June 30, 2003

one of the best records I've heard this year (released in 2002): mclusky go dallas by the welsh band mclusky.
"Say what you think today in hard words, and if you have to, contradict it tomorrow in words just as hard."
-- Emerson
from Richard Brautigan's "june 30 june 30."

Taxi Driver

I like this taxi
racing through the dark streets
of Tokyo
as if life had no meaning.
I feel the same way.

Japan minus Frogs

Looking casually
through my English-Japanese dictionary
I can't find the word frog.
It's not there.
Does that mean Japna has no frogs?

Land of the Rising Sun

Flying from Japanese night,
we left Haneda Airport in Tokyo
four hours ago at 9:30pm
June 30
and now we are flying into the sunrise
over the Pacific that is on its way to Japan
where darkness lies upon the land
and the sun is hours away.
I greet the sunrise of July 1st
for my Japanese friends,
wishing them a plesant day.
the sun is on its
way.
may your every orgasm surpass the last!

from the sensuous man, by m. one of the "most popular" non-fiction books of 1971. in the book, the author shares with you the erotic techniques it has taken him years to learn.

one of the ways 'm' suggests meeting girls is noted as "in the museum #2:"

"stare at bizarre abstract for five minutes, then nod in judgment, poking cheek with tongue.

you: my five year old brother has a better notion of line and perspective.

she: (eyebrows raised): better than klee?

you: you don't believe me? look? (pull folded charcoal line drawing of city skyline from your coat pocket). have you ever seen such a display of sweeping vision in conjunction with a draftsman's precision...

this line may be a bit shaky unless your kid brother is in the same league as klee. but, maybe not, because she probably knows nothing about art. after all, cosmopolitan sent her to the museum to look for men, not for culture."

Among the 'general oral techniques' addressed in the chapter 'how to drive a women to ecstasy' are:

* the strawberry suckle
* the runaway pinch
* the feathery flick
* the velvet buzzsaw

Additionally, the pros and cons of orgies are presented in a simple to follow list format.

A good point about orgies: "it is wonderfully irresponsible. at an orgy, women are usually expected to protect themselves when it comes to birth control. leave your condoms at home unless the invitation specifies 'bring your own.' anyway, don't worry about pregnancy. if an orgyette does get knocked up, she'll have a hard time proving which one of the nine guys did it to her."

some cons: "you are opening yourself to blackmail," "not all the women at an orgy are particularly attractive" and you will be contributing to our country's moral decay -- and, if America falls, you will be held directly responsible."

"good luck to you," the book closes, "I've written enough, and it's time you were off somewhere doing the things I've described in The Sensuous Man. And I think its time I did the same. May your every orgasm surpass the last."

pick up a copy at advanced book exchange.

June 26, 2003

New York Times reviews / previews Blake Bailey's biography of Richard Yates.

"The mere mention of Richard Yates's novel 'Revolutionary Road' is a reference that 'enacts a sort of cultural-literary handshake among its devotees,' says Richard Ford, a Yates admirer. Within this circle — and now, it is to be hoped, for the benefit of a new and much larger one — the arrival of Blake Bailey's great, perceptive, heartbreaking Yates biography is a landmark event. At this late date (Yates died in 1992), it is a terrifically moving one as well.

"'A Tragic Honesty,' marred only by its drab title, is wrenching not just for the sheer Sisyphean torment of Yates's experience but also for the miracle of his artistic tenacity in the face of unimaginable odds. During his legendarily messy lifetime, Yates racked up rejection letters and never once wrote a story deemed acceptable by The New Yorker, however hard he tried. Upon the publication of his short story collection 'Liars in Love,' he arrived to give a reading in Boston. Not one listener showed up.

"'He sat in the silent lecture hall while his two sponsors gazed at their watches,' Mr. Bailey reports. 'Finally Yates suggested they adjourn to a bar. He didn't seem particularly surprised.'"

Read the article, then Yates' books.
posts will be sporadic until Monday. Enjoy the links.
Saying Yes To A Drink

What would a grown women do?
She'd tug off an earring
when the phone rang, drop it to the desk

for the clatter and roll. You'd hear
in this the ice, tangling in the glass;
in her voice, low on the line, the drink

being poured. All night awake,
I heard its fruity murmur of disease
and cure. I heard the sweet word "sleep,"

which made me thirstier. Did I say it,
or did you? And will I learn
to wave the drink with a good-bye wrist

in conversation, toss it off all bracelet-bare
like more small talk about a small affair?
To begin, I'll claim what I want

is small: the childish hand
of a dream to smooth me over
a cold sip of water in bed,

your one kiss, never again.
I'll claim I was a girl before this gin,
then beg you for another.

June 25, 2003


"We will locate the WMD. the Iraq war was not about Oil, it was about liberating the wonderful people of Iraq. the tax cuts will be good for all american people, not just the extremely rich. etc. etc."

grab the pic and add your own caption.
It took a British journalist to put the American Defence Secretary on the spot. Why, asks Justin Webb, are the US media so timorous?

an excerpt:

"What surprised people most was the style. Mr Rumsfeld's answers were followed up. His reasoning was tested. He was put on the spot and not allowed to leave it. When Dimbleby asked him why he had repeatedly referred to the "so-called" occupied territories of the West Bank, Mr Rumsfeld said he might have done it once but certainly not repeatedly.

