March 31, 2003

"As the ground campaign against Saddam Hussein faltered last week, with attenuated supply lines and a lack of immediate reinforcements, there was anger in the Pentagon. Several senior war planners complained to me in interviews that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his inner circle of civilian advisers, who had been chiefly responsible for persuading President Bush to lead the country into war, had insisted on micromanaging the war’s operational details. Rumsfeld’s team took over crucial aspects of the day-to-day logistical planning—traditionally, an area in which the uniformed military excels—and Rumsfeld repeatedly overruled the senior Pentagon planners on the Joint Staff, the operating arm of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “He thought he knew better,” one senior planner said. “He was the decision-maker at every turn.”

"Scott Ritter, the former marine and United Nations weapons inspector, who has warned for months that the American “shock and awe” strategy would not work, noted that much of the bombing has had little effect or has been counterproductive. For example, the bombing of Saddam’s palaces has freed up a brigade of special guards who had been assigned to protect them, and who have now been sent home to await further deployment. “Every one of their homes—and they are scattered throughout Baghdad—is stacked with ammunition and supplies,” Ritter told me.

“This is tragic,” one senior planner said bitterly. “American lives are being lost.” The former intelligence official told me, “They all said, ‘We can do it with air power.’ They believed their own propaganda.” The high-ranking former general described Rumsfeld’s approach to the Joint Staff war planning as “McNamara-like intimidation by intervention of a small cell”—a reference to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and his aides, who were known for their challenges to the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Vietnam War. The former high-ranking general compared the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Stepford wives. “They’ve abrogated their responsibility.”

-- from seymour hersh's piece in the April 7,2003 issue of the New Yorker titled "Offense and Defense: The Battle Between Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon."

Kudos for Hersh for continuing to provide details and insight on the expanding gulf between the administrations propaganda and real facts, and to editor David Remnick for not killing the stories, and not firing journalists for speaking their minds.

hunter s. thompson is getting married

hunter s. thompson and his fiance, anita

"The war was ugly enough, but that was only the start. The Horrible blizzard that shut down most of Colorado for four days and nights was far worse news for me than the war. It destroyed our annual high-risk orgy of gambling and raving that has become a tradition out here. Ed Bradley got jerked up by the roots and sent off to war. Curtis was back in Washington to infiltrate the JDL, and the billionaire degenerate Ewing brothers from North Charlston, infamous in gambling circles for their extremely aggressive gambling tactics and quasi-depraved tastes, refused to fly into the blizzard and went to las Vegas for whatever action they could find.

The blizzard almost drove me crazy. I have nothing against snow. I am totally prepared for it, after many years of practice, and snow has never prevented me from going anywhere I really wanted to go….

But this blizzard was different. It closed everything -- schools, highways, airports, newspaper deliveries, along with food, beer, gasoline and all human traffic across the Continental Divide for almost a week -- witch stranded Anita, my beautiful fiancè and soon-to-be wife, on the other side of the mountain.

I also had an elegant diamond engagement ring somewhere out there in the white-out between me and New Orleans, where I spend a lot of time on occasional sporting business…. So there was no Anita and no ring, and that was heavy on my mind as the tournament got under way. No gambling, no guests, no fiancè, no ring -- all this finally caused me to flip out and start trying to charter some kind of bandit jet plane to fly Anita over the hump by any means necessary. I was obsessed with it, at any price -- regardless of cost. It was madness. I was in the acute stage of a total nervous breakdown.

That was when the Sheriff had to step in and strongly suggest that I get a grip on myself, which I finally did, but not until he promised me that U.S. Interstate 70 was finally cleared of the monster avalanche and Anita was safely on the road. So I hunkered down and stared at the basketball games on TV until I passed out from desperate backed-up passion and 40 frantic hours with no sleep. It was a long and restless night, full of unacceptably rotten dreams and spastic muttering about point spreads.

Anita pulled into the garage just in time for the end of the Butler-Louisville game, which I lost badly, but it didn't hurt too much, given my circumstance, because I didn't expect them to go far. There would be no heavy re-match with Kentucky this year, but it wouldn't have been worth watching anyway. The Cardinals would have been routed.

