It was now nearing midnight. Burroughs looked at his watch, and with that unerring awareness of which he is capable, muttered, "They're coming." At that instant, the banks of searchlights blazed up on the armored van which was already moving toward us. Fanned out on each side of the van were about a thousand police.

another clueless senator.

republican senator Rick Santorum equates consensual gay sex to bigamy, polygamy and incest:

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," Santorum said in an interview published on Monday by the Associated Press.

He continued: "All of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family," Santorum continued. "And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist, in my opinion, in the United States Constitution."

The obvious groups have spoken out about this, but will of course be labeled 'reactionary' by the White House controlled Conservative Media, and Santorum, and his cronies, will continue to disguise the truth by telling such blatant lies.

I'd guess, though, that Santorum believes divorcing your wife of 23 years via email is in line with how a traditional, healthy family should operate.

The New York Times' Frank Rich on what makes The Daily Show with Jon Stewart so good:

"The heart of his show is the faux 'news' broadcast that opens it each night. A typical segment consists of byplay between Mr. Stewart, who serves as anchor, and Stephen Colbert, the self-important, terminally patronizing 'senior correspondent' who is reporting from the 'scene' (a bogus backdrop) of whatever story is at hand. The staff of 'The Daily Show' finds laughs by taking the facts of a news story more seriously than real TV journalists sometimes do. Right through the war, for instance, most TV reporters mindlessly parroted the Pentagon speak of 'coalition forces' without qualification, as if the dozens of allies touted by the White House were providing troops to the American war effort. On 'The Daily Show,' by contrast, "Coalition of the Piddling" has from the start been a continuing logo for reports on coalition 'partners' like Morocco, whose contribution to United States forces was 2,000 monkeys enlisted to set off land mines. (That's not satire; 'The Daily Show' picked up the story from The Washington Post.)

"Mr. Stewart and company were on top of 'The Halliburton Connection' (as another segment logo has it) well before much of the media spoke up loudly about the nexus between Dick Cheney's former employer and lucrative government wartime contracts. When Mr. Stewart asked Mr. Colbert for his take on whether Saddam was dead or alive, the correspondent answered, 'One thing is certain: If Saddam is dead, it greatly reduces his ability to control Iraq.' But wouldn't his death end his control entirely? asked Mr. Stewart. Not necessarily, argued Mr. Colbert: 'When this man appears in public no one is sure it's actually him, and yet he's held an iron grip on power since 1979 — 24 years of brutal dictatorship, all while only maybe existing. The point is we can kill Saddam Hussein but we won't win the war until we kill the idea of Saddam Hussein. So what we need to do is develop bombs that kill ideas.'
"But the war itself increasingly became the subject, and the jokes about President Bush depart from the late-nite clichés. The Bush on 'Saturday Night Live' may still be frat-boy simple, wishing that 'Shock and Awe' had been named 'Tango & Cash,' but 'The Daily Show' sees a slicker operator. After the president told the Iraqis in a subtitled TV address that they were 'a good and gifted people' who 'deserve better than tyranny and corruption and torture chambers,' Mr. Stewart cited it as proof that "condescension knows no borders." Nor is the show taking at face value the White House's professed devotion to postwar Iraq. 'We won,' said Mr. Colbert in his 'report' from Baghdad 10 days ago. 'Rebuilding is for losers. Time to party! Then it's off to Syria for the next invasion.'
"'It's so interesting to me that people talk about late-night comedy being cynical,' Mr. Stewart says. 'What's more cynical than forming an ideological news network like Fox and calling it `fair and balanced'? What we do, I almost think, is adorable in its idealism. It's quaint.' He's not wrong. During this war, the notion of exercising cant-free speech on an American TV network, even a basic cable network, has proved to be idealistic, quaint and too often restricted to Comedy Central at 11 o'clock."

April 21, 2003

choose folk rock

Malkmus says: "by choosing folk-rock you are saying no to the cult of growth that drives the Bush administration to push American ideology down the world's throat."