"Dimbleby had the dates and occasions in front of him. The Defence Secretary was forced to concede the point.

"What a far cry it was from the Donald Rumsfeld Americans know and love. Strutting his stuff on the Pentagon podium, Mr Rumsfeld is lord and master of all he surveys. The Defence hacks titter nervously at each other and hope to get off with as light a beating as possible. Difficult questions are avoided; difficult questioners are lampooned. Anyone who persists is taken out and beaten senseless. (I made that up, but the atmosphere is genuinely one of laughing menace; a truly independent spirit would not enjoy being a Pentagon correspondent. The Today programme's Andrew Gilligan would not get through the door.)

"So why the transatlantic journalistic rift? Are American journalists simply spineless? Do they toe the line because they love the President? Or because their employers do?The answer, I think, is more complex. Americans in all walks of life have a respect for authority that the cynical Brits jettisoned somewhere around the time of Profumo and Christine Keeler. Americans, remember, still go to church. For all their rhetoric of freedom, there is nevertheless an acceptance of a higher power here in the United States. And an acceptance, too, of unimpeachable motives. President Bush, you may remember, declared the Iraq war won while on board a US aircraft carrier out in the Pacific Ocean. He flew to it on a navy jet, emerging with his flight suit on, looking for all the world like the Top Gun that he never was. I watched the performance live on US television and marvelled at the difference in coverage that there would have been on a British TV channel for a British prime minister attempting the same stunt.

"Only once did the anchor people remark to each other - in the most delicate fashion - that the pictures would likely be used by the Bush team during next year's election.

"Likely be used! The whole thing was set up for political use - it had no other purpose. The President could have stepped on board the carrier on shore; but it had been slowed down to make sure that it was still at sea. Incidentally, some questions were asked after the event about whether the White House had overstepped the mark with the carrier landing, but they were asked in a tone of hurt surprise, a tone that said: 'We trusted you and you let us down.' The British media would surely have sunk the whole enterprise."
Whichbook is a neat site at which you choose what content you would like in a book, and based on your selections, the site generates a list and description of books that may interest you.

According to the website, "instead of starting from the overwhelming choice of books available, whichbook.net starts from the reader, and enables each individual to build the elements of that elusive 'good read' we are all looking for but don't quite know how to define."

check it out.

The Private Intrigue of Melancholy
--- by James Tate

Hotels, hospitals, jails
are homes in yourself you return to
as some do to Garbo movies.

Cities become personal,
particular buildings and addresses:
fallen down every staircase
someone lies dead.

Then the music comes from the windows
writes a lovenote-summons on the air.
And you're infested with angels.

Some People
--- by Charles Bukowski

some people never go crazy.
me, sometimes I'll lie down behind the couch
for 3 or 4 days.
they'll find me there.
it's Cherub, they'll say, and
they pour wine down my throat
rub my chest
sprinkle me with oils.

then, I'll rise with a roar,
rant, rage -
curse them and the universe
as I send them scattering over the lawn.
I'll feel much better,
sit down to toast and eggs,
hum a little tune,
suddenly become as lovable as a
pink overfed whale.

some people never go crazy.
what truly horrible lives
they must lead.



June 24, 2003

"Poetry is a heightened form of language that isn't accessible to everyone, and although people can be taught to interpret a poet, it's not something you can explain. The first time I saw a picture of a Jackson Pollock painting in Life Magazine was when I was ten years old. I remember feeling something for it. Nobody had to explain Abstract Expressionism to me and I didn't have to develop a taste for it-I just related to it. The first time I read Rimbaud I couldn't tell you what the poems meant, but I was struck by them. The first time I heard Little Richard I comprehended it. When I read art criticism I don't know what the hell they're talking about, but I have the capacity to look at some paintings and say, 'Yes, I understand this.' The point I'm making is that everyone has their own relationship with art."
---- Patti Smith
Guide to Acceptable Female Clothing at Liberty University, in case anyone out there has an appointment anytime soon with Mr. Falwell.
Popmatters: another review of the new, apparently terrible, liz phair record:

..."The resulting album, Liz Phair, is a highly overproduced, shallow, soulless, confused, pop-by-numbers disaster that betrays everything the woman stood for a decade ago, and most heinously, betrays all her original fans. In contrast to her of her infamous, audacious 'flashing' cover photo for Exile in Guyvile, Phair's new album cover has her sitting, legs spread-eagled, a guitar placed suggestively between her legs, her hair stylishly tousled, looking like a cheesy Maxim photo shoot. It's an album by a woman who has completely lost touch with what made her music so great in the past; Ms. Phair has never been one to shy away from speaking her mind, and her new record is nothing more than a hearty 'fuck you' to everyone who bought her first two albums, as she tries to become the next Avril Lavigne. Only, she fails at that, too, in spectacular fashion."
...
"Liz Phair, on the other hand, has grown increasingly more shallow as the years have gone by, and has reached a career nadir with a new album that practically begs to be noticed, simultaneously trying to be controversial and radio-friendly without knowing which to settle for, and ends up being a colossal, muddled disaster. This album just could be her commercial breakthrough (stranger things have happened), but it's at the cost of what's left of her integrity. Five years ago, Phair sang, 'It's nice to be liked/But it's better by far to get paid.' If her longtime fans stop caring after hearing this putrid crap, we'll see if that's what Liz still feels."