On Saturday I proposed and gave her the ring, and after that we both went a little crazy for a while, which was clearly the right thing to do."

March 28, 2003

Magnet on mark linkous

March 27, 2003

"how i met your mother"
-- david berman

"you can tell he has an older brother," she said
"how," i wondered "do you know that"
"by the bb scars on his ass"

we watched "motherfuckers" cackle out of his mouth.
he wanted something. something like a mini-mart blowjob.
she propped open her briefcase and pulled out
a stack of research on tonights guests.

i was surprised she was willing to share information.
we'd been rivals for eight years, writing the society pages
for our towns two daily newspapers.

truth told, i wasnt up on this crowd.
id only heard rumours about the house on route 727
where they used a nineteen letter alphabet
and held nude parties fueled by 5 dollar bills
pulled out of birthday cards by the host,
a postal clerk with a sharp eye for grandmotherly script.

"OK," i said, "who is mr. whiskey over there by the bean dip?"
she glanced down at her notes, "he just opened a salon
by the courthouse for defendants who want the innocent look."

the subject was listening to a women bitch about parrots.
"they talk but they dont understand!"
"if animals could talk, we would have killed them
off years ago," he said dryly

"how about the lady in the orange crossing-guard sash?"

"part of the downtown crowd.
she paints portraits of children who cut in line."

i recognized the fellow she was talking to.
a spanish exchange student. his lust
had scorched several area trellises.

an old man came out of the guest room
and walked up to them.

his necktie acted as a valve
that kept the sadness bottled in.

"frederico, i want you to meet elmer, of elmer's glue"

my exact thought was, "no way..."
i faked a disinterested look around the room.
on the wall behind me hung a framed photograph,
"nephew with first stereo,"
and a painting called "three ideas about maine"

the old man approached us, pulling an oxygen tank
on a little chrome cart. he wore a checkered sportscoat
covered in industry medals that clattered when he moved.

it was taking him forever to reach us.

i guess we both looked at the phone and thought about
calling the story in for the morning edition,

but there was something more finely drawn in the air
then the dotted line that showed our possible paths to the phone.

she took my writing hand in hers,
and after that i could find no precedent.
police arrest two nobel prize winners (and others) for protesting the war - without a permit - in lafayette park

This is what our democracy looks like

"The Nobel laureates were detained along with religious leaders and Vietnam-era protester Daniel Ellsberg as they sat in a circle in the park and chanted 'Peace, shalom.' They held roses as well as gruesome posters showing civilian casualties from the war."

March 26, 2003

"War is a monstrous failure of imagination."
--- franz kafka
protest records, curated by thurston moore and chris habib, "exists for exists for musicians, poets and artists to express LOVE + LIBERTY in the face of greed, sexism, racism, hate-crimes and war." on the site right now, are anti-war images and mp3 recordings by anne waldman, cat power, stephen taylor, and the beastie boys, among others. more recordings will be added each day. check it out and tell your friends.

the new cat power video for "he war" is available here.

March 25, 2003

50 most hated new yorkers compiled by the editors of the new york press.
did spiral stairs take his name in homage to this 1960s Sacramento band? let me know if you know.
slate agrees that books published in england are inferior to books published elsewhere. brit publishers glue bindings (rather than sew them) and don't always use acid-free paper, which causes easy binding wear and tear as well as quick discoloring of the paper.

books published in the UK generally feel lighter and cheaper than their counterparts published outside the UK. my brit-published copy of JG Ballard's "Crash," which I purchased in Paris in 1998, is, after one reading and a few years on the shelf, almost dust.
malkmus and jicks play dc's 9:30 club sunday may 11.