Iggy Pop is 56 today, happy birthday, Iggy

April 18, 2003

Friday Morning Poetry

piano and scene
--- by David Berman

A child needs to know the point of the holiday.

His aunt is saying grace over a decaffeinated coffee
and her daughter is reading a Russian novel
whose 45 chapters are set
on 45 consecutive Valentine's Days.

Grandpa is telling the kids fairy tales
from Pennsylvania's pretzel-making region

and it's hard for me to be in the mood
you want me to be in right now,

as I'm suddenly wrapped up in this speculation
on the as yet undiscovered moods of the future,

like nostalgia for a discontinued model of robot
or patriotic feelings for your galaxy

which will probably resemble nosalgia and patriotism
as we now know it, but with added tiers of complexity.

Even if we could manage to travel in time, who's to say
we could relate with those who receive us?

Perhaps we would not be able to read the expressions
on our own descendants faces for what they mean.

As advanced as we consider ourselves,
we still allow ad copy to pander to us.
The scam exposed, it endures with our permission
as a parallel narrative running beside our lives
where we sit with an unbuttered baked potato
and a warm beer in multiple versions of Akron
leavened with foreclosure, heartburn and rain.

Great-grandfather's hobbies, whether they be botany or magic,
can barely make sense to a boy named Occupant III.

Their genius was to let us criticize them
until it became boring and obvious to do so.

Meanwhile they were up ahead, busily constructing a world
in which boring and obvious criticism
was about the worst thing you could do,
and when we reached them in the time they were waiting
with their multiple Akrons,
always one link ahead in the chain of consent.

Maybe we need to give up on these simplistic
"us vs. them" oppositions that we shouldn't believe in,
but in our anger do.

Perhaps we should be concentrating
on what's going to happen an hour or two from now,

whether the human race will survive into this afternoon,
what kinds of food they will eat at the dinner table

and what tales they'll tell of this morning.

April 17, 2003

If god wrote a letter to george w. bush, it might look a little like this:

"Let's get to the point. All sources are telling me that you are more than a little outta control. Way out of line. Off-leash and lost and drunk on dreams of global supremacy and in deep need of major karmic spanking, a divine colonic. The various world deities are shooting me urgent e-mails left and right. We gotta have some words, brother. Are you sitting down? Thinking cap on? Pretzels out of reach? Excellent.

"Word is you're reborn Christian. Great. Didn't quite get it right the first time, is what they say, what with all the inebriants and daddy's silver spoon and dodging Vietnam and, hey, nothing snags those God-fearin'-fundamentalist votes more than claiming you rediscovered Jesus while recovering from another gin bender on Dad's yacht, am I right? Fine and good. Whatever works, I always say.

"Problem is, Jesus is a little piqued. He's right here with me, right now, and he's drumming his fingers on the table, eyes aflame. He has a question: "Just what in the heck do you think you're doing in my dad's name? Did you miss the part about 'Thou shalt not kill?' You dare invoke me and my father and call yourself a forgiving Christian and yet you stomp around the globe like you own it?" Christ, he is not happy.

"He also wants to know what's with those hardcore evangelical Christian missionaries marching into Iraq. Sure, the food and aid they bring in is wonderful and needed, but the Bibles? The sanctimonious preaching? Billy Graham spawn Franklin Graham's bilious Islam-bashing ideology? What's up with that? Who you trying to kid?"

Embedded photographer Laurent Van der Stockt, on contract with The New York Times Magazine writes about what he saw as the Marines marched to Bagdad. An excerpt:

"Marines are conditioned to reach their target at any cost, by staying alive and facing any type of enemy. They abusively make use of disproportionate firepower. These hardened troops, followed by tons of equipment, supported by extraordinary artillery power, protected by fighter jets and cutting-edge helicopters, were shooting on local inhabitants who understood absolutely nothing of what was going on.

"With my own eyes I saw about fifteen civilians killed in two days. I've gone through enough wars to know that it's always dirty, that civilians are always the first victims. But the way it was happening here, it was insane.