Actually, if memory serves, the "its nice to be liked..." line, was, like most of liz's best stuff, originally released on the Girly Sound demos, and was rereleased circa 94/95 as a 7 inch single.
More good Krugman:

"Politics is full of ironies. On the White House Web site, George W. Bush's speech from Oct. 7, 2002 — in which he made the case for war with Iraq — bears the headline 'Denial and Deception.' Indeed.

"There is no longer any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived us into war. The key question now is why so many influential people are in denial, unwilling to admit the obvious."
...
"In particular, there was never any evidence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda; yet administration officials repeatedly suggested the existence of a link. Supposed evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear program was thoroughly debunked by the administration's own experts; yet administration officials continued to cite that evidence and warn of Iraq's nuclear threat.

"And yet the political and media establishment is in denial, finding excuses for the administration's efforts to mislead both Congress and the public."
...
"Consider, for example, what Mr. Bush said in his 'denial and deception' speech about the supposed Saddam-Osama link: that there were 'high-level contacts that go back a decade.' In fact, intelligence agencies knew of tentative contacts between Saddam and an infant Al Qaeda in the early 1990's, but found no good evidence of a continuing relationship. So Mr. Bush made what sounded like an assertion of an ongoing relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but phrased it cagily — suggesting that he or his speechwriter knew full well that his case was shaky.

"Other commentators suggest that Mr. Bush may have sincerely believed, despite the lack of evidence, that Saddam was working with Osama and developing nuclear weapons. Actually, that's unlikely: why did he use such evasive wording if he didn't know that he was improving on the truth? In any case, however, somebody was at fault. If top administration officials somehow failed to apprise Mr. Bush of intelligence reports refuting key pieces of his case against Iraq, they weren't doing their jobs. And Mr. Bush should be the first person to demand their resignations.

"So why are so many people making excuses for Mr. Bush and his officials?"
...
"After all, suppose that a politician — or a journalist — admits to himself that Mr. Bush bamboozled the nation into war. Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability — and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect.

"Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk — to face the truth and act on it — what will happen to our democracy?"





June 23, 2003

The Stylus Magazine review of Liz Phair's newest begins:

"The original title of Liz Phair’s new eponymous album was Happy Tragic Thing; perhaps someone at Capitol with a sense of irony realized how painfully apt this title was and opted for a safer route. There’s a glistening veneer of contented happiness coating the record, as if some adult-oriented radio programmer gleefully shat on it, but the tragedy is that Phair is wholly complicit in this utter waste of talent. The glimpses of what made me enjoy the whole of Exile in Guyville and parts of Whip-Smart are opaque, barely extractable from the overwhelming mediocrity. "

And they don't even touch on the horrible cover...

Twenty Questions About Iraq, Answered

"19. All right, but WHERE IS SADDAM?

Rumours abound. Most Iraqis seem to believe he's still alive, an idea even U.S. Central Command is beginning to grudgingly endorse. The new Baghdad newspaper al-Muajaha printed residents' ideas on the subject, including that he was driving a taxi in a Baghdad suburb, that he had fled to Russia, that he died years ago, that he was working at the power station ('that's why the electricity's going off and on without any reason') and that he is "working in a butcher shop in Thawra City [another part of Baghdad], because he can't kill people any more, so now he's killing animals.'

"20. And the weapons of mass destruction?

"Brigadier-General Ala Saeed, former head of quality control for the arms program, insisted in a London Times interview last week that Iraq really did get rid of its chemical weapons in 1994. 'Why should I lie?' he asked. 'We are free now.'"
A Reminder for DC-area folks

(flyer by gab schneider)
Miles Davis On Art
-- by Lawrence Raab

"The only way to make art," Miles Davis
said, "is to forget what is unimportant."
That sounds right, although the opposite
also feels like the truth. Forget
what looks important, hope it shows up.

later to surprise you. I understand
he meant you've got to clear
your mind, get rid of everything
that doesn't matter. But how can you tell?
Maybe the barking of a dog at night.

is exactly what you need
to think about. "Just play within
the range of the idea,"
Charlie Parker said. The poem
that knows too quickly what's important

will disappoint us. And sometimes
when you talk about art
you mean it, sometimes you're just
fooling around. but once he had the melody
in place, he could never leave it behind

and go where he wanted, trusting
the beautiful would come to him, as it may
to a man who's worked hard enough
to be ready for it. And he was,
more often than not. That was what he knew.

June 20, 2003

Be Quiet, the Weather's on the Night News

A blunder in the production room of a New Zealand television station caused the picture below to show up on viewers screens in place of an upcoming weather bulletin:



More pictures from Run For Cover II.

"A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin."
-- H. L. Mencken

Smile, Smile


Happy Birthday Brian Wilson

Long, lucid piece on the Economic Limits of the U.S. empire.

