June 30, 2005

all her friends call her Alaska

Laura Yuskavage, Big Little Laura, 1997-1998

* Petra Haden on re-recording The Who Sell Out. [via] excerpt:

"Haden usually relies on instinct, guile, and love for her muse. But this time, it was Mike Watt. About six years ago, the bassist-about-town began regaling his pal with tales of one of his favorite bands, the Who. 'I heard them on the radio, and I could take it or leave it,' Haden says. 'But he was talking about it so much, and he said, ‘Petra, I think you would really like The Who Sell Out, because of the harmonies. The music is really good, and I think you would do a great version of it a cappella. And I thought, okay, since he asked me to do it, I’ll do it for him.'

"The Who Fucking Sell Out. Petra Haden decides to re-imagine the British band’s legendary 1967 concept album as a lark, as a favor to a friend. Armed with only her voice.

"Beginning in 1999, she painstakingly re-created the tunes over the course of several years, layering vocals for each track – bass, drums, guitar, voice. The most difficult instrument to replicate? 'The drums,' she says. 'I admit I suck. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, so it was the last thing I did. The easiest part was the bass and then the lyrics, and the guitar was the funnest; I just had fun with it. The trumpet’s always fun. Mike Watt, I think his favorite part about the Who is Keith Moon, and so when it came to doing the drums, [I thought] oh, I’m going to let him down. I’m not a drummer. My rhythm is off.'

"When Haden finished cutting Sell Out’s 13 tracks, Watt suggested that she actually release it as a record – something she hadn’t even considered doing. 'I thought, well, the sound is horrible; you can hear me pressing ‘rewind’ a thousand times; I sing the lyrics wrong. We cleaned it up a lot, but you can still tell it’s from a Maxell crummy tape. No one will care. The point is that I did it, and I’m singing it, and it’s fine for me. And if no one else likes it, then they can piss off.'

"But once she decided to put it out, there was no corner-cutting. She even replicated the Who’s original cover, including the infamous shot of lead singer Roger Daltrey in a bathtub of baked beans. 'They kept having to spoon it over me,' Haden recalls. 'They were smearing it on my face. But it wasn’t disgusting. The beans felt like cold mud. Except it smelled bad.'

"But Haden’s take on the Who has had enormous reach, even landing on the doorstep of the source: Who guitarist Pete Townshend has publicly stated that he loves the record, though Daltrey is reportedly less complimentary."

* Wolcott:

"To those who resent the whims and dictates of their masters, all of this flying-about offers a gleam of macabre hope. Craig Nettles, former 3rd baseman for the NY Yankees, once wiseguyed there was an upside to Yankee owner George Steinbrenner's peripatetic meddling.

"'The more we lose, the more Steinbrenner will fly in. And the more he flies, the better the chance there will be a plane crash.'

"There were a lot of dark wits during those Steinbrenner-Reggie Jackson-Billy Martin years. None today, I note, which makes the current Yankees less equipped to indulge in gallows humor.

"According to Lisa Olson in the NY Daily News, Steinbrenner's PR guy let it be know that The Boss issued his latest edict on the Yankees' drag-butt season while pumping iron, an almost transparently poignant bit of off-stage theater intended to project 'strength' from a 75-year-old year old man whose most recent TV interview--on the YES network--revealed the once fearsome Steinbrenner a wan, spent force.

"Steinbrenner and Bush are beginning to remind me of each other. Bush still looks confident and walks toward the camera with gunslinger virility but his constant reiterations of 'strength' and 'resolve' have a hollow echo. Tonight he's going to surround himself with members of The Finest Military the World Has Seen as he delivers an address everyone is saying is intended to 'rally support' for standing firm in Iraq. I really think he would have been better off making a briefer, more sombre and straighforward speech from the Oval Office where he leveled with the American people, but he needs constant pumping up these days, even if it's the artificial pumping of doing a dumbo Social Security event with Ben Stein of all people."

* "I believe that the community is already in process of dissolution where each man begins to eye his neighbor as a possible enemy, where non-conformity with
the accepted creed, political as well as religious, is a mark of disaffection; where denunciation, without specification or backing, takes the place of evidence, where orthodoxy chokes freedom of dissent; where faith in the eventual supremacy of reason has become so timid that we dare not enter our convictions in the open lists, to
win or lose." -- Judge Learned Hand, 1872-1961

June 29, 2005

the only thing I'd change would be the ending

From the July 2005 edition of Harper's:

-- Estimated amount spent lobbying Congress last year: $3,000,000,000

-- Number of former members of Congress or federal-agency heads who are now lobbyists: 240

-- Minimum amount members of Congress have paid their own relatives since 2001: $3,000,000

-- Number of America's nine "Founding Fathers" who denied the divinity of Jesus: 7

-- Rank, in the current line of succession to the U.S. Presidency, of the first non-Christian: 16

* I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the word begin to move around. Stressed accents begin to invert. The word abandons its meaning like an overload which is too heavy and prevents dreaming. Then words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young. And the words wander away, looking in the nooks and crannies of vocabulary for new company, bad company. - Gaston Bachelard [via]

* Fire Left by Travellers
-- by Frank Stanford

Before in our lives we have all gone down
to some river or another
and spoken with those who don't often speak
we tell them about the black fumes of our dreams
roots smouldering and asleep
and the hammer hanging on the branch
and they go on sinking long nails
into their boat's damaged wood
they make a harbor out of anything
that will hold a rope for a night
they sit on buckets
near the water's circular ruins
eating fish cooked in wine
one has a belly and keeps young ducks under his shirt
one wears a beautiful scarf
he claims the moon is a liar
under the patch over his left eye
briars take over their boots
which took journeys without walking
half under water there's a chimney
driftwood and broken oars and lost lures
floating in the flue
the current drawing them up the fireplace like smoke
there it stands alone like a stone tree
the house having burned
before the river rose
before I walked down these levees
my father's long graves
which he raised like a pharaoh
I kept coming down them
holding both arms before me like a sleepwalker
holding out my hands
trying to warm them on campfires long gone
sod might as well have been snow
I looked down the steep slope of those days
a skier getting ready for a jump
I had things to say

June 28, 2005

do you curse where you come from

the bar mitzvah of jesus, by jonathan blum, 2000

* from A Compassionate Leave
-- by Richard Yates.

A WWII soldier is on a three day leave in Paris:

"...But oh Jesus God, the area up around the Place Pigalle. It throbbed in the new-fallen darkness with the very pulse of sex; it had a decidedly sinister quality too, in the shadows and in the guarded faces of everyone you saw. Steam rose from iron manhole lids in the street and was instantly turned red or green in the vivid lights of gas and electric signs. Girls and women were everywhere, walking and waiting, among hundreds of prowling soldiers.

"...And he walked the streets for hours, on sore feet, indulging himself in the bleak satisfactions of petulance. What the hell was supposed to be so great and beautiful about Paris anyway? Had anybody ever had the guts to say it was just another city like Detroit or Chicago or New York, with too many pale, grim men in business suits hurriying down the sidewalks, and with too much noise and gasoline exhaust and too much plain damned uncivilized rudeness? Had anybody yet confessed to being dismayed and bewildered and bored by this whole fucking place, and lonely as a bastard too?

"Late in the day he discovered white wine. It salved and dispelled his hangover; it softened athe rasp of his anger into an almost pleasanat melancholy. It was very nice and dry and mild and he drank a great deal of it, slowly, in one quietly obliging cafe after another...He imagined, as the white wine wore on and on, that he probably looked like a sensitive young man in wry contemplation of youth and love and death -- an 'interesting' young man -- and on that high wave of self-regard he went home and hit the sack.