"At the roughest moment, the most humane of the troops was called Doug. He gave real warning shots. From 800 yards he could hit a tire and, if that wasn't enough, then the motor. He saved ten lives in two hours by driving back civilians who were coming towards us.

"Distraught soldiers were saying: 'I ain't prepared for this, I didn't come here to shoot civilians.' The colonel countered that the Iraqis were using inhabitants to kill marines, that 'soldiers were being disguised as civilians, and that ambulances were perpetrating terrorist attacks.'

"I drove away a girl who had had her humerus pierced by a bullet. Enrico was holding her in his arms. In the rear, the girl's father was protecting his young son, wounded in the torso and losing consciousness. The man spoke in gestures to the doctor at the back of the lines, pleading: 'I don't understand, I was walking and holding my children's hands. Why didn't you shoot in the air? Or at least shoot me?'"

April 16, 2003

In 1984, I was Hospitalized for Approaching Perfection

according to this shot, dean and britta cover the wonderful silver jews song random rules on their new record, L'avventura.

Didn't Dean already release a cover of "Indian Summer" on Slide?

transcript of the comments tim robbins made yesterday at the National Press club.


"A famous middle-aged rock-and-roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. "They promote our concert appearances," he said. "They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war."

"And here in Washington, Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleischer whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.

"A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.

"Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.
"I remember when the Columbine High School shootings happened. President Clinton criticized Hollywood for contributing to this terrible tragedy -- this, as we were dropping bombs over Kosovo. Could the violent actions of our leaders contribute somewhat to the violent fantasies of our teenagers? Or is it all just Hollywood and rock and roll?
"And in the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition? Where have all the Democrats gone? Long time passing, long time ago. (Applause.) With apologies to Robert Byrd, I have to say it is pretty embarrassing to live in a country where a five-foot- one comedian has more guts than most politicians. (Applause.) We need leaders, not pragmatists that cower before the spin zones of former entertainment journalists. We need leaders who can understand the Constitution, congressman who don't in a moment of fear abdicate their most important power, the right to declare war to the executive branch. And, please, can we please stop the congressional sing-a- longs?

"The journalists in this country can battle back at those who would rewrite our Constitution in Patriot Act II, or "Patriot, The Sequel," as we would call it in Hollywood. We are counting on you to star in that movie. Journalists can insist that they not be used as publicists by this administration. (Applause.) The next White House correspondent to be called on by Ari Fleischer should defer their question to the back of the room, to the banished journalist du jour. And any instance of intimidation to free speech should be battled against. Any acquiescence or intimidation at this point will only lead to more intimidation. You have, whether you like it or not, an awesome responsibility and an awesome power: the fate of discourse, the health of this republic is in your hands, whether you write on the left or the right. This is your time, and the destiny you have chosen.
"Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat. These are challenging times. There is a wave of hate that seeks to divide us -- right and left, pro-war and anti-war. In the name of my 11-year-old nephew, and all the other unreported victims of this hostile and unproductive environment of fear, let us try to find our common ground as a nation. Let us celebrate this grand and glorious experiment that has survived for 227 years. To do so we must honor and fight vigilantly for the things that unite us -- like freedom, the First Amendment and, yes, baseball."

by Steve Kowit

This evening, the sturdy Levi's
I wore every day for over a year
& which seemed to the end
in perfect condition,
suddenly tore.
How or why I don't know,
but there it was: a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racquetball court,
got into this street clothes,
& halfway home collapsed & died.
Take heed, you who read this,
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart,
& kiss the earth & be joyful,
& make much of your time,
& be kindly to everyone,
even to those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe
it will happen,
you too will one day be gone,
I, whose Levi's ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.

April 15, 2003

Junky, the book, is fifty.

