August 31, 2005

too many liars are singing songs

no chance, appliqued blanket, by tracy emin, 1999

-- by Mark Halliday

The very fact that her skirt swirls
bespeaks something that compels my interest
as if not because the skirt covers her ass and thighs
as if I mean not only because given a chance I’d want
very very much probably to help her take the skirt off
in a fantasy bedroom, but for some more lovely reason
more lovely I mean because more mysterious
when she swirls my head turns on my not-merely-biological neck
to follow the play of shadow in those folds of cloth–

in the swirling there is some meaning that draws me
without specific reference I’m saying to her vagina
somewhere beneath the skirt and what my penis might get to do;

it’s about a flowing quality in life I’m serious
about something flowing like light among branches
on a windy day, the truth or a truth of how
the beauty of our life is like a winding river
under rapid shifting clouds and how the river is change
and change is possibility and our infinity of possibility is
what makes us not just banal dogs wagged by our tails.
There across the crowded room she turns and turns,
her hair swings, her skirt swirls, she doesn’t know
I’m standing here with these deep insights into everything
but if I write it all down with a lovely
swirling of its own she might read it and see
that if I stare at her it is not just the usual but
because I am interesting here alone at the edge of the dance.

-- by Weldon Kees

The dog stops barking after Robinson has gone.
His act is over. The world is a gray world,
Not without violence, and he kicks under the grand piano,
The nightmare chase well under way.

The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall,
Reflects nothing at all. The glass is black.
Robinson alone provides the image Robinsonian.

Which is all of the room—walls, curtains,
Shelves, bed, the tinted photograph of Robinson’s first wife,
Rugs, vases, panatellas in a humidor.
They would fill the room if Robinson came in.

The pages in the books are blank,
The books that Robinson has read. That is his favorite chair,
Or where the chair would be if Robinson were here.

All day the phone rings. It could be Robinson
Calling. It never rings when he is here.

Outside, white buildings yellow in the sun.
Outside, the birds circle continuously
Where trees are actual and take no holiday.

Mingus at the Showplace
--by William Matthews

I was miserable, of course, for I was seventeen
and so I swung into action and wrote a poem

and it was miserable, for that was how I thought
poetry worked: you digested experience shat

literature. It was 1960 at The Showplace, long since
defunct, on West 4th st., and I sat at the bar,

casting beer money from a reel of ones,
the kid in the city, big ears like a puppy.

And I knew Mingus was a genius. I knew two
other things, but as it happens they were wrong.

So I made him look at this poem.
"There’s a lot of that going around," he said,

and Sweet Baby Jesus he was right. He glowered
at me but didn’t look as if he thought

bad poems were dangerous, the way some poets do.
If they were baseball executives they’d plot

to destroy sandlots everywhere so that the game
could be saved from children. Of course later

that night he fired his pianist in mid-number
and flurried him from the stand.

"We’ve suffered a diminuendo in personnel,"
he explained, and the band played on.

August 30, 2005

closed sign swinging in the window of the liquor store

* High Plains Business Loop on the Silver Jews Tanglewood Numbers. excerpt:

"And then on Tanglewood Numbers it seems like now he's moved from being not ashamed of it to being proud of it and what it represents about himself and all the wastoid garbage he took himself through. It sounds to me like he's gotten out of it and is now on the right 'path' (whatever you want to make of that) with priorities besides being an impressive genius who must hold himself back with stunting drug abuse and a continual four-year kegger at the crack house or however he'd best describe it.

"And of course there's all the music on the album, too, and what all that sounds like. "K-Hole" sounds like a entirely different band, a modern rock one with outer spacescapes and genuine 'bite' (sharp angles where clumsy weathered edges would have appeared in records previous) in the context of the Silver Jews slow country blues history. 'Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed' is a real honest-to-goodness rave-up that reinforces the long-lost feeling of happiness and excitement with sturdy, simplified bars of banjo and piano accentuated guitar rock. 'The Farmer's Hotel' is an Edgar Allan Poe verse about an ominous stay in a ghastly hotel, almost Biblical in its lengthy wisdom. In this standout track, Berman has taken his time to allow the moral to slowly roll down to us at the end of the song, the literate devices used inside exactly as tasteful as we've come to expect from him. There are somber moments on the record but there are flippant ones too. In 'Sleeping is the Only Love' Berman tells us a tiny bit about his old friend 'Marc with a C' and in 'I'm Getting Back (Into Getting Back Into You)" the apologetic husband re-introduces himself this time as coming equipped with a brand new point of view, 'like a brown bird nesting in a Texaco sign.'

"TN is different; what it sounds like to me is Berman no longer hanging his head and feeling sorry for himself. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I mean before this record I for once certainly didn't think there was anything wrong with it. The previous formula is/was seriously sonic manna to self-defeating indie hipsters who LOVE to wallow in the angst to music that doesn't try as hard as it could.

"But listening to this record a few dozen times proves that David has a new perspective on this record. He has wrangled his inner contempt and finally, finally, for the benefit of himself and all his admirers, directed it away from the self and onto external forces, be they political, cultural, whatever. He's standing up for himself. It's all over the lyrics, too:

"We've got no good will, no good will to give
to those who try to take away what we need to live"

"I saw God's shadow on this world
I could not love the world entire
There grew a desert in my mind
I took a hammer to it all"

It's one hell of a record.
After all the sin we've had I was hopin' that we'd turn back

william eggleston, woman on swing Jackson, Mississippi, late 1960s

* the rude pundit. excerpt:

"It's strange that an enormous, almost ridiculously micromanaging document like the Iraqi draft constitution ought to come down to its use of a single word. And while one could easily say that the fact that the document begins with a shout-out to the 'Sons of Mesopotamia' means women are shat on from the outset and that the line, 'No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam,' means that Iraq will become mullahrific, it's a single word, used a couple of times in the entire constitution, that means Iraq is fucked.

"It is the word that, if amended to the U.S. Constitution, would make the Christian right go into a weeklong orgy the likes of which Babylon only dreamt of. James Dobson would go down on the withered, dusty snatch of Phyllis Schlafly while Chuck Colson, having a prison flashblack, fucks Dobson in the ass as Ted Haggard, madly jacking off, shoves a butt plug into the heaving, weeping Watergate criminal. Such madness would ensue, with Beverly LaHaye unable to fit enough cocks into her mouth to satisfy her, with Tony Perkins and Cal Thomas sword fighting on top of her lapping tongue. Surrounding it all will be a circle jerk of Pat Robertson, Tom DeLay, and Antonin Scalia, who has his prostate massaged by Clarence Thomas to ensure Lil' Tony gets his full mojo going.

"Goddamn, Gomorrah was destroyed for less, with the piles of bald eagle guts that the fucking mass will devour raw, with Terri Schiavo's stolen ashes mixed with blood smeared all over them, with virgin female members of Campus Crusades for Christ deflowered by trains of megachurch goers right on top of huge marble Ten Commandments monuments. Such grace, such smells, such screeches. But it'd be a once in a lifetime celebration over one word. A word that is part of the Iraqi constitution to be voted on by the people of that pseudo-nation in the coming weeks."

* New Orleans: battered but bars are open. excerpt:

"Gail Henke could think of no better way to celebrate the French Quarter’s survival of Hurricane Katrina than to belly up to a bar on Bourbon Street with a vodka and cranberry juice. Call it a libation to the storm gods.

"'You know what? There’s a reason why we’re called the Saints,' the 53-year-old tour booker said Monday as she communed with 20 or so other survivors. 'Because no matter what religion you are, whether you’re a Catholic, whether you’re voodoo, whether you’re Baptist or so on, so on, and so on — we all pray. We all pray.'

"'I’m not a religious fanatic. But God has saved us.'