"The final day was one of stunted thought and shriveled hope, of depressions so thick that all of Paris lay awash and sinking in it while his time ran out.

"Back in Place Pigalle at midnight and drunk again -- or more likely feigning drunkeness to himself -- he found that he was almost broke. He couldn't even afford even the most raucous of middle-aged whores now, and he knew he had probably arranged in his secret heart for this to be so. There was nothing left to do but make his way to the dark part of the city where the army trucks were parked.

"You weren't really expected to make the first truck; you could even miss the last truck and nobody would care very much. But those unspoken rules of conduct no longer applied to Paul Colby: he was very likely the only soldier in Europe ever to have spent three days in Paris without getting laid. And he had learned beyond question now that he could no longer attribute his trouble to shyness or awkwardness: it was fear. It was worse than fear: it was cowardice."

* soi disantra power ranks most of the Silver Jews songs.

* Cheney likely not at Vail Hopital for an "old football injury."

June 27, 2005

still dreaming of that perfect home by the sun

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

8. Red State Chickenhawks

"Anyone else sick of being told by Bush voters that people who don't support the war are helping the terrorists? Anyone else sick of brave Republican warmongers finding all kinds of reasons not to join the military, despite the growing recruitment crisis? You may be interested to know that a breakdown of the Iraq war dead shows that more come from states that voted for John Kerry. In general, the bluer the state, the more dead soldiers. Check out these maps:

"Now with the ol' Red vs. Blue map superimposed:

"For some reason I expected to see more of the staunch Bush-voting 'heartland' Republicans out west doing their bit for the cause..."

* Clusterfuck nation. excerpt:

"The east coast is a steambath, the Dow Jones is tanking, oil has crossed the $60 barrier, and Don Rumsfeld says the Iraq insurgency could run for twelve years.

"Taking these things in reverse order -- why twelve years? Why not forever? Actually, twelve years might as well be forever. What Rummy seems to be saying to the US public is: better be prepared to keep Fort Apache going indefinitely. The part he left out was. . . 'if you want to keep making that eighty-mile round trip commute from Cherokee County to Peachtree Street.'
"The stock market contraction ought to reflect this reality -- apart from desperate attempts by US government proxies to levitate share prices -- and it is hard to imagine a rally in the face of $60 oil. I'm inclined to predict a gruesome journey down for the Dow Jones into the 4000 range by the end of the year. Until now the dollars created by the Federal Reserve's supernaturally loose credit policy have sought shelter in the 'hard assets' of houses? A meltdown of the stock markets will translate into vanishing leverage in all other areas of finance, especially in real estate (as well as a swath of destruction through hedge funds, retirement accounts and, eventually, the entire creaking superstructure of the hallucinated mortgage industry). A few Americans are actually going to get the message that this is not a good time to buy an overpriced raised ranch house. A lot of real estate geniuses are going witness their own ruin with wonder and nausea."

* Top ten unbreakable sports records. excerpt:

"Number 4.
John Wooden's 88 straight wins

"Another relic of a bygone era, this record harkens back to when college players stuck around for four years and turned their programs into dynasties. Under the tutelage of the Wizard of Westwood and with Bill Walton leading the way, the UCLA Bruins won 88 straight games -- between two losses to Notre Dame on January 23, 1971 and January 19, 1974 -- a span that included three of the record seven straight NCAA championships won by UCLA from 1967 to 1973.

"To get an idea of just how hard these feats are to replicate, reflect on the fact that no team has gone undefeated for even a single season since 1976, and no other school has ever won more than two straight titles."

June 24, 2005

is there anything as still as sleeping horses

Lisa Yuskavage, Faucet, 1995

Three poems

Georgetown Poems (7)
The Trouble with Our State
-- by Father Daniel Berrigan

The trouble with our state
was not civil disobedience
which in any case was hesitant and rare

Civil disobedience was rare as kidney stone
No, rarer; it was disappearing like immigrants' disease

You've heard of the war on cancer?
There is no war like the plague of media
There is no war like routine
There is no war like 3 square meals
There is no war like a prevailing wind

It blows softly; whispers
don't rock the boat
the sails obey, the ship of state rolls on.

The trouble with our state
-- we learned it only afterward
when the dead resembled the living who resembled the dead
and civil virtue shone like paint on tin
and tin citizens and tin soldiers marched to the common whip

-- our trouble
the trouble with our state
with our state of soul
our state of seige --

Fuck Poetry
-- by Todd Moore

ringo sd slapping a clip
into the 45 auto the
targets were whiskey
bottles we'd set out on
fence posts fuck all those
pretty little rhymes
they made us read in high
school ringo yelled
hitting jim beam the
glass exploding into
the weeds he passed the
45 across a porno mag
opened on a women who
was holding her tits out
like a pair of six
shooters do you know
of a poem as packed as
that i fired at jack
daniels & missed & ringo
grabbed the automatic
& took jack out & fuck
metaphors & fuck similes
shit like that & fuck
kerouac & fuck bukowski
suddenly ringo pressed
the 45 barrel against
my forehead & while it
was drilling into my
skin he whispered
& amigo fuck you

-- by Joe Brainard

Looking through a book of drawings by Holbein I realize several moments of truth. A nose (a line) so nose-like. And then I thin to myself "so what?" It's not going to solve any of my problems. And then I realize that at the very moment of appreciation I had no problems. Then I decide that this is a pretty profound thought. And that I ought to write it down. This is what I have just done. But it doesn't sound so profound anymore. That's art for you.

June 23, 2005

you are sleeping off your demons when I come home

open red, by norman bluhm

* Wolcott:

"Over the years I've often found myself wondering if certain members of the devil's party inhale insecticide to psyche themselves up for the evil they do. Tom DeLay is a logical candidate, given his professional background, and Ann Coulter often has the bug eyes characteristic of bug-juice abuse. Watching Fox News, I figured they might keep a industrial-sized bug inhaler in the offices for their producers and hosts to take an invigorating hit from before pushing the Bush agenda.

"As is so often the case, my suspicions have been creepily confirmed. According to the ongoing reports at Media Bistro's TV Newser, production and tech workers in the NY offices of Fox News Channel in NY may have been exposed to diazinon, 'a neurotoxin class insecticide.' This is quite dangerous. If the hosts were inhaling insecticide from their own personal bug masks, that would be their own containable risktaking, but spraying an insecticide banned for indoor use by the EPA in the premises could be causing health hazards to unwitting personnel just doing about their jobs. One tipster to TVnewser claims that here you have 'unlicensed people spraying illegal chemicals,' which, if true, would be really taking unfettered capitalism and opposition to bureaucratic regulation rather too far. But we shall see what we shall see, as the former WABC sports-talk host Art Rust Jr. used to say."

* Scientists discover the body's marijuana-like compounds are crucial for stress-induced pain relief. excerpt:

"The work, led by scientists at the University of Georgia and the University of California, Irvine, may yield a target for new drug therapies that will completely bypass the current arguments over the use of medical marijuana. In theory, the new research makes it possible to design a pill that will have the same pain relieving effects as smoked marijuana, but through an indirect mechanism that could also reduce unwanted psychoactive side effects and not have the same political baggage.

"'There is no prescription or over the counter drug that allows us to manipulate the level of the brain's marijuana-like compounds,'" said Andrea Hohmann, a neuroscientist in the department of psychology at the University of Georgia and co-author of the paper. 'This is the first time anyone has shown that one of the body's naturally occurring cannabinoids, a compound known as 2-AG, has anything to do with pain regulation under natural conditions.'"