March 24, 2003

-- by dylan thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-- in Memory of William R. Fox: July 12, 1944 - March 23, 2002

March 21, 2003

my cheap lifestyle
-- by eileen myles

After a bourbon
I came in and turned on the tube
lit a joint and watched Monterey Pop
nearly wept when Janis came on
Janis' legs kicking on stage is a memorable site
Janis does her sweet little Texas girl smile as
her act finishes. she kicks her heals
and otis redding is so sexy
millions of young americans experience religion for the first
in their lives
or so the cameras would inform us
I'm concerned about manipulation in this media
how one gains such wonderful power
but of course I'm too tired
thrilled by the process of bringing down a familar blanket
upon my bed
it's nearly fall
nearly winter
I expect the stars will be bright
the woods full of bears


and in hoops:

division 1: lets go orange

division 3: lets go fighting scots

March 20, 2003

flashback to 1983

"War costs, but it is unclear who will pick up the tab. George Bush is not financing this campaign through taxation. Instead the president is cutting taxes - sending a welfare cheque to the wealthy - and raising military spending. The slowdown in the American economy has seen many states, who have to balance their budgets, cut back on social spending. The White House made it clear that there would be no federal bail out for these programmes. The president is reheating Reaganomics - cutting back on welfare, overcompensating with defence spending and offering big tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the poor." Randeep Ramesh, from the guardian
advice to a graduate: sex sells and will make you lots of money

24 year old college graduate john trani receives hooters franchise from parents as graduation present.

the sf weekley reported:

"John Trani didn't return our week's worth of calls requesting comment. But that didn't matter; it's his parents, Nick and Shirley, who are the real heroes of this tale. They put their son through college at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he became fraternity programming coordinator of the Greek Council. They encouraged John to come up with a dream business plan, with the promise that they'd help him realize it. When John suggested buying and running a Hooters, which my sources tell me is like a PG-rated, hetero-male cheerleader fantasy, plus burgers and beer, Nick and Shirley plunked down a reported quarter-million dollars to help Trani junior realize his San Francisco dream."

March 19, 2003

A Challenge To The Dark
-- by Charles Bukowski

shot in the eye
shot in the brain
shot in the ass
shot like a flower in the dance

amazing how death wins hands down
amazing how much credence is given to idiot forms of life

amazing how laughter has been drowned out
amazing how viciousness is such a constant

I must soon declare my own war on their war
I must hold to my last piece of ground
I must protect the small space I have made that has allowed me life

my life not their death
my death not their death...

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. ~ Theodore Roosevelt (1918)

also, please go here (poll is on the left side of the column) and voice support for the dixie chicks (not necessarily the music but the fact they took a public stance against bush and the war). As it stands, the pro-war, anti-chicks crowd is the overwhelming majority. do your part to change that.

March 18, 2003

Oregon Boogie
By major jackson

Khanum, the things we did,
that off-night at The Vet's
when Sister Sledge
issued from the jukebox's

lit dome the darker
rhythms of our native
homes; so, waiving all decorum
maps heap upon fugitives

our bodies made one nation
while in cold pints of pale ale
a couple broke conversation-
toasted our bacchanal.

Half-swaying, we met
& our lips splashed
like words over a page's white
shores, the foamy crash

of the lonely heart at work,
my hand coasting up
the valley in your back,
arriving at the nape thick

with ringlets I slowly brought
to face & inhaled as you spun
out, a laughing pirouette;
the desert in my heart was gone.

But what of the province
beyond that empty dance floor,
the singlemindedness
of beating rain, the silent slurs

masked by cups of caffeine,

the half-hearted grins,
that say, Here in Eugene
it's not the color of your skin . . .

yet all the while making
a fetish of progressiveness.
Along the Willamette,
consciousness thins out

like smoke rings of cannabis,
as the city dances the salsa,
as students sip cups of chai,
over Bell & Cornell, as henna

designs flake from wrists.
finds its artificial ghost
in the O of a spun Frisbee.

At The Vet's Club
your smile wide as a gorge;
others eventually joined
doing the "Eugene Dance,"

a spastic, organic whirling.
A break before the next song,
over the jukebox's neon
face, we leaned, waiting-
then Bob Marley wailing!

daniel johnson has a new record out, fear yourself, which was produced and recorded by sparklehorse genius, mark linkous. for a little background on johnson, and this particular collaboration, click here.

dave savage took this photo of anti-war art in adams-morgan. whatever-whenever has more of savage's photos of dc anti-war art, for your perusal.