* "The great art of making things seem closer together. In reality. Or from where we are standing; in memory, 'Ah! que le monde est grand à la clarté des lamps! / Aux yeux du souvenir que le monde est petit!' ['Le Voyage,' Baudelaire] This is the mysterious power of memory -- the power to generate nearness. A room we inhabit whose walls are closer to us than a visitor. This is what is homey about home. In nurseries we remember, the walls seem closer to each other than they really are, than they would be if we saw them today. The sight of them tears us apart because we have become attached to them. The great traveler is the person who passes through cities and countries with anamnesis; and because everything seems closer to everything else, and hence to him, since he is in their midst, all his senses respond to every nuance as truth. The distanced Romantic is as ignorant of this as the Positivist." -- Walter Benjamin, 'The Great Art of Making Things Seem Closer' (1929)

August 29, 2005

they spoke of gold in the cellar

Sarah Soderlund, That Sunday That Summer

* top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"5. Republican Gun-Jumpers

"Two curious cases of mistaken identity were revealed last week, both perpetrated by dumbass Republicans who were way too quick to pounce when they smelled political blood in the water.

"First, Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Rick Graber, along with local GOP lawmakers Rep. Jeff Stone and Sen. Joe Leibham, staged a news conference outside a Milwaukee home in order to decry voter fraud. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 'The politicians didn't release names, but their presence implicated the private home that formed the news conference backdrop.'

"Just one problem - there was never any evidence that the couple who own the home, Stuart and Gayle Schenk, were involved in voter fraud. Nor was there any evidence to implicate their son, Joseph, who is currently in Chicago studying to join the Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church. Whoops. Still, it was nice of the Wisconsin Republican Party to make them look like a bunch of crooks.

"The second tale of mistaken identity is more serious. Earlier this month Fox News ran a report on a suspected "'Islamic radical' living in La Habra, CA. And Fox News being Fox News, they actually gave out the address of his home live on air.

"If only Fox News had checked their facts (yeah, right). See, it turns out that the 'Islamic radical' Fox fingered actually moved out of the house three years ago. Currently living in the house are Randy and Ronnell Vorick, who, as far as anyone knows, are neither Islamic nor radical.

"Still, it hasn't stopped local wankers from shouting profanities at them on the street. The Voricks have also enjoyed the privilege of having someone spray-paint the word 'terrorist' on their front of their house - spelled, if you can believe it, 'terrist.' And now they're living under police protection.

"Ah, Fox News, that bastion of quality broadcasting. And their viewers are such nice people too."

* Krugman on Greenspan. excerpt:

"These days Mr. Greenspan expresses concern about the financial risks created by 'the prevalence of interest-only loans and the introduction of more-exotic forms of adjustable-rate mortgages.' But last year he encouraged families to take on those very risks, touting the advantages of adjustable-rate mortgages and declaring that 'American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage.'

"If Mr. Greenspan had said two years ago what he's saying now, people might have borrowed less and bought more wisely. But he didn't, and now it's too late. There are signs that the housing market either has peaked already or soon will. And it will be up to Mr. Greenspan's successor to manage the bubble's aftermath.

"How bad will that aftermath be? The U.S. economy is currently suffering from twin imbalances. On one side, domestic spending is swollen by the housing bubble, which has led both to a huge surge in construction and to high consumer spending, as people extract equity from their homes. On the other side, we have a huge trade deficit, which we cover by selling bonds to foreigners. As I like to say, these days Americans make a living by selling each other houses, paid for with money borrowed from China.

"One way or another, the economy will eventually eliminate both imbalances. But if the process doesn't go smoothly - if, in particular, the housing bubble bursts before the trade deficit shrinks - we're going to have an economic slowdown, and possibly a recession. In fact, a growing number of economists are using the 'R' word for 2006."

* The Mark E. Smith handwriting font. [via]

August 26, 2005

i program robots to make them lie

-- by bridget riley

yesterday down at the canal
-- by frank o'hera

you say that everything is very simple and interesting
it makes me feel very wistful, like reading a great
russian novel does

i am terribly bored
sometimes it is like seeing a bad movie
other days, more often it's like having an acute disease
of the kidneys

god knows it has nothing to do with the heart
nothing to do with people more interesting than myself
yak yak
that's an amusing thought
how can anyone be more amusing than oneself
how can anyone fail to be
can I borrow your forty-five
I only need one bullet preferably silver
if you can't be interesting at least you can be a legend
(but I hate all that crap)

the abandoned valley
--- by jack gilbert

can you understand being alone for so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the well
so you could feel something down there
tug at the other end of the rope?

-- by denis johnson

i would like to be just an old man with my gin,
retiring even from these leaves into
my big, gradual silence beyond the wood
and it will be good,
wife, because i have pointed to you,
and you have become real, within

this darker stillness my eyes grow too wide
it must be that seeing you in the trees
becoming softer than i ever dreamed
has made it all seem
a multitude of nonsense, all the seas,
the planets, all i wrote. i lied,

i swear to you i lied, becoming old and so
very drunk, when i did not lie to you.

August 25, 2005

nameless voices crying for kindness

Geese with Lights (1998) Colleen Plumb

* Former Reagan official calls the Rove scandel, Bush's watergate. excerpt:

"This was simply Karl Rove doing what he does best — employing a scorched-earth policy against anyone whom he views as an enemy of the Bush administration.

"And Valerie Plame happened to be 'fair game,' in Rove's words, because she is the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, a man who had challenged the intelligence findings that the Bush administration had used to justify its pre-emptive war against Iraq.

"Besides, Rove had gotten away with orchestrating smears throughout his political career, dating back to his days as a college Republican operative in the Nixon years.

"Karl Rove is a master of using the press to do his dirty work for him; he would leak sensitive information to favored reporters on a 'not for attribution' basis. When the damaging information appeared in print, Rove would pile on a story that was essentially his creation in the first place. It was a formula that worked for him time and time again."
"The worst possible scenario for the administration would be if it turns out that the Niger documents in question (which all now agree were forged) were fabricated by individuals who may have had a motive for getting us into the war. Shadowy figures previously linked to the Iran-Contra scandal have been mentioned as possible originators of the forged documents.

"If there is any truth to these charges, the lid will blow off Washington — and the Bush administration will be history."
"In my judgment, George W. Bush's White House has much more in common with the Nixon administration than with his father's. The same mind-set of the ends justifying the means is at work here, and it may have caught up with Rove and others in the Plame Affair.

"The usual sycophants are beating the drums in defense of Karl Rove, trying to make the case that conservatives have a stake in keeping Rove in power. But the party line may not save Rove's job this time. In his eagerness to hunt down a perceived enemy, Karl Rove stumbled into a national-security briar patch that may bring the entire neocon cabal down with him."

* Dwight Gooden sought on felony charges:

"Former baseball star Dwight Gooden was being sought by police on a felony warrant after he allegedly drove away from an officer who stopped him on suspicion of drunken driving.

"Gooden, 41, left the scene of the traffic stop early Monday after refusing to get out his 2004 BMW to take a field sobriety test, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

"The officer stopped Gooden's car because he was weaving in traffic near downtown Tampa, McElroy said. Gooden, a Tampa native and resident, has a history of drug abuse and is awaiting trial on a domestic violence charge."

* the 2005 national book festival takes place on the Mall on September 24, 2005. Dust Congress favorite kim addonizio will be in attendence. also, on the mall that day: operation ceasefire, a concert featuring Steve Earle, Le Tigre, and Jello Biafra.