Senate Committee votes to overturn FCC decision on media ownership rules.

"A Senate panel voted to overturn a decision by the Federal Communications Commission that would loosen restrictions on US media ownership.

"The Senate Commerce Committee decision now goes before the full Senate, but it is not clear if there are enough votes to pass the bill in either the Senate or the House of Representatives."

June 19, 2003

Check it out: Covers of Smut Novels from the 1960s. Here's a few:








One Man's Adventures In Culinary Marginalia: Timothy C. Davis discusses the "munchies."
Three Poems by James Tate, from his 1976 collection, "Viper Jazz."

Village 104

The architecture, sleepy Mexican
is afraid to go out.
Young couples go there to settle down
and not raise a family.
Retired people open shops
and refuse to sell anything.
It is an easy place to like
without really liking it.
You can get to know
without really knowing it.
It's the invisible that is ruthless.
Somebody is going to grow up
and kill it, make a killing,
so you'll never seem so lonesome.

Disease

We were just a couple of drifters
on this planet of
some odd billion customers
open all night. She was always
loving and attentive
but made
what I considered
an abnormal number of morbid references,
so that at times I felt like a fungus.
Meanwhile, we drank and smoked
and listened to country music.
She died in her room
and I died in mine.

Rich Friends, Poor Friends

Humans slaughtered by gossip
and the Cokes were far, far away.
How's one to live? Can't
wander forever inspired by
tasty dinners: "Is my seatbelt
fastened, Gloria?"
He pummels the countryside
with tiny vodka empties,
thinking: "With a wife
like mine, fuck ecology."
Met Hedy Lamarr drunk.
No bananas, she announced.
Blah fuck my dog blah
rover over with a lawnmower.
Things get handed down
and nothing changes but death
and taxes. I made a deal
with my son: If I'd let my hair
grow down to my shoulders,
he'd get a crewcut.
Can you name the highest mountain
in Virginia? If he' promise
not to kill me, I'd
teach him how to murder.

June 18, 2003


[via Choire Sicha]
I need a dump truck mama to unload my head

1966 Bob Dylan interview, from Playboy:

Excerpts:

PLAYBOY: "Mistake or not, what made you decide to go the rock-'n'-roll route?

DYLAN: "Carelessness. I lost my one true love. I started drinking. The first thing I know, I'm in a card game. Then I'm in a crap game. I wake up in a pool hall. Then this big Mexican lady drags me off the table, takes me to Philadelphia. She leaves me alone in her house, and it burns down. I wind up in Phoenix. I get a job as a Chinaman. I start working in a dime store, and move in with a 13-year-old girl. Then this big Mexican lady from Philadelphia comes in and burns the house down. I go down to Dallas. I get a job as a 'before' in a Charles Atlas 'before and after' ad. I move in with a delivery boy who can cook fantastic chili and hot dogs. Then this 13-year-old girl from Phoenix comes and burns the house down. The delivery boy - he ain't so mild: He gives her the knife, and the next thing I know I'm in Omaha. It's so cold there, by this time I'm robbing my own bicycles and frying my own fish. I stumble onto some luck and get a job as a carburetor out at the hot-rod races every Thursday night. I move in with a high school teacher who also does a little plumbing on the side, who ain't much to look at, but who's built a special kind of refrigerator that can turn newspaper into lettuce. Everything's going good until that delivery boy shows up and tries to knife me. Needless to say, he burned the house down, and I hit the road. The first guy that picked me up asked me if I wanted to be a star. What could I say?"
...
PLAYBOY: "In their admiration for you, many young people have begun to imitate the way you dress - which one adult commentator has called 'selfconsciously oddball and defiantly sloppy.' What's your reaction to that kind of put-down?

DYLAN: "Bullshit. Oh, such bullshit. I know the fellow that said that. He used to come around here and get beat up all the time. He better watch it; some people are after him. They're going to strip him naked and stick him in Times Square. They're going to tie him up, and also put a thermometer in his mouth. Those kind of morbid ideas and remarks are so petty - I mean there's a war going on. People got rickets; everybody wants to start a riot; 40-year-old women are eating spinach by the carload; the doctors haven't got a cure for cancer - and here's some hillbilly talking about how he doesn't like somebody's clothes. Worse than that, it gets printed and innocent people have to read it. This is a terrible thing. And he's a terrible man. Obviously, he's just living off the fat of himself, and he's expecting his kids to take care of him. His kids probably listen to my records. Just because my clothes are too long, does that mean I'm unqualified for what I do?

PLAYBOY: "No, but there are those who think it does - and many of them seem to feel the same way about your long hair. But compared with the shoulder-length coiffures worn by some of the male singing groups these days, your tonsorial tastes are on the conservative side. How do you feel about these far-out hair styles?

DYLAN: "The thing that most people don't realize is that it's warmer to have long hair. Everybody wants to be warm. People with short hair freeze easily. Then they try to hide their coldness, and they get jealous of everybody that's warm. Then they become either barbers or Congressmen. A lot of prison wardens have short hair. Have you ever noticed that Abraham Lincoln's hair was much longer than John Wilkes Booth's?"
...