On April 15, 1953, Ace Books, a publisher of pulp paperbacks, released a novel by a writer using the pseudonym William Lee. He was actually william s. burroughs, and the novel, his first, was "Junky: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict." Priced at 35 cents and bound back to back with a reprint of "Narcotic Agent," a memoir by Maurice Helbrant, "Junky" sold 100,000 copies in its first year. His career established, Burroughs (1914-1997), went on to write "Queer," "Naked Lunch" and "The Soft Machine."

In observance of the anniversary a panel discussion, " `Junky' at 50: The Legacy of Burroughs's Most Singular Work," will run from 6:30 to 8 tonight in Room 203 of Butler Library on the campus of Columbia University. Among the participating scholars will be Oliver Harris, a senior lecturer at Keele University in England and the editor of the Penguin Books 50th anniversary edition of "Junky," issued today, which includes the original text recreated from archival typescripts, the author's unpublished introduction and an omitted chapter. [text from the New York Times]

an excerpt from the book.

April 14, 2003

good hunter s. thompson:

"How could this once-proud nation have changed so much, so drastically, in only a little more than two years. In what seems like the blink of an eye, this George Bush has brought us from a prosperous nation at peace to a broke nation at war. And why are we killing innocent people at point-blank range on the other side of the world -- with big guns and big bombs that kill everything in reach?

"Indeed, there is something going on here, Mr. Jones, and you don't know what it is, do you?

"Bob Dylan said that, and he is still right, now more than ever. Hell, there is nothing really new about American enforcers -- especially cops -- killing and brutalizing innocent American citizens. It happens with depressing regularity. But at least the bastards used to have the decency to deny it.

"That is a big difference, sports fans, and that is why I feel so savagely depressed tonight. When the Pentagon feels free -- and even gleeful -- about killing anybody and Everybody who gets in the way of their vicious crusade for oil, the public soul of this country has changed forever, and professional sports is only a serenade for the death of the American dream."

you can view the video for the Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks song "Dark Wave," here.
for an amazing account of a Vietnam era prisoner of war and his escape from Laos, pick up Dieter Denglers' fascinating book "Escape from Laos." click for an excerpt.

Acclaimed German film director werner herzog read the book and turned Denglers' story into a documentary titled: Little Dieter Needs to Fly. it and the book are highly recommended.

Dengler died in 2001, at age 62.

April 11, 2003

Momus essay on war as fiction.

from the piece:

"No matter how inspired they are by imagination and fiction, the actions we take, here on the timeline of now, are real. What Bush means when he speaks so often of a 'moment of truth' is not that something irreducible and authentic -- something 'real' -- is about to be recognised. He would like to mean that. But, on the contrary, Bush really means by 'moment of truth' that something fictional -- an element from his 'illusory space', his ideology, 'the project' -- is about to impact on the real world. He means, in other words, that a piece of fiction is about to be forced, by means of spin, money and military might, to wrap around the realities of the world, rather as you might wrap a flag -- pure metonymy, pure ideology -- around a rock.

"With the authoritarian privilege of the author, Bush says to the world 'This is what happens next'. And no matter how ridiculous, how fascist, how murderous, how reductive, how damaging, how retrogressive his proposal might be, it becomes, because he is 'the author', fact. Everything which resists his fiction-become-fact is 'irrelevant' and starts to head in the other direction -- facts like NATO and the UN start to look distinctly fictional. His chapters replace theirs. A chapter heading of his, 'Shock and Awe', replaces the alternative, 'Dialogue and Contain'. And meanwhile, real people die. Real people die in order that he might bring closer the reality of his fictional template, his illusory space, 'The New American Century'."