August 24, 2005

I lay awake thinking clever things I could have said

Rebecca Kennedy, Glowing Eyes, Pastel

thinking about ecstasy
-- by jack gilbert

gradually he could hear her. stop, she was saying,
stop! and found the bed full of glass,
his ankles bleeding, driven through the window
of her cupola. california summer. that was pleasure.
he knows about that: stained glass of the body
lit by our lovely chemistry and neural ghost.
pleasure as fruit and pleasure as ambush. excitement
a wind so powerful, we cannot find a shape for it,
so our apparatus cannot hold on to the brilliant
pleasure for long. enjoyment is different.
it understands and keeps. the having of the having.
but ecstasy is a question. doubling sensation
is merely arithmetic. if ecstasy means we are
taken over by something, we become an occupied
country,the audience to an intensity we are
only the proscenium for. the man does not want
to know rapture by standing outside himself.
he wants to know delight as the native land he is.

the edge of the world
-- by jack gilbert

I light the lamp and look at my watch.
four-thirty. tap out my shoes
because of the scorpions, and go out
into the field. such a sweet night.
no moon, but urgent stars. go back inside
and make hot chocolate on my butane burner.
i search around with the radio through
the skirl of the Levant. "tea for two"
in german. finally, cleveland playing
the rams in the rain. it makes me feel
acutely here and everybody somewhere else.

To A Politician
-- by bernadette meyer

your penis is homeless
you are covered with as many warts as the lies you've told
you pat maggots on their backs
your syphilitic mouth sucks the slugs from the irradiated cocks of your
this gives a bad name to syphilis, if I mention it in relation to you
your asshole farts from overeating of civilian casualties
the toxic fingernails of your leprous hands
flip through the reports of your medievally botulistic bubonic policies
your brain is full of lice, tickling it with greed for pesticide-ish powder
cockroaches fill your pancreas with their eggs
but this is an insult to cockroaches
your lungs fill with the blood of the dead
poisonous snakes of freedom crawl into your every orifice, but to no
spiders come out of your nose
your heart is being pinched by Lyme-diseased tics, stung by killer bees,
bitten by the rattlesnakes of prevarication
first thing every morning your gangrenous arms embrace the rabid
turds of your generals
your penis is the size of the junkie's needle
your nostrils resemble the assholes of cops
it seems to us you convert your farts into speeches
your disease-ridden mouth is full of the incurable sores of your lies
your petrified eyes eat the bulimic vomit of your violent words
all words, all humans, insulted, disgusted, by your depraved existence.

August 23, 2005

Pelican road is closed for summer

Helena Agnew, "She's Looking at Me", Acrylic & Digital Photography

* From Harper's

-- Increase in the total value of U.S. residential property since 2000, expressed as a percentage of GDP: 60

-- Increase in the value of all U.S. stocks between 1995 and 2000, as a percentage of GDP: 59

-- Number of consecutive years that the value of housing in Japan has dropped since its housing bubble burst: 14

-- Minimum number of American universities with their own student-run erotic magazines: 6

-- Year by which Brazil's government will have switched its computers entirely to open-source software: 2010

-- Number of Danish graduate students who last December releaseda copyright-free recipe for an "open source beer": 15

* Douglas Brinkly on Hunter S. Thompson, from (originally from Stop Smiling Issue 22). excerpt:

SS: Did Hunter use drugs to become more productive?

DB:He used drugs for fun. He gained insights from them, depending on the drug. Like William S. Burroughs, Hunter was a glossary of drugs. He was a bit of an alchemist in that way. Of course he loved Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Freud's Cocaine Papers. He was attracted to drugs that kept him up for days on end - speed, amphetamines, cocaine. He wasn't looking to numb out. Unlike Tim Leary - who thought he should go to a green pasture and relax and get in tune with nature while on LSD - Hunter always believed you should eat LSD and go into the worst urban evironment you can get into, like a ghetto or a combat zone, because his constitution was so strong, and his mind was so strong, he could handle it.

SS: Was Hunter's physical agony the deciding factor for his decision to end his life?

DB: Absolutely. Health was the primary factor leading to Hunter's decision that he had lived long enough at age 67. He couldn't swim anymore. He couldn't really walk; he needed a walker or a wheelchair. He didn't really need to push it any further. I think if he had been in better physical shape, he would be with us. The hip-replacement surgery didn't bring the beneficial results that he hoped for.

* Michelanglo Signorlie. excerpt:

"When last we heard from the rector at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Monsignor Eugene Clark, it was April of 2002, when he made headlines amid the priest sexual abuse scandal, practically calling for a new Spanish Inquisition, this time directed solely at homosexuals.

"Standing in one Sunday for the befuddled and hiding Cardinal Egan – under attack for having ignored abusive priests – Clark, rector at what is arguably the seat of the Catholic Church in America, ranted that homosexuality is a 'disorder' and said it was a 'grave mistake' to allow gays into the priesthood, blaming them for the sex abuse scandal. Clark has long upheld the Vatican belief that homosexuals – and the liberals who support them – are bringing down society, and, of course, want to destroy the institution of marriage. He also attacked those who are critical of celibacy.

"Now here is Monsignor Clark, three years later, at the age of 79, exposed last week as engaging in an adulterous affair with a married women 30 years younger, proving that the greatest threat to marriage is in fact pompous, hypocritical, heterosexual men who can’t keep their dicks to themselves even as they become octogenarians."

* Twofer Tuesday, Minutemen edition: history lesson part two and this ain't no picnic.

August 22, 2005

the king of the Philistines his soldiers to save

untitled, by marti peterson

* top ten conservative idiots:

"4. Rush Limbaugh

"Two weeks ago I suggested that Rush Limbaugh should start taking drugs again because he was "much more listenable when he was high as a kite on 30 Oxycontins a day." (See Idiots 209.) Well there's some good news! It appears that Rush has taken my advice and is back on the hillbilly heroin.

"On Wednesday last week Rush was shocked and outraged to discover that people were accusing him of - gasp - lying. Here he is going straight into victimization mode:

"LIMBAUGH: ...apparently there is something that is out there misreporting what I have said. And of course, these people are reading that rather than listening to this program and choosing to believe it.

"Apparently, what's out there is that I said that Cindy Sheehan is no different than Bill Burkett, that Bill Burkett lied and Cindy Sheehan lied. They're actually out there, people saying that I am accusing Cindy Sheehan of making up the fact that she had a son and making up the fact that her son died in Iraq. And of course, I've never said this.

"Hmm. Perhaps Rush needs his memory refreshing. Here's what he said 48 hours earlier, on Monday of last week:

"LIMBAUGH: I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.

"Wheee! Come on now - the guy has got to be high as a kite."

* Long, interesting post on the connections between Bob Dylan and Harry Smith. excerpt:

"After about seven years trying to retrace and 'fill in' this picture, I've decided that Marcus is right about folk music and Dylan's imagination, but he's only half right about Harry Smith and Dylan. Dylan did not learn Harry Smith's lessons directly from the Smith Anthology. He got them mostly second-hand -- that is, he learned them, but mostly in translation. I'm now convinced that the single most important vehicle delivering Harry Smith's peculiar message to Dylan in those early days -- the widest pipeline between Harry and Bob -- was The New Lost City Ramblers. I'm also convinced that it matters, this missing what I think of as 'The Ramblers Step.'