"PLAYBOY: Paranoia is said to be one of the mental states sometimes induced by such hallucinogenic drugs as peyote and LSD. Considering the risks involved, do you think that experimentation with such drugs should be part of the growing up experience for a young person?

"DYLAN: I wouldn't advise anybody to use drugs - certainly not the hard drugs; drugs are medicine. But opium and hash and pot - now, those things aren't drugs; they just bend your mind a little. I think everybody's mind should be bent once in a while."

From the July 2003 Harpers Index

* Number of the three states that have canceled their 2004 primaries whose legislature are GOP-controlled - 3

* Chance that an American lives full-time in an RV - 1 in 290

* Amount of the $106,185 price of a Hummer H1 that businesses may deduct under the proposed Bush tax plan - $88,722

* Estimated amount spent on lap dances in Las Vegas each year - $25,000,000

* Number of years Neil Bush was married before asking his wife for a divorce via email last summer - 22

* Ratio of New York City's minimum fine for smoking tobacco in a bar to its minimum fine for possessing marijuana - 2:1

* Number of Grateful Dead concerts attended by columnist Ann Coulter - 67

June 17, 2003

Follow this link and tell your representative to recind the FCC's ill-advised June 2, 2003 decision regarding media ownership rules. The Senate Commerce Committee will make a decision on June 19, so get your petition in now.
England pubs may soon be allowed to stay open 24 hours a day.

"'This is not to encourage more drinking but to encourage smarter drinking,' said Gail Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports, which would oversee the change. 'Our drinking laws are antiquated, and we want to create a more civilized and responsible culture in the country's pubs and bars.'

"While the legislation has become known by its shorthand of '24-hour pubs,' few owners are expected to ask for permission to open their taps nonstop. Instead, the law will allow pubs to stay open as late as local councils permit, taking that decision away from magistrates, historical killjoys who, for the most part, have tended to adhere strictly to tradition.

"A limited number of bars now stay open past 11 p.m. - some serve alcohol as late as 3 a.m. - but exemptions are rare, the conditions strict, and the establishments typically charge a steep cover charge and are populated by teen-agers who hold their liquor like Jell-O. The web of laws governing drinking in Britain is as tangled as ball of knots, governed by more than 80 different licenses that are granted depending on whether food is served, dancing is permitted, admission is free and, most of all, whether neighbors object to one thing or another."

June 16, 2003



The Aesthetics of Statistics
-- by Gerard Malanga (for Kimberly Jones)

In the painting Rolla, by Henri Gervex, ca 1890
[Musee des Beaux Arts, Bordeaux]
a man standing with right elbow on terrace-railing,
white shirt unbuttoned, left hand holding
back to door for support,
and looking over the bed -- the women
sleeping, arms outstreatched at right angles,
head turned on its side, knees akimbo --
the right leg bent, the left leg hanging over the edge of bed.
White silk sheet covering part of the
shank and ankle. Breasts, stomach,
mons veneris exposed. Pale white flesh.
It is 6:35am. It is the end of the synchronicity
of encounter. It is the morning after.
It is the silence after rain.
It is the man and the women, etc.
It is September 9, 1989 that parts and unites...
Mark Your Calendars

On June 25, 2003, DJ's Leafy Green, Hackmuth, and Skitch will make their inaugural DJ appearances spinning from 9pm to Close at Cosmos Light Lounge, at 1736 Columbia Road, Washington, DC (Cosmos is above Chief Ike's in Adams-Morgan).

Come on out, say hello, enjoy cheap drinks, cheap pool and great tunes.


The Dog Ate My WMD.

"The scandal which laid Bill Clinton low centered around his lying under oath about sex. The scandal which took down Richard Nixon was certainly more profound, as he was accused of misusing the CIA and FBI to spy on political opponents while paying off people to lie about his actions. Lying under oath and misusing the intelligence community are both serious transgressions, to be sure. The matter of Iraq's weapons program, however, leaves both of these in deep shade.

"George W. Bush and his people used the fear and terror that still roils within the American people in the aftermath of September 11 to fob off an unnerving fiction about a faraway nation, and then used that fiction to justify a war that killed thousands and thousands of people.

"Latter-day justifications about 'liberating' the Iraqi people or demonstrating the strength of America to the world do not obscure this fact. They lied us into a war that, beyond the death toll, served as the greatest Al Qaeda recruiting drive in the history of the world. They lied about a war that cost billions of dollars which could have been better used to bolster America's amazingly substandard anti-terror defenses. They are attempting, in the aftermath, to misuse the CIA by blaming them for all of it.

"Blaming the CIA will not solve this problem, for the CIA is well able to defend itself. Quashing investigations in the House will not stem the questions that come now at a fast and furious clip.

"They lied. Period. Trust a teacher on this. We can spot liars who have not done their homework a mile away."

Catch of the Day

French fisherman nets 66 pounds of marijuana.

June 13, 2003

The Progressive Story of America -- a speech by Bill Moyers given to the Take Back America Conference June 4, 2003. [thanks to skimble for the link. Please see his site for additional commentary.]