--- by Frank O'Hara

How funny you are today New York
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
and St. Bridget's steeple leaning a little to the left

here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
(I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
accepts me foolish and free
all I want is a room up there
and you in it
and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
for people to rub up against each other
and when their surgical appliances lock
they stay together
for the rest of the day (what a day)
I go by to check a slide and I say
that painting's not so blue

where's Lana Turner
she's out eating
and Garbo's backstage at the Met
everyone's taking their coat off
so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
and the park's full of dancers with their tights and shoes
in little bags
who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
why not
the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we're all winning
we're alive

the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
who moved to the country for fun
they moved a day too soon
even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
though in the wrong country
and all those liars have left the UN
the Seagram Building's no longer rivalled in interest
not that we need liquor (we just like it)

and the little box is out on the sidewalk
next to the delicatessen
so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
while the sun is still shining

oh god it's wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

April 10, 2003

americans for safe access: fighting the good fight.

boo to the baseball world

MLB cancels 15th anniversary screening of "bull durham" citing anti-war criticism by co-stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

"Hall president Dale Petroskey sent a letter to Robbins and Sarandon this week, telling them the festivities April 26-27 at Cooperstown, N.Y., had been called off. Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary under Ronald Reagan, said recent comments by the actors 'ultimately could put our troops in even more danger.'

Petroskey wrote: "In a free country such as ours, every American has the right to his or her own opinions, and to express them. Public figures, such as you, have platforms much larger than the average American's, which provides you an extraordinary opportunity to have your views heard -- and an equally large obligation to act and speak responsibly.

"We believe your very public criticism of President Bush at this important -- and sensitive -- time in our nation's history helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger. As an institution, we stand behind our President and our troops in this conflict.

"In his letter, Robbins said he'd been looking forward to 'a weekend away from politics and war.' He said he remained 'skeptical' of the war plans and told Petroskey he did not realize baseball was 'a Republican sport.'

"'I am sorry that you have chosen to use baseball and your position at the Hall of Fame to make a political statement,' Robbins wrote. 'I know there are many baseball fans that disagree with you, and even more that will react with disgust to realize baseball is being politicized.'

"'To suggest that my criticism of the President put the troops in danger is absurd. ... I wish you had, in your letter, saved me the rhetoric and talked honestly about your ties to the Bush and Reagan administrations.'

"'You invoke patriotism and use words like 'freedom' in an attempt to intimidate and bully. In doing so, you dishonor the words 'patriotism' and 'freedom' and dishonor the men and women who have fought wars to keep this nation a place where one can freely express their opinions without fear of reprisal or punishment.'"

April 9, 2003

by Ted Berrigan

wake up
smoke pot
see the cat
love my wife
think of Frank

eat lunch
make noises
sing songs
go out
dig the streets

go home for dinner
read the Post
make pee-pee
two kids

read books
see my friends
get pissed-off
have a Pepsi

geroge mcgovern is on a roll. In this piece from the Nation, he states:

"Thanks to the most crudely partisan decision in the history of the Supreme Court, the nation has been given a President of painfully limited wisdom and compassion and lacking any sense of the nation's true greatness. Appearing to enjoy his role as Commander in Chief of the armed forces above all other functions of his office, and unchecked by a seemingly timid Congress, a compliant Supreme Court, a largely subservient press and a corrupt corporate plutocracy, George W. Bush has set the nation on a course for one-man rule.

He treads carelessly on the Bill of Rights, the United Nations and international law while creating a costly but largely useless new federal bureaucracy loosely called "Homeland Security." Meanwhile, such fundamental building blocks of national security as full employment and a strong labor movement are of no concern. The nearly $1.5 trillion tax giveaway, largely for the further enrichment of those already rich, will have to be made up by cutting government services and shifting a larger share of the tax burden to workers and the elderly. This President and his advisers know well how to get us involved in imperial crusades abroad while pillaging the ordinary American at home. The same families who are exploited by a rich man's government find their sons and daughters being called to war, as they were in Vietnam--but not the sons of the rich and well connected. (Let me note that the son of South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson is now on duty in the Persian Gulf. He did not use his obvious political connections to avoid military service, nor did his father seek exemptions for his son. That goes well with me, with my fellow South Dakotans and with every fair-minded American.)

The invasion of Iraq and other costly wars now being planned in secret are fattening the ever-growing military-industrial complex of which President Eisenhower warned in his great farewell address. War profits are booming, as is the case in all wars. While young Americans die, profits go up. But our economy is not booming, and our stock market is not booming. Our wages and incomes are not booming. While waging a war against Iraq, the Bush Administration is waging another war against the well-being of America."