"Like Harry Smith himself, the Anthology of American Folk Music was peculiar -- perhaps even a bit insane. It was not a neutral, representative overview of folk music in America, but rather an idiosyncratic work of kaleidoscopic art that had little to do with folk music as it had previously been understood. Released in 1952, the Anthology was a collection of scarcely 20-year-old commercial recordings that few folklorists saw as folk music at all -- one cut is even from a Hollywood singing-cowboy movie. But the music sounded (and still sounds) strange, wild and wooly, intensely immediate, and was presented with a modernist, mystic sense of collage that, today, is hard not to see as 'Dylanesque.'"
"Clearly, the New Lost City Ramblers were crucial to the early development of Dylan's self-image as a performer. Among the earliest photos ever taken of Dylan as a young musician is a fine photo set by a member of the NLCR, John Cohen. In them, you see the young Dylan adopting various poses and personas, experimenting with his image, trying to please the eye of the Rambler's camera. Cohen was a student of the fine arts and a sophisticated image-maker -- it had been John Cohen who had come up with the name 'New Lost City Ramblers,' and he was thus the first person among many to admire the ambiguous, ambivalent, self-referential irony in the band's name. A few years later, Dylan addressed Cohen directly in the liner notes to Highway 61 Revisited (referring to, among other things, Cohen's apartment which had just been demolished to make room for the World Trade Center):

"you are right john cohen -- quazimodo was right -- mozart was right … I cannot say the word eye any more … when I speak this word eye, it is as if I am speaking of somebody's eye that I faintly remember … there is no eye -- there is only a series of mouths -- long live the mouths -- your rooftop -- if you don't already know -- has been demolished … eye is plasma & you are right about that too -- you are lucky -- you don't have to think about such things as eye & rooftops & quazimodo." [punctuation and capitalization are Dylan's]

* "What no one seemed to notice...was the ever widening gap...between the government and the people...And it became always wider...the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway... Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about...and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated... by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us...Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'...must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing...Each act... is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. . . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.'...But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed...You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father...could never have imagined." -- Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)

August 18, 2005

took the correspondence course from the fbi

Joe DeIulio, Ladies Night Out

* Don't miss The Plums, dc's emulators of sonic youth noise, tonight at Ft. Reno. Plums begin at 7:15, followed by Horses, and the mighty Metropolitan.

* the world is becoming a wasteland, by The Bookworms', a band created at recent rock camp for girls. fun stuff from 11 (or so) year olds. [via]

* two poems by charles bukowski

one step removed

I knew a lady who once lived with Hemingway.
I knew a lady who claimed to have screwed Ezra Pound.
Sartre invited me to visit him in Paris but I was too stupid to
Caresse Crosby of Black Sun Press wrote me from Italy.
Henry Miller's son wrote that I was a better writer than his
I drank wine with John Fante.
but none of this matters at all except in a romantic sort of
some day they'll be talking about me:
"Chinaski wrote me a letter."
"I saw Chanaski at the racetrack."
"I watched Chanaski wash his car."
all absolute nonesense.
meanwhile, some wild-eyed young man
alone and unknown in a room
will be writing things that will make you forget
everybody else
except maybe the young man to
follow after


whores and great poets should
avoid one another:
their professions are dangerously
from the Roman Empire to our
Atomic Age
there have been about an equal
number of whores and
with the authorities continually
trying to outlaw
the former
and ignore the latter
-- which tells you
how dangerous

* a poem by bernadette mayer:

well when you begin a poem

well when
you begin a poem
you invest right away in
wasting paper
all the white or
space of many colors
around it
a thought not to be had
i was in ethiopia recently
where we walked into the water
of addis abbaba
where there is no water
I went to another
place for 299 dollars
for 6 days/five nights
but on the sixth night secretly
I could've loved you
& honestly I've been nowhere
but here
in the space of many colors
looking for a place
ideally and in no wise
for impossible travels and knowledge
to be enjoyed and gained
in this my age
i'm embarrassed to be in

[back monday]

August 17, 2005

bandits in the white house limited civilian unrest

ringed lily, by ivan hitchens, 1948

* From E&P:

"This morning, Court TV gathered a group of columnists, editors, attorneys, and academics to discuss “the rule of the law vs. the rule of journalism” at the popular media haunt Michael's in mid-town New York.

"With panelists Norman Pearlstine, Floyd Abrams, Nicholas Lemann, Richard Cohen, Michael Goodwin, Michael Wolff, Paul Holmes, and moderator Catherine Crier, the allotted hour was barely enough time to kick around complicated issues -- like the unfolding of the Plame story and other related concerns about confidentially and anonymous sources.
"With that, Court TV's Crier threw out the first question, seized by the call-'em-as-he-sees-'em Vanity Fair Contributing Editor Michael Wolff.'

"Crier: "When is a source not a source?'

"Wolff: 'When the source is a story. That's a softball question.'

"Wolff, whose column in the September issue of Vanity Fair sharply hit the role of journalists in the Plame story, pushed his argument even further this morning over a plate of scrambled eggs and pancakes. He posited that if Time magazine had run the Matt Cooper story -- i.e. Rove as the leaker and master puppeteer -- a year ago, President Bush may not be in office serving a second term or we may not have had as many deaths in Iraq.

"Further, Wolff called this the 'biggest story of our age.'

* From cowboy mouth, a play by patti smith and sam shepard:

"I mean I can't be the saint people dream of now. People want a street angel. They want a saint but with a cowboy mouth. Somebody to get off on when they can't get off on themselves. I think that's what Mick Jagger is trying to do...what Bob Dylan seemed to be for a while. A sort of God in our image...ya know? Mick Jagger came close but he got too conscious. For a while he gave me hope... I want it to be perfect, 'cause it's the only religion I the old days people had a Jesus and those people to embrace... They created a god with all their belief energies... and when they didn't dig But it's too hard now. We're earthy people and the old saints just don't make it, and the old God is just too far away. He don't represent our pain no more. His words don't shake through us no more. Any great motherfucker rock'n'roll song can raise me higher than all of Revelations. We created rock'n'roll from our own image, it's our child... "

August 16, 2005

no one wins it's a war of man

Am Am Not Am Not Willing, Carl Andre, 1972, ink on paper

"I was consciously writing poetry before I was consciously making sculpture. A typewriter has even spacing on the lines . [and] is essentially a grid. Rather than trying to achieve a certain look, I was using the same underlying abstractions, the same underlying forms, in both [poetry and sculpture]--working out of the grid system of the typewriter to the actual grid system of paper in poetry and also using the same kind of system to plan sculptures to try and find elements that would work within a system.--Carl Andre, 1972

Carl Andre wrote poems from an early age. His mother was a poet, his father a draftsman; as a child, he read dictionaries, encyclopedias, technical books, and geometry books. Primarily known for his Minimalist sculptures such as Slope 2004, Andre works with language in the same way that he handles sculptural materials. He often lifts the "material" from existing literary texts, then cuts it apart and rearranges it according to purely formal considerations. Words appear as words, letters as letters; the content and meaning of individual words are of secondary importance. This method merges the acts of reading and viewing, since what is to be read is contiguous with what is to be seen. In the end, the poems are very similar to the sculptures--the apparent simplicity of their geometric forms and familiar contents, as well as the scrupulous avoidance of straightforward meaning, act as a teaser to an experience of perception.

* A poem by Charles Bukowski:

the con job

the ground war began today
at dawn
in a desert land
far from here
the U.S. ground troops were
made up of
Blacks, Mexicans and poor
most of whom had joined
the military
because it was the only job
they could find.

the ground war began today
at dawn
in a desert land
far from here
and the Blacks, Mexicans
and poor whites
were sent there
to fight and win
as on tv
and on the radio
the fat white rich newscasters
first told us all about
and then the fat rich white
told us
and again
and again
on almost every
tv and radio station
almost every minute
day and night
the Blacks, Mexicans
and poor whites
were sent there
to fight and win
at dawn
in a desert land
far enough away from

* A poem by Bernadette Mayer

the bush blues

george bush is president
he wasn't elected
he ain't the peoples choice
what am i gonna do
it doesn't help to say fuck bush but
let's say it anyway
things've gotten so bad
i have a friend who wants to see
bush executed for treason

* "Civil War is like the heat of fever; a foreign war is like the heat of exercise." -Sir Francis Bacon

August 15, 2005

we're gonna find the meaning of feeling good

an afternoon beer, by Joseph Szabo, 1978

* Top Ten Conservative Idiots. excerpt:

"3. The Pentagon

"What better way to mourn the loss of 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, than to hold a great big pro-Iraq-War rally in the middle of Washington DC? Despite all the evidence showing that Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 - evidence which even Our Great Leader has agreed with - the two are still firmly intertwined in the minds of the Bush administration.