Neil Pollack ends his essay: The Right to Party by stating:

"This time, for real, I'm calling for the establishment of a Party Party, or, at the very least, for a Party Party attitude. I'm issuing a call to arms for those of us always in need of, as the great Jeff Spicoli once said, tasty waves and a cool buzz. Of course there are many issues in the world that are more pressing, and we should continue to press them. But Saturday night eventually comes even for the most politically committed. These are tense times. People want to loosen the steam valve a little bit. They want to participate in culture outside of the jurisdiction of federal 'morality' educators. We don't want the government telling us how to spend our free time, sussing out and prosecuting casual drug users and harassing nightclub owners. And for heaven's sake, give the kids some condoms.

"Sex and drugs and live music make life great. These are the kinds of things that were outlawed in Taliban-run Afghanistan. If they can't be legal and easy in America, then I don't want to live here anymore. I want to live in a place where drugs and sex are tolerated, where the government provides a sane level of social services, where religion isn't always threatening to take over the state. Amsterdam. It always comes back to Amsterdam.

"Americans, we have to party. It is our right. And we have to fight for that right. Yes, you heard me. We have to show the moralizers that they cannot win.

"We have to fight for our right to party.

From the Department of Random Facts:

40 percent of Americans Iron While Nude. Seems as if the woman across the street is not as odd I had thought. Well, maybe I'll hold that statement until Pledge comes out with a study about dusting while nude, another favorite of hers.

Downtown Breeze
- Chris Stroffolino

There is, I think, a writhing volition in every
Underwriter whose hobby is to be famous
In walking in the sunset that begins around
Lunchhour on Wall Street but not on the ferries
That haven’t totally banished the idea of siesta
from the headset of the country where higher
education is a dead end or dead language and
we’re only elitists when we lapse and fit
the square peg assigned us a little too perfectly
To be able to breathe and learn nothing in particular
But the futility of facts on the resume of memory
Being erased by spontaneity on the way to heaven
Or at least formalism in the boat that’s cheap enough
To ride in all day providing you’re living
Off someone else’s interest which is just
a me-decade way of preaching salvation as fun
rather than as necessary to avoid damnation
which is just another way of reminding us
that we feel lousy when we think we love ourselves
more than others unless we’re high (on sacrificial smack)
and all conscience is a censor like pain itself
allowed not in the plane or boat from which you
can see the sun without the sunset it’s important
to remember surrounding you when you do
the Wall Street Shuffle or when there’s no
difference between flirting with people
and letting them flirt with you.
Chicago Tribune review of "Dumb and Dumberer": "So excruciatingly awful, the word 'dumb' could sue for slander."

June 12, 2003

The Ft. Reno Summer Concert schedule is up.

No Fugazi scheduled, but Bob Mould, Trans Am, The Dismemberment Plan, and soon to be well-known Metropolitan, are among those booked.

Show up and support the local scene.





CHILDREN'S BOOK
-- by David Berman

My children's book will commence
with a moment of remarkable traction
when a semi-circle of eyeshadow cannons,
two warthog musketeers drafted
from the realm of Functional/Unwanted,
and an adolescent clerk with
the ghost of his father
living inside his haircut,
meet up in the misty borderlands
at the climax of authorial impairment
for a journey deep into the tie-breakers.

Like the wigs of continental congressmen,
the clouds in my children's book will hang over
a housing development called Scotland Groin
whose residents will suffer from an insomnia
caused by the wearing of tophats;
greatly complicated by random explosions
coming every few pages
from a nearby paper bag factory.

There will be plenty of lads
with boiled cheeks,
the requisite foolish old woman
riding an ironing board out to sea,
as well as terrific deer salons
with bramble perimeters
and a battleship made of harmonicas
wheezing in the bay.

There will be kid ideas woven into the story
like "Kick a rock, change the world",
and a disembodied voice that solemnly asks
"who can apologize for the way things are"
after a group of senior citizens
is abruptly turned into wild animals.

The characters will travel
over stale beer creeks
and through eight room forests,
hauling convivial objects
that have many times survived their ownership
up wind-lickt heights
and over grassy hemispheres
until they are so far outside
the administered world,

with all their wristwatches gone dark,
and all their cheeks scratched by rain,
in a hard-to-see place
where no rules obtain
and someone else's dream
dying in their hearts.

[Thanks to J. O'Brian for transcribing and sending this poem, which is in the current issue of The Believer. Pick up a copy today.]

June 11, 2003

Northeast Air Guitar Semi-Finals reviewed. Who knew this competition existed??? [via the always informative TMFTML]
The new Dean Wareham / Britta Phillips album, L'Avventura gets better with each listen. Highlights include, the Wareham penned opener, "Night Nurse;" the Madonna cover, "I Deserve It;" and Angel Corpus Chrisiti's "Threw it Away."

They also do a version of David Berman's wonderful "Random Rules," but as a reviewer noted, Dean knocked "the moxie down a notch of two" on this one, which to me, takes from Wareham's version.





Richard Hell writes essay titled "A Life of Substance," for Nerve. [via largehearted boy]


The Land-Grant College Review is a new literary journal of fiction and nonfiction based in New York City. The first issue is available now and features stories by Aimee Bender, Josip Novakovich, Robert Olmstead, Ron Carlson, and Stephen Dixon. Mine arrived in the mail this morning. Order yours today.