* Saturday night in DC is the 4th Annual Run For Cover show at the Black Cat. Appearing will be, among others: The Sandinistas (The Clash); Woodsprites (The Pixies); Another Man's Sac (The Butthole Surfers); Just Oates (Hall and Oates, minus Hall?) and The Queen is Dead (The Smiths). If previous Run for Covers are any indication, this will be loads of fun, and will kick off at 10pm.

June 22, 2005

styles they come and go

chord #15, by anders krisar

* A Real Life Joe Gould: If you live in NYC, or plan to visit soon, this is something to consider: Story Corps, "a national project to instruct and inspire people to record each others' stories in sound.

"We're here to help you interview your grandmother, your uncle, the lady who's worked at the luncheonette down the block for as long as you can rememberÂ?anyone whose story you want to hear and preserve.

"To start, we'll be building soundproof recording booths across the country, called StoryBooths. You can use these StoryBooths to record broadcast-quality interviews with the help of a trained facilitator. Our first StoryBooths opened in New York City's Grand Central Terminal on October 23, 2003, and the oral historian Studs Terkel gave a rousing speech, which captures the heart of the project.

"We've tried to make the experience as simple as possible. We'll help you figure out what questions to ask. We'll handle all the technical aspects of the recording. At the end of the hour-long session, you'll get a copy of your interview on CD. And thanks to the generous contributions of our supporters, all this costs only $10."

You will also have the opportunity to donate a copy of your cd to the project and to the Library of Congress. Be sure to listen to the excerpts provided on the site. Its a fascinating and worthy project.

In addition to the booth at Grand Central, there is a mobile unit that istravelingg the US right now, and on July 12, 2005, they will open a booth at the World Trade Center site, for people to discuss September 11, 2001.

* Listen to a sample of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy singing "Puff the Magic Dragon," which will be released in July.

* Fear Is What Quickens Me
-- by James Wright

Many animals that our fathers killed in America
Had quick eyes.
They stared about wildly,
When the moon went dark.
The new moon falls into the freight yards
Of cities in the south,
But the loss of the moon to the dark hands of Chicago
Does not matter to the deer
In this northern field.

What is that tall woman doing
There, in the trees?
I can hear rabbits and mourning doves whispering together
In the dark grass, there
Under the trees.

I look about wildly.

[oh, and of all things, yesterday I was ticketed -- well, actually the nice fucking cop let me off with a warning -- for "not crossing the street between the white lines," that's right, for j-walking: at 5:00 pm at the corner of 14 & I. Of course, while the nice fucking cop was writing up my warning, about 90 percent of the people crossing the street were also "not crossing the street between the white lines."]

June 21, 2005

caught up in the fable I watched the tower grow

fairy, brooklyn bridge, by norman parkinson, 1949

* Paste Magazine talks with Joe Pernice about the new record. excerpt:

"'When I’m writing,' he explains, 'the melody is first. I love melodies, and I gravitate toward writing melodies that I might want to listen to. Lyrically, I might be a darker person, but musically, I like major chords and major sevenths. Sometimes I’ll step back and say, ‘Why aren’t you writing something cheerful to go with that melody?’ But it just doesn’t come; I’m not in that territory. Lyrically, it’s an entirely different ballgame. I tend to be a darker person when I start writing words. But the songs are never all-out sad, there’s always some hope, especially on this record.'"
"'Saddest Quo,' for example, opens with a sunny guitar strum and a dizzying, descending guitar line that recalls The Beatles’ version of Buddy Holly’s 'Words of Love.' The music’s optimism is echoed in Pernice’s first verse, 'Trying to be a better person … my faith in life’s unbroken.' The desire to believe in a better self and a better world is sincere, but it is sorely tested in the catchy, harmony-cloaked chorus. The singer turns on the TV and sees a government full of 'hypocrites choking on their blind faith' and reporters exploiting scenes of a 'train wreck picking up survivors from a plane crash.'

"How, the song seems to ask, do you hold on to hope when so much of the evidence points the other way? The lyrics suggest a world designed to frustrate every shred of optimism, to leave us 'waiting for the sky to fall.' The guitar arpeggios, so pretty at first, seem to get stuck in this paradox. Unable to move forward, their static repetition becomes part of the song’s frustration rather than its antidote.

"'I was home a lot when I wrote that song,' Pernice remembers. 'I was watching a lot of news and I was disgusted by the way TV was presenting the news, not just politics, but the whole presentation of reality. I wanted to make a tiny person’s comment on a big thing."
"I started editing my songs the same way I would a poem. Does every word count? Is there any fat cluttering up the song? Are the images saying what I want or anything at all? I knew songs were a lot more forgiving, because you have melody and all kinds of bells and whistles, but I got used to being very tough and ruthless. I learned to get the scalpel out and it still serves me well."

* The Rude Pundit on the Downing Steet memo. excerpt:

"Here's the deal: let's change the context. The Downing Street documents are about a conspiracy of lies and deception. One doesn't have to be 'antiwar' to believe that the President of the United States shouldn't openly lie to the Congress and to the people about matters of State. War just happens to be the subject, yes, but it just as well could have been energy policy or campaign donations - those just lack the glamour of dead and mutilated American bodies. See, in this new context, we don't even have to talk about whether or not it was 'right' to take out Saddam Hussein and 'liberate' Iraq. All we have to talk about is the lying.

"And about this being 'the past,' in that 'oh-well-we-all-fucking-knew-Bush-was-lying-anyway' attitude being taken by so many on the left and middle, well, shit, since when is there a statute of limitations on high crimes and misdemeanors? Always use the Bill Clinton bar, one that's so low that even slugs could not limbo under it: was Whitewater 'the past?' Well, fuck yeah, since it happened years before Clinton was even in the Oval Office, in goddamn 1978. Did that stop the investigations? Well, fuck no, and the years-long and multimillion dollar investigation didn't prove a damn thing, other than Republicans were petty, mean, vicious fuckers who would stoop to anything to avenge the loss of the presidency.

"The way to win converts to the cause of investigating the President - 'what did he know and when did he know it' kind of shit - is to put it in the abstract, more universal sense first: 'The President lied to your face.' Then get more specific: 'The President lied to your face about why we went to war.' Then allow the horror to seep in: 'The President lied to your face about why we went to war and now we're on the fast track to our second-thousandth dead and our twenty-thousandth injured.'"

* "Now I am going in for debauch. Why? I want to be a poet, and I am working to make myself a visionary: you won't possibly understand, and I don't know how to explain it to you. To arrive at the unknown through the disordering of all the senses, that's the point. The sufferings will be tremendous, but one must be strong, be born a poet: it is in no way my fault...so much the worse for the wood that discovers it's a violin, and to hell with the heedless who cavil about something they know nothing about!" -- Arthur Rimbaud [via]

June 20, 2005

I give up cigarettes you sell your hair

sandman, by david salle

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

8. Fred Phelps

"Maybe Perry can join forces with another recently-announced troops-hater, Fred Phelps. Phelps, of 'God Hates Fags' fame, is most associated with protesting at the funerals of AIDS victims and gays, but he has of late decided to start picketing the funerals of soldiers - gay or not. Last week he announced that he would protest at the funeral of Cpl. Carrie French, who was killed in Iraq by an IED.

"Phelps says that, 'Our attitude toward what's happening with the war is the Lord is punishing this evil nation for abandoning all moral imperatives that are worth a dime.' So let me get this straight - Phelps is claiming that our soldiers are dying in Iraq because God is punishing America for 'abandoning moral imperatives' - therefore he's going around demonstrating at soldiers' funerals, causing havoc and further traumatizing their families? I'd be utterly confused if I hadn't read this excellent analysis which explains a great deal.