"So grab yer walking shoes, because on September 11 this year the Pentagon is holding a fabulous state-sponsored display of patriotism (funny, I thought they only did things like that in places like North Korea and China) to be known as the America Supports You Freedom Walk. According to the Department of Defense's website, the walk will start in 'the Pentagon South parking lot, near the site where the airliner crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. The walk route will consist of a two-mile trek through Arlington National Cemetery, over the Potomac River, and will end by the reflecting pool on the National Mall.' Where, glory of glories, all you lucky freedom walkers will be serenaded by Clint Black.

"Again according to the DoD site, 'America Supports You' is a nationwide program launched by the Defense Department with the goal of highlighting how Americans across the country are supporting the men and women of the armed forces.' Personally I'm supporting the men and women of the armed forces by forwarding the concept that if they were withdrawn from Iraq sooner rather than later, fewer of them would die or be multilated. But I don't imagine the Pentagon will be 'highlighting' that idea any time soon. I wonder if it would help if I listened to Clint Black?

"And just to remind us all of the cherished freedoms we take for granted, in order to participate with in the Freedom Walk, you'll have to register with the Department of Defense. That's right! Required fields include: name, age group, street address, city, state and zip, email address, AND your telephone number.

"And, freedom fans, don't forget:

"After you submit your registration, you will receive a receipt with a registration number. Please print out this receipt and bring it with you to the Pentagon South Parking to check-in before the event. You MUST have your registration number to check-in!

"Hmm, so let me get this straight - the Pentagon wants your name, age, address, and telephone number, and then they're going to send you on a two mile walk... why do I smell a massive 9/11 Freedom Walk recruitment dragnet?" --- related

* "Music is much like fucking, but some composers can't climax and others climax too often, leaving themselves and the listener jaded and spent." -- charles bukowski

August 12, 2005

Lighting up the Neon Liver

front of Peace Eye, ed sanders influential bookstore, 147 Avenue A, circa 1968

The sign was created by noted artist Spain Rodriguez (who also painted the Free Store Sign around the corner on 10th Street.). Peace Eye was a well known cultural center for its era, for instance sponsoring the first exhibition of important comic artists such as R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Spain Rodriguez, Kim Deitch, and others. Peace Eye also served as a community print center, and was a stopping off point for the underground railroad helping people flee the war. America's first LeMar demonstrations were organized out of Peace Eye.

* Excerpts from Ed Sanders history in verse 1968:

Many times
as the decades have trickled past
I've asked myself why I,
a pacifist, bard, and Social Democrat
ever associated with
the violent-hearted core of the Yippies.

I think its because
of the evil I perceived
going on in Vietnam
To me the use of napalm and
fragmentation bombs
sank down to the gutter of Hitler

& I wanted very much
to believe in the Yippies
just as I had come to believe
in Olson and Sappho
in Greek lyric poetry
in "Howl"
& and those early Joan Baez records

I wanted the level of belief
I gave to a work of art


Bacchus, as ever
pushed into the Grief
and the Fugs flew the day after King to Cinncinati
for an arts festival

I remember how someone
at Frank O'Hara's funeral
asked if there was a party afterwards

Sitting next to me on the plane was
a young women who claimed she was returning
from a tour as a hetaira for
one of Ohio's senators.

For a city that
later persecuted Mapplethorpe
there was a glut of fun in Cinncinati

for instance, a party in our motel
where a Fug (not I!) frolicked with a fan
after which they watched a Mexican vampire movie
while his toe was
moving gently
in and out of the entrance
of Venus


September 3
the day after my
prayer for the pig
I was on William Buckley's television show
Firing Line with Jack Kerouac and sociologist Lewis Yablonsky
author of a book called The Hippie Trip

I was in the elevator
going up to the studio
when a guy came in
in a checkered jacket
with two friends

I didn't recognize him at once
All of a sudden he said,

"you look like Ginsberg
you talk like Ginsberg
you write like Ginsberg"

Then a prosopognosis with a jolt of thrill
One of my heros
whose novels
especially Big Sur, Darma Bums and the Subterraneans
had been like religious texts
when I was in college

I knew he'd swung to the right,
as they say,
and was supporting Buckley's run for mayor of NYC

He'd ridden to NY with two pals
Joe Chaput and Paul Bourgeois

They'd had a couple of drinks on arriving in NYC
then checked into the Delmonico Hotel. Burroughs was also
at the Delmonico, finishing his piece on Chicago for Esquire.

Jack chugged and smoked his pot
into the zonk mode
Burroughs urged him not to go on the show

After the first segment
his chair fell off the studio riser
and it was obvious he was stumbly-drunk
The producer wanted to substitute Allen Ginsberg
(who was in the audience) for Kerouac
but we all protested
and on he went

I mentioned Ginsberg & Kerouac
as heros of my generation
but Kerouac said
"I'm not connected with Allen Ginsberg
and don't you put my name next to his."

He wasn't very friendly
his face was very florid
and his forehead vein popped out
when he stroked above his nose
with a hand that held
a coronella-sized cigar
I told him I respected his writing too much
and that I wasn't going to fight with him
on camera
even though my years steeped in controversy
as a poet, publisher and Fug
had trained me well
to give back razor raillery --

I was very tempted to metion his daughter Jan
who'd come to many Fugs shows
I remembered how the owner of the Astor Place Playhouse
had come upon Jan and a Fugs guitarist making it
on the drum riser
one midnight
I remembered how Kerouac would call me now and then
and recite little poems
which I would write down

I remembered other things
that Peter Orlovsky told me
in Peace Eye
after Kerouac visited Allen's pad
just up the street at 408 E. 10th

but why tell all
just because Tell tells you to tell?

and I kept silent
in front of the author of
Mexico City Blues

Afterwards we all went out
to a bar in Times Square
to light up the neon liver.

August 11, 2005

I could not love the world entire

Smacks of unusual caution, Lisa Brotman, 1996

* Andrew Gordon recounts smoking dope with Thomas Pynchon. [via] excerpt:

"One friend, a woman graduate student, noticed me carrying V. and said, 'Oh, are you reading that? I know the guy who wrote it.' I was naturally skeptical about her claim and asked if this mysterious Pynchon really existed and if he was a man or a committee.

"She said she had met him in Berkeley in 1965 and that they stayed in touch. She asked if I minded if she sent Pynchon my paper. I gave her a copy, suspecting that it would vanish into a black hole.

Several months later, she mentioned that 'Tom' had read my paper and liked it, thought it a lot more perceptive than the reviewers' comments. I thanked her but still wondered what kind of game she was playing.
"This man, who was introduced to me as Thomas Pynchon, appeared to be in his late twenties. I'm six foot one, but he was taller than me, about six two or three. He wore a corduroy shirt and corduroy pants, both green, and a pair of those brown, ankle-high suede shoes known as desert boots. He was lean, almost emaciated, and his eyes were wasted. His hair was thick and brown and he had a ragged, reddish-brown soupstrainer mustache; I wondered if he had grown it to hide his teeth, which were crooked and slightly protruding.

"Pynchon was evidently a man of few words. I wanted very much to talk with him, to sound him out, at least to get him to laugh, but as we sat on the floor and passed around buzz bombers and grew progressively more zonked, he didn't say much, just listened intently as our hostess and host and I talked. The conversation was disjointed, grass talk consisting of little bits and revelations (Leslie Fiedler had just been busted for possession of marijuana) and silly stoned jokes, like the one about the woman who traded in her menstrual cycle for a Yamaha. I thought of Pynchon as a Van der Graaf machine, one of those generators that keeps building static electricity until a lightning bolt zaps between the terminals.

"All of a sudden, he pulled out of his pocket a string of firecrackers and asked, 'Where can we set these off?'

"'Why don't we blow up the statue of Queen Victoria?' I replied.