March 17, 2003

(smog), sm and the jicks, and deefhoof each have records coming out tomorrow.

"You know I could run for governor but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business. But that's not the kind of profile you have to have to get elected to public office." ~ George W. Bush, 1989

March 14, 2003

trust a poet
-- by William Corbett

Harry Diakov, clear as the light
this frigid January 31, describes
his father's Russian village
surrounded by hemp fields
the villagers harvest on hot
fall days. They wear leather
aprons to protect themselves
from razory stalks as they cut,
gather, and bundle hemp
in clouds of greasy dust that sticks
to their aprons thickening
through the long day into
gritty hemp paste. At night,
weary, they scrape tar-like hemp
from their aprons, fill pipes
with it, smoke themselves silly,
gorge like lords and ladies
and fuck themselves to sleep
waking at first light with another
field to harvest. Harry's father
lived Upstate, a cripple, loved
by Harry, lean wolfish Basil
Rathbone, Nottingham's Sheriff
not Sherlock, of book
thieves, quick, funny, sardonic
lover of Annette, leader of us all,
friend of Ted Berrigan's, himself
a scourge of Brentano's, of the dealer
Eddie Came, of Aussie and Sylvia,
of Bernie the philosopher who
worked a Coney Island stand
"Bust'em Up Baby!" before leaving
to study in Edinburgh and me.
The dope we rolled we smoked
our days and nights wasted
in play before we scattered lucky
to know one another only long
enough for a few bright memories
like these Harry to append
from your name, a decoration,
on the printed page of Ted's journal.
Trust the poet to keep record.

March 13, 2003

we here at the dust congress want people to know that we understand and support the position of the french government with respect to the war on iraq.

to that end, we will do what we can to continue to support the french. we will drink french wine, eat french fries, french kiss french prostitutes, drink pernod, listen to serge gainsbourg, dream about jane birken, whatever it takes.

we won't however, eat french toast. it's american, and we don't like eggs.
george soros' op-ed piece that ran today in the korea herald compares the bush doctrine to animal farm. Some of the piece:

"Iraq is the first instance when the Bush doctrine is being applied and it is provoking an allergic reaction. The Bush doctrine is built on two pillars: (1) The United States will do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy; and (2) the United States arrogates the right to preemptive action.

These pillars support two classes of sovereignty: American sovereignty, which takes precedence over international treaties and obligations, and the sovereignty of all other states. This is reminiscent of George Orwell's Animal Farm: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. To be sure, the Bush doctrine is not stated starkly; it is buried in Orwellian doublespeak. The doublespeak is needed because the doctrine contradicts American values.

The Bush administration believes that international relations are relations of power; legality and legitimacy are mere decorations. This belief is not false, but it exaggerates one aspect of reality to the exclusion of others. The aspect it stresses is military power. But no empire could ever be held together by military power alone. ...........

It is to be hoped that Iraq's conquest will be swift and relatively painless. Removing Saddam is a good thing; yet the way President Bush is going about it must be opposed. In the long run, an open society cannot survive unless the people who live in it believe in it."

nine songs that will make you want to drink. via the black table.

March 12, 2003

today, in 1922 jack kerouac was born. in 1926, john clellon holmes was born.

and in 1962, darryl strawberry was born. here is a poem by paul beatty, who studied under allen ginsberg, mentioning darryl strawberry:

darryl strawberry asleep in the field of dreams

They raised the price of dreams,
blue inked cans of del monte creamed corn
where baseball players
are reborn

in their prime,
to play in modern day times
and not only was the ball white

shoeless Joe Jackson was white

his uni was white
all the dead white players was white
takin batting practice in white home uniforms
under white Iowa clouds.

I squirmed in my seat hoping for a
warm thunder storm

that would rain down cool pappa bell
and hell would drip off corn stalk blades,

pool into a homestead gray

in a gray away uniform,
flip down flip-up shades,
and say -- hey now he's really playin --

got to wear your sun glasses
so you can feel cool.

But it's only a movie
and film school heaven is
where white doctors who played
only an inning and a half
can pray for a tinker everlastin chance to groove the 0-2 sinker.