"The right-wing are always trying to claim that people on the left who don't support George W. Bush's war in Iraq also don't support the troops (which is just a blatant lie). Meanwhile heroes of the radical right like Scumbag Phelps are ruining their memorial services. Astonishing."

* Salaries of tv dads (in 2005 dollars). [via]. excerpt:

3. Philip Drummond Diff'rent Strokes (1978-86) President $720,600

30. Homer Simpson The Simpsons (1989-) Nuclear Safety Inspector $65,000

45. Archie Bunker All in the Family (1971-79) Dock Foreman $45,431

48. Mike Brady Brady Bunch (1969-74) Architect $44,064

56. Fred G. Sanford Sanford and Son (1972-77) Junk Dealer $27,950

57. Al Bundy Married with children (1987-97) Shoe Salesman $25,943

60. James Evans, Sr. Good Times (1974-79) Unemployed $0

* "It is more arduous to honour the memory of the nameless than that of the renowned. Historical construction is dedicated to the memory of the nameless." — Walter Benjamin

June 17, 2005

I'd be riding horses if they let me

Edie Sedgwick during the making of the Andy Warhol film "Since (Space)," by Billy Name, 1965

From Michael Brownstein's "epic, visionary, kaleidoscopic treatise/poem" world on fire (2002), which if you haven't yet read, you really should:

...Notice how language is used here, dear reader.

Why should protected lands be despoiled for at most six years
worth of energy?

Do you trust the phrase "environmentally friendly?"

Is there any connection between drilling for natural gas and
addressing the problem of power shortages?

How easy is it for you to spot the greed peeking out of every

Understand that Mr. Bush, his cronies, and many of his
appointees are the oil industry.

Realize that nowhere above is development of alternative energy
sources mentioned.

Consider that the energy crisis referred to might be minor, tem-
porary, or even intentional.

Glance at the calendar as you read this.

What's today's date?

How much of the above has already come to pass?

What other areas of potential profit have been approached in
similar fashion?

* From his 1975 book of poems Strange Days Ahead:

The Sidewalk

The sidewalk never changes. The street
Always changes. It changes my feet --
On the outside of this old apartment wall
Street violence and harsh dark speech
The heartless gunning of an idiot's engine
His numberless swift cars
That spew out noise like rubble down the street
Cutting between the two great academic lines of heat
The positive and negative poles
Of the sidewalks, always too hard
For the defeated pairs and pairs and pairs of feet

These feet are gobbled down dreamily by Time
Who is Chronos by Goya and
One of the really Big Boys --
He swerves across the sidewalk at me for a dime
As I leap out and hit the street

Liberty Bells

The liberty bells are ringing

The people pour down from their scallop-shell rooms

To stride excitedly among each other

Distracted and intense, seemingly elated

But fiercely aimless, up & down the streets


Exaggerated lives, phony body postures, overblown gestures
Flashy plastic clothes, subliminal packaging, no architecture
Cosmetic patina covering the face, neck and hands

Averted glances, city block survival, celery stalks at midnight
Dogshit, stunted scamores, unisex block and tackle
Inverted weather front, stagnant airshaft, walleyed abdication

Politics, art, artificial beef and monster injected chicken
Aerosol junkies spray themselves illusory jellied youth product
Trash 14th St., vinyl nazi Madison, Plymouth Rock retirement village

Sensory deprivation, smokescreen social causes, "What about me?"
Lowest common denominator, subway to nowhere, quaint souvlaki
People turning into pullets, distributor caps, jack hammers

June 16, 2005

the delicate balance has shifted

somewhere between preserved and forgotten, by dronepop.

* From a January 30, 1801 letter from Charles Lamb to Wordsworth:

"Separate from the pleasure of your company, I don't much care if I never see a mountain in my life. I have passed all my days in London, until I have formed as many and intense local attachments, as any of you mountaineers can have done with dead nature. The Lighted shops of the Strand...the innumerable trades, tradesmen and customers, coaches, waggons, playhouses, all the bustle and wickedness round about Covent Garden, the very women of the Town, the Watchmen, drunken scenes, rattles, --life awake, if you awake, at all hours of the night & the impossibility of being dull in Fleet Street, the crowds, the very dirt & mud, the Sun shining upon houses and pavements, the print shops, the old book stalls, parsons cheap'ning books, coffee houses, steams of soups from kitchens, the pantomimes, London itself a pantomime and a masquerade, --all these things work themselves into my mind and feed me, without a power of satiating me. The wonder of these sights impells me into night-walks about her crowded street, and I often shed tear in the motley Strand from fullness of joy at so much Life." (Sir Walter Raleigh, in his 1926 book 'On Writing and Writers' called Lamb "the most perfect letter-writer in our language.")

* Wolcott, talking about watching a Diane Sawyer interview:

"Perhaps what made the interchange so creepy was the intimate way the mother dropped Sawyer's first name into the conversation--'as you know, Diane,' etc--that made it sound as if they were a couple of soulmates having an intimate chat rather than the mother of a missing daughter being interviewed by a supposedly professional journalist. The conversation seemed to take place in the strange cotton-candyland of American unreality where personal confession and media promotion come together for a good cry.

"At some point I switched over to MSNBC's Imus in the Morning where Tucker Carlson was being vilified as a 'skeeter peter titty boy.' That's more like it, I thought. Beats the hell out of Sawyer using language as if it were a signature collection of soothing pastels."

* "It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way into a thousand minds, the corn become a black smut, and all libraries, of necessity, be burned to the ground as a consequence. Only one answer: write carelessly so that nothing that is not green will survive." -- William Carlos Williams

June 15, 2005

every stop we've taken is now a wonderous shrine

Tomorrow night at AFI.

Outside Austin, Texas, a 53-year-old man sits in an apartment with four radios, three televisions, two amps, a radio scanner, and a casio electric piano playing. At the same time. Loudly. He has three teeth, his hair is matted into one huge dreadlock, and he has a notarized document on his wall declaring himself an alien, "so whoever's putting shocks to my head will stop." Thirty years earlier, Roger Kynard "Roky" Erickson was a rock-and-roll icon: A manic white-blues singer who was Janis Joplin's primary influence, he fronted a band called the 13th Floor Elevators, considered by many to be the creators of psychedelic music. After a 1969 marijuana arrest, Erickson entered an insanity plea and was sent to the Rusk State Hospital, a medieval institution deep in the east Texas pineforests. He remained there for three years with the state's most violent mentally ill offenders, then re-emerged a changed man: He sang about ghouls, zombies, and Satan, christened himself "the evil one," and declared himself an alien. At some point he stopped recording altogether and disappeared: "the great lost vocalist of rock and roll." For the past 12 years, Erickson has lived as a total recluse, shut in with his white noise and watching cartoons all day. He collects junk-mail by the stack. He only opens the door for his mother, Evelyn. Evelyn spends her days in their crumbling family home, abandoned by her other four sons and husband, doing yoga and reimagining her life through homemade films and "storyboards"--large planks of cardboard onto which she's pasted family photos and written out the story of their lives, "to convince myself that I'd been a good mother."

* Flyer for AFI by Gabriela Schneider, who previously did a wonderful job creating the flyers for POTLUCK.
it's just a shadow you're seein' that he's chasing

Artist Ralph Steadman, long-time friend and collaborator with Dr. Thompson, originally created this Gonzo Monument art work in 1977, and now he has produced an edition of 150 prints to commemorate his friend and to further the causes he stood for. After the blasting of Hunter's ashes on August 20th 2005, this original silkscreen print will be signed by Ralph Steadman and a handful of Hunter's close friends in the War Room at Owl Farm, Woody Creek, Colorado.