"'O wow, man, have you read that book?' Pynchon said. He'd caught my allusion to Leonard Cohen's novel, Beautiful Losers, recently released in paperback. Cohen's hero actually does blow up a statue of Victoria, a typically sixties symbolic gesture. I was pleased to finally get a response from Pynchon, yet I still felt like the overeager grad student trying too hard to impress the Prof.

"There were no Victorian monuments to explode in Berkeley, so we drove instead to the Marina and set off the fireworks by the Bay. We walked by the water, past junkpiles, setting off cherry bombs and running like hell. A midnight ritual: four heavily stoned people hearing the snap, crackle, and pop, watching the dazzle against the black mud and the midnight waters. At that moment, halfway around the world in Vietnam, equally stoned soldiers were probably admiring in the same way the rocket's red glare.
"According to the novelist E. L. Doctorow, 'history is a kind of fiction in which we live and hope to survive, and fiction is a kind of speculative history, perhaps a superhistory' (False Documents 25). Vineland is such a superhistory; it provides a countermyth to pose against the official stories, writing our times more truly through the play of imagination. In all his fiction, Pynchon has helped to create and to recreate our history. He has also helped me to write myself."

* Widespread Ignorance. excerpt:

"President Bush has endorsed the pseudo-scientific notion of 'intelligent design' (ID) and declared it to be a legitimate alternative to the theory of evolution. This is not surprising, as he has always maintained that "the jury is still out" on the question of evolution.

"But the jury is not out -- indeed it was well in before President Bush was even born -- and anyone familiar with modern biology knows that ID is nothing more than a program of political and religious advocacy masquerading as science.
"Whether a person is religious or secular, there is nothing more sacred than the facts. Either Jesus was born of a virgin, or he wasn't; either there is a God who despises homosexuals, or there isn't. It is time that sane human beings agreed on the standards of evidence necessary to substantiate truth-claims of this sort. The issue is not, as ID advocates allege, whether science can "rule out" the existence of the biblical God.

"There are an infinite number of ludicrous ideas that science could not 'rule out,' but which no sensible person would entertain. The issue is whether there is any good reason to believe the sorts of things that religious dogmatists believe -- that God exists and takes an interest in the affairs of human beings; that the soul enters the zygote at the moment of conception (and, therefore, that blastocysts are the moral equivalents of persons); etc. There simply is no good reason to believe such things, and scientists should stop hiding their light under a bushel and make this emphatically obvious to everyone.
"Clearly, the commonplaces of language conceal the vacuity and strangeness of many of our beliefs. Our president regularly speaks in phrases appropriate to the fourteenth century, and no one seems inclined to find out what words like 'God' and 'crusade' and 'wonder-working power' mean to him. Not only do we still eat the offal of the ancient world; we are positively smug about it. Garry Wills has noted that the Bush White House 'is currently honeycombed with prayer groups and Bible study cells, like a whited monastery.' This should trouble us as much as it troubles the fanatics of the Muslim world."

* I Want to Know, by the fugs. about it ed sanders says, "Waiting for a bus on Second Avenue, some lines from charles olson's great poem, 'maximus from dogtown -- I' came to mind: 'we drink/or break open/our veins solely/to know...' I began to sing it on the bus and by the end of the trip I'd finished 'I Want to Know,' which right away we recorded at RLA Studios."

* "To explain why we become attached to our birthplaces, we pretend we are trees and speak of our 'roots.' Look under your feet. You will not find gnarled growths sprouting through the soles. Roots, I sometimes think, are a conservative myth, designed to keep us in our places." -- Salman Rushdie

August 10, 2005

scream my name above the din

Study for Totem Landscape of My Childhood. 1937, Wolfgang Paalen

Three poems:

New Habits
-- by Barbara J. Orton

You've made me your horse,
and I don't mind.

When you leave town
at midnight, debts unpaid

and a hard wind lifting
the dust out of your hair,

I'll take up new habits:
whisling, chewing my nails.

Bank robbery's not so bad
when you think about it.

Outside my window
the pin oak hisses and rattles.

I've lost something, but look--
these things in my hands.

Boutique Quixotica
-- by Catherine Bowman

A little atomic number on the sale rack.
Lots of castles. Lots of knives and forks.
Lots of closet skeletons. The fitting room
flooded with the strands of the score
he left on her answering machine. A drive-in
movie screen: their cloud-built bed
stuffed with opera lens and whatnots.
How they loved to Euro the plot
in a ceremonious old-world why not,
play Scrabble with only the X’s and O’s.
Nonstick knickknacks stacked
high on the truth table sewn from trick-thread
and midnight scissors. Buy two get a double
agent gratis. How bountiful the boa—

When I Was a Jersey Girl
--by Maureen Seaton

When I was a Jersey girl I hid
my Jersey ways. Predictable as milk, I
paled predictably when New Yorkers said:

Jersey? and they were right. They despised
my yellow Jersey plates, my Garden State
cockeyed, solipsistic, anesthetized

take on pig farming in that isolate,
Secaucus, my bowling with extended
family at the Elizabeth Lanes—

Pizza, Rheingold, Lucky Strikes. Uncle Ed
disappeared for years in his Acme
apron with the chop-meat stains. I bled

red clay. Mosquitoes binged around me
like bulimic fiddles. At night they popped
through bedroom-window screens, small Harry

Houdinis, spiraling for my sopping
hairline, my ears and eyes, tiny vampires
of shrinking shoreline, stinking sucking swamp.

I tunneled and bridged myself away, tired
of Mammoth and Union, crewcutted, baffled
boys in a state without a real team. My

accent grew anonymous, stifled.
My cosmopolitan tongue swelled. I lied:
Born, not raised. I said: water, wash, castle

inconspicuously, as if I
were a famous radio announcer paid
to sound generically benign as pie.

maureen seaton has a poem in the new edition of backwards city review, which, I believe, is now available

August 9, 2005

wrestling with the elements up on the trail, high

rain in a city, nick fedaeff, 2004

* New York Times on the drug war. excerpt:

"Today we tolerate alcohol, even though it causes far more harm than illegal drugs, because we realize a ban would be futile, create more problems than it cured and deprive too many people of something they value.

"Amphetamines have benefits, too, which is why Air Force pilots are given them. 'Most people took amphetamines responsibly when they were freely available,' said Jacob Sullum, the author of 'Saying Yes,' a book debunking drug scares. 'Like most drugs, their benefits outweigh the costs for most people. I'd rather be driving next to a truck driver on speed than a truck driver who's falling sleep.'

"Shutting down every meth lab in America wouldn't eliminate meth because most of it is imported, but the police and prosecutors have escalated their efforts anyway and inflicted more collateral damage.

"In Georgia they're prosecuting dozens of Indian convenience-store clerks and managers for selling cold medicine and other legal products. As Kate Zernike reported in The Times, some of them spoke little English and seemed to have no idea the medicine was being used to make meth.

"The prosecutors seem afflicted by the confused moral thinking that Mr. Bennett blames on narcotics. 'Drugs,' he wrote, 'undermine the necessary virtues of a free society - autonomy, self-reliance and individual responsibility.'

"If you value individual responsibility, why send a hard-working clerk to jail for not divining that someone else might manufacture a drug? And why spend three decades repeating the errors of Prohibition for a drug that was never as dangerous as alcohol in the first place?"

--- related: minivan bought at police auction had 100 pounds of pot inside.

* Like father, like son: Dwight Gooden's son jailed for violating probation and faced additional charges of having marijuana and bullets in his car. excerpt:

"Gooden Jr. was already wanted on an outstanding warrant of violating probation from a 2004 crack cocaine conviction. He was jailed early Sunday after officers found him outside a downtown Tampa club with 16 grams of marijuana and .44-caliber ammunition in his car, police spokesman Joe Durkin said.

"He was charged with possession of marijuana, being a felon in possession of ammunition and violating probation.