White boys steady leaning in
truly believin this is the best movie they've ever seen
but none of em asked Josh Gibson to slo-dance
across the color line that
fall in an Iowa ball field

broken but unhealed.
Fathers younger than their sons play catch
onna mismatch patch
of natural grass and James Earl Jones' broad ass.

Hollywood's black fat majesty
bellows... and the people will come.
and put the suicide squeeze on my mother's mother
whose color
is the same
as a night game infield

...and the people will come.
to see black fathers to be
with scars on their knees
from shinbones split in half
and knocked off kneecaps

practice the tap dunks they will pump over their daughters n sons

...and the people will come.
How could daughters and fathers build
wooden bleachers
just to sit and cheer male features.

If umpire Pam Postema dies in the minor leagues
Ty Cobb'l hook slides into heaven
and she'll just call him out
and he will
get up, dust himself off, call her a...
brush it off as a tease.

Is this heaven,

no, it's Iowa.
Is this heaven,

no, it's Harlem.
Is this heaven,

no, it's bedrock.
Is this heaven,

no, it's Cabrini Green.
Do they got a team

ain't sure they got dreams
damn sure they ain't got a field,
or crops that yield.
Is that the sign for 'steal,'

I approach the third base coach
and ask 'is the movies for real.'

pete townsend reportedly is close to signing off on a deal whereby British authorities would drop the child porn charges against him (allowing Pete to avoid a trial). according to the article, to have the charges dropped, Pete would have to admit guilt.

March 11, 2003

congressional quarterly is reporting:

"The House cafeterias will be serving up 'freedom fries' and 'freedom toast' in a bid to scrub the French influence from the menu. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, and chairman of the House Administration Committee, today ordered cafeterias in the House office buildings to rename french fries and French toast to express the dissatisfaction with France's opposition to U.S. policy on Iraq. "This action today is a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France," Ney said in a statement. No word yet on what happens to French dressing."

as if the executive branch of the government is not embarrassing america enough.

Sex With A Famous Poet
--- Denise Duhamel

I had sex with a famous poet last night
and when I rolled over and found myself beside him I shuddered
because I was married to someone else,
because I wasn't supposed to have been drinking,
because I was in fancy hotel room
I didn't recognize. I would have told you
right off this was a dream, but recently
a friend told me, write about a dream,
lose a reader and I didn't want to lose you
right away. I wanted you to hear
that I didn't even like the poet in the dream, that he has
four kids, the youngest one my age, and I find him
rather unattractive, that I only met him once,
that is, in real life, and that was in a large group
in which I barely spoke up. He disgusted me
with his disparaging remarks about women.
He even used the word "Jap"
which I took as a direct insult to my husband who's Asian.

When we were first dating, I told him
"You were talking in your sleep last night
and I listened, just to make sure you didn't
call out anyone else's name." My future-husband said
that he couldn't be held responsible for his subconscious,
which worried me, which made me think his dreams
were full of blond vixens in rabbit-fur bikinis.
but he said no, he dreamt mostly about boulders
and the ocean and volcanoes, dangerous weather
he witnessed but could do nothing to stop.
And I said, "I dream only of you,"
which was romantic and silly and untrue.
But I never thought I'd dream of another man--
my husband and I hadn't even had a fight,
my head tucked sweetly in his armpit, my arm
around his belly, which lifted up and down
all night, gently like water in a lake.

If I passed that famous poet on the street,
he would walk by, famous in his sunglasses
and blazer with the suede patches at the elbows,
without so much as a glance in my direction.
I know you're probably curious about who the poet is,
so I should tell you the clues I've left aren't
accurate, that I've disguised his identity,
that you shouldn't guess I bet it's him...
because you'll never guess correctly
and even if you do, I won't tell you that you have.