100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of these 150 original prints will go to fund the Hunter S. Thompson Foundation.

World Wide Edition of 150
Paper Size: 22 x 30 inches
Price: $2,000.00 plus $50.00 for shipping and handling.

Please contact or make checks payable to The Hunter S. Thompson Foundation.

The Hunter S. Thompson Foundation
HST Gonzo Memorial Fist Print
c/o Vectra Bank
Attn: Susan Stein
534 E. Hyman
Aspen, CO 81612

* Three Poems:

The Beach
by Eileen Myles

Economically, not
emotionally this
color is connected
to that color
the waves

they really

I hold on,
I hold on to you

-- by charles bukowski

one of Lorca's best lines
"agony, always
agony ..."

think of this when you
kill a
cockroach or
pick up a razor to

or awaken in the morning
face the

Another Reason why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House
--- Billy Collins

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

June 14, 2005

hot town summer in the city

photograph by sarah small.

* An interview with roger 'syd' barrett's nephew. [via]. excerpt:

sTc: What's it like being around your uncle, and is there some sort of family rule that's says you should never bring up the topic of his past?

IB: The past is not something Rog ever discusses..

sTc: Has Roger ever talked to you about meeting the Beatles, or Stones or anyone famous like that?

IB: No.

sTc: What kind of music does he listen to these days?

IB: Roger does have a little record player, but he's only got a few records and tapes and they're mainly of classical concerts. He really isn't very interested in music anymore. He does have an acoustic guitar which I assume he strums to himself, but I've never heard him play it.

sTc: What does Roger think of himself... does he care at all about his past, and do you think he realizes that he's had a big influence on many other artists ?

IB: Rog. doesn't care one little bit about the past and is so removed now from the glamour and excitement of the showbiz world he once longed for; that I'm sure it confuses him that anyone else would care so much that he sung a few songs and played bit of guitar in the Sixties.

sTc: Is there something you would like to say to potential well wishing visitors to Roger's home in Cambridge?

IB: The one thing I'd really like to say to people wanting to visit Roger and see how he is - is please DON'T..!!!!! I know many fans are genuinely very caring and are interested in his well-being; but he really doesn't enjoy having people knock on his door virtually every day wanting to wish him well. PLEASE leave him in peace to get on with his life happily. I can reassure anyone concerned that he really is happy and content and he'd be more so if he didn't have to awkwardly meet fans hanging outside the house and nervously knocking on his door. To this end I'd appreciate it if anyone reading this who knows his address would refrain from publicizing it further. please don't tell people where he lives. Surely everyone has the right to a bit of privacy and peace and quiet. If Roger was still involved in the Music Business then he would be more fair game for a lack of privacy; but as it is he hasn't made a record for over TWENTY YEARS.!! please show him some consideration and leave him in peace. I know that Roger is touched by all the concern of his fans but he'd be much happier if you simply let him get on with his life undisturbed.
sTc: I know that there is Syd Barrett material still locked away in some vault somewhere... video/sound from the early days, solo outtakes etc. Was your father and other uncle involved in negotiating the release of Opal? And if say EMI wants to release 'Syd Barrett rarities' would they have to get the go ahead from your family to release such a project?

IB: I'm really not in a position to comment on a question like this. There may well be more recordings lying somewhere; and I would be as excited as everyone else to hear them; but where they might be I have absolutely no idea. I have no dealings with the record company personally and while it's true that my family help Roger out with his dealings with the label we're not involved with the business directly so wouldn't know about any rarities still around.

* John Darnielle's The Story of Me Watching Some TV After Dinner:

"'Hit Me, Baby, One More Time' (fuck I hated that fucking song, too, I wish they'd called this show something else) is a TV show where they bring one-hit wonders out and have 'em perform their hits & then, in the second round, have 'em cover a modern pop song. 'One-hit wonder' isn't really the case; last night they had the Motels, the Knack, Haddaway, Tommy Tutone, and Vanilla Ice. In between performances there're where-are-they-now interviews with the bands 'n' stuff. So, Haddaway does 'What is Love' and it's like the most beautiful thing ever of course. Tutone does 'Jenny (867-5309)" and puts a pretty surprising about of venom into it and I'm like 'holy fuck.' I missed 'My Sharona.' The Motels do 'Only the Lonely' and the fact that the song was more about production than content is clear. And of course Vanilla Ice does "Ice Ice Baby," and it's horrible - he's bellowing nu-metal style the whole time, all the charm is surgically drained from the song - but because 1) his DJ is in fact revolvin' it and 2) he does the dance moves, there's still a greatness to it.

Then our host gets really excited (English dude, Liverpudlian maybe) about the round with the 'Cover versions!' More interspersed where-are-they-now clips; I think Tutone's about three steps down the chain at some veal-fattening computerland in Portland, which might explain the intensity of his performances. Or maybe he just rules, I dunno. But either way: Haddaway does 'Toxic' (THAT'S RIGHT, PEOPLE: THE GUY WHO SANG 'WHAT IS LOVE' SANG 'TOXIC'" AND I SAW IT, OH MY GOD I RULE), the Knack do that Jet song which was a poor choice 'cause the Knack are pretty great but that song is unsalvageable, Vanilla Ice does 'Survivor' with (I think) some lyrics of his own - kinda OK for the aggroness but seriously dude's rapping is now all about auditioning for Slipknot: YELL YELL YELL I AM GONNA YELL AT YOU (no disrespect to Slipknot obviously), the Motels do some Norah Jones song and really reinterpreted it, points for creativity but the thing is this: Tommy Tutone covered Blink-182's 'Carry Me Home' or whatever it's called and holy. fucking. SHIT did he tear it two new assholes. Incredible, incredible energy, intensity, Springsteen-in-'79-level passion for three minutes on TV. I was in shock. I've always thought that song had a nice melody but couldn't have imagined it as this giant nova burst of redemptive energy.

"Naturally Vanilla Ice won, and so he did 'Ice Ice Baby' again and this time he didn't scream the whole time but it still sucked. This show rules. The end."

* "Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can play weird--that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple complicated is commonplace--making the complicated simple, awesomely simple--that's creativity." -- Charles Mingus

June 13, 2005

nothing frightens me more than religion at my door

John Cale & Betsey Johnson, NYC, mid-1960s

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"1. The Bush Administration

Last week documents obtained by Greenpeace under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the Bush administration was "heavily pressured" by energy company Exxon Mobil to reject the Kyoto Treaty on global warming - despite Exxon and the administration's claims to the contrary. During his joint press conference with British prime minister Tony Blair (more on that in a minute), Bush insisted that climate change is 'a serious long-term issue that needs to be dealt with. And my administration isn't waiting around to deal with the issue, we're acting. ... We want to know more about it. It's easier to solve a problem when you know a lot about it.'

"Oh really? Because it was also revealed last week that the Bush administration wasn't simply pressured by Exxon Mobil to reject Kyoto. Believe it or not, a White House official - who was once a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute - was discovered last week to have 'repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.'

"So there you have it - proof that not only are big oil companies writing the Bush administration's energy policy, they also have a guy inside the White House whose job it is to fix global warming reports to their advantage. Meanwhile Americans are still paying through the nose at the pump, while energy companies are raking in higher and higher profits. So much for government "of the people, by the people, for the people" - Bush and his oil cronies have made sure that "the people" are nothing but stooges in their grand scam."