"Gooden Jr. was sentenced to 24 months of probation and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service in September 2004 after his arrest during a drug sting."

Dwight Gooden Sr., the 1985 NL Cy Young Award winner, went 194-112 with a 3.51 ERA before retiring in 2001.

* Watch Pittsburgh's Mike Tamburo describe his feelings following the death of his dog using a droning and effected harmonica. more information on mike here.

August 8, 2005

it won't get more profound

cover, silver jew's tanglewood numbers, available October 18, 2005

* from an very interesting interview of David Berman:

Pitchfork: Why do you refuse to perform songs at readings?

Berman: I was not born to be the center of attention in a crowded room. I am trying to make my name as an acute observer, as a witness. I think I have always had my heart set on a certain kind of body of work I would like to leave behind. I believe that intermittent live performance has cut short the writing lives of touring musicians. If you are making an argument with history you don't waste your energy and brain cells on sales, publicity, relentless travel, and other adjoining tasks. The less my body moves, the more energy my brain has to write.
Pitchfork: Tell me about the arrangements on the new record. How big a role did Stephen Malkmus play?

Berman: Steve is always amazing. To me, he is the best guitarist in the world. If I could convince him just to play guitar for me, I'd never kick him out of the band again. Everybody writes his own parts. I showed them the songs the week before recording started. We practiced in my basement. Low-hanging pipes were cracking everybody on the head except [drummer] Brian Kotzur. The rest of us were literally collapsing on the floor with cracked skulls. On the last day of practice I bought everybody hats.

Pitchfork: When did you kick Malkmus out?

Berman: I've never really kicked him out. It was all about the publicity. I wanted to show my critics at US Weekly that I know how to run my band.

Pitchfork: I heard a tale of you and Malkmus popping in a Grateful Dead tape and noodling over it for an NYC audience years ago. When was that? How did it go over?

Berman: It was awesome. I had us practicing for American Water by jamming with John Oswald's Grayfolded CDs. Since any one moment on those CDs might have 50 different Jerry Garcias playing 50 guitar lines, we just became 51 and 52. We turned ourselves up a little louder than the stereo and practiced wandering amidst the tumult.

One night we took it to the stage, a place called Baby Jupiter. It was packed via word of mouth. The soundman put on the CD, turning it up to concert volume. Malk and I did our thing with two amps and two guitars. People had fun but it was disappointing, the noodling, for those who came expecting a secret Silver Jews set.
Pitchfork: Did you two ever figure out how to screw on your feet?

Berman: Not unless "screw" means "wallpaper," and "on your feet" is code for "your dining room."

Pitchfork: Where exactly is Oldham on this album? Does he sing?

Berman: The only singers are myself, Cassie, and Bobby Bare Jr.'s backing vocals on track five ["I'm Getting Back into Getting Back into You"]. Around the ninth second of the first track ["Punks in the Beerlight"], you can hear a subdued guitar chirring beneath and after the big blaring guitar, across the pause. That's Will. His rhythm guitars sound like him at his most benevolent.

Read the whole thing.

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"2. George W. Bush

"Can it really be true? Is it possible that we actually have a president who last week announced that 'intelligent design' should be taught in schools? Yes, I'm afraid it's all true - and it's worse than you think. See, George W. Bush didn't just advocate teaching the concept of intelligent design (i.e. creationism) in religion or philosophy classes - he said it should be taught alongside evolution as a competing theory. The National Science Teachers Association is reportedly 'stunned and disappointed.'

"Man, if I were back in school now, I'd have a field day with this...

"TEACHER: Now, does anyone know how lightning is created? Yes?

"ME: God makes it.

"TEACHER: What? No... anyone else? No? Okay - if a cloud bottom carries a negative charge and positive charges have collected on the ground, a 'stepped leader' - that's a negative electrical charge - comes part way down from the cloud. When the stepped leader gets within 150 feet of a positive charge, a streamer - that's a surge of positive electricity - rises to meet it. The leader and the streamer make a channel. An electrical current from an object on the ground surges upward through the channel. It touches off a bright display called a 'return stroke.'

"ME: And you expect me to believe that preposterous explanation?"

"You know, if you just changed the word 'intelligent' for 'stupid' and 'design' for 'nonsense,' I think we might get somewhere with this debate."

* clusterfuck nation. excerpt:

"Has the world noted that the conservative establishment in America -- including the always prim George W. Bush and his buttoned-down minions, the heavenly hosts of mass-market evangelism, the zillionaire retired CEO authors of how-to-get-rich books, and the media tub-thumpers like David Brooks of the New York Times -- I repeat, has the world noted that they all preside over the most slovenly, undisciplined, and reckless economy the world has seen since mankind started bathing regularly?"
"We're a country with no discipline, led by fake scoutmasters, moneygrubbing ministers, chiseling accountants, and oversexed schoolmarms. The new national motto: Something for Nothing. The new spiritual capital: Las Vegas.

"Now, it's my personal opinion that we really are headed for crash central this fall. The price of oil is entering uncharted territory. Natural gas has virtually tripled in price since 2003. People are beginning to fear that the heating season will be brutal for those in the employ of WalMart and worse for those in the employ of nobody. Magical as this phony-baloney over-leveraged economy has seemed, whatever remains of real life will be affected by higher gasoline prices. I know it sounds absurd to say that, because so far Americans have seemed to absorb a one year price doubling without complaint. But we're hostages to motoring, whether we like it or not, and when the price of gasoline goes north of $3 a gallon (coming very soon) yowls will be heard even in the soundproofed sanctums of Karl Rove's west wing headquarters."

* Clothing styles, though the years, of Bob Dylan. [via]

August 5, 2005

he's just a hero in a long line of heroes

Frederico Fellini and Marcello Mastroiani, Cine Cita, Rome, June 1962

Three poems by Robert Creeley:

The Changes

People don't act
like they act
in real life
in real life. They

are slower
and record the passive changes
of atmosphere.

Or change themselves
into green persian dogs
and birds.

when you see one
you know the world is a contrivance.
It has its proverbiality.
People are poor.

Chasing the Bird

The sun sets unevenly and the people
go to bed.

The night has a thousand eyes.
The clouds are low, overhead.

Every night is a little bit
more difficult, a little

harder. My mind
to me a mangle is.

The prejudice

There is a despair one comes to,
awkwardly, in never having known
apple-breasted women.

But that time was inapproachable
when I was younger
and now am older.

O is that destiny,
she said to me.

August 4, 2005

after this there will be no one

he's got game, by robin rhode, 2001

* Of Karl Rove, Nixon's Gray Ghost, Pinball Proto-Fascism, Muscle Car Imperialism, and the Gong Show of the American Political System. excerpt:

"Accordingly, if there is any presiding spirit possessing the current zeitgeist, it is the gray ghost of Dick Nixon. During the Watergate Era, Karl Rove apprehended a fact the rest of us pushed out of our minds, due to its troubling implications: Nixon wasn't brought down because Americans were troubled by having a sick, corrupt bastard as their president -- we simply found it embarrassing to have the White House curtains pulled open, thus allowing the world to witness Nixon pacing the floors, draped in a dingy bathrobe, muttering expletives at the yellowing, West Wing wallpaper.

"Moreover, Rove perceived that Nixon's paranoia, rage, envy, and resentment merely mirrored those of the American middle class. Nixon knew from the depths of his black spleen to the tips of his twitching nerve endings the dark side of the American character and how the pathologies therein could be exploited for political gain. In 1972, Rove watched and learned as Nixon was reelected in a landslide victory. Nixon showed Rove that the American middle and laboring classes feared and hated those spoiled brat, college campus radicals and uppity blacks that they saw every night on the evening news more passionately than they loved their own freedom.