June 10, 2003

Media Drops the Ball on FCC Rule Changes:

"Most newspapers offered little coverage when the changes were still being discussed - and when the public still could have contacted the FCC about them.

"There are, of course, a lot of possible reasons for the lack of coverage. The news media aren't good at covering 'issues.' And other stories - the war in Iraq, tax cuts, Laci Peterson - pushed the FCC story out of the mix. But there are other, less sanguine interpretations.

"Whether or not you agree with the FCC changes, it is at least curious that many of the media companies that had an interest in changing the rules - such as The New York Times Co., Gannett, and Tribune Co., which lobbied for the changes - chose to cover the story sparingly, if at all. At the only official FCC public hearing on the issue, TV network executives filled the room to speak out on the changes the commission was considering. Yet, strangely, there wasn't a single network news camera there.

"In their lack of coverage, the country's news media showed why bigger media companies might not be such a good thing. In the end, it's the news media that define our reality outside our immediate experience. If they are shaping it for their own benefit at the expense of informing their readers, viewers and listeners, then journalism and the American public have a lot more serious concerns than Jayson Blair."



Fuck Poem
---by Joyce Peseroff

The rooms live on.
When we finish, they continue,
the walls creating the same space,
holding the same air that held
our bodies when we
held our bodies,
preserving the scene
when we have abandoned it
for some novel sunset, some television,
dinner at a friend's.
The bed is forced into it.
The lamps compose themselves in darkness,
the turntable turns at 33-1/3 revolutions
per minute for hours
after we have forgotten the problem,
and I think it's amazing.

June 9, 2003

Lolitapop Dollhouse

Momus on Photoblogging:

"Picasso was once accosted on a train by a stranger. 'You're Picasso, aren't you?' said the man. ' Why do you distort people so when you paint them? Why can't you make a realistic portrait of a person for once?' Picasso looked genuinely puzzled. 'But what would a realistic portrait look like?' he asked. The man produced a photograph of his wife. Picasso peered at it intently then asked 'Is your wife really so small and flat?'


Observation
--- by Dorothy Parker

If I don't drive around the park,
I'm pretty sure to make my mark.
If I'm in bed each night by ten.
I may get back my looks again.
If I abstain from fun and such.
I'll probably amount to much;
But I shall stay the way I am.
Because I do not give a damn.




"Art is what we do; culture is what is done to us."
--- Carl Andre, American minimalist sculptor.


--- Twenty-fifth Steel Cardinal by Carl Andre (1974)

"The specific nature of works like Twenty-fifth Steel Cardinal is that they occupy and give shape to space without actually filling it. For ultimately, the floor sculptures possess no volume, no depth, thickness, inside or center -- simply mass and weight."

June 6, 2003



The World at Dusk
---by Michael Burkard

There are those I attempt to describe.
The words always fail.
One man has a face of winter
and only summer words find me.
Or worse: the words of spring which trample the winter face.

It is not as romantic as a curse.
I find my first two names in a cemetery.
Every moment life is slowly drawing to a close.
One day I will find the third name as well.
I do not know the third name, only that I will find it, or it
me.

Anyone is a red house
against the glowing dark.
There are the variations of anyone in the light,
in the form of the house against the landscape,
until the final light is so much it is almost house against
house.

I see and hear most clearly through other people.
Without them I become almost a solitude.
A place of emptiness.
Perhaps I have needed this emptiness more than I have
admitted,
perhaps I feared its place for fear of itself.

After thirty-nine years I am still
a stranger to myself. I feel exhausted
— living with this stranger for so long.
I do not know what to do with him or for him.
I ask the silence for help.

Help for each of us. For the stranger
also does not know me, and he too must find it odd
to hear his stranger saying "I do not know what to do. . ."
To hear the word help
muttered so closely and not addressed to him.

June 5, 2003

The New Yorker has published another excellent short story by Haruki Murakami. it begins:

"I was born in 1949. I started high school in 1963 and went to college in 1967. And so it was amid the crazy, confused uproar of 1968 that I saw in my otherwise auspicious twentieth year. Which, I guess, makes me a typical child of the sixties. It was the most vulnerable, most formative, and therefore most important period in my life, and there I was, breathing in deep lungfuls of abandon and quite naturally getting high on it all. I kicked in a few deserving doors—and what a thrill it was whenever a door that deserved kicking in presented itself before me, as Jim Morrison, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan played in the background. The whole shebang."



June 5: Job Description
-- by David Lehman

What I like about this place is
everyone has a job to do it's like
a war in that respect my job is
to get people to write things they
would'nt otherwise have written
and to drop a phrase into their
dreaming minds at night your job
is to cross Sixth Avenue in a hurry
as the light changes that girl's job is
to eat a slice of Joe's pizza
her boyfriend's job is to wear
a Yankee cap and a Giuliani mask
hold on he is Giuliani and that guy
who is heckling him is a reporter whose
job is to remember Sirhan Sirhan who
shot Bobby Kennedy on this day
in 1968 a few minutes after I had turned off
the television thinking he had just won
the California primary and would
be our next President


More on the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.