I wouldn't want to embarrass a stranger
who is, after all, probably a nice person,
who was probably just having a bad day when I met him,
who is probably growing a little tired of his fame--
which my husband and I perceive as enormous,
but how much fame can an American poet
really have, let's say, compared to a rock star
or film director of equal talent? Not that much,
and the famous poet knows it, knows that he's not
truly given his due. Knows that many
of these young poets tugging on his sleeve
are only pretending to have read all his books.
But he smiles anyway, tries to be helpful.
I mean, this poet has to have some redeeming qualities, right?
For instance, he writes a mean iambic.
Otherwise, what was I doing in his arms.

more bands skipping dc

a dust congress correspondent has reported that Olivia Tremor Control offshoots, circulatory system have also decided to skip dc on their current tour.

lies and betrayal, hersh is assailed, richard perle has conflicts

In the latest, new yorker seymour hersh writes about richard perle's conflicts of interest as head of Trireme Partners, LLP, a company registered in Delaware (which has some of the best corporate secrecy laws in the US) in November 2001, whose business is to invest in companies dealing in technology, goods, and services that are of value to homeland security and defense. Perle is also the chairman for the Defense Policy Board, a Defense Department advisory group composed primarily of highly respected former government officials, retired military officers, and academics. Its members, who serve without pay, include former national-security advisers, Secretaries of Defense, and heads of the C.I.A.

Hersh's article is another in a long line of articles discussing the various conflicts of interest of our political leaders (skimble is a good resource for others). Its distressing, then to note that yesterday, when discussing the article on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Perle defamed Hersh in a 1950s McCarthy-era kind of a way, by calling him a terrorist. Joe Conason has reported this salon.

Perle should not get away with this type of behavior. Hersh should sue Perle, if only to get information into the public record. And while he's at it maybe he can get to the bottom of what is discussed in the Cheney papers nobody is allowed to see.

March 10, 2003

a decent number of bands I'd like to see are skipping dc. spoon, which just announced a 17 city tour, is slated to play at central Ohio's Denison University (which they spelled wrong on their website) but not dc.

each day it becomes more apparent that dc needs a new venue.

however, there is a new bar. cafe saint-ex has opened at 14th and t, and the downstairs lounge is a great place to spend an evening.

steve malkmus makes page six, a day before pig lib is released. pitchfork, in it's usually annoying way, reviews the album, but misses everything by saying "1% of One" is the albums "glaring red flag."

March 7, 2003

a couple poems by frank stanford


The book is full of my father's eyelashes
He treats the pages rough
like a woman
He pinches the daylights out of them
Mud dries
up between his heel and sole
quick as spit on his thumb
You can still smell
Four Roses bourbon in the morning
through the onionskin
He will not weep He knows
most folks don't keep their word
Anyway the rain
came through like a hitchhiker

the angel of death

A man came down the road.

I told him he better watch his step.
He asked me what I was doing,
Sleeping in the middle of the road.

I said I was an orphan.
See these suspenders?
They hold up my pants.
I sleep where I please, says I.
My pillows come from the best roosters.

The moon went back into its night
Like a blue channel cat in a log.

The man cast no shadow.

My shoes wore out
Like a thousand years in the desert.

There was a snow drift in my heart,
And in the broken mountains of the South
The smoke rose
Wet on the edge with blood.

I am getting out of here, I told the man.

He spit a fish bone on the ground.
He took off his glove.
He laid it on the bone.

What I wanted to do was run.

The moon beat like bait on a black hook.
Then there was a new fish
Sucking wind in the road.

Take off your pants, he said.
He had an egg in his hand.

Anything for the angel of death

white, white collars

--- by denis johnson

we work in this building and we are hideous
in the fluorescent light, you know our clothes
woke up this morning and swallowed us like jewels
and ride up and down the elevators, filled with us,
turning and returning like the spray of light that goes
around dance-halls among the dancing fools.
my office smells like a theory, but here one weeps
to see the goodness of the world laid bare
and rising with the government on its lips,
the alphabet congealing in the air
around our heads. but in my belly's flames
someone is dancing, calling me by many names
that are secret and filled with light and rise
and break, and I see my previous lives.

March 6, 2003

"Don't forget the real business of the War is buying and selling. The murdering and the violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals. The mass nature of wartime death is useful in many ways. It serves as spectacle, as diversion from the real movements of the War. It provides raw material to be recorded into History, so that children may be taught History as sequences of violence, battle after battle, and be more prepared for the adult world. Best of all, mass death's a stimulus to just ordinary folks, little fellows, to try 'n' grab a piece of that Pie while they're still here to gobble it up. The true war is a celebration of markets."