* Howard Zinn on The Scourge of Nationalism. excerpt:

"Nationalism is given a special virulence when it is blessed by Providence. Today we have a President, invading two countries in four years, who believes he gets messages from God. Our culture is permeated by a Christian fundamentalism as poisonous as that of Cotton Mather. It permits the mass murder of 'the other' with the same confidence as it accepts the death penalty for individuals convicted of crimes. A Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia, told an audience at the University of Chicago Divinity School, speaking of capital punishment: 'For the believing Christian, death is no big deal'"

"How many times have we heard Bush and Rumsfeld talk to the troops in Iraq, victims themselves, but also perpetrators of the deaths of thousands of Iraqis, telling them that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for 'liberty,' for 'democracy?"
"Henry David Thoreau, provoked by the war in Mexico and the nationalist fervor it produced, wrote: 'Nations! What are nations? . . . Like insects, they swarm. The historian strives in vain to make them memorable.' In our time, Kurt Vonnegut (Cat's Cradle) places nations among those unnatural abstractions he calls granfalloons, which he defines as 'a proud and meaningless association of human beings.'

"There have always been men and women in this country who have insisted that universal standards of decent human conduct apply to our nation as to others. That insistence continues today and reaches out to people all over the world. It lets them know, like the balloons sent over the countryside by the Paris Commune in 1871, that 'our interests are the same.'"

* Trailers from David Lynch films.

June 10, 2005

so give me all your money, give me all your gold

Intersection of Black Lines, Shalaev

Two poems by klipschutz:

Confessions of a Made Man

I took crying lessons
from Bly
Just when I could turn
on the waterworks at will, it was off
to Mythological Boot Camp

Plainclothes Ginsberg frisked me

I delivered pizza to Bukowski
and loaned my girlfriend to Merwin

talking crop rotation and Jefferson
with Berry, Milarepa with Snyder

I know, I know. . .but the timing
proved inopportune for upturning applecarts—

So I spent my measly inheritance
at a bed&breakfast in Vermont
taking notes as Kinnell limned Hawthorne
under the alders

Drew blood with Dickey, matched
mean streets with Levine. . .

Brilliant, Brilliant, I concurred
after Wieners had mumbled into his sleeve
for an hour, a sad succotash of spasmology

Sight unseen, I told Ferlinghetti I like your

Quarterly the dividends roll in
Andrei Codrescu told the friend of an ex-friend
my work is "close, very close"

Omens are underfoot, not merely in the sky:

A cartoon elephant, the mascot
of the New Informalists,
has been spotted
right around
the cor-

Black Mountain delivers water to my door

The Second Coming of Wilt the Stilt

As if we didn’t feel small,
here he is, out of whack
with the furniture, the big bowls
of his knees practically in the room
with us, all praise to the Great
God Talkshow.

The whole entirety of his legendary selfhood
is back, that we had forgotten was gone—

We’re all back, forgiving the years,

as he brings host after host up to date,
setting the broken record straight.

He was our national giant, fresh
off the schoolyards of Philly,
"dominating the game"
as we dominated the world,
underhand free-throw and all.

Now they bring them in from the Sudan,
half a head taller than he,
and camera-shy men of dark mien
own the groups that own the teams.

He is hungry again for air-time, and has built a paper sandwich
of his life, providing some ghost-Wilt a juicy check.
Let the book tour begin. . .

20,000 women—
Within weeks anyone who’d even talked
to anyone with a television knew he'd had sex with—
run that by me again?

If they were laid out end to end. . .
ask a bookkeeper, I can't even imagine.

(A girl I knew, too much for me,
met him on a beach in L.A.
They played volleyball, had dinner,
I was not impressed.
But when Elvis shook my hand
it didn’t mean much either at the time.

I was thirteen and on crutches.
After, I could walk and run and jump.
Dr. Baldwin scratched his head
and said go home.

The lay-up still eluded me.
Ping-pong was my game, I showed
no mercy.)

Was there one that got away?
Did someone get a chance to say,
"It’s okay, it happens to everyone."

Was she wild, the transsexual joker in the deck?

Will he debate the author of The Casanova Complex?

Inquisitive husbands beware!

Same old same—
party-time for the Gods,
monogamy for mortals.

Stay tuned for the guy
who slept with his own tired wife
20,012 times exactly.

Can she pass a polygraph? Did he take her out to movies?

June 9, 2005

pray that what you lack does not distract

Mechanical Model of Cannibalistic Imperative, by Shlyapnikov

* James Muhm writes a letter to his friend who supports the drug war. read the whole thing. excerpt:

"First of all we must ask, has the war on drugs reduced the amount of drugs available in our country? The answer, emphatically, is no. More illegal drugs are now available on the street, in higher grade and at a cheaper price, than at any time since drugs were first banned in 1914. There is no sign that drug use among the population is lessening. Instead, it seems that anyone who wants to use illegal drugs will get them, whether other illegal acts must be used to get the money to pay for them or not.
"Other costs to society imposed by the war on drugs are seen in the way in which we now accept reduced limits on our freedoms. Consider forfeiture laws, those laws enacted to punish users and dealers by allowing law-enforcement agencies to seize assets to further fight the war on drugs. Using these laws, police agencies and prosecutors can claim cash, houses, automobiles, and other assets that are in any way used in violation of drug laws, even if that property was used without the knowledge or consent of the owner.

"Such power sometimes leads law enforcement to a great temptation to skirt the technicalities of the law in order to seize assets, not to be used as evidence in a court trial, but simply to make use of them. The agencies can do this because they have only to 'believe the assets were used in a drug transaction.' No criminal charges need ever be filed against the person whose property was seized, and the burden of proof then is on the owner of the seized property to have it returned. In the process, law-enforcement and judicial resources are diverted away from truly serious and threatening crimes, so they can be used to interfere with those who are determined to abuse, not others, but only themselves.
"And, finally, we should consider whether it is ethical or right for some citizens, e.g., those of us opposed to the use of recreational drugs, to use the force of government to impose our ideas of proper deportment on others. Society rebels at the idea of using force, Taliban-style, to enforce 'approved' lifestyles on others in most circumstances; why not when a person chooses to get high on drugs? Granted, legalizing drugs would not solve all of the problems associated with drug abuse, but it would solve the problems arising from the illegality of drugs. The tremendous costs to society in trying to prohibit drug use are counterproductive. The misguided war on drugs criminalizes personal behavior that does not threaten others, creates an incentive for truly criminal acts by drug users desperate for a fix, wastes public treasure, and, most obviously, is not achieving its desired ends.

"Let’s stop this futile and eternal war on drugs and let the government get back to its true function – protecting us from those who would do us harm."

* In his excellent write up of the history surrounding and recording of James Brown's Live at the Apollo (which was recorded October 24, 1962), Douglas Wolk writes:

"There's a bootleg audience recording of James Brown playing at the University of Virginia fieldhouse in Charlottesville on March 12, 1965. It's muffled and spotty; the horn section is barely audible; the microphone is distorting. But you can hear JB loud and clear....[in the second song] something comes over him, and he starts screaming so hard that the microphone is quaking under his voice.
Listening to [the UVA show] you realize: when he recorded Live at the Apollo, he knew he was being recorded, and he held back, so he wouldn't overload the microphone and get distortion all over the recording, because then Syd Nathan would never let him put it out. Live at the Apollo, my friend -- Live at the Apollo is the sound of James Brown holding back."