"Nixon realized the concept of freedom was (and remains) too vague for many of us. Where exactly can freedom be located? But, in contrast, just go down to any shopping mall and you'll find envy; just visit any suburban subdivision and you'll find fear; and just set yourself down on any stool at any neighborhood bar and you'll find hatred and resentment."
"Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney -- these ruthless men are all Nixon's progeny. They all got away scot-free. In fact, they prospered in the cynical post-Watergate era and they continue to perpetrate their crimes right up to the present time. Moreover, it is we, the American public, who bear responsibly: we conjured these psychopaths with our ceaseless incantations of denial."
"Yes, the empire is as noisy, distracting, and meaningless as a vintage 1970s pinball machine ... as smart and self-aware as a baby boomer, suburban pothead teenager, who, as the years have passed, has transformed into a self-absorbed Starbuck's Latte-slurping, SSRI-popping consumer zombie, afflicted by a mindless appetite begot by a inner desolation that threatens to devour the resources of the entire planet in the manner he devoured the food from his mother's pantry when he had a bad case of the reefer munchies in the 1970s."

"Yes, it is high time to strike the gong for Karl Rove and his pathetic, dancing, feces-flinging pet monkey act that is presently stinking up the stage of The Gong Show of the American political system. But next, we should turn off the TV, walk to the closest mirror, look ourselves in the eye, and repeat the risible (as well as demonstrably false) phrase, “I am not a crook,” -- and then, at long last, face the Richard Milhouse Nixon within, and thereby come to grips with the reason we Americans are, at present, as popular and respected worldwide as Richard Nixon was in the Summer of 1974."

* From the file of bizarre policy: Indiana Bureau Motor Vechicle bosses have decided that hiding clocks is a great way to make long waits seem shorter. excerpt:

"Without clocks to watch, people standing in long lines supposedly won't be able to complain about just how long they've been waiting.

"I'm not kidding. Someone who collects a paycheck from Indiana taxpayers actually came up with this idea.

"At first I thought the idea was part of a plan by Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration to dampen the furor over daylight-saving time. Just hide all of our clocks! But no, this is actually a serious attempt to reduce customer complaints at the BMV by preventing clock-watching."

* "We accept too damned many things on the explanations of people who could have good reasons for lying." --Frank Herbert

August 3, 2005

all I need's a mirror and I'm a star

portal 2, by Krystine Renee

The Empire's New Outlet
-- by klipschutz

Renewed hostilities broke out today inside a rock. When a rock rolled across the border into neighboring Q-8, only to be forcibly repelled with the aid of round-the-clock infrared laser-guided heat-seeking cruise missiles and 500,000 troops, an embargo was declared on geological activity, sanctions imposed. Deprived of mineral export revenue a rock grew increasingly isolated and ran low on paper and scissors. In seeking out underground catapult facilities, the U.N. Task Force left no stone unturned. The northern part of a rock was declared a no-pitch zone. Upon detection of activity in the bullpen, swift reprisals continued without warning. After unrelated horrible events, newly inducted President Gorge Waterloo Push started an avalanche. Reelected on the strength of the slogan "Comes to Shove," he has not wavered. To muted charges that he has "a rock in his head," he stuck out his tongue and sassed back, "Stones break bones," then appointed an arsonist as fire chief.

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.

-- by Hailey Leithauser

More than mere spasm
or when focused mind

and game heart combine
as mechanism,

maneuvering spine

to bliss, realigned.
More like a schism

or charmed sarcasm
at reason’s fine line,

the old soul’s design
for protoplasm’s

exquisitely mined.

August 2, 2005

sleeping is the only love

nu couche, 1933, by pablo picasso

* New York Times on the Bolton nomination. excerpt:

"If there's a positive side to President Bush's appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations yesterday, it's that as long as Mr. Bolton is in New York, he will not be wreaking diplomatic havoc anywhere else.
""But the appointment is, of course, terrible news for the United Nations, whose diplomats have heard weeks of Senate testimony about Mr. Bolton's lack of respect for their institution and his deeply undiplomatic, bullying style of doing business. Senator George Voinovich, the Ohio Republican who became one of Mr. Bolton's strongest critics, said yesterday that he planned to send the new ambassador a book on how to be an effective manager. It couldn't hurt, but this may be the first time a world superpower has used its top United Nations post as a spot for the remedial training of a troublesome government employee.
"The problem here from the beginning has been that Mr. Bush clearly has little respect for either the United Nations or international diplomacy in general.

"There is plenty to complain about at the United Nations, but real work happens there, and it requires the services of men and women who know how to wring agreement out of a group of wildly different and extremely self-interested representatives. The president has not just sent the United Nations what Senator Christopher Dodd accurately termed 'damaged goods.' In Mr. Bolton, he has selected goods that weren't appropriate for the task even before the Senate began to hold hearings - when Mr. Bolton's reputation was still in one piece."

* Brits say mushrooms cure headaches. excerpt:

"Patients who suffer from cluster headaches - a debilitating medical condition for which there is no cure - are flouting the government's ban on magic mushrooms because they say the psychedelic fungi are the only thing to relieve the pain of their attacks.

"In the past two years scores of British cluster headache sufferers have turned to magic mushrooms, prompted by reports from the US that suggest that LSD and psilocybin - the active ingredient of magic mushrooms - may be able to control the intensity and duration of their headaches.

"Although some have experimented with psychedelics before, the majority have no history of drug taking. But many say they would rather risk jail than forgo a substance that lets them lead a normal life."

* Watch the Smog video for I Feel Like the Mother of the World, featuring chloe sevigny.

* "People say you have to travel to see the world. Sometimes I think that if you just stay in one place and keep your eyes open, you're going to see just about all you can handle." -- Paul Auster

August 1, 2005

I don't like Mondays

photograph by gluelabs

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"8. The Bush Administration

"The war is over! Huzzah! Or perhaps, 'Mission Accomplished,' if you will! Yes, the 'War On Terror' is officially over. Don't get too excited though - this doesn't mean that we'll be pulling troops out of Iraq, or that terrorists will stop blowing the crap out of people all over the world - you see, the Bush Administration has simply decided that it's time for a corporate re-branding.

"So henceforth the 'War on Terror' is now the 'Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.' Don't look for any administration officials to use the word 'war' any time soon, unless it's a slip of the tongue. Instead you'll all be hearing about the 'struggle' against terrorists, or the 'struggle' against extremism, or the 'struggle' against violent ideologies, or whatever. See, a 'struggle' just sounds so much more, I don't know - winnable - than a war which has been going on for some years now and which the American people have now decided we ain't winning.

"And let's not forget the ongoing military recruitment disaster. Hey, what would you prefer to sign up for - a 'war' in which you might get your legs blown off by a rocket-propelled grenade, or a 'struggle' where the worst injury you might reasonably expect to receive is from a noogie, or perhaps a Chinese burn?"

"But whatever you want to call it - 'War on Terror,' 'Struggle Against Extremism,' 'Vietnam Part Deux,' '21st Century Oil Grab,' or 'Crusade Against Brown People,' I think I'm still going to stick with my old favorite, 'Clusterfuck of Epic Proportions.'"

* Researchers say emails hurt IQ more than pot. excerpt:

"Workers distracted by phone calls, e-mails and text messages suffer a greater loss of IQ than a person smoking marijuana, a British study shows.

"The constant interruptions reduce productivity and leave people feeling tired and lethargic, according to a survey carried out by TNS Research and commissioned by Hewlett Packard.

"The survey of 1,100 Britons showed:

" --Almost two out three people check their electronic messages out of office hours and when on holiday

" --Half of all workers respond to an e-mail within 60 minutes of receiving one

" --One in five will break off from a business or social engagement to respond to a message.

"Nine out of 10 people thought colleagues who answered messages during face-to-face meetings were rude, while three out of 10 believed it was not only acceptable, but a sign of diligence and efficiency."

* "Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid." -- frank zappa

* "Music is a moral law - it gives wings to the mind, a soul to the universe, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, a life to everything." -- plato