From gravity's rainbow, thomas pynchon, page 105. Emphasis added. [via skimble]

March 5, 2003

the dust congress hereby officially adds frances mcdormand to our list of favorite celebrities.
From Ask the Dust by John Fante

"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. Why, my God, man, do you realize you've never had any experience with a woman? Oh yes I have, oh I've had plenty. Oh no you haven't. You need a woman, you need a bath, you need a good swift kick, you need money. They say it's a dollar, they say it's two dollars in the swell places, but down on the Plaza it's a dollar; swell, only you haven't got a dollar, and another thing, you coward, even if you had a dollar you wouldn't go, because you had a chance to go once in Denver and you didn't. No, you coward, you were afraid, and you're still afraid, and you're glad you haven't got a dollar.

Afraid of a woman! Ha, great writer this? How can he write about women, when he's never had a woman? Oh you lousy fake, you phony, no wonder you can't write! No wonder there wasn't a woman in The Little Dog Laughed. No wonder it wasn't a love story, you fool, you dirty little schoolboy.

To write a love story, to learn about life.

Money arrived in the mail. Not a cheque from the mighty Hackmuth, not an acceptance from The Atlantic Monthly or The Saturday Evening Post. Only ten dollars, only a fortune. My mother sent it: some dime insurance policies, Arturo, I had them taken up for their cash value, and this is your share. But it was ten dollars; one manuscript or another, at least something had been sold.

Put it in your pocket, Arturo: Wash your face, comb your hair, put some stuff on to make you smell good while you stare into the mirror looking for grey hairs; because you're worried Arturo, you're worried, and that brings grey hair. But there was none, not a strand. Yeah, but what of that left eye? It looked discoloured. Careful, Arturo Bandini: don't strain your eyesight, remember what happened to Tarkington, remember what happened to James Joyce.

Not bad, standing in the middle of the room, talking to Hackmuth's picture, not bad, Hackmuth, you'll get a story out of this. How do I look, Hackmuth? Do you sometimes wonder, Herr Hackmuth, what I look like? Do you sometimes say to yourself, I wonder if he's handsome, that Bandini fellow, author of that brilliant Little Dog Laughed?

Once in Denver there was another night like this, only I was not an author in Denver, but I stood in a room like this and made these plans, and it was disastrous because all the time in that place I thought about the Blessed Virgin and thou shalt not commit adultery and the hard-working girl shook her head sadly and had to give it up, but that was a long time ago and tonight it will be changed.

I climbed out the window and scaled the incline to the top of Bunker Hill. A night for my nose, a feast for my nose, smelling the stars, smelling the flowers, smelling the desert, and the dust asleep, across the top of Bunker Hill. The city spread out like a Christmas tree, red and green and blue. Hello, old houses, beautiful hamburgers singing in cheap cafes. Bing Crosby singing too. She'll treat me gently. Not those girls of my childhood, those girls of my boyhood, those girls of my university days. They frightened me, they were diffident, they refused me; but not my princess, because she will understand. She, too, had been scorned.

Bandini, walking along, not tall but solid, proud of his muscles, squeezing his fist to revel in the hard delight of his biceps, absurdly fearless Bandini, fearing nothing but the unknown in a world of mysterious wonder. Are the dead restored? The books say no, the night shouts yes. I am twenty, I have reached the age of reason, I am about to wander the streets below, seeking a woman. Is my soul already smirched, should I turn back, does an angel watch over me, do the prayers of my mother allay my fears, do the prayers of my mother annoy me?

Ten dollars: it will pay the rent for two and a half weeks, it will buy me three pairs of shoes, two pair of pants, or one thousand postage stamps to send material to the editors; indeed! But you haven't any material, your talent is dubious, your talent is pitiful, you haven't any talent, and stop lying to yourself day after day because you know The Little Dog Laughed is no good, and it will always be no good.