* 70 percent of the world's sex toys are made in China. excerpt:

"In the factory hall, the air is thick with the smell of silicone and baking rubber. For all that, they are going at it hammer and tongs, baking vibrators like they were breakfast muffins.

"There are no dust masks or respirators to be seen on any of the staff.

"The cooled dildo sheaths are hung up on lines from special clothes pegs, and 30-year-old Fang Hongkun pours silicone inside the shells. She leaves around one-third of the shell empty for the insertion of an electric motor.

"On another floor of the plant, the tables and workbenches are awash with pale green and pink bionic penises into which young women are installing AC or battery-powered motors. Gu Zhiying, 24, tests that each completed toy operates the way it is supposed to.

"'I haven't actually told my parents precisely what it is I do for a living here,' she says, with a rotating, vibrating rubber member clutched in her hand."

"The manufacturers' appetite for the branch is whetted by the large margins that can be made on these products and by the relative reluctance of customers to come forward to complain about poor quality.

"The most promising prospects are in items for women, because in this male-oriented society the women do not find it easy to get satisfaction", says Fang.
"According to a 2004 study quoted in the People's Daily, just 21% of Chinese men had any idea where the clitoris might be located.

"For now, however, only around a tenth of Shaki's production goes into the domestic market. A third goes to the United States, a veritable promised land for sex-toys. Australia and Japan are also important export markets.

"Some of the most innovative ideas emanate from the United States. It is to that market that they export such items as blow-up sheep and pigs, for instance.

"'The sort of quite small inflatable animals with a hole at the rear end,' is the modest description offered by Fang Hong."

June 8, 2005

sweating up a storm in that terrible month of June

O.Leonova-Podokskaya, A Woman coming into the City

* New York Times:

"We read the Supreme Court's decision on the medicinal use of marijuana with mixed emotions. We certainly wish that the Justice Department could be weaned from the gross misuse of the federal Controlled Substances Act that led to its campaign against the use of marijuana by terminally ill people in the 11 states where it is legal for doctors to prescribe it.
"The law the Bush administration used in attempting to crack down on medical marijuana in states where it is legal was intended to stop interstate trafficking in dangerous drugs. Most Americans would agree that using small amounts of marijuana in private under a doctor's supervision has nothing to do with narcotics trafficking. To stop the Justice Department from pursuing this ideological obsession, Congress should amend the law to specifically exempt prescribed marijuana. It should not be a partisan issue; both red and blue states have laws allowing the medicinal use of marijuana.

"We hope good sense prevails. And we hope that Justice Antonin Scalia, who seems to be campaigning for chief justice, remembers that he concurred with the majority this week the next time the court hears a federal-powers case on, say, air pollution."

* U.S. border patrols are a joke: a man with a chain saw and sword was allowed into the U.S.

"On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres. Then they let him into the United States."

It was this guy:

"The following day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of Minto, New Brunswick: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country musician named Frederick Fulton was found on Fulton's kitchen floor. His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom.

"Despres, 22, immediately became a suspect because of a history of violence between him and his neighbors, and he was arrested April 27 after police in Massachusetts saw him wandering down a highway in a sweat shirt with red and brown stains. He is now in jail in Massachusetts on murder charges, awaiting an extradition hearing next month.

"At a time when the United States is tightening its borders, how could a man toting what appeared to be a bloody chain saw be allowed into the country?"

* Two poems by Dana Goodyear:


We found (like the deserting) spacious calm,
drank a pair of Arnold Palmers underneath a palm.
Went for massage and mud, lacquer, love,
overheated minerals, a stimulating rub.
Then — as if it could be used, as if for art —
I placed a grain of doubt in your open-pored heart,
and watched what had been small dilate
and everything else evaporate.

Day and Age

Skimming by,
the milky spill of my old eye,
the mute white cat
now skirts me at the store.
Retarded and alert.

What good are instincts anymore?
Who does the math
for lengths of desperation
and how far to the door?

A woman, pregnant
like a red wool bud,
is circling the rink.
Catastrophe, I think.

June 7, 2005

sometimes, I feel I gotta get away

NY subway portrait, 1941, by walker evans. collected in Many Are Called.

* Los Alamos whistleblower beaten. excerpt:

"Los Alamos lab whistleblower scheduled to testify before Congress was lured to a bar and then badly beaten in an attack his wife and lawyer believe was designed to keep him quiet.

"Tommy Hook was in a Santa Fe hospital recovering from a fractured jaw and other injuries, his wife, Susan Hook, said Monday. She said the assailants told him during the attack early Sunday that 'if you know what's good for you, you'll keep your mouth shut.'

"Tommy Hook has a pending lawsuit against the University of California alleging whistleblower retaliation. He had been scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month about alleged financial irregularities at the nuclear weapons lab."

Be sure to click through to the link for the picture; Hook was truly badly beaten.

* The New York Times on the Bush economy. excerpt:

With all of the debate about taxes, the economy and domestic spending, it is hard to imagine anyone supporting the notion of taking money from programs like Medicaid and college-tuition assistance, increasing the tax burden of the vast majority of working Americans, sending the country into crushing debt - and giving the proceeds to people who are so fantastically rich that they don't know what to do with the money they already have. Yet that is just what is happening under the Bush administration. Forget the middle class and the upper-middle class. Even the merely wealthy are being left behind in the dust by the small slice of super-rich Americans.
There is something deeply wrong about a system that calls into question a comfortable retirement or a top-notch education for people who have broken into the top 20 percent of income earners. It starts to seem politically explosive when you consider that in a decade, those making between $100,000 and $200,000 will pay about five to nine percentage points more of their income in federal taxes than those making more than $1 million, assuming the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.

This is not about giving wealthy people more money to invest back into the economy. At this level, it's really about giving more money to those who have nothing to do with it except amass enormous estates for their heirs. Fixing the problem will require members of Congress to summon the courage to say no to a president who wants more for the richest of the rich at the expense of everyone else. We're not holding our breath.

* Why can't my flights be so eventful?

"On Western Airlines Flight 322, yesterday, a shapely blonde in 2nd class section suddenly stripped nude and paraded down the aisle. When she got to the 1st class section she grabbed several courtesy bottles of Scotch and then sat in row 10, singing and laughing. She told the crowd of enthusiastically clapping passengers that she had just heard on the radio that she had won a million dollars in the state lottery. A stewardess tried to cover her, but the woman evaded her and raced up and down the aisles for 10 minutes with passengers cheering. Said the stewardess: 'She wasn’t really a blond.'"

* The Supreme Court rules against science and bans medical marijuana.

June 6, 2005

the Earth looks better from a star

Andy Warhol and Lou Reed at the First Factory, NYC, 1966, by Gretchen Berg

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"Richard Nixon And Friends

"We'd like to say a special thank you this week to Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat, for waiting until just before our 200th Top 10 Conservative Idiots to reveal himself. Thanks to Mr. Felt we can now do a special retrospective entry on Richard Nixon. From burglary to espionage to subverting the Justice and State Departments, as well as the U.S. intelligence services, Nixon and his administration were not just criminals, but experts in the field of conservative idiocy.

"Of course, there are some people who say that Felt is not actually an American hero but a dastardly traitor who betrayed his country by telling the truth when the patriotic thing to do would have been to to, um, cover-up the government's very real crimes. But since those people are Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak, and G. Gordon Liddy, we can pretty much ignore their ramblings.

"So the question remains, who will be the new Deep Throat? Who will come forward to blow the whistle on the Downing Street Minutes, Valerie Plame, Enron, election theft, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Halliburton, the August 6th PDB, Donald Rumsfeld's cozy relationship with Saddam Hussein, the failure to capture Osama bin Laden, the dubious corporatization of Social Security, the...