Irvine Welsh moves to Chicago and talks about america:

"A crass anti-Americanism has crept into our [British] culture. We need to remember that it's the oil-greedy government led by an Ivy-League rich brat who used his family connections to avoid serving in Vietnam, who are sending troops into Iraq, not the American people."

"The American media is disgusting; the one-sided propaganda in both broadcast and printed material is so extreme that I seriously worry about it as a threat to democracy. Before I came out here I read a piece by Norman Mailer in the Telegraph where he said that he could conceive of totalitarianism in America. At the time I thought that this was trite and paranoid, now I can at least see the possibility of it."

April 8, 2003

John Fante: born April 8, 1909, died May 8, 1983

Happy Birthday, and thank you for your words...

From Ask the Dust:

"I was twenty then. What the hell, I used to say, take your time, Bandini. You got ten years to write a book, so take it easy, get out and learn about life, walk the streets. That's your trouble: your ignorance of life."
"One day a beautiful letter came. Oh, I got a lot of letters, but this was the only beautiful letter, and it came in the morning, and it said (he was talking about The Little Dog Laughed) he had read The Little Dog Laughed and liked it; he said, Mr. Bandini, if ever I saw a genius, you are it. His name was Leonardo, a great Italian critic, only he was not known as a critic, he was just a man in West Virginia, but he was great and he was a critic, and he died. He was dead when my airmail letter got to West Virginia, and his sister sent my letter back. She wrote a beautiful letter too, she was a pretty good critic too, telling me Leonardo had died of consumption but he was happy till the end, and one of the last things he did was sit up in bed and write me about The Little Dog Laughed: a dream out of life, but very important; Leonardo, dead now, a saint in heaven, equal to any apostle of the twelve.

Everybody in the hotel read The Little Dog Laughed, everybody: a story to make you die holding the page, and it wasn't about a dog, either: a clever story, screaming poetry. And the great editor, none but J.C. Hackmuth with his name signed like Chinese said in a letter: a great story and I'm proud to print it..."
John Fante was inspired by the writings (not the horrid political views) of knut hamsun.

charles bukowski was inspired by Fante.

Here is a very short piece about when Bukowski met Fante, late in Fante's life, when he was confined to a hospital bed:

small conversation in the afternoon with John Fante

he said, "I was working in Hollywood when Faulkner was working in Hollywood and he was the worst: he was too drunk to stand up at the end of the afternoon and so I had to help him into a taxi day after day after day.

"but when he left Hollywood, I stayed on, and while I didn't drink like that maybe I should have, I might have had the guts then to follow him and get the hell out of there."

I told him, "you write as well as Faulkner.:" "you mean that?" he asked from the hospital bed, smiling.

April 7, 2003

Let's go Orange!!!!!

favorite places: add belgium to the list
emperor george?

"This war is un-American. That's an unlikely word to use, I know: it has an unhappy provenance, associated forever with the McCarthyite hunt for reds under the beds, purging anyone suspected of "un-American activities". Besides, for many outside the US, the problem with this war is not that it's un-American - but all too American. But that does an injustice to the US and its history. It assumes that the Bush administration represents all America, at all times, when in fact the opposite is true. For this administration, and this war, are not typical of the US. On the contrary, on almost every measure, they are exceptions to the American rule.

"Talk like this is not that comfortable in America just now; you'd be denounced fairly swiftly as a Saddam apologist or a traitor. The limits of acceptable discussion have narrowed sharply, just as civil liberties have taken a hammering as part of the post-9/11 war on terror. You might fall foul of the Patriot Act, or be denounced for insufficient love of country. There is something McCarthyite about the atmosphere which has spawned this war, making Democrats too fearful to be an opposition worthy of the name and closing down national debate. And things don't get much more un-American than that."