So you walk along Bunker Hill, and you shake your fist at the sky, and I know what you're thinking, Bandini. The thoughts of your father before you, lash across your back, hot ire in your skull, that you are not to blame: this is your thought, that you were born poor, son of miseried peasants, driven because you were poor, fled from your Colorado town because you are poor, hoping to write a book to get rich, because those who hated you back there in Colorado will not hate you if you write a book. You are a coward, Bandini, a traitor to your soul, a feeble liar before your weeping Christ. This is why you write, this is why it would be better if you died."

found online here.

Copyright John Fante

two poems by harvey shapiro

The Librarian

I thought I was in love with a librarian
in Lynn, Massachusetts.
She had red hair, a freckled face,
was thin. That's about all I remember
except that summer, in Cummington,
I wrote a poem for her that, surprisingly,
in view of the barrenness of the experience,
seems to have full-throated ardor, whereas
women I have explored for years
have left me with only a few anecdotes.
So this is the gift of youth, I say to myself,
of ignorance and delusion.
It is never given again.

Rain On Scuttle Hole Road

The rain on Scuttle Hole Road
seen through the windshield
in strings and clots illuminated
by the headlights. She was talking
about Bush's relationship
with Putin. I said, I didn't know
they were having one. Would you bomb
Iraq? Actually, I'd bomb almost
anyone these days of seeing everything
in its extenuating global context—
like sheer hatred, I suppose,
the kind that charges up your voice
when you say, I have to use fuck
when I talk to you. has issued a challenge hoping to put to bed the myth of the liberal media bias. the site has challenged ann coulter, author of the "researched to get the answers I wanted" slander and bernard goldberg, author of bias to debate what liberal media? author eric alterman at DC's National Press Club.

Alterman has accepted, but will the conservatives? watch here to find out.

March 4, 2003

Here is a link to a real doll, an innovative short story by a.m. homes, from her first book of short stories, "the safety of objects," about a boy who falls in love with his sisters barbie doll.

Her new book of short stories, "things you should know" contains the weirdly triumphant story "Georgica," in which a 30ish woman distributes condoms around her beachfront hometown. At night, outfitted with night-vision goggles, she scouts out fumbling lifeguards and their blond girlfriends, rushing to where they made love so she can steal their used condoms and inseminate herself.

the new book also gives us "The Former First Lady and the Football Hero," perhaps the most entertaining of the 11 stories (the book is worth buying for this story alone), Homes imagines the life of Nancy Reagan, her movie-star/world-leader husband deteriorating into a child. "N.R." determinedly marches on, inwardly crumbling to pieces, while shopping on Rodeo Drive and flirting in chat rooms. Her crush? A biker: EZRIDER69.

a writer to check out if she is unknown to you.
this weeks new yorker has an excellent piece by eric schlosser (possibly the best working investigative writer) on porn industry creator reuben sturman, whose private empire at one point during the 70s, was bringing in over $1 million a day. schlosser's story is not online (so buy the mag, if you don't subscribe), but this obit -- sturman died in jail (he was finally jailed in 1992, he escaped and was recaptured, and when he died, his movies, once seen as obscence were regularly being shown on cable television) from a las vegas paper, is.

schlosser's also has a book reefer madness: sex, drugs, and cheap labor in the american black market, coming out in may, which expands on his atlanitc monthly articles: reefer madness and marijuana and the law, both must reads for anyone concerned about the war on drugs.

March 3, 2003

excellent, opinion piece on bush propaganda
ULA's King Wenclas has posted on the silver jews message board that berman's music sounds like "watered-down velvet underground." Wenclas also claims that an essay he wrote in the mid-90s about detriot "with its strongest (most 'polemical') parts cut out [] still blows Berman's entire ouevre out of the water, not to mention every lame issue of Open City."

see the debate for yourself.
march 1 (the lift)
- by David Lehman

the wonderful thing
about being with
you in this hotel
lift in London full
of people is that none
of them knows what
you and I are about to do
in bed or possibly
on the floor in fact not
even you realize yet
how much you're going
to enjoy this act for
which we have no name
not clinical or hideous, just
a double-digit number, perfect
as a skater's figure eight.

from Lehman's 2002 book the evening sun.