"Oh, wait a second, we already know about all those things."

* The ten most harmful books of the past two centuries, according to whacko conservative group. excerpt:

Number 5 -- Democracy and Education, by John Dewey, published 1916. What they say:

"John Dewey, who lived from 1859 until 1952, was a 'progressive' philosopher and leading advocate for secular humanism in American life, who taught at the University of Chicago and at Columbia. He signed the Humanist Manifesto and rejected traditional religion and moral absolutes. In Democracy and Education, in pompous and opaque prose, he disparaged schooling that focused on traditional character development and endowing children with hard knowledge, and encouraged the teaching of thinking skills' instead. His views had great influence on the direction of American education--particularly in public schools--and helped nurture the Clinton generation."

* What in your drugs. [via]

June 3, 2005

The only thing you taught me is the only thing you know

Roy DeCarava, Coltrane on soprano, 1963

Poems by Paul Beatty:

The Revolution Will Be Commercialized

7 out of 10 grass roots interventionists
recommend trident missiles
for their patients
who eschew guns


bob marley banter
from nigguh on decanter
cookin up in the rocks

stir it up little darlin

three dead birds wait on the curb
sunken cheeks askin to lick the beaker

This Side Up

on the corner
138th and st. nick
i caught america with her panties down
peeped under her dress
and saw a cardboard one person shantytown

Will to Have a Son

fuck a remote control
pops dont need technology

he just go
Shawn Don Mom
one of you motherfuckahs come here and change this channel

A Three Point Shot From Andromeda

rain rusted orange
ring of saturn
in urban orbit
over an outdoor gym

nighttime jumpers
pull up to the hoop
dance on the rim
bolted against a
metal backboard sky
riddled with

ninety nine thousand
BB sized holes
compressing fifth floor duplex
kitchen light
into a galaxy
of 50 watt schoolyard stars

supra flex intense constellations
rotate on defense
double down
tryin to guard
spinning playground
planetarium delirium
of black gods flyin
on neighborhood rep
shake n bake
pump fake
jab step
past orion
walk on air
and burst a reverse

on the stellar bear

... and a link to Beatty's excellent Daryl Strawberry Asleep in the Field of Dreams.

June 2, 2005

for beauty we will pay

Laurie, Ward 81, 1976, by Mary Ellen Mark

* From a November 18, 1936 letter from H.L. Mencken to John Fante:

"I certainly agree with your feeling about the Communists and Fascists, though I fear I can't follow you into the arms of the Holy Church. All persons who propose to improve the human race seem to me to be equally fraudulent. It makes progress undoubtedly, but that progress is due a great deal less to exhortation than to simple evolution. My belief is that it will go so far that in another ten or twenty thousand years at least 10 percent of the human beings living on earth will be as intelligent as the average horse and as decent as the average dog. I may be optimistic, but such is my belief."

* Momus on Damon Albarn. excerpt:

"Justine Frischmann introduced me to Damon Albarn in 1991 outside the Falcon in Camden. His stare was beautiful but glacial; he just wasn't interested. I mumbled something about how his group Blur was playing soon at the Astoria. The next time I saw him was at Subterania, under the Westway. Justine had dragged him along to a Momus gig and he was hating it. He stood up on the balcony throwing tinfoil ashtrays in my direction. When Blur became the biggest group in Britpop it became clear that Damon was a difficult character, prickly and competitive."
"Flash forward to Paris, 1994. I've got married, and Blur have released 'Girls and Boys.' I think it's a terrific single. A reporter from the Daily Record is interviewing me on the Place Du Tertre about my marriage, conducted in rather dramatic circumstances. She wants to know what kind of music I like. 'Don't tell me you like that din by Blur!' she gasps. I don't, but I do. I also like the silly dialogue in the middle of 'Parklife' about wellbeing and pigeons. And the channelling of Ray Davies, vaudeville and Madness.

"In the doldrum years of Britpop I lose interest in Blur. I mean, I see them live in Paris, I hear the singles, I note that their videos are Benny Hill skits directed by Damian Hirst. Nice! But I don't hear the albums. Damon seems to reverse his previous stance on America, developing a love-hate relationship with Stephen Malkmus. Blur becomes Pavement for a while, but Pavement does it better. Albarn buys a house in Iceland. He fucks lots of girls and Justine leaves him. I meet Graham Coxon at a Divine Comedy gig at the Garage and tell him Kahimi Karie would like him to write songs for her, and what's more is selling hundreds of thousands of records in Japan. 'That's too many,' says Graham, with the same icy glacial 'fuck you' stare I'd seen on Damon."

* How does marijuana prohibition affect government budgets?. [via] excerpt:

"The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, by Boston University professor of economics Jeffrey A. Miron (June 2005), examines the budgetary implications of taxing and regulating marijuana all 50 states and at the federal level. The report finds:

-- Regulating marijuana would save $7.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition ($5.3 billion for state and local governments and $2.4 billion at the federal level).

-- Regulating marijuana would yield tax revenue of $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like other goods -- and $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like alcohol and tobacco."

June 1, 2005

god is a word and the argument ends there

William Klein, Candy Store, Amsterdam Avenue, New York 1954-55

* Catapulting the Propaganda, by Molly Ivans. excerpt:

"As a longtime fan of both George Bushes' eccentric grasp of English, I naturally enjoyed this gem from W.: 'See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.'"
"'Catapulting the propaganda' would explain his performance at the press opportunity that same day at which he appeared surrounded by babies born from frozen embryos. He used the phrase "culture of life" at least 27 dozen times (I think I exaggerate, but maybe not). "The use of federal dollars to destroy life is something I simply do not support," he said to the press the following day.

"Meanwhile, back in Baghdad, federal dollars are being used to destroy life at a pretty good clip because Bush decided to wage an entirely elective war against a country that presented little or no threat to us. And according to the Downing Street memo, he damn well knew it, too."
"Bush is prepared to use his first-ever veto. Didn't stop the bankruptcy bill, didn't stop all those tax cuts for the very rich, didn't stop that gross agriculture bill -- but this he will veto. He says we will 'cross a critical ethical line by creating new incentives for the ongoing destruction of emerging human life.' And he doesn't think starting an unnecessary war was crossing a critical ethical line?

"It's the old slippery slope argument. Look, all of law is a process of drawing lines on slippery slopes. The difference between misdemeanor theft and felony theft is one penny. The difference between misdemeanor and felony drug possession is one gram. For that matter, the difference between a pig and a hog is one pound. We're always drawing distinctions, and it is necessary to do so -- hunting rifles, OK; .50 caliber rifles, don't be a fool.

"This is a don't-be-a-fool argument. 'Culture of life'? Whose life?"

* Remind Us details the lies George Bush used to take us to war.

* "Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops." -- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

* Two Poems

Talk Radio
--- by Charles Simic

"I was lucky to have a Bible with me.
When the space aliens abducted me . . . ."

America, I shouted at the radio,
Even at 2 A.M. you are a loony bin!

No, I take it back!
You are a stone angel in the cemetery

Listening to the geese in the sky
Your eyes blinded by snow.

Lust Song
--- by Hailey Leithauser

Love’s a blonde gone wrong
on a fogbound ship,

slow off-shoulder slip
of a strap unstrung.

It’s the glib diphthonged,
soft Freudian trip

of disloyal lips,
sight of bright red thong.

It’s dictatorship
of a yielding tongue

still culling the throng,
the blinding eclipse

of faint fingertip,
felt light and not long.