April 4, 2003

fox news anchor david asman asks porn stars to sign publicity shots for the troops, which include his own son. the pentagon, citing host county law, won't forward the shots. but, should a soldier ask, the pentagon will ship over a bible.

capitalist poem #5
-- by campbell mcgrath

I was at the 7-11.
I ate a burrito.
I drank a Slurpee.
I was tired.
It was late, after work washing dishes.
The burrito was good.
I had another.

I did it every day for a week.
I did it every day for a month.

To cook a burrito you tear off the plastic wrapper.
You push button #3 on the microwave.
Burritos are large, small, or medium.
Red or green chili peppers.
Beef or bean or both.
There are 7-11's all across the nation.

On the way out I bought a quart of beer for $1.39.
I was aware of social injustice
In only the vaguest possible way.

April 3, 2003

bloomberg news staffer, nick hays, quits by quoting bob dylan:

"Matt, I quit," wrote Hays. "As the poet said, I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind. You could have done better, but I don't mind. You just kind of wasted my precious time. But don't think twice, it's alright."

April 2, 2003

Theo tait on Richard Yates, from a recent London Review of Books. Readers who have enjoyed Richard Yates work also recommend the following books:

Lightning On The Sun, by Robert Bingham

Fat City, by Leonard Gardner

The Lost Scrapbook, by Evan Dara

Wittgenstein's Mistress, by David Markson

Call It Sleep, by Henry Roth

serge gainsbourg was born April 2, 1928. He died March 2, 1991.

Happy Birthday Serge.

April 1, 2003

Last-Minute Message for a Time Capsule
By Philip Appleman

I have to tell you this, whoever you are:
that on one summer morning here, the ocean
pounded in on tumbledown breakers,
a south wind, bustling along the shore,
whipped the froth into little rainbows,
and a reckless gull swept down the beach
as if to fly were everything it needed.
I thought of your hovering saucers,
looking for clues, and I wanted to write this down,
so it wouldn't be lost forever --
that once upon a time we had
meadows here, and astonishing things,
swans and frogs and luna moths
and blue skies that could stagger your heart.
We could have had them still,
and welcomed you to earth, but
we also had the righteous ones
who worshipped the True Faith, and Holy War.
When you go home to your shining galaxy,
say that what you learned
from this dead and barren place is
to beware the righteous ones.

An academic paper on guided by voices guru bob pollard: The Club is Open: Robert Pollard and the Social Function of Popular Music by Stephen Spence. Grab a beer and read on!
more on the peter arnett firing (via the black table).

he has a column today in the UK rag, the mirror. Excerpts from the piece:

"I am still in shock and awe at being fired. There is enormous sensitivity within the US government to reports coming out from Baghdad. They don't want credible news organisations reporting from here because it presents them with enormous problems.
Because I stated the obvious to Iraqi television; that the US war timetable has fallen by the wayside.
The right-wing media and politicians are looking for any opportunity to be critical of the reporters who are here, whatever their nationality. I made the misjudgment which gave them the opportunity to do so. I gave an impromptu interview to Iraqi television feeling that after four months of interviewing hundreds of them it was only professional courtesy to give them a few comments.
I don't want to give aid and comfort to the enemy - I just want to be able to tell the truth.
During the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, I entered a US-held town which had been totally destroyed. The Viet Cong had taken over and were threatening the commander's building so he called down an artillery strike which killed many of his own men. The Major with us asked: "How could this happen?" A soldier replied: "Sir, we had to destroy the town to save it." The Bush and Blair administration does not want that label stuck on this war, it is a liberation for them. But the problem is US Marines at checkpoints are suspicious of every man, woman and child because of the suicide bomb.
We know the world, including many Americans, is ambivalent about this war and I think it is essential to be here. I'm not here to be a superstar. I have been there in 1991 and could never be bigger than that. Some reporters make judgements but that is not my style. I present both sides and report what I see with my own eyes.
But I want to tell the story as best as I can, which makes it so disappointing to be fired."

Many of us out here are also disappointed by your firing. Stay in Iraq and keep "telling the story as best" you can.