June 4, 2003

What Does Anything Mean, Basically

Martha Stewart has been indicted. Enron's Ken Lay has not yet been indicted. In recent election cycles, Stewart gave money to prominant democrats such as Al Gore, Bill Bradley and Hillary Clinton while Ken Lay....well, you know that story.

Stewart's actions may have been illegal, but her actions really only harmed the system, while the actions of the Enron officers impoverished many, many people. Why have they -- Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling -- not yet been indicted?


The San Francisco Guardian slams the new Liz Phair album:

"While undeniably catchy, Liz Phair's bid for Lavigne's Top 40 fan base is as pathetic as it is ill-fated: Does anyone really think teens want to hear a woman nearly their mom's age sing, 'I wanna play Xbox on your floor ... I want you to rock me all night'? Madonna's piece-of-shit new album is 10 times better than Phair's piece-of-shit new album, and even she can't get anyone younger than 25 to care. Who, then, is gonna fund Phair's new pop-star lifestyle? Certainly not her Guyville-era fans, who understandably have turned on Phair in droves.
...
"Still, it's hard to simply laugh at the punch line that Phair has become. As illustrated by looking too closely at Courtney Love's cut 'n' paste face, what's initially mockable about an artist's descent into schmaltz quickly becomes sad and unnerving. Poking fun at Phair's almost campy absurdity seems easy and inevitable, but the joke is infinitely less entertaining when it sets in that she's sacrificed her art for the possibility of fame and fortune.

"No one's saying Phair isn't allowed to grow, evolve, change, whatever. After all, it must have been tough bearing the burden of everyone's indie dreams, and there are probably rational, real-life reasons – mortgages, kids, People profiles – prompting her to turn her gaze toward the top of the pops. Artists such as Polly Jean Harvey, Sleater-Kinney, and Aimee Mann have proved that moving on doesn't have to mean total industry assimilation, so it's disheartening that Phair has willingly chosen the road more traveled."


June 3, 2003


Swing Shift Blues
-- by Alan Dugan

What is better than leaving a bar
in the middle of the afternoon
besides staying in it or not
having gone into it in the first place
because you had a decent woman to be with?
The air smells particularly fresh
after the stale beer and piss smells.
You can stare up at the whole sky:
it's blue and white and does not
stare back at you like the bar mirror,
and there's Whats-'is-name coming out
right behind you saying, "I don't
believe it, I don't believe it: there
he is, staring up at the fucking sky
with his mouth open. Don't
you realize, you stupid son of a bitch,
that it is a quarter to four
and we have to clock in in
fifteen minutes to go to work?"
So we go to work and do no work
and can even breathe in the Bull's face
because he's been into the other bar
that we don't go to when he's there.
"Classy" Fred Blassie -- the King of Men, RIP



Blassie was the professional wrestler who coined the phrase "pencil-necked geek" and who appeared in the ring with Andy Kaufman.

He was also the subject of a short documentary by Heavy Metal Parking Lot director Jeff Krulik.

Idiot of the Month

"A Japanese photographer was sentenced to 1½ years in prison Sunday after a bomb he took from Iraq as a souvenir exploded and killed an airport security guard in Jordan."

June 2, 2003

Three poems by Ted Berrigan:

WHAT I'D LIKE FOR CHRISTMAS, 1970

Black brothers to get happy
The Puerto Ricans to say hello
The old folks to take it easy &
as it comes
The United States to get straight
Power to butt out
Money to fuck off
Business with honor
Religion
& Art
Love
A home
A typewriter
A GUN.

SUNDAY MORNING (for Lou Reed)

1.
It's a fact
If you stroke a cat about 1,000,000 times, you will
generate enough electricity to light up the largest
American flag in the world for about one minute.
2.
Turnabout
In former times people who committed adultery got stoned;
Nowadays it's just a crashing bringdown.

3.
A Mongolian Sausage
By definition: a long stocking; you fill it full of shit,
and then you punch holes in it. Then you swing it over
your head in circles until everybody goes home.

A CERTAIN SLANT OF SUNLIGHT

In Africa the wine is cheap, and it is
on St. Mark's Place too, beneath a white moon.
I'll go there tomorrow, dark bulk hooded
against what is hurled down at me in my no hat
which is weather: the tall pretty girl in the print dress
under the fur collar of her cloth coat will be standing
by the wire fence where the wild flowers grown not too tall
her eyes will be deep brown and her hair styled 1941 American
will be too, but
I'll be shattered by then
But now I'm not and can also picture white clouds
impossibly high in blue sky over small boy heartbroken
to be dressed in black knickers, black coat, white shirt,
buster-brown collar, flowing black bow-tie
her hand lightly fallen on his shoulder, faded sunlight falling
across the picture, mother & son, 33 & 7, First Communion Day, 1941 --
I'll go out for a drink with one of my demons tonight
they are dry in Colorado 1980 spring snow.

a dust congress favorite, Jhumpa Lahiri, has a new book coming out soon. Keep your eyes open for it.

Long list of quotes (dated and sourced) by Bush Administration officials assuring -- but then backpedaling -- the public that Iraq had/has WMD (with comments).